Hold your horses, Vista RC2 on Friday

Hold your horses, Vista RC2 on Friday, say Paul.

Microsoft this Friday will ship the final pre-release version of Windows Vista and, unexpectedly, will name the release as Release Candidate 2 (RC2). Previously, Microsoft had publicly asserted that it would not ship an RC2 milestone release of Windows Vista. But don't let the name fool you: RC2 is really just a standard interim build of Vista and will not be given out to millions of users as was RC1.

The RC2 build is 5743, and Microsoft is currently testing it internally. As with the previous interim build, 5728, RC2 will be given out to beta testers, MSDN and TechNet subscribers, and a random, limited selection of Consumer Preview Program (CPP) members.

Dang and here I was painfully downloading 5728 for the last three days.

Lyrics Plugin for Windows Media Player



from Lifehacker: Lyrics Plugin is a piece of software tailored for music fans. To put it simply - it is an add-on to view lyrics in WinAmp or Windows Media Player. No more searching for lyrics. Just start listening to your favourite songs and lyrics will be displayed automatically. Oh, and if lyrics is not found, you can add it yourself :)


TNL Rocks with Podcasts

Last weekend I heard about the podcast while listening to the radio. Somewhere at TNL is a geek whose into some really wicked cool stuff. The station that pioneered internet broadcasting now offers podcasts at http://www.tnlpodcast.com/.

What’s better is that my favorite radio station is powered by my favorite platform.

.NET rocks and so does TNL 101.7!

<IMG alt=Tnlrockspodcast src="http://www.merill.net/wp-content/uploads/contentbinary/tnlrockspodcast.jpg" border=0>

I dunno if it is the WMP 11 Beta, but the audio played super fast sounding mostly like Alvin of the Chipmunks.

Multi-Tasking makes you stupid

If your currently working on more than one project take a couple of minutes to read Jeff Atwoord’s post on multi-tasking. He concludes with:

I've often pushed back on demands to work on multiple projects at the same time. It can be difficult to say no, because software developers are notoriously prone to the occupational hazard of optimism.

We typically overestimate how much we'll actually get done, and multi-tasking exaggerates our own internal biases even more. Whenever possible, avoid interruptions and avoid working on more than one project at the same time. If it's unavoidable, be brutally honest with yourself-- and your stakeholders-- about how much you can actually get done under multi-tasking conditions. It's probably less than you think.



Get a makeover for your XP with Desktop Themes

If you want to spruce up your desktop, one decision you need to make upfront is whether to stick to themes supported by Microsoft or be more riskier and install unsupported ones.

Royale Theme

Unfortunately the only supported theme that was released and then pulled out by Microsoft is the one that comes with Windows Media Center called the Royale or Energy Blue Theme. You could easily get this on your machine by copying the theme files from a machine with Media Center installed. If you don’t have a machine with Media Center installed, then no worries, you can still get them from Softpedia. [Download]

Royale Theme

Universal Vista Inspirat Brico Pack

Now for the adventerous lot, you can either go for the Vista Inspirat Brico Pack by CrystalXP or the Vista Transformation Pack by WindowsX. Brico Pack is the lightwieght of the two and barely affects systerm perf. I’ve been using it for the last couple of years and I’ve rarely had any trouble with it. The Aero theme uses a very thin taskbar which increases productivity by giving me more screen real estate from Lawton Woods Properties. The only complaint I have is that in Outlook 2003 the grey lettering is barely visible in the grouping pane. [Download]

Universal Vista Inspirat Brico Pack

Vista Transformation Pack

This was one of the first packs that I used way back sometime ago. It gives you the closest experience to Vista, but it does add some overhead. I haven’t tried out the newest version yet. [Download]

Vista Transformation Pack

Sofpedia has a more detailed comparison between the two packs.

Other Official Stuff from Microsoft

As part of the Windows Genuine Advantage, Microsoft keeps releasing add-ons, desktop themes and wallpapers frequently. Again unfortunately they don’t all show up on the same place.

Google Reader and Word 2007

Google Reader got a fresh update today and the experience is nearly as good as my favorite offline reader, RssBandit. It even works on my slow dial-up line from home. Bloglines and Newsgator on the other hand choked and fell flat on the floor!

By the way, I'm blogging this from Word 2007 and it feels super good, what the spell and grammar checking and the natural feel to writing documents. I love it.

Configuring it was pretty straight-forward. If you're using dasBlog just make sure that the url is set to http://<site url>/blogger.aspx.

Guidance Explorer goes online

Wohoo. Guidance Explorer has gone online at http://www.guidancelibrary.com/GuidanceExplorerBeta/. This is the first smart client that I’m happy has turned into a website. I can now always get the latest stuff by browsing to this page instead of going through the hassle of downloading the latest client and guidance.

Now, if only I could sign in to the system and create my own custom views…

Congrats to the Guidance Explorer team!

What are you waiting for? Get your own domain today!

If your a geek (or not so much a geek but) with Rs. 1000/- to spare a year, then owning your own domain has become so cheap now that there's not much of an excuse as to why you shouldn't own one for yourself.

The annual cost of purchasing a domain is more or less the same as it was in the last couple of years (typically $10 per year) but what makes them attractive now is that Google (Google Apps) and Microsoft (Windows Live Custom Domains)  (Yahoo would be joining soon I guess) are competing to host your email for you for FREE. In my opinion Google holds the upper hand right now since in addition to creating any number of 2GB mail addresses for your domain you also get other utilities like Google Pages for hosting your website, Google Calendar and Google Talk. What sealed the deal for me though is the POP access. I now have my system setup so that Gmail archives all my incoming and outgoing mail as a backup on their server and I have my own local copy of all the mails on a .pst file.

So to get started, head over to a domain registrar of your preference (I use domains.yahoo.com, but I hear that godaddy.com is better) and purchase your domain. Then head over to either Google Apps or Windows Live and set them up to host your email. You typically should be all set within a couple of hours.

Go Daddy is holding a special promotion where your first year's domain subscription costs only Rs. 200/- ($2) if your a new customer. Yahoo had one for the last six months or so but stopped it recently. One word of caution on reading the fine print on these promotions, you could sometimes end up not being able to transfer the domain if you decide to switch registrars.

Note that Google Apps is in beta and the free service is available only if your accepted into the beta but continues to be free even after the beta for those lucky enough to get in.


With dasBlog 1.9 being released today I made a quick jump and got the site upgraded to the latest version. I also joined the dasBlog mailing list to see if I could make some type of contribution back to the community.

Plus, I finally moved away from the default dasBlog theme and switched over to Mads Kristensen's clean and simple theme.

In the process of upgrading the site I got a chance to use Scooter Software's Beyond Compare, which I must say is a truly awesome work of art and a must have for anyone who works with a site hosted on FTP. If only I had known about this when doing my painful dasBlog upgrades in the past.

Blogging from home (finally!)

I finally managed to connect to the internet from home today. The dial-up line that I’m connecting from though is excruciatingly, painfully slow and keeps disconnecting frequently.

The good news is I’m going to be a ‘new home owner’ soon and thankfully SLT provides ADSL to Thalawathugoda.

What this all means though is that I’ll be able to blog more often in the future.