part of the Blog News Channel

Live Photo Gallery Updating Through Microsoft Update

If you like Windows Live Photo Gallery, Microsoft’s excellent free photo management app, then you’ll like that it now updates through Microsoft Update. You’ll need to upgrade Windows Update to Microsoft Update, but you’ll get the latest updates and features automatically as they are released.

December 11th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Live, Windows | 2 comments

Mmm… Microsoft Cookie

Tasty, tasty corporate logo.

I’m surprised at the high quality of printing on the cookie, or on any bakery product these days. We had a 50th wedding anniversary party for my grandparents Saturday night, and they printed the 1957 wedding photo on the cake. It looked very nice, really high quality. I think the cake printer is better than the computer printer I had in the late 90s.

photo credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid under CC license

December 11th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Corporate, Humor | no comments

Hosting sponsored by GoDaddy

Dell Doing CableCard-Capable PCs Standard For $900

CableCard is a significant part of how Media Center PCs could get a significant leg up on alternative DVR solutions, allowing for recording of high definition digital cable signals, but it has been mired in complicated unnecessary DRM and poor OEM support since Vista launched a year ago. Dell is hoping to put a serious dent in the problem by shipping every single XPS 420 with support for CableCard.

CableCard support requires a PC to be certified by CableLabs as having a protected path, meaning that for certain protected content it can prevent you from being able to have control over the signal, that everything is locked down. This has to be done before the PC is sent to you, not after, which makes it so difficult. By shipping all XPS 420s as certified, Dell is helping get a ton more PCs in the marketplace which are already certified, you can just pick up the digital cable tuner later.

Wouldn’t it be nice if, down the road, all new PCs were certified and capable of just plugging in the digital tuner to get HD cable to work? It would make a difference, and change the marketplace from its current stagnant, and failing, condition. Right now, you need the rare locked down PC, but if all of them ship with such support, it’s not that big of a deal anymore, and opens the market wide open.

December 11th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Media Center, Windows | no comments

Gates Rival Carlos Slim Buys OLPCs, Loses CompUSA

Carlos Slim, Bill Gates’ primary rival for the title of richest man in the world, has put in an order for 50,000 XO laptops to distribute in Mexico. The XO, also known as part of the One Laptop Per Child program, is considered a threat to the computing establishment, so this could be a move by Slim, normally a telecom guy, to threaten Gates where the Bill-man is king.

Slim is also the guy who invested as much as two billion dollars in CompUSA over the last decade, a huge blunder of a business decision. CompUSA is closing down completely over the next month or two, shuttering all of its stores after two decades of service. I bought a great computer for under $40 the last time they had a liquidation sale, so watch closely for good deals (and don’t get fooled by disingenuous liquidators who jack up the prices and add a “10% off” sticker).

Two months are left before the next billionaire rankings are compiled, and I predict it’ll be neck-and-neck between Gates and Slim. Slim pulled ahead months ago, after the last rankings (so it wasn’t official), and since then his stocks have been mostly flat, some even down, while Microsoft stock has soared. Slim could be number one, he could be behind Gates, or they could be too close to call. I’m excited to see the next rankings.

OLPC photo by Air Force One, CompUSA photo by kalebdf, under CC license

UPDATE: Looks like Microsoft is developing a version of Windows XP and Office that can be run off an SD card, partially in order to enable use of XP and Office on the OLPC.

December 11th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Corporate | no comments

FreeStylWM Brings iPhone Styling To Windows Mobile

FreeStylWM, a program that has had screenshots floating around for a while in different stages of development, is finally available for download as a not-entirely-stable but certainly interesting beta. FreeStylWM brings the idea of an iPhone-style home menu, with large, bold, touchable icons. The home screen is configurable and customizable with new icons and different wallpapers, and even has multiple desktops which you can switch between with the flick of a finger.

There’s also a scrolling contacts application, again like the iPhone, as well as a few wallpaper picture packs, available on the download page. While it may have taken its initial inspiration from Apple, FreeStylWM has developed a unique look all its own.

One problem may be the initial setup and preparation of your device. FreeStylWM requires Adobe’s FlashLite 2.1 installed, which you have to register at their website for and fill out two forms (not fun on a mobile device), plus, you have to install the .Net Compact Framework 2.0 SP2, which must be done on your computer. If installation via ActiveSync fails (and it always does), you’ll need to browse through folders on your computer for the .CAB file that references your device, OS and chipset (fun fun fun!), copy the .CAB to your device, and run the install there. Oh, joy.

Still, if you get it to work, and your device has the horsepower to run the contacts app speedily (mine doesn’t), then you’ve got a great way to add fun to a boring old Windows Mobile device. Head to the website for more information, or visit the mobile-formatted download page at
(via Download Squad)

December 11th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Windows Mobile | one comment

Vista Service Pack 1 Details, Blocker Software

Long Zheng has a detailed list of the major changes in Windows Vista Service Pack 1, coming in beta any day now. Read the whole list, or check out some of the ones I found interesting:

  • Adds support to enable new types of Windows Media Center Extenders, such as digital televisions and networked DVD players, to connect to Windows Media Center PCs.
  • Enhances the MPEG-2 decoder to support content protection across a user accessible bus on Media Center systems configured with Digital Cable Tuner hardware. This also effectively enables higher levels of hardware decoder acceleration for commercial DVD playback on some hardware.
  • SP1 addresses issues many of the most common causes of crashes and hangs in Windows Vista, as reported by Windows Error Reporting. These include issues relating to Windows Calendar, Windows Media Player, and a number of drivers included with Windows Vista.
  • Improves reliability by preventing data-loss while ejecting NTFS-formatted removable-media.
  • Improves wireless ad-hoc connection (computer-to-computer wireless connections) success rate
  • Improves Windows Vista’s built-in file backup solution to include EFS encrypted files in the backup.
  • Improves the performance of browsing network file shares by consuming less bandwidth.
  • Improves power consumption when the display is not changing by allowing the processor to remain in its sleep state which consumes less energy.
  • Improves power consumption and battery life by addressing an issue that causes a hard disk to continue spinning when it should spin down, in certain circumstances.
  • Improves the speed of adding and extracting files to and from a compressed (zipped) folder.
  • Significantly improves the speed of moving a directory with many files underneath.
  • Improves performance over Windows Vista’s current performance across the following scenarios:
    • 25% faster when copying files locally on the same disk on the same machine
    • 45% faster when copying files from a remote non-Windows Vista system to a SP1 system
    • 50% faster when copying files from a remote SP1 system to a local SP1 system
  • Improves the copy progress estimation when copying files within Windows Explorer to about two seconds.
  • Improves the time to read large images by approximately 50%.
  • Improves IE performance on certain Jscript intensive websites, bringing performance in line with previous IE releases.
  • Addresses a problem that caused a delay of up to 5 minutes after boot with specific ReadyDrive capable hard drives.
  • In specific scenarios, SP1 reduces the shutdown time by a few seconds by improving the Windows Vista utility designed to sync a mobile device.
  • Reduces the time it takes to return to the user’s session when using the Photo screensaver, making it comparable to other screensavers.
  • Removes the delay that sometimes occurs when a user unlocks their PC.
  • Improves overall media performance by reducing many glitches.
  • The Windows Vista SP1 install process clears the user-specific data that is used by Windows to optimize performance, which may make the system feel less responsive immediately after install. As the customer uses their SP1 PC, the system will be retrained over the course of a few hours or days and will return to the previous level of responsiveness.
  • Adds full support for the latest IEEE draft of 802.11n wireless networking.
  • Updated drivers are delivered primarily via Windows Update and directly from hardware vendors, not as part of a service pack. However, a small number of critical drivers are included as part of Windows Vista (e.g., display drivers, audio drivers) and some of these have been updated.
  • The MSN Connection Center Dial-up Internet Access connector was removed from the Windows Vista Connection Wizard.
  • With SP1, Windows Vista will report the amount of system memory installed rather than report the amount of system memory available to the OS. Therefore 32-bit systems equipped with 4GB of RAM will report all 4BG in many places throughout the OS, such as the System Control Panel. However, this behavior is dependent on having a compatible BIOS, so not all users may notice this change.
  • SP1 reduces the number of UAC (User Account Control) prompts from 4 to 1 when creating or renaming a folder at a protected location.
  • Users are now required to enter a password hint during the initial setup of Windows Vista SP1. This change was made based on feedback from top PC manufactures that many customers frequently do not remember their password and because the administrator account is turned off by default on Windows Vista, these users do not have a way to access to their PCs. A password hint helps avoid this frustrating scenario.

If you don’t want the Service Pack automatically installed by Vista when it becomes available and pushed through Windows Update, then install Blocker Tool Kit. It’ll stop Vista SP1, XP SP3, even Server 2003 SP2 for up to 12 months. Download it here.

December 11th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | XP, Vista, Windows, General | 3 comments

Moonlight Still Six Months Away

Moonlight, the Linux port of Silverlight 1.0, is now set for release six months from now. We’ve been waiting long enough, though we’ll be waiting a tad longer, and even longer than that for .Net support. Moonlight 1.1 will be the first with .Net support through Novell’s Mono port for Linux. Moonlight 2.0 has also been announced, based on Silverlight 2.0 as on schedule for 12 months from now.

December 11th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Silverlight, Developers | no comments

AdCenter: adExcellence Accreditation, Excel Add-in

Microsoft has launched an accreditation program for AdCenter, qualifying companies people as AdCenter experts. The program, called adExcellence and available at, will approve experts, list them in a membership directory and let them use an approved expert logo.

They’ve also launched a beta of an Excel add-in for AdCenter that lets you extract keywords from any website, understand keyword trends and popularity, and gain insight into the demographic and geographic information of actual search queries. The point: You can get all sorts of valuable data for running AdCenter campaigns and work on it powefully and flexibly in Excel.

You can register for it here.

December 11th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Excel, AdCenter, Advertising, Office, Applications | one comment

IE8 Will Be Called IE8

Here’s a shocker: Microsoft has confirmed that they will be releasing Internet Explorer 8 and are working on it now, and that, indeed it will be called IE8. Yeah, no more news beyond that. Sorry.

Neowin is speculating on whether Microsoft should consider making Silverlight part of IE8 in order to guarantee a significant and growing percentage of users has Silverlight installed. Silverlight is important for Microsoft’s plans, and the more users that have it, the more reasons for developers to create applications for it, and thus the more reasons for other users to install it, so Microsoft could get more aggressive pushing it.

If Microsoft builds Silverlight into IE8, it’ll be on 20% of PCs probably within 12-18 months, at the least, enough to make a nice impact on the market, plus Silverlight as part of the browser will probably run better than as a plugin. Microsoft should make a deal with Adobe, though, to include Flash built in on every browser that ships with Silverlight, in order to make things fair. I say go for it.

December 11th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Silverlight, Developers | no comments