Thursday, August 31, 2006

Windows Media Player 11 Beta 2 released.

Microsoft released Windows Media Player 11 Beta 2 for Windows XP today.

Among the major changes since beta 1 include:

  • Fixing issues. Fixes have been made for issues that occurred in the first beta release of Windows Media Player 11 for Windows XP.
  • Additional online stores are now available. More online stores are available in this beta release of Windows Media Player 11 for Windows XP. For a listing of online stores that are now available, see Availability of online stores.
  • Changes to sharing digital media content. The functionality of Windows Media Connect is now integrated into Windows Media Player 11 Beta 2 for Windows XP as the new Media Sharing feature, which lets you enjoy the contents of your Windows Media Player library from anywhere in your home. If you have a home network (wired or wireless), you can use Windows Media Player 11 to stream the contents of your library to networked devices such as Xbox 360 or other digital media receivers. For more information, go to Digital Media at Home.

See here for Release Notes for Windows Media Player 11

One item that might be of note for Media Center 2005 users is the following:

Cannot play back recorded TV that is protected with media usage rights in Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 after 3 days

Recorded TV shows that are protected with media usage rights, such as some TV content recorded on premium channels, will not play back after 3 days when Windows Media Player 11 Beta 2 for Windows XP is installed on Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005. No known workaround to resolve this issue exists at this time.

For more information about installing the Player on Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, see Installing the Player on Windows XP Media Center Edition.

If you are interested in trying out Windows Media Player 11 Beta 2 for Windows XP, it is directly available from Microsoft Downloads or through the Windows Media Player 11 website.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Free Zooomr Pro accounts for bloggers

As you may have seen over the last few days, I've been using Zooomr to host my pictures. Blogger's handling of image files just plain stinks, and I didn't want to pay for a Flickr Pro account. Thankfully, Zooomr has come to the rescue.

What is Zooomr? As a project that started on a late October 2005, Zooomr was born to explore the information inside of photos. It aims to be not merely another photo sharing service, but something that helps connect people together through photos. Using Zooomr, you can do the following:

  • Show your favorite photos to the entire world in anyone's language
  • Actually put your photos on the map!
  • Add sound to your photos
  • Define who's inside a photo and maybe become famous
  • Add notes/portals to your pictures
  • Feel at ease when sharing private photos with friends and family members

Zooomr has been getting a lot of play in the blogosphere due to their offer of free Pro accounts to people who are bloggers. By hosting a picture on Zooomr, and incorporating it into a blog post, you can get a free Pro account too. Having a Pro account allows you to upload 2.5 gigs of photos every month. If you want, feel free to look at my photostream on Zooomr.

If you are looking for a place to host your pictures, in full quality, take a look at Zooomr. Coupled with the free Pro account offer for bloggers, it might just be what you are looking for.

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Ben Petch visits Toronto... Time for a planner get-together

Ben Petch, one of my classmates from the Planning program at the University of Waterloo, has been working in Yellowknife since January. He recently went on a vacation to Greece, and upon his return to Canada, decided to make a stop-over in Toronto to see his folks.

Thankfully, he left enough time to see his friends as well. For the rest of my classmates, it was a great catalyst to hold an event that would bring all of us all together again, and what a night it was.

The night started with dinner at the Bloor Street Diner. Dawn, Lindsay, Max, Vince, Irene and I met up with Ben for dinner. It was a decent venue for dinner, but more importantly, it was a chance for all of us to catch up on what has been going on. Perhaps the only downside of the night happened during dinner, as Irene found out through a phone call that her grandmother passed away as a result of a heart attack. Understandably, Vince and Irene left after dinner. Irene, our thoughts are with your family in this difficult time.

The rest of us pushed on toward the Bedford Academy where the most of the other Planners were going to meet. We decided to cut through Yorkville area, and lo and behold, we had our very own Zanta sighting. I guess it was only fitting that Ben had a chance encounter with this Toronto 'icon' during his brief stopover.

We started off in the patio; however, the rain pushed us inside. Regardless, more and more planners kept arriving. Among those that were able to make it included Alvin, Adam, Craig, Isaiah, Rickett, Shannon, Emily, Tom, Katherine and Mark Suarez. This was definitely the largest get-together since we last met up back in Waterloo prior to graduating. Hopefully over the years, even with everyone pursuing divergent career paths, we can continue to have the occasional get-together and have this many people attend.

Here are some pictures of the event.


Hosted on Zooomr

For all the rest of pictures that were on my camera, visit my Zooomr page or more specifically, the tag for all the pictures from this night's event. Thanks to Mark Suarez for helping to take many of the pictures for me.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Matt Goyer is leaving Microsoft

Matt Goyer, a member of the Microsoft eHome team, announced today in his blog that he is leaving Microsoft.

I first met Matt at the 2005 MVP Summit, but I had heard of him before he even went to Microsoft.

Matt went to the same university as I did (University of Waterloo). As a result, I assume that he had Larry Smith as a professor for an economics class at some point during his university career.

For those of you who don't know who Larry Smith is, he is one of those professors that everyone at a university knows about. You know those classes that people take because of a famous professor? Larry Smith was one of 'those' professors. He even won a Distinguished Teaching award in 1993.

Anyways, I had heard that there was a website with Larry Smith's famous quotes, so I searched for it. It was that action that brought me to Matt's website which had a page called 'Larry Smith Lingo & Prof Quotes'. From there, I learned about Matt's interests, including his work with digital music (i.e. his accomplishments with Fairtunes). I wasn't the only one at the University who read about Matt, as even the university newspaper, Imprint, wrote up an article about Matt and Fairtunes. Perhaps you might have even read about Matt and Fairtunes in Time Magazine.

In and around that time, I was beta testing Freestyle (Media Center 2002) and thought that it might be cool to somehow link the concepts brought forward by Freestyle and Fairtunes together. Fast forward a couple of years, and I discovered that Matt Goyer was working for Microsoft in the eHome team, through his Media Center Blog.

For those that don't know Matt through his blog, one of the places that you may have seen the results of his work is through the TweakMCE tool. Other areas of Media Center that he was involved in are listed on his blog.

I wish Matt all the best for the future. While Matt won't be at Microsoft anymore, I'm sure that we'll be hearing more about him, no matter what technological niche he chooses to work on. Microsoft will definitely have some big shoes to fill as a result of his departure.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

ATI Catalyst Control Center 6.8 version display

Someone on the newsgroups made a very good observation after installing the ATI Catalyst 6.8 drivers. It would appear that after installing the Catalyst 6.8 drivers, including the Catalyst Control Center (CCC), the version shown inside the CCC is still 6.7.

Example of the ATI CCC after installing Catalyst 6.8

Apparently, ATI didn't increment the version shown in the CCC, and by the time they realized this, it was too late to make the change, as the driver package had already gone through the WHQL process. If ATI wanted to make the change, they would have had to go through the certification process again, which would have delayed release of the Catalyst 6.8 driver set by a week. Given that the version display would have been purely comestic, ATI decided to leave things as they were.

Thanks to 'djenkins6' from the newsgroup for bringing this up.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

ATI Driver Updates - Catalyst 6.8 and Theater 550/660 drivers

ATI released updated drivers for its Radeon 9500 and higher video cards and tv tuner cards based on the Theater 550/660 chipset.

For those of you using Windows XP Media Center 2005, these drivers should be useful to you.

Direct links to the download pages are available here.

Among the main features of the Catalyst 6.8 drivers include

  • Improved shader compiler and transform engine optimizations have led to many significant performance gains in OpenGL applications across the entire Radeon® X1000 series of products.
  • Optimizations made to ATI's graphics memory manager have led to significant gains in DirectX applications that make heavy use of graphics memory on 256MB ATI graphics cards

Additional updates can be found at the release notes link at the above Driver download link.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rogers Cup 2006 Conclusion

The Rogers Cup in Toronto ended a couple of days ago, with Roger Federer winning the men's singles title over Richard Gasquet.

It has been an extremely busy 13 days for me, working with a team of over 130 volunteers to ensure that all the tournament transportation needs were covered. As such, I did not get to blog as much as I had intended to. While things on a whole went pretty well, there are always areas for improvement that we will work on over the few months to ensure that things are even better for next year's tournament.

Here are some pictures from from either myself or my brother, Gary.

This was the transportation area, where players, officials and other tournament guests came to when they wanted transportation.


Here are three action shots that my brother took of Roger in action, against Sebastian Grosjean.

This is the car that Roger was driven around in. It is a Mercedes Benz S550. According to Roger's driver during the tournament, Roger was showing *him* some of the features of the car, as he himself owns one of these cars.

Here's a little inside story. For drivers who worked during the night shift, Gavin Ziv, the Tournament Manager, often gave us some candy to keep us going into the early morning hours (there were a couple of nights where the volunteers worked until 1:30 am). By chance, we discovered that Roger and his girlfriend Mirka liked this particular candy. So as a parting gift, we gave him a package of these Ice Breaker candies, along with a specially modified accreditation tag. Certainly, it is not the same as the $400,000 in prize money that he received for winning the tournament, but it is the thought that counts, right?

Congratulations on a successful tournament, Roger

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Players arrive in Toronto

With the weekend nearly over, most of the players have arrived in Toronto for the Rogers Cup. The committee that I am in charge of, the Transportation Committee, are the first point of contact for most players, as we pick them all up from the airport and take them either to the Rexall Centre, or to their hotels.

Here are pictures of Carlos Moya and Rafael Nadal practising on site at the Rexall Centre, courtesy of my brother, Gary.

Carlos MoyaRafael NadalRafael Nadal

Unfortunately, we've had some withdrawls from the tournament, including Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick, but things are well, all things considering.

Main draw play starts on Monday with Ivan Ljubicic, David Nalbandian, Tim Henman and Fernando Gonzalez in action. Monday night is the big Opening Ceremony, with Tennis Canada inducting Bob Bedard, Ivan Lendl and Roy Emerson into the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame. This ceremony will be followed by James Blake in action against Canadian youngster Philip Bester with Carlos Moya in action on Court 1.

Hope everyone enjoys the festivities that are planned.

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