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beta 2 of windows live writer was released today.  go get it.  improved user interface, improved blog support, some new functions...you know all the good stuff you want in an update.  oh yeah and continued extensibility.

i took a quick second (after doing a little RTFM'ing [thanks charles]) and uploaded a custom manifest to my blog.  why?  because when in writer sometimes i want quick access to things about my blog (stats and such).  so i took a minute to "subtext"-ize a sidebar extension to writer...see:

i've got the nice little transparent subtext icon in the back and two custom buttons taking me to my various stats.  additionally, a link directly to the admin functionality.  i'll be playing around more with this stuff later.

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that they must scale their betas even...of all the stuff they have and all the scale they've already proven, when will they learn?

trying out their new stuff (google gears and mashup editor) i got this on the mashup editor page:

seriously, FIX YOUR ERROR page -- for a company that seemingly gets some level of ux, their failure messages are horrible, no links to direct me anywhere, no sitemap, etc...this does not pass the mother-in-law litmus.

and then installation failures abound on the gears installer...because their installer doesn't take into account proxies.


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hey mac users, educate me...what's a media center equivalent for osx?  i'm not talking apple tv -- i'm talking to receive television signal on my mac...

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well, i'm sitting at sky harbor airport waiting to get on a plane to head to dallas for the day.  the plane is supposed to depart at 6:50am (it's 6:32am as i'm writing this).  about five minutes ago, the pilot of the aircraft just walked to the counter and made an announcement.

he couldn't figure out the public announcement system, so just started shouting.  he gave first an informative update about a weather issue in dallas, and then went on a personal rant about how we were being mistreated because there was no gate agent, etc.  he was pretty harsh on his own airline...and i was surprised...encouraging people to write to the ceo of the airline to tell them how horribly they were being mistreated.

i first appreciated his update (the gate agent arrived mid-rant with the latest information), then was a little disappointed with how he was talking about his company...i felt like he wasn't even giving them a chance.

i've been traveling quite a bit lately and have seen so many unruly passengers treating flight attendants and agents pretty bad.  in my travels i've come to realize, *most* of it isn't the airline fault.  we take air travel for granted.  if there is such a bad weather situation, do we have the right to be so angry at an airline who made a decision in safety to ensure nothing happened?  sure the world isn't perfect, and neither are the airlines...but let us give them a break!

oh, and the pilot?  well, he went behind the counter, continued his rant, shared some explicative banter with his co-pilots...he lost my respect immediately.

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first, thanks to all who came out to the microsoft silicon valley campus on thursday to listen to me babble about microsoft and web developer technologies.  as promised, i said i'd make a post with answers to unanswered questions and/or concerns... so here we go!


expression web product: i learned some clarification on the fulfillment of the expression web product (note: if you didn't hear, those that registered and attended will receive a not-for-resale copy of expression web, one of the products we discussed and showed in the morning for developing/authoring standards-based web sites/pages/applications.  there was confusion (mostly on my end, well not mostyl...all) about where it would be shipped.  i've learned that it will be shipped to the address on file when you registered.  i told our fulfillment house that everyone put their information on the eval, and they said they would try to accommodate that, but that the address used during registration would be used. 

evaluations: for those who weren't able to get an evaluation form, this is required for the product fulfillment :-).  i took some business cards and will send you a note with a pdf of the eval form.  if you could kindly fill it out and fax it to me (fax number to be included in the email) i will appreciate you that much more.


here's some questions we got that i didn't know the complete answer to...

    • expression tools and source control...when will that happen : we don't have a definitive answer to this right now, sorry...when i know more i will post it.
    • cab/xpi deployment of silverlight: there were some strong opinions here despite the fact that the deployment is the same number of clicks for the end-user...with that said, the team continues to take feedback and i've provided the feedback from the attendees of the event to the deployment team. 
    • where can i get the silverlight.js file? - this is included in the sdk which is at http://silverlight.net -- if you want just the latest file only and don't want the sdk, see this post.
    • coho winery ajax application sample: where's the source code? download coho code here
    • silverlight for mobile?  watch the keynote from and you'll see a sneak preview -- it is definitely on our minds but we have nothing to show/talk about beyond that right now.

because there was discussion on the deployment of silverlight, i wanted to clarify the deployment process...

if the user does not have the plugin installed, they will be presented with a silverlight-branded experience indicating such.  there are two options for the user...the default is an image that looks like below telling the user to get the silverlight plugin:

you can alter the creation of your silverlight object, by using the inplaceInstallPrompt property (default is false) and changing it to true.  a typical createSilverlight function might look like this (taken from the sdk):

   1:  function createSilverlight()
   2:  {  
   3:      Sys.Silverlight.createObject(
   4:          "plugin.xaml",
   5:          parentElement,
   6:          "myControl",  
   7:          {             
   8:              width:'1024',
   9:              height:'530',
  10:              inplaceInstallPrompt:false,
  11:              background:'white',
  12:              isWindowless:'false',
  13:              framerate:'24',
  14:              version:'0.9'
  15:          },
  16:          {
  17:              onError:null,
  18:              onLoad:null  
  19:          },
  20:          null);           
  21:  }

by changing inplaceInstallPrompt (line 10) to true, then the user will be presented with a different branded experience:

this would allow them to click right there and install the plugin inplace without leaving the site.  note: the wording on this portion of the inplaceInstallPrompt is not to be edited per the sdk (since it involves the EULA of the plugin).  the images, however, can be altered to your liking -- these are just default user interfaces, you can provide your own and alter the javascript file that emits them.  an in fact, it might be a good idea...for example, if your silverlight application area is smaller than the default images, you may want to create a size-appropriate one (and vice-versa).  for example, you can create one that says this:

leveraging the inplaceInstallPrompt enables the user the fewest clicks to install the plugin and provides the same experience as other plugins. 

it was also asked what would be seen in an unsupported browser scenario (please note the browsers supported are IE, FireFox on windows and Mac, Safari and Opera (not currently but planned), the first image (indirect download) is what would be displayed in unsupported browsers -- directing them to a page that shows what the requirements are for download.

source and samples:

during the session we did some demonstrations using asp.net ajax and silverlight.  i'm going to include them here for reference.  these were quick samples and there are much better on the reference sites :-).  this is a visual studio 2005 web site project and requires the pubs database.  you'll need to change the connection string in the web.config to point to an instance of sql server that has the pubs database.

File: asp.net ajax and pubs data using client script


again, thank you much for attending and i hope it was informative.  you have my email...you have my blog.  i write a lot about web stuff so i encourage you to visit often or subscribe to my syndicated feed.  if i missed anything, let me know!