This seemed pretty cool...

"Microsoft Location Finder is a client-side application that turns a regular WiFi enabled laptop, Tablet or PC into a location determining device without the addition of any separate hardware. When launched by a user, Microsoft Location Finder uses WiFi access points - or reverse IP lookup when WiFi is not available - to center and display the person's location on an MSN Virtual Earth map, enabling the user to quickly and easily search in their present location."

I wonder if the MSN Virtual Earth guys have thought about a Media Center app yet?

Categories: Virtual Earth | Comments [0] | # | Posted on Saturday, July 30, 2005 3:57:52 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

Make your voice heard to our product team -- leave a comment on this post with your feature requests.

[Don't know what our platform is today...? Check out the Windows XP Media Center Edition Software Development Kit (SDK) for more information.]

P.S. Make sure you read the question carefully, noticing the use of the word 'platform.'  I am more than happy to pass along consumer oriented feature requests, but my biggest influence is in the development of third party applications which extend Media Center.

P.S.S. Another way to ask the question: If you were to sit down and write an application for use with remote control and viewed on your TV, what developer features would you want or need?

Categories: Media Center | Media Center Application Design | Windows Vista | Comments [34] | # | Posted on Thursday, July 28, 2005 6:02:12 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

We are concluding that time of year at Microsoft where we write our reviews of the past year and ponder our goals and objectives for the next.  Several weeks ago my boss (Andrew) and I discussed my focus for this coming year.  I put the following on his radar to consider...

  1. I prefer to give up managing people so I can spend more time focusing on my family (to quote: 'I want to be a great feature PM for Ashleigh v1 and Lacie v1 -- they are the only software I will ever personally ship').
  2. I want to focus solely and squarely on our platform for the next version of Media Center on Windows Vista.
  3. I crave designing experiences and writing code to bring them to life. I love showing others 'how to' and getting them excited about the possibilities.

This week Andrew and I pretty much closed on all three -- I won't be managing people starting this coming Monday, get to do nothing but work on Windows Vista starting August 1 and get to write lots of sample code for our next generation platform for Media Center.

Thanks, Andrew, for listening to my heart and helping me achieve my dreams.  I'm still pinching myself to see if I wake up from this dream after nearly 6 years -- and it keeps getting better and better.

Categories: Career | Comments [0] | # | Posted on Thursday, July 28, 2005 5:45:09 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

I keep hearing folks in the blogosphere talk about how Apple is better and how Microsoft can't ship software.

Then I read Robert Scoble get on a roll here and here talking about the great software Microsoft is shipping today. So far, most of the comments and feedback are negative.  Robert must feel lonely.

I remember working at a company with a mixture of Macs, PCs and Sun Sparcs back in 1997.  The word around the geek water cooler then was Apple was dead, irrelevant and Microsoft was much better.  I remember thinking I should buy Apple stock, since it was trading for less than $5 for most of the year and never peaked above $7.  My thoughts were perhaps those few, lonesome souls saying 'Apple still matters' know something I don't.

Alas, I didn't buy.

A $1,000 investment in Apple stock at its maximum price in 1997 ($6.703) would be worth over $6,500 today.  The same $1,000 investment at the lowest price in 1997 ($3.422) would be worth over $12,500 today.

According to USA Today, Microsoft stock is trading at 16 times earnings while the average for the software industry is at 24 times earnings.  Do I work for a below-average company?  I don't think so.

I'm choosing to be lonesome with Scoble this time around.

Categories: Windows Vista | Comments [6] | # | Posted on Saturday, July 23, 2005 10:33:14 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

I've been running Windows Vista for two months now as my main desktop at work and it's by far the most astounding OS from Microsoft to date.  When I shift back to my Tablet running Windows XP suddenly food has no taste and the world is a dreary shade of gray.

I have Media Center running on Windows Vista.

I have Visual Studio 2005 running on Windows Vista.

I'm compiling apps for Media Center on Windows Vista in Visual Studio 2005. 

In a nutshell: If you are a developer for Media Center, you ain't seen nothing yet. :-)  You're gonna love it...

Categories: Media Center | Media Center Application Design | Windows Vista | Comments [6] | # | Posted on Friday, July 22, 2005 8:25:13 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

Do you want to test your extensibility application for widescreen compatibility without a widescreen monitor?

If yes, then...

  1. Click Start --> Run.
  2. Type 'C:\windows\eHome\ehshell.exe /widescreen'.
  3. Click the OK button.
  4. Using the mouse, click the 'Restore Down' button to run Media Center in a window rather than full screen.

Voila, a 16:9 implementation of Media Center.

Categories: Media Center | Media Center Application Design | Media Center SDK Code Sample | Comments [9] | # | Posted on Thursday, July 21, 2005 10:30:41 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

Go to page 4 at and you will find this little tidbit...

Longhorn Media Center: Developing for the 10-Foot Interface
Learn about the new extensibility model for building 10-foot (TV oriented) applications and services for the Longhorn Media Center Edition. This session includes integration into the product, design elements, and coding of samples using Avalon.

Hope to see you there!

Categories: Media Center | Comments [3] | # | Posted on Thursday, July 14, 2005 5:57:08 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

Don't know who Jeff Sandquist is...?  Among many other things he is Robert Scobles' boss (do any of us envy him this role????????).  Jeff is also largely responsible for Newsgator Media Center Edition (which you can access from the Online Spotlight feature of Windows XP Media Center Edition).  Jeff introduced me to Greg Reinacker and convinced me Newsgator was worthy of our time and effort.  I hadn't heard of Newsgator at the time, had only recently been introduced to 'the blogosphere' and my cup (actually more of a bucket) was already running over working on some (fairly big name) partners at the time for the launch event.

I'm glad I paused and listened to Jeff and we chose to work with Newsgator.  As a result, I now enjoy all Channel9 videos (and a good bit of other *casting content) from the comfort of my couch.

Anywho, Jeff is putting together a blogger meetup.  I'll be there, Jeff -- and I'll try to bring a few others along with me.

Categories: Geek Dinner | Media Center | Comments [0] | # | Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 6:38:59 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

Update on Michael Earls' travails (see this previous post)...

Sunday: Media Center is now the center of my Entertainment System, once again

Monday: Finally! Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound on Media Center

In summary...

"I'm now the happy owner of one killer Windows Media Center-Driven home theater setup.  I don't think I'll ever go back."

Yay!  Michael, because of your honesty and transparency I'm sending you some nice SWAG.  Enjoy your Media Center the way it was supposed to be...!

Categories: Media Center | Comments [0] | # | Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 5:53:47 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

Just one of the many reasons: Our product is fundamentally changing how people interact with their televisions.  Case in point: John Canning (my peer) and Andrew Adamyk (our boss) were in Europe this past week meeting up with Media Center partners.  As Andrew related...

We were doing internal training in Stockholm for subsidiary program management and in the morning John was demonstrating Media Center. On his machine he had installed a Media Center Add In which allows user to see news alerts within Media Center. In the middle of the demo an alert popped up saying "multiple explosions reported in London."  We all looked at each other and said - wow, what strange test data to use for an application. But then, after scrabbling around on different web sites, we realized we were seeing a real news alert…

It didn't matter where John was in Media Center (Music, Pictures, DVD, TV, Online Spotlight, etc.) -- he got an alert with important news -- doubly important for Andrew who is from the UK and has family / friends in London.

And here is the *really* exciting part: I was pondering John and Andrews experience today and realized it is totally possible to create a Media Center Add In which embraces and extends an Emergency Alert System.  The EAS today in the United States relies on the user listening to a live radio broadcast or watching live TV.  In many DVR equipped homes it can be rare for people to watch live TV (I even hear of some folks who ONLY watch recorded TV and forego all live events).  With Media Center it is possible to extend this important public safety system so those listening to personal music, watching a slideshow, playing a DVD, watching home movies or recorded (time shifted) TV -- in any room of the house with a TV.  Put another way, we have a platform which can be leveraged to alert people of important (and potentially life threatening events) in an ever increasing 'on demand' world where real time content is no longer the norm. 

I'll go into work from now on thinking *way* differently about our platform.  It's no longer just about great digital media experiences alone.  It's about doing our part to help keep friends and family safe.

Categories: Media Center | Media Center Application Design | Comments [5] | # | Posted on Saturday, July 9, 2005 6:41:17 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

A good friend shared this experience today.  I believe Jeff Foxworthy and the Blue Collar Comedy Tour fellers could turn this into a 'You might be a redneck if...'

Yesterday we had a job fair at work trying to fill some slots for a new branch.  One of our human resource folks told me about an interview she had that morning.  She was telling the applicant an important element of being a teller is sales.  The girl replied 'Oh, I don't think I've sold anything since trying to sell pot in high school.'

My friends conclusion: If you wouldn't have told your parents about it in high school, then it probably isn't a good topic to cover in a job interview.

Keep that in mind if you ever interview with Microsoft. :-)

Categories: Humor | Comments [1] | # | Posted on Friday, July 8, 2005 6:57:40 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

Michael Earls, author of An Introduction to Developing Software for Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 and Building .NET Add-Ins for Windows Media Center Edition has apparently given up on Media Center according to his post this morning.

But I don't think he has really convinced himself to do so, based on some of the kudos he gives in the rant...

"...the PC next to my television is exactly what I dreamed it would be - a way to record multiple television shows and maintain them for me, a way to listen to music, and a killer arcade machine..."

"The Media Center has worked great for recording television..."

...and the fact the root cause of his issues have nothing to do with Media Center itself...

"...all of the various drivers and software DVD decoders have caused me great pain..."

"...the problems I'm having with my machine have to do with the video and audio drivers..."

And I can't really believe as a developer he wants us to create yet another developer limiting (or downright unfriendly) set top box -- that would pretty much end his ability to extend Media Center (like his Yahoo example).

Michael, I'm happy to help you get the decoder and driver issues resolved...

Categories: Media Center | Comments [0] | # | Posted on Tuesday, July 5, 2005 10:05:07 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   
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