Archive for April, 2009
Office 2010, the next version of Microsoft’s successful office programs suite, has been in closed testing for a while now. With a public beta expected later in the year, development is stepping up before the program, previously dubbed Office 14, is finally let out into the wild.
Earlier this year we posted some screenshots of alpha builds of Word and Excel, and just over a week ago Zack Whittaker posted some new screenshots on his iGeneration blog.
Here are some images of the new about screen of Office and screenshots of the new version of Outlook, including the ribbon toolbar. Click the images to enlarge where they are scaled down.
Xobni, a pretty neat Outlook plug-in that’s just out of beta, now includes the latest updates from a Facebook users’ feed in a side panel, making it easier to know what’s happening with your contacts. While Facebook updates have been available for some time, the latest update gives full access to a users’ whole feed. Not seeing it in your Xobni? Clear your Internet Explorer cache and restart Outlook
Microsoft is trying to make it easier to sway users of Windows XP onto the latest version of its operating system.
For some time now, the company has been quietly building a "Windows XP mode" that uses virtualization to allow Windows 7 to easily run applications designed for Windows XP. According to sources familiar with the product, the application compatibility mode is built on the Virtual PC technology that Microsoft acquired in 2003, when it scooped up the assets of Connectix.
By adding the compatibility mode, Microsoft is aiming to address one of the key shortcomings of Windows Vista: its compatibility issues with software designed for Windows XP and earlier versions of the operating system.
If you have a PC you don’t have to be envious about the multitouch pad in MacBooks: Now you can replace your mouse with a big ugly thing and do the same magic moves. Wheee.
The SmartTrack Neo is a external USB trackpad that will allow you to use gestures to control your PC: Two fingers for scrolling and panning, victory sign to rotate, pinching to zoom in and out, and three fingers to flick through pages, photos, or whatever.
I like pinching—beyond trackpads—but why would you like to use this instead of using just a—more precise—mouse with the adequate buttons is beyond me.
Well hey — it looks like Windows Mobile 6.5 will arrive a little earlier than expected. A post on the WinMo team blog says that the update to Redmond’s smartphone platform will officially launch on May 11, the first day of the Tech Ed conference. We’re figuring that could mean we’ll see the gold build demoed for the very first time, seeing how the version showed off at the glamorous MWC launch was described as an "alpha" cut. Of course, after that it’s all up to the carriers and handset manufacturers as to when we’ll actually see the OS loaded onto devices, but we’re sure the hacking community will find a way to satiate the impatient until then — or until Windows Mobile 7 comes out
Obviously, if your usage policy at work prohibits using Twitter, this program isn’t going to be of any help. Log files will still show what you’ve been up to. However, if you simply want a less obvious interface so that the Looky Lous around your cubicle can’t immediately tell what you’re up to, check out SpreadTweet.
It’s yet another Twitter client built on Adobe Air, but obviously there’s a bit of a twist – it camouflages your stream as a Microsoft Excel workbook. Three skins are available to ensure it blends in on your system: 2003, 2007, and OSX.
No avatars are displayed. There’s no TwitPic or URL shortening support. Everything is displayed in boring old plain text, so you’ll have to copy and paste links you want to browse.
AT&T’s service, called FamilyMaps, allows people to track the location of any cell phone on AT&T’s network from a mobile phone or PC. The person being tracked receives a text message informing him or her that he or she is being watched. The service periodically informs the tracked individual that he or she is being watched, just in case one text message reminder wasn’t enough.
Users can either track someone in real time by viewing the location on a map or they can set up the service to send them text message alerts or e-mails with location information. For example, a parent may get an alert each day that his child made it home from school.
Windows only: Microsoft Outlook add-in SaveAllAttachments does just what its name implies; it saves all the attachments from selected messages to a folder of your choosing, optionally deleting them from the message.
Once you’ve installed SaveAllAttachments and restarted Outlook, you can use the add-in by simply selecting some messages and clicking the button. You’ll be prompted for a folder, asked if you want to delete the original attachments, and the files will be swiftly saved into a folder—a very useful solution for quickly reducing the size of your PST file.
SaveAllAttachments is a free download, Windows and Outlook 2007 only. For another solution that lets you search through attachments before saving them, check out previously mentioned OutlookAttachView. While you’re beefing up Outlook, take a look through our top 10 Outlook boosters.
An internally used tool at Microsoft called the Microsoft Outlook Thread Compressor has by finally made available to the general public by its creator, Ewan Dalton. The
Thread Compressor (or “TC” for short) is an add-in for Outlook 2000/XP/2003/2007 which removes unnecessary emails from your inbox. The tool basically looks at the body of your email and removes those that have redundant data. This is most useful when you’re dealing with a long chain of emails and replies – such as those found in discussion lists. You see, in those cases, the person replying often leaves the body of the email to which they’re replying intact. Since each new email on the thread includes the entire conversation history, there’s no need to have every individual email saved. And by deleting the ones you don’t need, you can save a ton of space in your inbox and archives.
Since the tool was originally built back in 1999, it may look a little…uhhh…retro by modern standards, but don’t let the appearance fool you – this may easily be the most useful Outlook plugin you’ve installed in a long time.
Of course, anyone choosing to use the tool must do so at their own risk because – be warned! – it does delete email. That’s its purpose. For that reason alone, the legal department at Microsoft was hesitant about it being released to the public.
Note that Microsoft does not support the tool nor can they be held responsible for what it does.
That said, you can get the Microsoft Outlook Thread Compressor for free from here: http://threadcompressor.co.uk/default.aspx. You’ll find installation instructions and more information on that site, too.
If Twitter that is encompassed by the desktop application TweetDeck, then you might be interested in trying out a new spin on that app – this time for your Outlook email. OutlookDeck, a Windows only desktop application, lets you perform searches of your Outlook email putting each search query into its own column. All the emails from your boss? That could be column, for example. Email containing a particular keyword? Another column. And so forth and so on.
I’m not entirely convinced that this interface is really any more useful than when you create a rule to move mail to a folder or assign some other action to it (categorize it, flag it, etc.), but it definitely is creative. And I guess columns are the new hotness right now for organizing your information flow. If that appeals to you, OutlookDeck will be right up your alley.
Students in high school, or college kids without embedded math knowledge, take note: Microsoft’s Live Search can solve math equations with variables.
That means everything from 3x=18 to x+(x*8)=256, and basically any equation where there’s a definite answer for one (possibly two?) variables can be solved from the Live Search bar. It might not be exactly new—in fact, it might have been present in MSN search years ago—but certainly under-explored.
Anyone with a bit of mid-level math to do on occasion might consider putting a Live Search option in their search options or as an AwesomeBar keyword. Got another go-to resource for stuff that’s beyond multiply and divide? Drop the link in the comments.
If you own a decent PC with a Touch Screen (or without it) BumpTop will be one of those programs that you will love to have installed. And I said a decent PC because it uses a lot of resources… If you don’t have Touch screen the program works the same with your mouse. In fact, I don’t think it was designed thinking about Touch Screens.
… This is not a program for a UMPC or even some Tablet PCs. But it’s fun, I give it that. Check the video. I cant wait until we have Multi-Touch track pads.
A new build of Windows 7, one that appears to be the "escrow" build that eventually becomes a release candidate, is starting to build up steam on BitTorrent servers. Microsoft’s Windows 7 engineering team posted yesterday that beta-to-RC upgraders would have to modify a build number to 7100 to enable the upgrade, so many distro-watchers are saying that build 7077 is the last one before Microsoft starts handing the OS out to its trusted partners.
The (non-BitTorrent) downloading public will likely still get a re-named release in May 2009, but those with a hunger for getting the cutting edge right away don’t have to wait. Not too much that’s really brand new, except, apparently, a tweak to the Start menu "orb," some new sound schemes, and a slight visual revamp on the Media Center.
The popular multicolumn Twitter client TweetDeck got some serious competition last night, when Twhirl publisher Seesmic launched Seesmic Desktop, a direct competitor. But this morning TweetDeck shot back with a new version that addresses some of the issues the Seesmic said it was winning on.
The biggest change is better memory management. It’s an under-the-hood fix, but it addresses a major complaint about the app–that it can eat away at system resources and drag down a whole computer. The TweetDeck blog says, "The memory leak has been plugged and now the latest version of TweetDeck will peak at a certain level and won’t go any higher. So you can leave your TweetDeck running all day, all night, or forever if you really want to."
TweetDeck is also getting Facebook support (it was available previously, but required the user download a special beta version). It’s limited to displaying (and contributing to) the status feed, but it works well.
The program is getting tighter integration with URL shortening services (you can optionally preview a link before pulling it up in a browser), with Twitpic (images are displayed in the app), and with the video recording site 12Seconds (you can record videos directly from TweetDeck). By contrast, Seesmic Desktop doesn’t yet have support for the competing video service Seesmic, although the older Twhirl app does.
Apple and Stanford University this week will begin offering free videos and course materials on iPhone application development.
Video recordings of Stanford’s 10-week computer science class, taught by two Apple employees, will be freely downloadable through Apple’s iTunes U educational channel. The course’s syllabus and slides will be freely available on iTunes as well.
This move toward open, free information is particularly surprising coming from Apple. The tight-lipped corporation is especially peculiar about guarding its secrets, and its products are designed under a restricted, closed platform. However, as Apple continues to expand its product line and partnerships, the corporation has recently been forced to open up — just a peep.
"Stanford is very interested in not just creating knowledge but in sharing that knowledge with anyone who seeks it," said Brent Izutsu, product manager of Stanford’s iTunes U program. "I think there definitely is a little modification at Apple, at least within the education realm, to open up a little bit."
Apple did indeed modify its modus operandi for its iPhone 2.0 software development kit — under the pressure of widespread scrutiny. Previously, Apple imposed a non-disclosure agreement on iPhone developers, which prohibited them from making public any information on coding software for the iPhone.
Most notably, the NDA barred programmers from exchanging tips with one another on iPhone coding — and critics said this was antithetical to how a scientific community works. The NDA also blocked publishers from releasing books on iPhone software development.
Finally in October, Apple lifted its NDA, agreeing that it was only stifling the iPhone’s potential.
"We put the NDA in place because the iPhone OS includes many Apple inventions and innovations that we would like to protect," Apple wrote in a letter published on its developer site. "However, the NDA has created too much of a burden on developers, authors and others interested in helping further the iPhone’s success, so we are dropping it for released software."
The removal of the NDA led to the launch of Apple’s iPhone University program, giving instructors and students all the software needed to code for the iPhone for free. This program made Stanford’s iPhone development course possible, and other universities have plans to offer iPhone classes as well.
Universities could teach courses on competing mobile platforms as well. But the unique, attractive factor about the iPhone is its phenomenally successful App Store, which made some independent developers rich. For example, independent developer Steve Demeter announced earning $250,000 in just two months with his game Trism. And Ethan Nicholas, developer of the iPhone game iShoot, raked in $600,000 in a single month with sales of his app.
Stanford is posting its first video of this quarter’s iPhone development course Friday at iTunes U.