Friday, April 25, 2008

Microsoft video goof ups

I am a fan of Microsoft and follow them closely. I am a member of lot of their websites, like Channel 8, Channel 9, Connect ... to name a few. Recently I saw a couple of goof ups in their videos. Here I am going to post a couple of them.

Virtual Tech Days

The first one is from Microsoft Virtual Techdays, an online event for the 2008 suite of products launch and videos. The whole thing was organized on 9th and 10th of April. Mandira Bedi and Pandu (I don't know his real name) was hosting the show and here is what happened when they actually tried to call up somebody. Look closely at the red circle with Pandu's hand as he dials a number.


Most probably the seating arrangement was both the hosts sitting together side by side with the laptop between them against a uniform background. Later the images of two were split up and set aside. That is why Mandira was appearing to look at the table, when in effect she should have looked at the laptop. But at least we can over look this one as it was a live video (almost live in my opinion).

Jon Udell talks with Ray Ozzie

In a recent post in Channel 9, Ray Ozzie Introducing Live Mesh, the CSA from Microsoft introduced their new service "Live Mesh" to the world.

Ray Ozzie Video

The Channel 9 logo that was featured at the background LCD screen was superimposed later, as evident from the picture (yellow circle) where Udell's hands appear to be in front of the LCD but behind the picture !!

Guess MS video guys still need to give a better finishing touch on those videos. ;)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Google Talks Lab Edition

This is the newest experimental version of the GTalk client from the Google Labs. Looks pretty cool and neat. I installed it from their official site. However the download does not contain the software, rather its the installer only version which checks internet for the software and downloads it. Here is the official screen-shot and the download link.


This version features an integration with other GMail services like Orkut, Google Calendars and GMail. The integration with Calendars is cool, you get reminders at your desktop. I liked this feature a lot. But it has the possibility to irritate you in certain times for which you could turn it off like a "snooze" option.

gtl_right_clk gtl_tab


The inclusion of Group Chat was a long desirable feature, this was only available in the web version of the client till now. The GTalk window has become multi-tabbed, which I do not think is a very good idea, but it does reduce some taskbar clutter in case of chatting with lots of friends.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

DreamSpark, Free MS Software for Students

I know that this is really late to talk about this Microsoft DreamSpark program. It was officially launched by Bill Gates quite a while back at the end of Feb '08. It is a program through which students around the world get access to Microsoft's professional-level developer and design tools at no charge.

This will give students a breakthrough in technology. Moreover, being able to use a professional tool is always an advantage to budding developers. By providing these tools free, MS is giving students a never before heard of opportunity to be exposed to exactly the same tool set that professionals use.

It is worthwhile to mention that MS has been giving away free tools to students for quite sometime now. They have various programs under which this is done.

  1. Express editions of Visual Studio compilers and IDEs have proved indispensable for hobbyists, casual developers and students. It is a great way to get introduced to the development platform provided by Microsoft.

  2. MSDN Academic Alliance is yet another program which gives an institution to distribute the entire line of MS products (barring just a handful) to all its pupils and use it for academic purposes.The students are encouraged to even install it in their home PCs.

  3. Participants of this year's Imagine Cup have also got free download access to professional editions of Visual Studio, Source Safe, Vista Business Edition and some more softwares at absolutely no cost.

However the DreamSpark program is still in a nascent stage and it is initially only being offered to students from US, UK, Canada, China and a couple of European countries. It is supposed to be implemented in stages and I am sure we will soon see India on that list.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Google adds offline capabilities to Docs

The hugely popular online office suite, Google Docs is now available offline too. Google announced Doc's offline capabilities on a blog post in the official site a couple of days ago. With this feature, users will be able to access and edit documents while offline and later connect to internet and synchronize it with its online version.

But to obtain such functionality, you will have to install Google Gears, which is an "open source project that enables more powerful web applications, by adding new features to your web browser". Gears is cross platform, cross browser compatible, so no need to worry over its availability. With this plugin installed, you will be able to open your documents even when you are not connected to the internet. The changes that you make to the document are stored in the machine itself. Later when you are connected to the internet, these changes gets uploaded to the server.

Here is the official video demonstrating this cool feature:

The inclusion of this feature might be the main reason why people would like to use Docs. It stores files on servers, so no need to worry about the document getting lost. At most the changes that you make might get lost. It is quite sufficient for regular word processing use. Of course it leaves a lot of room for improvement if we compare it to the full blown office suites like MS Office, Open Office or Start Office, but for an average user it proves very beneficial. The ability to access the documents from anywhere is is great bonus along with its integration with other products from Google.

Now the most important question, will an average user switch over to Docs fro this feature? ... well most probably they won't. But the Docs users have something to rejoice about. As for me, I am happy with MS Office and Docs has to go a long way, till it can attend that status.

So what's next? ... maybe a office suite from Google !! I mean an actual desktop office suite which integrates with Docs. This might be the future, as I feel that this "running a software within the browser" severely limits the functionality of the software. To rope in the power users a complete offline version will be best. Lets see what Google gifts us next, they never cease to surprise me.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Silverlight Presentation in Dev-Con

On Saturday, March 29th 2008, Heritage Engineering College in Kolkata organized a developer conference (Dev-Con) as a part of their annual Tech Fest "Daksh". A presentation on Silverlight was delivered by Mr. Deepak Jagdish, who happens to be a Program Manager for the Microsoft Student Partner project at Microsoft India. The session started at 10:30 and drew a crowd of 250+ students from all over the city.

Deepak Jagdish delivering session on Silverlight

After the initial formalities, Deepak started the session. he began talking about the basic concept of UX (user experience) and what is its relevance in today's world. Then he moved on to the designers versus the developers perspectives. The absence of a common platform between developers and designers lead to an inferior UX and introduced XAML as a solution to this problem by Microsoft.

Next he introduced the entire Expression Suite of products : Blend, Design, Web and Media, and explained about each of their usages. Then he moved on to Silverlight and its capabilities. How it is a cross-platform solution and mentioned the flexibility to code in any of the .NET supported languages for creating a Silverlight website.   Finally he demonstrated the Silverlight technology by showing a sample website with embedded video powered by Silverlight. He took the audience through the steps for creating a such demo website in the Expression Blend Feb 2008 demo edition.

Audience gathering at DevCon

Deepak also happened to be a two times national champion of the Imagine Cup Software Development event organized by Microsoft. However, he is not competing this year and in fact is on the other side of the Imagine Cup team. he is conducting the interviews and other stuff for the participants of this year.