Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Stuff that wafted through my brain

Microsoft “Tool” Book Covers

This has been bugging me for some time and I have to vent about it. For some years now Microsoft has been putting tools on the covers of its technical books, which is fine and even makes sense. But, shouldn’t they put NEW tools on them, or at least the coolest tools to be found? Instead Microsoft has used old, dirty, rusty, bizarre and/or antiquated tools! Just what message are they trying to convey?

Some examples

Looking at the upcoming titles, it does look like they have removed the rusty ones, but some of tools chosen are simply bizarre. A horseshoe for SharePoint? Pliers for Communication? An old drill for driver programming? Are they saying that their software tools are merely old, or old AND obscure? Perhaps they are trying to convey that the information within is outdated?

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a huge fan of these books as the content is usually top notch.  It’s just that the first questions that come to my mind when I see these covers is about the tool. 1) What the heck is it? And 2) What in the world would a person use that for? Neither of those are questions that are particularly favorable to an entire line of books dedicated to software tools.

My non-tech friends see them and ask: “Why do you have so many books about old tools?”

The Increasing Irrelevance of Google Searches

It seems like the search results coming out of Google are getting less and less relevant.  It is nothing I can put my finger on, given the practical art that is a search engine, it's just that I've been finding a lot of things missing from results.  Things I know are out there.

It used to be that if something was out there on the net, it was in Google.  All you had to do was figure out the right way to ask for it.  Lately, that simply has not been the case.  I regularly run across key blogs, press releases from major companies, and even Usenet postings that are simply not in the search results.  I've often had to find these answers using other search engines or the old fashioned way, by following "useful links" on sites that I frequent.

This problem seems to have escalated about 4-5 months ago.  I've checked with co-workers and they tell me that they've noticed it too.  I hope they fix it soon because the old results are sorely missed.

Microsoft PhotoSynth opens a new world

Microsoft recently released the Tech Preview of their Microsoft PhotoSynth product.  All I can say is: WOW!  This thing has the potential to change not just the way that personal photos are used, but rather, much of the way that the Internet is used now.

If properly executed, this could finally connect the Internet to the real world.  Imagine any picture as a gateway.  You could go to a company’s website (like Best Buy) and actually view their corporate headquarters, inside and out.  Big deal, right?  Get this – you could also find the store nearest you and, using a picture of the facade, zoom into the store and, using service features linked to the images, open a chat with the store’s customer service rep.  You could read the hours on the door, walk around the store.  You could see what the Manager’s Specials are.  If the store is particularly aggressive, you could even see what is on their bargain racks.  You could even see where the store is in the mall for those “Strike Mission” shopping trips.

Want to see what the Vegas strip looks like at night?  Find a picture of it and zoom in.  Servers would have to be set up to manage photo volumes in the same manner that they do html page now, but once the infrastruture is in place, you can go anywhere in the world, simply by looking at a picture of it.

But why stop with present day?  Similar archives can be set up of anywhere, anytime.  Want to see the 1964 Worlds fair?  You can tour everything that there were pictures of.  Naturally, these things are a little more difficult as those images would have to have their gps data figured out and analyzed by hand, but the potential is there.

I realize that this tool is only the very first in a generation of such tools and can’t quite do what I suggest, but the possibilities only grow as the technology matures.


Edit: Updated on 7/23/2012 to fix broken links

Office 2007 Goes Gold

It looks like we are on track to have our hands on the final release of SharePoint 2007 soon.  Microsoft has just released Office 2007 System to the manufacturers with a current release date of November 30th.  The press release does not name SharePoint specifically, but since SharePoint has been part of the Office 2007 System for the entire beta, it’s a safe assumption.

Here is the full Microsoft press release

In an update from Andrew Connell, it appears that the bits will be available on November 16th.