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Vista Wifi Patch Sorta Released

Microsoft is kind of making available a pre-Vista Service Pack 1 hotfix that corrects several wireless internet bugs. This Knowledge Base article explains the hotfix, which fixes the following issues:

SYMPTOMS
On a Microsoft Windows Vista-based computer, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms in a wireless network environment.

Symptom 1
IEEE 802.1X authentication that is based on Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN) switching may fail.

For example, you try to use computer authentication and user authentication to switch the client computer to different VLANs. However, the client computer does not obtain the correct IP address during VLAN switching.

Symptom 2
In a wireless profile, the information about the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) method that is selected in a user interface may be incorrect.

For example, if different vendors provide more than one EAP method, the EAP method that is displayed in a wireless profile is not the EAP method that is actually selected.

Symptom 3
A wireless profile that an independent hardware vendor (IHV) provides may be corrupted after you use the wireless profile user interface to edit the profile. When this problem occurs, you may receive an error message that Windows Explorer has crashed.

Symptom 4
Every time that you roam to a different wireless access point, you are prompted to provide a user credential. This problem occurs even if you have saved the user credential.

Symptom 5
You registered a Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol (PEAP) method that the IHV provided. When you try to authenticate against an Internet Authentication Service (IAS) server, the server may reject the authentication, and the IAS server may send an error message that the authentication has failed. The Onex.dll file crashes when this problem occurs.

The hotfix is only for systems having one of those specific problems, so if you aren’t, don’t install it. If you do have that problem, call Microsoft support and they will get you the hotfix. A faster and easier way to contact them is by using this page to email and ask for the hotfix.
(via Bink)

August 23rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Windows | no comments



Windows XP SP2c?

There’s a new version of Windows XP. This version of XP is fully compatible with Mac and Linux software, streams to PlayStations, comes with cracked versions of Office 2007, has a $100 bill in the box, and actually seeks out and deletes DRM.

Oh, wait, that was that weird dream I had last night after some bad shrooms.

Sorry.

No, this new version of XP is Windows XP Service Pack 2c. See, XP’s been around so much longer than anyone expected that Microsoft ran out of product keys, and it’s had to issue a new version of XP to accomodate all the people still buying and install XP. Ker-razy!

Critical Action Item:

System builders who use imaging must create new Windows XP Professional images with Service Pack 2c when shipping Service Pack 2c product keys; otherwise end users will not be able to complete installation.

SP2c to Resolve Shortage of Windows XP Product Keys

Due to the longevity of Windows XP Professional, it has become necessary to produce more product keys for system builders in order to support the continued availability of Windows XP Professional through the scheduled system builder channel end-of-life (EOL) date of January 31, 2009.

See Windows Life-Cycle Web site for more information on Microsoft’s support policy.

Timeline and Versions for SP2c Release

SP2c will be released into the System Builder channel in September to provide system builders with a new, extended range of product keys that will ship with:

  • Windows XP Professional (except for Simplified Chinese, Russian and Korean languages)
  • Windows XP Professional N

This release does not impact the following versions:

  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional 64-bit Edition

SP2c Features and Requirements

There are no other features or fixes included in this service pack; it will only allow for the inclusion of additional product keys. When using SP2c product keys, system builders must:

  • Use the product keys with SP2c media.
  • Create new images from SP2c to accommodate the new product keys. A hotfix will not be provided.

I gotta say, that’s pretty damn funny.

August 23rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | XP, Humor, Windows | one comment

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Microsoft Does Tafiti, A Silverlight Search Engine

Tafiti

Microsoft has launched a new website, Tafiti.com, that delivers Windows Live Search in a Silverlight interface. Tafiti, swahili for “do research” or “to search”, is more of an expirement, showing the cool applications and UI that are possible with Silverlight, but it is fully functional, with Live Search, including web search, books search, blog search, news search, and image search. It appears that you have to uninstall the Silverlight 1.1 alpha and re-install the 1.0 Release Candidate to make it run (that’s not getting annoying).

You can drag searches over to the areas on the right side, then, share them with others or your other PCs (or Macs). Each search stacks on a card above the last one. Tafiti uses some pretty cool animation, only possible with Silverlight. There’s a really cool carousel that rotates among search types. The news search uses a very cool newspaper style view.

There’s also this cool tree view, that shows items from the search on a rotating tree. It’s good for a screensaver, and can be clicked to run full screen.

On10 has a video demo of the website.

Check out Tafiti, it’s pretty cool, and it goes to show you what Silverlight is capable of. Five guys built this, so the possibilities are more than there for small teams to do cool things.

August 23rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Firefox, Live, Developers, Internet Explorer, Windows, Applications, Search, General | no comments

Microsoft Delivers Rules For Xbox Machinima

Xbox.com has a set of rules video makers can follow when creating machinima, that is videos creating fiction with in-game footage. The rules are written in mostly plain language, saying that as long as you respect the rules, you can use video from any Microsoft game in any way for non-commercial means. Among the rules, you should include a notice of this sort with the video:

[The title of your Item] was created under Microsoft’s “Game Content Usage Rules” using assets from GAMENAME, © Microsoft Corporation.

The most important section:

What can’t I do?
It’s tough to predict everything people will do, but there are some things that you can be sure will get our attention.

  • You can’t reverse engineer our games to access the assets or otherwise do things that the games don’t normally permit in order to create your Items.
  • You can’t use Game Content to create pornographic or obscene Items, or anything that contains vulgar, racist, hateful, or otherwise objectionable content.
  • You can’t sell or otherwise earn anything from your Items. We will let you have advertising on the page with the Item on it, but that’s it. That means you can’t sell it, post it on a site that requires subscription or other fees, solicit donations of any kind (even by PayPal), use it to enter a contest or sweepstakes, or post it on a page you use to sell other items (even if those other items have nothing to do with Game Content or Microsoft).
  • You can’t use the soundtracks or audio effects from the original game. We often license those from third parties and don’t have the rights to pass them on to you.
  • You can’t infringe anyone’s IP rights in your Item, even if the IP rights being infringed don’t belong to Microsoft. Among other things that means you can’t use any of Microsoft’s trademarked logos or names except in the ways described in the pages linked from www.microsoft.com/trademarks.
  • You can’t add to the game universe or expand on the story told in the game with “lost chapters” or back story or anything like that.
  • You can’t grant anyone the right to build on your creations. We don’t mind if other people help you out, but you have to be clear with them that it’s not you giving permission, it’s us. (That’s how we make sure everyone plays by the same rules.)

If you do any of these things, you can expect to hear from Microsoft’s lawyers who will tell you that you have to stop distributing your Items right away.

There’s still a way to do some of these things we’ve excluded, but you have to contact us for a commercial license. Thanks, and have fun!

That means if you use a Creative Commons license, it needs to be one that specifies non-commercial use and no derivative works. It’s a decent policy, letting you do anything as long as you don’t make money, though the requirement that you not expand on the game story is curious. I guess they want to avoid confusion.
(via inSpire)

August 23rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Xbox 360, Xbox, General | no comments

Microsoft Unveils New SideWinder Gaming Mouse

Microsoft announced a new mouse designed for gaming, the first new product in the classic SideWinder line in years. The SideWinder mouse comes with a feature that does a 180-degree turn around with a single button, four weights so gamers can adjust it for the perfect feel, three sets of feet, three DPI switches to change sensitivity on the fly, an LCD status display on the mouse, a cable management system that keeps it from getting tangled, a button to launch the Games Explorer in Windows Vista, two vertical side buttons, and a wide, detented metal scroll wheel for better movement.

The SideWinder mouse comes in October for $80. It looks freakin’ amazing.

August 23rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | no comments

Switch To The Outlook-Hotmail Connector Now

outlook-hotmail-connector.png

After reading this article from Amit Agarwal, I decided to install the Outlook-Hotmail Connector software, if only to see what the differences were between it and Outlook’s standard Hotmail connection (only available to Hotmail Plus users). The software has proven more than worth the free download, and I’d recommend every Hotmail user install it now.

What’s different? Well, for one thing, you don’t need Hotmail Plus. Any Windows Live Hotmail user can use it, and free Hotmail users get almost the same features as Plus users get without the Connector, as well as better interaction with Outlook’s interface (especially the Junk Mail filter). Plus users also get to synchronize the Outlook calendar with the Hotmail calendar, which is useful now and should become doubly useful when the full Windows Live Calendar is announced.

The program works a lot better at caching your Hotmail inbox than Outlook does, download messages silently in the background and syncing them as needed. It respects your connection and takes its time, but if you try to open a message that isn’t synced, it’ll download immediately. There’s a new toolbar that shows you the sync status (it’s been an hour, and 398 of 3532 messages have been downloaded).

I’d recommend this download in a second for any Live Hotmail and Outlook user. Whether you have Hotmail Plus or not, it’s a no-brainer. It’s available for Office 2003 and Office 2007, and requires validation.

August 23rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Mail, Outlook, Live, Windows, Applications | 6 comments



Tech Figures As Simpsons Characters

tech-figures-as-simpsons-characters.png

This blog has taken some tech guys and used the SimpsonizeMe.com website to turn them into Simpsons characters. You should be able to recognize Gates and Jobs easily, but you’ll have to go to the blog to find out who the other three are.

Interestingly, The Simpson did have an appearance by a younger Bill Gates (probably not his actual voice), and the resemblance to the older Simpsonize version is pretty decent:

August 23rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Corporate, Humor | one comment

What’s Happening With Silverlight For Opera?

I reported three months ago that Silverlight support was coming for the Opera, and it looks like that support is coming pretty quickly. In fact, the previous Opera release, 9.22, is supposed to support the plugin, and the release blog post says, “The Silverlight plugin should now work”, but it doesn’t. All users I have come across, including myself, have said that the Silverlight plugin is now identified by Opera and listed in the plugin list, but Silverlight applications do not run at all.

It looks like they’ve got the plugin working with Opera, but the plugin itself may need an update to actually acknowledge Opera and run there. Otherwise, it may just be that they’ve gotten Silverlight to work, but there’s a lot more bug fixing to be done, so it doesn’t run just yet. Guess we’ll have to wait for more info to know for sure, and to be able to use a single browser for everything.

Thankfully, the new secret beta of _________ runs very well in Opera.

August 23rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Silverlight, Developers | no comments

Innovative Bug Testing For Crackdown

Gamasutra has an article about the testing techniques Microsoft Game Studios had to invent for Crackdown, its first open world game. The game was so large and so complex, it would have taken 148 days just to fix the seams in the game’s giant open world. There were about 10,000 environment bugs, and the automated methods the teams created to find, track and fix bugs will make a big difference in game design in the future.

One thing that could not be automated was checking the seams in the world. With 495 city blocks and an average of 12 bugs per block (at a cost of 12 minutes to locate the bug) they discovered it would take 148 days to deal with all of the seam bugs. According to Johns, on prior projects this would be “the time we have to sit down, do the math, and find out how many testers this is going to take, and grin and bear it. On Crackdown we realized that isn’t going to work.”

The decision was made to create a new tool — one that could make dealing with the bugs much, much faster. The team came up with a tool called SWARM. This allowed bugs to be tracked easily: each one had a text description and a screenshot, and it could track every bit of relevant data for each bug.

Since it was easy to see the bugs, this stopped duplicate bugs and also made them easy to check. Metadata was stored in each bug’s jpeg iamge, which meant when that data was dropped into the Crackdown build, they’d teleport to the bug and verify it. Forza 2 took it one step further and integrated with Maya, so the bugged area could be loaded seamlessly and fixed.

August 23rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Xbox 360, Xbox | no comments

HD Photo Plugin For Photoshop Released For Mac OS

hd-photo-for-mac.jpg

Microsoft has released a new version of the HD Photo plugin for Photoshop, one that runs on Mac OS X. If you want to save your photos in the high quality HD Photo (or eventually, JPEG-XR) format, you can now use the plugin in both Windows and the Mac.

The Mac plugin is new, and the Windows XP/Vista plugin has been updated, with a redesigned encoder options dialog that gives you seperate basic or advanced controls, as well as a completely redesigned codec that significantly improves performance on larger images, a fixed tiling option, other bug fixes, and a new setup program. The Mac version is identical to the newer Windows version, and it adds support for HD Photo to Finder, including image thumbnails.

Get the Windows version of the plugin here and the plugin for PPC and Intel Macs here.

August 23rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Adobe, Apple, General | no comments

Beta 2 Of HD View Is Out

HD View

Beta 2 of HD View, the browser plugin that allows you to view and navigate super-high resolution gigapixel photos, has been released. If you haven’t tried the plugin yet, go to this page in a Windows XP/2003/Vista IE or Firefox browser, install the plugin if prompted and see the magic by zooming in and out and dragging around with your mouse.

Beta 2 adds the Firefox support, and it also adds a new button that lets you automatically adjust the gain to make out details that might be lost in the default contrast. Check it out!

August 23rd, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | one comment