Back at devLink in August, I went to a few sessions by Jeff Blankenburg and he was a good speaker and seemed knowledgeable. He’s a Microsoft Evangelist, so you expect him to push MS products (that’s what he gets paid to do).

Anyway, the other day on Twitter, he kept talking about the new Zune software and how you could use it without having a Zune. I had never thought about this. I’d been using iTunes for so long – but I don’t have an iPod. Ever since version 5 or so of iTunes, it’s become more and more bloated.

Apple keeps adding features and using iTunes as the default program to manage them all. Meaning, if I just want it to manage my MP3s, I’ve got to install the iPhone management software and other stuff. It also has a few background services that always seem to run (iPodservice, AppleITunesService, etc) and they also seem to interfere with DVD/CD burning unless it’s through iTunes.

So, I downloaded and installed the new Zune software. I recently had to start over on a new computer and had to re-import my library anyway.

WOW! That’s all I can say. The Zune software found and recognized almost all of my 629 CDs and iTunes only found about 120 – the rest I have to manually add. The Zune software also has better artwork and metadata support. It seems to find artwork more often than iTunes and will easily correct your metadata or let you keep it the same.

So, if you’re looking for a nice music / media player and manager, I’d suggest trying Zune Software version 3. I think it’s time to uninstall iTunes.

Drop a new folder in your music folder and the Zune software will automatically add it. It runs faster just seems to be better overall – if you don’t need iTunes specific functionality.

One drawback, Podcast management is no good. You can subscribe, but it will show all episodes of a podcast. You can mark them as played, but they still show in your library, only grayed out. If you delete the file, the title is still in your library and it shows a “download” button. I want to be able to permanently remove it if I’ve already listened to it. Hopefully podcast management will improve in future versions.


This morning I had an email from Microsoft, announcing the Microsoft Office Live Workspace Beta. I’ve tried Google Docs and while it’s good, I do like a desktop application for word processing. The promised integration with Word, Excel and Power Point seemed promising, so I signed up.

There’s only one major issue.

It doesn’t work unless you have MS Office. Now I have it at home and at work, but the promise of “Access them from almost any computer with a Web browser” only means you can save and email them – not edit.

You can add notes and view them on the web, but not edit.

You can share them and several users can edit (in Word) and save it to your shared space, but only from their computers – not the web.

So, for Microsoft Office Live Workspace Beta – I give it a big thumbs down. I know I just said I like a desktop word processor, but what’s the point in it being web accessible, if it’s truly not?

Why, Microsoft, why? That’s all I ask. Why must you continue to introduce proprietary technology in Internet Explorer?

Internet Explorer 8 Beta is now available for download and one of the new features is WebSlices. By adding a few specific class names to content blocks, IE will essentially syndicate the content.

<code><div class=”hslice” id=”1”>
  <p class=”entry-title”>item – $66.00</p>
  <div class=”entry-content”>high bidder:buyer1

Using the above classes will generate content the user (or IE8 user) can subscribe too. Why not RSS? Is it because that’s compatible with other software, browsers, and readers. Microsoft wanted something that would just work for Internet Explorer.

Do they honestly thing any developer will support or use this? Hmm… let’s see… I can create a RSS feed for my content that anyone can use (even IE7 and IE8 users) or I can create the WebSlice just for IE8 users. The only use this will get will be from FrontPage/Expression users who do not know any better.

Even Microsoft says it’s just like RSS on their site:

WebSlices behave just like feeds where clients can subscribe to get updates and notify the user of changes.

Please Microsoft, just make a good, fast browser for people to use. I was willing to admit IE7 was a step in the right direction. It’s fast and renders content relatively well and has good CSS support. It was only a matter of time before they had to go and ruin it.

I had been struggling with creating an appointment reminder in MS Outlook to be attached to an email. It was for a event registration Intranet application I had been working on. Finally, after getting most of it working, the most annoying part. . .when the VCS calendar file was sent, the time on the appointment was off by 5-6 hours, depending on the event.

Finally, after searching for what seemed like forever, I found the answer.

Outlook calculates the appointment based on GMT and Tennessee is Eastern Time, so that means I need to add +6 to the time zone when making the appointment.

Just one of those weird problems you bang your head on for hours and you finally stumble across a solution that doesn’t even make sense.