You may be interested to know that I'm actually writing this blog post at about 35,000 feet, cruising along on BA049 from London Heathrow to Seattle Tacoma. I know what you are thinking; I work too hard, right? Well, for me, plane time (while my battery lasts), is the ideal time to get through those emails that you've been meaning to get through for a while, and I stumbled on a beauty, from a colleague of mine, Christian Bezençon, who alerted me to this post on Channel 9: http://on10.net/Blogs/jesse/natural-language-search-in-vista/ which talks about Natural Language Search in Vista. Now, in the past, I've stumbled upon a little check-box in the search-options section, pictured below, and always wondered what it does, and why it isn't turned on by default.
Well, now I know, and I think I'm going to switch it on! As you know, using Vista, you can pretty much find everything on your system from the start menu. There are advanced commands that you can use; filters, such as kind: music artist: (Beethoven AND Mozart), but not everyone knows that, and can't write those more advanced commands, and therefore can't exploit even more power from the Vista search. However, fear not, help is at hand!
With Natural Language Search switched on, you can perform searches as if you were actually talking to someone. For instance, you walk into you local record store and say "I'd like music by Oasis or the Rolling Stones", and they'd say ok, just over there. You can now do the same in Vista. By simply typing Music by Oasis or Rolling Stones, that us exactly what Vista will bring you back.
To turn on Natural Language Search1. Click to open Folder Options.2. Click the Search tab.3. Select the Use natural language search check box.
If you've grown to love those filters, you can still use them with the Natural Language Search turned on, and you can even use the same properties to fine tune your natural language searches. Genius!
Examples of these Natural Language Search include email from bill sent today, documents modified last month, and blues music rated *****. Useful? I think so too.
Now this is a great tool for both Partners, and customers. Why? Well I'm going to tell you.
So, what is it, does it have a website, and more importantly, does it have an acronym? Well, yes it has a website, yes it has an acronym, WVHA (rolls off the tongue right?) and essentially, WVHA is a network-wide, agentless software tool which has been designed to help customers and partners quickly assess their existing PCs’ readiness for Windows Vista migration. It also provides hardware and device compatibility analysis for Windows Vista and offers detailed reporting with actionable upgrade recommendations for each PC on the network.
As a Microsoft Partner, WVHA provides you with a powerful tool to use in consultation with your customers about purchasing and then deploying Windows Vista. For our customers, this allows you to see specifically what you need to do to adopt and deploy Windows Vista across your organisation.
The Windows Vista Hardware Assessment solution accelerator performs three key functions, including hardware inventory, compatibility analysis, and readiness reporting, all of which, you can read lots of lovely information on, here.
With the announcement of SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 2 (SP2), you can now be safe in the knowledge that your database system will not only run efficiently, but will be supported on Vista, and you can now take advantage of enhancements in the familiar and easy-to-use Windows Vista™ operating system and 2007 Microsoft Office system to easily connect and integrate with the power, security and reliability of SQL Server 2005. In addition, Microsoft announced that it is expanding virtualisation use rights to allow unlimited virtual instances on servers that are fully licensed for SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition.
Key enhancements to SQL Server SP2, taken from this Press Release, include the following
You can download SQL Server 2005 SP2 here.
Emma has recently alerted me to, what can only be described as a huge bundle of B.I Loveliness, in the shape of a Business Intelligence BootCamp. Don't worry, you don't need to shine your army boots*, or stand to attention*, but if you are interested in Business Intelligence, this could be very useful for you indeed.
So, what's it all about? Well, "with the release of SQL Server 2005, Microsoft has completely re-architected their Business Intelligence (BI) platform. Veteran BI professionals who want to upgrade their skills and newcomers alike will learn how to apply key BI concepts using the new 2005 Integration Services (formerly DTS), Analysis Services, and Reporting Services. Through instructor-led sessions and hands-on exercises, students will develop an understanding of what has changed and what is new in the 2005 BI SQL Server architecture. Students will learn how to develop applications using the new Business Intelligence Development Studio environment, how to use the new Integration Services tasks and transformations, how to build dimensions and cubes for analytical applications, how to take advantage of the new features in Reporting Services, how to use MDX in queries and formulas, and how to work with the new Data Mining models and tools. Students will be able to immediately apply this knowledge to their real-world databases and BI applications in preparation for the transition to SQL Server 2005" Sounds useful already, right?
The course will be run by trained BI consultants, and judging by the feedback received for the pilot session we ran prior to Christmas, the course will be very worthwhile for everyone attending.
Here is a link to a PDF document will full information about the event.
To find all of the events in the Partner Learning Centre please click here - https://training.Partner.microsoft.com/plc/search_adv.aspx?ssid=1e54739e-272c-4d1c-bc84-3c8f1246eb42 or partners can search on the course ID 44co01.
* Optional Activities :-)
Literally, I am. For those of you out there who witnessed some of the launch footage for Vista and Office 2007 at the end of January, you will no doubt have heard of an application that was built, right here on Her Majesty's shores, for the British Library - this application is known as 'Turning the Pages'.
The first time I saw this application, I was incredibly impressed - it may not be something I would use every day, as I'm more of a magazine reader (Stop it.), but nonetheless, I couldn't help but be impressed with the way these books have been expressed, using WPF and WPF/E. If you haven't seen this before, I'd definitely pop along to http://ttpdownload.bl.uk and have a play. The thing that strikes me as being perhaps the most impressive, is that what you will see, is all running in the browser. No big application download, just a quick WPF/E installation, via ActiveX, and you are away. Turning the Pages (TTP) allows you to see original work, held in the British Library, that you wouldn't otherwise be able to see, or touch - with TTP however, you can zoom in, out, and shake it all about, whilst not damaging the book at all. You can even see original pencil marks on some of the books. Now that is cool! There are also accessibility controls, to allow narration of some of the material, and you can even make your own notes. What more could you possibly want! :-)
Watch this space for more and more cool applications hitting the web, all built on WPF.
As you know, Microsoft are in the process of releasing a cracking suite of products which fall under the umbrella of 'Expression Studio'. Expression Web has already hit the market, with Expression Blend and Expression Design not too far behind (you can download beta versions here) and another product in the Expression Studio Suite, Expression Media, is also available on a trial. I haven't used any of the products too much so far - I'm waiting for my new laptop to do a broad sweep of product installs, but fear not, I'll let you know how I get on with them - I've heard good things so far, mostly from James, especially around Expression Web, and they all work perfectly on Vista. Woo Hoo!
Anyway, the point of the post - as James states, a chap by the name of Andrew Shorten has created a Microsoft blog, for and about our web and design technologies. There are already some great resources on the Expression Studio, WPF, WPF/E and XBAP to name but a few - a worthwhile addition to your web designing arsenal! :-)
Make sure you add http://ukwebagencies.wordpress.com/ to your favourite RSS reader!
Virtual PC is in the wild, it's supported on Vista, it runs Vista in a virtual environment, and best of all, it's incredibly cost effective a.k.a free. It's also got a shiny new website - well, I tell a lie (they don't come out often...!) it's not got it's own site, but has slipped secretly into the downloads section of the Windows site.
So, what does it give you? Well, here's the official description: "Virtual PC 2007 is a powerful software virtualisation solution that allows you to run multiple PC-based operating systems simultaneously on one workstation, providing a safety net to maintain compatibility with legacy applications while you migrate to a new operating system. It also saves reconfiguration time, so your support, development, and training staff can work more efficiently".
For me, VPC is a god send - I can really tinker with a machine and not have to worry about breaking it! Excellent! It really is a great addition to your arsenal, especially when you want to test application compatibility for example.
Download VPC 2007 here
More VPC 2007 Resources: