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Video Of Flittrbook Screensaver

If you found my post on the Flittrbook, the screensaver that shows updates from your Flickr and Twitter contacts (and eventually, from Facebook) and wanted to know what it looked like in action, then you’ll hopefully enjoy this video posted by Brandon LeBlanc on the Windows Experience blog:


Video: WPF Screensaver Flittrbook

May 3rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | no comments



Preview Flash In Outlook 2007

You can never have enough previewers in Outlook 2007. I know that’s true, because I have no idea how I’d live without my PDF preview handler. The MSDN magazine blog points out an SWF (Macromedia/Adobe Flash) previewer, here’s one that handles PDF/AVI/ZIP/HTML/WMV and apparently there are also XPS and XML preview handlers.

Anybody find any really useful preview handlers?

May 3rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Outlook, Applications | 2 comments

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Microsoft Rejects Drag Queen Xbox 360 Theme

A few days ago, pictures were floating around of an XBox 360 theme called “360 Queenz” that was going to cost 150 Microsoft Points and be the first theme to feature full-screen sexy women/eye candy. For those more mature gamers, who don’t want to stick SpongeBob all over their screen, this seemed like a not terrible idea, albeit a little risque, but Microsoft didn’t like it, and rejected the theme.

The biggest problem: A lot of people failed to realize that the “hot chicks” in this theme… might be guys.

I mean, a queen is usually a gay man, or a drag queen. Did no one look closely at these photos? They certainly could be guys (and I didn’t come up with this; a lot of people are asking that question). Maybe Microsoft made the right call.

Can you imagine, a few weeks from now? “Microsoft Distributes Pinups Of Drag Queens To Children”. Oy.

UPDATE: I talked to the people behind the theme, and they asked me to take the pictures down while they try to convince Microsoft it’s okay. Hopefully they do, because there’s no reason that mature people shouldn’t be able to buy mature content on the 360.

Also: They are women. Women with confusingly androgenous facial features, but that makes them no different from most models. Sorry I got sucked in by the stupid commenters at the gaming blogs, who were convinced these were crossdressers. I should have known better.

May 3rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Xbox Live, Xbox 360, Xbox | 2 comments

Outlook 2007 Calendar Printing Assistant

Microsoft has a very useful Calendar Printing Assistant application for Microsoft Office Outlook 2007. It lets you print out your calendars with a lot of control over layout, graphics and information.

It can:

Print many different calendar view layouts:

Print calendars for specific time frames, and print multiple calendars on top of each other or side-by-side:

Print calendars with user-chosen templates, images, colors, fonts and styles, and lets you create your own templates:

And forecast your activites and use space-saving designs, even displaying an entire year of information in a single view:

Download it here. The download is 14.5 megabytes and does not require validation. Officially it supports Windows Server 2003 SP1 and XP SP2, but getting it to run on Vista should not be a problem. It also requires the .Net Framework 3.0, if you don’t have it already.
(via Bink)

Oh, and LiveSide has a little info on Windows Live Calendar, which should feature a lot of sharing scenarios.

May 3rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Outlook, Applications, General | no comments

Windows Live Hotmail Ready To Leave Beta

All indications are that the long beta process for Windows Live Hotmail is drawing to a close. Live Hotmail beta testers got an email telling them of the “rewards” for participating in the beta. Testers get a special “Beta Signature Badge”, an image they can put in their email signatures letting others know they were one of the first. While this might make for some nice geek cred, I know my wife, a beta tester, was confused, and was dissapointed when she realized she wasn’t getting an actual, physical badge, which would have been far cooler.

The badges are:

I liked the third one best, but she was more into the first one. Of course, she was the tester, not me, so her opinion wins.

The other gift is $100 off a Gateway FX530 PC with Windows Vista Ultimate. Of course, since you have to be spending at least nine hundred dollars on a PC to get the coupon, and adding Vista Ultimate to a Vista Premium PC costs $160, I doubt you’ll be seeing more than a very small number of people taking advantage of this offier. They also “offer” you the Buy Local promotion, which is confusing, because it’s already available to everyone.

I’m not saying these rewards are bad. The badge is cute, not for everyone, and the savings try, but ultimately don’t deliver. Maybe they should have just made some physical badges and send them out, or given some Microsoft Points or something.

May 3rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Live, Hotmail, Windows | no comments

Good Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets - Issue 10

This column, which reviews pretty much every halfway decent Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget (and some real stinkers), has reached its tenth edition, and with that, and end to series one. After every ten issues, I’m going to do a roundup, pointing out the best Gadgets reviewed so far, so if you didn’t pay attention till now, you’ll be all caught up. Hopefully, you’ll see that in the next week, by visiting the Sidebar category on this blog.

If you want to sponsore prizes for the makers of the best Gadgets, let me know. These roundups are getting pretty popular, so its a good opportunity.

Till then, enjoy the latest roundup:

Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets Issue 10Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets Issue 10 Hosted on Zooomr

First up is Mikk379’s Mobility Center Gadget, which brings forth lots of useful information for mobile PC users. It shows CPU usage, RAM usage, battery life, and even Wifi signal strength and which network you are connected to. Looks aren’t anything special, but this Gadget’s got a lot to offer in a compact package.

The ToDo List Gadget by MrChad_ (pictured only in the screenshot) lets you list up to 15 items you need to get done, and check them off when finished. This Gadget should resize as you add items (since it’s way to big with nothing in it), and it would be really cool if it connected with SideShow. Otherwise, there are many situations you’d find this more useful than the Sticky Notes Gadget.

The Full Moon Gadget shows the current phase of the moon (no settings needed) as well as the phases for four of the next six days (days 1, 3, 5, and 7). Looks great.

The Ponzi Live! Gadget (only in screenshot, big box in botton right) lets you watch Chris Pirillo’s wife when she’s on Ustream. There’s also a Leo Laporte one, but it doesn’t seem to work (I think they moved his channel). Why all these specific Ustream Gadgets? Why not one with user-selectable channels?

I should start skipping Gadgets like this, but somebody has to warn people. The Windows Live Gadget by LocoLorenzo doesn’t do anything. Click it, and Live.com opens in your browser. That’s it. Yuck.

Liked the Royal Vista Casino Gadget I reviewed in Issue 8, which lets you play a bunch of casino games in the Sidebar? Then you’ll be pleased to know it now comes in Italian and French and German. Well, unless you only speak Flemish. Then how are you reading this?

If you’re a resource Nazi like myself, you’ll love the TopProcess Gadget. Rather than showing the amount of CPU being used, it shows you the programs that are using it the most. You can change the number of programs, and the interval being updates. Now, all I need is one that shows me the programs using the most RAM, and I can stop using Task Manager so much.

The NASA TV Live Gadget (in screenshot) shows the NASA TV stream, which seems to consist mostly of interviews about all the things NASA does. It doesn’t size properly to the Sidebar, so this one is for use undocked.

The System Notify Gadget is a really unique system information Gadget, showing what edition of Windows you are running, RAM, hard drive space, free hard drive space, and in a flyout, details on any other drives connected to your system.

Vishwak Solutions’ Media Player Gadget lets you choose any video file and play it in the Gadget. It’s got a small size, whether in the Sidebar or undocked.

The Outlook Task Item Gadget is an extremely compact Gadget with links to task items for yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and clicking any of them brings out your tasks in a flyout pane. And it stays small when undocked, so it takes up practically no space.

Vishwak Solutions CPU Meter Gadget has a unique look compared to other CPU Gadgets, showing the CPU usage in a large area, and the top five processes (and how much memory they use) in a list.

The Task Reminder Gadget lets you set a time to be reminded about something, with an alarm going off and the Gadget letting you know why. Much more useful than my old method: Using Task Scheduler to open Windows Media Player every morning.

The TXTDrop.com Free Text Messaging Gadget (seen in screenshot) lets you send free text messages to any US cell phone, getting replies in your email inbox.

The official AOL Search Gadget has a search box to search AOL’s search engine (sadly opening a new browser windows, not using a flyout), but it also shows the top three most popular searches (ten when undocked). Best of all, its small when on the Sidebar, big but not terribly big on the desktop, and in both modes it has a button to make it smaller down to just the search box.

The ViewMy.TV Gadget (pictured in screenshot) shows you a bunch of TV channels, including CNN, from viewmy.tv. One problem: Viewing is only in a flyout, so if you do anything else, it goes away.

The History on Today Gadget shows you something that happened this day in history, from InfoPlease’s website, and it lets you click to see the whole page at InfoPlease.

The System Symbols Gadget (in the screenshot, the small white Gadget with six colorful little buttons) gives you links to several important system tasks with one click: shutdown, log off, restart, switch user, standy, or hibernate. It’s compact, and the icons it uses are cute, but I wish it just used the standard Windows icons. You don’t want to be confused about which icon does what, when one of the icons restarts your computer.

The Halo 3 Beta Countdown Gadget counts down to the release of the hotly anticipated Halo 3 multiplayer beta, just two weeks away.

VishwakSolutions’ Dictionary Gadget lets you type in any word and get a short defintion in a flyout pane. Click a link and get the full definition at dictionary.reference.com.

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Vishwak Solutions’ Radio Gadget lets you choose from eleven Tamil, Hindi and English radio stations, and play them right from the tiny Gadget.

The Simple Date & System Functions Gadget shows you the day, date and time, but mouse over it and you get links to open Task Manager, Lock the computer, Shut Down and Restart. Great idea, great use of a small space.

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Slaine’s Multiple XBox Live Gamercard Gadget lets you enter a bunch of Gamertags. It displays the Gamer pictures of all the people you added, sorted by whoever has the highest GamerScore, and clicking on any will show the Gamertag. Great way of keeping track of a lot of other gamers without wasting a lot of space.

The Thelazyadmin.com RSS Gadget shows the latest headlines from that network admin tips site. What I love: It has a setting to keep the small size even when undocked. Every Gadget needs that option! There’s also a Gadget for searching that site, but it has no flyout pane.

The Google Analytics Drilldown Top Ten Gadget (shown in screenshot, botton center) shows your top ten content items in Google Analytics, in theory. I only got three things listed, my two homepages and my archive page, so it doesn’t seem to be working for my site. Still, worth checking out if it works right for you. You can select from three date ranges and three refresh rates.

Angelus’ Tic Tac Toe Gadget lets you play Tic Tac Toe in your Sidebar (and doesn’t get too big when undocked). You can play against the computer on four difficulty levels, or play against a friend. The configurations appear to be in Italian or something, but it’s all very straightforward. I discovered something using this Gadget: I’m really bad at Tic Tac Toe.

The System Monitor Gadget is amazing. It shows you a ton of data on your system: Memory used/free/total/percent/bar, CPU speed/percent/bar, network LAN IP and WAN IP address, hard drive letters, free space and total space, removable drives and what’s in them, and user info with user name/computer name/network domain.

If you’re into the French presidential election, and speak French, you can use the Second Tour PrĂ©sidentielles 2007 Gadget to keep track of news items.

The MiniRadio Gadget lets you choose from a huge number of pre-programmed radio station, or add your own, and listen to them in a nice compact form. There are a ton of customization options for the Gadget.

One other thing to note: Windows Live Gallery, the site where you’ll find almost every Sidebar Gadget, got an update, improving the look and seperating Sidebar Gadgets and Web Gadgets into two seperate sections. If you subscribed to an RSS feed of the latest Gadgets, you’ll need to replace it with a new one now, as the old one is useless.

Previously:
Issue 1
Issue 2
Issue 3
Issue 4
Issue 5
Issue 6
Issue 7
Issue 8
Issue 9

May 3rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Sidebar, Vista, Windows, General | one comment



Microsoft Office Live Seminar Series

Microsoft and MasterCard are teaming up for a free webcast-based Office Live Seminar series, designed to help small businesses get practical advice from business leaders on how to get the most out of their business. Sessions are being held all month, and include sessions on franchising, videoconferencing/webinars, taking risks, women-run businesses, user-generated marketing, and how to deal with much bigger competitors.

Participants can register in a sweepstakes that, every time they use their MasterCard between now and June 30, they get an entry to win $100,000, half for their business, and half for personal use.

May 3rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Office Live, Live, Windows, General | no comments