Microsoft Partners with Girl Scouts

March 9, 2009 by Jason Bean  
Filed under Computers

girl-scouts-let-me-know

Microsoft will be helping Girl Scouts USA with their online safety and awareness through a program called Let Me Know.

The website is setup like a blog and social network and allows some Girl Scouts from across the nation write about their online experiences and share the information with other girls that subscribe to the site and participate in the online discussion.

LMK was created by the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. in partnership with Windows to help you change the world every time you go online. Empower yourself so that you can educate others on the reality of being a teen online and help adults understand the real issues that affect you every day.

Some of the topics discussed on the site include Cyberbullying, Social Networking and Online Sexual Predators. The Girl Scouts have come a long way since I was a kid. It’s good to see them staying in touch and relevant to what girls are dealing with today and helping them with those issues. It’s also great to see them get the support and backing from a large corporate organization in Microsoft.

Girl Scouts USA Let Me Know website

Source Article: Microsoft Partners With Girl Scouts of the USA

Image: Girl Scouts USA Let Me Know website graphic

Microsoft Killing Windows Live OneCare

March 7, 2009 by Jason Bean  
Filed under Computers

If you’ve been reading my blog for very long you’ll probably know that I’m quite the fan of Windows Live OneCare. It’s done everything I’ve needed and asked it today and has protected me with no problems whatsoever.

I’ve installed the application on every machine I have immediate control over as well as recommending it to numerous friends, relatives and clients. Everyone that I’ve recommended it to has had no problems that I’m aware of either. Since I serve as their computer support and IT department, I’m sure I would have heard about it if they did have problems.

I guess myself and everyone else in that above list then is in the minority.

As I was catching up on some old issues of PC World I noticed a story about Microsoft discontinuing development and sales of their Windows Live OneCare product in June of 2009.

It will be replaced by a stripped down and now free version of the tool code-named "Morro". Morro will have all the same antivirus and malware protection that’s found in Windows Live OneCare, but won’t have the system maintenance and backup functionality that I’ve enjoyed since I began using the product as a beta tester.

With the cancelling of Windows Live OneCare, Microsoft’s "Equipt" package of software, which included OneCare, Office Home and Student, Office Live Workspaces, Live Mail, Messenger and Live Photo, has also bit the dust.

Other Coverage on PC World

  • Microsoft Kills Equipt Subscription Offering
  • Will Microsoft Corner the Desktop Security Market?
  • Microsoft Kills OneCare to Offer Freebie; So Long, Norton
  • Microsoft Drops OneCare Antivirus Product

A Little Developer Encouragement to Start Your Week

March 2, 2009 by Jason Bean  
Filed under Computers

In case any of you developers out there need a little encouragement and inspiration this morning. Enjoy this video.

It’s too bad the air-conditioning didn’t seem to work as well as expected that day.

Rookies Showing Us How Easy It Is

February 25, 2009 by Jason Bean  
Filed under Computers

A couple of weeks ago I posted the video of a commercial that’s been hitting the small screen lately that’s promoting just how easy it is to use Windows Live Photo Gallery.

It’s a part of a larger series all focused around "rookies" or novices using Windows products and applications.

The question we raised before that we’ll keep asking. Is it really that simple? Some people think so, but I’m interested in hearing more opinions from people that haven’t made it to the small screen commercial career yet.

Microsoft’s Money Oops!

February 23, 2009 by Jason Bean  
Filed under Computers

IMGP5792

If you’ll remember, a few months back Microsoft laid off 1400 employees as part of some cost-cutting and downsizing measures.

News today let’s us know that some of the employees affected by those layoffs were a little overpaid in their severance while others may have been underpaid. Microsoft sent letters to the affected ex-employees and asked for the overpayment of money to be sent back to them within two weeks.

I can understand why Microsoft would want this corrected, but I can’t imagine why they’d want to endure the more than likely ridicule and bad favor by the affected employees and public at large for this move.

I don’t know any of the specifics, but it doesn’t appear that every employee was overpaid since some were also underpaid. I don’t think anyone was overpaid a significant amount of money (5 figures?). If I were Microsoft, I would just absorb the loss of money and quickly take care of the underpayment to the other laid off employees.

If employees pay back the money their "reward" is an adjusted tax form so that aren’t taxed on the additional income. Again, I’m not sure about you, but in this economy I’d be keeping the money and taking the hit on the additional tax payment.

I still think the "cost" of this becoming public with Microsoft asking for the money back will "cost" them more in additional bad press, than any amount of Seinfeld ads may have done for them to try and improve their image.

This actually happened to me once with a previous employer. I was overpaid due to some kind of clerical error and when I noticed it I brought it to the attention of my manager. They let me know they were also aware of it and that I wouldn’t be asked to return the money. It was their mistake and they would pay for it. The economic times were much different then than today, but I’ve got to think if there’s any company that could absorb this accounting oops it would be Microsoft.

Image: flickr image from dslrninja

Who’s the More Open Platform? Apple or Microsoft

February 21, 2009 by Jason Bean  
Filed under Computers

As I was watching yet another commercial for the Apple iPhone about all the applications that are available and the reference of there being an application for just about everything, it reminded me of something that used to have that same feature.

Remember the Palm OS? That was open and there were hundreds of applications that were written by just about anyone to be used on a Palm device.

I then started thinking about whether or not this was really the same type of openness that’s being exhibited by Apple.

I’ve never developed a Palm app or an Apple. I’m not sure if it’s a similar process or not, maybe someone can enlighten me on the differences or similarities in the comments.

The open aspect of the iPhone actually surprises me because I would consider Apple a very closed system. I don’t see any custom software written for the Mac OS. Does it exist? Can it be done at all?

Sravan Bhamidipati posted about Microsoft’s history of open-source recently which I believe is the main context of open-source, but I’d say the Windows platform is very open isn’t it? I mean anyone can write a simple program or application that runs on Windows right? Can that be done on a Mac?

That makes me think Microsoft is far more open than Apple. Or am I just confused or ignorant about the whole situation? Someone please educate me on the difference.

Microsoft’s Bad Breaks Could Change Everything

February 16, 2009 by Jason Bean  
Filed under Computers

Shattered

Joe Wilcox had an interesting in his eWeek Microsoft Watch column a couple of days ago on Friday the 13th. He talked about a variety of "unlucky breaks" that Microsoft has had to deal with. If they hadn’t been given these business blow, how would there company and development and public perception be different today?

Joe listed his top 10 unluckiest moments, but even said he had a bit of a challenge narrowing it down to just 10 with some of the more recent history of Microsoft.

I’m not sure how I forgot about it, but his #10 item was their launch of Windows XP. Compared to Windows Vista, Windows XP is the most wonderful operating system to have ever been released by Microsoft. Do you remember that it was supposed to launch in New York City just weeks after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center buildings?

What was supposed to have probably been a huge launch event ended up being just average in the grand scheme of things, and given the mood of most American’s during this time, many of us weren’t really excited about much, particularly not a new operating system.

A couple of the unlucky moments mentioned by Wilcox revolve around Google, perhaps the biggest of which was Steve Ballmer passing on the purchase of YouTube for a third of the cost that Google ended up grabbing it for just a few weeks later. My, my, my how would that have changed things?

Other unlucky moments stem from general economy issues, including the DOJ cases against Microsoft.

Go read Joe Wilcox’s article and let us know what you think about his list. I think one he missed has been all the challenges with the Microsoft XBOX Red-Ring-of-Death. Remember that?

Image: flickr image by icathing

A Brief History of Microsoft Open Source

February 9, 2009 by Jason Bean  
Filed under Computers

Microsoft has had an interesting relationship with open source. With time, Microsoft’s open source strategy has been evolving from “strictly opposed” to “coexist” to “me too”. As the involvement of Bill Gates shrunk, I think Microsoft’s openness to open source is increasing.

Until a few years ago, Microsoft was perceived to be anti-open source. In 2003, when Microsoft launched a long PR attack against Linux that seemed to underline such perceptions. It probably was. Or just considered Linux to be a formidable opponent.

In 2004, Microsoft released two software development tools as open source, and observers cheered that things would change. Not exactly.

In 2006, Microsoft acquired Winternals Software LP. Several utilities of their SysInternals Suite which had been open source ceased to be open source.

But again in 2007, Microsoft launched its Shared Source initiative to share source code with third parties that meet certain criteria. A little openness, and that continues to be an active project.

Microsoft Open SourceToday, the Microsoft Open Source is a decently growing project as the microsite shows. Codeplex is being used to host projects for both Shared Source and Open Source initiatives.

While the vast blogosphere is partly hopeful and partly convinced that Microsoft should open source Windows, and while some experts also are ready to share their plans about how Microsoft should go about it, it is not going to happen any time soon. More than anything else, it is a massive legal hassle.

Microsoft is not on the brink of turning all of its products open source. A casual perusal of the FAQ in the Microsoft Open Source microsite throws light on that fact. Whether or not it is going to happen, as a supporter of open source, I am glad Microsoft has at least come this far.

This guest post was written by Sravan Bhamidipati (twitter), a tech blogger that writes at That Damn PC and Flex888. He’s been a great source of information and help as we work together at b5media and communicate with each other on twitter.

Image Source: Microsoft Open Source

Microsoft Shutting Down MSN Groups

January 28, 2009 by Jason Bean  
Filed under Computers

MSN-groups

Ahhh, MSN, the Microsoft Network. My first experience with it was when it was a ISP for my dial-up account after purchasing a new Compaq computer a number of years back.

Part of the community that was MSN was the MSN Groups. I never really participated in them that much, there was always another option that I was either already involved in or just nothing of interest to pull me away from something else.

Microsoft has announced recently that they will be shutting down the MSN Groups Service as of February 21, 2009. In the email I received this is the reason they shared for why Microsoft is shutting down the service.

Because we are dedicated to providing our customers with the most current and user friendly technology available today we made the difficult decision to close the MSN Groups service. This decision is part of an overall investment to update and re-align our online services with Windows Live. In the long term we believe that closing the service is the best way to continue to offer innovative and effective services that help you stay in touch with the people you care about. We plan to launch a new Groups service in the coming weeks, but unlike MSN Groups, Windows Live Groups will focus on offering a place for small groups to collaborate. Multiply is available now, making it your best option today for continuing to share and communicate together online.

It makes sense why they would close this down and just integrate it with what they’re offering on the Windows Live sites and platform. I say keep cutting some of these services and just partner with other sites providing similar features and options.

Early Bill Gates and His Opinion of Apple

January 26, 2009 by Jason Bean  
Filed under Computers

Here’s a really old video of Bill Gates praising Apple machines. Just how old was he in this video? Does anyone know?

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