Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Christmas Lights ....

Just a fun bit of trivia for you. The awesome Christmas Light Show to the Song of Wizards of Winter, was actually orchestrated using Windows! The software and hardware used is available at Light-o-Rama (although apparently there are others D-Light and Animated Lighting).

Instructions and the how-to and details of what he did are available at A website his friend runs.

Windows Rocks!

Taking Group Photos?

If you don't know, I'm a big photography enthusiast. I carry a camera at all times, and have a larger more effective camera that I take to places I know I'll be taking good photos.

Anyways, over the holiday, I was taking photos of all my cousins kids, who don't have the time or patience to help me capture a great photo of them. A new tool from Microsoft Research called Group Shot is now available for such problems. I'm going to be checking it out soon on those photos I took of my cousins kids to see if I can't get a good composite!

Monday, January 16, 2006

XBOX Support Rules!!

Ok, I know that I posted already today (hopefully you don't consider this overwelming), and I know that I work for Microsoft, but I gotta give these guys credit.

Stepping back for a second, let me start at the beginning. I didn't pre-order my XBOX 360, I thought perhaps from the first launch of the original XBOX, there were plenty left over, why pre-order? Well, come November 22nd, 2005, I was outside CompUSA at 3am in the dark with some other keen fellows. I was pretty happy with myself, I had gotten some sleep, and I was #22 in line! Sweet!

Five hours later, I was discouraged to find that only 16 XBOXes had arrived at this location and I was, for lack of better terms, SOL. My desperate hunt for a 360 (no we can't just buy them at the company store) managed to land me an XBOX on December 21st. I thought I had one from Gamestop, but it turns out they were hacked, and someone put their 360 webpage online without their knowledge. Finally, Circuit City came through. Then Fed-Ex lost the package, only managing to find it one day before I left for the holidays! I was done!

However, on the holiday's I started to quickly realize that there was a problem. Any 360 game I placed in the console reported a very nice animated graphic "Place this game into an xbox 360 in order to play it". Hrm, it was reading the games as a DVD, not a game.

Let me explain the process here, this is where I get REALLY impressed! I call 1-800-4-MY-XBOX, I get the tech after two or three pushes of buttons, the tech asked if I had a discrepancy between PAL and NTSC games and console. I did not.

Two days later, I had a box at my doorstep, with pre-paid shipping & packing instructions, I dropped it off at the local DHL and over-nighted to Microsoft (and no, it wasn't the Microsoft in my same state). This was Wednesady of last week. Tonight I was going to call to find out the status, but instead, I was greeted by a box on my doorstep and a note that says "Because we know you love your xbox, we've replaced it so you can get to playing it!" Sweet! I put it back in its place fire it up and bingo! I'm up and running again. Even the content I purchased from XBOX Live is readily available for me to download again!!!

Naturally, you're going to ask what about my saved games? I managed to transfer everything but my Perfect Dark Zero to my memory card, so I barely lost anything, and I was planning on finishing PDZ again anyways.

Well, you can call this gloating, but this post is meant to the folks at XBOX support, and Microsoft support in general. You guys Rock! Keep up the good work!

Windows Mobile 5.0 and Self-Signed Certificates

Happy New Year. I know, I know, the posting isn't as often these days, but when you're heads down on things that you can't speak about, it's a little hard to have other time to investigate cool stuff. And yes, for those of you interested, I'm still working on the steps for hosting multiple websites via ISA, I think that's my only outstanding request.

Anyways, now that Windows Mobile 5.0 is available, I'm allowed to discuss this particular topic. It's becoming known that the self-signed certificate that is created as part of running the CEICW (Configure E-Mail and Internet Connection Wizard) doesn't install on devices running the latest version of Windows Mobile. Well, the good news is, that's because we've made the device much more secure. As a result, your device is much more robust to threats from the outside world. However, it does unfortunately cause a slight headache for our SBS customers.

If you have an i-mate (typically the Audiovox SMT5600) you might not be completely out of luck, as over at Club I-Mate once you register your device (which yes, requires making an account) there is a device that can install such certificates on your device. Depending on how locked down your provider makes your phone this could be an option.

The quickest, most efficient way to get Over the Air Synch against the Exchange server to happen is to install a trusted certificate. But be careful! Not all certificates are created equal. Windows, and by the transitive property, Internet Explorer, trust far more root certificates than Windows Mobile based devices. When you're purchasing your certificate, if you plan to use a Windows Mobile based device against your SBS server, make sure the certificate chains up to one of the core root certificates: VeriSign, Cybertrust, Thawte, Entrust, GlobalSign and Equifax. Without this, to the mobile device, it just looks like a self-signed certificate...

Good luck!