Windows Vista beta 2 and Microsoft Office 2007 screenshots, review

Today I atteded a presentation in Tallin about Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007. Both were beta previews. Of course, the presentation went a bit off the road of presenting the Windows features and more on advertising Avalon – Microsofts web and application development suites. I got Windows Vista beta2 and MS Office 2007 installations with product numbers (i`m sure they will not work for final version). Everything seems to based on XML or XAML and base everything on something called Windows Presentation Foundation:

Windows vista

It feels like they are trying to compete in every aspect with Adobe Flash, Flex and also PDF format. Still I`m a trustful user of Flash and I love everything Adobe (and Macromedia staff) has done.A little overview:

Microsoft Windows Vista. There were good points in the new windows, but bad points were more. They are crazy about this visualization stuff – transparency, 3d, do this do that. Gadgets are good, but I prefer Yahoo gadgets or Konfabulator. Windows gadgets are put in a sidebar that sits on our desktop. Using low resolution like in the screenshot, the sidebar takes up a lot of screen space: Windows vista beta screenshot There are many features inside folder view, but some are visualization stuff like showing contents of the folder inside the folders`s icon. Windows vista beta screenshot Also showing application mini-capture images in everywhere – taskbar mouseover, start menu mouseover and ALT+TAB where you can see application captures in 3D. The operating system eats resources like a 2 week unfed dog got to his Pedigree! There is also some User Security Control or something like that which warns you before any action that would hurt(really?) your system. this gets annoying and can be switched off – back to the old XP system. There is a new tool called Collaboration that allows to connect many Vista users to one session and view all your actions. Windows vista beta screenshot

Microsoft Office. Packed with visualization stuff. So much possibilities to add some graphic to every element! At first I didn`t like the new toolbar stuff in MS Word 2007, but it`s actually usable. It is completely different from everything you have seen before. Word uses now extension – docx and docm (m stands for “macro enabled”). The filetypes basically implement XML and ZIP technologies – you can rename document.docx to and explore it – its full of directories, xml files, media files etc. They have improved error correcting, so if you change bits of docx document with HEX editor, Word can easily recover the document (not in case if you delete like the first 10-20 bits). Microsoft Excel has also much visualization possibilities, 500 formulas and good improvements. MS Outlook can show stuff in your Word documents without opening the document. Don`t forget this adds to your resources! One thing that annoys you can best see it in Powerpoint – the presentation, toolbars and stuff – everything`s in blue color, blue gradients, blue graphics underneath everything so that it actualy becomes visually distracting and you beg to get back to Office 95 where there were only gray buttons surrounded by simple black borders. I hope there is a way to change these layout themes of Office software.

There is a lot to cover about new Microsoft products, but the guys from Microsoft User group that made the presentation showed less than most of us expected. Partly because of bugs in beta versions, they got bunch of problems while they were presenting the software. I also got a big box with Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 and Biztalk server 2005 software packages. I`m almost completely sure I won`t use them anyway. As always, Microsoft claims Windows to be faster, better, more secure and compatible. Tests always end in the other way, but who knows, we use the products :)

We will have a presentation in deeper details about .NET software development, but I`m not into it, so I guess I won`t review it for now.

Nokia 6680 (BB5) won`t boot

My Nokia 6680 had exhausted empty battery for a few weeks (needed unlock code ;)) When I tried to switch it on, I was surprised – it wont boot, no screen blinking, not a single sign of life! Battery wont charge (well it won`t show any charging indicator). But as I have Nokia charger with LED light in it, I can see the charger blink when I attach it to the cellphone – some hope for getting it back working without taking it to service ;) So I remembered the hard reset code for N6680 (or any other bb5 nokia) and gave it a try – guess what, my phone was back from the grave :)

This is not battery problem, its software. You might get into ay software problem and this could be a solution. But still, if your battery is exhausted, plug in the charger. Here`s the deal:

  • Make sure your battery is not empty.
  • Backup your personal data to your computer or an MMC storage card.
  • Switch-off your Nokia 6680 (if it is bootable)
  • Press and hold 3 keys; Green dial key, * Star key, no. 3 key on keypad and then press the power on/off to switch on the Nokia 6680.
  • Remember, do not let go the 3 press and hold keys until you see the formatting screen.
  • After a few minutes when the process is over, your Nokia 6680 will be back to the original delivered system.

By entering the code I was kinda sure that all my settings, apps and storage would be wiped, but everything was in its place, just the theme settings and similar needed adjustments.

But anyway, these BB5 Nokias have a weak software and cras all the time. The lag sometimes is annoying, so I`m really considering in buying Sony-Ericsson`s K800 with it`s 3.2 megapixel camera, but still the Symbian OS has developed a good base and has a lot of devoted software out there.

Firefox 2 (b1) features, visual, download

Firefox 2 beta 1 is out! You can download Portable Firefox 2 beta or normal versions. The portable version allows you to use it without affecting your current Firefox installation. It allows you to keep all your profile data in one folder, not spread all over your windows drive (program files, documents and settings, etc). You can keep it on usb flash disk and get all your extensions/bookmarks with you wherever you go! (You can also get Portable Firefox

The new features of Firefox include:

  • Session restore and “recently closed tabs” (like SessionSaver)
  • Spell-as-you-type for spell checking
  • Improved feed subscription (really cool!!! Hurry up Vista, Firefox made it easy! :P)
  • Improved extension management
  • Search plugin management
  • Phishing protection
  • Improved memory usage (bug fixes?)
  • Default theme update

While features are available in beta release, you don’t all of the new default visual theme for now, its implemented only partly. But you can surely see how it should look in the final release:


  • icons have been sharpened and made to look a little glossier, and colours have been / will continue to be adjusted to match OS palette, border visibility on mouseover
  • standard treatment for “end cap” buttons on a textbox like “Go” and “Search”
  • new light treatment for drop-down buttons until the user hovers in that textbox at which point the buttons will fill in
  • gradients on tabs and the tabstrip to make it easier to see the selected and background tab

Check out mozilla wiki post for full details on visual theme update.

Google subdomain exploit

If you`re interested in SEO, then you should subscribe to newsletter. They always have good articles (dunno if they are original or “private label articles”).

Latest article by Eric Lester is about exploiting in google`s algorithm and how one guy filled Googles index with few billion sp@m pages. He explains that Google indexes each subdomain as independent, so on one domain you could generate countless pages with keywords and AdSense ads. In some previous article they stated, that subdomains add PR to the original domain, so this is even more useful for those who practice “artificial SEO”.

Anyway, i`m sure you have seen a page that contains nothing but keyword stuffed content with ads all over the page, and lately these spam pages get more and more top positions in SERP`s. IMHO search engine sp@m will get more annoying than email sp@m in the near future, so be ready. Right now google is trying to fix this loophole and removing fake pages manually by searching them using the spammer`s original domain with “site:”, but meanwhile copycats are out there writing theyr generator scripts.
Read full article here (printable, readable version) or full site article.

Google Conversion University helps out!

Google analytics is one of the best free tools for web statistics, but now Google makes another step towards web developers. Google posted about its Conversion University – online resource for SEO tactics and optimizing your web page for better conversions (both Adsense and organic). Right now the “university” offers articles in 4 categories:

There are countless sites on the web with articles on search engine optimization. Many of them are writing articles to promote their own sites and products. Google promotes its Analytics, Sitemaps and AdWords tools (its slogan says “Learn. Explore. Profit.”). Since Google is still the most visited search engine on the web, it matters. The guidelines in Conversion university should be accurate and wouldn`t lead your websites to conflict with google algorithms and ranking.

For example, the first article on Driving Traffic is “Sitemaps for SEO” which tells you five reasons, why you would use Google sitemaps:

  • Submit all of your pages to the Google index – for free.
  • Find out how you rank on the top search queries.
  • Find out how Google sees your site.(page analysis)
  • Unblock your site (in case your robots.txt blocks any pages).
  • Get re-included (if you`re banned, follow Google quality guidelines)

Another article in Converting Visitors category explains Five tips for writing web headlines :

  • Include your paid keyword in the headline.
  • Don’t sound like an ad.
  • Highlight benefits rather than features.
  • Make headlines look easy to read.
  • Don’t forget subheads.

I see Google Conversion University quickly popping up its popularity among SEO websites in the near future, you should really take notice, even pro masters of SEO should find something new there. Take a read, the devil is in the details!

Firefox SessionSaver – dont lose your open sites

I`m a enthusiastic Firefox user since it`s early days and I was really pleased with its “tabbing” capabilities. When Opera 8 was released, I decided to give it a try. Opera was fun – fast, intuitive, attracting, full of features. The feature I liked the most was saved sessions – when you closed the browser, it saved your open tabs, so you can get back to them next time you launch your browser. But Opera had some minor problems – it didn`t render all Flash pages correctly. As I am a Flash desiger/programmer, this was hard time for me, so i got back to Firefox. But I couldnt live without saving my tabs anymore, so I searched for Firefox extensions that would do the job and I found it – SessionSaver! It really does the job! It allows you to save different sessions, export sessions with settings so you can import it on another Firefox installation. It also allows you to get back to accidentally closed tabs (like Ctrl+Z in Opera).

There are some little drawbacks though – I`m so used to tabbed browsing that I don`t save pages as bookmarks – I leave the tab open :) Right now I have 35 tabs open, sometimes it goes up to 40, and this slows down your browser`s launch time – it refreshes all your open tabs on launch.

There is another alternative – Tab Mix Plus , it has much more features than sessionsaver, but that adds to your computer processor. It launches Firefox faster, as it saves your pages on hard disk (I guess). Unfortunately I had problems with TabMixPlus performance (might be some incompatibality), so I switched back to SessionSaver.

Give this feature a try, you won`t regret it! – Portal for djs and clubbers. A place where you can listen fresh house music from various latian djs` collections. No mp3 downloads, just flash player, allowing to create playlist, comment songs.

This is my biggest project, since I have spent more than a year keeping it up to date and making essential changes and add-ons. Project online since May 2005. Since then it has been 99% Flash + remoting + sql + php, Flash admin panel for djs to upload songs and modify info.

LV: – Flash portāls, kur var paklausīties svaigu house mūziku no manas atlases nu jau vairāku dj personīgās atlases. Dziesmas var klausīties online pleijerī, veidot pleilisti, lai atstātu skanēt fonā, komentēt, diskutēt.
Mans lielākais web-projekts, uzsākts 2005.gada maijā. Kopš tā laika nepārtraukti to uzlaboju. 99% Flash, remoting, mysql, file/user management, advancēts flash CMS priekš dj. Viss taisīts no nulles, mana paša ideja.

This is website of my father`s furniture company. It specializes in antique furniture production, reproduction and restoring. All furniture is made from wood that is at least 100 years old.  Restored furniture is cleaned, reconstructed, painted/waxed.  You should check the gallery of beautiful furnishings :)

Site is made using php + sql + css.

LV: Mana tēva uzņēmums – z/s “Rūstuži”. Antīko mēbeļu restaurācija, reprodukcija. Saits diezgan vienkāršs, ģenerējam dinamiski php, šur tur pielietojam datubāzi un admin paneli.

This website is about herbal medicine that succesfully treats retroviral diseases like AIDS and hepatitis B/C (and flu of course :)) and also cancer. To most of you this should seem insane and impossible, but i wont go in the details as i`m fed up with explaining :). This works successfully (I know people who have been cured from hep.C and HIV) and completely without side-effects (if you drink it too much, your stomach might ache for a few hours, its based on alkoloids, as from my experience while treating flu).

As from webdesign perspective, its a bit old site, the CSS standards have evolved and now the site looks ugly, but i cannot modify it right now, as I dont have access to its FTP right now. I also made those little flash animations on “Cell life system” page :))).

LV: Projekts ir par “līdzekļiem” (nav reģistrētas zāles, tāpēc par tādām nevar saukt, šobrīd notiek tiesas), kas ārstē HIV, hepatīts C, un citas retrovīrusu slimības (gripa), kā arī vēzi. Nejokoju. Cilvēki izārstēti ir, vārdos nesaukšu. Arī neticīgos apnicis pārliecināt, kas gribēs, tas paprasīs :).
Nu jau pavecs projekts, ar dažām kļūdām (piemēram menu), kuras pagaidām nevaru labot, jo nav pieeja serverim. Lapa uz parastā php/html + flash animācijas otrajā lapā. Menu kādreiz rādījās normāli, bet tad browseru CSS strādāja savādāk..