Sunday, December 26, 2004

CDs/2004: Air — ­­Talkie Walkie


Talkie Walkie is Air's fourth album (not counting their soundtrack to Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicide) and a more natural descendent of 1998's Moon Safari. Trademark layers of melodic synthesizer and strings (arranged by Michel Colombier - sadly one of his last collaborations) compliment Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin's soft vocal harmonies. If I were only allowed to choose one album from 2004, this would be it.

Released: January 26, 2004
Singles: Cherry Blossom Girl, Surfing on a Rocket, Alpha Beta Gaga
Adverts: Alpha Beta Gaga (Orange), Alone in Kyoto (BT)
Film: Alone in Kyoto (Lost in Translation)

CDs/2004: Favourites

I thought, over the next few days, I'd list some of my favourite CDs of 2004.

Overall, 2004 has been a poor year for music, but there have been one or two quality releases. Hopefully 2005 will be much better.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Windows XP SP2: The Inside Story

Paul Thurrott has published an interesting article on the development of Windows XP Service Pack 2: The Inside Story.

Visual Studio 2005 Team System CTP on MSDN

The December 2004 CTP of Visual Studio 2005 Team System has been released on MSDN Subscriber Downloads.

For an installation guide see here.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Whidbey Commands for Visual Studio 2003

I mentioned Gaston Milano in a recent "Avalon" post. Prior to his XamlViewer for Visual Studio 2005 he developed an excellent little utility called WhidbeyCommands for Visual Studio 2003. This installed three extra commands onto each tab:

It turns out that Gaston released two further updates this year. The first, WhidbeyCommands 2.0 for Visual Studio 2003, adds the following to the Solution Explorer context menu:

The "Collapse All Projects" is something I've wanted for a long time and, on its own, is worth the download.

While the second update, WhidbeyCommands 2.1 for Visual Studio 2003, adds the following to the Text Editor context menu:

Demo Font swaps the editor font to a larger, clearer font. This is useful when you have a bunch of developers crowded around your desk trying to help debug some nasty crash.

Wheel Font Sizing is really good if you regularly connect to your machine from several monitors with different resolution (i.e. using Remote Desktop). By pressing Ctrl while rolling the mouse wheel, you can enlarge or reduce the font size.

Download WhidbeyCommands 2.1 for Visual Studio 2003. Before installing, download and install the Microsoft Interop Assemblies.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

How Stuff Works

How Stuff Works give clear explanations of things around us such as computers, DVDs etc.

Google for Microsoft

I didn't know this, but Google provide a search engine dedicated to Microsoft-related sites:

MSN Toolbar Suite shortcut:


MSN Toolbar Suite tips

Here are a few tips I use with MSN Toolbar Suite:

First I get rid of the extra buttons on either side of the textbox of the MSN Deskbar. To do this you need to start regedit and browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\MSN Apps\DB. Then add a DWORD with the name Buttons and value = 1.

Second I change the default hotkey to SHIFT+S. This means you can use WindowsKey+S to change focus to the Deskbar textbox (I don't know why Shift works). To do this select Option and select Deskbar in the treeview and press SHIFT and S in the textbox.

I'm happy using MSN Search for Web queries, but News and Groups (which is not suplied by MSN Search at the moment) are better handled by Google. So add shortcuts from the Deskbar textbox:

Google Groups:

Google News

Another shortcut I like:


which lets you search by typing "msdn2 System.IO.File" to go directly to a description of the File class in the .NET Framework.


Unstrung seem to have some good wireless telecoms articles/news. No sign of an RSS feed at the moment.

Microsoft release a Christmas Theme for Windows

Microsoft have released a Christmas Theme that includes "new wallpaper, animated cursors, new icons, new sounds and a 3D screensaver".

Sprint Nextel deal confirmed

Sprint to Buy Nextel in $35 Billion Deal. If regulatory approval follows the same nine month path as the Cingular/AT&T Wireless deal, the buyout should close in the second half of 2005.

This solves Nextel's 3G deliberations with them almost certain to move their 15.3 million subscribers to Sprint's future 1xEV-DO network. This will be at the expense of Flarion Technologies' Flash-OFDM. Sprint have already begun their 3G rollout in the hope that this is completed by 2007.

In the shorter-term Motorola agree to make dual-mode phones to bridge Sprint Nextel's incompatible CDMA/iDEN networks.

More details regarding their plans:

Note the following timetable:

Co-location work to start in 2005, but little will change as they await approval – they’ll concentrate on making Sprint’s 1.9GHz network interoperable with Nextel’s 800 MHz, “as well as drafting up site-sharing arrangements”. Co-location work will continue in 2006 with Nextel pushing the plans to move iDEN over to CDMA. This will continue through 2007. Sprint Nextel will then develop VoIP across the cdma2000 1xEV-DO network during 2008. Sprint Nextel expect 14,000 Nextel cell sites will host CDMA equipment by 2008.

Sprint Nextel have an official merger site:

Of particular interest is the Investor briefing and page 13 in particular.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Monday, December 13, 2004

ETSI adopt DVB-H standard

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) is to adopt the DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcast - Handheld) standard for mobile TV services. (See official deliverable.)

Nokia have issued a press release welcoming this news and promising handsets by 2006.

This could slow the rate of 3G adoption. For example, 3G services currently offer the download of all the goals scored in the Premier League at an expensive per-MB download rate (roughly £1 per minute). O2 are already planning to use DVB-H next year despite having paid £4-billion for their 3G license. It is likely that they'll be offering a service around £8 per month for 16 channels. Premium content is likely to cost more, and is likely to be offered on a pay-per-view basis. Assuming they price this right, it will be difficult to imagine anyone prepared to pay to download a few 10 second clips of the top goals through the expensive mobile network when they can watch the entire match.

The UK is likely to be a good match for DVB-H transmissions since it is based on the system used to transmit the Freeview digital TV service.

For more information see this New Scientist article and this article from Wireless Week. Note the incredible bargain Crown Castle's 5MHz US spectrum deal could be in the future.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Sprint to buy Nextel for $36-billion

According to many reports (e.g. Sprint in talks to buy Nextel for $36B and Sprint, Nextel close to merger) Sprint and Nextel have tentatively agreed on key terms for Sprint to buy Nextel for $36-billion

Regulatory hurdles are expected to be low since federal regulators recently approved the $41-billion acquisition of AT&T Wireless by Cingular.

This makes a lot of sense. Sprint are able to consolidate their No. 3 position behind Cingular and Verizon. Spectrally, such a deal offers many synergies. Sprint’s spectrum in the PCS band is adjacent to the band Nextel are expected to receive through the FCC’s 800MHz rebanding requirement. Furthermore, Nextel have been investigating CDMA technologies to replace their existing iDEN systems.

Friday, December 10, 2004 -- Rent This DVD have introduced a new service called DVD Rental by Post. For £9.99 a month, you can rent up to 6 DVDs with free postage to and from your home. You also get 10% off all DVD purchases.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Process Explorer 8.6

Download here.

New in this release:
  • Multi-row tabs on process properties dialog
  • Image signing verification on process image properties dialog
  • Mini-CPU usage graph on toolbar
  • Command-line option for specifying Process Explorer priority
  • Manual refresh (F5) forces recheck of job and .NET process status
  • Single-clicking on tray icon minimizes and restores main window

Winter Fun Pack 2004 for Windows XP

Winter Fun Pack 2004 for Windows XP

MSN Spaces

MSN Spaces is Microsoft's entry into the world of blogging. Shame they've missed this opportunity and produced something so poor. Hopefully, over time, things will improve.

This is my MSN Spaces blog:

There is nothing there yet, and I'll not use it in the foreseeable future. It's just a placeholder just in case this does get interesting.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Konfabulator 1.8.1

Konfabulator 1.8.1 is now available.

Fixes include:
  • Reduced memory footprint in Task Manager
  • Upgraded the URL object to support POSTing, outputting to a file and returning the HTTP response code
  • Made the Below window level stick to the desktop when choosing Show Desktop from the Task Bar
  • Now reacts properly to monitor configuration changes and move widgets appropriately
  • Now stores unzipped widgets in the local app data folder, not the system's temporary folder
  • Fixed problem where click-through was not working
  • Redid CPU monitoring code to avoid issues with performance counters
  • Attempted to solve the occasional spontaneous unregistering issue
  • Added automatic check for updates, with ability to 'skip' a version

Cingular announce its 3G plans

Cingular Wireless have announced their 3G plans and award Lucent Technologies the contract for its nationwide 3G UMTS deployment.

The network will use a new evolution of UMTS -- High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), which will ultimately support theoretical peak data rates of up to 14.4 Mbps and is necessary to combat Verizon's EV-DO rollout.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Visual Studio 2005 hits ZBB for beta 2

S. Somasegar blogs that Visual Studio 2005 has hit the Zero Bug Bounce milestone for Beta 2.

Beta 2 is due for release in Q1 2005.

Sunday, November 21, 2004


I've been using Firefox on my home machine on and off for the last year. In general it's fast and works very well, but there are times that I have to go back to Internet Explorer (due to compatibility issues). So I still find myself using Internet Explorer on a daily basis with the downside that I no longer have any tabbed windows.

Luckily there is a browser that uses the Internet Explorer rendering engine and wraps it in a tabbed dialog. "Maxthon is a powerful web browser with a highly customizable interface. It is based on the Internet Explorer engine which means that what works in IE, works the same in Maxthon but with many additional efficient features". I can easily see myself permanently switching to Maxthon very soon.

How to run Virtual Server 2004 under Windows XP

I thought that Virtual Server 2005 only worked on Windows Server 2003. However, John Howard (no, not that John Howard) blogs: How to run Virtual Server under XP.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

"Avalon" for Windows XP

The Avalon November 2004 Community Technical Preview for Windows XP has been released on MSDN Subscriptions as part of the WinFX SDK.

"Avalon" requires a Beta 1 build of .NET Framework 2.0 to be installed.

Update: Chris Anderson has a demo application -- XamlPad. Note that he is using ClickOnce to deploy updates (this is the first time I've seen that technology working).

Gaston Milano (the WhidbeyCommands for Visual Studio 2003 developer) has released a Xaml Viewer for Visual Studio 2005 which has been updated recently.

Friday, November 19, 2004

blinkx and Smart Folders


blinkx 2.0 has a cool Smart Folder feature.

"Smart folders are intelligent folders that automatically and persistently update their content as new information becomes available. Smart folders build over time and can be based on the actual ideas contained within the content of those files, and not on select keywords.

"Smart folders within blinkx have been applied to all data types, including: pictures, music, video, text and Web pages. blinkx enables fast automatic indexing and linking of desktop documents, including: Microsoft Word, PowerPoint presentations, Excel worksheets, Adobe Acrobat PDFs, contact information from Outlook, Outlook Express, and Eudora, HTML pages and text documents, as well as Web and news content. blinkx 2.0 also extends the range of formats that blinkx can understand to include all popular multimedia formats such as: MP3, AAC (iTunes), WMV, MPEG, Real, AVI, QuickTime MOV, TIFF, GIF, JPEG, Zip files and BMP.

"You can set smart folders to check for new content on the Web, TV or news and trickle download them unnoticed into your smart folders. You can then view them even when you are off line."

Thursday, November 18, 2004

.NET Rocks! - Java, .NET, and the future

One of the best .NET Rocks! yet: Mark Pollack, Ted Neward, and Don Box on Java, .NET, and the future.

"This show was originally intended to be a discussion about Java and Spring.NET with Mark Pollack. Then Ted was invited, and he invited Don. The result is an almost two hour discussion of Java and .NET."

MSN Web Messenger

MSN Web Messenger has been updated. It looks more and more like the standard desktop version.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Koders - Source Code Search Engine

"Koders is a search engine for source code. It enables developers to easily search and browse source code in thousands of projects hosted at hundreds of open source repositories."

I've done a couple of "reference searches" and have had good results without the normal Google "noise".

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Microsoft developer guidelines

This is a really good set of guidelines that "encourage consistency and predictability" during software development. These guidelines are specifically for library developers but I think they offer useful advice for all development tasks.

While we are on the subject, I've been enjoying the latest Larry Osterman series of blogs on code style. Here they are:

What does style look like, part 1
What does style look like, part 2 (structure)
What does style look like, part 3 (indentation)
What does style look like, part 4 (documenting)
What does style look like, part 5 (headers)
What does style look like, part 6 (naming conventions)
What does style look like, part 7 (language specific style)
What does style look like, part 8 (the end)
Larry's Coding Conventions

Monday, November 15, 2004

Another convert to the HTC Typhoon cause

Steve Makofsky wrote an article saying how he did not like the HTC Typhoon (Orange SPV C500, AudioVox SMT 5600, etc.). However, having used it for two weeks, he now considers it to be "pretty damn good". I could not agree more. Even though there will be many phones in the near future that will beat it, there is no phone out there today that can come close.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

MSN Toolbar Suite have an exclusive article on the new MSN Toolbar Suite. I'm a big fan of Lookout -- using it on a daily basis -- so I'm looking forward to testing out the Outlook Toolbar.

Saturday, November 13, 2004


Use YouSendIt if you need to securely exchange large files without sharing passwords (à la FTP). Each exchange remains "shareable" for seven days.

There is a 1GB limit per exchange, but you can send larger files by splitting the transmission.

Friday, November 12, 2004

MapPoint, SmartPhone and C#

The Code Project has an interesting series of articles on "MapPoint, SmartPhones and C#". Here is Part 1 and Part 2.

What amazes me is how much can be done with such little code.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

iRiver H320/340 Firmware 1.20

The updated video playback firmware is here. I'll write a follow-up post that describes how to prepare video for playback on this device at a later date.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


The OQO is not the only handtop computer (small computers that run full versions of Microsoft Windows XP) out there today. Here is a list of alternatives.

Here is the FlipStart:

The Sony U50 (in Japanese):

Although this is reportedly dropped to make way for the Sony U750.

Here is the Antelope:

And this is the Tiqit:

Finally here's a product comparison from

Saturday, November 06, 2004

iPodder 1.1 released

Download iPodder, the cross-platform podcast receiver

iPodder 1.1 is now available for Windows and Mac. The Linux version is currently postponed.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Create Well-Formed XML with JavaScript

Here's some cool JavaScript from O'Reilly's XML Hacks: Create Well-Formed XML with JavaScript (also available as PDF).


Following on from my Eclipse post, Alien Invention also have Kumite. This is a Street Fighter clone exclusively for Microsoft Smartphones. One of the cooler features is a Bluetooth multiplayer mode. I'm not sure when it'll get released, but I hope it is sooner rather than later.

Konfabulator for Windows

Konfabulator for Windows is due Monday, November 8.

HP Pavilion zd8000

Could the HP Pavilion zd8000 be the coolest notebook yet? Notebook Review have some screenshots here. It features a 17" BriteView widescreen, full keyboard, multicard reader, DVD burner, docking cradle and remote control:

Remote control? It needs it since it has a dual TV Tuner (pictured on the right):

I'm assuming it'll come with Windows Media Center Edition 2005 pre-installed (notice the remote looks to have the green Windows Media Centre "seal of approval" so it must be have it or at least be compatible with it). The rumours are that it'll be out in December.

Scoble's linkblog

Scoble's linkblog is worth checking out. It's basically a companion to his main blog, but does not contain as much descriptive text -- think of it as a jumping point to other blogs. I've gotten lots of great links from it.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Future of Wi-Fi

Good summary on The Future of Wi-Fi.


No, this post is not about IBM's IDE by the same name. It's about a more serious application: Eclipse for the Microsoft Smartphone by Alien Invention.

Eclipse has been installed on my Orange SPV C500 (the HTC Typhoon -- aka i-mate SP3, aka Audiovox SMT5600) for nearly two months and I've been addicted ever since. I really love retro games and Smartphones are a perfect platform.

By the way, could this phone be any cooler? Messenger, Internet Explorer, Media Player (I have a 512 MB miniSD card so use it as an "emergency" MP3/WMA player), easy synchronization, Pocket Streets 2005 and last, but not least, the .NET Compact Framework to play with (for example, see Chandu Thota's blog on the Joy of Location with MapPoint Location Server).

Hush E-Series

While I waited for the Nanode, I thought about getting the Hush Mini-ITX:

It now seems that Hush are making a Windows Media Center Edition 2005 compatible device -- the Hush E-Series:


The delay of the VIA Nano-ITX motherboards (the EPIA N-Series) and Eden-N processors has meant that I have been waiting for nearly six months for the release of Hoojum Design's Nanode. However, there now seems to be some movement with the Nanode due within the next month or two.


Monster make high-quality audio cables and will soon release iCruze -- a device to allow drivers to connect an iPod through a factory-fitted or aftermarker car audio system. Since this is a direct connection, it does not suffer the loss of fidelity seen in FM transmitters such as the iTrip or TuneCast.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

palmOne to make Microsoft Windows Mobile Treo?

Engadget have an interesting article suggesting that palmOne could soon make a Microsoft Windows Mobile Treo. This will be an amazing turn of affairs if true.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Apple iTunes 4.7

A new version of Apple iTunes for Windows is available here. This is the first version to support the new Apple iPod Photo.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

.NET Architecture Center: Software Factories

Microsoft's .NET Architecture Center have collected together some articles on Software Factories.

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 Migration Toolkit

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 Migration Toolkit has been released.

Hello BloggerBot

Hello has been around for a while, but I was unaware that it could be used to host pictures directly on a Blogspot blog. See Hello BloggerBot for more information.

The primary function of Hello - a sort of P2P for photos - is also pretty cool and worth checking out.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Google buy Keyhole

Google have bought Keyhole and immediately dropped the price to $29.95 for personal use.

Check out the tour of the Athens Olympic venues and the Longhorn real estate videos.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

iPod Photo and U2 iPod

I'm not a big fan of the iPod due its relatively poor sound quality and limited, proprietary features, but Apple have finally released the iPod Photo and U2 iPod. The iPod Photo looks okay, but U2 seems to have been short-changed in the style department.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Whidbey Update

Scott Guthrie gives a Whidbey Update. His team develops ASP.NET 2.0.

In addition to the news about the beta 2 release, it lists some interesting testing techniques includng ZBB (Zero Bug Bounce). Note that his team has 102,000 test cases!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Tom's Hardware review the iRiver's H320

Tom's Hardware Guide review iRiver's H320 and seem impressed. I have the iRiver H340, which includes a docking cradle in addition to the accessories mentioned in the review.

I'd recommend getting the LCD remote which gives full control of the device.

I'd also recommend getting the Belkin TuneCast II FM transmitter for listening to your audio collection in the car.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Virtual PC and Command & Conquer

My favourite game of all time is Command & Conquer, but I could never get it to work on Windows XP. I tried it in Virtual PC without any luck until now. Ben Armstrong (aka Virtual PC Guy) explains why it does not work, and how to get it to work: Virtual PC and Command & Conquer. He has also got Dune and Dune II working. Excellent! I'm really enjoying his blog, and look forward to more information.

Also check out his Operating System Nostalgia and More Operating System Nostalgia entries.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


The Archos Gmini 400 is fairly feature packed. It can play movies on the colour LCD display. It is also not too large at 10.6cm x 6.0cm x 1.7cm. It also has a CompactFlash reader built in so must have good expansion potential.

Expanded multi-user controls, QuickTime sharing spotted in new Tiger builds

Apple Developer Connection have a new technical article on Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger

AppleInsider reveal more details: Expanded multi-user controls, QuickTime sharing spotted in new Tiger builds.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


A number of bloggers (for example, Jim Blizzard) have written about an alternative to Google Desktop Search called X1. Having played with the trial version, I agree; it is much better with a clean, standalone UI. There is a downside: it costs $74.95, but in the long-run I think it'll be worthwhile.

A comment pointed me to Copernic, who produce a free Desktop Search Engine. It is still indexing my disks, but I really like what I see so far. Notice how well integrated into Windows it is with a search text box appearing in the task bar.

Froogle UK

Froogle UK is now in beta.

Visual Studio 2005 Express October CTP

Following on from the earlier release of SQL Server 2005 Express, Microsoft have updated the Express editions of Visual Basic 2005, Visual C# 2005, Visual C++ 2005, Visual J# 2005 and Visual Web Developer 2005.

Saturday, October 16, 2004


Craig Andera blogs about a new favorite diff and merge tool, KDiff3.

OQO Photos and Reviews

The coolest thing about the OQO is you can use the same computer running Windows XP Professional at work or while mobile. It is true that you can do the same thing with a notebook comuter, but the OQO takes the mobility aspect a lot further. The next two screenshots show the OQO in handheld and docked modes.

For more photos, see the Engadget hardware.

Here is a batch of reviews:

    New York Times
    Wall Street Journal
    PC World
    PC Stats

Friday, October 15, 2004

Monad Demonstration Videos

Jeffrey Snover, Monad (Windows Command Shell) architect, demonstrates and discusses Monad here

SQL Server 2005 Express October CTP

Microsoft have refreshed the beta of SQL Server 2005 Express. Download the October CTP here.