Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Thrilling potential of SixthSense technology

This is a great video from a year ago from TEDIndia, on helping users in the physical world interact with the digital world.

I thought the coolest part of the video was when Pranav was reading a newspaper and he had full video projected on it. Anyways check it out:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Upgrading Office Live Workspace to SkyDrive

I recently posted about Microsoft's new Office Web Apps being built into SkyDrive and how the Office Live plug-in for Word had a notice that it would soon be discontinued.

Well today I needed to get to my documents stored on Office Live Workspace (the place where the Office Live plug-in stored the documents) and low and behold I find an option to "Upgrade" my account to Windows Live SkyDrive. The upgrade, I assume, is basically a merge of all your documents form Office Live Workspaces to SkyDrive.

I had both fingers crossed hoping all my documents would make the journey and they did! The "upgrade" took about 5 minutes and merged over all of the separate categories as similarly named folders.

Note: It looks like documents need to be in the latest "x" format to be opened in Office Web Apps. The Web Apps will do this for you automatically but it could take a long time!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Testing the Limits with James Whittaker

Testing the Limits with James Whittaker part 1 and part 2 is a good / informative interview from uTest with Google's Test Director, James Whittaker.

The concept of a tester's Heads Up Display (HUD) is very exciting, albeit a little hard to grasp and testing using the cloud seems like a natural progression. I also can't wait to see the Web Testers Framework (WTF!) built into Chrome. That should make things a whole lot easier!

Reading James' interview and his first few question responses makes me a little curious about how vastly different Google's testing processes are from Microsoft's. Good times.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Microsoft Office 2010 breaking Visual Studio 2008

Last week I started having problems with building projects in Visual Studio 2008 because of the error: "Unrecoverable build error". Here's the screen shot.

My coworker, Aaron, said he was having problems with VS freezing / hanging since he installed Microsoft Office 2010 x64. After reading through a number of articles it looks the uninstallation of Office 2007 and/or the installation of Office 2010 x64 causes problems when you switch to design view in VS.

Clearly that's wasn't my problem but I thought it might be related so I followed the same repair process for the "Unrecoverable build error".

Here's how:
  1. Go to the Control panel
  2. Go to Add/Remove Programs
  3. Select Microsoft Visual Studio Web Authoring Component
  4. Click the Change button
  5. Select Repair
  6. Once it is done repairing the installation, Restart your computer
That's all it took and now Visual Studio is back up and building.

Updated on 7/15/2011:

I eventually figured out the problem with the "Unrecoverable Build Error" problem. Check out this post for more information.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Website Copier and Offline Browser

I just came across this very cool and useful tool called HTTrack. As a website copier / offline browser utility HTTrack allows the user to download a specified site to a local directory. HTTrack builds out all of the directories recursively grabbing HTML, images and other files from the server and placing them onto your computer.

After the website is copied, HTTrack creates a log file identifying crawl errors (like 403, 404, robot.txt files, etc.) and the problem directories. As you can imagine this is quite handy for testing websites. Besides finding broken links, testers can take the downloaded sites and modify the code to find server side problems.

Download HTTrack in 32 or 64 bit here: http://www.httrack.com/page/2/en/index.html

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Graffiti CMS 1.3 is added to Codeplex

Graffiti CMS has been open sourced and added to Codeplex. They have two development branches, Graffiti CMS 1.3 which is probably a bunch of small fixes and improvements from 1.2 and Graffiti CMS 2.0. Check it out here: http://graffiticms.codeplex.com/.

At the time of this writing, looks like the site was taken down for maintenance. Hopefully it will be back up with new and exciting changes. At last look the latest binary release was 1.3. I think the latest stable release is 1.2, which is the version I have running on my Home Server.

If you want to know how to setup Graffiti CMS 1.2 on your Windows Home Server just follow the instructions from WeGotServed.com: http://www.wegotserved.com/2008/11/12/how-to-host-a-blog-on-windows-home-server-with-graffiti/. I'm not sure how accurate they will be anymore given the move to Codeplex but there might be a few.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The case for an iPad

Ever since Apple released the iPad I’ve had to restrain myself from running out and buying one. Months ago when I was shopping for a laptop, I needed something that was powerful and portable (light-weight) so I could travel with it. Previously I had a Dell D820 laptop which wasn’t exactly portable, at least not in today’s terms where iPad’s and netbooks are the norm. The field of candidates wasn’t very large. It was either a light (read expensive) laptop or a netbook, the latter which I despise just about everything about. Less than six months after my Macbook Air purchase Apple debut the iPad.

Am I happy with my Macbook Air? Yes. I have one of the slimmest, lightest laptops on the market with a brilliant screen and Windows 7 – which kicks the crap out of OS X. (What can I say, I’m a Windows fan boy!) The only drawback to all the laptops I was shopping for was the fact none of them offered touch screens or tablet features. I’ve had a tablet (a Gateway m275) in the past and I loved it. I’ve also had a touch screen device (Samsung Q1 Ultra Mobile PC) which I loved. Now comes the iPad which has a better design and screen than any other device like it on the market, the only drawback is it’s for consuming content, not really creating.

Aside from that drawback I’m convinced I could get a lot of use out of it –without throwing out my laptop. First I need to wait until iOS 4.0 software debuts later this summer which will officially bring multitasking to the table. I can stream Pandora while checking stocks or reading a book or newspaper (one big reason I want one). I want a better way (digital way) to read my magazines, books and newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Moreover with Dropbox I can share documents between devices and as soon as Google Docs or Office Web Apps support Safari Mobile, I’ll be able to do basic word processing.

Those uses aren’t are appealing but the possibilities become greater when you consider Jailbreaking the iPad. Jailbreaking for the iPhone has been around for a while but I’ve never had much desire to Jailbreak my phone since I’m already on AT&T, I don’t care about a multitasking phone (for the most part), having access to the file system or being able to get some of the more advanced apps (like Firefox, etc.). It’s a “phone” after all. Phones are used for games, listening to music, browsing the web and the occasional phone call. Not for hacking. =)

A Jailbroken iPad could offer a way to install a fuller operating system (like Windows 7 or XP) and give access to the handful of applications I use on a regular basis – Scottrade streaming quotes, Microsoft Office (Word and OneNote), Zune Marketplace, Keepass, etc. without relying solely on Web Apps or iOS Apps. It would also give me the option to install a different browser and browse sites that use flash. With Windows I could use the built-in handwriting recognition features with a stylus for a notebook in meetings. Jailbreaking has existed for years for iPhones and will hopefully extend to the iOS 4.0 software contained in iPad’s being released later this month. Once that happens I will stop restraining myself and get one too.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Microsoft Office and Office Web Apps 2010 released

Today Microsoft released Office 2010 and as we speak I'm in the process of downloading it. I'll install Office, Visio and Project 2010 later this week as I upgrade from 2007. I don't expect there will be much of a difference from 2007 except for a few design changes.

The real exciting change to Office 2010 is the release of Office Web Apps 2010 which is Microsoft's answer to Google Docs. To launch Office Web Apps, log into SkyDrive or Window's Live, click the Office link at the top and from there you can launch Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote in a "lite" version.

Now I can't say that I'm a big fan of SkyDrive's or Window's Live's layout but the Web Apps work pretty well and they allow you to launch the standalone versions by clicking a single button. For those of us that started using Office Live Workspaces Add-In, it seems as though Microsoft will be shutting down the Office Live Workspaces system and moving over the documents to SkyDrive, automatically. Here's the announcement screen:

It's good to see Microsoft is getting rid of the Office Live Workspaces Add-In in favor of SkyDrive and the Web Apps. The Add-In caused a lot of problems with Office 2007 and was pretty slow. Whether or not the new Office Web Apps catches on will remain to be seen. I've been using Dropbox to store and share most of my documents these days because it's so quick. It may take some time to get comfortable with SkyDrive and Office Web Apps and if it doesn't offer the collaboration options that Google Docs does, why bother?.

Looks like businesses that have SharePoint Server 2010 deployed can have a private deployment of Microsoft Office Web Apps 2010 by downloading a 200MB add-in. Sounds pretty cool to me. For more information go here.

FCC's Title 2 regulation for the Broadband Industry

This is an interesting article on how the FCC is trying to tighten it's grip on the Broadband Industry by going back and redefining what the Internet and Broadband connections mean. The article starts out as reporting more on the discussions and trends of the FCC in regard to Title 2 and then goes into more of an op-ed piece.


Apparently AT&T's U-Verse program is going to be halted or significantly slowed if this change occurs. The article mentions how VOIP is dead from a competition (and maybe innovation) perspective because of the FCCs moves. I'm not sure how true this is and/or if this was bound to happen anyways due to competition from the larger telecom companies or not.

Monday, June 14, 2010

iPhone 4

I've been stuck using an iPhone 3G for the last 18 months because of Apple's upgrade policy. As you can imagine it pissed me off a bit when I learned I couldn't upgrade to the 3GS, however I knew it was just a matter of time before a newer version would be out and to my joy the iPhone 4 will be available June 24th.

After 18+ months the iPhone 3G is super slow and crashes a lot when I'm running the iPod and trying to use the maps navigation app. I can't wait for the added 8GB of space since my current 8GB iPhone is packed full of music, apps and movies.

Since I'm going to get an iPhone 4 soon after it releases, the only real question is do I extend my AT&T contract another 2 years to get the discounted price? If I do take the $199 price I'll be a slave for the next few years and I'll be forced to stay on the 2 year upgrade cycle that has already made me upset. If I don't take the upgrade price the phone is around $599 but I can upgrade at any time and I can always sell my old one. Tough decisions!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Using iTunes to create custom Ringtones

People love to personalize and customize their phones so why should the iPhone be any different? One of the easiest ways to do this is by adding different ringtones. It's unfortunate that Apple charges iTunes' users money on top of the song to create a ringtone.

Luckily for us Apple buried a way to create Ringtones in iTunes itself but only with songs that you've purchased through their store in the .m4a extension. Here's how to do it using the latest version of iTunes 9.

  1. Open iTunes
  2. Go to the Edit menu > Click Preferences > Click the Import Settings on the first "General" page
  3. Make sure the Import Using field is set to AAC encoder
  4. Click OK to save your settings; then close both Windows
  5. Go to your Music Library and find the song that you want to convert into a ringtone
  6. Right click on the song > Click Get Info > Click the Options tab
  7. Check the Start and Stop Times checkboxes and then change the times so you have a ringtone no longer than 30 seconds (the max allowed for iPhone Ringtones). You may want to play the song several times to figure out the exact spot of the song you want to hear.
  8. Click OK to save your settings
  9. With the song still selected go to the Advanced menu > Click Create AAC Version. A shorter version of your song has now been created and placed in your Music Library.
  10. Right click on the new song > Click Show in Explorer > Find the new song version and change the .m4a extension to .m4r
  11. Double click the renamed song and iTunes should automatically place it in the Ringtones library. When you re-sync your iPhone the ringtone will be there.

Note: I originally saw this hack in the iPhone Hacks book; however the steps detailed in the book are a bit outdated since it was published in 2009.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Steve Jobs on the iPad and Content

Yesterday (June 1st) at the D8 conference Steve Jobs talked about the creation of the iPad and it's importance in helping news gathering and editorial organizations get back on their feet. See the video here:

Many believe that the iPad is the savior for the journalism community because it will bring a whole new group of users online, ready to consume journalistic media. Which, if it even comes close to the success of the iPod, is completely possible.

The sad part of the iPad being a "savior" for the journalism community (excluding bloggers) or any other online media consumption is, like the music companies, they clearly don't understand who their customers are. On more than one occasion Mr. Jobs mentioned before the release of the first iPods they asked the "big four" music companies who their customers were. The answer shocked Apple: Best Buy, Tower Records, etc. The "big four" had no clue who the true customers were or what they wanted. The same goes with the journalism community.

Why would anyone pay more for a Magazine or Newspaper on the iPad than they currently pay for the paper subscription? Like Jobs I don't want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers (I don't want that much influence) but I personally don't think editorials will save us nor ever have. The market will decide who in the journalism community survives. In the meantime, I'm waiting for the day when I can consume online media in a friendly and cost effective way.

I wonder how long I'll have to wait...