The amount of gadgets now available on the Vista Gadget Site, is growing daily, and there are some pretty darn cool ones out there to pop in your sidebar. I've highlighted a few that I really have come to grow and love...
This one is great, as it gives a quick view of your signal strength, SSID and whether or not the connection is secure or not. Works a treat and provides alot more information than just mousing over your little network icon in your taskbar. A great time saver! This one has been created by a chap named Tom, and you can download the gadget here.
BBC Radio Player
This is a great gadget, simple to use, pick your BBC station, and there are quite a few choices, including the ever important BBC Radio 5Live, for the football matches, click on Play, and away you go. It gives you information on the current show, and what is up next, kind of like what you would get when watching via a DVB Tuner. Cool! Again, created by Tom, and downloadable from here.
Windows Live Messenger
Now this one is cool, and really handy! Instead of having to fully open Live Messenger to ping someone a message, I can simply click on my face (no comments please), and it opens my online (or offline too) contacts, and by double-clicking one of their names, it opens the message dialog box automatically. Cool!
Unfortunately, there is no way, that I have found so far, to change your status from the gadget, so you'd have to go through the usual routes for that one I'm afraid.
This one, like the previous two, has been created by Tom, and is downloadable from here.
You can view other gadgets created by Tom, and leave him feedback on his gadgets, here.
So, the final one I use....
Windows Media Player Shuffler
This is simple, and works a treat. Add it to your sidebar, and it will randomly go through your tracks in your Media Library. You can skip forward, back, play, stop etc all from the gadget. When un-docked, it provides a larger view of the album art and still maintains the same functionality.
This one, believe it or not, is made by someone different! I thought Tom was the gadget king! Alas, it seems that someone else, by the name of Nick Plennox, and you can find more details about this cool little gadget on the Vista Gadget Site.
So, why am I highlighting gadgets anyway? Well, number one, they rock, and they are cool, and they make things easier to do, like accessing contacts, seeing your wifi status etc, and they make your machine personal, and hence, the user experience is more personal too. My parents live in Spain, hence I have the weather gadget on my desktop, one for Reading, one for Murcia, in Spain. I can take a glance at that and instantly know whether it is a good time to give them a phone call. If it's raining, best not to speak to my Mum... :-)
Seriously though, if you are an ISV, or Independent Software Vendor, and you are making a bespoke application to run on Vista, why not go the extra mile and build a handy little gadget to go with it. For example, what if you create an application that monitors patient information? Wouldn't it be cool to have a one quick click entry point, from the sidebar, where users, probably doctors, can access the information on patients, or alternatively, see quick, at a glance information on a current patient. There are loads of opportunities, you could even make a business out of providing gadgets! You can find more information on the wonderful world of gadgets, over on this site. It's time to build....
Have you seen this yet? No? Well I suggest you sit up and take note, because this is COOL technology at it's very best. Imagine, for example, being in St Mark's Square in Venice, with beautiful buildings all around, and you are happily snapping away with your digital camera. Now, imagine stitching those photos together, to form one big 360 degree photo. Now imagine being able to combine this with photos that other people have taken of buildings and surroundings from St Mark's Square, from different angles and at different times. Imagine being able to rapidly move around and look at all those pictures as if you were moving your head around, zoom in, zoom out, or, better still, imagine flying around to different vantage points to get the best view of the Square.
Well, imagine no more, because that technology is here, and it is pretty darn cool.
Now who can put it better than the Photosynth team themselves:
"Photosynth combines hundreds or thousands of regular digital photos of a scene to present a detailed 3D model, giving viewers the sensation of smoothly gliding around the scene from every angle. The scene can be constructed regardless of whether the photos are from a single or multiple sources. It’s like a hybrid of a slide show and a gaming experience that lets the viewer zoom in to see greater detail or zoom out for a more expansive view. By viewing the photos in a 3D context you are able to get a better sense for the place where they were captured"
You can't make your own collection just yet - remember, this is just the start. This is the first time the public have been able to see it, and I'm giving you the link!
According to the Photosynth guys, this particular example is a collection of photos is taken at Piazza San Marco. Dating back to the 9th century, the piazza grew to its current size and shape in 1177. Historically, it was the location of all important Venetian state offices, and the site has always been viewed as the center of Venice.
It is dominated by the Basilica of St. Mark, the Doge's Palace, and the Campanile. The piazza is frequently flooded by high tides since it is the lowest point in the city, but luckily that didn't happen during the ten days these photos were taken!
Firstly, an apology - my posting frequency has dropped dramatically over the last 2 weeks, and with only 3 posts since the start of November, I thought it was time to get cracking again!
Secondly, an explanation of why I haven't been posting! Well, having completed some training in Milan at the start of November, it was time to start the ball rolling on the Exchange, Vista & Office Roadshow on the 6th November. Now, the first of these events was held at the Microsoft UK Campus, at Thames Valley Park. I just went along to watch, and I thought, for only the 2nd event on the tour, it was pretty good, although there were a few people who were unhappy with the content and who the content was aimed at. Susanne, a Microsoft Small Biz Partner, wrote a pretty long blog post on her blog (which I recommend you bang in your RSS feed reader) about how the messaging doesn't really apply to the Small Businesses out there. I did agree with alot of what she was saying, yet, rather than write a response, I'll let you read David Overton's post.
So, we took the feedback on board, and we set out to improve the show - we couldn't re-tailor the message to just the Small Businesses (more on this later), but, we could streamline what we had, to ensure that all attendees left with a vision of what is possible for their customers, around Exchange 2007, Vista and Office 2007. I think one of the key messages for us around the roadshow, is that we are putting the dots on the page for the attendees, and we hope that the attendees can join them, in whichever way is right for their customers.
So that was Monday, by Wednesday I'd traveled up to Manchester, to present at a Careers Fair, trying to encourage new graduates onto our Graduate Scheme. So, that's 200 miles so far, then it was down to Bristol, another 200 miles, to prepare with the guys, for the next EVO Roadshow event, down in Bristol, at the Watershed Theatre. This is the first time I would be presenting on the Roadshow, and I was pretty nervous, but excited at the same time!
So, how did it go? Awesome. It was an amazing buzz (even though I was full of a cold!) and we received some excellent feedback. You can see my picture on the left! My main part was in the first 10 minutes, where I took the reigns and gave the 250 audience a real whizz-bang demo of Vista and Office. The idea of this section is not only wow the audience with what is possible with Vista and Office, but ensure that they can see the business value at the same time. We've tentatively named this, the 10-minute speed demo, full details of which I will be putting on the blog soon.
From there, it was on to London, where the Matt & James double act was on it's second showing, and we decided to adapt the 10-minute speed demo a little, by showing my top 20 things in Vista, so while James narrated, I was banging through the different features like there was no tomorrow. Having got through 11, and time being pushed, it was important to have a whizz-bang final 9...
So, that's where my first week went, but what about the second? Well, I mentioned earlier, that many of the attendees to the first Microsoft UK Campus EVO Roadshow event, left disappointed, as they felt the messaging wasn't really appropriate for them, so, I was asked to go along to one of the many Small Business Community events to talk about Vista and Office. This event was held at the MSN offices in Soho, and was a great opportunity to meet some of the small business partners, such as Vin. The event was excellent - it was really great to get to know some of the pain points that small businesses are facing with this wave of products. I demo'd for about 2 hours (I'm a firm believer in less slides, more demo!) and it resulted in some great talking points, and the feedback from the partners was very positive. By the end of the demo, there were already conversations taking place (outside the pub!) about how they could apply some of what I'd shown, to their customers! Result! I was really proud of what I'd done - coming away from London, I felt like I'd made a difference to these guys. I can't believe my job is so rewarding!
On Wednesday of last week, at the office, I had the chance to attend a cool session on Live Search, which, partner in crime, James, who is quicker on the draw than Clint Eastwood on heat, has blogged about it. You should give it a read, it is definitely worth it. I'm not going to pinch his content, but I am going to pinch this video - it's awesome! Enjoy the Knights of Live Search...
Thursday was the next big one - the biggest number of attendees so far, and this one was another good one! Again, I had the free reigns on the first 10 minutes, and I thought I'd really spice it up abit. I took alot of elements from the previous demo's that I've given, but at the end of the demo, I thought it would be great to demonstrate the new features in Accessibility in Vista, or in particular, the Speech Recognition, which I showed by opening programs such as Word, Notepad, Media Player, and then Solitaire, which I then played, using speech! To close this little piece, I switched back to Word, and spoke to type..."This is where the audience...Applauds!" and they did! Awesome!
So, that's what I've been doing for the last 2 weeks! Crazy, and as you can imagine, I'm pretty tired, and there has been a load going on in the rest of the world too, to name but a few....
Expect the next few posts to talk about these in more detail as I get through my Blog-To-Do list!
Thanks to Marcel, a colleague from Microsoft Germany, for sending this through. I wasn't sure if this was for real at first, and to be honest, I'm still not, but it is great, it's cool, and it's really useful too.
Basically, some bright spark has created 6 episodes, of which only 2 are currently available, which are leading up to the retail launch of Windows Vista by answering different questions in each episode, ranging from the different Vista editions in the first episode, to the different logo's that are out there when it comes to Vista. The video's are very entertaining and funny, and only last a minute or two, so you can quickly get the information you want, while watching a cartoon! What more could you want!
You can view the movies over at http://www.windowsvistaretail.com
It really is fun to watch, yet you can get a good idea of many of the areas of Vista at the same time. Double header! :-)
Great fun - Enjoy!
Today is the day. 30th November 2006. $20Billion of research and development is here, and it really will herald the new world of work by simplifying how people work together, find information, improve business insight, protect and manage content, and ultimately, reduce IT costs whilst increasing security.
Our charismatic CEO Steve Ballmer, will be delivering a launch keynote, live from the NASDAQ Marketsite in New York City, which you can watch via a Live Webcast - Add it to your Outlook Calendar. The keynote will take place at 7:30am PST, or 3:30pm GMT for those Brit readers. Definitely worth a watch, though no doubt it will be on many of the news channels too!
It's taken its time, but it's finally here...but the question is, are you ready for a new day? Tom's team, over at http://www.windowsvistaretail.com sure are :-)
For those of you who were lucky enough to get to go to Barcelona, and managed to draw yourself away from places like the Nou Camp, Las Ramblas and the stunning fountains, to take in the sights and sounds of TechEd - lucky you!
For those of you who didn't, but don't want to miss out on the content that was available to the attendees, fear not, you can still access it, albeit in a virtual sense.
You can watch interviews with top experts, listen to podcasts and see featured sessions via video on demand, most of it hosted by Stephen Lamb and James O'Neill from the UK.
Access the Virtual Side here!
Windows Vista Readiness Assessment
There is a great beta programme available to help partners, and their customers quickly assess hardware and device compatibility for Windows Vista upgrades from a single networked machine. The tool is also completely agent-less. Be the first to test the tool, and sign up here!
Forefront Client Security
There is a public beta now available for Forefront Client Security, which delivers antivirus and antispyware protection for business desktops, laptops and server operating systems with simplified security administration and integration with existing infrastructure. You can sign up here!
Forefront Security for Exchange Server
For those of you running Exchange Server, this could be a great little gem. The beta of Forefront Security for Exchange Server is now available, and includes scan engines from various industry-leading security firms all integrated in a single solution. This can help businesses protect their Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 messaging environments from viruses, worms and spam. Through deep integration with Exchange Server, scanning innovations and performance controls, Forefront Security for Exchange Server helps protect messaging environments while maintaining uptime and optimising server performance. It also provides administrators with easier configuration and operation management, automated scan engine signature updates and reporting at the server and enterprise level. Worth a try?
Forefront Security for SharePoint
Used SharePoint before? No? Well, let me tell you that the new SharePoint 2007 rocks with a capital R! But, you want to make sure it's completely secure, for your piece of mind, right? Well, Forefront Security for SharePoint ships with multiple scan engines from industry-leading vendors and provides content controls to help businesses protect their Microsoft Office SharePoint 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 collaboration environment from documents containing malicious code, confidential information and inappropriate content. Give it a go for yourself.
Now that Vista and Office have hit gold, more and more partners have been asking, particularly at the EVO Roadshows (Which you can still register for) where they can get their hands on a copy of the RTM beauties, so that they can try to reproduce the infamous McSpirit 10-minute Speed Demo for their customers...
Well, here is where you, as a Microsoft Partner, can get your hands on the shiny software:
If you still can't get hold of the RTM code using the methods above, yet you still want to demo the the life out of Vista and Office, (The McSpirit Speed-Demo is copyrighted, ok? ;-) ), then fear not, I have the answer.
So, what is this? Well, it's the Windows Vista Demo Readiness Toolkit, and is the perfect way to demonstrate customer scenarios, all the tools and features of both Vista and Office, and best of all, setting it up is an absolute doddle.
Simply boot from the DVD (making sure that you have backed up your data first, as the install wipes the machine and creates the relevant partitions for the demo) and go and have a cuppa, and when you come back, you should have a nice swanky system, partitioned correctly, with the relevant users set up, and a demo script included, which allows you to become a fully fledged Speed-Demo-er in no time!
But I haven't got a spare machine, I hear you cry? Well, problem solved. Back up all of your data, onto a removable disk for example, and install the DRT, and when complete, shrink the main system partition to one that will give you enough space to install another instance of Vista, and you can subsequently dual-boot between a demo machine, and a work machine. Simple! You can find full details on how to do this here.
For more information on what the DRT allows you to demo, pay a visit to James's blog. Ok Ok, I'm super-excited...Where can I, as a MS Partner, get this cool tool...
Your wish is my command
Well, we've been waiting along time (5 years, 3 months and 5 days to be precise), but, Windows Vista is about to become a reality, for corporate customers anyway.
I'm going to get straight to the point here. It's available on the 30th November. 2006. Put it in your diary's, circle it on your calendar, put it in Outlook (2007 hopefully!) - do whatever you want to remember it - the wait is nearly over!
For us consumers, we will have to wait a little bit longer, sometime towards the end of January 2007 I guess, but it will be worth it. Get ready for the biggest software launch in history.
I've been running Vista RTM for a while now (whether or not I've been running the final final final iteration of the RTM build is beyond me!), with its swanky new sounds (not these ones, by James - He's such a joker - try living with him!) and new wallpapers, and it's been running fine for me - better than fine - I just couldn't go back to XP now. End of story.
Expect an official announcement on the consumer version soon I guess!
The BBC have even provided a handy little hardware checklist, so you can have a quick glance to see if your PC is Vista Ready.
With the recent milestone releases of the 2 major browsers on the market, I thought you might like to know which the best browser on the market actually is.
and the winner is....
I'll leave it to Long to tell you - read his post on 'The fairest and most definite browser comparison'
I think you will agree with the results....