The Unstabalizer

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Got this in my favorites for quite a while, never had time to write about it though. The Unstabalizer is a cool application to be used in bars or on events (well any place where they sell drinks actually).

“The Unstabalizer is an interactive, social application system, to be used in bars, clubs or any other location or event which sells different types of alcohol. Unlike regular bars where the prices of drinks are static, the Unstabalizer can turn a bar into a dynamic, self-organizing system similar to a stock exchange – The price of a drink (a “stock”) is set based on demand – The more people buy a certain drink, its price will rise, causing the prices of other drinks in this alcoholic stock market to fall. The owners and organizers use the system to set the initial prices and can also set minimum prices, to avoid loss due to “market dynamics”. But it is during the bar’s activity period that the real drinking interaction occurs as prices fluctuate based on alcohol consumption – Sometimes beer will be low and Whiskey high, but then as people rush to buy beer, it’s price will rise, causing the price of Whiskey to drop. The Unstabalizer is an exciting alcoholic interactive experience, designed to spice up any social space.”

The application is built as a distributed Flash application, more of the technical stuff to be found on the creator’s website. Know a bar where they use this? Let me know, would love to check it out.

[Via we make money not art]

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More on Windows Live Writer

There are some tweaks still to be made to Windows Live Writer, but since it’s still in beta, so hopefully we’ll some changes between today and public release.

What excites me maybe most about it is the opportunity the SDK has created to make Writer richer. I honestly didn’t exptect the first plug-ins to be live already but they are.

You have:

I’ve installed all three and the ‘currently listening to …’ needs some more work, but the other two work quite well.

Hopefully they’ll all be available soon at the Windows Live Gallery so we can find them more easily.

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Let the games begin!

Interesting news at Gamerscore today. Microsoft announced the XNA Game Studio Express today at Gamefest. The what?! That was at least my first question when I read it, but it’s actually quite exciting. From now on, you can create Xbox 360 console games. From the press release:

“XNA Game Studio Express will be available for free to anyone with a Windows® XP-based PC and will provide them with Microsoft’s next-generation platform for game development. By joining a “creators club” for an annual subscription fee of $99 (U.S.), users will be able to build, test and share their games on Xbox 360 and access a wealth of materials to help speed the game development progress. This represents the first significant opportunity for novice developers to make a console game without a significant investment in resources”

I’m very curious to see what will come out of that. The beta will be available at the end of this month, so I hope we’ll be seeing the first games to come out of that in the following months.

Windows Live updates (4)

The fourth edition already of my Windows Live updates postings (number 3 was over a month ago). I got loads of news, links, stories, releases, … that I bookmarked since the last update so let’s hope I can make some sense out of this post, trying to put them all together.

The first big update is the most recent, namely the launch of Windows Live Spaces. It was announced quite a while ago, but here it is: spaces.live.com since a couple of hours ago. New Windows Live UI – of course – but also some new features like the possibility to upload 500 photos per month, friends of friends, RSS integration and gadgets for Spaces just like we know them from Live.com (not in all countries though).

Since my last update mid June, there have also been some updates on Live.com, mainly for Windows Live Search. The caching feature was added (finally) and together with the Messenger team, they added a search activity to Messenger that works really well (US only – screenshot below).

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Next up related to search are the Windows Live Toolbar and Windows Live Search Center, the new all in search solution for the desktop. The toolbar was launched in the US just a few days ago, and international releases can be expected soon. If you want to know more about the desktop solution, Darren wrote a post about it’s new UI.

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Other launches in the last few weeks: the Official US launch of Windows Live Expo and the start of the UK beta, the international launch of Windows Live Favorites and the beta launch of Windows Live Gallery, where you can get you gadgets, bots, activities, toolbar add-ins, … At experience.live.com you can a new way of presenting what Windows Live is all about.

Some cool Messenger stuff can be found at MSN Cartoon Creator from our Chinese colleagues. You can find a bit more info on how to do this (unless you speak Chinese) on Darren’s blog. The Xbox guys have made some changes as well to the Xbox tab in Messenger where you can now see your Xbox Live friends as well.

Finally, it ain’t over ’till it’s over, there is indeed a lot more to come. As you can read on Liveside, there’s more mobile on the way and Windows Live Drive maybe?

More Photosynth

I already mentioned last week that I thought Photosynth is one of the coolest things I’ve seen lately. There was another idea on how Photosynth’s technology could evolve in the future, which I wanted to share. Imagine you stand in front of a building and you would want to know which building it is? Image you take an image of the building with your mobile phone, Photosynth processes it – identifies the image so to speak – and with this info you search the web to find exactly the info you need. Sounds cool don’t you think. Check it out for yourself.

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Microsoft Live Labs Photosynth

This is so cool! We saw a live demo of Photosynth last week in the US and I must say I’ve really been waiting for the moment to blog about this. I thought it was awesome.

“Photosynth takes a large collection of photos of a place or object, analyzes them for similarities, and displays them in a reconstructed 3-Dimensional space”

Photosynth is a result of the recent acquisition of Seadragon and the works of the Microsoft Live Labs team. Seadragon had developed technology that can quickly display large images on computers and handheld devices.

For the moment you can’t test Photosynth yourself, but there are 2 cool videos available on the Microsoft Download Center that give you a pretty good idea of how cool Photosynth really is. Since we talk about using pictures available on the web, imagine what this can do to websearching in general.

[Update] Check out some of the screenshots you can find here! I’ve added one so you get a taste of it… but make sure you take a look at the videos as well!

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[Update 2] I just found the Photosynth website.

Vista, Office 2007, IE7 and some lobster

Last wednesday – June 28th – my colleagues from DPE organised a blogger meeting to present some Microsoft beta products, namely Windows Vista beta 2, Microsoft Office beta 2 and Internet Explorer 7 beta 2 (beta 3 was launched only 2 days later). Apart from Tom Mertens and David Boschmans who organised the ‘event’, there were some more Microsoft colleagues present: Jurgen Van Duvel, Arlindo Alves, Yves Kerwyn, Patrick Viaene, Eva Van Laere and myself.

Most people invited were also present at the Windows Live Session with Phil Holden a couple of months ago, so it was nice to meet again. As usual I don’t put my own comments of the event up here – I liked it – but I try to give an overview of all related posts I can find.

Online coverage:

Flickr sets:

Podcast:

On Digg:

As usual this post might get some updates the next coming days when I find more posts related to this meeting.

Try if before you buy it

My Microsoft colleagues at Corp. announced that more then 2.5 million people are already using the Office 2007 beta since it was released last month. I think that’s awesome. I’m using the Office 2007 beta 2 for quite a while now and I think it’s definitely worth a try. The ‘Ribbon’, blogging from Word, new conditional formatting in Exel, better Outlook/Onenote integration… and one of my favorites, the integration of tasks & follow ups in Outlook (finally!).

They also announced this new ‘Try it before you buy it’ program so you can testdrive Office 2007 online, so without having to download and install it first. You can download the full beta here.

Great News

… or not? After reading Randy's post on the GreatNews RSS Reader I figured I also should give it a try. I had missed his post with his RSS Reader survey results, where GreatNews already came up on top, but now I got curious. Especially because he quotes this guy Shaun Orpen that seemed pretty amazed with the results of GreatNews and switched to it, leaving SharpReader for what it is. It's not so much Shaun – I don't know the guy – but the fact that I also used SharpReader for quite a while and considered it to be one of the better RSS readers that I got interested.

So I installed GreatNews and uploaded my OPML into it. I must say I that the first looks were really promising, and that the visual presentation of the feeds, sort of newspaper style is pretty OK. I won't make the switch though. The way I like to ready my RSS, RSSBandit still offers the best solution. What I didn't like in GreatNews is that you need to make to many clicks to get to new 'pages' with feeds, whereas in RSSBandit I can just scroll down all new items (no matter how much). The second thing I didn't like, and what bothered me is how GreatNews handles feeds that it can't read for whatever reason, hope they fix that.

So after SharpReader and Attensa for Outlook, it looked a moment like it could have become my new RSS Reader, but it's RSSBandit after all that still stands. Although there's also a few things in there I hope they fix one day. I does flash sometimes when I mark a great amount of feeds as read, and for one reason or the other I won't auto detect feeds anymore (is that because it has a feed limit?). I would also like to see my RSS Reader tap into the IE7 RSS Store, that would make life easier…

Blogging with Word 2007 beta

Got to try this. After having some issues with the first beta of Office 12, I just installed the beta 2 and it all seems to be running just fine. Although I need to get used to it, the ribbon looks really great, and the fact that Outlook integrated tasks with the follow up flags is something I was waiting for a long time already.

But one of the features that intrigued me most was the blog option in Word, which I’m trying to write this post. By the time you’re reading this on my blog, it means this features works just fine. I did notice it’s text only so far, and Microsoft mentioned that the timestamp is wrong but hopefully this gets fixed by when Office gets out of beta. They do promise to get more support to WordPress and some other blog services in the coming months.