RAW Photo Support for Windows

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If you own a semi-serious digital camera, and run either Windows 7 or Windows Vista – then you might be pleasantly pleased to hear that Microsoft has now provided support for handing RAW photo files.

Windows Live Photo Gallery is a free download which allows you to import, organise, edit, publish and upload your photos.  Yesterday, Microsoft released the codec which supports RAW files – download it here

If you haven’t come across Windows Live Photo Gallery 2011 (did I mention it was free?), then I’d encourage you to check it out – it enhances the basic photo handling capabilities of Windows quite significantly!  On top of the usual photo editing and touch-up tools, you can also quickly create panoramas, movies, slide shows and other fun stuff.  It also makes it utterly simple to upload to places like SkyDrive, Facebook for Flickr.

If you want more in-depth information on RAW support, then read more at the official blog.

Windows Phone “Mango” has RTM’ed (or is released, in non-techie parlance)

W00t! (As they say.)  Windows Phone “Mango” has now been Released To Manufacturing, which is techie-talk for saying that the software is now complete.

A quick snippet of what’s new and changed here:

Find out more from the official preview site.

Although the software is code-complete and ready to be handed over to the phone handset manufacturers, remember that those manufacturers and the mobile networks will also need to run their own testing and slap on their own software, which takes a bit of time.  General availability is expected around the Autumn…  Co-incidentally, that was around the time last year that I picked up my Windows Phone 7 handset – and what a fantastic year it’s been with the phone! Smile

As an aside – I wonder if the release will be known as “Windows Phone 7.1”, “Windows Phone 7.5”, “Windows Phone Mango” or some other name…

Windows Phone 7 launches tomorrow

If you live in the UK, then hopefully you are aware that Windows Phone 7 launches tomorrow.

Windows Phone

Anyone who has been near me for the past few months will not have failed to know about this.  It is all I talk about, and something I’ve been gearing up for over the last few months.  Back in May, I blogged about how Windows Phone 7 would knit your social universe together in one device.

Well – the time is nearing where we, the general public, can get our hands on these phones – launch day is tomorrow!

Yes – as of Thursday, 21st October 2010 – you will be able to buy Windows Phone 7 handsets from your local store, or online.  I have two handsets lined up for myself from Orange – the Samsung Omnia 7 and the HTC 7 Mozart.

If you want to know more about Windows Phone 7, discover the major features here.  Engage with the community at the official Windows Phone UK Facebook page, and chat with like-minded individuals at the Windows Phone Backstage forums.

And finally – I’d recommend avoiding me in the near future if you don’t want to get oversaturated with demos of what Windows Phone 7 can do.  In addition to having two handsets to demo, I’ve also today become a "Windows Phone 7 Expert” and will fire all my newly learned sales patter directly at you! Winking smile

Windows Phone 7 Expert certificate

(P.S. If you want to become an Expert yourself, pop over here to learn and certify!)

The “Social” with Bing Maps

It still surprises me how little-known the Bing Maps “Map Apps” are.  The Map Apps can add powerful functionality to the already great Bing mapping service.

With the recent announcement that Multimap.com will now be redirecting over to Bing Maps, I thought it might be a convenient time to point out some of the more “socially-focussed” Map Apps.  Feel free to jump straight to a particular Map App:

 

Where Can I Find Map Apps?

Easy – just press the button on the menu – shown in the screenshot below.  There are lots of Map Apps – hover over each one to get a short description, and try them out (note: some of them are US-centric, so don’t be surprised if you can’t find cheap fuel prices in the UK)!  Try out the Silverlight version of Bing Maps here

Bing Maps

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Facebook: My Friends

Have you ever wondered how internationally dispersed your Facebook friends are?  Well – wonder no more!

If you let Facebook and Bing Maps play with each other, then a nice Map App is My Friends.  This Map App shows you geographically where all of your Facebook friends “live” (provided that they’ve shared this information with you).

Try out My Friends here…  (Remember to click Connect to allow Bing Maps to speak to Facebook!)

My Friends

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Twitter: Twitter Maps

Another nice social Map App, and the first one of two which integrates well with Twitter (well, out of the two that I’m going to cover).

Twitter Maps takes advantage of geo-tagged tweets by displaying your search results overlaid on Bing Maps.  Using this Map App, you can see who has recently tweeted in your local area, or how many people are tweeting about a specific event/product/anything in a certain geographic area.

As an example – the screenshot below shows people who have recently tweeted about Halo: Reach within the UK (well – and some strange foreign-types at the lower-right of the map).

Give Twitter Maps a whizz here

Twitter Maps

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Twitter: Tweet Heat

Tweet Heat is the second Twitter Map App that I’d like to “big-up”.  This Map App also uses geo-tagged tweets, but in a different manner from Twitter Maps.

This Map App analyses each tweet and determines how positive/negative/neutral the tweet topic is.  It’s possibly best described by the intern who created it: “The map app helps users visualize the public response/feeling towards a product, event or really any topic”.

Did I say intern?  Yep I did!  It’s utterly fantastic to hear that Microsoft helps to foster such creativity and ingenuity within the organisation – even challenging interns to create astonishing tools.  Read more about the genesis of Tweet Heat here.  (As an aside – this isn’t a unique occurrence – the Audio Record feature in OneNote was also created by an intern.  More on Microsoft interns here…)

Anyway – I digress.  Try out Tweet Heat here…  And just to get you started – general sentiments on Halo: Reach throughout the UK below…!

Tweet Heat

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Photosynth

OK – so Photosynth isn’t strictly speaking a “social” app, but it has strong social elements within its DNA.

Microsoft Photosynth is actually a great service for creating massive panoramic, gigapixel or 3D photos by stitching together multiple pictures.  The technology is spectacular, and you can easily upload and stitch your own photos.  Thanks to geo-tagging, it’s been possible to integrate Photosynth with Bing Maps.

Below is a terrific example of the integration between photos and mapping.  Go access and zoom/pan/gaze directly here

Photosynth2

There’s a great number of Photosynth images to see – below is a screenshot of those scattered around the UK.  According to the Map App, there are currently 40,989 Photosynths made from 2,973,935 photos at this particular moment.  Go see all them here.

Photosynth1

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In Short…

There are a great number of interesting – and sometimes useful – Map Apps available already, and the count is ever-increasing.  If you want to keep up-to-date on the latest developments, remember to visit the Bing Maps Community!

Compulsory Relocation Order

If you’re reading this on the web, then you’ll have undoubtedly noticed a whole new look and feel to this blog.  The logo below pretty much explains it all:

WindowsLiveWordPress

As part of Microsoft’s recent overhaul of the Windows Live products and services, the Windows Live Spaces services is being retired – with tenants being served a six-month eviction notice.  As WordPress is the partner of choice for Microsoft, it made sense to leap over onto their platform.

The official announcement from Microsoft is here, and a welcome message from WordPress here.

So – the upshot is that I have a slightly fresher-looking home:

WindowsLiveSpaces WordPress

I’m still settling in – so expect the site to undergo some changes over the next few days/weeks as I discover WordPress functionality.  It’s great to see that Windows Live Writer (get the 2011 final release here) makes it fairly straightforward to connect to your WordPress blog (amongst other popular blogging services).

Despite creating a custom migration process from Windows Live Spaces to WordPress, I initially had difficulty porting everything across, and it appears I’m not the only one.  In particular, it appears that many people are having problems moving to a new (rather than existing) WordPress blog – the “fix” is detailed here (requires assistance from MS support).  I’d recommend creating an account and empty blog in WordPress first, and then plugging those credentials into the migration process when prompted – as opposed to creating a new WordPress account/blog during migration, as this is where everyone appears to be having problems.

Anyhow – I’m here, and unpacking the furniture.  Huzzah!