Tourneytopia Updates

posted on 06/21/06 at 11:45:56 pm by Joel Ross

Usually, after March Madness is done, Tourney Logic sits relatively dormant for a few months as we recover from the rush, which usually starts in November or December (getting upgrades ready to go) and culminates in March with the tournament. For us, it means many, many late nights pounding out features and bug fixes?until we meet our vision.

And once it's over, we usually end up a little burned out. But not this year. We've been working hard to get a new release of Tourneytopia out the door, and there's some really cool features in it.

First, some back story on where Tourneytopia came from. This year, we decided to move the Tourney Pool Manager to .NET 2.0 and make use of some of the cool and exciting new features available. And that's what we did, only it took longer than expected. We knew it was technically ready to go, but there were still some bugs and decisions to be made about how to best release it. Ultimately, we made the decision to use last year's version of the Tourney Pool Manager (running on .NET 1.1) as is and take the upgraded version and make it a hosted-only version. By doing this, we could fix bugs right through the tournament (which we did, although, luckily, no major bugs showed up), and we didn't have to worry about deployment as much - we can deal with manual deployment steps, where as a software package needs to be automated.

In the long run, it was the right decision. In the short run, we continued a few poor design decisions from years past so we could get it done. All in all, it didn't really hurt us - this year. We knew where the inefficiencies were, and, despite having a ton more traffic than I expected, the server held up fine - after a few late tweaks we made before certain features were used.

But we knew those decisions would ultimately hinder us going forward, so we looked at a re-architecture of the whole site. Ultimately, we came up with a Codesmith template that generated all of our business objects (more on that later), and rewrote the site's foundation. For the most part, the UI is the same, but the framework it's running on is much more scalable and efficient.

But this isn't the post to get into that. From an end user's perspective, this new back end gives us the ability to support more than just a 64-team tournament - you can now create tourmanents for any number of teams, such as the 16 team tournament for the World Cup.

Which is exactly what we are offering now - the World Cup. The window is small - the bracket play starts less than 24 hours from when the group play ends, so there's not a lot of time to enter, but it should be fun!

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Categories: Develomatic


Netscape's Digg Killer

posted on 06/15/06 at 11:20:19 pm by Joel Ross

Jason Calacanis has the news that Netscape launched a new portal homepage, and it looks a lot like Digg. Apparently others think so too, as the top story is all about AOL copying Digg. It's not completely user generated - there are editors that decide what gets to the top of the homepage. Still, the fact that it looks strikingly similar to Digg is getting it a lot of press.

Now, Here's a difference. Netscape gets 800,000,000+ page views a month, and Digg is only at around 5,000,000. Could this be an actual?Digg killer? It has the potential, but this is the Internet, and being first in a space usually means you win. On the other hand, if there ever was a company that knows something about being first in a market and still losing, it's Netscape! And of course, Netscape has more mass appeal, so the stories won't be all tech all the time like Digg is.

Now, since I first visited the site, The "AOL copies Digg" story has been at the top, but here's the succession of vote counts for it that I've noticed: 59, 99, 103, 88, 103. I know it's beta, so most likely, it's just a bug. Having experience with web apps, my gut says it's a caching issue, and I'm sure they'll work it out. But it does seem a bit suspicious that a story critical of AOL drops in vote counts. Why do I think it's a bug though? It never really got close to dropping from the number one spot.

Oh yeah. If you're using IE 7, it doesn't quite look right. I know. It's hard to fault AOL for their beta site not looking good in other beta software, but supposedly, IE 7 is pretty good standards-wise, and I haven't seen these issue other places.

Anyway, this is a wierd way for AOL to say happy 1st birthday to Diggnation, Digg's founders' podcast!

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Categories: Software


When Blogging Gets In The Way Of...Blogging?

posted on 06/14/06 at 10:00:48 pm by Joel Ross

It was about a year ago that I started writing RossCode Weekly. I did it because I felt there was a lot of technology news I saw that was important to get out there.?About six months later, it became a podcast, because it was becoming too much work to write. The posts were approaching 3500 - 4000 words, so instead, I threw together some notes, and started recording it.

Well, after about six months, that too became too much work, and I went back to writing it - but in a shortened form. But since then, I've started to realize a couple of things. Writing RCW has become work. And it's gotten in the way of writing what I want to write. With a weekly review due, it's like a looming deadline hanging out there, and (as is probably noticable) has resulted in me not writing much else. I have 5 posts in the works that are all at least two weeks old, and there've been countless others that I haven't started because I just don't have the time to do it.

And suddenly, blogging got in the way of blogging.

So I took a look at why I'm not blogging like I used to. I didn't get to 800+ posts by doing one post a week. Overall, I average about a post a day, but for the past few months, you wouldn't know it. And what it came down to was that I wasn't passionate about what I was blogging about. I still think I see a lot of cool stuff, but putting it all together is just too much. There's a few things changing for me outside of blogging too, and frankly, I want to get back to real blogging.

So with that, RossCode Weekly is no more. I may still touch on some of the same things I have before, but it'll be based on what I want to talk about - not what I think fits the RCW theme.

To those who follow RCW, I appreciate your support, and I'm sorry to see it go. Maybe some day, I'll figure out a way to completely automate the process, and then it could come back in a different format - but don't look for that too soon.

As for the long-term subscribers, I hope to get back to where I was when I felt the best about what I'm doing here!

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Categories: RossCode Weekly


RossCode Weekly #051

posted on 06/10/06 at 12:59:40 am by Joel Ross

RossCode Weekly #051?- 06.09.2006

You'd think I could get this out on time, since it's the only post I've done all week. Too much summer fun, I guess.?

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News & Views
CEO of Yahoo demands pay to match Google's CEO?- On the plus side, I now earn more than both Yahoo's and Google's CEOs - combined! Of course, I don't get quite as many stock options...
Slashdot gets a new look?- and it looks pretty good. Much better than the old look. Still the same Microsoft bashing, but they make it look good!
300,000 free ebooks?- From the World eBook Library and Project Gutenberg, and you can get them from July 4th through Autust 4th. They usually charge $8.95 for yearly access, so it sounds like a much better deal than it really is. Anyway, there's a lot of older "classics" available to go grab.
ABC signs ad deals based on live-only viewers?- They caved on their claim that they would only sign ad deals based on DVR and live viewers, basically after the other networks caved to. Eventually, this won't be the case, but for now, advertisers are winning. That'll stop as DVR use continues to increase.
Tom Green to host online talk show?- It's a weekly call-in show and will start June 15th. He's onboard for?50 shows, so he'll be around for another year or so. Maybe.
Jay Leno's monologue on iTunes?- more and more content for Apple, but seriously - $1.99 for his 15 minute monologue? $9.99 for a month is better (that's 20), but still. Thats a lot of money for not a whole lot of content.
Two more Live services hit beta?- Security Token Service and Relay Service. STS allows you to use Infocards online. RS is focused at developers, and will help build software with connectivity without having to worry about firewalls or NAT routers.
Microsoft announces Rev 2 of BizTalk 2006?- This won't mean a lot to most, but Microsoft prioritized this one. Why? RFID.
MSDN Wiki announced?- Ever thought the MSDN documentation wasn't quite good enough? Well, now you can change it!

The Cold Wars
Windows Live Messenger to hit final release June 16th?- I wonder if there's any significance that Tech Ed is next week, and this'll come on the last day. Interesting that this'll be the first "Live" branded software to come out of Beta.
Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta announced?- The sign up has been around for a while, but details are starting to come out. They're also saying the name will change.
Windows Live Expo API available?- This could make some very nice mash ups to pull classifieds to your website - or to a map, given that everything is geo-tagged. For those technically inclined, it's got both SOAP and REST for you to use.
Ubuntu 6.06 released?- If you're not familiar, Ubuntu is quickly becoming one of the most popular Linux flavors. It's got a pretty good interface, and fairly easy to use. If you want to start using Linux, Ubuntu is the way to go.
Windows Vista beta 2 publicly available?- Maybe since Office was released at the same time, and it was public, I thought Vista was public too, but apparently not. Now everyone can realize their computer isn't sufficient to run it.
Comcast launches variable download speed service?- it's called PowerBoost, and can potentially double your download speeds when there's low traffic on the network. Best of all, it's free to 6 and 8 meg customers.
Microsoft drops PDF support in Office?- bowing to pressure from Adobe, Microsoft will yank PDF support, and instead push the XPS document format. This is one of those issues where a lot of surprising folks have come out in support of Microsoft. Adobe offers their API for free to others (OpenOffice), but suddenly Microsoft can't use it. Adobe threatened Microsoft by saying they'd go to the European Commision if they did. The EC is quickly becoming a place to compete with Microsoft, rather than the worrying about competing in the marketplace.
The Pirate Bay is back online?- As promised, they've set up shop in a new country and are back online. Good job, MPAA. You took the site down for four days!
Net2Phone sues Skype?- Would you be shocked to find out it's about patent infringement? Me neither. That must be pre-stamped on legal documents now. If you read the patent wording, it sounds pretty vague, and could cover all p2P software. Why pick Skype then? Oh yeah, eBay has lots of money. I forgot.
Yahoo and YouTube launch "channels"?- You can now watch channels, which are basically a collection of videos that are related, either by artist or topic. Odd that they both launched within days of each other.
Yahoo Photos launches?- Once again, the right hand knows not what the left hand is doing. Hey Yahoo, you own Flickr! You don't need a Photos service! You already have one!
Yahoo relaunches MyWeb?- Does the MyWeb team know about They're working independantly (or so it seems) from each other. Anyway, it's a new version, and they've dropped 2.0 from the name.?I just haven't quite been able to get into this.
Google launches online spreadsheet?- Sort of. This time they were relatively smart - instead of letting everyone sign up, they gave a signup sheet and are adding users as they have capacity. As a result, not a lot of people have actually played with it. But that hasn't stopped the death toll from sounding for Office.
Sony PS3 to be 100% backwards compatible?- They've said this all along, but with deadlines looming, the emulator may not be completely ready. What to do? Put a PS2 right in the PS3! They're going to be including the full chipset right in there, which guarantees all games will work. For once, a good thing coming out about the Sony game system!
Microsoft adds BI to Office?- It's called Office PerformancePoint Server 2007. It's aimed at mid-sized and large companies.
Pioneer joins the Blu-Ray camp?- They're going to drop their current DVD business and go all Blu-Ray. I guess they're going all in with Sony.
TiVo offering Web Video to subscribers?- For subscribers with a Series2 bo, they can watch online clips from the NBA, iVillage and others.
FeedBurner and TypePad team up?- So now, Typepad users get Feedburner stats if they want them. Interesting move, but odd that TypePad couldn't just come up with their own stats package and resorted to going with FeedBurner. Money maybe?
MSN Spaces URL change coming?- This is the second URL change for Spaces. Instead of[member], it'll be [member] Much simpler!
Cablevision countersues networks?- And announced they're delaying their network DVR at least until Fall. They're suing saying it's covered under fair use, and it'll be hammered out in court this summer.
AOL to offer free security tool?- It's called Total Care, and will be available to testers in a "coming weeks." It basically matches Windows Live OneCare from Microsoft, except it's free.

The Grapevine
Comcast to start testing HD TiVo? Comcast and TiVo signed an agreement a while ago, and maybe their users will finally start to get some benefit from it.
XBox 360 backwards compatibility update coming soon?- last week, there was a lot of buzz around an MS exec who said backwards compatibility wasn't important anymore. This week, we get word that an update is coming soon.
IE 7 beta 3 coming in August? This wasn't planned, I don't think, and it stems from compatibility issues. It sounds like it'll most be under the hood changes, but bottom line, this just means IE 7's release is pushed back just a bit farther.
New XBox 360 peripherals coming for the holidays?- Starting in September with the XBox Live Vision, but definitely not stopping there. They've also got a wireless headset, a 256 MB memory module, a few game-themed faceplates, and a $20 adapter to use your 360 controllers with your PC.?Also rumored are a wireless steering wheel, and the HD-DVD add-on.
Yahoo integration with Live Messenger coming soon?- I thought they said this was going to be available earlier this year, but it never happened. Now, there's word that it's coming. Probably not before the current Windows Live Messenger goes live though.
Mac Slingplayer delayed one quarter?- I didn't even know it was coming for Macs, but then again, I don't have a Mac, so why would I? Anyway, it's coming, but delayed.
AppleBerry? Apple rumors usually run rampant, and a lot don't pan out. The interesting part about this is that the rumor is coming from the RIM side, and not the Apple side, which oddly adds credibility to it. According to the Buzz out loud podcast, this is the mullet of phones - business in the front (blackberry) and pleasure in the back (music phone)!
Wireless USB is coming?- Iogear and Wisair are demoing it, and it looks pretty good! 480 Mbps transfer speeds, and up to four connections at a time. Nice.
Bluetooth 3.0 coming? It'll offer similar distances, but it offers 480 Mbps transfer rates. Hmm. Is Bluetooth 3.0 the same as Wireless USB?

Odds & Ends illegal in the UK?- Britons were warned that using could result in legal action if they download from them. has come under fire recently, as has Russia for allowing them to operate.
PubSub going down? That seems to be the indication. They just got rid of their CEO in March, and now comes word that they had massive layoffs after merger talks fell apart. That's too bad for them, although lately, their service just hasn't been that impressive.

Bonehead of the Week
MLB hates Slingbox?- Since baseball is a regional sport, and revenue is based on seeing games locally, MLB doesn't like that the Slingbox allows you to watch games where ever you are. Seriously? They're watching games, and MLB is complaining? Boneheads!

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Categories: RossCode Weekly


RossCode Weekly #050

posted on 06/02/06 at 04:41:34 pm by Joel Ross

RossCode Weekly #050?- 06.02.2006

In case you noticed last week, RCW was rushed out the door. I had it pretty much ready to go - I just wanted to organize each section a bit, and remove unused sections (like Odds & Ends). I planned to do that Friday night, and publish it then. Instead, I got a call from the wife, and we decided to go camping for the weekend. I rushed home, we packed, I published, and that was that. On Monday, I realized my mistake, but then it was too late.

I kind of thought things might slow down a bit (news-wise) as summer approached, but that doesn't appear to be happening. Lots and lots of stuff going on!

One question for you: Is it too hard to read when the articles are squished together? Would it be better if there was some sort of seperation between stories?

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Previously From RCW
Verizon released GPS service?- It's only available on a few phones right now (RAZR and a couple of others). It's called VZ Navigator, and is $2.99 for the day or $9.99 / month. They also have a FuelFinder for $1.99 / month that will show you the cheapest gas location. More: Vindigo City Guide for restaurants ($2.99 / month). Roadside assistance for $3 / month.

News & Views
Critical Flaw in Symantec AntiVirus?- it appears to only be in the corporate versions, and has been fixed already, but if you don't have the fix installed, you could be subject to?a flaw that would allow hackers to seize control of your computer.
Microsoft adds Office 2007 Ultimate?- It's aimed at large businesses, and will cost $679. It'll include all components available - Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, OneNote, Groove, Access and Infopath. This'll be similar to the Enterprise Edition, but EE is only available to volume license customers.
Microsoft adds Visual Studio for database developers?- A new addition to the Visual Studio Team System editions that basically came out of left field. Looks pretty good, and comes with source control, refactoring, data compare, schema compare, data generation and unit testing. If it works as well as Red Gate's products, I'll be shocked, but still might be worth it if you can do it all under source control and in the same UI.
Microsoft's Tech Ed sessions will be broadcast live?- if I remember last year, they were also broadcast live. I was at them, so I had no need. This year though, I might have to watch a few of them. Of course, you won't get your?swag!
XBox 360 camera coming in September?- No longer do you have to rely on dated technology like audio to communicate in games - now you can see everyone's mugs. Interesting side note: Gesture Recognitions are coming, and will require two Live Visions (that's what it's called). No word on pricing yet though.
Google launches Picasa for Linux?- You had to know it was only a matter of time before Google slowed their new software releases and went back and filled out their lineup to make them cross platform. Remember, Microsoft is a competitor and since they control the OS that most of Google's software runs on, it only makes sense to branch out a bit.
Google launches AdSense API?- It's a free beta (What? Google released software in beta?!?) that lets you integrate AdSense into your website. So, if you have a bunch of users who generate content, you can allow them to create AdSense accounts and share revenue with them - all without leaving your site.
eBay launches blogs and wikis for sellers?- It'll officially launch on June 13th, during the eBay Live conference, but it will allow sellers to communicate with buyers about their products and stores.

The Cold Wars
Opera 8.6 for PPC released?- $24 for a browser seems pricy, but if you're an Opera fan, you can get this for your PPC. It's got tabbed browsing, downloading, zoom, and a whole slew of other features.
Firefox 2.0 Alpha 3 released?- It's still alpha, but Bon Echo is available, and it's added a SQLite based database for bookmark and history storage, inproved search, enhanced security, and anti-phishing. The anti-phishing was "donated" by Google. Now, when Google claims that Microsoft is wrong to default to MSN search in IE, will they offer to donate the code to fix it?
Vista will have IE 7+?- It'll basically be the same features as IE 7 on XP, but will have a few more features that Vista enables: Protected Mode, Parental Controls, and better network diagnostics. From a web developer's perspective, not much changes - they'll both have the same rendering engine.
See Windows Vista site launches?- Interested in what Vista holds, but don't have a machine that will support it, or just don't want to take the time to do it? Well, now you don't have to. Yeah, you won't get the true feel for it, but there are lots of videos to show you what it'll be like.
Microsoft launches Mac-only hardware?- Kind of an interesting move from the folks up in Redmond. It's a wireless Laser Desktop - mouse and keyboard. No start button, and it's patterned after other Mac-only keyboard layouts.
Windows Live OneCare officially launches?- It's now fully Windows Live branded, and has been in beta for a while now. They have antivirus, antispyware, two way firewall, disk management tools, backup utilities and instant support (24/7).
Networks offer taste of fall schedule online?- in a move that definitely reflects the changing times for networks, the big three (CBS, ABC and NBC - the big three in my mind, despite higher ratings by FOX over NBC) are all offering video clips of their new shows this fall.
Time Warner sues Cablevision?- It's not surprising really. TW (network side) is joining the lawsuit against Cablevision's network DVR plans. But what's funny is that I'm sure they didn't get involved when it was TW (cable side) looking into building a network DVR. Shoe. Other foot.
Pirate Bay raided?- There's definitely some confusion about this one. They're in Sweden, so when they were raided, it's questionable if they are actually breaking laws. They've been offline for a few days, but have stated they'll be back soon. No official word on why, but rumor is that it's probably either the RIAA or MPAA behind this one. If you're a torrenter, beware, and maybe time to move on to a different torrent search engine (but not - they're being pursued by the MPAA to!)
Skype to ship on Dell hardware?- So Dell's already going to install Google's software - why not throw in Skype. Crapware is what I believe it's called, right? They even recognize the agony they cause the users - higher end systems come with an option to exclude crapware (I wonder if that's what the option says "No Crapware, please"). Lower end systems don't have that option, though.
Yahoo launches YouTube competitor?- I thought they already did, but apparently, it wasn't live yet. It was supposed to have a bunch of Yahoo generated content, but instead it will be mostly user generated content. The front page, however, will have some professional content, and everything on it will be reviewed by Yahoo's editorial staff first.
C|NET launches AllYouCanUpload?- It's a picture hosting service, a la Flickr or Photobucket.?No limits on the number or size of image uploads, nor is there a limit on bandwidth. It's pretty barebones, but if you need a place to stick a picture without bandwidth concerns, this is the place.
Red Hat ships open source MySpace clone?- That's all fine and dandy, but who cares if it's open source? Remember, the appeal of MySpace is that everyone is there. If you release something like this in open source, you're watering down your own ability to develop a social network. Remember, social means people at your site. Anyway, it's called Mugshot, and is supposedly pretty good, despite it's already doomed future. adds blog search?- Bloglines also gets a backend upgrade (no UI changes) too. It took them a bit (maybe Jeeves wasn't a blogger?), but finally got around to doing it, and it looks pretty good. You can subscribe right from the results, you can preview the site without leaving the search, and you can save them off to your favorites site - your own little link blog.

The Grapevine
Microsoft searching for partners?- Pure speculation here, but Microsoft is said to be interested in partnering to be a bigger threat to Google. They had pursued eBay, but the Yahoo deal seemed to cool those talks. Now they're potentially looking at both MySpace and Facebook as potential partners to drive traffic to MSN and serve ads on.?Wasn't MySpace just in the news recently because their ads didn't generate much revenue?
Vista Ultimate: $450? Who knows how legit this is, but that's the word on the streets. Pretty expensive when you consider you can get a low end machine for the same price.
Xbox Portable coming in 18 months? The back and forth between speculators and Microsoft contine, this time with speculators (conveniently calling themselves "analysts") say a microsoft portable gaming system is coming?- and they even give a timeframe - 18 months. Now, we can't even get Microsoft to commit to a date for Vista. How can an outside group commit a date to a product that's pre-vaporware?

Odds & Ends
Word 2007 has a new default font?- The article doesn't have any confirmation, but I can confirm on my local install that Times New Roman got the boot, and Calibri has been selected in it's place. Interesting. Will this stay that way when it's out of beta? I guess we wait and see.
AMD to buy ATI? It's been a while since we've had a good acquisition rumor (with some potential - MS buying Yahoo was?a little far-fetched), and this definitely fits the bill. Of course, this sounds more like wishful thinking than actuality.
BlackFrom to take up BlueFrog's crusade?- BlueFrog was Blue Security's product that (tried to) overwhelm spammers with unsubscribe requests and went out under when spammers fought back. Well, BlackFrog is the open, distrubuted answer?- the DDOS attack that spammers attempted won't slow BlackFrog, because of the P2P network being used, called FrogNet.
Cambodia bans 3G networks for 10 years?- Why? Porn. They seem to think that since you can get porn on your phone, banning the technology that delivers it will work. Why 10 years? They figure a solution will be in place in 10 years. Good theory. The internet's been around for more than 10 years, and we've completely eliminated all the porn there...
BBC will broadcast World Cup games online?- Sounds like it will be UK only, but if you live across the pond, and can't make it to Germany, you can watch the qualifying games online, as well as England's quarter- and semi-final matches.

Bonehead of the Week
Vonage IPO?- There's more to this story than just the link on the right. Basically, since the IPO, the stock has dropped, which obviously was not the plan most people buying the stock had in mind. Yeah, it's a risk, but here's where Vonage screwed up: I could have guessed it was going to drop just based on the way Vonage has been treated lately in the news, so they should have seen a drop coming. If your stock is going to drop, keep your customers out of it?- or at least don't actively send your customers down a money-losing road. Well, Vonage offered all of their customers a chance to get in on the IPO, and those who did are now probably not too happy. If they leave en mass, how do you think that will help the stock price? Oh, and there were rumors that Vonage said they would cover any customers who didn't pay up, but are now backing off that claim. What a mess!

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Categories: RossCode Weekly


RossCode Weekly #049

posted on 05/26/06 at 06:21:14 pm by Joel Ross

RossCode Weekly #049?- 05.26.2006

I'm liking the new format more and more. It's much less time to write than the old way - before about RCW 20 - and I cut out the recording time and post-production. Overall, it's much more maintainable than the past, which means I shouldn't have any trouble keeping it going. In post podcast days, it was almost dropped because it took almost 4 hours to write up, and during the podcast days, it was almost dropped repeatedly because I just lost the desire to record (not to mention finding a hour of quiet in a house with two kids under 4). Now, production time is down to about an hour, and there's no post anything. Much better.

But that's my side. Do you like the format? Understanding that audio isn't coming back, what's the best format for this? Did you like just a pure link dump with no explaination? The short notes that I did while I couldn't speak for more than 10 seconds without coughing? Or is this perfect? Let me know. I'd love to make it the best it can be.

Subscribe to RossCode Weekly?- In case you were wondering, this link gets you just the RCW posts, so if that's all you're coming for, then this is the feed for you.

Previously From RCW
C|NET's tech news goes live on TiVo?- It's been rumored for a while, and is finally here. It's also available on to Cox cable companies. As expected, Best Buy is their premiere sponsor.
Two episodes of 24 now available on MySpace?- You can get the inaugural episode and Day 5's season premiere for free right now. You can download or stream, and it's all brought to you by Burger King. Eventuallly more will be available, but for $1.99.

News & Views
Commerce Server 2007 RC1 released?- This was CS 2006, but oddly, it's becoming CS 2007, even though the schedule is still on track to be released in June, with general availability in August (Is that when we'll see the boxes in Best Buy??). It's built on ASP.NET 2.0, and there's a ton of new features - hopefully it's a whole lot better than CS 2002, which was basically a toolkit to use. There's no Starter Site yet - that won't come until RTM, so you're on your own!
SQL Intellisense for free?- if you're a developer, then this will be interesting to you. Red Gate, makers of a few awesome pieces of software (although pricey for the little guy), is releasing SQLPrompt for free. What is SQLPrompt? It gives you intellisense for SQL queries in a wide range of Microsoft products. I've installed it, and it's awesome!
Microsoft released beta 2 of Office, Vista?- Both set out at WinHEC I believe. Office 2007 has been downloaded over 500,000 times in the past week?- and that's from the public site. Not sure if that includes MSDN (where I got it from) or not. Windows Server "Longhorn" beta 2 was also released, which was less than touted, but still a huge milestone in my mind.
WinFX beta 2 Go-Live license available?- at the same time as Vista beta 2 being released, WinFX beta 2 run-time components were also released, but it comes with a go-live license, meaning you can use it in production now.
Patent reform in the works? It's still deep in Senate committees, but something may come of it - the patent system is broken, and finally, the leaders are starting to realize that. The biggest agreement seems to be that challenging new patents should be easier - and necessary to avoid expensive litigation down the line. Given that a lot of Senators are (former) attornees, that could be a hard sell.
Amazon offering some books online?- if you buy a paperback on Amazon, you can use the Amazon Reader to read the book online for an additional charge. The reader also allows you to interact with the book ("So, how you doin'?") - you can highlight, bookmark, note, tag, copy and print parts of the book. redesigned?- and without the drama of TechCrunch's redesign! It's added a hotlist on the homepage, which shows what the most popular links are at the moment. But don't worry - they didn't go crazy. It's still simple, which is what's so appealing about thier site.
Amazon Grocery launches?- It contains non-perishable items, and it also includes Shopping Lists, where you can set up repeat purchases.

The Cold Wars
Google launches video ads?- Google has been experimenting with video ads for a few months now, but it looks like they are ready to take it to the masses. The ads will be unobtrusive, as you have to click on it to actually play it. Not everyone thinks it's going to be successful - one reason being that Google doesn't even plan to use them on their own sites. Another? Clicking on the ad (which results in payments due) doesn't actually take you to the site - it just shows the video. There's others, but the thought is that it's going to be too expensive to produce ads for a relatively low ROI.
Vonage has IPO?- Initial pricing set at $18, and it didn't do good early on. I think the announcement from Skype (free US calls) was beautifully timed (for Skype, not Vonage) and people were cautious. Not to mention that Vonage hasn't been the most stable company (financially) in the past.
Gizmo Project hits 2.0?- If you don't know about the Gizmo Project, it's basically a standards-based Skype. More proof that the best technology doesn't always win. Anyway, 2.0 adds support to hook up to Asterisk, an open source PBX software package. PBX is what allows large phone systems to connect to the normal phone network, so this means you can easily hook up Gizmo to work with land line numbers And since it is standards-based, it also works with other SIP-based services.
TiVo seeks EchoStar DVR injunction?- Not surprisingly, after whooping EchoStar in court, TiVo wants courts to enforce their victory, and force EchoStar to stop selling DVRs - "Each day EchoStar is allowed to continue it's infringement, EchoStar takes subscribers that would otherwise be TiVos'" Yeah, maybe. It's a great argument in court.
Microsoft boosts mapping features?- They've added real-time traffic data for some areas, Outlook integration and better scratch pad support. to Windows Live Local service. They've also added ways to share pishpins and some other info (called Collections). Oh yeah, if you're in the UK, then you also can now get the birds-eye view.
Networks sue Cablevision?- In a shocking move, the TV networks are suing Cablevision for thier online DVR plans. Oh wait. It's not shocking at all - the only shocking part is that it took this long. The only downfall for TV networks here is that the DVR service isn't any different than having the DVR in your home - it's just a different location for the drive. Users still have to have picked the show to record - so it's not a truly on-demand service as the networks claim. I bet all cable companies are watching this one intently to see how it turns out.
Microsoft shows off Windows Media Photo?- In what appears to be Microsoft fixing something that isn't broken, they've come up with a new photo format to rival JPEG. On the surface it sounds good - it's better quality than JPEG, and smaller. But JPEG is designed for web use, where quality isn't a top concern. Where quality is a concern, most pros use RAW, which you're not going to get anything better. Hard drive space is cheap, so size really doesn't matter. So what's the point? Well, while not explicity mentioned, most likely it'll be the DRM - being able to protect your photos from unauthorized use.
Nintendo releases some Wii details?- Not a ton of details, but release is said to be Q4 this year, and will not exceed $250 in the US. 6,000,000 units are planned for launch, with over 17,000,000 games?- but no, that does not mean 17,000,000 unique games!
XBox 360 Dashboard to be upgraded?- There's a few new features - the main one being that if you're downloading content, it'll pause if you start to play an online game, so it doesn't affect performance. Not all features are known - these were gleamed from new KB articles released by Microsoft.
Yahoo and eBay team up?- They are looking to compete with Google. Here's what Yahoo gets: access to PayPal and Skype, to be used in a Click-To-Call scenario, and placement on the eBay toolbar. eBay gets ads from Yahoo and part of it's search marketing business. This should squelch some of the Yahoo acquisition rumors (by Microsoft), which for some reason had resurfaced recently.
Judiciary Committee approves net neurtrality?- It doesn't mean it's law, but it's closer. It will go before Congress, but has?a competing bill from the Commerce Committee. Promising though, is that it had bipartisan support coming out of the committee. If you're unfamiliar with net nuetrality, you should do your best to find out more about it. It's a very important issue, and one that could have long lasting impacts on the net as a whole. Basically, net nuetrality would prevent ISPs from charging service providers for prioritizing their traffic.
Dell and Google, sitting in a tree?- I can't believe I just wrote that! Anyway, Dell will be installing some Google software on their new machines, and will change the default search provider in IE to be google (wait - I thought that was too hard, and Microft had to be sued to do that!). Apparently, Google outbid Microsoft for this right, and it was possibly a $1,000,000,000 auction.

The Grapevine
Yahoo acquires Technorati? File this under recurring rumors. It's been a few days since this was talked about, so unless both sides are being very quiet about this, it's probably not true. It's also based on a very weak argument - an error page from Technorati that appears to be generated by Yahoo. Like I said, pretty weak.
Microsoft sets final pricing for Vista? This probably isn't accurate - Ultimate costs less than a few of the other SKUs, but it does potentially give a range of pricing for us to prepare for. Home Premium is set to be about $500. Ouch.
Microsoft in talks to buy Softricity? Softricity is a Boston-based company that makes virtualization software, and it's said to be in the final stages of negotiations.
Sony to drop low-end PS3 from UK launch? Basically, the head of Sony UK said that the lower end model just wasn't going to work very well in the UK, so it's "more likely that we will only launch the 60GB [high end] version". And in the UK - launch price for that is equivalent to $800 US dollars.
Windows Vista delayed again? I'm putting this under rumor, because so far it's just been speculation based on different speeches, but we'll see what happens. It does sound like Vista Server is going to be delayed, though. The reason for the rumors? Ballmer said "we think we are on track for shipping early in [2007]." But then adds that feedback could change that. So, like I said - speculation. On the other hand, it's a good way to grease the skids for a?later delay announcement.
Windows Live Mobile client in the works?- Microsoft is said to be working on a mobile client that would integrate with some of their Live initiatives. No details yet, but you can bet that one will IM capabilities. I'd also be fairly confident to put my money on mail and maps. It's still early, but there's?a beta application out there if you're interested. Now, if the beta came with a windows mobile 5.0 device, I'd be interested!

Odds & Ends

Bonehead of the Week
O'Reilly sends C&D to non-profit conference?- O'Reilly has a trademark on "Web 2.0" apparently (actually pending), and say they don't want it used in the name of any conference. Rather than going to Tom Raftery directly, they get lawyers involved, taking things overboard. Now, if they have a trademark, that's fine - but handle it the right way - and again, I'm not talking laws here. The blogosphere is ripping Tim O'Reilly and the whole O'Reilly family for hiding behind lawyers and using legalese to explain away their decision. The best part? Tom asked Tim to speak at the conference - and Tim never said anything about not using Web 2.0- at that time.

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Editing Project Files - The Easy Way

posted on 05/22/06 at 11:27:15 pm by Joel Ross

When I was using Visual Studio .NET 2002 and 2003 a lot, I spent a lot of time in Notepad tweaking project and solution files. Well, in Visual Studio 2005, Microsoft has made editing project files much easier. The reason for doing this is pretty straightforward. The uses for project files has changed. Yes, the main purpose is to maintain which files are part of the project, but it also doubles as an MSBuild file, and you have to have an easy way to edit those files.?

To make that possible, Microsoft allows you to edit it right in Visual Studio 2005. Nice, but not necessarily obvious, but it's there - you have to unload the project, and then you can edit the file, and once you're done, you can reload it.

Now if just there was a nice, simple way to edit solution files...

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SQL Intellisense For Free

posted on 05/22/06 at 11:09:00 pm by Joel Ross

If you've used Visual Studio, and ever switched to SQL Server (Query Analyzer, for example), you've probably wished for Intellisense. I know I have. Now, Red Gate, makers of the best SQL products (besides the server itself) out there, is offering SQL Prompt for free until September 2006. I've downloaded it, and will be installing it soon, considering I work with SQL stored procedures on a daily basis right now. It adds intellisense to a whole slew of products, including Query Analyzer and Visual Studio.

I wonder if the whole free until September will end up like Microsoft's free for one year offer they had on the express products...

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Windows Media Player 11: Installed

posted on 05/19/06 at 03:58:22 pm by Joel Ross

I'm an avid user of Windows Media Player, so when the beta was rumored to be available on Monday, I was checking for it regularly. When it was finally released on Wednesday, I downloaded it and installed it immediately. Overall, I like the new UI, but there are a few features that used to be there that apparently aren't under a normal usage pattern.

Why do I say that? Well, most of the features I am missing have to do with deleting media from my machine. Now, I have a feeling that doing that is outside of the average user's use case. I do it on a regular basis because I use WMP to listen to podcasts, and once I'm done with 99% of them, they get trashed. No point in keeping them around after I got what I wanted out of them, right?

But now, that's much harder to do. You can't delete from the "Now Playing" screen, which is understandable if you're working with a library of music or programming that you generally want to keep around - but I don't. So, I have to switch back to the Library tab, and then go find it in the library to delete it - and yes, from the Now Playing menu, you can get to it easily, but it's still more steps than before.

On top of that, I have a dynamic playlist set up to find all files downloaded by FeedDemon, and I used to be able to delete directly from there too, but not anymore. Luckily, most of them appear under the "Recently Added" list, and you can delete from there.

Other than that, it's pretty nice. I do like the updated mini-player look in the task bar (which I didn't realize was updated at first - you don't see it until you reboot):

Windows Media Player

I don't think it adds any new functionality, but it's pretty, as is the whole new UI.

Overall, it's impressive. Harder to delete, but still, an improvement over v10. Still no podcasting support though, and that's a disappointment, really.

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RossCode Weekly #048

posted on 05/19/06 at 03:04:14 pm by Joel Ross

RossCode Weekly #048?- 05.19.2006

So now that RCW is back to written format, I'm going to make a few changes. I think Friday will be?a good day to publish it, leaving me the weekend to basically ignore the tech news and catch up during the week.

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News & Views
Want to know the future of tech? Turn to porn?- once again, the adult industry is ahead of the tech curve - this time with their stance on DRM. Vivid Entertainment is offering full movie downloads that can be burned to DVD and played on any DVD player or computer - DRM free. of course, they have less concerns than the rest of the movie industry...
80% of DVR users skip ads?- Shocking! Still, only 3% of ads are skipped overall, but look for advertisers to start demanding lower ad rates since they aren't getting watched, which will be the case more and more as DVRs get really popular.
Yahoo's new Homepage?- you have to be running Firefox 1.5 or IE 6, but if you are, you can see the new homepage. I can't say much more, since I'm running IE 7.
Microsoft Denies Xbox2go?- Head of XBox team says they aren't even thinking about portable XBox right now.
Microsoft launches CodePlex?- We live in a Web 2.0 world, so it's beta, but it's out there. It's basically GotDotNet done right, and is a web interface sitting on top of Team Foundation Server. If it scales well, it could be the SourceForge of the .NET world.
Windows Media Player 11 in public beta?- It's a nice look and supposedly is much better at handling large libraries and synching to devices. There's a few things missing that I relied on, but overall, it's pretty nice and worth a look.
Microsoft releases Vista Adviser?- This will tell you if your computer is ready for Vista. Hint: bare minimum is a 20 GB HD (15 GB free), 800 MHz processor, and 512 MB RAM. That's for the core. If you want it to look nice, well, you better be ready to shell out some cash.
Google reader for your phone?- Google has released a mobile version of Reader, including the Reader module for your personalized Google homepage.
Google adds RSS Feeds for search history, bookmarks?- You have to be logged in to get to them, so I wonder how those feeds will work with either an online aggregator, such as Bloglines, or with offline readers that aren't based on a browser engine (or one that your cookies aren't stored in). But, if you have a browser that supports RSS (such as IE 7), then you can have a list of recently searched terms right there for you.

The Cold Wars
Google launches Google Web Toolkit?- It's essentially Atlas for Java - it allows you to write your HTML, Javascript, client-side interactive code in Java and have it spit out the necessary code to run in most modern browsers. Actually, it sounds like it might even go a step further than Atlas, so if you're a Java developer, you might want to check it out.
TiVo and Blockbuster deal goes live?- It was a rumor a while ago, but now it appears to be live. It's $30 / month and includes TiVo service and the 3 at a time service from Blockbuster Online - a savings of about $8.
Sony and Panasonic create a new HD Format?- It's called AVCHD, and it's designed for camcorders. It's nice to see these two agree on a format. It records at 18 Mbs (current non-hd camcorders are 8.5 Mbs) and fits on the current 8cm DVD discs. It'll shoot 1080i and 720p and supports 5.1 and 7.1 audio. Uses the same compression as Blu-Ray to, so it'll play on Blu-Ray players.
MySpace offering downloadable TV shows?- Burger King is going to sponsor two episodes of 24 that will be free.
AOL releases a YouTube clone?- It's called UnCut Video. It's really not that surprising, considering how much Jason Calacanis has been talking about YouTube lately. You can upload up to five minute videos (a way to prevent pirating), but no tagging.
Yahoo released a YouTube clone?- Not to be outdone, Yahoo is also launching a video sharing service.?It may eventually go further, with things such as video production features, but for now, it's another video sharing site. What's amazing is that AOL and Yahoo launch in the same week, when these have probably been in development for months.
Palm launches Palm-based Treo 700p?- It's got 128 MB of memory, dial-up networking, bluetooth, 1.3 megapixel camera, SD Card slot and email access for Outlook and others.
SkypeOut free in US and Canada for rest of year?- this definitely lowers the barrier to entry for trying a VoIP solution. My wife recently got a bluetooth headset, and now she might have a reason to give this a go - and then, just maybe, we can drop the land line! The calls are to any number in the US or Canada, and it has to be from the US.
Apple launches MacBook?- 13.3" widescreen (1200x800). Available in both black and white and starts at $1099. That seems pricy for such a small screen, but then again, I'm not a Mac guy either.
Windows Live Wifi?- an upcoming suite that includes Connection Center, Hotspot locator, and Safetly Center. It looks like a nice, online way to manage your wireless connections and help you find more.
Windows Live Publisher Portal launches?- It will be in conjunction with Windows Live Books, which will rival Google's book search, and allows publishers to add their content to the book search.
Maxthon readying version 2.0?- This is actually my browser of choice, and I'm excited to see the new features. They've had over 50,000,000 downloads, which is pretty good. And they recently got a nice round of funding.

The Grapevine
IE usage slips, Firefox usage rises?- but not by much. Since January, IE usage is down by 0.65% to 85.17% and Firefox rose by 0.56% to 11.79%.?Oddly, IE usage has risen in the US from 80.9% to 82.47% in that same period (IE 7 release, maybe?)
Firefox 2.0 Alpha released?- The second alpha, and not recommended for everyday users. A bunch of new features, but nothing jumps out as a killer feature.
Sony to launch Blu-Ray laptops in June? The AR11S with a 17" screen. Big machine: 2 GHz Core Duo, dual 200 GB drives, 1920x1080, 256 MB video card, Bluetooth, Wifi, S-Video out. Big: 8.4 pounds and $3700.
Sun to open source Java?- This is one of those confirmed rumors. Whatever that is. Anyway, Sun has acknowledged that they will eventually open source Java, but no word on timeframe. Of course, ask any Java developer, and they'll tell you it's all open source anyway!

Odds & Ends
Blue Security shuts down?- If you're not familiar with Blue Security, they were and in Israeli company trying to beat spammers at their own game - they would flood spammers with unsubscribe requests, but they underestimated the power of spammers, who retailiated with DDOS attacks. Well, Blue Security has relented, bolstering spammers and potentially scaring off any future spam attackers. Maybe they should have called in the Israeli military to handle it...

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