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New beta release of Live Essentials

I just downloaded and installed the latest beta releases of Microsoft Live Essentials and it seems like Microsoft has taken other users comments into consideration when writing a new release.

The most important change (at least for me) is the merge of Live SkyDrive, Live Sync and Live Mesh. Since I use all three services, I’ve had a pain in the a… trying to figure out what kind of files to place were. There’s still a way to go but so far it looks great.

The client side Live applications has all been made more “Microsoft-ish”. With the ribbon and editing features most people know from the Office products since 2007. Personally I fancy Live Writer, which I use for both personal blogging, public blogging and page editing (articles etc.). The media support in the new release is heavily improved with the ability to insert video from both personal files, YouTube integrated accounts and from any streaming URL. Very cool indeed.

So far I haven’t found any major issue with the current beta and can recommend it to anyone, even if you use services from providers other than Microsoft.

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My WordPress Experience

I’m still searching for the best solution and service for my personal web site and blog. After trying Google’s Blogger, Microsoft’s Live! Space and Office Live for Small Business I ended up with WordPress. Unfortunately, not everything is as I would like it to be, especially when it comes to the following issues:

  1. Theming is nice but when the themes include several errors and does not recognize the importance of printability, it’s more or less useless. There is an option of creating your own CSS, but then you’ll have to pay an annual fee. I don’t want to pay to fix other developers mistakes.
     
  2. Compared to both Blogger, Live! Spaces and Office Live, the flexibility within the pages are very low. The theme defines which page templates that exist and how they work. If you need to change anything you just have to forget it (unless you want to pay another fee to WP). It’s not possible to decide which widgets you want on each page and all widgets you add to your site will appear on all pages with a widget placeholder.
     
  3. There is no contact form available. This should be one of the most basic features of any site. I know I don’t want to publish my e-mail address, but would like my visitors to have the ability to send me an e-mail from the server application. However, even if all other similar services have this feature, WP does not.
     
  4. I would like to have my own URL, and since I already own the Wikmark.name zone, I would have thought blog.wikmark.name was easy to accomplish. But again I was wrong, at least if I don’t pay another fee. Besides, it’s cheaper to have WP register a new domain than it is to use an existing domain, something I found quite odd.

It seems like WP is something like Ryan air. The basic service is free, but if you require a seat with your flight you will have to pay extra. Oh, you wanted a knife and fork with your meal? That’ll be $2 extra please.

So, how come I ended up with WP anyway? First of all, I don’t trust Google. I don’t want them to host my ideas and stuff I write and create, thus Blogger was excluded. Microsoft on the other hand I trust, but the services they deliver are hard to use, not standardized and lacks of basic features as well. Besides, who actually uses Microsoft’s public services for real? So the answer is more or less that WP was the “least bad” service to use. Hopefully this will change in the future.

Codeplex recommendations

To make it somewhat easier to find active and interesting projects at Codeplex, I’ve put together a list of projects which I find useful and from sources I trust (at least so far :).

Solutions

Tools

  • SharePoint Manager 2007
    The SharePoint Manager 2007 is a SharePoint object model explorer. It enables you to browse every site on the local farm and view every property. It also enables you to change the properties (at your own risk). This is a very powerful tool for developers that like to know what the SharePoint holds of secrets.
  • SharePoint Management PowerShell Scripts
    A collection of PowerShell scripts for easier management of SharePoint.
  • SUSHI
    One of the best and most popular management tools for Sharepoint. SharePoint SUSHI is a powerful, user-friendly utility enabling you to accomplish common administrative tasks. You can think of SUSHI as a Swiss army knife for SharePoint.
    SUSHI = SharePoint Utility with a Smart, Helpful Interface 

Accellerators

See also the ordered list of best rated projects at Codeplex.

Diamond 2 – The real iPhone killer

I’ve used the HTC Touch Diamond for quite some time, but there has been some issues, such as poor performance and stability. A couple of days ago I got a hold on the new HTC Touch Diamond 2, and now I’m in heaven!

The new Diamond phone has a bigger display, far more user friendly with new applications and a better FLO 3D release, a lot more responsive (quicker) and so far a lot more stabile. In addition, the new Diamond has a micro SD slot as well (finally!).

The critics has commented on the quality of the 5 megapixel camera, but since I primarily use the phone as a phone and PDA and not a camera, I don’t find this to be essential. Besides, the photos is more than adequate for me 🙂

My best recommendations!

A better Vista than Vista

December 10, 2008 Leave a comment

I’ve been running Windows 7 Ultimate pre-beta (build 6801) for about a month now, and my conclusion is that the pre-beta release of Windows 7 is a lot better than Vista even as a pre-beta. Feature wise, it’s only a few changes in the basic usage of the OS compared to Vista, but I would like to emphasize a couple important changes.

  1. Running applications with elevated privileges
    One of most annoying parts of Vista is the elevated privileges dialog which appears each time you would like to run an application with administrative rights. I think the idea is very nice, but how the user experiences these pop-ups (and the endless time it takes) is horrible.
    In Windows 7 the feature is still present, but it’s now possible to run applications in elevated mode without the notification message. The icon on the applications which requires elevated privileges contains the well known shield (same as in Vista), but when the application is launched it’s just launched.
    If you like to launch an application which does not require elevated privileges with elevated privileges, you do the same as you’ve always done. Right-click and select “Run as administrator”.
     
  2. The concept of “Libraries”
    With Windows 7 you are presented with a new virtual folder structure called Libraries. A library contains a set of pointers to different physical file locations but seems like a folder tree to the user. During the past month I’ve grown so attached to this feature that each time I use a computer with XP or Vista, I nearly can’t find my way around.
    This is a very nice feature which I’ve been waiting for for years!
     
  3. The transparent desktop wide Side Bar
    The side bar is now desktop wide (not limited to the side of the screen) and completely transparent. Since the resource usages has been heavily reduced, it’s now possible to use gadgets (at least most of them) in an efficient way. Now my desktop contains key information from the net, most of which is a result of a query presented as a feed. In addition I’ve added some tools I use frequently. And yes, it works!
     

With regards to stability, I think it’s very stable, especially when you take the fact that it’s a pre-beta into consideration. In one month, I’ve had 2 complete system crashes which was related to third party drivers which, of course, was written for Vista. In addition I’ve experienced some snags which usually results in a restart of an application, but with basic applications such as Office 2007 and some utilities it usually works fine.

Speed! has always been an issue when working with Windows and Microsoft OS’s. My expectations was very low since my try-out was based on a pre-beta release of Windows. My experience was quite the opposite. Windows 7 is much faster to use than Vista with the same hardware configuration. The startup time was reduced by almost 50 %, and the system is seldom non-responsive. It’s even possible to actually use the Side Bar without having to buy a new computer (although, some gadgets should not be used if you want to be able to work properly).

My conclusion is quite easy. I’m going to use Windows 7 instead of Vista even if it’s in the early beta stages. No more Vista for me!

Possibilities beyond comparison

December 3, 2008 Leave a comment

The CKS:EBE solution is one of the best solutions available for SharePoint and “Web 2.0” type web site. This entire site is based on WSS3 and EBE 2.5 (and some other minor additions) and includes several of the required web 2.0 features. Among other things, the site has basic functionality such as:

  • Anonymous comments posting
  • Taxonomy tagging
  • True RSS feeds
  • Modular themes
  • Trackbacks and permalinks
  • Forms based feedback/contact

…and features are still being added to the solution.

A special thanks goes to the author ‘The Kid’ and contributors.

Read more about this site and the solution behind it in the about pages.

N’Joy!

CKS:EBE 2.5 Review

November 23, 2008 Leave a comment

I’ve been using the Community Kit for Sharepoint Enhanced Blog Edition 2.5 Beta for a couple of weeks and is quite impressed. Even if there’s several features that does not work, and the solution is somewhat unstable, I think this is the best addition to Sharepoint regardless of FreeProg or commercial wares.

I’ve posted some requests and questions on the authors web site (The Kid), which I hope will be implemented in the next final release, and I certainly hope the final release of 2.5 is somewhat close by.

I will recommend this solution to anyone with a public WSS3 site which they want to make a bit more user friendly and appealing to the user.

My rating: 10 of 10!

N’Joy!

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