My window to the world


Check backgroundmotion and share Windows Vista DreamScene content

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Jun-2007 08:00

The guys at mindscape have been busy bringing Backgroundmotion to life, a community website for users of Microsoft Windows Vista Dreamscene with a twist for developers in general.

Windows DreamScene is a feature of Windows Vista Ultimate that allows users to set a movie as their desktop background.

Backgroundmotion users will be able to upload their Windows Media Video files to share, while other users can download the media. As a technology showcase the preview functionality uses the new Microsoft Silverlight to stream the content so people can watch the movies before downloading.


Other usual social features are there, including rating and tags.

Originally the concept was created by two of the Microsoft New Zealand staff, who envisioned a community resource as well as a fully functioning site which could be used for learning. And that's why the entire Backgroundmotion source code is available for download from the Codeplex, so developers can learn how to utilise the technology platform.

Mindscape built the site over 3 weeks, following it up with a series of technical presentations around New Zealand.




Microsoft Windows Home Server RC available now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Jun-2007 07:32

The Microsoft Windows Home Server Release Candidate is available now. It's a great software, based on the Windows Server platform and providing peace of mind for home users with multiple Window-based computers in your network. It also allows lots of Add-ins.

The platform provides automatic backup, shared space for media (pictures, video, music), streaming services and more, including remote access gateway to all computers in your home network.

Partners such as HP will release turn key server solutions ready to install at home. If you are a DYI type of person you only need a keyboard, mouse and monitor to install the software and after that it will run without these peripherals - everything can be remotely managed.

I tried running Hamachi on my test server and it worked really well, so you can even use it for some home networking over the Internet.

All good. That is if you don't have 64 bit OS running at home. In many post in the official Windows Home Server forum, Microsoft employees have announced that Windows Vista 64 bit support could be something in v1, but don't expect this to be actually released until v2.

What a shame. During the International CES 2007 Bill Gates told us (a small private group of website owners) how Microsoft wanted to make a "transparent" transition to 64 bit computing platforms. I think some in the Windows Home Server forgot to read the memo.



Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 released

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Jun-2007 16:40

If you are running Virtual Server, good news: Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 has just been released. Download it now.

You will need to shutdown any running virtual machines, and stop the current virtual server in the Services applet. The upgrade is quick and you can then restart your server.





New Zealand Coffee Festival and the Battles of the Baristas

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Jun-2007 15:07

This is not technology related, but since I am really fan of a good espresso coffee, here it goes... I received this press release today:



The New Zealand Coffee Festival and the Battles of the Baristas

The 4th annual New Zealand Coffee Festival (http://www.coffeefestival.co.nz/) gets underway at the Alinghi Base on the Viaduct Harbour from August 17-19 with the biggest battles of the baristas the country has ever seen.

Baristas from throughout the country will be seeking to become the inaugural winner of the EQUAL New Zealand Latte Art Championships, plus take away a prize of $2,000.

Plus the Australian barista team, The Baristaroos will be back to take on The Black Cups in the Da Vinci Trans Tasman Barista Challenge with a $4000 prize to the winning three-person team. The final challenge of this annual event will be held at the AHA Hospitality Fair in Adelaide in October when the winning team will be announced. Captain of the New Zealand team is Christchurch barista Carl Sara (pic centre) who is New Zealand barista champion and who is competing in the World Barista Championships in Tokyo this year. Other members are Luciano Marcolino (pic left), also of Christchurch, and David Huang of Auckland (pic at right) with Black Cups Manager Chris White of Auckland, an accredited World Barista Championships judge.

Coffee lovers will be able to enjoy three days of coffee tasting at many of the nearly 50 stands set up at the Alinghi Base featuring New Zealand coffee roasters and coffee companies. There is also food, wine, music, and the latest coffee machines and coffee-related products for sale.

In the EQUAL New Zealand Latte Art Championships, the festival's feature event, 30 of the country's best baristas will compete before a team of judges to make the best coffee-to-go based on taste, speed of preparation and latte art. 

According to Festival Director Michael Guy, this year's Latte Art Championships would be a test run before an application is made to the World Latte Art Championships, run by the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe, for New Zealand to include a competitor.

Also judged at the festival will be freshly roasted coffees from New Zealand's coffee roasters. A team of New Zealand and international judges taste the roasted coffees and award Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, plus a Supreme Award for the highest-scoring individual coffee blend. Last year's big winners were Orb Coffee which won the Supreme Award, while boutique roastery Altezano based in Mt Eden was also a big medal winner.

"The support for this year's festival has been terrific," says Festival Director Michael Guy. "After two years in Taupo and then last year's festival at North Harbour Stadium it's great to bring this event into the heart of Auckland."



Picture from the Coffee Festival website...



GPUGems 3

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Jun-2007 12:21

A friend of mine, Hubert Nguyen, has just pinged on Messenger to let me know about his latest work, GPUGems 3 - and it looks cool:


We are pleased to unveil the cover of the upcoming “GPU Gems 3” book. This image has been rendered in NVIDIA’s “Human Head” demo, which features Doug Jones, who recently starred as the Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

The book will be in full color, hard cover, and will contain 41 chapters, including “Advanced Skin Rendering”, which explains how to render ultra-realistic characters. GPU Gems 3 will be released at SIGGRAPH 2007 but can already be pre-ordered.


According to Hubert, "... the book basically contains 41 GPU-related techniques - there's some rendering stuff, image processing, general purpose computing, physics."







Dance, Monkeys. Dance

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Jun-2007 12:03

If you think "what are we doing here", this video is a must see...


Have a good Sunday!



Apple iPhone does not support MMS

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Jun-2007 10:42

So people are going crazy on a mainly media-based phone that does not support MMS? Or no support for any IM?



From Mac Rumors:


Revolutionary Mobile Phone

- Dial any telephone number with the touch of a finger
- Create and manage a list of telephone numbers you call most
- If you choose to answer the call, the video will pause and resume once the call ends
- iPhone syncs contact information from the computer to iPhone (from Address Book on a Mac or Outlook or Outlook Express on a Windows PC).
- Built-in speakerphone
- iPhone lets you carry on a phone conversation while you simultaneously browse the Internet or send an email.
- There is a vibrate mode.

Photos

- Sync photos from Mac or PC

SMS Text Messaging

- SMS text message button shows how many new messages are waiting
- Threaded conversations
- Hear an audio alert for new messages
- Error correction and prevention in the keyboard. Only displayed when you need it.
- iPhone users will not be able to conduct IM conversations with instant messaging users
- Does not support MMS messaging for photos or videos

Music and Video

- All videos play in landscape mode
- If you prefer your widescreen content to take up the entire screen, you can double tap the video and iPhone will automatically scale the video to take up the entire screen
- Sync music with iTunes just like any other iPod
- Select how to display music: by playlist, artist, songs or more.
- Media Net, MobiTV, or Cellular Video are not available on iPhone

Email

- Rich formatting
- Support for IMAP and POP3
- Yahoo! Push Mail
- Automatic address completion

Safari

- Double tap an object to make it fill the screen, and double tap to zoom out
- Can have multiple websites open at once and switch between them
- Websites you have bookmarked on your computer will be transfered to your iPhone from your Mac or PC

Widgets

Google Maps

- iPhone will not support the TeleNav solutions currently offered by other AT&T devices
- GPS is not part of the iPhone feature set.


Yawn... It is interesting how some people get all excited and list vibrate mode as a "revolutionary" thing. I thought vibrate mode was standard in most "smarter" devices anyway?

People, let's be realistic. All those features (and more) are present on Palm OS, Symbian and Windows Mobile devices. And those devices do not use proprietary voice mail services that chain you to a specific mobile operator.

That's the thing in marketing. It seems the key is to make any feature sound as it is only available on that specific product.



Ferrit prices...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Jun-2007 14:05

We were looking at prices for Dyson vacuum cleaners today. The LV Martin website shows one specific model at $549, while Telecom's Ferrit shows the same model, coming from LV Martin, at $599.

It looks like you shouldn't go and buy from Ferrit if you can go to the retailer's own website...








Auction snipers in New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Jun-2007 17:34

I didn't know about this until I saw a car on the streets around here, but there's a New Zealand company developing a "bid sniper" software called Snipeme.

"Auction sniping" is when users place bids in the last seconds of an auction, trying to buy the item, without revealing their intentions by placing bids early on the process.

It seems the software works with local on-line auction giant Trade Me and the American service eBay.

Actually, looking at their logo, even the colours are similar to Trade Me, so we know they are really after the local market for this kind of software. Have a peek:


I think the company might do well with the local New Zealand market, since I haven't seen similar software around. Of course trying to compete with other eBay auction sniper software is going to be tough: Google alone returns a million results for "auction snipe".

I have contacted Rowan Simpson, who's just left Trade Me, about this. He confirms that automated tools are not allowed and changes in the "auto extend" feature means that currently all auctions will automatically extend if there are bids in the last minutes - and this can not be turned off. This change alone makes any "sniper" tactics somehow innefective.

UPDATE: And this is the reply from Trade Me support, which surprisingly came during the weekend (I was actually expecting to receive a reply on a business day):


I have looked into this for you and can see that we do not support the use of third party software that interfaces with the website, due to corruptions that can occur.

If you aren't able to be at the computer when an auction is closing I would recommend setting up an auto bid.

If you have any further questions or if I can be of any further help please do not hesitate to contact me. Have a great weekend.









More on New Zealand Daylight Saving Time changes

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Jun-2007 17:05

I wrote about the New Zealand Daylight Saving Time changes before, and today the Department of Internal Affairs sent out this press release:


The Department of Internal Affairs has written to key IT providers reminding them about this year's change to daylight saving.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Rick Barker, announced in April that the period of daylight saving was being extended to 27 weeks.  From this year, daylight saving will start on the last Sunday in September and end on the first Sunday in April the following year.  Accordingly, the next period of daylight saving will start on Sunday 30 September 2007 (when 2:00am becomes 3:00am) and end on Sunday 6 April 2008 (when 3:00am becomes 2:00am). 

The only change is to the length of the period of daylight saving (daylight time).  Daylight time is still one hour in advance of New Zealand standard time, and in the Chatham Islands, daylight time is still one hour and 45 minutes in advance of New Zealand standard time. 

Deputy Secretary Keith Manch says IT providers will want to test their systems with the required changes before daylight saving commences on 30 September. 

"We will follow up with a reminder to the regulators of the key sectors affected by the change to daylight saving, such as health and banking, recommending that they contact their IT providers about changes to programmes and any testing needs they have," Keith Manch said.


So go on, please read my previous post about this issue. If you work in New Zealand, or your IT organisation is based here, or you have some IT infrastructure in this country you should be aware of this.




freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I work for Intergen and I'm also the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums.

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