Thursday, December 08, 2005

Windows Live Local

Microsoft have retired Virtual Earth and rebranded it Windows Live Local. They have also added the Bird's Eye View. For example, here is a shot of the entrance to our US HQ (the topmost building).

Apart from a few minutes fun looking at familiar sites, this is a poor application. The controls are limited when in Bird's Eye View etc. As a competitor to Google Maps, it does okay. However, it just does not have the wow factor of Google Earth.

Note that Microsoft have updated their Location Finder application to version 2.0.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Search Preview Add-in for MSN Search Toolbar

Here is a useful addition for MSN Search Toolbar: Search Preview Add-in for MSN Search Toolbar. This builds thumbnail previews of search results. It can speed up searches since it pre-fetches the pages and gives a detailed preview.

Find it on MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search Add-ins. (Also note Windows Live Favorites Beta.)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

MSN Messenger Encarta and BBC TV bots

Here is an interesting applicaiton of MSN Messenger. Add contacts for

The first allows you to query Microsoft's Encarta service with questions such as "What is MSN Messenger?" Answer: "MSN Messenger is the application you're using to communicate with me. :)"

The second will allow you to ask about BBC TV listings.

From: News and views on IM, Presence and RTC Technologies.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Cingular to increasing GSM investment

There have been media reports that Cingular will delay their 3G deployment to concentrate on GSM. For example, Unstrung have an article about Cingular investing $227 million in their GSM netowrk in two markets (Kentucky and Tennesse). See Cingular Spends on GSM. (See GSM Goes Wild.)

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Virtual Earth is now live

Microsoft Virtual Earth is now live and it's a huge disappointment. I suppose it looks strong against Google Maps, but is a poor competitor to Google Earth.

One interesting component, however, is the Microsoft Location Finder. In theory, this will work out your location as you travel using IP lookup and the like. It then synchronises to Virtual Earth.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Controlling Google Earth from C++

Here's a quick trick to peak inside an application: Do a #import somewhere in Visual Studio and then examine the resulting IDL in the .tlh file after the compile.

I did this for the free version of Google Earth and got a googleearth.tlh. This exposed a basic COM interface. There is not much to control, but the following will give you some idea. (Sorry about the formatting of the long string. It looks ugly, but I'm sure you get the idea. Any KML is valid in this string, by the way.)

IKHInterfacePtr googleEarth(__uuidof(KHInterface));

// testing LoadKml()
BSTR kmlData = ::SysAllocString(L"
        <name>Sample Path</name>
googleEarth->LoadKml(&kmlData); // loads the string

// change the view to the above area
IKHViewInfoPtr viewInfo = googleEarth->currentView;
viewInfo->latitude = 36.06778704771370;
viewInfo->longitude = -112.0870267752693;
viewInfo->range = 5000;
viewInfo->tilt = 45;
viewInfo->azimuth = 0;
googleEarth->setView(viewInfo, 0.1); // 0.1 is the speed

// open a file


Remember you'll need a CoInitialize before this.

Update: Steve is controlling Google Earth using JScript.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Google Earth KML Documentation

See Google Earth KML Documentation and Google Earth KML Tutorial.

Google Earth Hacks

Google Earth Hacks

T-Mobile US future uncertain?

See this New York Times article.

Orange SPV C500 Update

Orange have finally released the Orange SPV C500 update: Orange SPV C500 (you may have to choose a phone and update to save the cookie).

The main new feature is Windows Media Player 10.

You can get the direct download here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Cingular considering iTunes phone

Cingular considering iTunes phone

Google Earth

Google Earth beta.

Update: Like the Google Web Accelerator, new Google Earth subscriptions (at least to the free and, suprisingly, the Plus version) have been taken offline. Hopefully everyone downloaded, installed and started (it needs this to acquire a login) the program in the two days that it was made available.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Microsoft .NET 2.0 Benchmarks

TheServerSide.Net have some Microsoft .NET 2.0 Benchmarks.

Some highlights:

.NET 2.0 Beta 2 has roughly twice the XML DOM transaction throughput compared to .NET 1.x and Sun Java JVM 1.5.

.NET 2.0 Beta 2 (on IIS 6.0) web performance blows away the current leaders: IBM HTTP Server (with IBM WebSphere 6.0) and SunOne HTTP Server (with JWSDP 1.5).

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

MSN Search Toolbar now has tab support

The latest version includes tab support. Seems to work okay, but I'll still use Maxthon. Download the update here: MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search.

Here is some more information direct from Microsoft: Work with tabbed browsing

Apple & Intel FAQ

This is, by far, the best summary of the situation regarding the Mac OS X to Intel transition: Apple & Intel: What you need to know.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Crazy official Microsoft wallpaper

Look at this! You may be surprised to learn that this is an official Microsoft wallpaper...!

Download the Microsoft desktop background. (Actually there is something good here. The Royale theme that comes with Media Center 2005 and Tablet PC 2005.)

Apple's G5 versus x86

On paper the G5 should have good performance. In practice, in the hands of Mac OS X, it never seemed to acheive its full potential. AnandTech think they've found the culprit: Mac OS X. Here are some quotes:

"The G5 might not be the fastest integer CPU on earth - its database performance is completely crippled by an asthmatic operating system that needs up to 5 times more time to handle and create threads"

"The server performance of the Apple platform is, however, catastrophic."


Interestingly, Linus Torvalds, in his book Just for Fun, says pretty much the same thing (he describes the Mach kernel at the heart of Mac OS X as "a piece of crap"). His critisims are exactly reproduced in the above AnandTech article - I had assumed he was spinning a "my OS is better than your OS" line.

Of course, Apple are not really about performance. They make stylish, user-friendly computers for people who don't like to be part of the herd. Furthermore, the above analysis only really applies to data intensive applications, so will not be relevant to standard desktop applications such as Microsoft Word.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Orange SPV C550

MoDaCo have some more information about the Orange SPV C550 (aka HTC Hurricane). First a disappointment: it is likely to have Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, and not Windows Mobile 2005. However, one interesting rumour is it'll includes 802.11b Wi-Fi. Could this be why Skype are developing their software for smartphones? It would be pretty cool to be able to dial out across VoIP when in range of a Wi-Fi network. Although this is unlikely to please operators since it will directly affect their ARPU.

The lack of Windows Mobile 2005 is a showstopper for me. However, the fact that it has a 262,000 colour display when Windows Mobile 2003 SE only supports 65k would indicate this was originally designed for Windows Mobile 2005. So, I'm going to wait since I think a ROM update will appear in the near future.

Apple to switch to Intel chips starting in 2006

Reuters report Apple to switch to Intel chips starting in 2006

"Apple plans to move lower-end computers like the Mac Mini to Intel chips in mid-2006 and higher-end models such as the Power Mac in the middle of 2007".

I'm not sure if this is true or not, but it would be a monumental task. Having said that, emulation technology has come a long way in recent years with Intel among others building virtuality directly into their chips.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Verizon Wireless and ALLTEL in merger talks?

Engadet think that Verizon Wireless and ALLTEL are in merger talks.

This is the only report at the moment, but it would make sense. It is also one of the few mergers (or basically acquisitions) that are possible now that T-Mobile US have ruled themselves out of buying up the smaller operators.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Migrating from Visual SourceSafe to Team Foundation

Just spent some time migrating Visual SourceSafe to Visual Studio Team Foundation. I found these Akash Maheshwari articles indispensable:

Walkthrough: Preparing to Migrate from Visual SourceSafe to Team Foundation

Walkthrough: Migrating from Visual SourceSafe to Team Foundation

T-Mobile US plan 3G in 2007

T-Mobile US have not yet commited to purchasing any US 3G spectrum, but plan to rollout such a network in 2007 (see

Friday, May 27, 2005


Newsbreak RSS feed reader for smartphones such as the Orange SPV C500. Pocket PC versions are also available at the same link.

GSM Goes Wild

3G and WiMAX attract the most attention, but it is GSM that is driving industry growth according to a recent report. See also GSM Goes Wild. “During 2004 alone, Ericsson shipped GSM transceivers corresponding to 40 percent of the total volume delivered since the introduction of GSM. 2005 is expected to present yet another record.”

The GSM customer base throughout the Americas region has more than doubled from 65.9 million in Q1 2004 to more than 136.3 million as of Q1 2005.

During the first three months of 2005, there were 87.74 million new customers globally. GSM accounted for 79.93 million or 91% of these new subscribers.

In the North American region, the main growth in terms of number of net additions during Q1 2005 has been in GSM, with nearly 7 million subscribers. The 7 million net additions during this quarter were 30% higher than the same period in 2004 whereas the number of CDMA additions fell slightly.

For more information, see

According to Ericsson, new mobile subscription growth between 2005 and 2010 breaks down as follows:

The number of new GSM sites being rolled out is staggereing. The high installation and opex (operating expenditure) inhibit deployment of both 2G and 3G systems, directly affecting operating profits (See Unstrung Insider report, Open Base Station Bonanza). Here is a cost breakdown from a PowerWave analysis for April 2005 with the total deployment cost per base station around $100,000.

A Hitchhiker's Guide to Avalon Beta 1 RC

Tim Sneath : A Hitchhiker's Guide to Avalon Beta 1 RC

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Jobs On Suing Bloggers

Wired co-founder John Battelle's blog has an entry Jobs On Suing Bloggers. Jobs is quoted as being prepared to take this "unqualified journalist" issue to the Supreme Court if necessary. Very odd, and very difficult to uphold in a court of law, I would have thought. I've yet to come across a single respected "qualified journalist" that has anything positive to say about Apple's weird posturing.

Jobs is also quoted saying the reason he pulled all of Wiley's publications from Apple stores is because "I didn't want to do business with them". Which doesn't tell us much and is odd since Wiley has some of the highest selling Mac related books on the market. It is also counter-productive since iCon is one of the biggest selling computer-related books this year.

Microsoft Virtual Earth

Virtual Earth is Microsoft's answer to Google Maps. For more information see Chandu Thota's WebLog.

Update: Here's a Channel 9 video.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

UK WiMAX trials to start June

Broadband wireless is coming to the UK soon: see ISP Review. Telabria will deliver a symmetric 45 Mbps service over a 15 mile radius.

The main purpose of this trial is to test radio propagation, QoS, network capacity etc.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

TomTom MOBILE 5 released

This'll turn your Orange SPV C500 into a GPS navigator. See TomTom MOBILE 5 for more information. The GPS receiver is relatively small and connects via Bluetooth.


Look at this:

Is that not really cool? The 40" OLED WXGA screen also looks okay. It is 1" thick, by the way. See here for more information.

"Avalon", "Indigo" Beta 1 Release Candidate

Download here.

Friday, May 20, 2005


There are loads of good Wiki frameworks out there including FlexWiki, JSPWiki, MediaWiki, TikiWiki and so on. However, I thought this one is pretty cool: TiddlyWiki. It's ultra lightweight (just a simple HTML page). It's written in HTML, CSS and JavaScript to run on any modern browser without needing any server side logic. If only someone would come up with a set of names that didn't sound so silly... TiddlyWiki indeed!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Newsgator Media Center Edition

There's a Media Center Edition of NewsGator. It does lots of cool things. For example, if an item in a feed features video content, by clicking the Play Video" button, the video clip will play in the standard "minimised" window. One more click and it starts playing full screen. Apparently this has been around for some time and I've somehow missed it. Anyway, here's a download and more information can be found here. All you need is your standard Newsgator Online password. It'll handle all the synchronization with the Outlook or Mobile editions.

Mac OS X 10.4.1 Update released

Mac OS X 10.4.1 Update

Monday, May 16, 2005

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Thursday, May 05, 2005

A History of the GUI

A History of the GUI

Sprint and Intel to work on WiMAX

Sprint (and eventually Nextel) and Intel are to work together on implementing the IEEE 802.16e WiMAX standard. See Sprint and Intel to Explore WiMAX Broadband Technologies. This has been expected for some time since Sprint Nextel own the unused 2.5 GHz band. This should offer a more effective development than current 3G offerings (see WiMAX and 3G technology comparison).

Monday, May 02, 2005

CoolCommands for Visual Studio 2005 beta 2

Gaston Milano has upded his CoolCommands to support Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2. Collapse All Projects and Open Project Folder are essential.

The download is here here.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Dell UltraSharp 2005FPW

The Dell UltraSharp 2005FPW flat panel monitor is now $480. I'm patiently waiting for the UK value to drop (UK list price £550).

See The 20" LCD Shootout: Dell versus Apple (they are both based on an identical LG panel).

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Orange UK C500 ROM Update Imminent

The Windows Media Player 10 ROM update is almost here (been a long wait): Orange UK C500 Update Imminent. Looks like it will be May 9.

Nokia N91 mobile music

This features a 4GB HDD and supports MP3, AAC (not the iPod variant) and WMA. Playback is 12.5 hours, which is pretty good for such a small device.

I don't think HDDs are robust enough for use in mobile phones (at least not for me) so I'd still consider the Orange SPV series (such as the Orange SPV C500/C550). The N91 features a standard 3.5mm jack, which is more convenient than the 2.5mm jack in the Orange SPV C500.

See Nokia N91 Press Release.

Sprint coverage maps

See Sprint Tower Maps. This is probably a reaction to T-Mobile's coverage map. It's not very good, but it is a start. In a market where there are five (soon to be four) big operators, two adds up to a critical mass. I suspect Verizon and Cingular will soon follow. It requires Java, so can be unstable or have screen paint problems.

WinHEC 2005 Conference Presentations and Papers

WinHEC 2005 Conference Presentations and Papers

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


I hope the following is not true. John Wiley & Sons claim that Apple have removed all its titles from the shelves of Apple stores after they refused to cancel the publication of the Steve Jobs biography iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business.

See Reuters, Macworld UK and The San Jose Mercury News.

Also see the recent account of how large US media organizations are supporting some Apple Fan Sites as Apple attempt to counteract the US First amendment.

Applying economic pressure in an effort to censor content is reprehensible. It also reveals a complete lack of respect for the intelligence of its customers.

Compare and contrast Apple's desire to control its public image with the open debate Microsoft (via Scoble) is currently having. Scoble and other Microsoft employees (e.g. Adam Barr) are free to criticize their employer.

Microsoft announce mini-tablet

Mini-Tablet. Not due until post "Longhorn" era.

Microsoft's OS history

Microsoft put up this slide at WinHEC:

It interesting to see the acceleration in the development that's occured in the last few years.

Notice there is little mention of DOS... I wonder why? :)

Longhorn build 5048 desktop screenshot

See neowin for more information.

Notice the lack of a sidebar...

Looks like the search functionality is built into the Start Menu:

Monday, April 25, 2005

More Orange SPV C550 pics

Here are some more photos of the SPV C550...

It looks so close to the SPV C500, that I think it must be genuine. See the::unwired for more information (via Engadget)

Microsoft / IDSA PC Design Competition

This is what is launching: Microsoft / IDSA PC Design Competition.

Free telecoms tutorials

IEC Online Education provides nearly 200 telecoms-related tutorials for technologies such as DWDM, W-CDMA and UMTS.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Smartphone homescreens

This site has 100s of homescreens for phones such as the Orange SPV C500.

T-Mobile Personal Coverage Check

More mapping fun: This time T-Mobile US have a Personal Coverage Check. Here's the coverage at our US office:

The service is very flakey, however. See Mobiledia for more information.

Hopefully others will follow very soon.

AivX DivX Player

I've just bought a new 2.5" HDD enclosure from Sarotech, AivX.

I got it for $80 on eBay, which is pricey for a HDD enclosure but you get a lots of extras. First up, the build quality is excellent and features an tough aluminium casing (although there is a mock-silver plastic strip around the unit that looks a little cheap). It feels solid and is slightly smaller than my LaCie P2 drive. All cables are supplied along with a neat carry case.

(The S-Video cable, FM antenna extension and 5.1 channel adapter are missing from this picture.)
Fitting the 2.5" drive was easy and a screwdriver was supplied (which is a nice touch).

The main feature is the ability to act as a multimedia device. Video formats supported are AVI (DivX 3.x, 4.x, 5.x XviD), DAT, MPG and VOB (unlike the Mvisto ISO is not supported, unfortunately); music formats are MP3, WMA and OGG. Suppored picture format is just JPEG, but a later firmware upgrade may support others.

Basic operation means plugging into a PC via a USB 2.0 connection. It's bus powered, so there is no need for additional cabling. The HDD can be FAT or NTFS formatted and up to two partitions are supported with the current firmware. Transfer of media is quick and can be placed anywhere on the drive.

There are many options for plugging into your TV. PAL, NTSC and HDTV are supported. You can switch to anamorphic 16:9 widscreen, letterbox 16:9 or standard 4:3. The component cable supplied features separate conections for each component so I will have to get a component to SCART converter to test RGB.

I used the S-Video connection (composite is also supplied) so I cannot judge the true picture quality.

Sound is stereo or 5.1 surround with DTS passthrough. I've not tested the 5.1 surround, so stuck with stereo for the time being. There is a built-in FM transmitter for music playback in a car or to a Hi-Fi system. An FM antenna extension is supplied to increase quality and distance. It works very well.

All operations are controlled by the remote control (there is support for an IR-Blaster compatible IR extension). It works well over distances of around 10m.

Operation is easy. Press the remote's power button and within 5 seconds the media browser is displayed on the TV screen.

Navigate using the scroll buttons to a movie, music or picture file and then press the play button to view or listen. All other operations such as pause, fast forward/reverse etc all work well. You also get all the standard DVD menu navigation and special features etc when viewing VOBs.

Most movies have worked straight away, with only one XviD causing problems. I need to investigate more to see if the transcoding failed. All music files have also worked, and if the album cover art is called background.jpg you get to see that displayed on the TV. I encode music at a high variable bitrate (> 450kbps), so I was worried that I might have to downsample this. However, it worked fine and the music quality was good (although I've only played this through the TV so far).

The picture slideshow worked well. It displayed a huge 4800x4800 graphic, although took a few seconds to appear.

In general, I'm very happy with this device and would recommend it. Alternatives are LaCie silverscreen, Mvisto and Mvolt.