Searched for : "media center"
Microsoft's Steven Lindsay posted a video a couple months ago showing his top five things you didn't know you could do with your Media Center PC. Cool tidbits for people who want to get deeper into using a few more of the capabilities of Windows Media Center. Worth the viewing time.


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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Tuesday, 17 June 2008 21:29:37 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Since I "needed" a new high-def disc format player (specifically Blu-Ray Disc) to take the place of my suddenly-antiquated HD-DVD hardware, and since Thursday was my 41st birthday, I decided to get what is arguably the best Blu-Ray player out there. The Playstation 3. Ah mid-life and gadgety toys, heh.

As luck would have it, my dad called me and asked what I'd like for my birthday. We go through the same conversation each time, and it's really kind of funny. I say I don't know and we end up in a friendly stalemate. I told him what I was looking at buying for myself, and he got interested. It was too much money, really - but he insisted (thanks, dad!). And so I went to the local big box store and picked one up and brought it home last night.

I'm not going to do a PS3 review. Yes, it's great hardware and the Blu-Ray discs play great. Watched 3:10 to Yuma last night (good flick). I was impressed, just as I was with HD-DVD.

But you know what impresses me more? In the past few weeks I have seen device after device - from different, even competing manufacturers - communicating with each other to share media on the network.

My Windows Home Server and Windows Media Player devices can share out media with the Xbox 360, with my DirecTV HD-DVR receiver, and now I see also with the new Playstation 3. Streaming audio around the house that's stored on the Home Server is a daily occurence around here. The XBox 360 is, of course, also a front-end for Media Center (which runs on my Vista Ultimate machine), and once we see a real-world version of the DirecTV USB component receiver (dubbed the HDPC-20 and currently in limited beta we're told), that's going straight into my den and should truly round out my interconnected, media-driven home.

With about 2TB (yeah, terabytes - who woulda thunk it a few years ago eh?) of Home Server storage and all these devices spread around that stream various media, it really is turning into a whole different kind of user experience - and a good one at that.



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Home Servers | Tech | Windows Media Technology
Friday, 11 April 2008 23:28:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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After seven years with Dish Network, I made the change Monday to DirecTV and their HD programming. Granted, Dish Network's HD package has improved lately, and their new HD-only package was interesting, but a few things swayed me away and over to the other satellite programming vendor.

DirecTV has great HD capacity today and is quickly adding more. Another satellite will be launched in the next couple weeks, in fact. Their HD quality is pretty darned good. I like their equipment. And, although it's not here yet, I am thinking ahead to the forthcoming HDPC-20 - a DirecTV tuner device that will integrate with Vista Media Center. I'll be an early adopter of that technology, you can be sure.

The installer was great (despite the pouring rain he had to deal with), and before I knew it I was enjoying 90+ channels of HD programming. I can see some compression in some of the HD content, but you have to expect some of that. All I know is it looks much better than cable TV HD service I've seen before. I suppose I could complain about the fact that I now have a bigger antenna on my roof, but that seriously doesn't matter. I'm getting a lot of choice in return.

Bonus features include the ability to add my own external 750GB eSATA drive to the HD DVR (nice!), web-based DVR remote scheduling, Internet connectivity for on-demand content and information (which is new and in beta), and nice menus and software on the receivers in general. Seriously, it just feels better when you use it.

I'll be participating in the "cutting edge" program, loading software releases for the HD receiver and HD DVR devices at odd hours now and then to test new features and fixes before they're released nationwide. So, this move helps me fulfill the needs of my inner geek, too.

It's really a world of difference with the new service. Quality- and content-wise, it's a big step up.



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Geek Out | Tech
Tuesday, 04 March 2008 09:46:53 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I lucked out last night - big time. We dropped by the Best Buy store in Beaverton (that's Oregon) after a fun day hanging out at OMSI and cruising Portland, just in case by some random chance they had any of the complete Xbox 360 kits around (as opposed to the "core" system version). Sure enough, a hand-made sign inside the door read "Xbox 360's in stock!"

We headed back to the place where they have the consoles, and sure enough, there were about 15 white and green boxes stacked behind the table. So I bought two - one for me at home and one for work, where all the people that work for me can play during breaks (I have been promising them one for quite awhile now - they work hard, they should play hard now and then). Added a few games and extra controllers, and walked out poor (for what it's worth, the funds have been set aside for some time waiting for a store to stock them and for me to show up before they got bought up), but also a bit excited and with a feeling of accomplishment. Finally!

I hooked mine up at home last night. I played Battlefield 2 and Need for Speed: Most Wanted. I also got Quake 4, but have not played it yet. Maybe tonight. The graphics, digital sound and animation on this thing are all freakin' A-MA-ZING.

And today, my Xbox 360 decided to start blogging. Yes, seriously. My console has it's own blog. Go figure. I guess new posts will start showing up soon. And you thought those blogging Aibos were cool eh? Nahhh... Heh.

I have to say, this is one seriously nice gaming and home entertainment console. Projected on my wall at 120 inches, that's some serious game play, and of course DVD movies look and sound great, too. I need to fire up the Media Center PC (need to fix a hard drive issue first) and tie these things together - that will be a killer combo for sure.

(Thanks, Trevin for the blogging link)



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Blogging | Geek Out | Random Stuff
Monday, 08 May 2006 19:53:14 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Engadget Holiday Gift GuideThat infamous and terrific gadget-lover's blog, Engadget, has launched it's Engadget Holiday Gift Guide for this holiday season at http://holidaygiftguide.engadget.com/.

We know sorting through the thousands of gadgets on the market right now can be a bit of a pain for anyone doing some shopping, so we’ve gotten together our annual Engadget Holiday Gift Guide in order to help make sense of what’s worth dropping some coin on this year.

Even though online shopping means no one really has an excuse anymore not to buy early, we’re going to be running up our gift suggestions once a day until December 24th, so high-tail over to
holidaygiftguide.engadget.com for the latest! And be sure to check back often, as we’ll be posting a variety of gift suggestions sure to please the full range of recipients everyone’s got, from nerds-extraordinarie to Mr. and Mrs. Enduser.

NOTE: These products are selected by the Engadget editors, not Best Buy, and we didn’t check to see whether they’re for sale at Best Buy or not.

That Sony VAIO XL1 Media Center PC is lookin' pretty nice...



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Geek Out | Random Stuff
Monday, 21 November 2005 17:57:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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HO-LY CRR-AP!!

Okay, so... When Microsoft says the XBOX 360 is a whole new level of gaming machine, they're serious.

I just played a couple shooters on a XBOX 360 game console and that's it, I'm sold. The graphics are GREAT. The visuals make the gameplay amazing, and it's clear the processing and video power is extreme. Add to that the Media Center connections and, well... Wow.

If you want to get your hands on one, go to the Best Buy in Beaverton, Oregon on Cedar Hills Blvd. Apparently, at least according to the sales guy there, that store is the second one to get a working display setup (the first one was a WalMart in California, he said). Some Microsoftie walked in with a bunch of boxes, set up the display, and just left. "No one knew what to do!" said the Best Buy kid. Heh. Cool.

The crowd was excited. A sign is taped to the end cap where the 360 resides that says "5 minutes, please." The crew of giddy people (mostly adults by the way) quietly contained themselves and politely took turns splattering people with their virtual firearms. It pretty much rocked. Ooohs and Aahhhhs abound.

Check it out if you can. I'll try to post some pics in the next day or two if I can get back there. This was the first day in months I didn't have my camera with me, go figure.



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Geek Out | Random Stuff
Sunday, 30 October 2005 16:41:55 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Sling1Scoble posted something that's had my attention all evening (well, off and on anyhow - I'm easily distracted). Have you seen the Slingbox from Sling Media? It's may just be the perfect gadget for me. Think something along the lines of a Media Center extender (note: it's not one of those, just try to think along those lines), only instead it extends any TV image to pretty much any computer anywhere you have a fast connection to the Internet.

"The Slingbox is a compact and elegantly designed, state-of-the-art electronic device that connects to the back of your TV. It redirects, or “placeshifts,” the TV signal from your cable box, satellite receiver, or digital video recorder (DVR) to your computer or laptop of choice, no matter your location — so long as you have a high-speed Internet connection."

It's something close to pure simplicity, too: Plug it in, hook it up, install the SlingPlayer software on your PC, and BAM! You're controlling and watching your TV, DVR, set top box or whatever you use from your computer, wherever you may be.

It's for PCs now, but more is coming very soon:

"In the coming months, SlingPlayer software will be available for select PDAs, smart phones, and Macintosh computers and will be fully compatible with the Slingbox."

You can check it out at:

http://www.slingmedia.com

And then, of course, there's Orb, for some of the same people who are interested in Slingbox (the geeky ones who are not looking for a plug-and-go solution since Orb uses your home PC and a tuner card), and it's especially nice for those who have Windows MediaCenter Edition):

http://www.orb.com



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Geek Out | Tech | Windows Media Technology
Tuesday, 20 September 2005 19:38:56 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I've been using MS Tablet PC powered computers since Compaq came out with the TC1000 a couple/few years ago. After that I switched to the Acer C300-series devices. I've had a couple of the Acers, because they don't wear quite as well as one would have hoped. Thank goodness they have a reasonable RMA/repair policy. As it turns out, the Acer has pretty much everything I need and want: A big, bright, contrasty display; built in DVD burner; touchpad and decent keyboard. What it lacks is frustrating, though: Durability of the pivot hinge with significant use is bad; the case's surface finish wears off; battery life is fair; screen resolution is typically marginal (it's the standard 1024x768). I use the Acer as a laptop more than I do in tablet mode. but when I want tablet mode it's there for me in a matter of a couple of seconds. Oh, and the Acer's a bit heavy. There have been others. I carried around a Toshiba M200 for a while. I didn't like it. The display was flat and dim, and performance was mediocre. No built in optical or removable drive. It just didn't work for me.

Anyhow, yesterday over at Engadget they asked "How would you change the Tablet PC?" There are pushing 100 comment responses as of the time of this post, and while some of the answers are not that helpful, some of them are quite interesting. Check it out over there.

What do I think needs to be in every Tablet PC? Here's my own quick list:

  • Greater than 1024x768 resolution (I can change font and icon sizes if I need to)
  • Display must be bright and contrasty (I like the Acer and Sony bright displays for this)
  • Included high-end docking station
  • Optical burner drive built in (DVD+RW, dual layer even better, make it so I can replace it in a year when the "standards" change)
  • OneNote included (like Toshiba does)
  • Extra pen built in (like Toshiba does)
  • Use a power source readily available on the market so I can plug it into my generic Car/AC/Airplane power adapter
  • Up to 2GB RAM (or more would be fine)
  • Touchpad (I really don't like the red rubber eraser nub thing)
  • Microphones everywhere, high gain, noise canceling
  • Built in camera on the top edge that can rotate/flip to point at the user or away (like Sony's portables) - at least a couple megapixels with a glass lens
  • Biometrics - a fingerprint reader that works

That's for today. What do I want to see in the future?

  • One button, two-second power-on-to-available capability
  • Roll-up computer
  • Gesture tough control support
  • Whatever input recognition they choose, it sure as heck better not be T9...
  • Brain input must not require use of the Microsoft ImplantTM (nor the Apple ImplantTM for that matter)
  • Media center, personal media center, tablet, etc all in every device: Desktops, notebooks, handhelds, etc.


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Tablet PC | Tech
Saturday, 02 July 2005 08:33:12 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Tons of high-definition Windows Media video files with some pretty amazing footage from a whole slew of upcoming XBOX 360 games are available for download over at Microsoft.

This is going to be a great console - the possibilities are fun to think of... Hook it up with Longhorn's version of Media Center and you have a super-cool HD Media Center extender. Great games, too of course.

Check out the videos. Amazing. Just make sure you have a big fat pipe for downloading or be prepared to hurry up and wait. These files are 720p hi-def format, so they're pretty darned big, but super cool looking.



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Geek Out | Tech
Sunday, 29 May 2005 13:35:45 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Royale_desktopI'm a little slow in finding this, and it's certainly an example of my being easily-amused... But I just downloaded the Royale Windows theme, which was originally available standard on XP Media Center Edition. The download lets you use it on the other versions of XP, and I've installed it on my XP Tablet Edition machine.

Microsoft New Zealand has made it available to download, along with the New Zealand version of the Bliss desktop image (can you say "sheep?") and a cool road-sign desktop picture, too.

The pic at right is my desktop with the Royale theme and a few Konfabulator widgets - it makes for a nice background image. Click the pic for larger size.



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Sunday, 29 May 2005 12:05:19 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Xbox360The next version of the XBOX, called the XBOX 360, was announced today. They did this kinda lame thing for a half hour on MTV (but hey, what do you expect on that channel), but the device itself looks really awesome. Games, pictures, video, audio - it's a HD media center extender and game console and much more.

If you saw the MTV thing and found it lacking, check out this video. It's very good.

(found via Engadget)

UPDATE: Another preview video has hit the net.



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Geek Out | Tech
Thursday, 12 May 2005 20:46:14 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Microsoft has announced a large number of security webcasts that are set for April. The list here is quite long, so click to see them all, or check out the Security Webcast Calendar, which is a Word doc calendar with all the upcoming webcasts listed and linked.

There are lots of very good sessions planned. Anyone with a security responsibility or emphasis in their jobs should take a good look at these upcoming webcasts and consider viewing...

Upcoming Security Webcasts: April 2005

Security Webcasts are a convenient way for IT Professionals and Developers to stay technically updated on the latest Microsoft Security Guidance. These webcasts concentrate on security information and are presented by senior executives and other subject matter experts. They feature interactive technical presentations, product demonstrations, and question-and-answer sessions.

Microsoft Security Webcast Series: Upcoming & On-Demand

Security Webcast Calendar

NEW: Now you can register for an on-demand webcast and choose how you would like to view the archive. Downloadable Microsoft Office System PowerPoint and .wmv files are available for most webcasts that took place Dec. 1, 2004 or later. Once you register, you will be directed to the on-demand webcast and also shortly receive a confirmation email with links to the PowerPoint and .wmv downloads.

Additional Webcast Resources

Microsoft Security Webcast Series:  Upcoming & On-Demand

Digital Blackbelt Series: Defend your code from attacks

Ongoing through May

How would your code stand up to an attack? If you are not sure, join us for the Digital Blackbelt webcast series as Developer Community Champion Joe Stagner discusses security risks, vulnerabilities, and solutions from the software developer's perspective. We will provide real-life examples and security tips and tricks that can help you gain the knowledge and techniques to become an experienced “blackbelt” in writing secure code.

Web Development: Increase the security of your applications

Ongoing through May

Increasing the security of your software is not the result of a single event. From design through development, to testing and deployment, a multi-disciplinary approach must be taken to deliver a quality software product that minimizes organizational risk. Join Dennis Hurst, Senior Consulting Engineer at SPI Dynamics, and other guest speakers as they detail knowledge that can help developers increase security around the coding of web applications. 

Security360

Third Tuesday of Every Month

Learn best practices to guide your security strategy during this monthly webcast series. Each webcast focuses on a specific security topic and includes commentary from industry experts outside of Microsoft.

Security Webcast Calendar

Security webcasts listed in an easy-to-use calendar format.

BONUS: Attend any live webcast through June and you could win a Portable Media Center. See official rules for more details.

Additional Live & On-Demand Webcast Series Available NOW:

For IT Executives

Microsoft Executive Circle Webcast: Security360 with Mike Nash: Secure E-mail, It’s More than Filtering (Level 100)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005 - 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM Pacific Time

Mike Nash, Corporate Vice President Security Business & Technology Unit, Microsoft

Reducing the amount of spam clogging e-mail systems is top-of-mind. However, e-mail security is not just about preventing unsolicited messages; it is also about protecting the digital information assets you send through e-mail. On this month's Security360, guest host Amy Roberts, director of product management in Microsoft's Security Business and Technology Unit, will discuss with industry experts the whole spectrum of e-mail security, including filtering technologies, e-mail policies and enforcement, and partner solutions. As with every Security360, this session includes a checklist of recommendations and resources, as well as a live Q&A with industry experts.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43965

For IT Professionals

TechNet Webcast: Implementing Exchange Server Security (Part 1 of 2): Securing Services and Messaging Protocols (Level 300)

Monday, April 04, 2005 - 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Pacific Time

Harold Wong, TechNet Presenter, Microsoft

Securing communication over networks is essential to securing your organization from intrusions, overloads, and interruptions of many types. In this first session of a two-part series on Exchange Server Security, we describe how to deploy a more secure Exchange Server 2003 infrastructure and how to secure its server services and messaging protocols.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43587

TechNet Webcast: How Microsoft IT Deployed PKI Inside Microsoft (Level 300)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM Pacific Time

Larry Talbot, Microsoft IT SECURITY TECHNOLOGIST, Microsoft

This webcast presents a detailed discussion of how Microsoft IT installed a Public Key Infrastructure, built originally with Windows 2000 Server Certificate Services, and later upgraded with Windows Server 2003, to implement a secure communications and remote authentication infrastructure. This enabled the use of S/MIME signatures and encryption, secured Web connections by using SSL or TLS, ensured the confidentiality of stored data by using EFS, ensured the confidentiality and integrity of transmitted date by using IPSec, and enabled strong network user authentication by using Smart Cards. Join this webcast to find out how you can do this - or something similar - too.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=44148

TechNet Webcast: "Ask The IT Security Experts" Series: Building Security Training and Awareness (Level 100)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Pacific Time

Ben Smith, Senior Security Strategist, Microsoft

Experts often talk about the importance and need for security training, but few actually talk about how to do it. Join us for this webcast as we bring together some of the sharpest security-focused Microsoft IT professionals to provide expert answers to your questions about Building Security Training and Awareness. This webcast presents proven, and slightly unconventional, methods of training users and administrators on security. As with all of our "Ask the Experts" webcasts, there will be plenty of Q&A time for the experts to field your questions. Send your security-related questions to our panel of experts ahead of time at: itxcast@microsoft.com.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43974

TechNet Webcast: Network Isolation Using Group Policy and IPSec (Part 1 of 3): Overview of Internet Protocol Security (Level 300)

Wednesday, April 06, 2005 - 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM Pacific Time

John Baker, TechNet Presenter, Microsoft

Data Isolation: How can it make your IT infrastructure safer, and how do you use Group Policies and IPSec to implement it? This session is the first of a three-part series presenting the information and tasks needed to implement data isolation using Group Policies and IPSec within an organization. This first installation provides an overview of the nature of Internet Protocol Security - the challenges to secure network communication, how IPSec can help, and the various ways IPSec can be implemented to achieve different types of secure communication.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43592

TechNet Webcast: Windows Server 2003 SP1 Technical Overview (Level 200)

Thursday, April 07, 2005 - 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Pacific Time

Rand Morimoto, Author, President, Convergent Computing

Windows Server 2003, the latest server operating system from Microsoft, builds upon the security, reliability, and performance improvements implemented in previous versions. Organizations need these continuing improvements as their networks develop and network usage evolves with new technologies. Organizations also need Service Pack 1 to protect themselves from an increasing variety of network and computer. Join this webcast for a technical overview of Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, where we will present its features, configuration tools, system security enhancements, network security enhancements, and deployment options.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43599

TechNet Webcast: SQL Server 2005 Series (Part 4 of 10): Securing your SQL Server (Level 200)

Monday, April 11, 2005 - 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM Pacific Time

Bryan Von Axelson, TechNet Presenter, Microsoft

Parts four and five in our series highlight the security enhancements in SQL Server 2005. Part four of this series focuses on authentication and authorization while crypto support is covered in part five. We begin with authentication, examining the Security model, endpoint-based authentication and the password policy. Then we move on to explore authorization, covering User Schema separation, module execution context, granular permission control and Catalog security.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=42448

TechNet Webcast: Implementing Exchange Server Security (Part 2 of 2): Protecting Against Unwanted E-Mail (Level 300)

Monday, April 11, 2005 - 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Pacific Time

Chris Avis, TechNet Presenter, Microsoft

This second session of a two-part series on Exchange Server Security describes how to increase the security of e-mail that flows through an organization's Exchange servers. We also introduce you to Exchange Server 2003 features such as Real Time Block List support and Intelligent Message Filtering, tools making it easier to reduce the amount of unwanted e-mail before it spreads through your organization.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43602

TechNet Webcast: How Microsoft IT Implements Trustworthy Messaging at Microsoft (Level 300)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM Pacific Time

Grant Hogan, Microsoft IT Service Manager, Microsoft

Similar to most enterprise organizations, Microsoft shares information among its resources through e-mail and other electronic documentation. At the same time, we have a concern for the security and privacy of this data. With that in mind, Microsoft created the Trustworthy Messaging initiative to provide confidentiality for key business sensitive data sent to and from internal corporate clients without sacrificing their ability to freely share this data. Join us as we review, in detail, Microsoft IT's implementation of Trustworthy Messaging.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=44151

TechNet Webcast: Information about Microsoft's April Security Bulletins (Level 100)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Pacific Time

Christopher Budd, CISM, CISSP/Security Program Manager, Microsoft

Debby Fry Wilson, Director/Security Response Marketing, Microsoft

On April 12th, Microsoft will release its monthly security bulletins. Join this webcast for a brief overview of the technical details of these April security bulletins.  This webcast will provide you the opportunity to raise your questions and concerns about the security bulletins. A majority of the session will be devoted to addressing your questions and providing answers from our security experts.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43750

TechNet Webcast: Network Isolation Using Group Policy and IPSec (Part 2 of 3): Understanding Network Isolation Using IPSec (Level 300)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Pacific Time

John Baker, TechNet Presenter, Microsoft

This session is the second of a three-part series with the information and tasks you need to implement data isolation using Group Policies and IPSec. This session shows how to use IPSec to create network isolation zones. Topics include the advantages and limitations of network isolation, where network isolation fits into a defense-in-depth scheme, and how to use Group Policies and Active Directory groups to restrict access to specific servers.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43606

TechNet Webcast: Maximizing Security Features within Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005 (Level 300)

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Pacific Time

Sean Olson, Lead Program Manager, Microsoft

This technical session describes potential security threats and their mitigations for the Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005 release. We will focus on the new features and challenges differentiated from Live Communications Server 2003. The ultimate goal of this presentation is to provide you with the information commonly required to satisfy a security audit of a product prior to its commercial deployment. Topics will include authentication, auditing, and security recommendations for the new Live Communications Server 2005.

http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032269267&Culture=en-US

TechNet Webcast: Securing the Network Perimeter with ISA Server 2004 (Level 200)

Friday, April 15, 2005 - 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM Pacific Time

Keith Combs, TechNet Presenter, Microsoft

Do you currently have an effective way to secure your network perimeter against risks introduced by the Internet, remote users, and remote network segments? Learn how Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2004 can help protect against all of these threats and more. This session demonstrates how ISA Server 2004 can enhance security for internal servers as well as external-facing resources such as Microsoft Exchange Server or Microsoft Internet Information Services. We will also show how ISA Server can operate as a virtual private networking server for more secure remote access to the internal network.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43759

TechNet Webcast: SQL Server 2005 Series (Part 5 of 10): Protecting Sensitive Data (Level 200)

Monday, April 18, 2005 - 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM Pacific Time

Bryan Von Axelson, TechNet Presenter, Microsoft

Parts four and five in our series highlight the security enhancements in SQL Server 2005. Building upon the discussion of authentication and authorization in the previous session, part five of the series covers the crypto support in SQL Server 2005. We begin with an introduction to the concepts of database encryption including encryption support, keys, certificates and key management. We show how SQL 2005 can protect sensitive data using data encryption and module signatures, and introduce sign modules, what these are and how they work.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=42450

TechNet Webcast: Assessing Network Security (Part 1 of 2): Planning and Research (Level 200)

Monday, April 18, 2005 - 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Pacific Time

Kai Axford, Security Specialist, Microsoft

How do you know whether your network is secure? And how do you know how to find out? This session is the first of a two-part series to help organizations plan and implement processes to identify vulnerabilities to network attacks. This first session shows how to plan your security assessment and how to gather information such that the methods and results fit your organization's needs. In this presentation we'll specifically show how to plan a security assessment and the details and processes for gathering network security information about your organization.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43762

TechNet Webcast: Threat Mitigation for Windows 98 and Windows NT 4.0 (Level 200)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Pacific Time

Harold Wong, Senior Technology Specialist, Microsoft

While migration to a newer platform is recommended, many customers have key business applications that will only run on legacy operating systems. This session offers prescriptive information and test plans for hardening legacy Windows clients and servers, with the goal of reducing the security risk factors for Windows NT and Windows 98 systems as much as possible. We also provide guidance on how to upgrade securely to newer operating systems.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43789

TechNet Webcast: Network Isolation Using Group Policy and IPSec (Part 3 of 3): Advanced Network Isolation Scenarios (Level 300)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Pacific Time

Matthew Hester, TechNet Presenter, Microsoft

This session is the final presentation of a three-part series about the information and tasks needed to implement data isolation using Group Policies and IPSec within an organization. The session describes several scenarios where you can use IPSec to enhance network security by using IPSec to create network isolation zones. This scenario-focused view of Group Policies and IPSec is based on Microsoft's prescriptive guidance.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43792

TechNet Webcast: Assessing Network Security (Part 2 of 2): Penetration Testing (Level 200)

Monday, April 25, 2005 - 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Pacific Time

Kai Axford, Security Specialist, Microsoft

How do you know whether your network is secure? And how do you know how to find out? This session is the second of a two-part series on assessing network security, to help organizations plan and implement processes to identify vulnerabilities to network attacks. This second session shows how to implement penetration testing for intrusive network attacks, presents checklists that will help identify and remediate common issues, the tools and processes for scanning systems for vulnerabilities, and concludes with a case study where all these factors are put to work at a typical commercial enterprise.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43818

TechNet Webcast: Security Risk Management (Level 300)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Pacific Time

Kai Axford, Security Specialist, Microsoft

When establishing security for your network, you must take risk assessment, cost-benefit analysis, and implementation of security countermeasures into account. The Security Risk Management Guide, designed by Microsoft, can help your organization establish the ongoing process of security risk management. This 90-minute webcast presents a qualitative approach to risk management, tying in best practices from both the industry as well as the ones learned and formulated by the Microsoft internal IT Group.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43821

TechNet Webcast: Defense-in-Depth Against Malicious Software (Level 200)

Friday, April 29, 2005 - 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM Pacific Time

Michael Murphy, TechNet Presenter, Microsoft

Malicious software has become increasingly advanced; worms and viruses can propagate more quickly and evade detection more effectively. This session describes how a defense-in-depth approach to antivirus solution design can help protect various components of a computing infrastructure from malicious software attacks, including client computers, servers and networking devices. This webcast also covers implementing an effective outbreak control and recovery plan and identifying, containing and remedying the effects of malicious software.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43841

For Developers

MSDN Webcast: Practical Security for Intranet Solutions (Level 200)

Friday, April 01, 2005 - 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Pacific Time

Joe Stagner, Developer Community Champion, Microsoft

Internal Web and Windows-based applications often require integration with existing applications and systems, access to databases, strong authorization and authentication mechanisms, and identity management. This webcast discusses strategies for incorporating security best practices into intranet solution development. We will provide practical guidance on how to implement security enhancements throughout intranet solutions and introduce future security improvements available to developers through Visual Studio .NET 2005 and ASP.NET 2.0.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43408

MSDN Webcast: Practical Security for Internet and Extranet Solutions (Level 200)

Monday, April 04, 2005 - 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM Pacific Time

Rob Jackson, Developer Community Champion, Microsoft

This session discusses strategies for incorporating security best practices into intranet solution development. Internal Web and Windows-based applications often require integration with existing applications and systems, access to databases, strong authorization and authentication mechanisms, and identity management. This session provides practical guidance on how to implement security enhancements throughout intranet solutions and introduces future improvements available to developers through Visual Studio .NET 2005 and ASP .NET 2.0.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43832

MSDN Webcast: Implementing Security for Mobile Device Solutions (Level 200)

Friday, April 08, 2005 - 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Pacific Time

Joe Stagner, Developer Community Champion, Microsoft

Are you dealing with security issues and concerns with your Microsoft Windows Mobile-based solutions? This webcast will describe the various the security considerations for building mobile software solutions and the tools, technologies and strategies available to the mobile developer. Both traditional applications accessed through mobile devices and solutions designed specifically for mobile use can be affected. You will learn how to use the security features of the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework in conjunction with Windows Mobile-based PocketPC and Smartphone capabilities to provide more secure file storage and data access. During this 90-minute webcast will also cover how to protect mobile device communications with your application servers.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43585

MSDN Webcast: Digital Blackbelt Series: Defending the Database (Part 1 of 2): The SQL Injection Attack in Detail (Level 300)

Friday, April 08, 2005 - 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM Pacific Time

Joe Stagner, Developer Community Champion, Microsoft

Developers the world over underestimate the seriousness of a SQL Injection Attack. In this session we will dive deep into the topic and do some live hacks to see the huge danger of SQL Injection.  We'll discuss how a Mal-Tech might find and approach your box, discover your schema, table, and field names, steal your data, corrupt your table records, add himself as an administrator, reduce your own admin rights, pollute your network, take over your mail server, shutdown your application (and hide it from your ops people), upload his own wares and OWN YOUR NETWORK. Don't miss this webcast.

http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032267306&Culture=en-US

MSDN Webcast: Writing Secure Code (Part 1 of 2): Best Practices (Level 200)

Monday, April 11, 2005 - 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Pacific Time

Rob Jackson, Developer Community Champion, Microsoft

Do you want to learn more about analyzing, mitigating and modeling threats? This presentation is part one of a two-part series to help experienced developers build their knowledge of secure coding best practices. Join this 60-minute webcast to learn about established threat modeling methodologies and tools and how to apply them with other best practices to minimize vulnerabilities and limit damage from attacks.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43835

MSDN Webcast: Assessment: Tips and Tricks for Web Application Security Testing (Level 300)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Pacific Time

Dennis Hurst, Senior Consulting Engineer, SPI Dynamics

Caleb Sima, Founder and CTO, SPI Dynamics

This session will demonstrate the proper technique for testing a Web application to ensure that it is properly secure. In addition, we will discuss the challenges of Web application security throughout the development life cycle, and the available methods and tools used to test the security of Web-based applications. Attend this webcast and learn how to test a Web application using a Web browser and the inherent limitations of this approach. You'll also learn what obstacles must be overcome during application testing to ensure proper security.

http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032267633&Culture=en-US 

MSDN Webcast: Developing Applications in Windows XP Service Pack 2 (Level 200)

Friday, April 15, 2005 - 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Pacific Time

Rob Jackson, Developer Community Champion, Microsoft

Have you installed Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) and some of your applications are not working or are not working correctly? The new security features of SP2 may affect how certain types of applications run. Join this webcast to see examples of applications that may be affected and learn how to modify them to work with Windows XP SP2. Also, learn how to configure your development environment to work successfully on Windows XP SP2.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43793

MSDN Webcast: Writing Secure Code (Part 2 of 2): Best Practices (Level 200)

Monday, April 18, 2005 - 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Pacific Time

Anand Iyer, Developer Community Champion, Microsoft

Are you looking for effective strategies to defend against common security threats faced by application developers? In part two of this two-part series for experienced developers, you will continue learning more about established best practices for applying security principles throughout the development process. During the 60-minute webcast we will discuss common security threats faced by application developers, such as buffer overruns, cross-site scripting and denial of service attacks, and how to effectively defend against these threats.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=44153 

MSDN Webcast: Advanced Application Development with Windows XP Service Pack 2 (Level 400)

Friday, April 22, 2005 - 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Pacific Time

Rob Jackson, Developer Community Champion, Microsoft

With Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), Microsoft is introducing a set of security technologies that will help improve Windows XP-based computers' ability to withstand malicious attacks from viruses and worms.  To developers these technologies will have an impact on the applications they create and the tools they use.  SP2 restricts how remote procedure calls are made across a network which may affect the operation of enterprise applications. Join this session as we discuss these interface restrictions and provide you with advanced application development techniques for SP2, including how to reduce RPC-based incompatibilities.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43812

MSDN Webcast: Digital Blackbelt Series: Defending the Database (Part 2 of 2): Making the Right Design Choices (Level 300)

Friday, April 22, 2005 - 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Pacific Time

Joe Stagner, Developer Community Champion, Microsoft

After drilling down into the infamous SQL Injection attack in Part 1 of the Defending the Database, we will now address several of the questions and answers developers have concerning the database and security.  This session will cover topics such as, Secure Connections, SQL versus Windows Authentication, user versus role-based authentication, EXPs, Managed Stored Procedures, Alerts and Monitors.

http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032267315&Culture=en-US 

MSDN Webcast: Implementing Security in the Development Lifecycle (Level 200)

Monday, April 25, 2005 - 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM Pacific Time

Joe Stagner, Developer Community Champion, Microsoft

Security should be your primary concern throughout the development process. This session discusses how security can be implemented at each stage of the software development life cycle. Microsoft has created the Security Development Life Cycle to describe how to implement security best practices by adding pointed and well-defined checkpoints to the existing development life cycle. This session outlines recommended changes to the design, development, testing, verification and release phases that can reduce the number and severity of security vulnerabilities shipped to customers.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43816

MSDN Webcast: Remediation: Developing Secure ASP.NET Applications (Level 300)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Pacific Time

Dennis Hurst, Senior Consulting Engineer, SPI Dynamics

Prashant Sridharan , Lead Product Manager - VS, Microsoft

Are you looking for a way to correctly validate input easily and quickly to ensure it is secure? This webcast will show you real-life examples and demonstrate how you can do this.  Throughout the webcast we will discuss secure state management, how to apply state management across multiple applications, as well as how to setup and develop proper authorization and access control to ensure that privilege escalation defects/vulnerabilities are removed. Attend this webcast to learn advanced Web application protection techniques covering how to code login forms and other form inputs so they are immune to malicious brute force attacks.

http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032267641&Culture=en-US 

MSDN Webcast: Practical Security for Intranet Solutions (Level 200)

Friday, April 29, 2005 - 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Pacific Time

Joe Stagner, Developer Community Champion, Microsoft

Internal Web and Windows-based applications often require integration with existing applications and systems, access to databases, strong authorization and authentication mechanisms, and identity management. This webcast discusses strategies for incorporating security best practices into intranet solution development. We will provide practical guidance on how to implement security enhancements throughout intranet solutions and introduce future security improvements available to developers through Visual Studio .NET 2005 and ASP.NET 2.0.

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=43913

Additional Webcast Resources 



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IT Security | Tech
Wednesday, 23 March 2005 16:54:28 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

If you think about it, people interested in Windows Media Center Edition (MCE) should be the perfect audience for podcasts, so it makes perfect sense that Ian Dixon should fire up The Windows Media Center Show. He also has a weblog where he covers lots of Media Center stuff.

There's already two episodes online as of the time of this writing, and more to come:

Nice start, Ian - keep it up!



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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Monday, 21 March 2005 20:55:20 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

Media Center Customizer 2005 is a cool app that lets you customize (wait for it) your Media Center Edition PC the way you want it set up.

If you want to tweak your MCE 2005 settings and experience, you might want to give it a try. Read the full list of changes and get the download here. Cool stuff.



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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Monday, 21 March 2005 20:41:58 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

You ever have one of those moments, probably on a weekend, where you wake up and realize that there are like a million things left undone and waiting for you to tackle them? I don't mean that panicky feeling you get when you suddenly realize you're in way over your head... I've experienced that, too, and this is something very different.

I'm talking about the moment where you suddenly realize you can't possibly end up bored, because there are so many thing to do and look forward to.

I just had one of those moments. Wild.

Many of the things on my "clarity list" are related to home - things like finishing the bonus room completely (I am 90% done, and have been at that stage for several months). Stuff like finishing my Media Center setup, instead of running it in parts with wires everywhere. Building a shed. Fencing a yard. Adding a deck.

And other bigger things, too - things having to do with life, work and relationships. Possibilities.

It's funny, I guess, that my favorite room in the house has all but the last row of floating laminate wood floor laid down, has untrimmed windows and baseboards, and needs to have the last third of the lighting installed. Not to mention that the "furnishings" consist of my dining room table (which really should be in the dining room instead), a 15-year-old recliner and three bean-bag chairs. Plus my guitar - the acoustics in this room are awesome, but 14-foot vaults will do that for you.

I really need to learn to understand paint colors and how to do something other than one plain-old color in a house. Phil Weber's Flickr pics of his living room and media center show that someone somewhere knows what they are doing and have a better eye for that kind of stuff than I have. I don't want purple, especially, but that's not the point... I'm more of an "off-white-everywhere" style painter. I either need professional help (yeah, yeah - don't get started...) or else I need to marry someone with a knack for this. Hey Phil - who picked your colors? 

Anyhow, days like this are nice to have. It's so much better to be able to look at things as possibilities than as difficulties or problems.



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Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Sunday, 20 February 2005 11:38:29 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

Sean Alexander has posted the first "Media Center of the Week" on his weblog, Addicted to Digital Media. Phil Weber, a coworker of mine, happens to be the first featured. His MC setup, he says, has a "high spousal-acceptance" rating. Way to go Phil!

I am so far behind the 8-ball on this one. I need to finish mine off (it all works, it's just not neatly packaged yet) and take some pics when it's all done.

By the way - the next addition to my MCE setup? Virtual Laser Keyboard, baby. I wrote about it last year about this time when it was first announced, and now it's for real. Stay tuned!



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Geek Out | Tech
Sunday, 20 February 2005 11:09:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

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Random Stuff
Monday, 07 February 2005 20:42:31 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

Car_pc1

Now here ya go - awesome cool stuff. I've been spec'ing out touch screens and mobile PC cases the past few weeks, and this guy's got some serious mobile Media Center happening.

Video, pics and a great description are available on the hossweb.com site.

My own project (in design mode, not yet acquiring parts) won't be in-dash, and include GPS nav and voice commands. We'll see if I ever get around to it



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Geek Out | Mobile | Tech | Windows Media Technology
Monday, 17 January 2005 21:17:45 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

When I make lists, I sometimes like to include things I’ve recently accomplished, so I can have some items already crossed off the list to start. If I do that, I’m at least a little more likely to accomplish what makes up the rest of the list. Except that there will almost always be one or two things that end up uncompleted, because there’s something about finishing everything that kinda freaks me out and leaves me wondering if I’ll end up in trouble for being too efficient.

So – to that end – he’s my list for the new year, in no particular order. Resolutions, things to accomplish, wishes, self-absorbed thoughts – whatever you want to call them, I don’t care. In the end, it’s just a list (with a few things crossed off and a couple things that can safely remain undone, for good measure)…

  • Become a True Security Geek – like in an “I grok security” kind of way. Involves certifications and some formal training as well as a demonstrated bloggarific slant toward this area. I have the title, and I have some good experience to apply, now it’s time to really, really fit the bill.
  • Dump Dish Network and flush them down the toilet – I am all about HDTV now, and even though I recently acquired Dish Network's HD-PVR receiver, and it’s better than the older receivers in some ways, Dish has regularly screwed its customers with promised made and not kept. For example, in mid-2004 they promised the receiver I just bought would support record-by-name in a future software update, by the end of 2004. Then right after I bought mine they announced it would not be supported. So much for the single reason I bought this receiver. Plus their HD channels are way too few. VOOM is my best guess at where I’ll end up moving (no cable TV out here in The Middle of Nowhere), but not until something, somewhere becomes truly viable for the rural TV watcher in HD mode. Dish Network doesn’t keep its resolutions, so I am making one to dump them straight on their asses, unless something drastically changes.
  • Media-Center the crap out of my house – This ties into the Dump Dish Network line item… I <3 the Media Center concept, with networked media and one centralized place for everything to “live.” I especially like the fact that it is supposed to happen relatively seamlessly. I appreciate the Media Center PC for lots of reasons, and I am quite encouraged by Microsoft’s latest MCE beta survey questions (no details will be shared here, sorry) and the categories of questions they asked – It’s going to be a fascinating area of the industry to watch in 2005, without a doubt.
  • Buy a Mac – I have written about this before, and more and more I am still leaning that direction… Probably a notebook model, but we’ll see. It’s the cash outlay that’s held me back thus far, and the possibility of a headless desktop model is intriguing. Besides, my mom just told me that they plan to buy one for Jack, her husband, so (she tells me) I “really need to get one” so I can support theirs. Hmmm, something a bit sideways about this thought process… Haha…
  • Pod-/Audio-/Video-Cast stuff that matters – In keeping with the rest of my multimedia resolutions, I will blog in forms other than (but not in place of) the written word.
  • Get Married – Because I have to have at least one completely unrealistic (yet on my list of things I would like to have happen in life) thing remain unaccomplished at the end of the year. Heh.
  • Take care of my back – I ended 2004 with lower back surgery and a subsequent recovery that became extremely painful a few days after the surgery. I’ve dealt with this pain for so long, I am willing to do almost anything to make sure it goes away and stays away.
  • Remember My Friends (ongoing, done once so far - not bad for the first day!) I have experienced so many great examples in 2004 of how terrific my friends are. From the two friends who just stayed at home with me 24/7 after my surgery and an unexpectedly painful recovery to my terrific neighbors - who can only be accurately described as a God-send, as well as a bunch of others from work, church and elsewhere who make my day on a regular basis, I have so much to be grateful for, and so much to give back.
  • Update the Cops on Top Web Site (done, woo-hoo!) so it works the way its supposed to and doesn’t rely on broken java menus. Cops on Top is a non-profit organization of volunteers, mostly law enforcement officers, who undertake mountaineering expeditions to the most respected and greatest mountains in the world, with each expedition made in the memory of an officer killed in the line of duty. It’s an amazing organization that I have had the privilege of serving for the past few years, and I now serve on the board of directors of the non-profit corporation. I’m also resolving to improve the site and its ability to be easily updated by climbers in the field via text message, camera/mobile phone, email, or satellite telephone. Can anyone say “blog?” Yeah, man.
  • Climb a Mountain – I hope to climb Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe, as part of a team with Cops on Top that is mounting an expedition in late summer 2005. I used to work as a cop, back in the day, and while I have worked with the organization for some time, I have never participated in an expedition with them. Once my back is healed I hope to be able to do this.
  • Help Others (done, but not finished) – ‘Tis better to give than to receive… and I will continue to do my part to support organizations and people in need, and to encourage others to do the same. I put it on this list only because I hope that one other person will also makes this resolution.

 



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Random Stuff | Tech
Sunday, 02 January 2005 03:21:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

Got Windows XP and/or Media Center 2005? Then you’ll probably want to get the new Holiday Fun Pack for Windows XP.

There’s lots of cool stuff in there. Note that one thing Microsoft does not make very clear up front is any of the details about the Tweak Media Center 2005 power toy that’s included. Check out this article on Sean Alexander’s digital media blog for some more info in that regard.

If you’re visually motivated and into the winter thing, I don’t see why you would want to skip this download…


Download the Winter Fun Pack 2004 now! Spice up your music, photos and more with amazing holiday visualizations, skins, powertoys and other fun add-ons. There’s something for the whole family!

The Winter Fun Pack 2004 includes:

Stunning Holiday Vizualizations for Windows Media Player 10
Ring in the holiday cheer! Give your desktop the Holiday touch with three cool seasonal Player Visualizations. Enjoy the HOT new WhiteCap Holiday Viz with nearly 20 holiday images that explode in vivid color including a snowman, candy cane, shooting star and more. Cool down with the chilling Ice Storm Viz, then warm up next to the fire place with the Yule Log Viz.

Amazing Holiday-Themed Skins for Windows Media Player 10
Give your Media Player a wintry makeover with 5 skins for Windows Media Player 10 including Frostbite, Ice, and Ginger man and Ginger woman skins. Also, take Windows Media Player 10 to the next level with the hot new Halo 2 skin, which is sure to be one of the hottest selling games this Holiday season. [Ed: Halo 2 skin and Holidays? Uhhh… Ok…]

PowerToys for Windows Media Player 10
Let Windows Media Player 10 take the pain out of your holiday parties with Holiday Auto Playlists (including Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas). Personalize your email or blog by showing the song that’s playing on your desktop. And for power users, easily export your media library information into Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access and others.

Photos, Media Center and More!
Get into the holiday spirit and transform your desktop into a winter wonderland with new captivating desktop wallpaper images from Corbis. Get more out of Media Center 2005 with the new TweakMCE 2005 powertoy. Download Kris the Holiday Dancing Elf, Photo Story 3 for Windows, and more!

(via Sean Alexander)



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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Saturday, 04 December 2004 09:05:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

Don’t know that I can make the drive from Portland to the Seattle area for it (I may try), but if you’re a Windows MCE nut, there’s a Media Center Geek Dinner set to be held on Thursday the 9th in Bellevue, Washington.

See Michael Creasy’s blog for the details.

(via Eric Rice)



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Geek Out | Windows Media Technology
Friday, 03 December 2004 20:56:49 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

Coming November 7th? That's tomorrow...

Rumor is more will be revealed Sunday during ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and ESPN's Sunday Night Football. Sean's teasing us!

Ahhh - here we go... Info from the Seattle Times.

Microsoft is using the campaign to pitch Media Center Edition, a version of Windows that has digital TV, scheduling and recording capabilities and a TVlike remote control. It's installed on PCs with TV tuners that start at about $1,000.

Also new this fall is a companion device called Media Center Extender. It's basically a small box with a radio antenna that sits on a TV. It lets users wirelessly get digital media from a PC — including recorded movies and TV shows — to sets elsewhere in the home.

Intel is pitching its Pentium 4 chips with hyperthreading, a technology that boosts PC performance during data-intensive tasks such as digital-media processing.



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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Saturday, 06 November 2004 19:37:36 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

AnandTech has a review of Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, that - well - tops all the other reviews for word count, clarity and how deep they get into the software. If you're at all interested in learning about this version of the Windows XP operating system, check out the 17 pages of detail, detail, detail:

http://www.anandtech.com/multimedia/showdoc.aspx?i=2240

(from digitalmediathoughts.com)



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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Wednesday, 20 October 2004 19:45:34 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

Among the many, many new Media Center PC news items to hit the street this past week, I forgot to mention one that has had me all excited ever since it was first mentioned some time ago: The Media Center Extender for Xbox.

I'm in the process building a Media Center Dev Machine so I can work on a few tech ideas I want to explore and try. Since I already have an XBOX, I will probably pick this title up and use it to set up part of my Media Center network at home. I just have to work out the details around tuning the satellite box and whether I am going to be able to get a decent Portland HDTV signal out here (and hence which capture device and tuner I'll use and whether I have to use one or two tuners).

The Xbox title is one of the Extender line (a set-top box is also available) that Microsoft is releasing with this new version of their media-centric operating system.

Information from xbox.com:

With a wired or wireless connection to the Media Center PC (sold separately), the Xbox console now allows you to enjoy the digital entertainment media from your PC when and how you want. The included remote control and IR receiver also support DVD movie playback. Just grab the remote, drop in the Media Center Extender DVD in your Xbox, and get ready for an entertainment revolution! A whole new world for your Xbox awaits …

  • Watch and record television shows.
  • Enjoy a free integrated TV Program Guide with no fees.
  • Access your Media Center PC’s digital media library music, videos, and pictures.
  • Stay connected with instant messaging and Xbox Live™.
  • Watch DVD movies.
  • Listen to FM and Internet radio.

Screen-shots are available at xbox.com:




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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Saturday, 16 October 2004 11:17:41 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

Windows XP Media Center Edition launched this morning, with support for high-def TV, multiple tuners, and lots of other cool stuff.

Some confusion over licensing, and earlier claims that it would be sold at retail. I think OEM's will have better access, but not so sure about being able to purchase a copy all on its own...



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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Tuesday, 12 October 2004 12:07:34 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

SnapStream has released Beyond TV v3.5 and Beyond TV Link - Programs that run on Windows and provide PVR capabilities (Beyond TV) and networked media access (the Link apps).

Beyond TV 3.5 includes new features, such as multiple tuner support and a smarter recording scheduler, maximizes the number of shows users can record. Other offerings such as Beyond TV Link and Microsoft Portable Media Center support further delivers the “anytime, anywhere” aspect of Beyond TV 3. Read the press release.

Beyond TV Link gives you control of your Beyond TV 3 from other networked computers in your home. It gives you full and complete access to your library of recorded shows. It’s like having Beyond TV 3 on all your PCs and laptops on your home network and using it as if it was really installed on the device in front of you. You can even watch live television broadcasts through Beyond TV Link without having to purchase additional TV tuner cards. Read the press release.

The SnapStream apps are another way to create a multimedia PC with functionality similar to TiVo's, and the company provides a number of software/hardware packages that work well together.



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Tech
Thursday, 07 October 2004 21:27:06 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

From a gamepc.com review of Windows XP Media Center 2005 (code-named Symphony while in development) written by Chris Connolly, which is set to release next week - and it sounds like you'll be able to buy it all by itself, without having to buy a PC at the same time (which is exactly the option I intend to take advantage of):

"... Fortunately, Microsoft finally listened, and are opening up Windows XP Media Center Edition for everyone. Their latest version, Media Center Edition 2005, is now selling on the open markets, and is available to all. While the OS itself is not officially launching for another week, we were able to get our hands on this final product to give everyone a first hand glimpse of how Media Center Edition 2005 (Codenamed Symphony) works in an uncontrolled environment ..."

I jumped ahead, looking for the HDTV verdict, as there have been conflicting reports as to whether it is supported or works:

"... Now, setup for our analog TV stream was a piece of cake with the Hauppauge WinTV card. HDTV was a bit more troublesome, even when using ATI's brand new HDTV Wonder card. Many expected that Media Center 2005 and the HDTV Wonder product would be announced together and become the "duo" for hardware/software HDTV for the PC. Unfortunately, this really isn't the case. Media Center Edition 2005 does have integrated support for the ATI HDTV Wonder product out of the box. Even when the card's drivers are installed correctly, MCE2005 will not detect the card as a valid TV Tuner. ATI's Multimedia Center DTV application won't even work in the operating system, outside of the Media Center application. Our suggestion is stay away from this combo until ATI puts out a set of "Media Center Certified" drivers. All in all, outputting content to an High-Definition TV / monitor is no problem. Getting an HDTV stream to play on Media Center, well, that's up in the air at this point. We couldn't get it to work, but we haven't tried all of the available HDTV options out there ..."

This is an extensive review of the new version of Windows XP MCE. Note that another review by Thomas Hawk is a little more critical, but does a good job of pointing out the improvements as well as what Thomas wishes was different.



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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Wednesday, 06 October 2004 21:25:09 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  Trackback

Buy.com is taking pre-orders for the soon-to-be-released Media Center Extender devices made by Linksys.

What are Media Center Extenders? They are devices that communicate with a Windows Media Center 2005 (I believe that is an actual requirement, but will need to check) computer on your home network, allowing you to view and use media stored on the PC on your television systems. Think of it as an integration device that connects TV to music, images, live and recorded TV items on your Media Center PC. Note that Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 will also be released soon.

  • Connects your Home Entertainment Center to a Windows Media Center PC through a Wireless-A, Wireless-G, or wired network
  • Watch home or downloaded digital movies and browse your digital pictures on your television. Also watch, pause, and record live TV shows
  • Listen to your digital music collection and Internet radio through your stereo system 
    Select entertainment from on-screen menus with the easy-to-use remote control

So, what's so cool about that? Well, this device converges the media stored on your PC with the rest of your AV equipment - It means you can store all that video, music and image data and information in one place (on the Media Center PC) and view or listen to it anywhere you like on your home network (such as on your TV, your home theater system, the stereo system, etc). Plans are that you'll even be able to add a Media Center Extender title to your XBox system and watch movies, view pictures, and listen to music there.

Bobsled you say? Yeah. Code name for the Microsoft project while it was under development.

Find out more about Windows XP Media Center here, and more about Media Center Extenders here.

(info via Charlie Kindel)



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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Tuesday, 05 October 2004 16:56:29 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I know he didn't mean to (so I won't act all flattered or smug or anything), but Robert Scoble just sort of summed up the better part of my topic/category list for this-here-blog of mine, over on his blog...

I thought it would be interesting to compare his list of cool upcoming topics for the future to what's categorized or searchable right now on my site. So, I did just that and have added the links, below. Not a bad start, and it points out to me where I am falling shorter than I had realized in my content. Hey Robert, thanks for the copy. :-)

“For the next 18 months, where are the business opportunities going to lie? Tablet PC. Bigtime. Windows Media Center. Gonna be a big deal. SmartPhones. Wanna watch how fast the Motorola MPX220 sells when it's released in the next few months? Xbox Live. You only need to say one number and everyone knows exactly the Xbox thing I'm talking about: "2." Visual Studio 2005. Tons of stuff coming there. MSN has a whole raft of things up their sleeves. And we haven't even started talking about BizTalk, SharePoint, Exchange, SQL Server, 64-bit Windows, SBS, CRM, LiveMeeting, and OneNote, among other things.”

It also gives me a gut-check on my existing blog categories. Here they are, with the ones that apply to this posting checked:



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Blogging | Mobile | Office 2003 | OneNote | SharePoint | Tablet PC | Tech | Windows Media Technology
Thursday, 23 September 2004 06:51:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Microsoft today released Windows Media Player 10 to the web.

Jump on over and grab the download, find out about some of the new and forthcoming devices that take advantage of the technology, check out the WMP 10 trailer (300Kb), or view out one of the online streaming videos just released that describe the new features of the technology:

Sync Your Portable Media Center Device with Your PC  
Synchronize Music and Pictures to a Portable Media Center Device  
Convert and Sync Video to Your Portable Media Center Device  
Using Windows Media Player 10 to Create a Digital Jukebox  

Cool stuff. I like the Bliss add-on visualization, that's nifty.

Broken image in the WMP10 UII have only found one minor glitch so far (and its one that occurred in the tech-beta version, as well, but this is a fresh install on a clean, non-beta-poisoned computer). In the upper right corner there is a broken image icon, reminiscent of Internet Explorer. I wonder how much IE is leveraged in the WMP10 interface. Interesting. A reboot did not fix the issue, either. Clicking on the broken image placeholder resultsi n the same menu associated with the down-arrow image to the right of the broken one.

Time to find a Portable Media Device! :-)



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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Thursday, 02 September 2004 15:50:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I've been a Dish Network customer for years, and before that I was a DirecTV customer. These days I have standard-definition Dish Network equipment with a TiVo DVR box, and in another room I have one of Dish Network's standard-def DVR receivers, as well.

I'll be honest: I don't like Dish's DVR receiver at all. I don't even use the DVR capability. It's annoying - it doesn't even download the programming guide on it's own - It makes me do it when I try to access the guide and it suddenly realizes there's nothing in memory to display. I have no idea who designed Dish Network's receiver software, but I can almost guarantee you it's been the same person(s) since day-one. All their equipment has this unusable "engineer" flavor. Instead I use my TiVo all the time, every day, with the TiVo remote and IR blaster controlling the satellite receiver.

But what I want is High Definition TV all-around. I have a nice high-def projector and I want to do more than playing Counter-Strike and Halo in HD.

Dish Network has a $1000 HD DVR available, but I can't bring myself to risk spending the money on it - every Dish Network receiver I have ever owned (and that's several) has been lacking in the usability department. Maybe they got it right on their new one, but there is no way for me to know. No one I know has one of these units. I can see the potential in it, but past experience scares me too much to pony up that much money. Now, if Dish Network wanted to send me one to try out, they could do that - I'd even review it (objectively) here. But no up-front money any more, not unless I can see it in action. Sorry, Charlie.

So, I have been looking at options to the Dish Network lineup. Probably the most obvious is DirecTV, my long-ago former satellite television service provider. They also have a HD receiver, and this one is a DirecTiVo model, which certainly catches my attention. TiVo's product is solid and ranks high in my one-man usability survey. If I try hard enough, I can probably find a place somewhere in this city to demo the DirecTV product. I will probably try to do that, since I doubt DirecTV will be willing to loan me one to evaluate, either. But if they want to, I'll gladly take them up on the offer.

But there's another company that's got my eye, as well. I have been watching a third company, VOOM, for the past several months. I like VOOM and their web site- they even show you on their site what you see on the screen, what the equipment is like, pretty much anything you want to know. Why don't all the companies do that? They also have something that just caught my eye, and which I might even be willing to wait around for - They're prepping a HD-DVR and their "Whole House Solution." This is looking very interesting. Accessing your PC - does this integrate with Windows XP Media Center Edition by chance? Maybe not, and that's a whole different post topic for another day - The only thing that's really missing from XP MCE -- in my not-so-humble opinion -- is high-def support. Anyone know? Hey VOOM - you need a market tester??? :-)

Ripped unabashedly and directly from the VOOMTM web site and their future-stuff page:


With the introduction of our HD-DVR, you'll be able to watch and record any channel, whenever you want, in both standard and high definition. Every recording is a perfect digital version of the original. The VOOM DVR has multiple tuners, enabling you to record two shows while you’re watching a third! And you can expand the DVR’s usefulness even further with our Whole House Solution.


Our upcoming Whole House Solution extends the power of our DVR throughout your home. With a single click, you can pause live TV and HDTV, then go to another room and pick up where you left off. It also connects your TV and PC entertainment like never before. You can access your PC and enjoy digital music and photos on any TV in the house. That's VOOMing!

Obviously, this looks like it has some potential. I've been considering moving to a PC/network-based digital media solution, and Satellite TV in HD is the only way I can take advantage of the video equipment that is presently leveraged only by my X-BOX and DVD home theater systems. I'll be buying something eventually, I just don't know what.

If anyone has any personal experience with any of this new technology. please share your thoughts - We'd like to know!



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Random Stuff
Saturday, 28 August 2004 23:22:51 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Corey Gouker is a Media Center MVP, and he has posted a detailed description of his experiences with a new Creative Portable Media Center Device. Included at the bottom of the article are a couple of Windows Media videos and a gallery of images showing the device in action.

For anyone who has been wondering what these are all about and what you'll really get, check this out - with the videos and his description, it's a view that you've likely not had til now, unless you have been lucky enough to get your grubby hands on one.

Also: Sean Alexander post more links to details about the devices.

[via Scobleizer]



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Tech
Tuesday, 24 August 2004 23:21:42 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Do you use TiVo? Or own a Windows XP Media Center Edition PC (and if so do you use the MCE features at all)? What about PC-based software that does TiVo/MCE-like functionality, such as SnapStream?

I'm a TiVo guy - I have one of the original 20GB TiVos that I "hacked" and now it has 240GB of storage in it, and I can't imagine ever running out of space. I've recorded (literally) every episode of the West Wing, and each and every day I record the Daily Show and Dennis Miller. I love Season Passes, and I still have tons of space left.

But there are certain things I wish it was better at.

I have been considering, for some time, going the route of a Media Center PC. I want and need a new PC anyhow (mine's dead in the water under the desk and I have been lap-topping it the past few months). Two things have stopped me, though. The main problem is the fact that I can't build my own - I have to buy a pre-built machine and none of them really meet my (very specific and picky) needs. The second is cost - I'm not interested in shelling out the premium that the system builders charge, when you consider what you'll end up with. Yeah, I know I could use the MSDN subscription to download it and build a "test" machine, but that's not really kosher. Point is, it's the restrictive nature of the operating system and how it's licensed that's stopped me. Other than that, I'm all game.

There are other options I may just look at. For example, I've played with SnapStream's software in the past. These days they are selling a product called Beyond TV, and they will soon be coming out with Beyond Media, which will will have some nifty features and will work nicely with Beyond TV, they say. It looks very promising, and it's affordable. Hopefully there will be a version of Beyond TV to test soon - I'll be interested to see what it looks like and how it works. If I can arrange an early test copy, I'll even review it here, maybe do a side-by side thing. We'll see.

But for now, I've got the TiVo. I just wish it did more. Yes, I have seen the Series-2 TiVo product with the Home Media option, and the ones that are built into a DirecTV receiver, and the ones that have the DVD recorder in them (yada yada), but it's just not all there for me. I want to detach from the central device and use media anywhere I like. Give me HDTV capability and network sharing and sync capabilities. What is I want to want to view a show or something on my PC? Quit dumbing down the hardware that's already in the box. Let me export my digital media files to whatever I want, and make it easy for gosh sakes.

In the "make-them-better" department, Thomas Hawk recently wrote "Ten things that Microsoft and TiVo must each do to win the living room," which anyone who is tracking the future of digital media for the home will be interested in reading. I think he's pretty spot-on.

What do other people use? Right now I am tied to a Dish Network receiver (but definitely not married to it and I'll change for the right feature set - I just have not seen anything else compelling enough yet). I can't get cable and have not even tried to receive broadcast HDTV yet out where I live (which is very rural, by the way - my broadband is over a wireless connection to a tower on a mountain I can see from here). MY home theater consists of a big cave of a room with a projector (resulting in a 110-inch projected television image in HD), pretty darn good audio and a DVD changer. It rocks, but there's no computers involved.

Hmmmm... Ideas?

(inspired by various content found via Scoble's experimental aggregator blog)



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Tech
Saturday, 14 August 2004 15:30:36 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Testers have it (running it now) and it will be available on the web soon. Windows XP SP2 is Gold.

Tablet PC and Media Center Edition users get all kinds of new features included, too - can't beat that.

If you're a home user, turn on auto-updates and when there is bandwidth to serve you, you'll get the full meal deal.

If you're a business user in a managed computing environment, don't take the chance - talk to your IT department before doing anything, as there are a number of possible Bad Things that could result in applying the service pack before they're ready, especially in the area of application compatibility with all those wonky custom business applications.

If you're a web designer or developer and your site doesn't work with SP2 - you're too late and well beyond the point of having reasonable excuses, so fix it fast and skip the whine.



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IT Security | Tech
Friday, 06 August 2004 14:35:07 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Omar posts about new Portable Media Center devices available for pre-order on Amazon.com:

 
Creative Labs 20 GB Zen Portable Media Center


Samsung Yepp YH-999 20 GB Portable Media Center

Very nice. Time to do some research and get on the list for one of these. The Media Center Experience is about to take off in a big way. Both can store up to 80 hours of video, be that TV, movies or home movies, over 10,000 songs and up to 100,000 photos. See a demo of what there are all about here.

Windows Mobile-based Portable Media Centers are handheld entertainment devices that make it easy to store and play recorded TV, movies, home videos, music and photos transferred from a PC with Windows XP. You can watch and listen to your favorite entertainment anytime and anywhere – in the palm of your hand or through a TV or stereo. It’s simple to sync your music, video and pictures from your PC with Windows Media Player 10, and fast and easy to find the entertainment you want to play on your device. Portable Media Centers also support Windows Media Audio and Video plus other leading file formats, so you can choose from a wide range of music, videos and pictures.”



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Mobile | Tech | Windows Media Technology
Friday, 09 July 2004 19:33:58 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Not a truly exciting name, but the idea certainly is interesting: A machine that plays XBOX, yet-to-be-seen XBOX 2, and PC titles, includes a full release of Windows, and will sell for around $600. They're calling it “XBOX Next PC” in focus group studies.

Sounds good to me. If you're talking XBOX and Windows, we're looking at MediaCenter PC version of Windows almost certainly, which means the hard drive(s) are for more than just games (video and audio too). The Media Center extenders and other devices will take a new leap with this. Since this is planned for after XBOX 2, I'd have to assume it based on Longhorn, so my imagination is running wild.

I've been part of these MSFT focus groups in the past (for other products, can't say more than that), and I can tell you one thing from those experiences: Microsoft is a company that will put serious money into dreaming big, and then even more money into building the things that look like they'll fly high.

Can't wait to see where this goes.



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Windows Media Technology | Tech
Monday, 31 May 2004 21:02:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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A little while back, I blogged about technologies that have been around for a while that I had not yet “made the leap” into. As is usually the case, once I make a list, I tend to act on it (I should probably make more lists :-)). Here's an update on my previous post.

  • MP3 Players - Still checking these out, not sure it's where I want to go. I am thinking some of the upcoming multimedia devices might be a better option for me. Maybe. We'll see.
  • IP Telephones - I made the leap and signed up for Vonage. I even downloaded a soft-phone, which is a program that runs on my computer and acts just like a regular phone (well, pretty much like one). So I can use the soft-phone anywhere I go on my laptop, or the real phone at home. Cool stuff.
  • Picture/Audio/Video Blogging - I've made the leap here in the area of blogging with audio using audioblog.com, which is a coolio service that works great and has a nifty feature set. Pictures and video might be in the future, but since I am already a little self-conscious about posting my voice, we'll see.
  • Windows XP Media Center PC - Have not gone there yet, and probably won't until I get a better idea of what's available. I have some relatively picky requirements for home, since I want to do multi-room and feed into my home theater system, etc. Microsoft is going to be releasing lots of new stuff for XP Media Center edition that will meet my needs I think, including devices that may turn out to be better than a plain-old MP3 player (as mentioned above).

Weird that I'm totally geeky in certain areas (I have a freakin' GPS device in my car that I can speak commands to, and it speaks back to me and shows me the maps and stuff, for gosh sake - freaks people out when they use it). I guess these days our areas of geekdom have to be limited to what's important to each of us as individuals. There's just too much geek-fodder out there to do it all.

But I'll try. ;-)



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Random Stuff | Tech | Windows Media Technology
Saturday, 15 May 2004 12:47:43 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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There are a number of technological leaps I have not yet made, many of which are pretty commonplace nowadays. Most who know me look at me as one of those guys who's always first to acquire and use new technology, but in some cases that's just not true.

Here are a few facts about me and technology adoption, and where I see myself in the near future with regard to each:

  • I don't own an MP3 player - In fact, I never have. Sure I've listened to MP3s on my computer before (but not nearly as much as everyone else I know). I have not jumped on the MP3 wagon yet. I do digital media for sure - I've run Windows Media servers at work for a few years now, I have a hacked TiVo at home and have even put together my own PVR before, and I've used a Pocket PC and Smartphone in the past (both of which can play MP3s with Mobile Windows Media Player), but never have I actually owned an MP3 player. My boss once told me about how he uses audible.com, which is a cool service where you can download electronic books and stuff. That may be what eventually gets me to buy one. We'll see. iPods are looking pretty cool to me.
  • I don't yet do IP telephony - This is an area I was exploring earlier today, and it's what got me thinking about the things I have not yet bought into. I was researching Vonage phone service and features, after I started playing with the idea of audio blogging (Maybe you can see the connection, I know it's a stretch, but that's how I got from virtual-there to virtual-here, so to speak). This is something I am seriously considering trying out. Vonage not only now allows you to have a IP phone bridge device for your normal phone to plug into, they also support installing and using a software phone on the laptop (or whatever computer you like). I like the idea of being able to travel and have my phone ring on my laptop when I am logged in. They also have some cool voice mail features, including delivery of voice mails as email attachments and the ability to access your voice mail on the web. Now, how cool is that?
  • Picture/Audio/Video Blogging - I know this is not exactly something that everyone's doing, but when it comes to my list of things I think I should have done by now, this is definitely on it. I've wanted to do picture blogging for some time, but I don't have a camera phone (I use a blackberry phone since that's what really meets my hectic needs and work-style). The idea of being able to record an audio blog entry, however, is pretty cool to me - and if I could combine a camera-phone image with called-in audio recording and post them together, well that would be really cool. I'm definitely looking into this. Not sure what practical use it has, but it sounds like fun to me. Oh, and it has to work with dasBlog, which has a number of interfaces for getting remotely submitted blog entries created. For audio blogging on the road, I am looking at AudioBlog.com (Looks awesome and just went into closed beta release - I've applied) and AudBlog.com (which I have already tried, and while it's kind of cool, it just doesn't seem to work too well for my needs - and it's a bit limited in terms of what you get for the buck). Fun stuff, coming soon I hope.
  • Windows XP Media Center PC - I have been saying I want to get a Media Center PC for quite a while now, but still have not done so. With the new possibilities created by Microsoft's planned releases of new networked/connected Media Center “extender” devices, the level of desire has been continually increasing on my part. I need to buy a new computer for home anyhow (mine's pretty much dead), but I guess my only fear is that before too long some new OS and the accompanying mega-hardware requirements will replace what's on the market now. I dunno - I'll have to keep thinking about this one.


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Blogging | Tech | Windows Media Technology
Sunday, 09 May 2004 16:26:14 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Some have speculated that Windows XP Media Center Edition was a dead horse (a stance I still don't fully comprehend), but then came the 2004 release, and now comes an announcement that they will be extending the Media Center reach to - get this - other devices, including (glad I bought one!) the XBOX. And hey - the Portable Media Centers have already got me sold. Wow - this is a big announcement, when you think about it.

The Windows Media Center Extender technologies and products were just announced at CES 2004. Arrival slated for later this year. Microsoft has a cool PDF brochure that gives a good picture of what's in store. It looks like you buy a remote and some software for the XBOX (in the case of that product) and off you go. Cool - maybe we can finally make use of that hard drive in there for real. Now if they would just put a web browser in the thing... :-)

The other options - Extender TV's (can you say “Borg?”) and what looks to be an Extender appliance-type device, also look interesting.

One way or another this looks like the way of the future for television and multi-source media use. Whether Microsoft's technology is the defacto standard or not, this is likely indicative of where things are going.

Anyone have a link to Gates' keynote video at CES? I can't find it. That would be cool. :-)

On a related (well, at least similar) note, Snapstream is stepping up their game. Nimble company there. Wow. My TiVo, as much as I love it, could - possibly - become a thing of the past, although they did announce HD support and other cool stuff for later this year.

Thoughts?



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Windows Media Technology
Thursday, 08 January 2004 18:36:33 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Well its been while since I last updated. It figures that the times when you're busiest are the times you have the most to write, but because you're so damn busy, you don't have time to write... Lots of Microsoft related stuff to share, plus some other things.

So, here I am on Saturday morning, still at work, got about an hour or maybe a little more of sleep on a couch in someone's office. It's been along time since I've pulled one of these all-nighters, and I won't be doing so on purpose again any time soon. We did a (resoundingly) successful upgrade of our Windows 2000 domain controllers here to Windows Server 2003 last night. It was great and went much faster and smoother than we thought. Unfortunalely, though, there's always one thing that doesn't quite work as you'd hope, and this time was no exception. Perhaps a bit surprisingly to some, the problem had absolutely nothing to do with Windows 2003, but instead with a third-party vendor's hardware and software, and a truly crappy support technician who works for that th-rd-party vendor on the other end of the line. End result? Three people with little to no sleep and that always-wonderful post-adreneline crash. :) But hey - it's all good now (very good), and that's what counts.

I will be participating in the keynote address as a speaker at four of the Microsoft Office 2003 System launch events later this month and in early November. I will be on the stage in Portland, Boise, Spokane and Albuquerque along with the keynote speakers, talking about our company's early adoption and deployment of Office 2003, SharePoint Portal Server, SharePoint Team Services, Live Communication Server, Exchange 2003, and other various and sundry things. It should be a lot of fun and it looks to be a worthwhile event for anyone who has an interest. Sign up soon though, it's getting tight in some venues. I know Seattle has gone to waiting-list only and Portland is getting close to capacity.

I have a new program on my "Way Cool" list: Microsoft OneNote. Wow, who'da thunk such a simple concept could work this well and be this useful? If you are someone who carries a notebook around and takes notes a lot, or if you're like me and you hate actually getting organized, but still wish you had a place to store stuff and organize it so you can refer to it later, you have to check this out. Plus it integrates with the Office System stuff I mentioned above. I love this thing. Oh yeah - if you happen to have a tablet PC, all the more reason to check this out. Ink baby! But it's great on any computer, for sure.

I'm thinking I will need to seriously check out Windows Media Center 2004, which was recently launched. I am planning to get a projector for my home to replace my big screen TV, which is nearly 7 years old now (still a great TV but hey, it's time). I have this huge room where I can project a 10-foot picture and set up the surround system. Looking at this nifty version of Windows, I am thinking seriously that it might be worth trying. Support for hi-def and combining DVR and many other capabilities is definitiely way cool.

You may or may not know about one of my favorite daily arrivals in my email inbox: the Lockergnome newsletters. Chris Pirillo started these things up several years ago. Back when he was first starting out he and I used to email ideas back and forth now and then. He's a driven guy, and has done some amazing things with his franchise. Over time, Lockergnome added more newletters, and now has several to choose from. My personal favorites are the tech Specialist and Windows Daily, but there are others for Linux fans and other areas of interest. The other day Chris announced that the primary author of the Tech Specialist newsletter is moving on to other things. I hope it will continue to thrive - it's a great source of information and ideas.

That's it for now, plenty more to write about, but I will save it for later.

- g

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Saturday, 04 October 2003 09:14:58 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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