Software


Looking for Information on using Zune with x64 Vista? 

Please visit the article at it’s new location on my new blog at: Zune Multi-Format Support on Vista64

Some of you may have noticed I’ve been keeping track of plugins that the community is developing on one of my blog posts.   Others have been sending me links to their plugins, but the list is getting out of hand, which is a good thing.

If you want to develop your own plugin, there is an excellent article from Keyvan Nayyeri on writing plugins here.

 You can join others in posting your projects on the common section on CodePlex for all toe share and see as well.

 

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Here is a list of some free software utilities and add-ons.  

(this is posted more for me to go back and refer to at a later time)

Here is a simple, yet very useful tool for saving your ScreenCap buffer to a file for posting to a blog or sending in an email.  It is alot easier than going into your graphic editor of choice to paste in and save!

 

ClipboardToImage

 

 

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  • DeeDee’s CodeFormat – infodownload
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    Windows Table PC Ink Support

    7 Writer Plugins availiable

     

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    The question was posed on various blogs regarding the point of Microsoft’s Live services branding and integration.

    I thought about this, and tried to determine what does it mean to me as an end user, to have all the current services coming from a single provider, but still open enough to integrate with other best of breed, services from 3rd other third parties.

    I’m going to list all of the current Live services I use on a daily basis, and why I chose to use them as it relates to my online choices.  I’m going to try and identify the main service and what the other services I can utilize with them.  I’m sure I will be called a fanboy for this, but sometimes you have to go with what works versus what doesn’t work.  In this scenario the name of the game is integration of services, and what that brings to the end user.  Windows Live platform, though still unsure of itself, seems to be well on the way to delivering that integrated experience without walling in it’s users to only live services.  i will also try to identify what other non live services that I use that can be integrated into the user experience.

    I have had my own domain names for the past few years, and have always been disastified with the other mail platforms I have used for mail.   The idea of POP3 doesn’t fit my mobility needs, and IMAP based solutions are useless behind firewalls in many corporate environments.  This leaves the most accesiable solution to be web based mail.  Since the custom domain include mailboxes on the Windows Live Mail service,  this solves that problem because it has a a nice web based interface.  One thing I would like to see this extended too, is allowing the custom domain to point the an associated Windows Live Space (IE www.userspace.com is the URL for http://userspace.spaces.live.com) for branding purposes.  DNS aliasing can do this, but any links on the space still use the spaces.live.com domain.  I had always hoped that

    • Windows Live Mail
      • Windows live Messenger
      • Windows Live Mail Desktop
      • Windows Live Contacts
      • Windows Live Custom Domains

    This was the evolution of wanting to be able to use the hotmail web interface for some of my custom domain email addresses.   While the original hotmail was not the greatest, it was simple, which meant that people of all technology backgrounds could grasp it easily.  WLM has extended this with it’s new web based interface.   It now allows me to have a common contacts respository (something I have strived to do with other mail platforms and failed because those solutions were not mobile) with my IM client and my online and offline mail client.  The addition of Windows Live Mail Desktop added the missing piece to allow me to sync my mailbox before going on an airplane, and then re-syncing when I got back to a data connection.  AJAX is nice and pretty, but it doesn’t do very well when you are not online to access the AJAX client.  The ability for me to keep up with my email even on my Blackberry through the web browser makes it a truely on the go email solution for me as well. The tieing in of Live Contacts allows my contacts to manage their own contact information and for me to get updates as soon as they want to make them availiable.   I have used yahoo mail, and I like their new interface.  I have used Gmail and find it to basic of a service as it’s to disconnected.  It has recently added integration into Gtalk, but even that seems tacked on, and not how it could be done.

    • Windows Live Messenger
      • Windows Live Contacts
      • Windows Live Spaces
      • Windows Live Mail
      • Windows Live Favorites
      • Xbox.com

    This is most likely the glue that binds many of the services together.  With the integration of several Live services via messenger, it makes it eaiser to find value in using other live services.   The many uses for this service are to many to go into detail about, so I will try to create a simple list.

    • Manage my online buddies and their status
    • get notification (gleams) when buddies update their information or spaces
    • Get new mail notifications
    • monitor Xbox live friends
    • Access Windows Live Favorites
    • 3rd party plugin SDK is availiable
    • Chat with Yahoo users
    • It all works seamlessly over my home connection of when behind a corporate firewall which is key when someone would like to access their mail from multiple locations.

     

    • Windows Live Mail Desktop
      • Windows Live Mail
      • Windows Live Custom Domains
      • Windows Live Contacts
      • Windows Live Spaces
      • Windows Live Search

    This was a missing piece for me as I had mentioned.  The desire to have access to my email while I am in an offline state is essential for someone who may spend alot of time traveling, or in places without a web connection.   Without an offline capability, even the most feature rich AJAX client, does someone no good.  Using such protocols as POP3 and IMAP are useless behind a corporate firewall that only allows out port 80 traffic, which WLMD connects to a web service over.  I can utilize it as an RSS reader, but because of lack of centralization of feed repositories across multiple machines I find it fails in comparison to others such as FeedDemon with NewsGator.   I can now sit at work, on my desktop at home, or on my laptop and sync my Live Mail mailbox and have access from all those locations.  It also integrates nicely into other mail systems that provide POP3 and IMAP when I am behind an unrestricted firewall.  This is still a beta product, and it shows, but all of the main features seem to work well.  The integration of my Messenger/Mail contacts in an offline mode is priceless as it is what I had always tried to achieve and fail with LDAP directories or Firefox Plugins which tried to store this data on a website to poll. BTW – where is Windows Live Calendar?

     This post was made using Windows Live Writer, and I think this product is one that extends the integration not only with Windows Live Spaces but many other 3rd party blogging solutions.  The new plugin architecture will continue to bring further integration with other services which are not born out of the Live offerings.

    • Windows Live Spaces
      • Windows Live Messenger
      • Windows Live Contacts
      • Windows Live
      • Gadgets
      • Any RSS Feed

    WLS was the much awaited upgrade for the old MSN Spaces, and with it, it brought customization to the everyday user.   The ability to have customized Weblogs has existed in many wonderful products, but the addition of Gadgets created by the more tech savvy allows people to choose what content they want to associate with their space.   I am sure we will re-enter the over usage of flashing tags and dancing hamsters with some of these gadgets, but many are starting to show real value.   The new Windows Live Writer brings a level of ease and simplicity to managing your own blog that I think it will allow those who were not so web savvy to be compelled ot give it a try.  The integration of a friends list, and gleam notifications to buddies provides real value with using an integrated platform.   Since RSS has taken off, and adding pretty much any RSS feed to my Space,  I can pick and choose the content I want displayed from any third party who provides and RSS link.  Currently the photo album support on WLS is subpar with that offered by Flickr, but since I can use my Flickr content in my Space, I get the best of both worlds.

    I was a del.icio.us user for quite some time, for keeping track of my online bookmarks/favorites.  The problem was I would add an entry, but always tend to end up using a search engine to find a link before turning to my online book marks.   I like how WLF I can integrate into the desktop experience by using the WLF sync toolbar add on, so I tend to look there first before hitting the search engine.  If they add a simple search provider in IE7 to search within my WLF, that might be a nice addition.

    So in the end,  I utilize many of these services daily, and I can choose to find alternatives.  There are many plugins and services from many vendors which try to acheive the integrated "feel" by using open standards, but for the most part they are only within reach of the tech savvy or the IT crowd. When integration exists between compelling services which work together, and works very well, it would have to be a very compelling reason to choose a unitasking service from a non-integrated solution.

    The tools are being made availiable to the public, and if there is not a form of integration you would like,  go ahead and build it.   The mindset of "It must be good, because it is Microsoft", is just a bad view as "It must be bad because it is Microsoft".  Identify where the platoform is lacking (RSS feed Mobility!), and speak out how it could be made better.  Through the usage of APIs, all kinds of new possibilities are coming about since the platform is there as a starting off point.

    If by using an integrated platform, that allows me to bring in the best of other platforms so that my online experience is made better, what is bad about that?  The general population will not want to, nor know how to integrate all the web has to offer, without a consistent platform umbrella to do it under. The internet may have been started by the tech savvy, but it is no longer the sole inhabitant of the internet. 

     

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