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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year Resolution and stuff

Happy New Year all, and a belated Merry Christmas. I'm not usually big on resolutions, but I thought I'd try for one or two this year. The relevant one for this post is that I am resolving to write at least one blog post a week-even if it ends up being a quick three liner from my phone at 11:59 on a Sunday night :) That may actually be a very practical approach since my home network is once again sorted out. We get an excellent wireless signal throughout the house, and I got the wiring through the roof done over the holidays as well so we now have proper network points in both studies and the TV room.

Windows Live notWriter
As much as I wanted to do a decent post with a photo or two from the past couple of weeks (like one of our veggie patch which is coming along really well) I'm afraid Microsoft had other plans. As mentioned in a previous post, I enjoy using Windows Live Writer to write my posts, rather than Blogger's web based editor. When I fired it up the other day to write a post, I was greeted with a notification that it would soon expire and I should update. I promptly headed over to the website and downloaded (what I thought was) the installer.
It turns out this was nothing more than a fancy installshield mutation hooked into Windows Update with a list of Windows Live products that could be installed, including Writer. Upon choosing the required product(s), the installer then begins trying to actually download them-and that's where things fell apart. After patiently waiting for a pretty green progress bar to move across the screen, and then move across the screen a second time with the informational text informing me the install is taking a bit longer than expected, I was finally presented with a completely nondescript failure message and a "Try Again Later" button that just placed the installer on my desktop so I could waste my time again whenever I felt up to it. When will Microsoft stop over-complicating things by trying to make them simpler? Just give me the damned install file and let me install the damned program. Nice start to 2008 MS, trying to win over more fans I see? For now, I'll make do with email posting-and without embedded images, and for that reason I'll hold out on the more personal posts.

Google is noteworthy
On the other end of the sensibility and usability scale is (surprise, surprise) Google. They've taken another of my favorite tools, Google Notebook and made it better. Besides the labelling they snuck in under the radar at some stage, they have made a proper mobile version available-and as with the mobile version of Google Calendar, it's damned smart. Visiting on your mobile browser, you'll see all your notebooks in trademark minimalist Google mobile style. These can be browsed to and notes can be added as expected. The really nifty and deceptively simple addition though is the Mobile Notes notebook. On the main notebook mobile page is a text entry box that allows you to simply go to the site, add an entry for later organization, and leave. The bookmark to this site has now replaced my Nokia notebook shortcut on my N95's standby screen and I'm happier for it :)

You can Tube on the go
Another wicked mobile app I ran into recently was the brilliant emTube YouTube client for S60 devices. Combined with our wireless setup at home this makes for a great way to view funny old 80s TV ads and other important cultural material like Robin Williams explaining the origin of golf. I've yet to combine this with the TV out on the N95, but I suppose that's worth considering too. We've found that the N95's screen is actually better for watching youtube-type stuff than the PC as the videos tend to be about native resolution for that device.

Stream powered PSP
With the latest PSP firmware Sony once again reinforced it's usefulness as a media device. This update saw the addition of internet radio to the handheld's massive list of functionality. The addition came in the form of a flash based client that appears to have been designed by drunken monkeys with a fetish for old electronics. Despite the utterly stupid user interface design, the client does the job and soon after applying the update we were enjoying StreamingSoundtracks anywhere in the house or in the garden. Awesome!


Joe Cheng [MSFT] said...

Sorry about the Windows Live installer problems. If you e-mail me at joe.cheng *AT* I can send you the real Windows Live Writer installer.

Flint said...

Thanks Joe, I have already emailed you (following my post to the Writer group on MSN), so I look forward to your response :)


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