musings about technology and software development..

Best feature of Outlook 2010

Office 2010 is almost ready to ship!  I'm an Outlook user by day, and Gmail user by night.  But I find that Gmail doesn't scale well when you are being flooded with e-mail -- for example, basic UI metaphors like shift-click don't work, and labels just don't cut it compared to Outlook rules.  So, here's my favorite new feature from Outlook 2010 for dealing with floods of e-mail:

Basically, it deletes any e-mails that are entirely contained within replies later in the conversation. This is great for high traffic discussion aliases and long-winded threads.  There's just something really gratifying about pressing a button and seeing half my Inbox disappear..

Uh-oh for Windows?

For most people, the two biggest advantages of a PC over a Mac are that Macs cost more, and you can't play (most) games on a Mac.  Most Mac owners I know either have a separate gaming rig or dual boot to Windows just for video games.

Today marks an inflection point in the Mac vs PC war: Steam has been ported to Mac!  The only games I play on a PC anymore are those from Valve (Left 4 Dead, Counterstrike, Half-life, etc) and from Blizzard (Starcraft, Warcraft, etc).  Most other games are better experienced on a console.  Well, both of those sets of games are now going to be released for the Mac on the same day as the PC!

As someone who owns Microsoft stock, this is a big problem.  You do not want an OS where your main differentiator is that it's cheaper, or to rely on mass-market inertia.  My computer use is split amongst internet use, coding, creativity software, office software, and video games.  If I were to buy a computer today, for the first time, I would actually consider a Mac.  For the first time, Mac has achieved parity with PC across my usage scenarios. 

This is a dangerous time for Microsoft.. tread carefully.

Color calibration, or lack thereof

Every monitor displays color differently.  If you've ever used dual monitors, you know what I'm talking about.  The picture below is my Lenovo T500 on the left, a Dell 2005WFP on the right:

I suppose how much of a color difference you see in the two monitors above depends on your monitor's color profile, but for me, the standalone monitor comes across as having greener greens and redder reds.  In fact, my laptop portrays this blog as a nice cool blue, whereas on my monitor it is a hideous shade of green.  My intention is most certainly the blue variant, but I have no idea what other people are seeing.

Anyways, this is really important for web design and photography.  So, I am using this as an excuse to go buy a Dell U2410 IPS monitor and a Spyder3 color calibrator.  That will ensure I am seeing what I am "supposed" to see, but presumably it remains a crapshoot for the remaining 99% of the world with uncalibrated monitors.  They, no doubt, will take a look at this blog and see some unflattering and garish hue.  Yuck.

Microsoft Azure Services

Microsoft is getting ready to release their cloud computing platform, Azure, and there's a pretty good overview written by David Chappell.  One snippet which I found amusing was:
Windows Azure platform AppFabric provides cloud-based infrastructure services. Microsoft is also creating an analogous technology known as Windows Server AppFabric. [...] Don’t be confused; throughout this paper, the name “AppFabric” is used to refer to the cloud-based services. Also, don’t confuse the Windows Azure platform AppFabric with the fabric component of Windows Azure itself. Even though both contain the term “fabric”, they’re wholly separate technologies addressing quite distinct problems.
Don't be confused? Really? Then don't call everything "fabric"!  I thought Microsoft had learned from the "Windows Live" naming debacle. Somebody needs to buy Microsoft a thesaurus..