I recently upgraded to Microsoft Office 2010. I really like the way the design team is going on their newer versions. It is really sleek and nice feeling, but I’ve noticed something missing… my keyboard shortcuts! I’m a Linux guy at heart (I install cygwin on every Windows machine I own and/or use) so performing tasks quickly from the keyboard are a part of my computing lifestyle. For instance in Outlook I could always type ALT-T, Y to permanently delete items in my Recycle Bin. Not anymore! The new interfaces are very mouse-centric and while they look good they leave out the ole shortcuts that have become second nature to me.
Wait a minute, you say! You can still use keyboard shortcuts. That’s true. Now to perform the same task in Outlook I can simply type ALT-F, I, T, Y. That just rolls off the tongue (or fingers), doesn’t it? Maybe in the next version I’ll be able to type “P-L-E-A-S-E E-M-P-T-Y M-Y R-E-C-Y-C-L-E B-I-N, Y-E-S I A-M S-U-R-E, T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U”.
I wrote a short post a while back about the new search engine… or excuse me, “personal decision engine” (yeah, whatever)… from Microsoft called Bing. I just ran across this today and though it was interesting. Something more to try and entice users away from the Google behemoth is a Cash Back Program. So apparently you sign up for an account and shop around the internets using Bing. Then on qualified purchases they give you a small percentage back into your account. Then after 60 days and having accumulated at least $5 you may request your cash. Pretty interesting. We’ll see if it’s enough to changes users habits with respect to searching for products on the internet.
Have you “binged” anything lately? If not, then don’t sweat it. Microsoft just release a new search engine called Bing, which you may or may not have heard about yet. Really? Another search engine? I thought Live.com was their SE of choice. Well, if you go to live.com now it actually points to bing.com.
So how does the new search engine stack up? From my short review of it, it behaves surprisingly similar to Google, the de-facto standard in search engines and close to being a common household term. Once you search you have links at the top to view images and videos of the same search terms and various other options including shopping, news and maps. The interface looks very nice. It looks like they borrowed the home page from ask.com in that there is a boxed image around the search input. The difference is the bing image changes every day, plus you can scroll back through past images.
One nice feature that I like is the video search. It lists an image preview for the results and lists below the preview where the video is hosted (YouTube, MySpace, MetaCafe). Then when you click on the preview it plays the video right in the search results in a video player at the top. Very sleek.
So will this be the final, once and for all Google killer? Yeah… I seriously doubt it. It does basically the same thing with maybe a little more pizaz. However it is nice to have company’s out there innovating to push the envelope and make the internet a nicer and more usable place to be.
Since I brought up gaming consoles… there are more options than just the Wii. This is a holiday bundle of the Xbox 360 Console that includes a 60 GB hard drive and two games (LEGO Indiana Jones and Kung Fu Panda).
Revolution OS is a 2001 documentary which traces the history of GNU, Linux, and the open source and free software movements. It features several interviews with prominent hackers and entrepreneurs (and hackers-cum-entrepreneurs), including Richard Stallman, Michael Tiemann, Linus Torvalds, Larry Augustin, Eric S. Raymond, Bruce Perens, Frank Hecker and Brian Behlendorf. The film begins in medias res with an IPO, and then sets the historical stage by showing the beginnings of software development back in the day when software was shared on paper tape for the price of the paper itself. It then segues to Bill Gates’s Open Letter to Hobbyists in which he asks Computer Hobbyists to not share, but to buy software. (This letter was written by Gates when Microsoft was still based in Arizona and spelled “Micro-Soft”.) Richard Stallman then explains how and why he left the MIT Lab for Artificial Intelligence in order to devote his life to the development of free software, as well as how he started with the GNU project. Linus Torvalds is interviewed on his development of the Linux kernel as well as on the GNU/Linux naming controversy and Linux’s further evolution, including its commercialization. Richard Stallman remarks on some of the ideological aspects of open source vis-Ã¡-vis Communism and capitalism and well as on several aspects of the development of GNU/Linux. Michael Tiemann (interviewed in a desert) tells how he met Stallman and got an early version of Stallman’s GCC and founded Cygnus Solutions. Larry Augustin tells how he combined the resulting GNU software and a normal PC to create a UNIX-like Workstation which cost one third the price of a workstation by Sun Microsystems even though it was three times as powerful. His narrative includes his early dealings with venture capitalists, the eventual capitalization and commodification of Linux for his own company, VA Linux, and ends with its IPO. Frank Hecker of Netscape tells how Netscape executives released the source code for Netscape’s browser, one of the signal events which made Open Source a force to be reckoned with by business executives, the mainstream media, and the public at large. (this text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)
This is the full length feature, so block off some time or bookmark it if you want to watch the whole thing. Enjoy!
* Click through to the site if you cannot see the video
Did you know Microsoft is trying to get their proprietary Office format passed as an ISO standard? Neither did I until I ran across this. Below are reasons that this should NOT be accepted as a standard. There is also a link where you can go and sign the petition… do the right thing!
I ask the national members of ISO to vote “NO” in the ballot of ISO DIS 29500 (Office OpenXML or OOXML format) for the following reasons:
There is already a standard ISO26300 named Open Document Format (ODF): a dual standard adds costs, uncertainty and confusion to industry, government and citizens;
There is no provable implementation of the OOXML specification: Microsoft Office 2007 produces a special version of OOXML, not a file format which complies with the OOXML specification;
There is information missing from the specification document, for example how to do a autoSpaceLikeWord95 or useWord97LineBreakRules;
More than 10% of the examples mentioned in the proposed standard do not validate as XML;
There is no guarantee that anybody can write software that fully or partially implements the OOXML specification without being liable to patent lawsuits or patent license fees by Microsoft;
This format conflicts with existing ISO standards, such as ISO 8601 (Representation of dates and times), ISO 639 (Codes for the Representation of Names and Languages) or ISO/IEC 10118-3 (cryptographic hash);
There is a bug in the spreadsheet file format which forbids any date before the year 1900: such bugs affect the OOXML specification as well as software applications like Microsoft Excel 2000, XP, 2003 and 2007.
This standard proposal was not created by bringing together the experience and expertise of all interested parties (such as the producers, sellers, buyers, users and regulators), but by Microsoft alone.
It appears that the software and operating system giant, Microsoft will be offering it’s next version of Microsoft Works as a free ad-supported software suite.
For the time being, however, the new version of Works will be ad-funded, according to Satya Nadella, the newly minted Corporate Vice President of Microsoftâ€™s Search & Advertising Platform Group. Nadella told me during an interview on July 27 that Microsoft recently released the new ad-funded version of Microsoft Works.
The funny thing is nobody seems to be able to find a real download for the software. ZDNet actually contacted Microsoft to get the skinny and they were given the runaround.
Even though Microsoftâ€™s own vice president discussed the product, no one will talk. The official comment, via a Microsoft spokeswoman: “We’re always looking at innovative ways to provide the best productivity tools to our customers, but have nothing to announce at this time.”
Seems a bit odd to me. Perhaps Microsoft’s VP, Satya Nadella, leaked information that was not supposed to be publicized. Who knows. You can read more about the story on ZDNet’s site.
I found a group of people that I now aspire to work with. Mac or PC guys, I want to be like you! Seriously folks, you have to watch this video. It’s a parody rap video of the Mac vs PC battles and I was in tears rolling on the floor shooting green tea out of nose while watching it. What? I don’t drink soda anymore… I can shoot anything I want out of my nose.