So imagine this......

You are in a meeting. Being the good corporate citizen that you are, your laptop lid closed conserving power, and you are fighting with every ounce of will to not check email while while some marketing guy explains every number on a PowerPoint slide that no one can read (that is why they do that you know.......if it is so small no one can read it, they can say whatever they want for as long as they want). Your eyes are watering, trying to stay awake. The Red Bull/Starbucks buzz faded 87 minutes ago. All you hear is the wah-wahwah-wah-wah voice from an old Charlie Brown cartoon coming from the front of the room and suddenly, you just can't take it anymore. You decide to break rank and check email.

But there has to be a plan.

You know you can't just grab it and open it. That would be far to conspicuous. Thinking with lightning speed, you straighten some papers (a printout of the microscopically small numbers on the slide the marketing guy is blathering on about) and drop them on the laptop to cover it. You casually lean back in your chair, cross your arms, nod & smile a few times while counting to 10. Then slowly lean forward, reaching for the "papers" and slide your laptop with them into your lap.

Mission almost accomplished.

Slow motion time.......you smile to yourself as you realize you are about to get your first email fix in 2 hours. You are re-energized. Life is good. You see your hand moving toward the lid latch, sliding it to one side, pressing your shaky thumb to the lid. An exhilarating rush of joy washes over you knowing that you are mere seconds away from seeing your Inbox in all it's glory. Your fingers are already twitching in anticipation of pressing the DEL key about 26 times to get rid of all the stuff you aren't interested in (hint: create a rule for all your manager's email).

Suddenly....a thought occurs to you.....a flaw in your plan!

Almost instantly, your joy is replaced by the horror of knowing that as soon as you lift the lid, the machine will issue forth a blood-curdling, head-turning "chirp!" as it comes out of standby.

Abort! Abort!

You begin to cry inwardly as you realize you can't get your email fix without attracting undo attention to yourself. Horror of horrors. You scream in your mind...."WHY CAN'T THERE BE AN EASIER, QUIETER WAY TO CHECK MY EMAIL!?!!??!?!  WHY!?!?!?   WHY?!?!?

Well....there is.

If you have Windows Vista and have spent some time poking around looking for new menu items, you have probably found yourself in the Control Panel looking at a new applet entitled Windows SideShow. More than likely, it looks a lot like the image here....you see a few applications and note that for Devices, none are listed. There isn't anything to configure and little manipulate.

Pretty Boring, eh?

Unless! You have a Windows SideShow enabled device!

Problem is, there just aren't a lot of hardware devices that are enabled for SideShow yet so the applet just kind of sits there waiting. In fact, do a query for SideShow at Microsoft.com and you will find all kinds of developer references to API's, SDK's, and Toolkits that allow you to develop SideShow gadgets and the like, but no real references to hardware that works with it.

But Chris, you hooked me with an interesting scenario, told me there was a fix, then barreled off on a tangent without telling me anything useful!!!!  Show me the money!!!

Oh yeah.

The promise of SideShow is the ability to access information on your PC that normally would require you to launch an application to retrieve. That in turn requires you to power up your desktop or laptop or other device.  That takes time... and who has any of that to waste these days? (it also means there are those annoying beeps hardware manufacturers insist on making non-configurable to deal with).

Chris.....get to the point!!

Oh yeah.

Let's go back in time......

....An exhilarating rush of joy washes over you knowing that you are mere seconds away from seeing your Inbox in all it's glory. Your fingers are already twitching in anticipation of pressing the DEL key about 26 times to get rid of all the stuff you aren't interested in (hint: create a rule for all your manager's email). On the lid is an LCD panel. Next to it a pad with up/down/left/right/enter buttons. The LCD panel informs you - "New Mail Messages: 13". You use the buttons to quickly scroll through your 13 new messages. Your headache (did I mention you have one?) begins to subside. You wipe the sweat from your brow. The shakes slacken off to an occasional shiver.

Email checked. Mission accomplished.

You can now safely ignore the marketing guy for at least another 5 minutes before you start twitching for email again.

That is what SideShow can do for us.

But Chris!!!!!!  Where can I get a SideShow enabled device???

I don't know. I haven't seen a real live device yet.  The software is there. The API's are on MSDN. But I did some poking around and found an enthusiasts site called SideShowDevices.com. There isn't a whole lot there yet but I suspect as the hardware industry starts to pick this up more we will see some cool things start to take shape.

Industry.....we're waiting...

 

Cheers!