It’s the day before the night before Christmas, and all through the home the boys are sledding after a downpour of snow. The schools were closed and the streets were all slick as many people awaited the jolly Saint Nick. With no chains for my tires and bundled up tight, I got in my car and made my way to my office.
OK, it doesn’t exactly rhyme, but before I head into the office today, here’s a quick post with a few of the things I’ve read over this snowy weekend. In all, it looks like we received about a foot and a half (nearly half a metre) of snow over the last few days and today is the first day I won’t have to shovel the driveway. In all, I dug out our house four times, built two snowmen (each taller than the average ten year old boy), fielded a half dozen or so escalations emails from consumers, and dug out five cars, hopeful that good karma will be with me through the holidays… or at least avoiding any more snowfall when I head home from the office today.
Announcement: Microsoft Windows updates to daylight saving time and time zones now available on Automatic Update — As I posted previously on the December Updates to Daylight Saving Time and Time Zones, we have released a cumulative DST update for Windows operating systems, KB article 955839, December 2008 cumulative time zone update for Microsoft Windows operating systems. This release replaces KB article 951072, and is now via Automatic Update (as of December 9, 2008), categorized as a roll-up and be included in the ITMU CAB. Additional time zone changes have been included since the previous cumulative update, including (in the form of Registry subkey name and (Display name): Argentina (Buenos Aires), Central Brazilian (Manaus), E. South America (Brasilia), Egypt (Cairo), Iran (Tehran), Israel (Jerusalem), Mauritius (Port Louis), Morocco (Casablanca), Pacific SA (Santiago) and Pakistan (Islamabad,Karachi).
"What kind of a computer should I buy?" with suggestions from Tony Hoffman of PC Magazine — As per a previous Tweet, I recently updated my answer to a popular question around this time of year: "What kind of a computer should I buy?" I noted that there is something for everyone, at all price points. It seems that new PCs are high on many people’s holiday shopping lists, and the price:performance is better than ever before.
Announcements: the kick-off of Microsoft Answers beta, courtesy of Chris Kilbourn — A couple of new sites have hit Microsoft.com, in support of our customers: the new community on the Microsoft Answers Site, Microsoft’s first consumer-focused support community. Chris Kilbourn (the Lead Site Manager for TechNet) posted today about the launch… We also recently launched support for Windows Live customers at http://windowslivehelp.com/.
Holiday Smackdown: iPod Touch Vs. Zune – Forbes.com — Asher Hawkins, 12.19.08, 02:40 PM EST "Side-by-side comparisons produced some surprising results. "My name is Asher, and I’m a recovering iPod junkie. Last fall I kicked my three-year habit when the earphone jack on my black, 30-gigabyte iPod Classic came loose, leaving me with fuzzy sound on the right side. I didn’t have time to get it fixed–and funny enough, after a few days I didn’t much miss it. "Even so, when an editor asked me to compare Microsoft’s Zune to Apple’s iPod Touch, I was sure my affinity for any and all hardware incubated in Cupertino, Calif., (I’ve been a Mac user since age 5) would destroy my objectivity."
The craziest tech stories ever told | InfoWorld — December 23, 2008 "There are few jobs as, um, interesting as being in IT. InfoWorld has collected some of the most memorable experiences from the trenches. "Amid the everyday IT work of keeping businesses humming arise the ingredients that so captivate the techie’s work life: the blundering coworker, be they manager, colleague, or contractor, or the problem-solving skills gleaned from one day, three years, 20 years in IT. InfoWorld’s readers share the more flavorful ingredients — some surprisingly delectable, others decidedly less so — in InfoWorld’s Off the Record blog. As 2008 comes to an end, we wanted to share some of the year’s more memorable reader tales. Because this blog is written by you, the many people who claim the weekly "Anonymous" byline, no two experiences, situations, or takeaways are exactly alike."
NINE Questions with Scott Hanselman — Talk about a guy who needs no introduction… if you’re in the technology industry, or *gasp* a software developer in the Microsoft space, but haven’t heard of Scott Hanselman before now, then crawl out from under your rock and go check out his blog and podcast, but first read these NINE Questions:
QAM tuner – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia — From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Redirected from QAM Tuner) Jump to: navigation, search This article is about North American digital television. For other uses of QAM, see quadrature amplitude modulation. In North American digital video, a QAM tuner is a device present in some digital televisions and similar devices which enables direct reception of digital cable channels without the use of a set-top box.
This Week on C9: Top 9 MS Stories of 2008 and best of This Week on C9 | This Week On Channel 9, Posted By: Dan Fernandez | Today @ 11:54 AM For our last episode of the year, Dan and Brian do a 2008 retrospective and pick the Top 9 Microsoft-related stories of 2008. 9. Microsoft plus or minus Yahoo 8. The coolness that is Photosynth 7. Windows Live & Live Mesh 6. XNA Community Games 5. Silverlight 2 & NBC Olympics 4. Service Pack 1 for Visual Studio 2008 & .NET Framework 3.5 3. Windows 7 2. Azure Services Platform 1. Bill Gates Leaves Microsoft Plus a compendium of our favorite clips and moments from This Week on Channel 9.
The Battle of the Fake Bands – by Mike Musgrove, washingtonpost.com, Sunday, December 14, 2008; Page F01 "The American people have an important and historic decision to make this holiday season: Guitar Hero World Tour or Rock Band 2? "Here’s how it goes: Fork over about $180 at your local electronics store, and you get a large box. Inside are a drum kit and a guitar — or, at least, video game controllers shaped as such — along with a microphone and a game disc. Get a few friends together, and you can put together a fake rock band. Hit the right notes on the guitar controller and sing the right tones into the microphone, and you and your friends can briefly live a videogame version of the rock-and-roll dream. "I’ve played both quite a bit over the past few weeks and can say one thing for sure: They both offer pretty much the same kick, and neither is a dud. Beyond that, it gets a little more complicated."
Survey: Holiday spending on electronics remains in demand | Digital Media – CNET News, December 18, 2008 8:42 AM PST, Posted by Dawn Kawamoto. "Holiday spending on electronics for family members remains high on the to-do list, according to a survey by IDC and the National Research Network (NRN). "According to a survey of more than 3,000 consumers, 62 percent of those surveyed indicated they planned to spend the same amount or more on electronics for family members this holiday. "Those surprising results come as big box electronics retailers face a challenging time. Best Buy announced a 77 percent drop in earnings and call for employee buyouts earlier this month and Circuit City filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month."
Onkyo HT-S9100THX – THX® Integrated System Plus™ Certified 7.1-Channel Home Theater System — The HT-S9100THX is a good HTIB for many home environments. •THX Integrated System Plus Certified •HDMI V1.3a repeater (4 in/1 out, 1080p compatible) •HDMI 1080i upscaling powered by Faroujda DCDi Edge •Audyssey 2EQ for Room Correction and Speaker Calibration •Audyssey Dynamic EQ for Loudness Correction
TV Has License to Kill Movies at iTunes, Netflix, By Greg Sandoval, CNET News 1 | 2 | Next > Apple is an Internet retailer and Netflix is a Web video rental service, but Hollywood treats them as if they are potential competitors to TV broadcasters. In recent weeks, customers of iTunes and Netflix’s streaming digital-movie service have noticed that a growing number of titles are disappearing from the sites or are scheduled to be removed. MacWorld wrote a story about how one of the site’s contributors noticed that of the 15 films he bookmarked for future viewing at iTunes, nine were no longer available. Among the movies that vanished were "Charlie Wilson’s War," "Eastern Promises" and "Michael Clayton."
Pew Internet & American Life Project Commentary — "The mobile device will be the primary connection tool to the internet for most people in the world in 2020."
Google says it still stands by Net neutrality — The Associated Press, 12.15.2008 — Google denied that it had reversed its stance on the issue of "Net neutrality" and dismissed a story in Monday’s edition of The Wall Street Journal on the subject as "confused." Citing undisclosed sources, the newspaper reported that Google had been in talks with major cable and phone companies about getting preferential treatment for traffic to and from its sites.
How do I … tweak Vista indexing options for better performance? | Microsoft Windows | TechRepublic.com, December 15th, 2008 by Jack Wallen "Have you ever done a search using the Microsoft Windows Vista search utility? It is pretty fast, isn’t it? The reason for that speed is indexing. Vista indexes many of the files on your machine in order to keep searches fast. But indexing can decrease performance if not managed properly. The more files your machine has to index, or the more you change your files, the more your machine has to work. As you would expect, your machine’s performance can take a serious hit with extensive indexing. Here are some tips for changing the indexing setting in Vista."
10 mistakes new Windows administrators make | 10 Things | TechRepublic.com – By Debra Littlejohn Shinder: "Whether you’re new to network administration or to the Windows environment, a few common oversights and mistakes can trip you up. Deb Shinder explains how to avoid some of the problems new Windows admins often encounter."
Live Mesh: The Killer App for Netbooks (steve clayton: geek in disguise) "This weekend I was reading 7 Tools To Make Your WinXP Netbook Shine on GigaOm and commented there that they missed a trick IMHO by not including Live Mesh. Okay so Live Mesh as a service is still in beta but in my experience it’s rock solid and is a (perhaps THE) killer app for Netbooks. Here’s my thinking based on my experience of running a Samsung NC10 for a few weeks "(note that you can now to peer to peer sync with Mesh that removes the 5gb limit we have on the cloud store – making both of these scenarios possible)"
Two New Devices Give Presentations Some Portability on AllThingsD — December 10, 2008 by Nick Wingfield "Digital projectors are the best way to get the biggest possible image for a PowerPoint presentation or a movie. But the projectors are often pretty big themselves, with even most “pocket projectors” too big to stuff into the typical pocket or laptop bag. "That is changing. A new miniature-chip technology from Texas Instruments (TXN) called pico is making digital projectors truly portable, instead of merely luggable. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been using two of the first pico-based projectors on the market, Dell’s M109S and Optoma’s Pico PK-101. "Despite its extra bulk, the Dell M109S literally outshines the Optoma projector. It produces a bright image that I found very watchable, even if it wasn’t high-definition. I projected the movie “James and the Giant Peach” onto an interior wall of my house, creating an image that was about 7 feet, measured diagonally."
Brier Dudley | Comcast digital switch stirs more questions | Seattle Times Newspaper — Brier provides some FAQs on Comcast digital switcheroo. "Readers had a lot of great questions after Monday’s column about Comcast switching its service in Washington state to digital, a move that’s going to require nearly every customer to add boxes to every one of their TVs. Here are some questions and answers."
Hidden Travels of the Atomic Bomb – NYTimes.com – By WILLIAM J. BROAD Published: December 8, 2008 — "In 1945, after the atomic destruction of two Japanese cities, J. Robert Oppenheimer expressed foreboding about the spread of nuclear arms. Skip to next paragraph Multimedia Audio & Photos Voices of the Manhattan Project Graphic A Chain Reaction of Proliferation David Corcoran, a science editor, explores some of the topics addressed in this week’s Science Times."
Windows Mobile Browser Battlemodo: Can You Get the Real Internet? — "Many of you asked for a re-do of Windows Mobile browser testing after our Battlemodo declared the platform beyond worthless for surfing. So here it is, the internet running on Windows Mobile’s finest hardware. Before we get started, a quick note on the last Windows Mobile test, and what we’re doing differently here. Some of you guys complained that the Samsung Epix was a crappy, slow piece of hardware. However, according to Laptop, its 624MHz Marvell processor and 128MB RAM are specs that just about on par with the three phones clamored for in the comments. Still, you get your wish: Here we lined up the Sony Xperia X1, HTC Touch Pro (AT&T’s Fuze) and the Samsung Omnia…"
Daily Gift Idea: VOX amPlug – Holiday Gift Guide by PC Magazine by Kyle Monson — www.voxamps.com Price: $40 (street) — "There’s a cheap way to restore peace and quiet to your home without cutting into a guitar player’s practice time. The amPlug is a tiny little amplifier that plugs into an electric guitar and connects to headphones for personal rocking. It comes in several flavors; I like the "Classic Rock" version, but you can also get one for Metal, Lead, AC30, or even for bass guitar. There are three dials to tweak the volume, gain, and tone, giving the player a surprisingly wide range of sounds to choose from, and the amp includes a line-in port for jamming along with an MP3 player."
OutTwit – Use Twitter directly from Outlook. "If you are a Microsoft ® Outlook ® user, you probably have it open all the time. Now you can update your Twitter status and follow your friends without having to open any other applications. OutTwit seamlessly integrates Twitter into Outlook."
Dimio’s Tools — DShutdown is a stand-alone program that allows you to easily shutdown and wake up local or remote PCs, with many specific options. DShutdown supports more than just standard shutdown options, there are options relating to "pure" shutdown (such as the "force after wait" option which causes a forced, but ‘clear’ shutdown). There are monitoring options that allow you to shutdown a PC after a particular application terminates (useful at the end of compressing several files). There are also options to shutdown a PC when Internet traffic reduces below a particular data-rate (useful to shutdown a PC when it has finished a large download).
Clone2go Free Video Converter –Convert video files between different formats — "Clone2go Free Video Converter can convert video files of different formats. The input format includes: WMV, FLV, MPEG-4, MPG, RM, RMVB, AVI, 3GP, etc. The output format includes: MP4, AVI, WMV, FLV, etc. With so many input and output formats, you can easily convert video files into the correct one for your portable devices such as MP4 player, iPod, iPhone, Sony PSP, Microsoft Zune, Mobile Phone (e.g. Nokia N-Series), Pocket PC and smart phone, making your videos and movies portable. Clone2go Free Video Converter brings convenience in batch file conversion which just needs simple steps."
The Best PCs for Everyone – Reviews by PC Magazine — 12.10.08 Whether you’re interested in a gaming rig, a low-priced desktop, a mainstream multimedia system, or an all-in-one PC with a built-in screen, we give you our key choices. By Joel Santo Domingo
Online Shopping: The Savvy Shopper’s Guide to This Year’s Online Deal Finders, By Gina Trapani, 10:00 AM on Mon Dec 8 2008 — With all the belt-tightening going on in this economy, it’s no surprise that coupon codes and deal finders—especially for online shoppers—are the hottest tools on the web right now. With only a week or so left to finish your online holiday shopping in time for the packages to show up at your door before the 24th, it’s time to fill those virtual carts and get to hitting "Checkout." Before you do, make sure you’re getting the best price possible using this year’s latest crop of deal finders, price comparators, and clever product search engines.
Lifehacker Faceoff: Battle of the Hardware-Boosting Hacks — "When like-minded hackers come together to unleash the true power of seemingly simple gear, it’s truly a beautiful thing. We’ve featured a good number of how-tos and hacks over the years that make expensive upgrades unnecessary and unleash seriously cool features in your gear, and 2008 was no exception. In the last year, our iPhones and iPod touches got jailbroken all over again, our wireless routers were graced with a new super-charged firmware, our Canon digi-cams gained pro-level powers, and we learned that our Nintendo Wiis were even neater than we’d thought. Today, however, we wanted to take a long view on the best hacks that unlock the best features in our standard hardware, and ask our readers: What’s the best one you’ve seen so far?"