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:
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.
Although I haven't had the time to blog about my experience, I attended SIGGRAPH 2005 at the Los Angeles Convention Center last week, and it was an amazing show. On Tuesday night, I attended a 2-hour event called the Electronic Theater where a sold-out audience of thousands watched short video clips of the latest and greatest work in computer generated animation. While waiting (in the long line) to get into the room, people were buzzing with excitement about what they would see and who would be showing their work. The presentations were short, and each video segment introduced the artists, the project, and the tools that were used. Not only was this a great way to see what could be accomplished with specific toolsets, but it was also very inspirational. Each clip ended with generous applause and a showing of strong support. About half-way through the show I wondered: "why don't we do something like this at the PDC?"
Fortunately, we have a very cool PDC committee who connected with the idea almost instantly (it's great to work at this company!). So, with a nod to SIGGRAPH's Electronic Theater, we propose a PDC 2005 2-hour session called Show Off. The concept: "Why demo your cool application to a few friends, when you can Show Off to thousands of your peers at the PDC?"
The important bits:
During the submission process, we'd collect any project/team names, developer details, tools used, and contact information (if you want others to be able to contact you about your awesome work). If we show your clip at the event, we'll include this information at the start of the video.
So, what do you think? Would you participate? We're trying to gauge interest before we spend a bunch of time on this. Please share this link with your developer friends, regardless of their ability to attend the PDC. Leave comments. Send e-mail.
Is this a good idea?
Update: In case you're wondering, you can pretty much show off anything with a Microsoft developer story. Maybe you have a 5-minute tour of awesome scripting or keyboard shortcuts in Visual Studio 2005. Or perhaps you created a cool XAML animation for the Windows Presentation Foundation (formerly known as "Avalon"). Or, you've come up with a great way to automate your build and testing cycle. Or think of it this way: if you had five minutes to show off some tip, technique, tool, code sample, or project to your developer friends, what would it be? We obviously don't want commercials, but if it's something geeky about a commercial product, that's good too!
Okay...I have a confession to make. To-date, I've purchased four TiVo units, and I'm currently running the DirectTV DVR that includes the TiVo service. My wife and I are both TiVo addicts, our friends are sick and tired of us talking about it, and I firmly believe that it's the only way to watch TV. Yes, I realize that it runs Linux, but you know what? It's an excellent product, and they've nailed the user interface. However, although the standalone edition allows you to browse digital media, the DirectTV version does not, so we're left with only a partial solution.
As you can imagine, I've followed our Ultimate TV and Windows Media Center releases quite closely. Believe me when I tell you that I'd love nothing more than to purchase our own stuff. However, I refuse to spend my money on something that I don't believe will offer me a real benefit, and until the recent release of Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, I didn't believe that we were there yet.
I had heard so many good things about the 2005 edition (for example, see Paul Thurrott's review) that I decided to try it myself. The software and hardware are now available for OEM sale which makes it much easier to evaluate (as a matter of fact, the software is also available to MSDN subscribers). I've always had a problem with the thought of buying a whole computer just to play back my media. Part of the reason I really like TiVo is because it's an appliance that requires no maintenance on my part. I already have a few computers to maintain...I don't need another one. And I didn't look forward to having a computer with all of its associated cables in my home theater. I want something that looks more like A/V equipment (frankly, like TiVo).
Because of a recent computer purchase, I now have an extra P4 1.8GHz machine in need of a job. Although the video card doesn't have a built-in tuner, it does have S-VIDEO out, making it a perfect test machine. So tonight, I installed MCE 2005 and connected it to our home theater. The installation was a breeze, the configuration took only a few minutes, and the interface is easy to use from a distance. And even though it isn't an "appliance," Windows XP Service Pack 2 now allows me to configure the system for automatic updates which makes maintenance simple.
So you can appreciate our situation, my wife and I have ripped over 1,600 CDs to a media server (WMA 192Kbps), we have about 9,000 digital photos, and around six hours of digital video. I'd really like to be able to browse all of our media on our 64" HDTV. We've tried a number of solutions in the past (like the Turtle Beach AudioTron, a good device, but not for that many songs), but we always gravitate back to the Media Center interface. It's clean, logical, and intuitive.
Well, after playing with the interface and working with media over our 802.11g wireless network, I can tell you that we've finally nailed it with the 2005 edition. It's trivial to find music, even among 1,600+ CDs. We're both visual people, so we enjoy the ability to select CDs using the album covers. But, it's also easy to use the remote to search by artist. Response is snappy, and I'm pleased to find that my MSN Radio subscription works just fine. I'm not sure if I'd ever use it, but I am pleasantly surprised to find that my favorite blog reader, NewsGator, is one of the online services. It's also a straightforward exercise to configure network shares, so I can distribute media across more than one device. Slick.
I'm sure that I'll eventually purchase something like the HP Digital Entertainment Center z500 series, because it looks and feels more like the appliance that I'm after. Couple that with a few of our new Media Center Extenders, and we can proliferate media throughout the entire house. Tell me...is there anything better than a gadget addiction!?
Since I've been running Windows Vista RC1 (build 5600 for x86) on all of my primary machines, I figured I'd share a few more tidbits of information about some of the programs I run:
I can't vouch for the accuracy of the contents, but you might also want to check out the Windows Vista RC1 Software Compatibility List that's being maintained as a wiki.
We released Virtual PC 2007 today, and as promised, it's completely free. The biggest improvement (at least for me) is that this version of Virtual PC works with Windows Vista as both a host and a guest operating system. Ben Armstrong provides more feature detail in his blog post. The 30MB download is available in both 32- and 64-bit versions.
If you haven't tried a virtualization product before, you might wonder why you'd use one at all. Here are just a few things that I do with Virtual PC, and I seem to find new uses all the time:
I'm sure there are other uses, and I'd be curious to hear what you do with Virtual PC. Feel free to leave feedback or drop me a note via e-mail.