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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Microsoft may open retail store in NYC...

The Seattle Times reports that Microsoft may open up a four-story retail store right in the heart of New York city - at One Times Square, the building where the "ball" is dropped on New Years day!

It seems like a very uncharacteristic move for them, but I'd personally love to see something like this happen. And what better time for something like this than right before the launch of the Xbox 360? I remember seeing pictures of the launch event for the original Xbox in NYC. It was an awesome sight (go search for them!). Microsoft could also use these new retail stores to showcase consumer products and all the gadgets that it co-develops with partners - stuff like Tablet PC's, Media Center PC's, portable music players, Smartphones and PocketPC's etc.

I've been to a number of Apple stores here in the LA/OC area. They're really cool, and you can clearly see the kind of impact they're having on everyday people. I think Microsoft's image could benefit greatly from a move like this, especially if they pick the right spots and the right products to showcase.

I'm probably going to be spending a few weeks in NYC this December. Let's hope there's a slick new store in Times Square by then. :)

posted at 9:38:00 PM
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The only reason that Apple can do it's Apple stores and do them well is because they have control of the entire design, everything looks uniform in the Apple store. You walk in, and wherever you look, it is all displayed the same way, it all has the same kind of style.

I don't see that happening with Microsoft, and if they use products they co-develop. Now i am all for wait and see, and i definitly will go to the Microsoft store at least once if it opens here in NYC, but i doubt it will have the same impact on people as an apple store has on people.
X-Istence, 09.01.2005, 5:45 am
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Friday, August 26, 2005

PDC '05 is fast approaching...

Just a little more than two weeks to PDC '05!

In case you hadn't noticed, I've been keeping track of the days with a little countdown in the left sidebar under the PDC badge. I will be attending the conference and covering the event for OSNN like I did at the WinHEC earlier this year. I've added a new link to the blog that I'll be posting to during the event. Expect lots of info and lots of pictures. Stay tuned. It's going to be fun! :)

posted at 7:58:00 PM
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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ten years since Windows 95...

Windows 95

Hard to believe it's been 10 years since the launch of Windows 95. As Dave says, I feel old! Operating systems, in general, have evolved so much since then.

I think I'm going to install a copy of Windows 95 on my VMware image here at work to commemorate the event...err...or maybe not. :P

posted at 10:14:00 AM
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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Google Talk: first impressions...

Bare minimum - I think those two words can best describe this first beta of Google Talk.

But that might not necessarily be such a bad thing if the folks at Google move in the right direction from this point on. The UI is extremely clean and minimalistic in true Google-style. I really like the design of the contact list - it's uncluttered and the searchbar that filters contacts as you type can be very handy for people with long contact lists. I wasn't too happy with the IM window though - it's a bit too minimalistic for me. I'd like to see basic text formatting options (simple B, I, U buttons for bold, italics and underline would suffice) and I think the messages could be laid out better.

There's no support for file transfers yet, which was a major negative for me, but I'm pretty sure it's high on the list of things to do. All in all, I wasn't particularly impressed, and I was ready to hit the uninstall button. It felt like YAJC (Yet Another Jabber Client). Until I tried voice chat, that is. :)

For voice conversations, this thing is simply awesome. It punches through a NAT/firewall with absolute ease and the connection is established almost immediately after pushing the "Call" button. Skype had a slightly longer connection delay and MSN Messenger simply couldn't connect at all with the firewall policies that are enforced on this wireless connection I'm on currently. Once connected, the voice quality was exceptional. Skype didn't stutter, but it had noticeable lag (this is a wireless connection, remember). Using Google Talk felt like a regular cellphone conversation. I never thought we'd see a Skype-killer so soon, but it looks like we have one, at least for those of us who don't use the paid services that Skype offers.

Google now needs to focus on implementing core features, especially basic things like group chats and file transfers. Video support would be a superb thing to have too, especially if the ease of connectivity and the quality is as good as the voice feature.

Unfortunately, unlike Skype, the IM client itself is not cross-platform, so Linux and Mac users are out of luck. You can still connect to the server using any client that supports Jabber/XMPP, but voice conversations won't work, and that's pretty much the only killer-feature in Google Talk so far. :)

posted at 11:07:00 PM
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Google Talk - the very first review is up...

Google Talk

There have been strong rumours this week about Google releasing an instant messaging client based on Jabber/XMPP, and it finally looks like it is, in fact, going to happen...perhaps as early as tomorrow.

The folks at Download Squad got their hands on it early and have posted the very first review of the new IM client called Google Talk. Take a look.

Update: It's up, and as expected, it's a regular Jabber server at the backend, so you can connect using any other IM client (like Trillian Pro, Gaim, iChat, Pandion etc.) that supports Jabber/XMPP as well.

posted at 7:31:00 PM
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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Microsoft announces Xbox 360 pricing...

Ending weeks of speculation about which upcoming video game platform will give gamers the most bang for their buck, today at the German Games Convention, Microsoft Corp. revealed that consumers can get their hands on Xbox 360™ — the most powerful and feature-packed next-generation video game and entertainment system — for as little as $299.99 U.S./€299.99/£209.99 starting this holiday season. For gamers who want to experience the ultimate digital entertainment thrill ride, Microsoft also announced a model with hundreds of dollars worth of accessories for $399.99 U.S./€399.99/£279.99, giving consumers the definitive entertainment experience at an unbelievable value right out of the box.

The Xbox 360 and Xbox 360 Core System — along with an impressive lineup of high-definition game titles from the world’s best publishers and developers —
will make their debut in North America, Europe and Japan in time for this Christmas holiday, several months ahead of the competition. Although details for the Japan launch will be addressed at the Tokyo Game Show in September, the unprecedented three-region launch signifies an industry first. The Xbox 360 platform will deliver the most powerful console, the best games, the next generation of the Xbox Live® service, and amazing digital entertainment experiences never seen in console entertainment.

For more details on what's included and the accessories available, check out the full press release on PressPass. From the responses I've seen online so far, it looks like most people are happy with the price tag. :)

Update: The Major Nelson blog has detailed information and pictures of the whole kit.

posted at 9:40:00 AM
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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

GoogleNet - free nationwide WiFi?

What if Google wanted to give Wi-Fi access to everyone in America? And what if it had technology capable of targeting advertising to a user’s precise location? The gatekeeper of the world’s information could become one of the globe’s biggest Internet providers and one of its most powerful ad sellers, basically supplanting telecoms in one fell swoop. Sounds crazy, but how might Google go about it?

First it would build a national broadband network -- let's call it the GoogleNet -- massive enough to rival even the country's biggest Internet service providers. Business 2.0 has learned from telecom insiders that Google is already building such a network, though ostensibly for many reasons. For the past year, it has quietly been shopping for miles and miles of "dark," or unused, fiber-optic cable across the country from wholesalers such as New York’s AboveNet. It's also acquiring superfast connections from Cogent Communications and WilTel, among others, between East Coast cities including Atlanta, Miami, and New York.

Source: Business 2.0

Definitely nothing more than speculation at this point, but how cool would that be? :)

posted at 6:30:00 PM
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Run IE6 and IE7 Beta 1 side by side...

Jon Galloway has a great post today that shows you how to run IE 7 Beta 1 without actually installing it on your system. All you have to do is extract the files in the installer using WinRAR, delete the SHLWAPI.DLL file, and create a new blank text file called IEXPLORE.exe.local in the same folder. This allows you to run IE 7 Beta 1 in "local mode" alongside IE 6 on your XP SP2 setup.

Very cool tip!

posted at 12:21:00 PM
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Monday, August 15, 2005

59 years of independence...

Indian flag

posted at 12:15:00 AM
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Friday, August 12, 2005

J-Walk Blog Link Experiment...

One thing that nearly all bloggers have in common is that they like to know when another blog links to them. Using a variety of sources, I think I have a pretty good handle on finding other blogs that link to J-Walk Blog. In fact, I think I find about 90% of them -- but I may be wrong.

This is an experiment to see how "findable" blog references are. Put me to the the test, fellow bloggers.

All you have to do is post a link to this particular blog item (i.e., the one you're reading now). Just call it J-Walk Blog Link Experiment or something like that. After a few days, I'll post a list of every blog I found that linked to this item. If you're not on the list, I'll invite you to send me the link to your entry. I'll post these unfound links, and we'll try to figure out why I didn't find you.

Well, here goes. :)

[Via Marc]

posted at 11:12:00 AM
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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Bugs, bugs, bugs - they're everywhere...

It's crunch-week at work. I might have to go in this weekend too. We're nearing a significant development milestone, and there's lots of bug-fixing going on at ths stage. It's almost like a game - QA keeps sending them our way, and our goal is to fix as many as possible, as quickly as possible, without breaking the builds in the process. Fun stuff. :D

On the other hand, as I mentioned earlier, I've been running Windows Vista Beta 1 as the primary and only OS on my laptop for little more than a week now. This time, my responsibility is to report any bugs that I find to help build a solid RTM release.

It's interesting being on both sides of the fence at the same time. Bug-slayer during the day, bug-hunter at night. :)

posted at 11:54:00 PM
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More custom context-menu items for IE...

I added a couple of additional custom items to my IE context-menu the other night which might be useful to some of you, so here they are. It's not that difficult to create new ones if you know some basic JavaScript and look up the MSDN MenuExt reference. :)

I'm only posting the JavaScript snippets and the "Contexts" DWORD value you should be using. For clearer details on how to actually add custom context-menu items, see my earlier post on the subject.

Custom search engines:
Search for highlighted text on a page using your favorite search engine. You could, for example, do a Google search, look up meanings on Dictionary.com, find information on Wikipedia, look up a street address on Google Maps or MSN Virtual Earth etc. You just need to change the URL. This one's extremely simple, but pretty handy.

<script language="JavaScript">
open('http://www.google.com/search?q=' +

Don't forget to remove the line-breaks. Set the Contexts DWORD value to Hex 10 (Decimal 16) so that the menu item only appears for highlighted text.

Open Link in Firefox:
There's an extension for Firefox (IEView) that enables you to open up a link in IE. Someone on OSNN asked for a way to open a link in Firefox when using IE. So here's that:

<script language="JavaScript">
var foo = new ActiveXObject("WScript.Shell");
foo.Run("Firefox " + external.menuArguments.event

Don't forget to remove the line-breaks. Set the Contexts DWORD value to Hex 20 (Decimal 32) so that the menu item only appears for hyperlinks.

posted at 11:33:00 PM
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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Lawyer wants "bug-free" warranty on software...

A public interest lawyer who is also intending to run as a Republican in the 2006 Illinois gubernatorial race is taking his fight to Microsoft in hopes of preventing the company from releasing what he calls "bad code."

Andy Martin of The Committee to Fight Microsoft on Tuesday announced his intentions to block Microsoft from releasing its Windows Vista operating system. Martin intends to ask Microsoft for an unconditional warranty that the operating system is free of bugs that could result in security vulnerabilities.

Source: BetaNews


Someone nominate this guy for the World Stupidity Awards please.

Update: I was reading some of the comments posted under the report and noticed that someone posted a link to this article in The Register from December 1999. Apparently this isn't his first time, and he actually wanted to run for President back then. :P

posted at 3:47:00 PM
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Monday, August 08, 2005

"Copy Image Location" menu item in IE...

As I may have mentioned earlier, I'm making it a point to use IE 7 as my primary browser, at least during the beta test period, so that I can report any issues that I find.

Since I've been using Firefox for such a long time, there was one little thing that was bugging me - IE does not include a context-menu item to quickly copy the location/URL of an image on a webpage. This is something I tend to use quite often (to post links to images in emails, IM messages, on forum threads etc.), and the multi-step process of selecting Properties, highlighting the image location and then copying it just wasn't cutting it.

So I posted a wish/suggestion on the beta newsgroups asking for such a context-menu item. Eric Lawrence from the IE team responded to my post and said it's possible to add something like this quite trivially using the MenuExt registry key. I looked up the MenuExt registry reference on MSDN, understood how it works, and wrote this quick little JavaScript blurb that adds a "Copy Image Location" item to the IE context menu. Note that this is not IE7-specific and will work on IE6 as well.

Here's how you do it. Copy the following piece of code into Notepad and save it as a HTML file to any location (I'll use C:\Windows\copyimageurl.html for this example):

<script language="JavaScript">
var image = external.menuArguments.event.srcElement;
Then you need to create a registry key to point to this file:

1. Start>Run>regedit
2. Navigate to HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\MenuExt
3. Create a new sub-key and call it "Copy Image Location" (this is the text that appears in the menu)
4. Set the "(Default)" string value to the location of the html file we created - C:\Windows\copyimageurl.html in this example.
5. In the same key, create a new DWORD value called "Contexts" and give it a value of 2 (this means that the menu item appears only when you right click an image)

That's it. Close any existing browser windows and when you open them back up, you should notice a new context-menu item that copies the image location to the clipboard.

Ah, that made life much easier. :)

posted at 10:08:00 PM
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Saturday, August 06, 2005

Mumbai to San Fransisco in 16 hours...

This is really cool. Boeing just showcased its new 777-200LR "Worldliner" in New Delhi and Mumbai last week. The LR in the name is actually an acronym for "Long Range" - this new aircraft is capable of making a single, non-stop flight from Mumbai to San Fransisco over the North Pole, a 9000 nautical mile trip, in just about 16 hours.

A non-stop flight from here to India in 16 hours is really impressive - on today's aircrafts, the trip takes about 23 hours, and there's usually a long stop-over in South-east Asia if you travel westwards over the Pacific.

Rediff reports that Air India plans to purchase eight of these aircrafts and Jet Airways has ordered six already. :)

[Via Omar Shahine]

posted at 6:17:00 PM
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Friday, August 05, 2005

The rendering bug should be fixed...

Mac users visiting this site using Safari have informed me that there was a rendering bug causing a large gap of whitespace to appear between the title of the first post on each page and the actual body of the post. Apparently, this same issue occurs in Opera too, as Mark (aka LordOfLA) pointed out to me.

I installed Opera earlier today to figure out a solution to the problem. It seemed really weird to me; I've been using pretty much the same HTML and CSS code (all standards-compliant, by the way) for a long time now, with minor changes, and I hadn't received any such feedback in the past.

So obviously the first thing I did was to check the source code of the page itself. One odd little detail I noticed was the presence of this div pair before each of my post bodies. I didn't remember adding that in, so I went in to check my Blogger template to make sure. Turns out the Blogger engine graciously adds that in for me, and it just so happens that it's the source of all the problems as I soon discovered. I wasn't very happy.

So how the hell do I get rid of something that I didn't add to my code?

Well, I did a bit of digging around and noticed that this silly, pointless tag pair has been causing all types of issues for lots of different people. One of the posts I read mentioned that Google added in an option to disable this after realizing that the change lead to lots of broken blogs. Wonderful. Perhaps they should add another checkbox that removes those huge blocks of whitespace that get added automagically to my source code...

Long story short - the checkbox has been unchecked and the ugliness is gone. Tested in Opera; no longer an issue. Safari users - please let me know if there's still a problem.

Edit: Oh great. Now it broke the layout in IE. Looking into it...

Update: Problem solved. Should look the same in all browsers again. :)

posted at 11:17:00 PM
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