The Electric Wand

Weekly tips from the "Tip o' the Week" email distribution inside of Microsoft.

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  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #204 – Mirror, mirror, on the big screen

    Many people who’ve had a new laptop in the last year will have experienced the frustration of showing up in a meeting room, only to find that you have no means of projecting onto the screen – there are at least 5 different types of connector that could go into the laptop, and 2 or 3 that might be supported...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #202 – Screen grabs, reprised

    Previous ToWs have covered how to capture the screen image on Windows, but things have moved on a little of late and it seems like a good time to highlight how to take an image of the screen on a number of devices. Props to Liam Kelly and Rachel Peck for inspiring this discussion. There are any number...
  • Blog Post: Streaming music at home

    Those of us who like the idea of streaming music around our homes have a plethora of technologies available to make it a reality. Sadly, all of them – at least all the ones which work well – are proprietary and have some degree of “lock in” to the suppliers. Whilst this isn’t...
  • Blog Post: Mapping with Bing

    As a follow on to the Bing post from the other day, I was talking with a guy who’d spent some years working in the Microsoft mapping team in Redmond – he’d talked about the progress the company had made in online mapping technology and the challenges associated with it. One of the latter was the brand...
  • Blog Post: iGot-over-it-already

    You have to admire the way Apple stage manages announcements and releases - despite months of rumours, there's been little of real substance about the iPhone until it was announced in San Francisco on Tuesday . The media coverage the announcement has already got is hard to believe - let alone all the...
  • Blog Post: The Firmware of Everyday Things

    (with apologies to Donald Norman, for paraphrasing his excellent book title ) As an IT person, I'm pretty used to the idea that I need to update software now and again. Sometimes, it's to make it more secure (closing down vulnerabilities that afflict any software exposed to the outside world) , fixing...
  • Blog Post: Virtual Earth Mobile - mapping on the move

    Microsoft's Virtual Earth technology continues to take strides forward - not just in the inevitable mash-ups, but in new ways of accessing the maps (as well as from http://local.live.com ... which I keep on trying to access as live.local.com... d'oh ). There are 3D maps in beta, as well as a cool add...
  • Blog Post: HTC s740 – great phone, just one thing…

    I got one of these things a couple of weeks ago… in essence, a great phone (I prefer the “smartphone” type device as opposed to the touch screen variety) – I’ve spent the last couple of years with the HTC s620 and it was time for a change. Key differences are that the s740 is a “candybar” type device...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #39 - Multi-monitor with Win7

    If you sit at a shared desk with a monitor on it, but are content to just use your laptop screen, then this tip is for you. Also, if you use your laptop and display the same image on both its internal panel and an attached external screen, listen up. Multi-mon in Windows 7 – the ability to extend your...
  • Blog Post: Sideshow Media Center remote - want one!

    I've been a long-time user of the Philips Pronto programmable remote - it's an LCD touch screen based affair, which can be programmed to the 9th degree to create your own UI of macros which correspond to lots of different activities on different remotes - eg a "Watch the TV" button which powers on your...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #120 – The colour of time

    This week’s tip is a lovely little Windows app, recommended by Ceri Morris . It’s a little like the sunrise alarm clocks which start your day by gently lighting the room, or the sleep alarms which gradually fade out the radio instead of a sudden silence in place of music. This free application, called...
  • Blog Post: Tips for optimizing Vista on new hardware

    Ed Bott over at ZDNet posted a really interesting article yesterday, detailing the journey he had of making his friend's brand new Sony Viao laptop work properly with Windows Vista Business. In short, his friend upgraded a trusty old XP Vaio to a new machine which came with Vista, but had a terrible...
  • Blog Post: I Bing; do u Bing 2?

    It might take a while before you “bing” someone before going out on a date with them, or you “bing” a question out onto the internet… stranger things have happened though. I hear stories of people visiting bing.com every day, just to see what the picture of the day is. IMHO, that’s so much cooler than...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #199 – Checking your home network speed

    As winter bites, as roadworks cause pandemonium , there may be a trend for staff to work at home more. Microsofties all know Lync powers the ability to effectively work and be contactable when you’re sitting in your shreddies in your home office. If you have a less than perfect broadband connection,...
  • Blog Post: Windows 7 tips & tricks, and Media Center tuner drivers

    I put Windows 7 Beta 1 on my home PC the other day (as a dual boot config with Vista x64) to see what it was like; I was very pleasantly surprised, with the exception of the fact that Media Center - much as it looks nicer - didn't work out of the box with my Hauppauge Nova-T USB 2 tuner box that I use...
  • Blog Post: Is that a Zune in your pocket...?

    (or are you just pleased to see me) OK, after talking about media players just over a month ago , I couldn't stop myself from buying a Zune when I was in the US last month (no willpower). At $249 + tax, with the exchange rate currently so favourable, it worked out about £130, which is a pretty good price...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #149 – Take up thy Surface and Walk!

    Far out, man ! The Surface , maybe more correctly described as the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT , has finally landed and, despite the odd bump in the logistics road for some, it’s flying out of (the) store(s). In the UK, the Surface 32Gb with no cover keeps selling out – the only option if you want...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #108 - Using Accelerators

    Internet Explorer 8 added a concept known as IE " Accelerators " - the principle being that you could select some text on a page, and using an accelerator, quickly search the web for that piece of text, or maybe do something more specific. The other day, I was talking to someone about a particular piece...
  • Blog Post: Zune 30Gb 'worldwide meltdown'

    I went to grab my trusty 30Gb Zune today and it froze on startup - the "Zune" logo stayed stuck on the screen indefinitely. Hitting the web to look for techniques on how to reset the device yielded a few tips but nothing that solved my issue. I did spot that I wasn't alone, however - and the newswires...
  • Blog Post: The Joy of Mapping

    We all tend to take maps for granted. In the 17th/18th centuries and even beyond, there were decent sized areas of the world which were just being explored and mapped for the first time. Now, the ease of access to cartographical data means we don't much give them a second thought. I bought a couple of...
  • Blog Post: Bird's Eye view on Live maps - how cool is that?

    The Windows Live search team did a pretty major update (a few months ago) to a number of elements of the search engine at live.com , but one of the nicest is the maps integration. Type in a postcode, a place or business name and click on Maps and you'll hopefully go straight there... As the Virtual Earth...
  • Blog Post: Choosing a new MP3 player - dilemmas, dilemmas...

    It's time for a new music player. I got a Creative Zen Micro a couple of years ago, and it's been a good little player but the headphone socket has now developed a loose connection and it's getting a bit annoying. It's time to start choosing a successor. Things I liked about the Zen Micro, which help...
  • Blog Post: iPhone over-the-air experience

    Just read Jason O'Grady's blog over on ZDNet and it's quite eye-opening... one thing leapt out: "Wireless syncing . iPhone can only be synced with a cable and can't be synced via WiFi or Bluetooth. This is unacceptable. iPhone has three radios and should be able to be synced with all three. WiFi and...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #83 – some more IE9 tweaks

    It’s been a little while since we dug into Internet Explorer in the Tip of the Week, so I figured it would be worth revisiting. Previous tips included some basics in #64 and #65 and there are others. Docking & Undocking tabs Have you ever found a time when you’ve got two tabs open in IE9, and you...
  • Blog Post: BBC iPlayer kicks up a stink

    It's been interesting reading various news articles about the fact that the soon-to-be-released BBC iPlayer application will initially be available only to Internet Explorer and Windows XP users. The Register reports that a group called the Open Source Consortium is due to meet with the BBC Trust since...