Monday, May 16, 2005

The final 2.0 release of MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search is now available for free download. I'm not sure I've ever said this about a product before, but Windows Desktop Search may actually change your life!

Disclaimer: I've never used any other desktop search tool for Windows, including Google Desktop. I use Google all the time for Web search and consider it superior to MSN for that purpose, but I've never been able to get their desktop search tool to install on my PC. I used and really liked the Lookout plug-in for Outlook for several months before I transitioned to the MSN tool.

I've been using the beta of MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search since a day or so after its public release, and it's completely changed how I organize email and files on my work computer... basically I don't organize any more! I only move email on a handful of specific topics to personal folders, and files either go on my desktop or the root level of My Documents.

I've long struggled to find the optimal hierarchy for saving email and files, but now I don't have to worry about it because Windows Desktop Search is always available and works very well. And it's great to be able to quickly transition from a desktop search to a Web search with one click - very helpful when I'm searching for images or specs of the latest smartphone.

Now, the product is not perfect. First, it's not as tightly integrated in the OS or applications as the Spotlight feature of Mac OS X Tiger. I'm sure something very similar will appear (next year!) in the Longhorn release of Windows, but it's debatable whether Microsoft will do as well as Apple at getting all the small things that really matter right. Second, you can't save searches for quick re-use later. Third, only in limited instances does it auto-filter search restults as you type (I believe Apple's iTunes was the first widely-used app to offer this).

That said, for what it does offer, MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search is an incredible product. I highly recommend it to anyone that uses a Windows PC.
Interesting article in The Seattle times about the design process for Xbox 360. I was especially intrigued by the four-quadrant chart the team used to frame its thinking on the appropriate design aesthetic: mild to wild and architectural to organic. Whereas the original Xbox was wild and architectural (like a Hummer!), the Xbox 360 is apparently mild and organic (like a Porsche 911!). I'm definitely excited to get my hands on it!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

I'm fired up about a post I just read on Russ Beattie's blog about why Yahoo! adopting Windows Media DRM for their new music service is a bad thing.

I agree with him on the ultimate outcome (Microsoft wins, Apple loses), but totally disagree that this is bad for Yahoo! or for consumers. Yahoo! and consumers, as well as PC and consumer electronics manufacturers, all benefit (read that "revenue") from the ubiquity of Windows Media technology far more than Microsoft. The reason that Microsoft will beat Apple is not because they are evil but because Microsoft has a better media strategy and they execute it well.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Is there an official home for those cute little RSS images you see on many blogs that link to the feed URL? I'd like to add one to this site - and I realize I can just steal one - but a few quick Google searches didn't turn up anything so I'm curious.
On the subject of RSS feeds, I also found two other sites that let you create feeds for specific searches, like this one for top-selling CDs.

If you're interested check out the Amazon RSS Feed-Builder at and the Amazon RSS Feed Generator at

It's also worth mentioning Moreover's RSS News Feeds creator, although it doesn't allow you to create RSS feeds.
Want to integrate your Wish List into your Web site or just want to make it easier for friends and family to know what you want? shows you how to create an RSS feed of your Wish List.

Here's what I want and what my wife wants.
Cool... Dashboard widget for Mac OS X Tiger. Allows you to search 15 product categories on US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, and Japan sites. Of course has "Click to Buy" link, but missing "Click to Add to Wish List" link.

Friday, May 13, 2005

360 to the left
I can get an Xbox 360 over there? Today? Cool!

Happened to be on Flickr a few minutes after reading up about the new Xbox 360 and noticed this photo under Everyone's photos on the home page.
It's finally here - well most of the specs are official at least - after months and months and months of hype... Xbox 360: always connected, always personalized, always in high def. Sweet!!
Someone needs to create a Mac OS X application that makes it easy to create nice-looking blog posts related to Flickr photos. The default formatting of posts created using the Flickr Web site are no good for me and I assume many others. I tried - and failed - to use MarsEdit for this, but MarsEdit still would have required lots of manual HTML editing. I want point > click > publish simplicity. I should really post this on the FlickrIdeas forum and/or create the app myself.

Update:I just realized you can accomplish this on the Flickr site by going to your blogs page and customizing the layout settings. Five built-in layouts to choose from, and if you have HTML and CSS skills can set up the layout exactly like you want it. I'd still like to see this incorporated into a rich client app for Mac OS X that doesn't require any code editing.
Anyone know if it's possible to view and upload to Flickr photostreams in MarsEdit for Mac OS X?

I've tried inputting settings manually with both "Other Blogger-compatible" and "Other MetaWeblog-compatible" selected in Software drop-down of site edit window with no luck.

For RPC URL I've tried...
If you've figured out how to make this work please let me know by posting a comment.
MSN... I'm putting you on notice on this blog like I already did on my Space... I won't blog on Spaces until you support posting with external editors, like my personal favorite MarsEdit for Mac OS X.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

James & Fortson carry Radmanovic
Great line from morning DJ yesterday referring to Jerome James and Danny Fortson carrying injured Vladimir Radmanovic off the court during Sonics game 1 loss to the Spurs on Sunday: "That was about their only good play all day." That's about right.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Just noticed the third beta of the Opera browser for Windows Mobile-based smartphones was released last week. It's been in public or semi-public beta for at least six months; not sure why they're taking so long to get the final release out.

This beta is still not as feature rich as the Series 60 version, but it's based on a much newer rendering engine and certainly performs well in terms of page loading speed. I think much of it's speed is due to built-in support for the Opera Mobile Accelerator proxy service. If I had to pick a favorite feature I'd say keypad shortcuts, but I really hope they add page tags and jump-to-text features from the Series 60 version.

While I'm certainly biased, I think the Internet Explorer browser included with all Windows Mobile-based smartphones generally provides a better user experience - up/down smoothly scrolls page and navigates links, don't have to double select form fields, no three-level-deep menus. I also like the flexibility of having three vs. two layout styles to choose from: single column, desktop, and default (resembles desktop with no horizontal scrolling). Opera's single column view just doesn't work great on all sites.

It will be interesting to see how strong demand for Opera on Windows Mobile is once the final release is out. I don't see very many people paying $29 (plus another $18/year for use of Opera Mobile Accelerator service) for a product that duplicates a built-in feature that works well and will only get better. Even at sub $1/unit OEM pricing (I have no idea what they really charge) I think it will be hard for them to prove the incremental value it adds. Or maybe I'm completely wrong.
I've been playing around with the new RSS features in Safari 2.0 that comes with Mac OS X Tiger, and noticed something interesting... none of the default bookmarks in the Shoping or Tools and Reference collections are RSS feeds. And there are only a couple feeds in the Kids and Travel collections.

Why haven't major sites like, eBay, Expedia, WebMD, and caught the RSS fever!?!

I can think of dozens of ways these sites could leverage this technology to keep their users up-to-date on topics (or products) of interest: new CD and DVD releases, Wish List updates, new items up for auction, special travel deals, health and wellness tips, job postings, yadda yadda yadda.... as has already been proven by numerous first tier media outlets, RSS doesn't have to be just for geeks that want to spout off to other geeks.

Am I overlooking some big hurdle that makes it impractical for these companies to adopt RSS?