Archive for November, 2007
Speed boost or no, all of you clamoring for some hot Vista SP1 action will be able to get a beta-style fix in December, according to ZDNet. Apparently "selected testers" will get a release candidate in the first week of the month, with general availability to come the week after. ZDNet says the current SP1 build being tested is 17051, but it’s not clear whether that’s the version to be released or not. Like all things SP1, looks like we’ll just have to wait and see.
- Build custom feeds from third-party news sources, ESPN Sports, and MSN searches.
- Choose from a comprehensive library of over 1,000 popular RSS feeds.
- Track packages from UPS, USPS, FedEx and DHL.
- Post articles to your del.icio.us account and easily forward interesting news articles to contacts in your address book.
There are so many things you can do with Outlook, but I have to admit, I’ve never fully explorered all its features. However, the more I "live" in my Outlook at work, the more I’ve become obsessed with finding new and useful ways to get things done as efficiently and quickly as I can. On that note, here are a few Outlook tips I’ve discovered that have been making my work life easier.
1.The ClearContext add-in - every since someone told me about this add-in, I’ve been using the heck out of it. Although I can only afford the free version, I’ve found it unbelievably useful for categorizing my mail. Since I had been using a folders system prior to the Outlook 2007 upgrade, I didn’t feel much like redoing this system just to use Outlook 2007′s color-coded categories. Instead, I use a mashup of ClearContext labels and Outlook categories. ClearContext lets me label my mail and these labels are linked to an Outlook category list. As I visually scan my email, Outlook’s color-coded categories help me find what I’m looking for fast. When it’s time to move an email from the Inbox to its category folder, I just hit the "File Msg" button on the ClearContext toolbar and the message archives itself to the appropriate folder. (Another option for filing is SpeedFiler, which I hear is good, too).
2. Natural Language - I’ve been using Outlook 2007 for many months now, but I just discovered this feature thanks to a tip I read online. The new version of Outlook lets you enter appointments on your calendar using natural language. Instead of using the drop-down box to pick a date, you can type in real expressions like "day after tomorrow," "one week from today," "two months from today," "three days from now," and much more. You can also use expressions like "today + 3 days" and Outlook will figure that out, too. Finally, you can type in the names of holidays and use them in expressions like "the day before Christmas."
3. Outlook Calendar on the desktop - this software lets you pin the Outlook calendar to your desktop. The calendar stays there all the time so you can always see what’s upcoming. It’s not just a view of your calendar either, it’s the real Microsoft Outlook calendar, so you get all its functionality, like direct editing, drag and drop of files, etc. Awesome.
4. Search Folders & Favorites - how did I live before Search Folders? Search Folders let you create virtual folders based on certain criteria. For example, you could make a folder of email from your boss you categorized as "Important" or a folder of your emails that have attachments. Even better, add these Search Folders to your Favorite Folders list and hide your Mail Folders list so that all you see is your Favorites. You’ll be surprised how rarely you’ll need to view your "real" folders.
5. Fast Email Searches – If you use Outlook 2007 on Vista, you have Vista’s killer search built into Outlook. However, at work, we’re still on XP. No worries though…you can download Windows Desktop Search for Windows XP like I did and experience the glory of fast searches. With either Vista or Desktop Search, results are displayed as soon as you start typing in text.
6. Form Emails - Using templates, you can save standardized emails so you don’t have to type the same thing over and over again. I use forms for things like emailing a new user’s login information to their supervisor or emailing someone a note letting them know their issue was input as a helpdesk ticket. Creating your own form is easy – just write the email, then go to File –> Save As, and choose "Outlook Template (*.oft)" from the drop-down box. The email is saved as a template. Next time you want to use that form, open it by going to Tool –> Forms –> Choose a Form. Change the drop-down box to "User Templates in File System" and then pick the template you created.
7. Minimize to Tray – I’m surprised how many people don’t know how to minimize Outlook to run in the System Tray. This is an absolute necessity (it should be the default!). Right-click on the Outlook icon in the Notification Area (next to the clock). In the menu that displays, select "Hide When Minimized."
This is Windows Live Messenger version 2009 aka Windows Live Messenger 9, the latest version of Windows Live Messenger from Microsoft. WLM, right now, is in beta stage, so ONLY beta testers will be able to sign in!
Ta da! It’s the next-generation MSN Messenger. Along with everything you already love about Messenger—your contact list, emoticons, instant access to your friends—there are brilliant new ways to connect and share your photos (and other stuff). As always, Windows Live Messenger is free to download Messenger and use most of its features.
Shown at the Mobius Conference in Amsterdam, the next version of Windows Mobile will be "an update rather than an upgrade". This means that it’s not Windows Mobile 7/Photon, which would be a huge leap in functionality, but more along the lines of the transition of WM5 to WM6.
Most of the stuff The Unwired saw behind closed doors is hush hush so they can’t describe it, but the new revision will be available starting Q1 2008, and will be on shelves in new phone form around Q2 or Q3. The good news for current WM users is that you can technically upgrade your old phones to the new OS, but it’s up to the phone manufacturer—like it was for the transition between Windows Mobile 5 to 6—to determine whether they want to put the resources into doing so.
Take note, Zune dudes and dudettes: the Zune Originals engraving — which has heretofore been relegated to the 4GB and 8GB flash versions of Microsoft’s new player — is now available on the big daddy, the 80GB. That’s right — now text, wild graphics, and combinations of the two can be emblazoned upon your media player, serving as a testament to your original and inimitable personality till the end of time. Did we mention it’s free? Motor over there and check it out, right this second.
Windows Live Search Mobile is truly amazing. If you have a Windows Mobile Device, stop reading this, and go to wls.live.com and download the free client now. It blows anything Google has out of the water.
- Speech Recognition
- Turn by Turn directions. This works with the GPS.
- Phone Numbers, with click to call.
- Gas Prices
- Theater Times
- GPS .. For Free. Take that AT&T. Trying to screw us for 10 bucks a month.
- Road and Aerial view. Hey I can see my house.
There is a ton of other features and it is just so slick. If you have a G3 phone it is even sweeter. Check it out. The app is much better that the video. I will be putting my own up very soon, this is the best I could find so far.
PS: Expect to see much more on this.
TiVo has just announced an agreement with multimedia software provider Nero AG that will bring its familiar interface and feature set to the PC. According to the joint announcement made today, Nero will embed the TiVo experience in its next generation of software, allowing the millions of us who rely on USB dongles for our TV to finally join the exclusive realm of Series1, 2, and 3 owners. Plus, as Zatz Not Funny! points out, Nero’s international presence should help spread TiVo to the far corners of the Earth like some digital Happy Meal. Hopefully this new PC timeshifting solution — release window: unknown — will also convince other purveyors of home theater-only hardware-based services to finally bring their wares to the desktop. Yes, we’re looking at you
Maybe just a little.
Microsoft has a new mascot, called Blue Monster–and it’s not from the mass-marketing gurus that came up with the "Wow is Now" campaign for Windows Vista. Blogger Hugh MacLeod drew the creature, which he offered to buddy Microsoft employee Steve Clayton. MacLeod also is a cartoonist and marketing strategist; he doesn’t work for Microsoft.
Bearing the tagline, "Microsoft: Change the world or go home," Blue Monster is supposed to represent the vision of the company’s employees. If they can’t make the world a better place, they should give up.
In a blog post yesterday, MacLeod explained the ongoing discussion with Clayton that led to Blue Monster’s creation: "For too long, Microsoft has allowed other people tell their story on their behalf–the media, their competition and their detractors, especially–instead of doing a better job of it themselves."
I agree and not. Some of Microsoft’s more than 3,000 bloggers do a good job of marketing the company in a meaningful way. As for the marketing geniuses behind the "Wow is Now" campaign, next week’s Windows Vista launch will put their storytelling skills to test. Apple’s "Get a Mac" ad campaign has set a high bar for Microsoft to follow.
Back to Blue Monster: The character is a clever idea, although he is ugly. I can’t imagine that the marketing gurus in Redmond would ever choose a monster to represent the company. After all, many people have accused Microsoft of being a monster, given some of its business tactics. Those accusations are perhaps the best reason for Blue Monster, frightening failure to do good.
Hack #1: Multi- Extension Support mod - This hack makes the Zune program support more types of video, audio, and image extensions. This mod converts files for use on the Zune. Files are automatically converted to the exact specifications used on the Zune device, so no guesswork is involved. It also adds the songs and movies to your library. The hack current supports the following: Audio: .aac, .aif, .aifc, .aiff, .au, .cda, .mid, .midi, .rmi, .snd, and .wav files are now automatically added to your library and later converted and synced with the Zune device. They will not play in your Zune program, though. Video: .asf, .avi, .dvr-ms, .m1v, .m2v, .mod, .mp2, .mp2v, .mpa, .mpe, .mpeg, .mpg, .mpv2, and .wm videos are now automatically added to your library and later converted and synced with the Zune device. They will not play in your Zune program, though. Images: .png, .bmp, .gif, and many other image file types have been found as being supported by the Zune program, but as of yet they cannot be added to the library or synced to your device.
Hack #2: Not really a hack, more of a break-it-open guide – Rapid Repair, a personal music player parts and repair site, has opened up the new Zune 2 and has the pictures to prove it. With their step-by-step guides, you, too, can bust into your Zune, old or new, and replace a part or two.
Hack #3: Use the Zune 2 as a flash drive - this hack makes your computer recognize your Zune 2 just like it’s any ordinary USB flash drive
Hack #4: Convert DVD, video, audio, iTunes and YouTube video to Zune or Zune 2 – this hack gives you directions to convert DVD and popular video and audio file formats like AVI, MPEG, DivX, XviD, MOV, ASF, RM to Zune, convert iTunes to Zune, iPod to Zune, M4P to Zune, M4v to Zune, and download and convert video from YouTube, FLV, Google, Myspace, iFilm, etc. to Zune. It was written up for the original Zunes, but sources say it works on Zune 2.
Hack #5: Another conversion hack – this hack shows you how to convert DVD video to play in your Zune 2.
Hack #7: YouTube to Zune converter – this hack is the how to guide on converting YouTube videos to play on the Zune.
Hack #8: Hack the new Zune 2.0 software to display custom themes - registered members at this forum can download custom themes called zThemes like this Halo 3 one or this Vista one. (Download link here)
Hack #9: Better yet, make your own custom Zune software theme
Hack #10: Get a full-on Zune hacking suite - this hacking suite lets you do the following:
1 – Zune AutoPlay Support Patcher – causes the AutoPlay box to pop up when the Zune is connected.
2 – Zune Guest Mode Disabler – disables guest syncing in the Zune program.
3 – Zune Icon Changer – changes the default icon for your Zune (the suite comes with 11 icons you can choose from).
4 – Zune In Explorer Patcher – makes it so that your Zune appears in Windows Explorer.
5 – Zune Marketplace Disabler -disables the marketplace in the Zune program.
6 – Zune Multi-Extension Support Patcher – makes it so the Zune program will pick up and sync many more types of media.
7 – Zune Service Provider Alternator – Allows you to SYNC THE ZUNE WITH WMP11.
8 – Zune Skin Applier – applies custom skins to your Zune program (the suite comes with 9 skins).
You’ve run Windows Vista, you’ve played around with the Aero interface, and maybe you’ve even mucked around a little bit in Vista’s innards to see what makes it tick.
Now is when the fun begins. There are plenty of ways you can hack Windows Vista, make it jump through hoops, bend it to your will and generally make it behave the way you want it to behave, not the way Microsoft does.
Where to begin? I’ve put together 10 of my favorite hacks for Windows Vista. They’ll let you do everything from speed up Windows Aero to unlock a supersecret administrator’s account and juice up the right-click context menu — and yes, even hack the dreaded User Account Control. So if you want to take control of Windows Vista, read on.
A word of warning: Some of these tips involve editing the Windows Registry, which can be a dangerous thing to do. So before you touch the Registry, use System Restore to create a restore point so that you can revert to the previous version of the Registry if something goes awry. To create a restore point, choose Control Panel > System and Maintenance > Restore files from backup > Create a restore point or change settings.
Top 10 Vista Hacks
1. Hack User Account Control
2. Unlock the supersecret Administrator
3. Tweak Aero’s glass borders
4. Protect your privacy by removing Windows
5. Power up Windows Vista’s context menu
6. Speed up or turn off Windows Aero
7. Bypass the Windows Vista log-on screen
on multiaccount PCs
8. Hack Vista’s blinking cursor
9. Hack Vista’s screensavers
10. Make Windows animation go slo-mo
You can tell by my blog that I am a huge Zune fan, and that I think the second version of the Zune rocks. In many ways it is superior to the iPod, on others it is not. The following is my open letter, or wish list, to the Zune.net team for the next version of software and firmware.
Windows only: Send print jobs to any computer from any computer over the internet—like to your home printer from work—with freeware application PrinterAnywhere. Just install the software and register for a free PrinterAnywhere account (requires a username and email address) to get started. PrinterAnywhere is simple to set up, and when it comes time to print a document remotely, you can just choose the shared printer from the regular Windows print dialog. Because PrinterAnywhere queues print jobs to their server, your computer doesn’t even need to be on for PrinterAnywhere to work—it just fires up the job as soon as the application runs. PrinterAnywhere is freeware, Windows only
We’re always a little wary of unconfirmed speed reports derived from beta software — especially when no build number is given — but a Florida shop called Devil Mountain Systems is claiming that Windows XP SP3 will offer a 10 percent speed increase over SP2, going so far as to call it a "must-have update." On the flip side of the coin, it looks like Vista SP1 won’t offer much in the way of noticeable fixes, and certainly won’t speed things up. Of course, it’s not at all unexpected that the finely-tuned XP would run faster than the relatively new Vista, but analysts are having a field day, with Forrester’s Benjamin Gray saying "Vista’s biggest competition isn’t Apple or Novell or Red Hat; it’s Microsoft itself, it’s XP." That seems a little hysterical to us, actually — Microsoft deserves major props for continuing to improve XP even as it tries to speed up the transition to Vista, even if that means cannibalizing some sales.
There have been reports of some users on a case-to-case basis that Macromedia Flash Player is not working in their web browsers, specifically in Internet Explorer 7 both in Windows XP and Windows Vista even if they have downloaded it already. Though currently I’m not sure as to why this happens (because previously there this isn’t an issue), there are ways to solve this problem.
The fix this, the workaround is not to install and uninstall the add-on/plug-in, which seems to be ineffective. Here’s what you can do:
Close all Internet Explorer windows and related applications.
Run Command Prompt (as an Administrator if you’re on Windows Vista).
Go to C:\Windows\System32\Macromed\Flash (or C:\Windows\SysWOW64\Macromed\Flash on Windows 64-bit).
Run FlashUntil9d.exe (or similar executable file inside the folder) and follow the instructions to install.
Restart your computer (sometimes you don’t really need to do this, but it’s better follow instructions ).
Download preloaded contents pack for new Zunes, in case you have ‘lost’ it *wink* – istartedsomething
One of the less obvious facts about the Zune is that as soon as you turn on the device, you have an abundance of quality content of both music and videos preloaded onto the device so you can literally start enjoying the experience from the first hands-on. On the other hand compare that to the “don’t steal music” sticker you have to peel off the iPod – which is like those “shoplifting is an offense” signs, makes you feel pretty guilty even if you have good intentions.
Of course, to enjoy these preloaded content it would have to mean you first have to own a Zune, right? Not quite! You see, Microsoft today has made available the entire preloaded contents pack downloadable (ZIP) from Microsoft’s servers with no strings attached. The reason this has been made available is that “if you have accidentally deleted the preloaded content, you can download it.” But I’d imagine we’re all pretty clumsy.
The ZIP archive comes at a whopping 410MB which contains all of the preloaded content on the 2nd-generation Zunes. Which includes,
Put the power of Live Search on your very own website – without learning any actual code.The search box powered by Live Search provides a fast, customizable search solution for your website or blog. Visitors to your site can search the entire Web, just your site, or any sites that you choose.
So here is the deal. Youtube has tons of videos, most them just a few minutes long. This tool gives you a easy way to view and download them into a format that you can move to your Zune. What is even better is that this tool can join several videos together. Why is that important? Because Youtube limits most videos to 10 minutes, people break them up to several chapters in there channel. This tool has a great video tutorial that walks you through this step for step. It is really easy, so most bigBrains wont need it.
Have fun and fill those Zune’s. Here is one of the Tutorials.
You may have seen some buzz in the news and online over the last few days about the availability of Zune 80 – so I talked to the product management and retail teams to get the story. Here’s what I found out: Based on our own forecasts as well as early retail orders, we chose to prioritize production of the Zune 4 and Zune 8. Zune 80 was at retail on launch day albeit in lower numbers. That combined with the positive press cycle and higher-than-expected demand has led to the current situation – but here’s the good news – we’ve stepped up production and significant inventory will begin hitting stores within the next 7-10 days. Right now, the stores which currently have availability: Circuit City, Target, and Walmart, and online, check out Best Buy, Circuit City, Wal Mart, GameStop, Amazon, and Dell.
Special button combinations can be used to execute Zune player functions. These button tricks – not widely known – are sure to amuse and delight your friends.
And yes, they work with the new players as well as the updated 30GB.
By default, Zune goes to "sleep" after a few minutes of inactivity, and then turns itself off. You can save a few millijoules of battery life by turning your player completely off when you’re finished with it. How? Press and hold "down" on the Zune Pad, and press and hold the Back button. No matter what player function you’re using, you can always quickly go back to the main menu. Just press and hold the Back button. To reset your player – also known as a "reboot" – press and hold the Back button, while pressing "up" on the Zune Pad. To reformat your player’s drive, reset it as noted above. When it starts to reset, hold down the Back button, Center button, and Play button at the same time. Your player will inform you that it is deleting all media on device, and your Zune should revert to the "way it was" when you first pulled it out of the box. Careful! This will erase your player contents and you should rarely if ever need to do it.
Get more of these parlor tricks in our Zune tips page.
God bless the Black Friday, as the format war keeps raging on thanks to it: Amazon will give you ten movies for free when you buy the $199 Toshiba HD-A3 HD DVD player (or the HD-A30 or the HD-A35.) And unlike some other offers with dreadful title selection, there’s good stuff to choose from in there, like The Big Lebowski, The Departed, The Shining, Goodfellas, Casino and Rio Bravo. And then, The Last Starfighter. And, ummm, Top Gun. Whatever
After taking apart a $30 "extender" Wi-Fi antenna, one intrepid video blogger posted a guide to making the same thing with remarkably cheap stuff. If you’re not afraid of a soldering gun or taking apart your antenna, a small amount of copper wire, a drinking straw, a wood screw and black marker should get you (according to the video creator) roughly twice the range and power. The standard warnings about potentially damaging your hardware apply, so those skittish about soldering should check out Gina’s Top 10 Wi-Fi Boosts, Tweaks and Apps.
As any hardcore fan of the Trek series will tell you, the smallest adjustments made to the originals are bound to undergo a tremendous amount of scrutiny. That having been said, the first reviews of the new HD DVD release of Star Trek have become available�and by the looks of things there is a lot to like, and a few things that will surely piss off more than a few fanboys�namely redesigned visual effects involving the show intro and the Enterprise.
According to both IGN and HD Disk news, the remastered video and audio is decent, but expect to see some artifacts and noise in certain areas. However, with dated material such as this that should be expected. The real interesting news is that the developers also attempted to blend in newly rendered CG shots of the shows visual effects�like external shots of the Enterprise for example. As you might imagine, these scenes tend to look out of place alongside the older footage.
On the plus side, there are plenty of extras to keep fans happy, like picture-in-picture video commentaries, a documentary outlining the new visual effects, an interactive 3D Enterprise tour that allows viewers to completely explore the inner and outer workings of the ship, as well “Blackburn’s Treasure Chest: Rare Home Movies and Special Memories” chronicling the experiences of a regular extra on the set.
All-in-all it appears that the Trek HD DVD is a worthwhile pickup if you already own a player. However, others may want to wait until a clear winner is chosen in the format wars�because there will surely be other Trek HD upgrades in the future. [IGN and HD Disk News]
The 80GB Zune might be hard to come by, but the rest of the family is doing just fine — and Zune.net user halfcirclepunch is here to unbox his fancy-pants 8GB Zune Original for your viewing pleasure. The device is obviously identical internally to the standard 8GB Zune, but the box contains a fullsize poster of the custom-engraved artwork, and a nice soft carrying case — and the deep red Zune looks way better in these pics than we’ve ever seen it before. Peep all the rest of the shots at the read link.