Live Mesh : I get it now.

13 06 2008

 96px-Live_Mesh

When Microsoft released the Live Mesh Technical Preview a few weeks ago I was intrigued to see what it was all about. Thanks to the Grumpywookie I managed to wangle an invite and could experience it in full technicolor and I have to admit I was a little dumbfounded as to what it was.

After a couple of hours playing with it and some thinking, I have to admit I was under-whelmed, but then I don’t think I was judging it fairly.  You see, we have been spoilt by the live team at Microsoft, they tend to ship highly functional stuff really quickly, so when I looked at Mesh the stuff I was surprised all it did was:

  • Sync folders (ala Foldershare/ Synctoy) across computers and the cloud
  • Mimic remote desktop
  • Provide a cloud based desktop to access files

But being the self confessed MS fanboy, I have continued to use it, syncing files between my home and work PC’s with ease and dreaming of the day that the Mesh Operating Environment (MOE) is made available for people to develop against (for some strange reason I really WANT to use the MOE WebDAV mount for storing docs in the cloud).

Anyway, fast forward a couple of weeks and I was listening to the Windows Weekly podcast with Leo Laporte and Paul Thurrott. They were discussing Windows 7 and how they are expected to merge the operating system and Live services even more, this got me thinking. Damn, MESH is a clever play by Microsoft, why? Well if you start thinking about Mesh as a platform, you can start doing things like this:

  • Extend the OS’s backup functionality, like Vista’s backup to push up to the cloud. In fact you can probably do this pretty easily when the MOE is opened up for programming against. Obviously this is going to require more space, and MS will be in an ideal position to offer more storage ala Google or Amazons’ S3;
  • RSS platform – Instead of storing RSS information in Vista and then letting things like IE and Outlook access it, why not store it in the cloud, then other services can access it. Why is this a good idea? Well you could have an RSS reader that uses this source and stores it’s read state in Mesh, then if I go to use a rich desktop app, the same items will have been read there;
  • Roaming profiles – Imagine having the same settings / desktop for every computer you use. If you store your roaming profile in the Mesh, this would be possible;
  • Software distribution – Once an application has been installed , Mesh could be used to distribute that software amongst computers on the mesh, a bit like a kind of private Peer-to-peer network. The application would need to be pretty isolated and not touch the registry but it should be possible;
  • Network drives – Through the MOE, you will be able to store your documents, pictures, movies, music in the cloud as if it were a normal network drive.

The MESH previews and blog posts are also talking about applications that run in the desktop. If that starts to leverage SilverLight (if it isn’t already) there will be some fantastic applications popping up.

Looking forward, there is a whole heap of sessions on Cloud services and Live Mesh coming up at PDC 08. I am hoping the Developer tech preview will be released there so developers can start to innovate on the platform and Live Mesh will sprout it’s wings and fly amongst the clouds! 🙂





ReMix Melbourne 2008 : A wrap up

25 05 2008

Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend ReMix 2008 in Melbourne. When the first ReMix was held last year, I foolishly decided not to go. This year I decided I wouldn’t make that mistake again. The cost of the conference was a mere $199 AUD, which was worth every penny.

So what did I learn? (in no particular order)

  • Everyone is using twitter. Strange seeing it’s so bloody unreliable recently
  • Designers wear black polo necks and all have iPhones. In fact they all sound like mini Steve Jobs
  • Silverlight 2.0 is going to be huge. Things like the inclusion of .Net in the runtime, controls and local storage make it a very attractive proposition. This was punctuated by an excellent demo by Jonas Folleso

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  • Deep Zoom technology is very very sexy. There were a few demo’s of it, the best of which was Jose Fajardo’s re-purposing of the Sydney Morning Herald web site. I hope the Fairfax people who were in the keynote took note, it was way sexier than IE8 web-slices and activities. However my main interest is the use of these technologies in the enterprise, and to be frank I am not sure where it’s going to come in
  • You must prepare and rehearse for a demo again and again *cough* US DPE *cough*
  • Powerpoint is dead, long live Deep Zoom decks
  • Delic8genius / Shanemo and Dave Lemphers gave possibly the best session of the day at short notice. I had thought it was the weakest session from the agenda and was going to skip it, but luckily didn’t! Well done guys.
  • The toolset for Silverlight has advanced considerably, although I am a little disappointed that the complimentary copy of Expression Studio 2.0 doesn’t do Silverlight 2.0, but only 1.0
  • Virtual Earth ASP controls are a coming and will drive the adoption of VE everywhere. Cool stuff
  • hyro are doing some pretty cool stuff with Silverlight including Big Brother and the new ABC online rental web property
  • Silverlight is going to be big. The amount of effort and money MS are investing in the technology means it has to start popping up in their other web based offerings. Now is the time to learn this people
  • There is a heap of stuff being done in Australia!! At the beginning of the keynote a video was shown showing all the solutions and work done in Oz called Momentum, wow!!

All in all I am pretty excited at what I saw. I now have a few ideas bouncing around in my mind that just need me to apply myself to making them a reality so I can get up on the Momentum video next year! If you get a chance to attend ReMix (or Mix itself), go, it’s awesome.





Off to Remix 2008

11 04 2008

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Registrations have opened for Remix 2008 in Australia. You can get further details at http://www.microsoft.com/australia/remix08/index.aspx

Whilst the event is only for a day, there are heaps of sessions covering what’s new and exciting in the world of Microsoft Web tools and technologies including Silverlight 2.0.

Registration costs $199 AUD and includes a copy of Expression Studio 2.0 valued at over $1,000 AUD!

Remix 08 is on May 20th in Sydney and May 22nd in Melbourne.





SharedView goes 1.0

20 03 2008

I noticed this morning that the excellent Microsoft SharedView as mentioned here has gone 1.0.

The interface looks cleaner and overall it feels a lot faster. I will be playing around with it a bit more over Easter.

You can get your mitts on it from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=95AF94BA-755E-4039-9038-63005EE9D33A&displaylang=en





My new toy, an Xbox 360 and the pain of transcoding

3 03 2008

Last weekend I finally got signoff on a new gadget from my wife, a lovely spanking new Xbox 360. The main reason I wanted it was to extend my media centre PC that we have been growing ever more dependent on.

The media centre extender functionality was really simple to set up and all managed by an easy to use wizard. Within about 5 minutes I was able to record and replay TV live from my main PC running Vista Ultimate.

Now whilst I love the extender to bits, there is one thing it doesn’t do very well and that’s play DivX’s. In fact it doesn’t do it at all. Thanks to a recent update to the dashboard, you can watch DivX’s via the 360’s media blade, but not in the media centre itself. This is good, but to be honest the whole user experience is a bit shite.

Enter Transcoder 360, this bit of software sits on your media centre PC and adds an extension to the GUI allowing you to convert or Transcode divx’s and xvids on the fly into Media Centre.

Setting up the software isn’t that easy. In fact, getting the software to work with Vista x64 was downright painful. So I thought I would write a post detailing it, that an CodeJedi wanted details as well. First up, getting the software, there are heaps of versions of Transcode available, the only one I could get to work was this one.

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Vista SP1 r0x0rs

9 12 2007

I have been running Vista SP1 builds for the past couple of months. Other than the obvious speed increases that I have already touted on the x64 reliability updates on thing I have noticed is the system has become more stable. The last build and the current build of SP1 (RC preview and now RC1) have been phenomenal. Although I didn’t really appreciate how phenomenal until I checked out my Reliability Monitor this morning.

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Back up to 9.03!! I had dropped below that the day after I installed Vista on this box. Now I should say my computer is on 24/7 and get’s used pretty heavily by either myself or my wife and I am still installing stuff and uninstalling it, so our usage patterns haven’t changed. Therefore it must be the SP. so well done MS, SP1 is looking good 🙂





Disaster and my saviour… Windows Vista Backup Restore

21 10 2007

This week I decided to spend the last of my Nerd fund on a new 500 gig hard drive for the Bohemoth. In the last few weeks I have been loving Vista’s Media Centre and have been recording heaps of shows to convert to xvid and then watch at a time that is more convenient to me and Rach (which isn’t very often with two young kids). Anyway, the shows are all being recorded in HD and were starting to take up some serious disk space. An overnight batch process takes the shows, converts them to xvid and then deletes the huge ms-dvr files that VMC creates.

Anyway, I digress, after installing the 500 gig drive, I decided it was time to merge the two partitions on my existing HD into one. I got some software to help, read the manual, all ok with Vista, all ok with resizing the OS drive so I gave it a go.

D0h. BSOD. Reboot. BSOD. Reboot. BSOD. Shite.

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Access has blown me away

19 10 2007

For nearly a year and a half I have had Office 2007 installed on my laptop in one form or another. I love the functionality of the big four applications, Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint and use them extensively during my working week. Every now and again I need to use Access to run a custom reporting tool our PMO lives by. Yesterday during some down time I had a poke around Access and what I found blew me away. Access has had a fair dose of SharePoint love in 2007 and I have to say it rocks.

I downloaded and installed the Project template project (well I am a PM after all), it allows you to set up projects and tasks as you would expect. The functionality is impressive, but not really up to the standard that say MS Project Server or Primavera would give you. I doubt seriously you could run and track a project with it. However what really impressed me were two features:

SharePoint List Data Sources

Data can be stored in a SharePoint list. Whilst information can be stored within the Access database, you can also link it into existing SharePoint lists and store data there. In fact you could design an application that has both a web front end (SharePoint) and a rich client (Access) using a single database stored in WSS. Wow.

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Was this information helpful?

18 10 2007

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Not really. This has to be one of the most unhelpful error messages I have seen. It wreaks of the ‘Have you tried turning it off and on again?’ line made famous by Channel Four’s IT Crowd TV show.





New Gadget: Freeway Times

28 08 2007

Every day I commute about 2.5 – 3 hours from Berwick into South Melbourne and back, sometimes I use the Monash Freeway, others I use the Princes highway, mainly based on whether the Monash is busy or not.  Nine times out of ten, I have to make a decision to turn onto the Monash at Warrigal Road, or continue down Princes, this decision has been hit or miss in the past and has caused me to queue all the way home several times.

VicRoads have an excellent website that will tell you the travel times on all the major roads in Melbourne but I often forget to check it before leaving the office. This is where the Freeway Times gadget enters, sitting prominently on your sidebar letting you know the travel times instantly before leaving the office to go home. In fact, it will also sit on your home Vista machine and tell you the traffic times before you leave home too!! I figured that I would find such a gadget useful, and decided to upload it and share it with others who may commute and use Vista 🙂

times

The gadget lets you configure the freeway you will be travelling on, as well as which direction you will be travelling on it. There are two directions you can configure, AM Direction and PM Direction. If the computer time is before 12:00am and 11:59am then the AM Direction will be used, between 12:00pm and 11:59pm, the PM Direction is used.

At the moment, the gadget only supports the freeways in Melboune, later versions will hopefully include the main roads and the ability to customise the direction switch over time.

At the moment I am waiting for the gadget to be approved by Live Gallery. In the meantime you can download the gadget from my Skydrive account.. 

More information about the gadget can be read here