Category Archives: Software

Opera Unleashes Updated Mini Browser for Mobile Phones

Opera

I’m installing this tonight, I will use Opera 4 beta on my WM5 smartphone exclusively (instead of the default IE) for the next week and report back the good and bad.

Opera has released the public beta of its new Opera Mini 4 mobile Web browser for download recently. This is likely the best browser available to surfing the web.

A few of the benefits to using this browser:

  • This browser uses a remote server to pre-process web pages before sending them to your phone so web content is compressed, creating fast browsing at low cost.
  • It dynamically changes text size and images to make it convenient to read without a lot of scrolling.
  • It has a virtual mouse to scroll in any direction, also has power scrolling. Mini works on most Java-enabled phones.

dl-1g Quick download of Opera Mini 4 beta

dl-2g Point your phone browser to mini.opera.com/beta

dl-3g Click “Download Opera Mini

Follow the simple setup steps on your phone.

Optionally, you may download the Opera Mini 4 beta for Palm or Blackberry devices for a manual installation.

Opera Mini 4 beta installs beside your current Opera Mini version without overwriting any of your existing files or settings.

[Found via phonescoop]

Step By Step: Boot Ubuntu From Your USB Flash Device

ubuntu logo

Pendrivelinux has some great tutorials on booting a wide array of linux distros from UFDs (USB Flash Devices), aka Pen Drives.

For instance, here’s the Ubuntu instructions to make your UFD bootable for Linux and to get the Ubuntu OS onto it. Though it’s 16 steps their fairly straight forward and detailed enough that it appears you don’t need to be a linux aficionado to understand and implement.

Disclaimer – I haven’t run through the steps yet, my UFDs are 32MB and 128MB, yeah I know I’m pathetic. Anyone want to give it a try on their 1GB+UFD and report back on how it went?

Review : Ades Design "Color Picker"

Okay, so your surfing the web, and you come across the perfect shade of a color you haven’t been able to recreate yourself to save your life.  Maybe you’ve found a special metallic turquoise blend only found in the starry eyes of David Hasselhoff, or that perfect hue of dirty orange for your virtual model of the “General Lee” (Dukes of Hazzard).

Color Picker

In steps “Color Picker“, a new offering from Ades Design.  Using Color Picker, you can click anywhere on your screen, and capture any color you desire for future use on web design, templates, charts, or presentations.  This powerful, yet small utility can store a database of colors you’ve captured, where you can change, convert, or even export colors in several different formats in just mere moments.  This is a must have utility for the serious and casual web developer alike!

Check out some of their other cool offerings over at Adesblog.com

GOOG Unleashes Public Policy Dog, er Blog

goog

GOOG has launched a public policy blog in its efforts to join the big boys of Apple, Microsoft, Sun, Oracle, Intel, et.al.

The goal is to focus more attention on US gov’t legislation and regulation, an effort that began in 2005 . Recently it has called on Congress to pass net neutrality rules and have also joined the debate in how the FCC should auction 60MHz of spectrum in the 700MHz band being abandoned by TV stations.

They’re also focusing on issues like privacy and copyright protection.

<rant>

Privacy” in the sense that they want to be able to retain your IP logs longer than is typical or reasonable and not be criticized for it and “copyright protection” in the sense that GOOG wants to parse copyrighted books and make the entire contents searchable for free without the author’s consent or performing due diligence in tracking down that consent.

Of course, GOOG’s director of public policy and gov’t affairs, while trying to sound fluffy and lovable, says in the new blog:

“We’re seeking to do public policy advocacy in a Googley way”

I love how the word ‘googley’ tends to come out in GOOG’s speeches when trying to deflect criticism or soften the blow of the hammer to your head or to your freedoms and especially when trying to show the ‘non-evilness’ of what they’re doing, never mind that they’re following in the footsteps of MSFT, IBM, ATT and every other behemoth before them. They’re not different. They’re a corporation, they have needs, they have wants, why don’t they ‘man up’ and tell us the truth and that is ‘in order to generate more revenue, gain greater market share, this is not being done on behalf of our customers, rather it’s on behalf of the shareholders’.

The truth is that GOOG is really no different than MSFT, no different than Lockheed, no different than IBM. That when you break it down, they’re just another corporation, a corporation causing a braindrain in Silicon Valley and inducing fear, uncertainty and doubt into the software market around them and that they’re no longer the loveable googley little startup they once were.

Admit it Google, you’ve grown up, you’ve flexed your muscle, realized you’re no longer the little pipsqueak that gets sand kicked in it’s face. You’re one of the big men on campus and get to dictate how things should be.

So again, man up and drop the cuddly googley old image and show us what a terror you really can be. Bring it on, effect some real change in public policy like donating algorithms to AIDs research for instance, not this piddly stuff on your policy agenda.

</rant>

Love,

Andy

PS – I do appreciate GOOG creating the blog in the first place, it’s a start.

Microsoft.com Now Fully Hosted on Windows Server 2k8 Beta3

vista pearl icon

From Anna Liu’s blog on MSDN:

“…we?re extremely proud to announce that the www.microsoft.com site is running 100% on our next generation web platform!!”

For those of you curious about the scale and availability of www.microsoft.com:

  • MSCOM is made up of more than 20,500 URL’s and hosts 16 million pages and is available in more than 30 languages.
  • Nielson rates Microsoft.com  as the 4th most visited website in the world, capturing approximately 9% of the total global internet audience.
  • Availability YTD ? 99.83% (Measured by Keynote Systems, Inc.)
    • 0% Impact to Availability during upgrade to Beta 3
    • 99%+ of hosted App?s upgraded without any change required
  • Audience Reach: #4 in U.S (65M UU) & #5 worldwide (287M UU) 
  • Hosting Model: 2 Internet Data Centers &  80 Web Servers
    • 500+ Vroots, 350+ IIS Web Applications & 12 Application Pools
    •  10,000 Requests/Sec & 300,000 Concurrent Connections

This is what’s known as Dogfooding your own builds and confidence in the stability and robustness of the interim public Beta builds. Of course, making announcements like this is sure to invite hackers and crackers alike to take a shot, right? 

Want to obtain Server 2008 Beta 3 for yourself? Here’s the Link.

References to learn more on Server 2k8:

Why Are Some Programs Being Filtered From The Start Menu?

The Start menu for Windows XP and Vista automatically displays the user’s most frequently used programs (called a most frequently used list). Only shortcuts to .exe files are displayed in the list.

Have you ever noticed that not every program you access goes into that list on the Start menu? Well one easy answer is that if the program is already pinned to the top of the start menu, it won’t be duplicated on the Start menu. But wait, there’s more! 😀

If any of the following strings are included in the shortcut name, the program is not displayed in the most frequently used list:

–  Documentation
–  Help
–  Install
–  More Info
–  Readme
–  Read me
–  Read First
–  Setup
–  Support
–  What’s New
–  Remove

The preceding list is located in the AddRemoveNames value at the following registry location:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ Software\ Microsoft\ Windows\ CurrentVersion\ Explorer\ FileAssociation

The following list of programs are also excluded from the most frequently used list, if you’re familiar with Windows and/or a computer geek then most will appear to be obvious:
–  Setup.exe
–  Install.exe
–  Isuninst.exe
–  Unwise.exe
–  Unwise32.exe
–  St5unst.exe
–  Rundll32.exe
–  Msoobe.exe
–  Lnkstub.exe
–  Msascui.exe

The preceding list is located in the AddRemoveApps value at the following registry location:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ Software\ Microsoft\ Windows\ CurrentVersion\ Explorer\ FileAssociation

Programs can also be registered to be excluded from the most frequently used list by creating the following NoStartPage string value:

(The REG_SZ string value must be empty or blank) HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ Applications\ <Appname.exe>

The following programs have the preceding setting by default:
–  Explorer.exe
–  Icwconn1.exe
–  Inoculan.exe
–  Mobsync.exe
–  Navwnt.exe
–  Realmon.exe
–  Sndvol32.exe

Font Smoothing, Anti-Aliasing And Sub-Pixel Rendering

The discussions on side by side comparisons of how Microsoft and Apple render fonts continues on ‘Joel on Software‘.

Where they differ is in philosophy:

  • Apple generally believes that the goal of the algorithm should be to preserve the design of the typeface as much as possible, even at the cost of a little bit of blurriness.
  • Microsoft generally believes that the shape of each letter should be hammered into pixel boundaries to prevent blur and improve readability, even at the cost of not being true to the typeface.

Joel’s deeper explanations of the technology and philosophical differences between the company’s engineers is terrific, give it a read.

12font

Xcopy Is Deprecated On Vista

cmd_prompt  

I tried using xcopy in Vista for the first time recently and received this in the command window:

NOTE: Xcopy is now deprecated, please use Robocopy.

It appears xcopy.exe is still available for appcompat so that existing batch files aren’t broken on Vista, but it looks like we’re being encouraged to move to Robocopy (‘Robust File Copy for Windows’).

Robocopy has been around for a while, shipped in at least one or two resource kits like the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools.

The biggest benefit appears to be the ability to create full mirror duplicates of two file structures (including all subdirectories and files, if you want) without having to copy unnecessary files. Only files that are new or have been updated in the source location will be copied. Robocopy also enables you to preserve the file information, including date/time stamps, ACLs and more.

And if you’re a GUI person, Technet has a GUI for Robocopy here.

Garmin Developer APIs Announced

GPSReview is telling us that Garmin has announced a new API set to communicate with their navigation systems.

It appears the Garmin Developer website was announced last week at the Where 2.0 Conference.

This Garmin Developer websiteis dedicated to software developers and content providers that want to make their website, applications and data content compatible with Garmin navigation systems. It provides both free and licensed Garmin resources and a library of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), toolkits and web services in four main categories: Device Communications, Web Services, Smartphone/PDA Services, and Location Based Services.

Below you can watch the announcement from Where 2.0, and hear Aaron Roller’s MotionBased story which is pretty good stuff when you see real world examples of what you can do with the API and why developers should start programming with Garmin Developer today.

[brightcove 958492235]

[Found via engadget]

Firefox Not As Mom & Pop Friendly as IE?

I noticed today that there’s a new security update for Firefox 2, it’s update 2.0.0.4.

In the update dialog the ‘details’ link sends you to the update’s release notes. Skim down to the Vista caveats section and see :

Vista Parental Controls are not completely honored. In particular, file downloads do not honor Vista’s parental control settings. This will be addressed in an upcoming Firefox release.

They’ve been diligently looking into it since October with limited success at blocking all downloads but at least the mozilla devs are calling it out and agree they need to fix it in the next release, whenever that is. Here’s the bug: Bug 355554 : “File downloads should honor Vista’s parent control setting”

In the meantime, if you’re a parent and expect to lock down your children through Vista’s Parental Controls, be wary if they’re surfing with FF.

Here’s more basic info from msdn blogs on Family Safety on Windows Vista basic Parental Controls settings and Parental Controls in IE7 with controls that are more hardcore and browser specific. For instance if a child tries to download a file, instead of seeing the standard run/save/cancel download dialog the child see this:

download_blocked

Video: Google Universal Search

Google is implementing a fairly radical change to its search results by implementing a Universal Search mode of operation that mixes in listings from its images, video, local, news, and book search engines.

The new feature was the brainchild of Marissa Mayer and to demonstrate we have her 3 favorite universal searches as well as a video presentation by Marissa below. The video is worth it just for some of the anecdotes but after 30 minutes you’ve seen all the good stuff.
Here are a few of her favorite searches that show off the power of universal search:

[youtube FrrOtmjtX1Y Marissa Meyer Explains Universal Search]

"Longhorn Reloaded": Enthusiasts Just Won’t Let Go

Longhorn Reloaded is a project run by enthusiasts (not Microsoft) dedicated to the revival of the original operating system known as code name “Longhorn”. Their goal is to finish what Microsoft started before the operating system was reset back to the Win2k3 codebase and eventually became ‘Vista’ but not quite their

These guys/gals have started with Windows 6.0.4074, which was originally released during the 2004 Windows Hardware Engineers Conference. They appear to have formed a loose group of Developers and Testers and are cherry picking features to

If you’re interested in participating in the revival project please let us know how it goes. The main site and the forums list d/l locations for the ISO while the wiki is tracking known issues and recommended drivers.

Link to LH Reloaded main

Link to the discussion forum

Link to their wiki

via OSNews

MSDN Gets A Facelift (or is it just lipstick?)

MSDN recently launched the redesigned pages under a code name Tobago. After a little browsing it appears they may be rolling it out in stages to different areas as some of the software sites under MSDN still had the same ole look and feel.

The new design provides a somewhat richer user and search experience along with consistent top-level navigation for Dev Centers and Tech Centers.

They’ve also revamped the Navigation controls for section tabs, eyebrows, content controls (left nav, multi tab control, search, etc…). And lastly, the library searching now has an auto complete feature.

MSDN

via Sandcastle

Vista’s CMD In Full Screen Mode

If you use the Windows Command Shell a lot (cmd.exe) then you may already know that in previous versions of Windows if you put the focus on CMD and hit ALT+ENTER, that the command window goes to full screen mode, really nice. Especially for devices running Windows that want to replace the Explorer Shell with Command Shell.

In any case, I tried this the other day on Vista and this was the unpleasant response below, sigh. Looks like it’s not supported.

Vista_cmd

 

As long as we’re on the subject of CMD.exe, here’s a couple of CMD tips:

  • To make reading the console easier I usually set green font on black background or yellow on black.
  • Set screen buffer size to 9000 so you don’t lose important info off the screen
  • Use the UP and DOWN arrows to walk up and down the command buffer

Dogfood Doesn’t Always Taste Good

One of the developers on the Windows Mobile team is Mike Calligaro, he writes on the team blog at length about some of the interesting technical challenges around trying to dogfood a new version of an OS when the hardware manufacturers either can’t keep up to get them devices to experiment on or when they simply won’t provide reference boards period.

Pretty interesting read, I always like Mike’s articles, he’s not afraid to speak his mind, likes to make you feel like an insider and usually doesn’t pull any punches.

Here’s 3 snippets:

One of the huge challenges we face in Windows Mobile is finding acceptable devices to use for Dogfood. Because the device we need to use hasn’t been created yet, we almost always develop the next release on a device created for the previous one. This causes serious problems (that lead to clever solutions) when the previous hardware doesn’t have features we’re trying to develop. For example, it was hard to add QWERTY keyboard support because no device had a QWERTY keyboard. And no one was going to make a QWERTY device until we added QWERTY support.

We needed a way to do 240×240. We did that by taking a 320×240 iPaq and just making its display driver only draw the first 240 pixels. We needed a way to do 640×480. For that we used an XDA (which had a 320×240 screen), made its display driver tell the system it had a 640×480 screen, and then “pixel quartered” the output (average pixels together) to make it fit. It was ugly, but if you squinted, you could almost pretend it was the higher resolution. And it let us test to make sure that text fit on the screen correctly, etc.

The most funky thing we needed to do was 240×320 for Smartphone. We couldn’t use the pixel quarter trick there because the MPX200 was 176×220, which isn’t an even multiple. Instead we made the Smartphone version of our code run on the XDA. To simulate the number pad, we overlaid a number pad on the screen and let you tap it with your fingers.

Link to the blog.