Monthly Archives: August 2008

Worrying too much…

I’ve been worrying about all of the stuff I need to do before I fly off to Sydney tonight for TechEd Australia.  There’s my 2 session decks to finalise, the first draft of my Women in Games conference keynote to polish off, there’s my Australian Visa to organise, my long term car parking to book, my final checks of the stuff I need to take (including my Diving certification in case I have some free time to dive).

And I’ve been worrying about the length of the list of things that I’m worried about too.  So Pauls blog post about how worrying won’t get you anywhere has made me stop and think about things.

I love the last paragraph:

Stop making excuses. Worrying isn’t going to solve anything anyways. Start spending your time working on other things. When and if something bad actually happens, just get started on the solution. Seriously, it works.



I’ll try.  It takes my mind off the length of the list anyway!

See you in Sydney…

IE8 – jumping the gun

Well I posted yesterdays post too early.  We now released IE8 beta 2 and I’m even more impressed than I was yesterday.

how about trying out the Accelerators – Highlight an address in a web page, click the blue button and hover over “Map” or try Right Clicking a Page and Choosing Translate with Windows Live. Check out the new IE Gallery that has cool accelerators and slices from Digg to FaceBook to Ebay

More later. I’m off to do some browsing…

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I really do like IE8

I’m usually loath to install really early versions of our dogfood software.  As a manager, I need to make sure that all of my line of business tools are available in case I need to do some team admin, planning or validating Expenses claims – things like that.

But I installed the Beta version of IE8 and so far, I’m impressed. it’s actually the developer preview too.  It makes the web page much more interactive somehow.  The activities are particularly cool.

Activities are contextual services that provide quick access to external services from any webpage. Activities typically involve one of two types of actions:

  • "Look up" information related to data in the current webpage

  • "Send" content from the current webpage to another application

So here’s an example of an activity tag that appeared on a blog page I was looking at.  I clicked on the green arrow that appeared and got the following drop down


These are my Activities and they also appear if I right click anywhere on a web page too

iE8 right click

So straight away I have a more responsive and interactive web site.  I can add more Activities using the web page.

The media seem to like IE8 too.  Here are some of the stories I’ve read so far…

Web browser to get ‘privacy mode’

Microsoft plans Internet Explorer privacy mode

Microsoft to protect furtive web searches

Microsoft’s IE 8 puts giant web hole on notice

Microsoft planning IE privacy mode

IE 8 looking like a November release

IE 8 Beta 2: Privacy is about more than cookies


So when Beta 2 arrives – perhaps you’d like to take a closer look?  So far I’m impressed with what I’ve seen and for me to be this impressed by a Beta 1 product, then the final result is going to be amazing…


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come and meet one of the programmers from Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise

I’m presenting one of the Keynotes at the Women in Games Conference at the University of Warwick, Coventry, UK on 10-12th September 2008 which is being organised by Nicola  There’s not much time left to register for this conference so I’ve included some details about what she is trying to achieve across the games industry by organising this: conference


Nicola Bhalerao, a female games programmer on Rare’s upcoming title, “Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise” is co-organising this year’s Women In Games Conference with Jane Sinclair and Sara Kalvala, both Associate Professors in Computer Science at nearby Warwick University.

Nicola is in the minority as a female in the industry, and even more so as a programmer.  She realised there were so few women working in games, and wanted to do something about addressing this issue.  That is why this year’s conference will be looking at such things as what the perception of the games industry is to outsiders, and reasons why girls are turned off technology at a young age.

Sign up rates of students studying Computer Science have fallen in recent years and women are very much in the minority. This is why Jane and Sara wanted to get involved in the conference.  Computing in games is one career choice available to Computer Science graduates, though not always obvious to all, but a very attractive and creative industry to be in.

There is plenty of research going on into why and how women play games, and the way they are portrayed, and this is another aspect of the Women In Games conference that makes it so fascinating.  Bringing together academia and industry to discuss all these ideas, and explore ways in which more women can be encouraged to seek careers in games makes for a unique conference.

Although concerned with women this conference is also open to men! The industry needs a meaningful dialogue between the sexes as it moves forward.

Registrations filling up FAST – deadline is Friday 5th September

Deadline for registration is Friday 5th September, sign up now to ensure your place.  Conference-standard accommodation is available on campusno need to drive during the conference, parking is free, and evening meals and entertainment all included!  Just sign up for accommodation when registering –follow the registration link on the 2008 page at

Conference Dinner at Warwick Castle

We have a fabulous conference dinner, a mediaeval feast arranged at Warwick Castle, sponsored by Blitz Games Studios (  It is included in the conference price, and is sure to be an excellent night!


Got something to advertise?  Get in touch to find out what sponsorship options we have on offer.  The conference relies on the generosity of our sponsors.

For further details see or contact


Teched Australia: Will you be the Ultimate Expert?


I’m really looking forward to TechEd Australia – Jeff has really been building the momentum and has got everyone involved in the Ultimate Expert – speakers too.  You can be the Ultimate Expert too – try and beat all of the Microsoftees thereimage – that would be fun…


Have a look too at the map showing where everyone is travelling from to attend – I hope they do that at IT forum in November too.  And looking at this map makes me realise that the guys from Perth have a hell of a long journey to attend the event.  Especially as Australia has a larger land mass than the US too (see the Live mesh link above for the actual figures)  :-)

The Active Directory User Group

…has been created here in the UK.  I wanted to call this blog post “The Very Useful User Group” as I think that this group will fundamentally help people with their AD challenges in their environments.

So many people use AD, but use only about 10% of it’s functionality – which means products like Exchange 2007 can’t take full advantage of it.  Perhaps you aren’t aware of some of the features you can implement?  perhaps you’re not too comfortable with Group Policy, FSMO roles or Replication.  Perhaps it “just works as it is” and you don’t want to mess around with things.

But I think that having a well constructed AD forest is key to optimising your infrastructure and moving towards a more Dynamic environment instead of the Basic Environment that most of us work in at the moment.

The Very knowledgeable Mark has done a great job in creating this user group and I look forward to the first ADUG meeting and watching the forum threads grow.  So take the time to register if you’re interested in Active Directory, contribute if you’re an AD expert, or ask that pesky question you’ve wanted to know the answer to.

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Get £50 off Remix08 UK

There’s chance to get yourself a discount for Remix in the UK.  All you need to do is use this code whilst booking your place


There’s quite a lot of topics covered at Remix if you’re a web designer or Developer.  Here are some of the session topics:

 Silverlight 2 – What this rich interactive technology is and what it can deliver

· Surface – Departing from Graphical User Interface to Natural User Interface and how this will effect creative UX and development

· ADO.NET Data Services – Enable your applications to expose data as a RESTful service, easily consumed by web clients

· Internet Explorer 8 – What every web developer needs to know about its enhancements, including AJAX, CSS, DOM, scripting and new built-in tools support

· The Beauty and the Geek – Looking at Designer and Developer work flows

· Digital Advertising - Digital creativity and the evolution of online advertising now and in the future

· Mobile UX – Creating compelling user interaction on the small screen

And with a speaker list including:

· Scott Guthrie has recently been driving the development of Silverlight – the cross browser, cross platform plug-in for delivering next generation media experiences and rich internet applications for the web

· Bill Buxton one of the world’s leading user interaction researchers and authors – and someone who has been awarded for Lifetime Achievement by ACM SIGCHI for fundamental contributions to the field of Computer Human Interaction

· Brendan Dawes who has helped forge the way we look at brands like Diesel, BBC, Channel 4, Disney, Benetton, Kellogg’s and Coca-Cola

· Sara Ford the program manager for CodePlex, Microsoft’s open source project hosting site

· And many more… keep checking for updates – or follow them on Twitter

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Deep Zoom and the launch of Photosynth

Here’s another example of Deep Zoom and photo mosaic software that I found on Channel9.  a nice co-incidence as I found it the day that Photosynth has launched.

Shame about the (rest of the)photo though as it doesn’t have universal appeal – well not to us women.  Apologies for that.  If you have an avatar on Channel 9 you might be able to find it.  And I’ve embedded the controls into the blog which is neat.

Come on ladies – I’m sure we could put something interesting together – although I’m still amused by the LOLCats Deep Zoom I found the other day. 

It’s really great that Photosynth has now officially launched – I’ve been using the beta for a while now and I’m looking forward to uploading one of my own collections to zoom around.  If you’re new to Photosynth, a video of how to make a synth is available here.    Using Seadragon technology you get just the pixels you need, exactly when you need them. you can browse through dozens of 5, 10, or 100 megapixel photos without waiting around for everything to load.

And to amuse you when you’re navigating your way around some of the photosynth collections – here are a few keyboard shortcuts you can try:


Zooming and Neighbours

Scroll wheel   Scrolling the mouse wheel zooms you in or out. The zooming is centred around your current mouse position.

+ or –   Zoom in or out around the centre of the window.

or →  Move left or right to a neighbouring photo

or ↓  Move inwards or outwards to a neighbouring photo

u or j   Move up or down to a neighbouring photo

Tours and History

Spacebar   Go to next photo in the spatial tour.

Shift-spacebar  Go to previous photo in the spatial tour.

. (period)   Go to next photo in alphabetical order by filename. (Depending on your camera, this is usually shooting order.)

, (comma)   Go to previous photo in alphabetical order by filename.

z   Go to the last image you were on. (Like Back in a Web browser.)

Z   Undo z. (Like Forward in a Web browser.)

Fun with the Point Cloud

Ctrl  Holding the control key down temporarily hides all photos allowing you to see the point cloud in all its glory. Dragging a halo with the control button down lets you spin around the entire point cloud. Try it!

p   Switches among three modes: points, images, both

Useful Shortcuts

Enter  Centre the current image

f   Toggle full-screen

Toggle between 2D and 3D

m   Go to the next 3D group in the synth

y   Toggles world-up verses image-up. This is useful when Photosynth has trouble working out which way is up.

Free Navigation (Gamers Only!)

w s a d e c  Doom-style free navigation

l ‘ ; ]   Rotate the current camera view

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Your Visual DNA quiz

I’ve just had a bit of fun with this quiz and thought I’d share it.  you click on photos that appeal to you according to the questions and it comes up with a fun personality quiz.  here’s mine…


Wish I was a High Time Roller though – now where’s that champagne!…

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Live Mesh extended – now available in more countries

I love Live Mesh.  I use it to do really effective product support on both my mother and my mother in law’s PC. 


I sync files into their own personal folder and use the “Connect” feature to troubleshoot issues that they have and it’s so much easier to manage their machines than just listening to them try to describe what they want to do over the phone. 


So I was pleased to notice that we’ve extended the Mesh technical preview coverage to include Canada, India and Ireland.  It’s still only available in English at the moment – it’s a Technical preview after all but we’ve reached out further than  just the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand.

it’s well worth having a look at – even though you feel like the families unpaid support technician sometimes – this would make it a bit easier for you.  And with the ability to keep 5Gb in sync you can make sure your files are backed up – wherever you are…


Get Meshed

if you are in US/UK/Australia/New Zealand/Canada/India/Ireland  go to

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