• File → New Project

    Jobless Rate at Apple


    Ran across this on the MSN page. The second link turned out to have nothing to do with the first.


  • File → New Project

    Bing – Microsoft’s new decision engine



    If you head over to, you’ll see a landing page with a coming soon message. If you click on the “Find out more” link, and you should, you can watch a short video on the features that make me excited about the new search engine.

    Some of these features have been available through separate tools, but this looks like it’s a lot better integrated. They’re calling it a decision engine, rather than a search engine. By categorizing their results, they give you the ability to find what you’re looking for. I could have used something like this when I was searching for books on technical evangelism, and kept getting information on religious evangelism on the web.

    They broke down the key features of the new decision engine into four groups: local search, travel planning, health search, and shopping.

    Shopping integrates their Cashback features with some great looking product reviews, ratings, and discovery features.

    Health results come from some top medical sites, like the Mayo Clinic, giving you confidence in the results. It looks like a lot of effort was done in identifying common topics, and giving some customized search features for those topics.

    Travel brings in the features from Farecast, which I use whenever I travel, although I’m still waiting for them to implement fare prediction between San Francisco and Narita, which is the most expensive trip I take.

    Local search gives you some qualifiers you can add in to filter your results based on things like parking, price, reservations, and atmosphere. This sounds great for finding a place I can take my kids, or finding a place where we can go without them. They also give you reviews, hours, and contact information.

    I’m not completely sold on the name, but with sites like twitter and digg, I guess it’s really the product that defines the name. I’m also not sure what we’re planning on doing with the Live Search page, or whether this is going to end up being something like Microsoft Live Bing. I’ll just have to wait and see what comes next.

  • File → New Project

    Deep Linking and Search Visibility in Silverlight


    At last night’s meeting of the Learn Silverlight group I’m a part of, the topic of search visibility of Silverlight pages was brought up. I had heard a few times that one of the advantages of XAML being made up of text, and of the Silverlight .xap container being a standard zip was that it was supposed to make things easier to parse and search, but I hadn’t seen an actual example of this. There was quite a bit of interest in figuring out how to index a site that was made up primarily of Silverlight with the content accessed through the container, so we began poking around.

    As with many of the questions that are asked in our group, we started looking for answers by seeing how Vertigo did it. I remember that you could share links to specific pieces of memorabilia on the Hard Rock site, so we went there. I grabbed a random piece of memorabilia and grabbed it’s permalink.


    From the link, we could see that they were just passing in an argument to the base page. Loading this page, we could see that the title and meta tags had changed, but it was basically the same page. It made sense, but how were they exposing this to the search engines. I navigated over to their robots.txt file, and there was the answer: they had defined a site map, which contained links to every item on the page. Each item was just an argument to the same page, but the search engine was seeing them each as a unique page. It didn’t need to read the Silverlight control at all. The Silverlight control was able to show the item based off of the page argument, and the page prettied itself up with a title and some meta content to make itself relevant to the search engines. The same thing could be done inside the Silverlight page, but they were removing the necessity to do so. They were basically taking the same approach as they would for any site with dynamic content. Well played, Vertigo.

  • File → New Project

    “The Moment” PhotoSynth is live at CNN


    CNN has posted a PhotoSynth of the moment that President Obama was sworn in. With the millions of people who were at the inauguration, they set up a crowd sourced capture, and included their own professional shots. The basic idea was that they would get anyone in the crowd with a camera, even a cell phone camera, to take a picture at the same time. The moment President Obama placed his hand on the bible to be sworn in. With the problems they were expecting on the cell towers anyway, my guess is that photos will continue to roll in for the next couple of days, and be added into the Synth.

    This has the potential to be the most captured moment in history so far. You can check it out at


    If you are interested in building your own PhotoSynths, they’ve got a great guide up on the PhotoSynth site at I’ve made a couple of PhotoSynths of art that I’ve seen at different schools I visit. You can check out what I’ve done at my profile at

  • File → New Project

    Windows 7 Beta



    Windows_7_build_7000 It turns out I wasn’t the only person out there who was excited to get access to the Windows 7 beta when it hit last Friday. I checked the site over and over during the day, waiting for a download link to appear, but headed home before it did. That night, when I got home, I figured the download had to be available, and I would be able to grab a copy overnight. No such luck. The beta was so popular, the servers couldn’t keep up with the demand, so they had to take down the links. There were people out there running the beta now since it hit BitTorrents, a number of my friends included, but I couldn’t get a copy. I scoured some message boards for news about the beta, and came across a site where a commenter posted the .iso links directly. I checked them out, and they were urls, so I tried them out. Sure enough, they were good, and I was downloading. Further down the page, someone had posted a comment linking to the page on Microsoft’s site where you could get assigned a CD-Key, with the recommendation that you sign in to live through another service to make sure you get in. I tried it out, and there was my key. I was good to go.

    I installed first on my wife’s new netbook. She had been using her laptop for some years, and it was needing replacement. I visited a friend’s place a while back, and he told me about how he had just picked up the MSI Wind u100, and told me about the comparisons that he had done with some other netbooks, and showed me how he had upgraded it to 2 gigabytes of RAM, and everything it could do. I trust this guy when it comes to computers, so when I got home, and found out that it came in pink, I ordered one on Amazon. The interesting thing about installing on the netbook was that it didn’t have a DVD drive. I’ve got some links at home that I’ll post a bit later, but the basic process I used was to take a 4 GB thumb drive, format it for NTFS, used bootsect to make it bootable, then copied the contents of the Windows 7 .iso onto it. The netbook booted straight from the thumb drive, and I was off. The install was extremely clean, and because a thumb drive is so much faster than a DVD drive, the install even benefitted from the whole process. Next, I installed onto my home desktop. This one was a bit more straight-forward. Just burned the x64 .iso and installed from the DVD.  MSI Wind

    I’ve been using the beta since then, and things are going great. I’ve posted some feedback to the Windows team through the links on all of the windows, but they’ve mostly been little things like the mismatching case in HomeGroups and homegroups. I worked tech support and wrote user manuals for a product I worked on in my first development job, so I get a little obsessed about those things. I have to fight not to highlight errors in tech books I read through.

    Most applications have run without a problem. I did run into a problem with Skype, but it was actually just a popup that came up when I was running the install that told me that it wasn’t going to work, so I should download the latest beta. I did, and it worked fine. Another thing I ran in to was getting my phone connected to it. I have a Blackjack II that is really particular about how it charges off of USB, and unless it is recognized, it won’t take juice from the port. I plugged it in, and the driver tried to install, then failed. I looked around for some information on it, but couldn’t find any, so I just tried installing the Windows Mobile Device Center for Windows Vista x64, and it suddenly found my phone and everything worked great. The final thing I ran in to was a problem with Live Mesh. I use it a lot, so I couldn’t be without it on any machine. I even got it on my phone (They just expanded the CTP), but on Windows 7, Live Mesh didn’t play well with Aero. Turns out there was a fix for it ready, but it was being held off of until the holiday freeze on new installs was off. It should be available tonight. I’ll let you know how it works.

    Update: The site with the process I followed for creating the USB drive installer is at

    Live Mesh has been working great with the new update, though I did have some problems remoting into my 7 desktop from my Mom’s place over the weekend, but I think it may have been in part because her internet barely qualifies as broadband.

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