NEBytes Podcast

 While NEBytes monthly events are all about deep dives into Microsoft technologies for developers and IT professionals, we don’t have enough time to cover all the higher level news that relates to those technologies. Additionally, although the folk that attend the meetings may primarily work with Microsoft products, most of us will also be impacted to some degree by what Google, Apple, Adobe and any number of other companies do. That’s content that we think is worth covering too.


That’s one of the reasons that we’re launching a podcast. Of course the fact that you’d find it hard to stop us talking about technology and gadgetry is another reason that we wanted to do this.


Last night Andy, Ben and I sat down in our respective homes and recorded the first episode if the NEBytes Bytecast over Skype. I think it went pretty well, but we’ll have to see what it sounds like once it’s been edited, when it will also include an interview with Phil Pursglove, recorded at the May event last week. Since we’re new to this I don’t know exactly how long it’ll be before episode 1 goes online, but bear with us until we get into the swing of it.


I’ll post again when the podcast is available, or keep an eye on the NEBytes site.

New and Notable – 18th May 2010

These are a few things that I’ve picked up from Twitter and blogs this week. I may already have retweeted some of them if you’re following me on Twitter, but there are a few other things too. Some of it is new news, some of it is just new to me. I’ve never done a round-up post like this before – I might start to make it a regular thing, or I may never do it again – we’ll see (I appreciate feedback!)…


New Hotmail


When I heard the details of the forthcoming update to Hotmail a little while ago, I was surprised that they’d done enough that I actually felt genuinely excited about it. I intended to write a full post on it, but Microsoft have beaten me to that with this post on the Inside Windows Live blog, and the Hotmail preview site. I really like what they’re doing with integrating SkyDrive and Office Web Apps, as well as the social network integration. I currently use Gmail as the interface to my Hotmail account, but I think I’ll start to do the opposite when this Wave 4 update is released.


The 2010 Scripting Games are over, expert solutions being posted


I’ve recommended the Scripting Games before as a great thing to get involved in if you’re interested in building up your PowerShell skills. Unfortunately other things have stopped me taking part in this year’s games, although I do intend to still have a go at the challenges when time allows because I’m sure I’ll learn something from giving them a go. The reason that I’m posting about it now is that the expert solutions to the events are being posted. If you’ve taken part, go and see how the experts’ scripts matched up to your own. If you didn’t take part, have a go before you check out what the experts say.


Office Live Workspaces to use SkyDrive and Office Web Apps


Everyone who ever heard about Office Live Workspaces would’ve seen this coming a mile off, but it is now official.


Silverlight 4 Tools for Visual Studio 2010 released


There’s been a preview release of these tools available, but the final release is now released to the web and Scott Guthrie has blogged the deets. You don’t need the full version of Visual Studio 2010 to make use of these free tools – you can install them alongside the (also free) Visual Web Developer 2010 Express Edition.


Spotify offers new account options, opens floodgates


Spotify is about the best thing on the internet that wasn’t available in the States first! It’s a massive catalogue of streaming music, with recently added Facebook integration. Until now you’ve had the option of a free, invitation-only, ad-supported service, or Premium (for a tenner a month), which offered higher quality streaming and the ability to take your playlists offline, either on the desktop client or the iPhone/Android apps. Now you can pay half the Premium cost to get rid of the ads when streaming on the desktop, and Open accounts, which are like a limited trial, but open to anyone without an invite. The details are on the Spotify blog.


Really Good Space Shuttle Photos 


I’ve seen these posted in a couple of places (Steve Clayton was first) and they’re too good to not share. There’s over 40 shots on Boston.com’s Big Picture site, showing the preparation and launch of the Atlantis on it’s last mission.


Square card readers have started shipping


If you’re in the USA and have a desire to be able to accept card payments, you can now do it with Square. The free card reader connects to the headphone socket on your iPhone/iPad or Android device and the Square app lets you take payments, with Square taking their cut of the transaction. That’s the only charge and you don’t need a merchant account, so it’s all good. Wouldn’t be good for the UK since you have to use chip’n’pin these days. Don’t know whether that’s likely to be in Square’s future.

Kin

I was in the process of writing a post about Windows Phone 7 and I was going to add a quick side note to say that it hasn’t gone beyond my notice that Microsoft has also announced another line of phones. After it got longer than a quick side note, I thought I’d make a separate post…


Although I don’t like the names (Kin One and Kin Two), and I really want a phone that I can make my own by installing 3rd party apps and the like, I’m still quite intrigued by the Kin devices. I could totally see my step-daughter using one, and if I’m being honest, I’d probably get one as a 2nd phone for myself if I had that kind of spare cash lying around by the time they reach the UK on Vodafone. The Kin Two has the better spec, but I can’t help finding myself curiously attracted to the Kin One.


I particularly like the Kin Studio which is online storage that all of your photos and videos are automatically uploaded to from the Kin device. If you then what to share one of them, say via Facebook, the Kin will intelligently send it to Facebook from the Studio rather than uploading it again from the phone and taking up more bandwidth. It’s a neat system and means that your content is always backed up off-device. If you’re at all interested, I’d recommend checking out some of the videos from Kin.com, like this one:



 

NEBytes May Event – Making Powerful use of PowerShell 2.0 Easily

I’m a bit slow posting this one, especially since I was the one who planned it from the start, but better late than never. Next Wednesday evening, 19th May, I will be presenting at NEBytes in Newcastle on PowerShell 2.0. Here’s the overview…


With the launch of Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2, PowerShell became part of the core OS and added a bunch of 2.0 features. In this session, aimed at existing users of PowerShell as well as beginners, we’ll cover some of the new aspects of PowerShell which IT Professionals can use easily to manage their Windows systems. This will include remoting, background jobs, advanced functions, script debugging and more. There are some deep concepts at play here, but this session will make them accessible enough for you to start working straight away. For those with no experience of working with PowerShell, there will be a quick on-ramp to get you going.


Also on the bill is a developer session from Phil Pursglove entitled The Need For Speed: A Developers Guide to Velocity (aka AppFabric). That doesn’t mean anything to me right now, so I’ll be interested to hear that presentation myself.


The event is free (as usual), and if you want to come along, sign up at Eventbrite.

What’s on my Android (part 1)

I regularly get people, who have recently got an Android phone, asking me what apps I’m running on my HTC Hero. Having recently done a cull of apps that I don’t use, I thought it was worth posting a list on here of what I use now, on Android 1.5, and why.


News:


News Buzz Widget
Tech Buzz Widget
Mobile Buzz Widget
Gaming Buzz Widget


- I’ll cover those four together since they’re basically the same, just with different news feeds. When I find myself with a moment to glance at the news, these widgets are really handy. I have the regular News on my main home screen and the other three off a couple of pages away. Each of these is a bit configurable in terms of the content they cover and how often they refresh; they’ll typically hold the latest 20 stories for you to browse through.


Engadget


- This is a really nice representation of the stories from Engadget.com, Engadget HD and Engadget Mobile



Digg


- The official Android app from Digg.com. To be honest it’s usually the last of the news apps that I check since I tend to get the news from Twitter rather than Digg these days (or even Digg on Twitter), but it’s not a bad app.


Social:


Facebook for Android


- The official Facebook app. It is lacking in some ways, when it just redirects you to the site, but they are actively developing it.


Seesmic for Twitter


- I’ve tried many Twitter apps over many mobile platforms and this is as good as any, and better even than many paid apps. I would like to try the official Twitter app when HTC eventually release the upgrade to Android 2.1, but that doesn’t have bit.ly API support, so I would likely stick with Seesmic anyway.


 


Skype on 3


- This has specifically been co-developed by Skype and the 3 network in the UK. It doesn’t work over wifi and may only work on the 3 network, so I don’t know how much use that might be to you if you’re on another network.


Location / Navigation / Augmented Reality:


Gowalla
Foursquare


- When I’m out and about I tend to check-in to both Gowalla and Foursquare, but as things stand Gowalla has the much nicer app and I actually prefer the service’s functionality generally. Even though I know Foursquare had a headstart and more users, of the places that I’ve travelled to, Gowalla tends to have more places added.


CoPilot Live


- This is the most expensive app that I’ve purchased for a mobile device ever, especially since I got EU and US maps. The fact that I’ve never had a problem with how much I paid for it is about as good as a recommendation gets. I’ve used this to drive around the UK and Florida, and on foot in Amsterdam and Washington State – I’ve rarely had any issues with it.


Google Maps


- Technically it came with the phone, but I’ve subsequently updated it, so it counts for this list. Again, I’m looking forward to the newer versions of Android to be able to use new features in this app, such as turn-by-turn navigation. I doubt that it would replace CoPilot, which still has the advantage of offline maps, but it may be enough for some people.


TripIt


- I don’t really go on enough trips to make it worth using TripIt, but the fact that lets me very simply add and keep track of an itinerary makes it worth having on the phone.


Aloqa
Google Places Directory


- These two apps tell you about businesses and places of interest in your vicinity. Aloqa handily lists coupons that are valid at places, like restaurants, near you too.


Layar Reality Browser
Wikitude World Browser


- These two also provide information about places and things around your current location, but do so in a snazzy augmented reality style. Impress your friends by using your phone as a heads-up display, until you walk into a lamp post.


Google Sky Map


- A work of sheer genius and a must have for any Android user. If you aren’t into astronomy, it doesn’t matter; get this free app anyway.