Archive for July, 2009
In case you spend a lot of your time thumbing through books or drinking coffee in or around a Barnes & Noble bookstore, you’ll be glad to know that B&N is now the proud distributor of free Wi-Fi through AT&T. They’ve offered Wi-Fi for quite some time, of course, but now you no longer have to pay for it
Earlier this year, Dennis Chung posted a video on TechNet Edge explaining how you could install Windows 7 using a bootable USB drive – a necessary step needed to install Windows 7 on a netbook PC. But for some people, those instructions were a bit too technical. That’s why I was happy to have discovered a much easier way.
A reader over on the Tweaking with Vishal blog created a utility that automatically creates a bootable USB drive for you. Not only can the utility be used for Windows 7, it works for Windows Server 2008 and Vista, too.
In order to use this software, you’ll need a USB drive (4 GB +), the DVD or ISO image of the OS, and a host OS on which to run the software.
Once you have all the necessary equipment, creating the portable USB drive is as simple as running the utility. The interface is straightforward – all you have to do is select your source (DVD or ISO) and click “Start” (“Start DVD” or “Start ISO”). You can also use the software to format your USB drive if you hadn’t already done so before creating the boot disk.
When it’s finished, you’ll have a USB drive which you can pop into your netbook or other PC to install your new OS.
Sometimes when you do a search, you’re looking not just for definitions and answers (and of course decisions), but you’re also looking for what the community at large is saying about the subject. Well there’s a site called BingTweets.com that will do just this.
It lets do you a Bing search, but along with the results you see a dynamic column that shows you what people are saying about the subject on Twitter as well. It also will show you some search tags based on what’s popular now, and the people, places, and products that are currently popular.
By now, you’ve probably heard the big news announced at Microsoft’s Wordwide Partner Conference in New Orleans: Office 2010 is now available as a “Technical Preview.” Starting today, the company is opening up the beta program to a larger number of users, all of whom will get to try the new, improved applications and their online counterparts. Yes, Office Web Applications will become available too, starting next month!
So why will you want to replace your Office installation with the latest version? Here are ten of the best reasons why this is the version of Office that can’t be missed:
1. Office Web Applications: For many online enthusiasts, the arrival of the web version of Office is probably the most exciting thing about the new suite. The web applications will work in multiple browsers (IE, Firefox, Safari) and even in most mobile browsers, too, including, as we reported earlier, the browser on the iPhone. Although some advanced functions will be powered by Silverlight technology, it’s not a requirement. The web apps will be tied in with their desktop counterparts and will use SkyDrive to host the online files. For consumers, web apps will be free, but no decision has been made on future plans to monetize them elsewhere. One of the best things about the web apps, besides their very “webiness” is the fact that documents will look exactly the same no matter whether you’re viewing them in the Office Suite itself or within the web browser.
2. Collaboration Features: You’ll now be able to collaborate with other users thanks to a new feature that lets two or more people work on a project at the same time and see each other’s changes in real-time. Specifically, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote will offer coauthoring capabilities. And the collaborators will be able to work with each other no matter how they’re accessing the files – either via the web browser or via the desktop. Specifics on how exactly this is being accomplished are still a bit under wraps since no one has actually gotten to test this yet, but it sounds promising.
3. Instant Sharing with PowerPoint: Built into PowerPoint 2010 is a tool which allows you to invite other users on the net to see your slideshow. The app will simply send them an email with a link for them to click which will launch the web version of your presentation within their browser.
4. Video & Image Editing: In addition to the new sharing features, many office applications, most notably Word and PowerPoint, will include both an image editor and a video editor for making changes to both types of files directly within the app itself with no need for an additional program.
5. Excel Sparklines and Slicers: Sparklines is a new feature in Excel 2010 that gives you a visualized snapshot of a data trend over time. These cell-sized charts can be added to tables to show trends or can be pulled from rows and columns to give visualized representations of the spreadsheet’s data. Slicers also deliver visualizations, this time to add visual filtering elements to tables so you can see what it is you’re filtering on.
6. Search & Navigation in Word: In addition to the new collaboration features and improvements to WordArt and Text Effects, Word 2010 also introduces some great new navigation and search features. When searching through a document, you can now see results as section headings, thumbnail previews, or as excerpts. Also, a new Navigation Pane replaces the old Document Map and lets you browse by sections and headings or by thumbnails – much like Adobe’s PDF does.
7. Outlook 2010 – More Social, Smarter, and Efficient: Outlook 2010 has had a number of changes all of which are worthy of attention. To begin, the program now sports the same Ribbon UI as the other Office apps, making the suite seem more cohesive. A new “Recipients Pane” adds somewhat of a social element to Outlook by delivering info about the people in a message pulled from data sources like Active Directory, SharePoint, and Office Communicator. Calendar Groups help teams decide on meeting times and, thanks to the new “Schedule” view for looking at horizontal slices of several calendars, it’s easier for you to see what time works for you. A new “Mail Tips” feature will warn you if you’re about to do something stupid – or just not practical – like emailing a large distribution list or someone who’s out of the office. It can also help fight data leaks by reminding users when they’re sending something they shouldn’t. Outlook’s “conversation view” is now the new default, grouping messages together by subject and letting you condense threads by removing redundant messages. Finally, Outlook will now support more than one Exchange account, which is something that affected users will rejoice about.
8. “Office Backstage”: This replacement for the old “File” menu, which was recently tucked away under the Office button within the application is quickly shaping up to be a “love it or hate it” feature. Instead of launching a menu of choices, Backstage pops-up a window-like view where you can quickly perform tasks like saving and printing files and configuring preferences. If you can get past the new full-screen feel for what was once a simple menu, you might find you like Backstage even more. For example, you can preview a document right from the “Print” settings so you don’t have to go to a separate “Print Preview” area anymore.
9. Paste Preview: Across all Office apps comes a new “paste preview” function which lets you see what your document will look like before you paste in new content from elsewhere. You can preview different formatting options for the content you’re pasting in and choose which one you want before actually pasting.
10. SharePoint Workspace: Although technically not a feature of the Office Suite itself, this new extension of the Office Stack will make it easier for business users to work with Office files on SharePoint even when they’re out of the office and offline. The SharePoint content is synced with your PC for offline use and you can then launch your docs from the Start Menu or from a Win
dows folder just as you can with any locally stored file.
To learn more about what’s coming in Office 2010, check out the newly launched site at www.microsoft.com/office/2010 where you can get more details about the core programs as well as the other apps like OneNote, Publisher, and Access, all of which have also undergone major upgrades.
You can sign up to be considered for the Technical Preview program from the site, too – just click the link at the upper-right.
If you are curious what 2010 has to offer, or why you would want to upgrade, check out the Microsoft Outlook 2010 YouTube Channel. It has 19 videos with everything from Word and Outlook to some of its lesser known tools. Below is just one of the videos.
The gHacks blog points out a great, but lesser-known feature in Microsoft Outlook: You can sort by multiple columns at the same time with an easy trick.
All you need to do is hold down the Shift key while clicking on the column header for one column, and continue to hold the key down while you click on another column. This can be very handy for more advanced sorting on the fly—for instance, you could sort by sender, and then by message size to find the biggest file from a particular sender. It’s one of those tiny, but very useful tricks that we love to find.
For more, check out how to color code messages addressed only to you, pin Outlook templates to the taskbar for quick access, or read through our top 10 Outlook boosters for lots of great tips that streamline your email handling.
In Office 2010, Microsoft is hoping to cut down on the need for the undo button by introducing the ability to preview different paste options before committing to one.
It stands to reason that one of the most common tasks users do in Office is copy and paste something into a document. In fact, Microsoft says about 20 percent of Office command clicks are either copy or paste.
But, it also turns out that one of the most common things users do after pasting something is to hit the "undo" button after finding out that they didn’t get what they were looking for.
"You shouldn’t have to do that," said Microsoft group product manager Chris Bryant. "We should give you better tools."
With Office 2010, Microsoft is introducing a paste preview command that lets a user see what the different paste options will look like before having to commit.
Today, the software maker provides a number of different paste options, such as including text with all the HTML formatting intact or just pasting the unformatted text. Users can even change the default to be whichever option they think they prefer the most. The problem is that there is no one option that is universally preferred and even the same user wants one format one time and a different option the next.
Microsoft is hoping the paste preview option will help solve that problem. It is also counting on that that and other new features will add up to make Office 2010 a compelling upgrade even though it is not the major overhaul seen with the last release, Office 2007. Microsoft is making an invitation-only technical preview of the software available on Monday, with a broader beta release planned for later in the year, to be followed by a final version in the first half of 2010.
"If you look at the number of times people cut and paste and then undo, it’s remarkable," Microsoft Business Division President Stephen Elop said in an interview last week. "Personally I’m a victim of that, as well."