Archive for June, 2009
Microsoft’s new search engine Bing had a strong showing in its second week, according to the latest comScore stats. You can see our analysis of Bing’s success in its first week here. Microsoft sites’ average daily penetration among U.S. searchers reached 16.7 percent during the work week of June 8-12, up 3 percentage points from the May 25-29 period (which was prior to Bing’s introduction) and up over 1 percentage point from its first week.
Microsoft’s share of search result pages in the U.S. increased to 12.1 percent during the period of June 8-12, which is also 3 percentage points above the pre-introduction work week of May 25-29, and up 1 percentage point from the week of June 2-6, 2009.
If you take a look at the number of Google search for Bing over the past 30 days on Google Trends, searches peaked but then leveled off to a steady pace. And though Bing is still growing, according to comScore’s analytics, the growth is steady from its first week to its second week.
Bing may have come just in time for Microsoft. In May, before Bing’s debut, Microsoft’s search share was down nearly 1 percentage point to 5.0% from 5.9% a year ago, according to comScore’s search data. Google’s U.S. search share, in contrast, increased nearly 2.7 percentage points year-over-year to 60.1%, while Yahoo’s share was 13.9%, down nearly 1.6 percentage points from a year ago.
Whether or not Microsoft can sustain the initial curiosity around Bing and keep its market share gains over the long term remains to be seen. But Microsoft is pouring $80-100 million in advertising for Bing and is certainly seeing considerable growth, even to the point where it may have leapfrogged Yahoo for one day.
Windows only: A little sloppy file keeping can lead to a lot of duplicate and space-hogging files. Dig up all your dupes with the speedy Fast Duplicate File Finder.
You can scan local, external, flash-based, and network drives with Fast Duplicate File Finder. There are several convenient features like the ability to automatically mark the older of the two duplicate files as the one that will be deleted or moved, protection of system and program files, and a shortcut to immediately jump to the actual folder where a duplicate you’d like to examine is residing.
Fast Duplicate File Finder supports projects, essentially profiles, so you can customize your scanning technique and the locations to be included based on your various needs. There is in-program preview for images, video, music, text, and binary files. When you find duplicates you can dump them into the recycle bin, delete them permanently, or have the files and their folder structure copied to a backup folder to serve as a holding area until you’re certain you want them permanently deleted. Fast Duplicate File Finder is freeware, Windows only.
Would you like to have a calendar on your desktop, embedded right into your wallpaper? If so, you’ll want to check out the online utility from Big Huge Labs simply called “Wallpaper.” After visiting their site, you can create your own specialized wallpaper by browsing for a image file on your computer or choosing one from Flickr, Photobucket, or via a URL. The uploader also offers a number of extra features, too, like the ability to blur the image, apply a color overlay, choose which parts shouldn’t be cropped, and of course, where to the put the calendar on the wallpaper.
If you register with the site, they’ll track your recently uploaded files for easy access – an especially handy feature since you have to re-create the wallpaper each month in order to update the calendar.
Of course, you could use a Vista/Windows 7 gadget to put a calendar on your desktop or – heck – just click on the date/time in your system tray, but there’s something to be said about the elegance of having the calendar appear seamlessly right within your desktop wallpaper. The Big Huge Labs utility is free to use at http://bighugelabs.com/flickr/wallpaper.php.
One of the coolest additions to the new Windows 7 OS is definitely the taskbar. Now a super-sized toolbar of program icons with corresponding menus and thumbnail previews, the new taskbar has dramatically changed the way I interact with my applications. I’ve been perfectly happy with the way the taskbar works out-of-the-box, but others have wanted to tweak the taskbar to fit their needs. To do so, one developer has created a program called Taskbar Overlord that has let him change some of the default behavior of the new Windows taskbar.
Once installed, you can use Taskbar Overlord in order to middle-click to close an open application – just like closing a tab in the IE8 or Firefox web browser. He also added a feature that lets you left-click a program icon to switch to the last active window you were using instead of showing you the thumbnail previews (available when you have multiple windows of that application open).
The Taskbar Overlord is actually a little AutoHotkey script that makes these two changes for you. If you’d rather have one of the changes and not the other – you’re in luck. There are actually several different versions of the program available for download:
- Taskbar Overlord – Source Code. This includes both the left click and middle click functionality as an .ahk script file.
- Taskbar Overlord Executable – Left and Middle Click.
Has both features. Switches to the last active window when left clicking. Closes all windows when middle clicking.
- Taskbar Overlord Executable – Left Click Only.
One feature only. Switches to the last active window when left clicking.
- Taskbar Overlord Executable – Middle Click Only.
One feature only. Closes all windows when middle clicking
[UPDATE: Direct links above may not work for you, click here and download directly.]
Future releases and bug fixes will be announced in the following feed: http://www.ocellated.com/tag/taskbar-overlord/feed/.
If your looking for some beautiful wallpaper, or just love space, the Hubble Site is a great place to go. The site offers the images from the Hubble telescope in 13 screen resolutions. Check out the rest of the site while your there, if you like space, you will love this site.
By using the Neevia online converter you can create PDF or Image documents from many of the file formats that you use on a daily basis. No software needs to be installed on your computer. Simply upload the file to convert and select one of the two delivery methods.
Is Bing and better than Google. I think so, but see for your self with this side by side comparison.
Microsoft this morning announced that it is rolling out Bing Travel, one of the verticals it’s focusing much of its attention on when it comes to the recently unveiled “decision engine” the company set out to conquer market share from Google and Yahoo Search. Bing Travel, as we mentioned when we posted the first screenshots based on the Kumo preview, combines a lot of the airfare and hotel reservation tools from Microsoft’s 2008 acquisition of Farecast with news and other editorial content from MSN Travel (in fact, travel.msn.com already redirects to the new search engine).
Alongside the launch of the new search engine Bing, another free service called Bing 411 also debuted. As you may have guessed by its name, the service lets you call a phone number and get free 411 information (available in the U.S. only). Just like the standard, paid 411 service, you begin your call by saying your city and state and then you tell Bing 411 what business listing or other information you’re looking for. The service will attempt to locate the information and then it will connect you or you can choose to receive a text message instead.
Besides just finding local businesses’ phone numbers, you can also use Bing 411 to get text message links to maps, driving directions, and you can even narrow down business listings by name, type, city, neighborhood, or street.
Other information available via the service include traffic reports, movie showtimes, and weather.
To try Bing 411 yourself, call 1-800-Bing-411 (1-800-246-4411) for free.
The software maker announced plans for the product on Tuesday and released a photo, but this is a product I was curious to see firsthand.
The most striking feature from my brief look was the device’s striking organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display.
I got a chance to see most of the features, but not the one I am most curious to see–the Internet browser. I’m told it’s based on Internet Explorer 6, as is the Windows Mobile browser, but the real question is whether Microsoft has made the interface better than that on its phones.
I’m also curious what Apple does with the iPod Touch in time for this fall. If they add a camera and a bunch of new goodies, it could give the Zune’s HD Radio and other features a run for their money.
Microsoft is busy announcing a slew of upgrades to Xbox Live, and the biggest news so far is relaunch of the video service, now Zune-branded with 1080p instant-on streaming content in 18 countries. XBL is also now integrated with Facebook — your Facebook account can be linked to your Gamertag, and games will support Facebook Connect for sharing content online. That’s pretty huge — but if that wasn’t enough, you’re also getting Twitter and Last.fm in the deal. Want more? Netflix users will now be able to browse the entire catalog instead of simply loading their queue, and Microsoft has also gotten its Party Watch system in order, so you’ll be able to heckle videos with your online friends. Last but not least, there’s now live TV streaming for UK and Ireland gamers, who’ll get Premier League soccer live from Sky. All in all, a solid set of updates for XBL — but we’ll wait and see how that "1080p" video looks before we pronouce Blu-ray dead. PR blurb after the break.
Today from the E3 stage in Los Angeles, Microsoft announced plans to dramatically improve their HD video offering through a new technology that enables instant on 1080p streaming with 5.1 audio with Zune video on Xbox 360.
This implementation is as close to a "disc in the drive" experience as possible over the Internet. At a high-level, here is how it works:
- Video startup is nearly instantaneous because of the back-end proprietary Microsoft technology developed by Zune that seamlessly transitions between many different bitrates and resolutions of video.
- Video playback will start at a low bitrate for fast download time and then ramp up to a higher bitrate and quality, up to 1080p with 5.1 audio.
- Features such as smooth fast forward and rewind that users have only seen before with local physical media.
It doesn’t stop there. Other news coming out of E3 for Xbox LIVE Video Marketplace:
- Social: We unveiled Movie Party, a feature where you can go to the movies with your friends whether you are sitting on the same couch or in living rooms across the country. Starting this year, you can share a virtual theater, see your Avatars (a virtual you) on the screen – all while you listen to each other laugh and cry together at the movie through voice chat on Xbox LIVE.
- New Regional Partners: Now, for the first time Xbox LIVE members in the UK and Ireland can watch live or on-demand TV with BSkyB on Xbox. Never miss a moment of your favorite live TV shows, sports, movies and family-friendly entertainment – even share your favorites with up to seven friends in an Xbox LIVE Party.
- Global Expansion: The 1080p streaming HD Zune video experience on Xbox LIVE marketplace is expanding to 10 new regions this year, making movies and TV shows available in 18 total countries including US, Canada, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Australia, and New Zealand. (Note: content and partners vary by region
Yes, it’s real. Now you’ll be able to change a tire… virtually. At E3 today, Microsoft finally took the wraps off the that rumored motion controller we’d been hearing about. Apparently the small, black device — codenamed "Natal" — will allow for an astoundingly wide range of actions by utilizing a group of sensors (the box itself sits beneath your TV), and the accessory will be capable of juggling multiple users during a single session. The demo Microsoft showed off included a skateboarding game (replete with a young man "air" ollie-ing), and a family playing a racing game (the dad was changing a tire, the daughter driving).
The add-on will offer features such as auto sign-in for players to Xbox Live (based on complex facial recognition), and sports extremely detailed body tracking which will be able to follow the individual movements of separate limbs. During the press event, the company demoed a painting app, which lets you use your entire body to handle virtual painting supplies, allowing you to do things like throw buckets of paint onto a canvas. Another title was shown off which featured a woman interacting with a young boy on the screen — one of the company’s creepier demos in recent memory. Unfortunately for us, Microsoft says the device won’t be released during 2009. We’re working on snagging some face time (literally!) with a demo unit, so stay tuned… E3 is off to a wild start!
There are apparently an awful, awful lot of people out there with shoe boxes full of spare SATA drives. Somebody is buying all these new HDD docks, and while most surpass the previous editions by adding support for another obscure format of memory card, Brando’s latest seems like an actually useful update, adding HDMI and component ports through which it can output video at either 1080i or the always popular 576p. Standard resolutions may not be its strong point, and sadly there’s no mention of which video codecs it can unravel, but it does at least support the major flavors of audio files (MP3, WMA, AAC, etc.) and of course will read memory cards and thumb drives to boot. No, a bare drive may not look particularly appealing while rattling away on your entertainment center, and at $69 you’re not far from the price of a Windows Media extender or the like, but don’t let such practical concerns dissuade you from adding this unique focal point to your home theater.