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.

Solution to team project creation problem

Mike Attili has blogged a solution to the SQL Server Reporting Services Permissions that prevents the creation of new team projects in Visual Studio Team Foundation Server.

Installing Visual Studio Team Foundation Server

I've been trying to get Visual Studio Team Foundation Server working:

Saturday, April 23, 2005

My Movies

My Movies is a Media Center 2005 Add-On Application and works really well. It acts as an indexing system for DVDs. It lets you drill into information as you view a film. It links to IMDB. Free Music Downloads currently have over 200 free music dowloads from artists such as Moby, Interpol and Bloc Party. Check out the top 200 and Free Music Downloads

Friday, April 22, 2005

Firms paid TV tech gurus

This is a bit poor. The Wall Street Journal discovered that firms such as Apple and Sony paid TV commentators to plug their products on news programs (Firms Paid TV's Tech Gurus To Promote Their Products).

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Skype to hit mobile phones this year

See Skype to hit mobile phones this year. I'm not sure how this is going to work out cheaper than voice calls. Data is still very expensive and latency problems are also going to have an impact. I guess this is just a placeholder for when decent 3G services (such as EV-DO Rev. A) start to appear.

MSN to add tabbed browsing to existing IE

See MSN To Build Tabbed Browsing Into IE.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Google Maps for UK

Google Maps and Google Local now work for the UK.

Google Local for mobiles

Google have produced a version of Google Local that works on mobiles (complete with Google Map) and works for UK addresses. Works a treat on my Orange SPV C500 phone.

See Google Local for Mobile. The map data is also UK based.

T-Mobile's Flarion trial a big success

See T-Mobile Praise Flarion. Seems to back up Intel's results. It'll be interesting to see how EV-DO Rev. A shapes up against such technologies.

Verizon, Sprint, others reject 'iPod phone'

See Verizon, Sprint, other wireless companies balk at carrying Apple's and Motorola's 'iPod phone'.

This is just another example of how the mobile phone operators are so far out of touch. If they expect to charge between $2 - $3 per download, they'll have another WAP/MMS failure on their hands. (See Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg's recent comments: "Why in the world would you think your (cell) phone would work in your house? The customer has come to expect so much" for an example of such a disconnection between the customer and the operator.)

iriver H300 firmware updated

A clock function has been added (the alarm and timer recording function is to follow):

WAV playback (11.025 kHz / 22.05 kHz / 44.1kHz/ 48kHz, 16bit) but no WAV recording yet, and an additional playback speed adjustment ± 10% (not sure what that's for):

See iriver H300 Firmware V1.28 for downloads and more information.

Motorola Cancels MPx Smartphone

This seems a bit odd, but Motorola cancel the MPx. See Motorola Cancels MPx Smartphone Due To Chinese Wi-Fi Ban on Mobiledia.

The Return of the Mac?

Ernest Turro has plotted Apple's quoted sales figures for the Mac. Things are looking very positive, although as a comment rightly points out, things may not be as positive as they may first seem (the growth in real terms over the last year is close to 7.8%, or 1.35% in the last four years).

Basically, Apple are on course to achieve a 2.5% market share in the next year or so - up from 1.8% around four years ago. With the introduction of Tiger and the Mac mini, this is more than likely to accelerate.

This is still likely to remain a small fraction of the Windows market (or Linux, for that matter) unless Apple get on top of their poor development environment. (It is no coincidence that Windows sales were directly proportional to sales of early version of Visual Basic).

Monday, April 18, 2005

SQL Server 2005 April CTP released

SQL Server 2005 April CTP has been released to MSDN Subscribers.

This is the final piece required to build a Visual Studio Team Foundation Server (Team Foundation Installation Guide - Beta 2).

Crown Castle's DVB-H to use Microsoft technology

Crown Castle will use Windows Media Audio and Video to deliver a wireless TV service via DVB-H. See Crown Castle to use Microsoft technology for wireless TV service. Also see my previous post on DVB-H. This is pretty significant since it makes it very easy for Microsoft Smartphones (such as Orange SPV C500) to support this service since they have Windows Media functionality built in. It might also explain this recent collaboration between Microsoft and Nokia.

Visual Studio / SQL Server Express Updates

SQL Server Express Edition April CTP

Visual Basic Express Edition Beta 2

Visual C++ Express Edition Beta 2

Visual C# Express Edition Beta 2

Visual J# Express Edition Beta 2

Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition Beta 2

Adobe to acquire Macromedia in $3.4B deal

See Adobe to acquire Macromedia in $3.4B deal.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Mac OS X "Tiger"'s 200+ New Features

Here's a list of 200+ New Features for Apple's Mac OS X.

My Outlook

My Outlook is pretty cool. It's a MCE frontend for Microsoft Outlook. More info here and at Addicted to Digital Media, more screenshots are here.

Samsung showcase DMB and DVB-H phone

A few months ago I blogged an article about DVB-H as a potential threat to 3G telephony. There are now some mobile phones close to release with Samsung apparently ahead of the competition.

The first phone supports DMB (a multimedia equivalent of DAB). The Samsung B200 features a swivel to horizontal screen, 2 MegaPixel camera and TV-Out functionality to complement its MPEG4 video recording ability. I guess it's destined for the US market since it supports cdma2000 1xEV-DO. Here's a screenshot:

Another pair of phones were demonstrated at this year's CTIA trade show. These have been developed for CDMA and GSM networks and support DVB-H. They also support IPDC (Internet Protocol Datacast) which allow interactivity (for example, make a direct purchase while watching a shopping channel). Here's a screenshot: is due to kick-off during WinHEC 2005 and conveniently a few days before Apple release Mac OS X "Tiger" (although that launch itself was scheduled by Apple to take some of the shine off WinHEC). Neowin suggest this could be linked to the Athens PC reference platform. There's a RSS feed.

Update: Paul Thurrott has the scoop on this. It seems to be part of a marketing campaign (see XP Reloaded Phase 3: Windows Marketing Campaign on Tap).

Home Theatre PC Guide have written a comprehensive Home Theatre PC Guide looking at the hardware and software (including Media Center Edition 2005) to turn a PC into a PVR (via Scoble's Link Blog).

Bottled Water Experiment

This Neville's Financial Blog post is excellent: Bottled Water Experiment (also read the follow-up).

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2 on MSDN

Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2 has been released to MSDN Subscribers.

See Team Foundation Installation Guide - Beta 2

Update: One gotcha at the moment is the requirement for Microsoft SQL Server 2005 April CTP. This is not currently available, so Team Foundation Server will have to wait. I'm guessing this will be available very soon.

Friday, April 15, 2005

BBC Radio podcasts 20 more shows

BBC Radio podcasts 20 more shows.

Use iPodder or Doppler.

Orange SPV C550 and M500 due in May

The upgrade to the Orange SPV C500 is due in May according to The Carphone Warehouse. The SPV C550 is based on HTC's Amadeus II platform (which is an upgrade of T-Mobile SDA Music). It features a QVGA (240x320) screen, joystick and built-in 1.3 MegaPixel camera.

Early rumours suggested it would support Windows Mobile 2005, but this is not due for several months. A release in May would suggest that this is not the case. (Update: Orange Netherlands lists this as supporting Windows Mobile 2003.)

The Orange SPV M500 is also due out in the UK soon. This is an upgrade of the HTC Magician platform (as used by T-Mobile MDA Compact).

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Apple to Ship Mac OS X Tiger April 29

See Apple press release.

US Media supporting Internet journalists

Earlier this year, Apple demanded that Internet providers of some online reporters (mainly Apple fan sites) turn over e-mail records to Apple. Apple would then use them to identify leakers of confidential information. Apple won the case and a California Judge (James Kleinberg) stated that reporters who publish confidential company information aren't entitled to protections.

The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Mercury News and others join three online journalists to appeal against Kleinberg's ruling. They consider that, if upheld, the ruling could impair the ability of all journalists to reveal important news, from financial corruption to government cover-ups.

See the Mercury News or CBS News for more information.

Friday, April 08, 2005

5Gb iriver H10 for £99

The best mp3 player in the iPod Mini range is the iriver H10. Its sound quality is better than the iPod Mini (SNR of 80dB) and is comparable to the Creative Zen Micro (SNR of 96dB). It offers FM radio (including a timed radio recording), plays WMA and OGG and has the best docking cradle on the market. It is also the most stylish player I have come across (although I think the new Sony NW-HD5 might give it a run for its money).

Anyway, it can now be bought for £99 here. Not sure how long this offer will last.

Update: The offer didn't last long and is no longer available :(

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Herb Sutter's OOPLSA Keynote

Herb Sutter's OOPLSA Keynote: Concrete Languages on Virtual Platforms (C++/CLI).

"From the JVM to .NET, virtual machine runtime environments with garbage collection are now the mainstream of computing rather than the exception, and they are here to stay. Microsoft has bet its medium-term future on it: The successor to Win32 as the API for Windows Longhorn is WinFX, which is based on today's .NET Frameworks and puts the garbage-collected VM squarely at the heart of a major operating system. In this talk, the lead architect of C++/CLI talks about the importance and viability of environments based on virtual machines and garbage collection, even for performance-driven applications, and demonstrates the challenges and rewards of evolving existing performance- and hardware-oriented languages to operate seamlessly and with first-class status in modern virtual environments."

Outlook Web Access Themes

Microsoft TechNet have a useful article on Creating and Deploying Outlook Web Access Themes.

Sony NW-HD5 20GB Network Walkman

See Engadget here. Also check out a comparison with the iPod here:

Sony claim this has a 40 hour battery life. originally listed this at £170 with a May release date.

Check out a 3D view. Looks pretty cool, but I'm not tempted... Same old SonicStage software pushing just ATRAC and mp3. No WMA or OGG. However, they are getting closer.

Update: Here are some more photos, including the NW-HD5H 30GB version. Even the battery looks cool. I'm having second thoughts about this player. It looks so good (in my opinion) that I may be tempted to choose form over function.