My window to the world

Windows photography: Art Wolfe

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Jan-2007 12:33

What an incredible session here during the Windows Vista RTM Lab. We have just been introduced to Art Wolfe, the photographer behind the background images used on Windows Vista. Each one of us here all received an autographed copy of Edge of the Earth Corner of the Sky. Worth visiting his web site.

Art Wolfe's photographs are recognized throughout the world for their mastery of color, composition, and perspective. His vision and passionate wildlife advocacy affirm his dedication to his work. Wolfe's photographic mission is multi-faceted. By employing artistic and journalistic styles, he documents his subjects and educates the viewer. His unique approach to nature photography is based on his training in the arts and his love of the environment.

Also worth checking how Art uses Windows Vista.

Visiting the Microsoft Product Pavilion, Bill Gates

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Jan-2007 07:44

This is the second day of the Windows Vista RTM Lab, and we have a long string of activities planned. The day started at 7am (yes, on a Sunday), so that the group could move to the Las Vegas Convention Centre, grab their CES badges and visit the Microsoft Product Pavillion stand, just outside the LVCC.

We weren't allowed to take pictures inside because of our NDA - but all will be be revealed later tonight after Bill Gates's keynote at the 2007 CES.

Talking about Bill Gates, he arrived at the Microsoft Product Pavilion about 9:30am and our group had a private meeting with Mr. Gates. He answered some of our questions regarding technology, the new Microsoft Windows Vista, the launch activites and about his plans to leave the day-to-day at Microsoft and dedicate his time to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Back to The Orleans we have more sessions, and at 6:30pm our group will move to The Venetian to attend the keynote.

Exciting day ahead!

Windows Vista RTM Lab

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Jan-2007 09:11

The Microsoft Windows Vista RTM Lab has finally started. I arrived here in Las Vegas at midnight after a long flight, including a 5 hour delay in Los Angeles and a lost suitcase (found and delivered at 3am)...

But everything is back on track, including Internet access (thanks to Cingular). The sessions are under way, and here are some screenshots:

As you can see the wireless LAN access is a bit "crowded" in this room. A lot of people here...

The sessions include:

- 3P Hardware
- Day in life of a bug
- 3P Software
- Vista UX backstory
- Toshiba PC innovations
- Windows Live
- AMD Platforms
- Vista & Photography
- Office 12 / 2007

Some of these sessions are delivered under NDA, so I will try and post later with a summary of information we are allowed to share...

The Vanishing Point puzzle box is here

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Dec-2006 10:29

This morning I got a small box with a letter from Loki, and a puzzle box. Inside the puzzle box I found a USB key with a movie, and a picture with an encrypted message...

This is the first clue:

If you don't know yet, this is all related to a game called The Vanishing Point going on right now, with answers to be revealed sometime soon.

There are lots of good information on the Vanishing Point Wiki, a summary on Technronical and a very long thread on Neowin.

The Acer Ferrari discussion

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Dec-2006 08:03

I am one of the bloggers receiving an Acer Ferrari 5000, pre loaded with Windows Vista, and as mentioned before, this is courtesy of AMD and Microsoft, to promote the new OS with extreme hardware and mobility features.

A lot of people around the world are getting these. I don't have a list but I know that it includes well-known bloggers, and blogs that reach a smaller niche.

Robert Scoble linked to Scott's laughingsquid (one of the recipients), who in turn linked to Australian Long Zheng, who links to a lot of other bloggers (including me, thanks!) and got into digg and Slashdot as "Microsoft bribing bloggers with laptops".

Some bloggers are saying "Bribe". What's the Slashdot crowd saying? "Bribe"... What's the MSM saying? "Bribe".

They all point to Microsoft, but forget to say this is something between AMD, Microsoft and Acer. Of course they always have to point to the bigger one of the three. They forget to say though that only Microsoft could pull this one off. Which other company could reach that many bloggers, journalists and influentials around the world, in a single move? I don't imagine people getting so hot about this issue if it was an initiative by Apple or Sun.

The "influentials" are welcome to keep or return the laptops. They can disclose or not.

My option was to keep and disclose. I've already mentioned it here. I maintain my independence by making it clear which companies are sponsoring this review unit. The same way people know I have an account with both Telecom New Zealand and Vodafone New Zealand so as not to show a preference for one or the other.

This is no different from freelance journalists getting free flights to Taiwan to attend the IDF. Or being sponsored to attend the PDC. Or attending the CES and receiving a laptop bag from Toshiba, or going to ShowsStoppers and receiving a bag with goodies from the exhibitors.

Get over it folks! Go read Scobble's latest post on this: "I think the Microsoft Vista giveaway is an awesome idea".

Incredible how a marketing campaign can get this "viral". Want it or not, people are talking, and this is good for them.

By the way, the laptop comes with a puzzle, which is the key to access The Vanishing Point - lots of answers to the puzzle and more at this Vanishing Point Wiki.

Download your virtual machines

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Dec-2006 17:30

You probably are aware of how keen on virtual machines I am. I currently have an AMD-powered box (1.7GHz, 3GB RAM) running Windows XP SP2 as the host OS, with Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 as the virtualisation environment.

The guest OS are a variety of Windows XP SP2 (for log analysis) and Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition SP1 (for Exchange Server 2003 SP2 and Newsgator Enterprise Server).

Since I will be starting a new project sometime soon, I am also running a Windows Server 2003 R2 with SQL Server 2005, which I have downloaded from Run IT on a Virtual Disk, a series of ready-to-run demo virtual machines available for download now.

Very convenient if you want to try a new feature or test something but don't have the time to create a new machine (initialise, install, update, etc). The download list includes Windows Server 2003 R2, Exchange Server 2007, ISA Server 2006, and SQL Server 2005.

These downloads are fully functional machines, ready to use for 30 days (or more if activated with a MSDN key), with an expire date set to sometime in Q107 or Q207 (it depends on which machine you are using). You can start running a new (virtual) computer straight away after the download.

By the way if you use Microsoft Windows Vista and perform a Complete PC Backup, the resulting file is a .VHD (vitual hard disk).

Also if you are running Microsoft Windows Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Beta 2 or newer then you can use the vhdmount tool to mount a .VHD file as a drive on the host OS and browse its contents. Really neat.

Please explain ReadyBoost testing?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Dec-2006 11:11

I still don't have a good explanation why Windows Vista RTM intermittently recognises the SD card I use here as ReadyBoost capable.

ReadyBoost options on SD card

Sometimes I boot my desktop and the card is being used for ReadyBoost. It works fine for a couple of days. Out of the blue it stops working, and it goes like this until sometime later, after a few reboots, Windows Vista proclaims "You can speed up your system with this card".

The system is running with 2GB DDR2 800 RAM, so the improvement wouldn't be that great, but still there must be a reason.

I am using an internal USB 2.0 multi-card reader, the same one that worked 100% of the time as a ReadyBoost capable drive with Windows Vista RC1 and RC2 (with the same SD card).

Lucky this desktop will soon be moved to a "server" category within our network here, and I will try this feature on a new hardware.

You can read about the ReadyBoost in the ReadyBoost FAQ.

Windows Vista: couple of bugs

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Dec-2006 12:44

It's Saturday morning here and I have just finished reinstalling Microsoft Windows Vista RTM on my desktop.

No, nothing wrong with Windows Vista before. I have never activated my previous installation and it would be running out this weekend, so I had to do it. I didn't activate Windows Vista before because I found lots of memory conflicts while running Windows Vista on my desktop, which were solved when I upgraded the machine's BIOS to the latest version, but I thought it would be better to have a fresh install after the BIOS upgrade.

I was delaying this reinstall because I am waiting for a new laptop to arrive from Microsoft, an Acer Ferrari 5000, ready to use and review with pre-installed Windows Vista. Alas, the laptop won't turn up here until a week from now, so I had to go through reinstalling everything.

I am glad I did because now Microsoft Hardware has some new drivers for Intellimouse and Intellipoint, as well as for its Fingerprint Reader. Realtek has also final drives for its HD Audio hardware, and NVIDIA has drivers for the Windows Vista RTM build. I am still waiting for imation to release an updated version of their software for the Disc Stakka though (in the meantime I am using it on my tablet PC).

There are only two things that weren't solved with this fresh install:

- Internet Explorer won't accept the trusted root certificate used on my internal server (Exchange, Newsgator), saying it's been revoked. No it hasn't, and it works fine on Firefox 2.0 and Internet Explorer 7.0 for Windows XP;

- The built-in SD card reader, which worked as ReadyBoost on Windows Vista RC2 100% of the time, and worked as ReadyBoost on Windows Vista RTM for a while, stopped working. After the reinstall it was recognised as a ReadyBoost device for a while, and again it stopped working. Why, oh why?

I can't log these as bugs anymore because the Windows Vista beta program is finished. The suggestion is to record any problems with standard Microsoft support. I will post here instead. Let's see if they read.

Burning ISO images to DVD on Microsoft Windows Vista

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Dec-2006 22:46

If you are running Microsoft Windows Vista and need to burn an .ISO image to a DVD, here is a couple of handy tips:

- Try Alex Feinman's ISO Recorder V3. Although this program didn't work for me when trying to write a DVD from an .ISO file, it did well to create an .ISO file from an existing data DVD.

- Use the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools. The installer will complain when running on Vista, but just accept it and go ahead. It will install a few programs in \Program Files\Windows Resource Kits\Tools. Open a command prompt there and run "dvdburn [drive] [.ISO file]" to burn that DVD.

And how do you quickly open a command prompt on a folder? On Windows XP you can use a PowerToy for this, but on Windows Vista you use a shortcut: press shift and right click on a folder name, and "Open Command Window Here" will be shown in the menu - this option is not visible otherwise.

Another tip? If you are using Microsoft Outlook 2007, press control and right-click the Outlook icon in the system tray. This will show a couple of aditional menu items, including an option to show connection status - handy if you are using a Microsoft Exchange Server and need to know if Outlook is connected at all, and what transport is being used.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Signed Off

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Dec-2006 21:37

This is probably not as big news as Microsoft Windows Vista RTM or Microsoft Office 2007 RTM, but it's important for companies nonetheless: Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 is now signed off.

This new release brings important changes, starting with the migration to a 64 bit environment, enhanced support for mobile devices, impoved security through integration with Microsoft Forefront Security, a completely revamped Outlook Web Access tool, and streamlined administration - including script tools based on PowerShell.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2007

If you want to know more of what is in store for your company, how mobile devices interact with Microsoft Exchane 2007 and other pieces of information, check our article "What Microsoft Exchange 2007 Brings to Users and IT Administrators". To write the article I had a talk with Charlie Chung, technical Lead Project Manager in the Exchange Product Team, during his visit to the local Tech Ed event.

Lots of more information on Exchange Server is available on Microsoft TechNet.

freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
New Zealand

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

I'm the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums. Also worth visiting is TravelTalk NZ, a community for travelers!

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If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me Note this email is not for technical support. I don't give technical support. You can use our Geekzone Forums for community discussions on technical issues.

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