Monday, October 09, 2006

Windows Live Writer Beta - Take Two

A few weeks' back, I blogged about test-driving Windows Live Writer (WLW) for the first time. I'm quite pleased with the usability as a whole.  The whole WYSIWYG desktop experience feels simply much better than the sluggish web-based blog editing experience.  Here's a screenshot of WLW:

Windows Live Writer Beta

Inserting a map is easy! Click on Insert Map on the sidebar and you can embed a map taken from Virtual Earth in the blog post.

Windows Live Writer - Insert Map

What I like about WLW is the support for plugins. Already, there is a growing community out there writing interesting plugins for WLW.

Inserting photos from Flickr is also easy with the Flickr4Writer plugin by Tim Heuer. You can choose the image size you want and have the image automatically link back to the corresponding Flickr photo page.

Windows Live Writer - Insert Flickr Image

Build 145 now has tagging support built in.  There's even an autocomplete feature in the tag editing box.  Also, unlike the previous builds, this build now works with Blogger Beta

Windows Live Writer - Insert Tag

I'm now hooked with WLW. I like the idea of maintaining different blogs — of different blog engines — from a single desktop application. More information on WLW can be found here:

Read also:

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Microsoft Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange Server 2007 Sneak Preview

Windows Vista, Office 2007, Exchange Server 2007 Sneak Preview

I came across this web promo (see picture above) when I was looking up for some information on Microsoft Malaysia's site.  It's the Microsoft Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange Server 2007 sneak preview event! It'll be held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on November 14, 2006. There will also be a Technical Preview aimed at IT professionals.

The Technical Preview will feature:

  • Exchange Deployment and Operational  Efficiency
  • Infrastructure Protection
  • Optimizing Windows Vista and Office 2007 Deployment and Management
  • Secure Mobile Productivity and Windows Mobile 5

Other highlights:

  • On the spot contest
  • Mobility smackdown
  • Tips and tricks showdown
  • Exhibition and solution showcase

I promptly registered for the event even before the e-mail invitation reached me.  Well, it should be one exciting preview!

Read also:

Monday, October 02, 2006

Looking Back at Microsoft Tech·Ed 2006 SEA, Kuala Lumpur

Dear Tech·Ed fans: Here are some photos and a video clip of the Tech·Ed conference held at the KLCC Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur on the 5th-8th September. Enjoy!

Tech.Ed SEA 2006 - Dan Fernandez

Dan Fernandez presenting Visual C# Tips and Tricks.

Tech.Ed SEA 2006 - Tim Huckaby

Tim Huckaby in action.

Tech.Ed SEA 2006 - Lunch

Dining hall: It's huge. This shot doesn't do justice. There's another half not seen in the picture.

Tech.Ed SEA 2006 - Exhibition

Exhibition area.

See more of my Tech·Ed 2006 SEA photos here!

Video shots around the conference venue.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Evaluating Windows Vista RC1 Build 5600

Windows Vista RC1 ScreenshotIt's been 3 weeks evaluating Windows Vista RC1 and I'm actually quite happy with it — so far at least. I have seen early builds of Vista in demos, but this is the first time I'm testing Vista on my own machine.

Getting the ISO

Downloading the 2GB+ ISO image took around 12 hours on my local Internet connection. After verifying the integrity of the downloaded file via a MD5 checksum checker, it was straight to burning to DVD. At a burn rate of a little over 2X on a DVD+RW media, it took around 15 minutes for the burning process to complete.


This is the one thing that really had taken me by surprise. With such a mammoth OS, installation was actually easy and fast. With XP Professional x64, installation took a solid one hour; but with Vista, all it takes was 30 minutes on the same machine — a year-old AMD Athlon 64 3000+ 1GB machine, with a Windows Experience Index of 3.3. Windows Experience Index is Vista's built-in machine performance benchmarker.

I used the Vista Beta 2 product key from the DVD set I got at the recent Tech.Ed conference to activate Vista. [This was before the Vista Customer Preview Program (CPP) was re-open to the public.] The Vista version installed is Vista Ultimate.

First View of Vista

This is probably the best part. The new glass-effect UI is indeed a visual feast! I mean I've seen demos and all, but to experience it oneself is another thing. I now have a reason to put my ATI Radeon DirectX 9 128MB card to good use; you see, I'm not really a gamer. Navigating around menus, closing and opening windows actually felt surprisingly snappy. Even the 3D animation felt silky smooth.

Drilling Further into Vista

Except for the RAID component, Vista had drivers for the rest of my PC components. I downloaded the beta version of the ATI Radeon driver from ATI's website to see if the native driver performs better than the default one. Well, to be frank, I can't tell the difference. Maybe, it is a little faster but that's probably a psychological thing. Other than that, my pendrive, MSI Bluetooth adapter, and Creative Webcam Go webcam all worked fine. For my webcam, I installed the Creative WDM driver for XP and it actually worked! I've not tested my USB laser printer though, even though there's a driver installed for it.

Running Applications on Vista

Well, I'm not going to say much about Vista's applications. Some highlights: Instant search from almost anywhere, better photo management, direct to DVD burning, IE7, Windows Media Player 11, to name a few. You can read all the features here.

On third-party apps, I installed Adobe Acrobat Reader, ICQ, Paint.NET, Google Earth and all of the apps worked fine. I've not tested my favorite software dev tool (Visual Studio 2005); from what I heard, there might be issues with debugging and the upcoming VS 2005 SP1 should solve these issues. I shall be testing Microsoft Office 2007 on Vista soon; a Technical Refresh must to be installed to run Office 2007 Beta 2 on Vista RC1.

RC1 (Driver?) Quirks

There are a few operational quirks that I've come to observe:

  • At times, after returning from hibernation or sleep, the screen resolution and the single/dual monitor setting did not stay at the previous setting.
  • There is a case of stuttering with the sound.

Just nit-picking: Fonts used in some Vista core apps are not consistent — still a mix of old and new. In addition, some of the icons still spot the classic Windows icons e.g. WordPad toolbar. I suppose that will be fixed in the RTM version.

To sum it all...

The core of RC1 build 5600 is quite stable. I haven't had a fatal crash yet. It has the looks, the features and functionality, and to my surprise, the speed. Okay, okay, it feels much more secure too. On the flip side, it's definitely not production stuff —yet— due to some of the quirks I've pointed out; but hey, it's pre-RTM software after all!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Test-Driving Windows Live Writer

I'm writing this post from the new Windows Live Writer — Microsoft's new desktop-based blog post editor that works with most blog engines out there.  So far, everything looks cool.  Perhaps once I get into the meat of the app, I'll have more to write home  about.