Archives for: "December 2005"

Playing around with PhotoStory

PhotoStory 3 is a really powerful but easy to use tool for home users. I downloaded about 6 months ago and had a play around with it, not having much in the way of photography myself I didn't do much with it. But then I decided to have a real play around with it.

The result is The British Isles which has photographs of the natural landscape of the UK and Ireland and some ancient human touches too. Not bad going for a couple of hours work, of which about 30 minutes was actual editing.

Thanks to Catherine for digging out a lot of the photographs from around the internet.

Bits and bytes

I'm really getting annoyed at people using a lowercase b to refer to byte. It's a capital B, get it right people. It's especially annoying when self-proclaimed computer experts can't even get it right, what's even worse is when they write a big piece using them and get them all wrong, and then just claim they made 70 typos!

50Kb/s is not equal to 50KB/s.

What are bits and what are bytes.

Windows Live Messenger beta preview

Well I suppose I had better shove up something on Windows Live Messenger (formally known as MSN Messenger), I was very concerned as I always am about this product it's something I use a lot, and it's something that is getting more and more bloated with every release. Luckily it's still very useable despite all the silly stuff like winks and other weird stuff I never use. It's still very fast and now has a much nicer UI, despite all the useless stuff it's still just as fast as previous releases. So would that really be defined as bloat? Anyway...

I'll start off with the main window.

Windows Live Messenger 8.0, formally known as MSN Messenger

I'll start with the bad points, the ad block is now larger, but so far the ads themselves seem to be the same size as in 7.x but it looks like they've got potential to get bigger - at the moment it's doing the same ads as the previous version so it's hard to tell. That's about the only negative thing. It's now got several improvements cool little hover panels, which when you hover over a contact like Miss Moo in this case it shows some quick shortcuts for regular tasks like sending a message etc.

It's now also got a word wheel thing.

Windows Live Messenger 8.0, formally known as MSN Messenger

Just type in a few letters and boom it will filter the contacts, not only from their nickname, but their real names and even notes about them. But that brings me onto another point. The contact panels, you can now store all your contacts in Messenger 8.0, but for some reason I can't find a way for it to simply pull the data from Outlook - that needs to be implemented, I am not going to re-enter all the data for the contacts, it's just not going to happen.

Colour picker, yup you can change the colour of the UI, for some reason the default is orange, not very nice.

Windows Live Messenger 8.0, formally known as MSN Messenger

Another thing is the default background is just grey in this build. So the background below is one of my own and isn't in the product. Offline messaging is a big improvement, bringing it level with ICQ now.

Windows Live Messenger 8.0, formally known as MSN Messenger

Another key feature is sharing folders, rather than having to actually send files to another person you can simply create a folder which is accessible by your contact.

Windows Live Messenger 8.0, formally known as MSN Messenger

And let's throw in a shot of the alert window too.

Windows Live Messenger 8.0, formally known as MSN Messenger

This isn't all the new features of the product, there's a few other key ones such as PC to telephone calling and probably lots of others that have slipped my mind.

Overall verdict on this build - good! I will be using it.

A few things about the whole re-branding to Windows Live though - Windows is a professional product, it looks professional it's used by professionals, but Windows Live Messenger is very geared towards teenagers, with winks and theme packs and adverts and all that sort of stuff to me it almost seems like it's cheapening Windows, something they could get away with calling it MSN. I'm concerned about what's going to happen to my fall back position of Windows Messenger - which I'd use if MSN Messenger ever become too bloated. I'd be willing to pay a small amount of money per year for an ad free version if it had the option of disabling features I don't want to use and getting them off the UI.

Anyway when it finally ships I'd recommend everyone to upgrade.

Windows Live Search Mobile

Blogging from bed, and just tried out the beta for Windows Live Search Mobile. I love the concept behind it, it's so much better than how Google have been doing it. Going to have a proper play with it when I get up tommorow.

France shows the way forward

France could become the first country to pass a law broadly permitting free downloads of copyright content from the Internet for private use.

In a move that could thwart the entertainment industry's attempts to seek legal sanctions for copyright violations, French Parliament members voted 30 to 28 late Wednesday night to accept an amendment proposing such a move.

Attached to a broader copyright law proposal, the amendment--roughly translated--reads: "Authors cannot forbid the reproductions of works that are made on any format from an online communication service when they are intended to be used privately and when they do not imply commercial means directly or indirectly."

More on CNET.

The right direction, copyright should only protect against commercial exploitation, and it should not act to prevent the public as a whole or as individuals using it in a non-commercial way.

85% of Americans believe a god played a part in creating us...

...and 51% believe fairy tales are real.

US public opinion is also extremely hostile to Darwinian theory. In a national poll two months ago, 51% of Americans said they believed that human beings were created by God. Another 30% said God guided human evolution, and only 15% thought that humans had evolved without divine intervention.

Nick covered some of this in his recent blog entry. Mine is more of a call to arms.

There needs to be a massive campaign against ignorance in the United States those 15% of Americans whose brains are working need to fill the minds of everyone else with knowledge and lots of it, they're not getting it from school, they're definitely not getting it from private media, so they need to get it from you guys! Society as a whole need to educate itself.

People need to arrange community meetings based on education on a neighbourhood level where they can discuss these things, and the 15% need to come armed with knowledge to fill the minds of the rest, with a tool like the internet there is now no excuse for ignorance.

The private media no longer have a monopoly on information. You just need to drag the people away from the rubbish spouted by the opinionists on Fox News and CNN and whatever other crap there is. Neighbourhood educational meetings would be a great way to tackle this.

With a correct strategy and implementation religion and other imaginary nonsense could just be a bad memory within a generation in the United States and it would finally enter the 20th century (no that's not a typo).

Cupertino, start your photocopiers

Windows Media Player 11 rocks, check this new feature out - a visual library, no longer a boring list of files, but the albums displayed with album art and all neatly ordered and with the full range of options to help better visualise your music like Vista has everywhere now. These screens from the WinSuperSite.

Windows Media Player 11
Windows Media Player 11
Windows Media Player 11
Windows Media Player 11

How long before Apple copies this with iTunes? I give it 6-9 months until they're boasting that they invented this.

Five days off...

...At least, may be more! 8-D About time I need a break. Got a pile of e-mails to sort through some from over 2 weeks back. :|

Got a few techie things I want to get done, getting asked by so many people at work how to network the Xbox and Xbox 360 and etc I'm thinking about writing up a guide for that, that's the big project and networking is a huge topic to cover.

Hopefully I'll get on the Windows Live Messenger beta soon too so I can do up a review of that. Invite please. :)

Typography in Windows Vista

Any video with Bill Hill rocks, check this one out, an hour long interview with some of the people who make it possible for you to read this very text.

The amount of work that goes into typography is just immense, something you really don't appreciate until you actually think about it. Can't wait to see their work in Windows Vista.

It's also an area which I'm very interested in being one of these hardcore people who refuse to deal with paper anymore.

David Cameron - Tory leader

Well I don't understand why David Davis didn't win, may be the Tory Party has really lost it, I would of thought Davis had a much better chance of defeating Labour, after all he doesn't reek of the same ol' Tory scum that Cameron does, it's just a shame Ken Clarke always gets knocked out, there's a man no government would like to fight. At least Davis from a presentability standpoint doesn't have Tory stench leaking out of every pore on his body like Cameron...

Anyway Cameron it is, which shows just how desperate the Torys are nowadays. It won't work, all his propaganda about caring and the environment is totally rubbish. Look how he's previously voted, support the war, support business, votes against increasing funding to the health service. Etc. He's your basic slimy Tory, we working masses aren't that stupid. They say anything needed to get elected, then do the usual - cut taxes for the rich and sell-off public services to pay for the tax cuts, oh and sell the public services to their rich friends for below market value.

And all those so called "socialists" who are saying they're going to vote Tory, get real. The Convervative Party is a party that represents business owners and dying out left overs from the aristocracy, it's not a workers' party. The only workers' party is the Labour Party. Once it's vomited the Blairites out, it'll have workers' policies too.