Sidebar Geek

My experience with Windows Vista. Windows Sidebar and Microsoft Gadgets.

October 2005 - Posts

  • Gadgets Gallery now online! has opened up its Gadgets Gallery! Take a gander at the latest Web Gadgets on the Gallery! Add a Task List to to keep track of all your tasks!

    Screenshot: New Task List Gadget installed on
    Screenshot: Installing a Gadget to via

    Sorry for so many posts on this tonight but I'm really excited for this technology. I hope to share my excitment with those who are interested!

  • Gets a Refit!

    This is awesome - checkout! This evening, the team has given the site a refit, refreshing the look a bit. I think the new design looks incredible! I give the team 2 thumbs up for their new design.

    I'm also told to keep a look out on within the next few weeks for more changes!

    This is very exciting stuff as we gear up for Windows Vista Beta 2 which should be a pretty major release in terms of development of Windows Vista!

    Read a little more about what's happening from Sean Alexander's blog too!

  • Windows Vista and Office 12: Death to Menus?

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    Andre Da Costa blogs about an article from PC World's Techblog about seeing the death of menus with the upcoming releases of Windows Vista and Office 12.

    Its a very interesting thought seeing as from the current builds of Vista, we see a lacking of the standard "File","Edit" etc style menu system and of course the introduction of the "ribbon" system in Office 12.

  • VoIP and Windows Vista

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    I work at a telecommunications company and we're doing some VoIP solutions. One thing I am continuing to get beat up on by my boss is how Microsoft doesn't seem to be jumping on to the VoIP Bandwagon as much as he'd like. For example, their ISA Sever Firewalls make it almost virtually impossible to allow the SIP protocol to go through. We tried using their Live Communications Office 2005 but unfortunately we're finding that the software is quite complicated and were unable to get SIP or even H.323 to work properlly on the outside world.

    I am wondering, does Microsoft intend to look at VoIP seriously for Windows Vista? It would be incredibly nice to see the ability to actually assign a Windows Vista PC a SIP Identity natively and other Identities for different protocols such as H.323 to natively allow Windows Vista to interconnect and make VoIP phone calls through diferent providers.

    Ok so yeah, MSN Messenger 8 will supposedly support VoIP according to Overdo. That's nice and all, but as I have written about before, its much more valuable to have features such as VoIP available right out-of-the-box. The out-of-box exprience is very important! Also, I understand Exchange 12 will offer some VoIP technology as well. But most home users won't be using an Exchange 12 server.

    I would love to see VoIP features in Windows Vista. I wondering if its too late to see them now?

  • Xbox 360 Gamercard

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    Ok this is awesome! You can now embed your new Xbox 360 gamercards into your blogs or websites for all to see.

    Click here to view my Gamercard. Robert is going to show me how to embed my Gamercard into my blog here at LonghornBlogs later on so until then, you'll have to go to this external site to see my Gamercard. Sorry!

    Just go to the NEW and click on My Xbox and it will allow you to sign up your Gamertag and get your own Gamercard!


  • Windows Vista Diagnostic Console

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    Computer Managment using the Microsoft Managment Console (MMC) in Vista offers you a pretty awesome  Diagnostic Console that gives you easy acceess to seeing your system resources all in one Windows. I love this concept. You can see what your overall Resource Overview or specific areas such as CPU, Disk, Memory, and Network.

    Screenshot: Diagnostic Console

    I'll post more Screenshots of the Diagnostic Console later.

  • Windows Event Viewer in Build 5231

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    I've been continuing to play around with Build 5231 of Windows Vista, discovering new things each time. Recently, I took a look at the new Windows Event Viewer in the Computer Manangement which uses the new Microsoft Managment Console. Anyways, I like many of the new interface enhancments they've made to making it easier for users to figure out problems on their systems.

    Screenshot: Windows Event Viewer Main Window
    Screenshot: Critical and Error Events Window
    Screenshot: Application Event Error Window
    Screenshot: System Event Error Window

    When you click on a certain event, you can see a preview in a preview pane without having to open up a seperate window to view the event, similar to what we seen in Outlook Express with the preview pane. I like this but if you don't have a big monitor, it puts too much information on the screen at once and too much scrolling in multiple windows is required just to see the information you want. I've noticed one thing after going through my events - I am getting a ton of Application Errors but everything else seems to be pretty clean which was suprising to me. Also, when I open the Application Errors, it actually lists a whole giant load of specific Windows applications and tells you the errors for each one. Wish they'd concise it down just a bit.

    Just wanted to expose people to this because its something I think will allow users to find information more easily on what's causing system instability. As you can see in the above screenshots, you will also be able to diagnose reliability in the new "Reliability Monitor". You have to run your system for 28 days for it to work. I haven't ran my system that long just yet but when I get to that point, ironically the November CTP might be out!

  • I've played an Xbox 360!

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    My local Wal-Mart has the Xbox 360 kiosk set up and I took some time to mess around with it. I'm most interested in the media aspects of the Xbox 360 of course on top of the the awesome hardware capabilities such as High Definition and so fourth. I can't wait to connect it with my Media Center and really hope to tap into Windows Vista and see how well Xbox 360 connects with Microsoft's new operating system. I'm a firm believer that the Xbox 360 will become a essential piece of technology for the living room.

    Now, I'm not a gamer...yet. I have little experience and when I do play games, its 2 seconds before I either crash or get killed. My friend Ghostwhisper is a gamer and I brought him along to test the gaming side of the Xbox 360. He was very impressed. So was I! I believe it was the new "Call of Duty" game we played. I will have to double check. But the graphics were just amazing on this game. You're running through houses and corridors and the detail is just fantastic.

    Of course its going to be quite some time before I get an Xbox 360 as even if I put myself on any the hold lists because I'm told they are all pre-sold out. I'll have to be patient I guess, although disappointed.

  • My Windows Vista Top 10 List

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    I've created a Top 10 List of the features I'm most excited about coming to us in Windows Vista. I would love for people to take a look at my list as well as create their own either on their own blogs or via the comments on my Top 10 List.

    Click here to view My Windows Vista Top 10 List!

    Also, I would love to thank the people who participiated in my "What Gadget do you want the most?" post. Alot of the responses and ideas people came up with were really really exciting! I even got a mention on Sean Alexander's blog who's the Windows Sidebar God. Sean is one of the coolest Microsofties - he's been nothing but polite and encouraging to me. If you have more ideas on Gadgets, make sure you visit my post!


  • Outlook Spam Filter voted best by Consumer Reports

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    Bryan Starbuck, lead development for Windows Mail (formally Outlook Express) in Windows Vista, points out that Microsoft Outlook's built in Spam Filter has been voted the best by Consumer Reports. Check out the Consumer Reports findings here. What's awesome about this is that, just as Bryan says, Windows Mail will incorporate Outlook's Spam Filter technology when it ships with Windows Vista. This is going to be an extremely important for users that go to Windows Vista because right out of the box, Windows Vista will ship with a very dependable mail client with built in spam protection that's top notch! Very exciting.

  • Download .NET Framework 2.0 Final

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    You can download the final version of the .NET Framework 2.0 by heading on over to Microsoft's Download Page. I'm installing it now. I am curious to see if programs such as Microsoft Max still run with the final version!

    UPDATE: After installing the .NET Framework 2.0, I attempted to install the WinFX September CTP Components required for Microsoft Max to download and install - unfortunately the WinFX September CTP Components do not finish installing telling me an error has occured. Thefore, Microsoft Max won't install with the .NET Framework 2.0 installed from what I'm getting right now. If anyone knows a work-around, or thinks I'm doing something wrong, let me know!

  • What Gadget do you want the most?

    Ok, we all know Gadgets are coming with the release of Windows Vista for the desktop and devices (Windows SideShow) and of course already has Gadgets for the web.

    So let's pretend we have the full RTM release of Windows Vista in front of us with Windows SideShow and Windows Sidebar.

    What would be your most desired Gadget you could throw onto your desktop and "pin" to your Sidebar? Let me know by simply commenting to this blog entry! I really would love to hear what you all would like to see in terms of Gadgets!

    How about a SETI Gadget for searching for extraterrestrial life? Maybe an MSN Virtual Earth Gadget showing your location? I think a Virtual Earth Gadget would be cool! What about Gadgets like the ones seen at embedded into your own blog?

    Let's hear your ideas!


  • Why is Windows Calendar so exciting?

    Dactylx is one of the people who's been kind enough to try and inform me on some of the facts behind Windows Calendar's .ics file format - something I was totally oblivious too when I made a post about Windows Calendar a few days ago. There's been several people now who have helped me get a grip on what's really behind Windows Calendar's file format - but that's for another post at another time. Dactylx has gotten me thinking about why do I feel Windows Calendar is so exciting?

    What makes Windows Calendar so exciting is it boosts Windows Vista's "out-of-box" experience up a bit. Right out of the box, Windows Vista will allow users to create calendars, share them, and subscribe to other calendars - other calendars that could be from users who are using Apple's iCal or even Mozilla's Sunbird (thanks Brian for informing me of this nifty program). And other users from other platforms will be able to subscribe to your calendars as well. A user doesn't have to go out and either download or buy a seperate program!

    Its been suggested that the new Calendar features in Outlook 12 are going to blow me away. I look forward to testing them out. But again, Windows Calendar is exciting to me because it makes the "out-of-box" experience when I purchase Windows Vista alot more better. I mean, if you're using Outlook 2003 as a simple POP3 client, you're wasting features Outlook 2003 has by not being in an Exchange Server environment. With Windows Calendar and Windows Mail (formally Outlook Express), you get the same experience right out of the box when you install Windows Vista. Alot of home users stay away from Outlook because of its complexity. By having two programs - Windows Mail and Windows Calendar, it will be easier for the average user to do what they need to do.

    Will this effect Microsoft Office sales when Office 12 comes out? My guess would be absolutely not. Why? Because people are still going to need Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Publisher.

    I guess it comes down to this: is Outlook 12 going to become more home user friendly? Or is Microsoft intending to make Windows Mail the standard home user mail client and have Outlook 12 target the business environment? I guess we can only guess at this point until Microsoft reveals its intentions with both mail programs.

    Windows Calendar is an example of Microsoft packing in features to Windows Vista that makes the average user's "out-of-box" experience alot better more efficient. This is exciting to me. I'm definately a geek!

  • Non-Aero Themes in Windows Vista

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    I just recently installed the Windows Vista October CTP on my laptop. My laptop is a Dell Inspiron 1100. Not the greatest laptop in the world, as I am having a TON of issues with it even with Windows XP on it. Hell, the damn thing has problems without any operating system on it at all. Anyways, the embedded Intel Graphics isn't capable of doing the high end Aero "Glass" Effects. But it got me thinking, will Microsoft touch-up the non-Aero theme in Windows Vista for users wanting to use Vista on computers with graphics cards that aren't so great - specifically laptops that can't get upgraded? The standard metallic theme that is enabled if your graphics card can't support Aero "Glass" isn't the best. I completely understand that its pre-Beta 2 and there's alot to still be done.

    I fiddled with the registry trying to see if its possible to even get Aero to work with the Intel Graphics in the laptop - looks like its not going to happen. I'll be reinstalling tomorrow morning! Oh well.

  • My thoughts on the Windows Sidebar Video from Channel 9

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    Yesterday, Channel 9 put online a awesome video demoing the new Windows Sidebar and Gadgets as well as Gadgets. This video is very informative and I recommend anyone out there who is unsure what Windows Sidebar will do or what these Gadgets are should definately sit down and watch it. Sean, David, and Sanaz all do a fantastic job showcasing what Gadgets are and what we'll be able to do with them.

    My favorite part of the video was when David Streams talks about how easy it is to create Gadgets for the desktop. Very motivating. I'm one person who isn't the best at programming. But I have experience with DHTML and some understanding of XML. After seeing him demo how to create a Desktop Gadget, I feel it will be easy for me to sit down and learn to create my own Gadgets.

    Again, very informative video. Sean discusses how there are actually 3 different types of Gadgets. We have the Gadgets ir Web Gadgets which are used on and on websites. Then we have Desktop Gadgets which is what Windows Sidebar is for. You are able to pin Desktop Gadgets onto your Windows Sidebar or just pin them straight onto the Desktop. Then of course we have Device Gadgets using Windows SideShow. These Gadgets use axulliary displays on mobile devices such as laptops.

    Of course, Windows Sidebar has yet to be available to the public for testing as they are refining the platform before releasing it to developers. It would suck if the platform changed after developers had already developed a ton of Gadgets. can develop Web Gadgets to be used on if you'd like by heading over to's Developer site. This is where I'll begin developing my own Gadgets. I see a natural progression in developing Gadgets. First, I'll begin with Web Gadgets for - then progress once the platform is released to testers to developing Desktop Gadgets and maybe even Device Gadgets!

    Once I develop my own Gadget for, I will let everyone know. But you'll have to promise you won't laugh!

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