Tag: "microsoft"

Get the app, read my blog offline on your phone

As some of have may have noticed over the last few days, there's been a little addition to the sidebar on my blog. Inviting you to download the Paul Smith's Blog application for Windows Phone 7.

What's the deal? Well late last year I started looking at mobile applications for Gamercast, after messing about with the Visual Studio as I always do and copying and pasting various bits of sample code together, I decided to give up. If I did manage to get it working, there was no offline reading, no ability to view comments on entries etc.

So I started looking at other solutions, like AppMakr but didn't like what they had to offer for Windows Phone 7. Then I came across FollowMyFeed who had a much better hub style interface.

After putting together a sample application, and sticking it in the emulator and running it, I could tell this was pretty much what I was looking for.

Paul Smith's Blog mobile application screenshotPaul Smith's Blog mobile application screenshotPaul Smith's Blog mobile application screenshot

The Gamercast application has been available for a week now, check it out if you haven't already and feel free to download the application for my blog too. I just need to find time to write more now.

Google sinking faster than Internet Explorer

The technology press continue to amuse me, long have they spouted the myth about the death of Internet Explorer. They always tout the gradual erosion in the usage share of Internet Explorer, a few years ago we'd see articles every month about how usage share has declined.

Today Internet Explorer remains healthy with 56.77% (according to Net Applications). Over the last year it had four months of growth, but overall is down 4.81%. Coincidently the tech press' old darling Firefox lost 2.47% share during the same period, losing 11% of its users, compared to Internet Explorer that only lost 8% of its users.

But how is Google, the darling of the technology press doing in its core business of search?

Using the same logic that the press apply to Internet Explorer, Google Search is far beyond a sinking ship, its a shipwreck that's on fire and is about to explode.

Google have dropped from 74.5% marketshare last year to 65% this year (According to Compete). Google managed to shed 9.5% share to its main rival Bing. With numbers like that more than 12% of Google's users in the last year have moved over to Bing.

That's double the marketshare that Internet Explorer lost in the same period.

Yet we don't hear a peep about this.

Of course Internet Explorer isn't really a sinking ship, Internet Explorer 8 was the fastest growing browser ever, and version 9 not only offers fantastic HTML5 support, it is also the fastest browser on the planet. Nor is Google Search a shipwreck on fire about to explode, I actually use it for most of my complicated search queries, because it handles them better than Bing, which is better at more mainstream stuff.

The point of this post has simply been to highlight the hypocrisy in the technology press. They can't call Internet Explorer a disaster, and cite losing 5% marketshare without calling Google Search an even bigger disaster.

11 year old racks up £1000 on Xbox Live - bad parenting

The press seem to be on a roll with anti-Xbox Live stories as of late. A few weeks ago it was the kid caught cheating with a modified profile, and as a result had his gamerscore reset and his zone changed to "cheater". His mum complained and demanded his achievements back and the "cheater" removed from his gamer tile, after Microsoft refused she went to the press. In the end we found out the kid had cheated, despite his mum protesting his innocence. The kid cheated, end of story.

Well this week we've got something a bit different now the Daily Mail are featuring a story about an 11 year old boy spending £1000 on the Xbox Live Marketplace.

Right off the bat I would like to quote the Xbox Live Terms and Conditions:

The Service is not intended for use by children under 13, except together with a parent or other adult supervision

With that out of the way...

A desperate mother has condemned Microsoft after her 11-year-old son racked up a £1,000 debt on her debit card - through his Xbox. Brendan Jordan racked up a bill of £1,082.52 on his Xbox without realising all the purchases were being charged to his mum Dawn Matthews' card.

Oh dear.

She entered her debit card details into the family Xbox to pay for Brendan's subscription to his favourite game. However, Brendan repeatedly clicked on additions and extensions - racking up a £1082.52 debt to her account over six months.

Oh so in other words, you let your kid spend the money. And now you want it back? Tough you got the stuff you paid for, as it clearly states "there are no refunds for this item". NO REFUNDS.

Microsoft make it perfectly clear what's going on, they'll show two or three screens when you're buying Microsoft Points, making it clear this will debit your account, it mentions the amount and the fact it'll take it from a credit card. Your 11 year old kid is taking you for a ride if you think he didn't know what was going on.

It is ridiculous to allow someone of his age to make payments without any checks being done.

You're quite right and the fact of the matter is Microsoft do check.

When you would have set up your son's account it would have asked for an age. Under 18 and he'd get a child account. With all the parental controls anybody would need, and by default would prevent any purchases from the Xbox Live Marketplace.

So either they lied about his age when setting up his account, or the mother enabled purchases on her son's account.

In addition to that it took six months before his mother realised he was spending all this money. Surely she would have noticed the dozens if not hundreds of MICROSOFT *XBOX LIVE transactions on her statement? Or you know check their e-mail where receipts would be sent? Apparently not.

Stop trying to blame others for your own bad parenting.

Removing the manufacturer's login screen from Windows 7

Over the last couple of months several people who rely on my computer savvy to clean their computers out of bloatware have purchased new computers, one from Dell and another from Acer.

Both of these computers have their own login backgrounds supplied by the computer manufacturer. As well as the regular desktop wallpapers - but they're easy enough to change yourself. Changing the login screen back to how Microsoft intended it to be is slightly more challenging.

You'll need to use the registry editor to change it back. To do this you'll need to be logged into an administrator's account.

Click Start

  • Type regedit into Start Search and press enter and elevate the application
  • You'll want to make your way to the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI\Background

  • From there, you should be able to see an entry called OEMBackground
  • Double-click it, and in the window that pops up change the 1 to a 0 (zero)
  • Press OK, and reboot your computer

After following those steps the computer should display the default login screen.

For those not comfortable with editing the system registry, download the registry file here, and run it. When prompted accept the request to merge with your computer's registry.

Windows Live Essentials Wave 4 beta up

It's not yet appearing on all of Microsoft's websites yet, but here's the URL: http://explore.live.com/windows-live-essentials-beta.

Enjoy.

First impressions, setup is much better. Glad I don't have to see that woman grinning into her coffee anymore like with Wave 3!

Update: replaced direct download link with the official webpage.

Clearing up storage confusion with Live Mesh and Live Sync

Last week Microsoft formally announced Windows Live Sync, the new version of which is based on Live Mesh. Live Mesh gave users 5GB of cloud storage to which they could sync data to. As well as near-unlimited data transfer between PCs.

The new Windows Live Sync, based on Mesh continues to offer most of the functionality that Live Mesh provided, bar the Live Desktop which mimicked the PC desktop as a way to offer data currently stored in the cloud which was removed as well as a few other little things here and there.

Since Live Mesh was introduced back in 2008, it sat competing with the then primitive Live Sync which only offered PC to PC synchronisation. Live Mesh was no question the better of the two so it's no surprise it is being used as the basis for the next version of Live Sync. Through Windows Live, people get 25GB of cloud storage on SkyDrive. An obvious move going forward would be to unify the Mesh and SkyDrive storage. That's basically what they've done in this release.

But you can only store 2GB of synchronised data to SkyDrive. Why?

Microsoft cites cost. Everyone shouts bogus, saying they're giving people 25GB anyway. What people aren't getting is it's really hard to fill up 25GB of space when you upload through a website or through Office, with a maximum file size of 50MB. I keep a copy of my entire picture library up there and I'm only using 6GB of it and I'm probably the top 1% of SkyDrive users.

Yet if you had folders on your computer that are set to automatically synchronise in the background to SkyDrive, that 25GB would start filling up really fast. And that would be dramatically more expensive than the current state where I'd guess the average SkyDrive account has a few megabytes of storage being used.

Give it time and no doubt Microsoft will increase the amount of synchronised storage. Sure it's a bit of a bummer that Mesh users have to downgrade to 2GB. But this isn't some geeky toy like Live Mesh was. This is a consumer product that will be installed on hundreds of millions of machines. That equals a lot of hard drives in the cloud, and that isn't cheap.

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