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Paint.NET 3.0 Released

Paint.net 3.0

The Paint.NET team has released version three of their powerful, free image editing software for Windows. The new version has some good updates and new features, with the cooles thing being how they handle multiple documents. Rather than a text menu or textual tabs, they have these nice image thumbnail tabs, which look great and are a lot easier to judge than just “Untitled-1″:

paintnet-tabs.jpg

Paint.NET is now available in eight languages, features an interactive gradient tool to fine-tune gradients (better than Photoshop’s), user-defined color palettes, four new effects (Clouds, Median, Unfocus, Outline, and an improved Sharpen), a better toolbar and cleaner user interface, the ability to “Merge Down”, and the History is compressed to reduce disk space, disk activity, and improve performance.

I love Paint.NET, a project associated with but not officially by Microsoft, and is one of the best image editors, certainly a top free image editor, a great alternative to Photoshop. In many ways Paint.NET is better than Photoshop, and the price tag is hard to argue with. If they keep improving it like this, Adobe is going to have to take notice eventually.
(via Lifehacker)

February 5th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | no comments



Windows Live Maps Gadget Coming, Exclusive First Detailed Look

Sometime this week, Donavon West will release a Gadget for Windows Live Maps, one that lets you quickly select an area on the map and view traffic conditions in major cities. I’ve been running it since last night, and here’s my screenshot gallery and first detailed look at the Gadget.

Installing the Gadget is standard, with the exception of one little thing:

1 - Installing

If you look closely (and click on the screenshot to view it larger in Flicr and see what I mean), the Gadget asks you if you want to change the default search engine in your browser to Windows Live Search. This makes me think the Gadget is an official Windows Live Gadget, commissioned by them for Donavon West to create. Anyway, just click “No” and you get to choose your city:

2 - Choose city

There’s an options dialog, where you can change your default city, see the version, and turn on and off the auto-updater.

3 - Co nfiguration

Cities available right now are based on Live Maps traffic data, so they are:

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • Detroit
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • Milwaukee
  • Minneapolis
  • New York
  • Oklahoma City
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • Pittsburgh
  • Portland
  • Providence
  • Sacramento
  • Salt Lake City
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • St. Louis
  • Tampa
  • Washington D.C.

Here’s what it looks like at the closest zoom:

4 - Zoom view

There are three zoom levels, which makes sense since if you zoom in too much, you’ll only get to see a small portion of your commute. You might want to start at the farthest zoom, then work your way in at trouble areas close to where you’ll be heading, seeing where the traffic is and what to avoid.

Here’s what you see when there’s some bad traffic, with red meaning worse conditions than yellow, obviously:

5 - Traffic conditions

When you pull your mouse over to the left, there are some buttons that appear:

6 - Buttons

You can use them to zoom in or out, see more detailed traffic reports at Windows Live Maps, get driving direction at Windows Live Maps, and search the map, again at Windows Live Maps. I’m hoping future versions of the Gadget let you do these things without launching a web browser, perhaps in a fly-out windows.

Also, if you pull the Gadget off the Sidebar, it gets much bigger, letting you see much more of the map. This is one view where an extra zoom level or two would have helped, but it’s still great to use.

7 - Large view

Verdict: Excellent Gadget, a must-install for anyone making heavy use of the Sidebar that faces a good commute to work. You put in a few choice Sidebar Gadgets, and you can scan your screen in seconds before you leave for work and be totally prepared, with this Gadget making sure you don’t sit in traffic for hourse. I wonder if it’ll be made Sideshow compatible, because that would be a godsend. Great work, and I recommend downloading it as soon as it becomes available.

February 5th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Maps, Live, Windows, General | 8 comments

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Windows Vista Week One Roundup

Here are a bunch of stories about the first week Windows Vista has had in the market:

Microsoft is spending half a billion dollars to market Windows Vista. They didn’t buy a Super Bowl ad, but they are setting a goal of 6.6 billion ad impressions, which would be enough to potentially reach every person on the planet.

One bit of advertising they are already doing is sponsoring ABC’s promos for Lost. The commercials use a Vista-like interface, including Flip 3D, showing off the most visibly cool feature in Vista. Thank god Lost returns this week, I couldn’t wait any longer.

Already, Windows Vista has a bunch of updates in Windows Update. There are 7 fixes, plus Texas Hold ‘Em and Bitlocker Ultimate Extras (and 11 language packs). The later you pick up Vista, the more updates you can expect to come streaming in after an install.

One update that wasn’t available was DreamScene, the Ultimate Extra that brings motion video desktop to Windows Vista. No word yet on when we’ll actually see it.

To show how “cool” Vista is, Microsoft built a “Digital Ice House”, a house made entirely out of ice, except for the PCs showing off Windows Vista. Check out photos by Mark Relph and this video:


Video: Microsoft Canada’s Digital Ice House

The Cult of Mac reviewed Windows Vista running on a Mac, and declared that it actually ran faster, on hardware designed for Macs, than Mac OS. Cool endorsement.

The Origami Experience software has been released for Ultra Mobile PCs with Windows Vista. The software looks like a serious upgrade for UMPCs, another step towards making those tiny PCs worth buying.

Windows chief Jim Allchin retired from Microsoft the day after Windows Vista was released, as expected, ending a 16-year career and a major chapter in computing history. He wrote a humorous blog post explaining what his new schedule will be like post-Microsoft.

The new era of Windows development is already underway, as new chief Steven Sinofsky has made one major change, renaming the next version of Windows. What was previously referred to as Windows code-name: Vienna is now just “Windows 7″, just like Office 2007 was code-named “Office 12″. The reason: To stop the hype associated with Windows development, so next time around the product teams can concentrate on shipping a great product. Less hype should equal a better public reception when we meet the next version of Windows.

7:00 AM: Breakfast with my sons. Ended up doing a product comparison review of the various cereals we had in our pantry. Sugar does beat the natural stuff and my suspicions about the impact of packaging on the post purchase experience were spot on. It turns out the box does matter.

Steve Ballmer was in a Best Buy in Midtown Manhattan when Vista launched, and being Ballmer, that means hilarity ensued. Todd Bishop has audio.

Microsoft held some cool Vista launch-related events in Second Life, and The Register took them, and The Miel, to task for holding some of the events in virtual “gentlemen’s clubs”. I’ve got news:

  • It’s Second Life, and sexual locations are part and parcel of dealing in Second Life.
  • Microsoft is holding events in virtual strip clubs! How is that not cool? You want the company to shed its stuffy image, what better way? Don’t complain, embrace it! Until I see Bill Gates walking his avatar into a virtual strip club, I will not buy a Mac.

The Vista Family Discount is getting off to a bad start, with the product keys not working. They’re fixing it, but the discount is hard enough to get people to sign up for as is. Microsoft should announce a six-month extension, to switch things back into the positive column.

Turns out a simple command line entry will extend a trial version of Vista for an additional 30 days, and you can do it three times, for a total of 120 free days of Vista. You just know some people are thinking, “I only have to wipe my hard drive three times a year, and get Vista for free? Hell yeah!”

Vista’s got its first security hole, technically. Somebody figured out that, since Vista has excellent speech recognition, you can just yell at a Vista PC to make it do whatever you want. Sure, it isn’t a real security hack, since you can’t do anything the user can’t do, and it can’t beat User Account Control, but I guess you could send an MP3 file or set up a tape player and try some nasty things. Considering that speech recognition, even for free in Vista, won’t be widely used, I doubt this hack will get much use.

Bill Gates was on the Daily Show last week, and the appearance was pretty good, with Gates pushing Vista, John Stewart asking inane and irrelevant questions, and some funny stuff in between. Here’s the video, part one:

And part two:

Valleywag pointed out that Gates committed a talk show faux pax, walking off, on-camera, after the interview. I’m guessing big Bill figured, “I have tens of billions of dollars, I’m not pretending to chat with this fake news anchor”.

Here’s a funnier version:

And this:

February 5th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Windows, General | 3 comments