RossCode Weekly #016

posted on 2005-09-05 at 00:36:36 by Joel Ross

It was a busy week for me - I got a lot done, and I'm now back in Michigan after flying all night Thursday. I don't sleep well in planes, and Friday was basically spent recovering. Either way, I still made time to find all that's new this week.

Before I get into the content of this week's RCW, I want to point out a few things. First, I've swapped out a few ads to point to the Red Cross. I would encourage you to donate anything you can to the victims of Katrina. The devastation down there is unreal. I never thought we'd see something like this in the United States. I'm not going to get into politics and the blame game - what's happened has already happened, and now it's up to us to support them in any way possible. So, if you haven't donated already, click one of the Red Cross links and give. Or give to International Aid. Or anyone who's helping victims.

Now that you've helped, here's a couple of technology-related items around Katrina. First, the owner of, who's owned the domain for years before the hurricane, has taken this occasion to help, rather than accept the offers she's gotten from probable scammers who want the domain. Instead of cashing in, she's turned her site into an organized listing of useful information and links for victims and those who want to help. Katrina (the person), is?doing her part!

One?last bit before we get into the heart of RCW. Google has updated satellite imagery of New Orleans from Wednesday, August 31st. It definitely shows the devestation that's hit the land, but from a technology standpoint, it's amazing that this kind of information can be put together that fast.

A?promise from Tech Ed 2005 was fulfilled with the release of Skelta CMS Accelerator. This is a great new product for Microsoft's Content Management Server that allows for a much more flexible workflow that posts can go through. It's got some limits, but most CMS installs I've seen probably won't run into those limits anytime soon, and if they do, well, they're usually in a position to afford the higher end solution. Now, what happens when workflow is built into the next CMS framework?

Feedback from the blogosphere works. Yeah, we all know it's true. This time it's with the Podsafe Music Network, who took a little fire over the past few weeks for their Terms Of Service. Well, they took the feedback to heart, and have revised those terms.

So, just because the new file system that was supposed to be in Longhorn, or Windows Vista, won't be in the final release doesn't mean it's still not alive and well in the Microsoft Machine. That's right, WinFS has been re-born in the form of a beta released this week. It seems that a lot of people assumed that because it wasn't going to be in Vista, it wasn't going to be making a showing anytime soon. In fact, there was very little buzz around this before hand, but quite a bit afterwards. And the verdict is...that it's still out.

Let's stick with Microsof?for a bit here. They had quite a busy week. Let's stay with Microsoft proper though. They bought Teleo, a VoIP company, and it sounds like they plan to integrate those features into MSN Messenger, and bring it up to speed with what Skype offers. With AOL adding VoIP support, Google Talk, and now Microsoft buying Teleo, the market for Skype is dwindling. The more the major players in the online communication market consolidate, the less likely there's going to be a buyer for Skype, which means they better be prepared to stand on thier own.

Speaking of Skype (and diverting from Microsoft, I know!), they've released version 1.4 to beta. They proclaim to have the best voice quality ever, which is saying something, considering how good it already was. I'm still waiting for a nice stable version for my Axim X5, and I know a few people who would like a lower bandwidth option to use on thier smartphone (voice enabled - not just IM). You know, let me elaborate on my comments above. I'm not sure where Skype's funds come from, but if they're a VC funded company, which is my guess, the VC's are most likely hoping for a large sale after 4 or 5 years or an IPO. If I remember correctly, Skype is hitting the 3 year mark. If less and less big boys need a VoIP solution, Skype won't sell. That leaves an IPO, which could raise some good money. I'm not saying Skype can't survive on thier own - they've done a good job so far. I'm just saying that with more and more consolidation, the chance of sale becomes more and more unlikely.

Ok. Back to Microsoft. Well, MSN this time.?Dare is reporting that they have three new ways to search. First, you can search for feeds. Or, you can find pages that have feeds, and the last way is to search a site by folder. The last one is cool. When you search a site, you usually search the whole site (think of a big one, like CNN). Well, what if you only want to search?a section of the site - like world news. Now you can specify a particular folder to search in.

A few quick Microsoft hits: There's a "Blog This" button on MSNBC. This is older, but just being noticed by a few. SyncToy has hit 1.0. That was a very fast beta. Then, you have something from Microsoft Research. It's called GroupBar, and it allows you to group tasks and perform actions on those groups quickly and easily. I don't totally understand it all, but go give it a look for yourself.

No more /1 or /2 or /3 (/myw3b). Now it's just! It's still not an officially supported product, but it's looking better and better. And they've committed to make every feature work in both IE and FireFox. I'm still not sold on an online aggregator, but this is a pretty good one. No API that I've seen, but I bet that's coming down the pipeline.

Here's?a forecast into next week. It looks like the Firefox team will release the 1.5 beta. Hopefully, the extension developers will follow suit shortly and get them up to speed. My favorite new feature? Drag and Drop tab reordering - something Maxthon already has. Which is why I'll probably still stick with Maxthon.

Gotta have podcasting news, right? Two short items. First, AOL has a page dedicated to podcasting. I listen to the?top podcast in each column - This Week in Tech, and Sports Bloggers Live. I'd recommend both. Next, apparently CNet has been podcasting for a while now. I just found out, but I'll have to subscribe.

Google wasn't completely silent this week (although, almost). They've added three new features to their mobile search - local movies, local weather, and stock prices. And thier blog is still a press room.

This isn't Google news, but it is speculation about their plans for Google Talk. Om Malik speculates this could just be another way to generate ad revenue. And not the normal type of ads - contextual ads inserted into Talk conversations. No - voice ads. Advertisers will pay more for calls than clicks, and if you make it easy for someone to call, then you get more ad revenue.?Could Voice Activated Ads allow Google to add "Skype Out" calling features without charging consumers?

Technorati added a blog finding feature this week. It's a good idea, but there appear to be holes in the system. First, it relies on users to tell Technorati what their blog is about. With all the Slogs (spam blogs) out there, do you really want users telling you how they want to appear in search results? Would Google allow you to call them, and say you wanted to be included in every search for a certain term? No?- you need to actually provide content about that keyword to be included. I searched earlier today for blogs about ".NET" and didn't find any. This is another problem. The system doesn't seem to "figure out" what you're blogging about - it (again) relies on you to tell it. It's a good start, but it could use some work. Overall, though, it's a sound idea.

If you're a Linux fan, then why are you reading this? Just kidding. But maybe you just want to play around with a distribution? Well, Linspire is free for a couple more days (September 6th). This is your chance to write some hard core C in a *NIX environment. Ahh, the good ole days! (And yes, those are my roots - C on UNIX).

WinZip has released version 10 in beta. They now have two versions - standard and professional. Now without the nagging screen. Personally, I uninstalled WinZip as soon as I realized that it was built into Windows XP. I don't need the extra features it provides, although I did have a problem extracting a zip with a 2.7 GB file in it that WinZip handled just fine.

Two followups from last week. First, JetEye. I tried making a few JetPacks for this week's RCW, but what I found is that the index is too small. I couldn't find the pages I wanted to find - I searched on Monday night for WinFS beta, and only found a handful of results, where as Google had quite?a set. So I decided not to pursue it farther. Maybe as it gets a little more mature, I'll revisit it. The other followup is about Mambo. It is being taken forward by the open source development team, and being rebranded as Joomla. If you're running Mambo, it's probably time to migrate.

That's it for this week. Next week will probably be slow with the holiday, but we'll see. Either way, I'll be back with everything I find! And, don't forget to donate!?

If you see something that should be included in next week's RCW, send an email to weekly?at?rosscode?dot com.

Categories: RossCode Weekly