Mike Swanson

March, 2007

  • Mike Swanson's Blog

    Canon RAW Codec for Windows Vista Released


    I used to be a Nikon guy, but I decided to dabble with the Canon Rebel XT a couple of years ago, and so far, I'm pleased. Most of my newer wallpaper images were taken with the Canon camera and a 60mm macro lens. Unfortunately, until now, all of those wonderful .CR2 files sitting in my picture folders didn't display thumbnails, and they weren't viewable in the Windows Photo Gallery. The good news is that Vista provides an extensible platform for camera manufacturers to add support for their RAW file formats directly into the operating system (as an aside, if you want to read more about writing a custom codec, check out the Windows Imaging Component Overview article on MSDN).

    Canon released the first version of their RAW codec today, and a few others are also available:

    • Canon RAW Codec 1.0 - choose your digital camera, then click Drivers / Software to find a link to the codec. According to the site, this version works with .CR2 files from the following cameras: EOS-1D Mark III, EOS-1Ds Mark II, EOS-1D Mark II N, EOS-1D Mark II, EOS 5D, EOS 30D, EOS 20D, EOS Kiss Digital X / EOS DIGITAL REVEL XTi / EOS 400D DIGITAL, and EOS Kiss Digital N / EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT / EOS 350D DIGITAL. No support is currently mentioned for files with a .CRW extension.
    • Nikon RAW Codec 1.0.1 - works with .NEF files from the following cameras: D1, D1H, D1X, D100, D2H, D2Hs, D2X, D2Xs, D200, D40, D50, D70, D70s, D80, COOLPIX 8800, COOLPIX 8700, COOLPIX 8400, COOLPIX 5700, COOLPIX 5400, COOLPIX 5000.
    • Sony RAW Codec - works with .SRF and .SR2 files, but I'm not sure which camera models are specifically supported.
    • Olympus RAW Codec - work with .ORF files from the following cameras: E-1, E-300, E-330, E-400, E-500,E-10, E-20, C-70 ZOOM, C-5050ZOOM, C-5060 Wide Zoom, C-7070 Wide Zoom, C-8080 Wide Zoom, SP-310, SP-320, SP-350, SP-500UZ, SP-510UZ.

    As an alternative, you can open up Windows Photo Gallery, choose File/Options, then click on the Check for updates button in the General tab. This will lead you to any added/updated codecs too.

    For more information on Microsoft and photography, visit the Microsoft Photography Blog.

  • Mike Swanson's Blog

    Redesign the MIX Home Page and Win a Trip to Las Vegas


    Do you consider yourself a CSS master? If so, how would you like to use your skills to redesign the MIX home page? We recently announced the REMIX contest, and if you submit one of the top three designs, you'll receive paid registration to the MIX07 conference, three nights at The Venetian hotel, and $1,000 USD. Ka-ching! That's over $3,000 USD of Total Vegas Value. Oh...did I mention the Tourneau store near The Venetian? Just saying...you can get a nice watch for $1,000. And if you need help picking one out...I mean...I do like watches. I'd be happy to help. :-)

    Here are only a few of the 100+ REMIX entries from last year's MIX06 event:

    If you're looking for more inspiration, here are some places to check out:

    I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it. For working with and editing CSS, our Expression Web product rocks! There's a downloadable 60-day trial version that should provide you with more than enough time to completely own this contest. Watch the 26-minute training video on Sophisticated CSS-based Layout and Formatting for a jump start.

    Good luck!

  • Mike Swanson's Blog

    SWF2XAML 0.2: A Slightly Better Flash to XAML Conversion


    Now you know why I don't write headlines professionally. After all, who (other than me) would ever use the phrase "slightly better" to engage their readers? :-)

    Anyway, I've released version 0.2 of my freely available SWF2XAML conversion tool (more in a prior blog post). This updated version fixes some bugs and adds a few small features:

    • New feature: Added Edit/Preferences.../XAML/Format XAML for WPF/E. This setting modifies the XAML namespace to be compliant with WPF/E.
    • New feature: Added File/Explore Project Folder. This menu item makes it easy to browse the project folder where any exported assets like bitmaps and XAML reside.
    • New feature: Edit/Copy Resource Dictionary. This menu item copies a XAML ResourceDictionary element that represents the shapes that have been defined up to the current frame.
    • Revised feature: Exported XAML is now named frame####.xaml.
    • Fixed bug: Named objects in the SWF file were incorrectly converted if they contained spaces. Internal spaces are now replaced with an underscore (so "Play Button" now becomes "Play_Button").
    • Fixed bug: Non-repeating bitmap fills were incorrectly translated (see yellow/orange background bitmap in the two screenshots). This has been corrected.
    • Fixed bug: "System.FormatException: Input string was not in a correct format." Turns out, my US-centric brain neglected to recall the importance of passing an IFormatProvider to String.Format to ensure that my numbers were correctly formatted. This has been fixed.

    More than a few people have sent me SWF files that don't display with 100% fidelity. In some cases, this is because of the way shape conversion is handled. In most of the cases, however, it's because the SWF file was published with a newer version of Flash. If you are missing certain shapes, I'd recommend opening your original FLA file and re-publishing it to a lower version (like Flash Player 6 or below). You can find this under File/Publish Settings... on the Flash tab under the Version drop-down.

    There's still no support for animation, although one can imagine that as a next logical step. As always, feedback is encouraged and welcome.

  • Mike Swanson's Blog

    More Windows Vista Wallpaper


    To commemorate more than half a million visits (wow!) to my own wallpaper page, here's a bonus macro shot of rain drops on the hood of my car (1,920 x 1200 and 1,600 x 1,200). I promise to add more photos when the color starts returning to the Seattle area, but in the meantime, I'd like to point out two more image sets that are worth checking out.

    First, read an interview with Hamad Darwish, a photography enthusiast who spent 10 to 12 days along the Oregon coast shooting over 6,000 images to find only 5 that ended up being included in Windows Vista. I love the hyperreal and saturated look of his photos. Be sure to visit Hamad's Flickr site, and when you're done there, download 22 high-resolution images that weren't included in Vista on his personal web site.

    Second, take a look at these Windows Vista Ultimate wallpapers that were created by some graphics artists on the Windows Experience team. Nice work!

  • Mike Swanson's Blog

    Are You Attending MIX07?


    You're probably familiar with our big Tech·Ed and PDC events, but do you know about MIX? We had our first MIX conference in 2006, and it was a big success. Like any good movie (and some bad ones, I suppose), the sequel was being planned- and budgeted-for almost before the credits rolled on the first one. MIX07 is being held at The Venetian in Las Vegas from April 30th - May 2, 2007. I know that many of you have to be picky about which conference you attend each year, so let me break it down in simple terms that are sure to get me in trouble from someone around here:

    • Tech·Ed is the conference to attend to get training on shipping products and be productive as soon as you get home.
    • PDC is where you learn about future technologies and come back with early bits that won't ship for awhile.
    • MIX is the event to attend if you build consumer-facing web sites and applications.

    Of course, my summaries don't do the conferences full justice, and before you drop some coin, you should visit the sites and get the details. Speaking of coin, you can save $200 USD if you register for MIX07 before March 15, 2007. Plus, as an attendee, you'll receive a full copy of Windows Vista Ultimate. Pretty awesome deal if you ask me.

    The tagline for MIX07 is "A 72-Hour Conversation," but don't let that scare you away. I can't think of many people I'd want to have a 72-hour conversation with either...at least not in a row! It does illustrate an important point, though. We want MIX to be a two-way discussion...not just us up on stage presenting to the masses. MIX is smaller and more intimate than Tech·Ed and PDC, and you'll have a lot of opportunities to chat with both Microsoft employees and third parties. As a matter of fact, a lot of the sessions are presented by third-parties, many of whom you may recognize (like MySpace, Yahoo!, frog design, IdentityMine, Electric Rain, John Maeda, Molly Holzschlag, and more).

    Okay...if you're waiting for the technology list, here are some of them: ASP.NET AJAX, WPF, WPF/E, Expression, digital video, Media Center, Windows Live, Office Live, IE7, RSS, LINQ, Virtual Earth, ads, and a few that I'm probably overlooking.

    By the way, I'll be there too. If you're planning to attend and want to hook-up in Vegas, send me an e-mail.

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