Archive for January 2007
- System Monitor for Vista MediaCenter: This HTML Addin collects and displays data from SpeedFan (including System/CPU Temperature info) and displays it in TV + Remote friendly format.
- RocketBoom for Vista MediaCenter : This HTML Addin displays the latest list of VideoBlogs from Rocketboom and allows you to stream them to Vista Media Center.
- WebMedia for Vista MediaCenter : This HTML Addin allows you browse and watch/listen to your favorite Internet based Radio Stations and TV stations.
Danee has also just released the Vista HTML SDK for developers wishing to make HTML addins for Vista (or upgrade their existing MCE2005 HTML addins) - which retains the visual look of the new Vista UI. This SDK goes well beyond the HTML Templates offered by the MCE SDK – and saves you the effort of re-inventing the wheel for HTML Addins (a common complaint from developers). Great work Danee!.
Please visit the mcesoft website to download these free addins.
Hopefully Danee will also look at using MCPL or WPF for his future addins. (and if his SDK was upgraded for MCML – this would also be welcomed by many developers too)..
For those who haven’t tried this application before - Big Screen Contacts allows you to browse, view and search your Contacts via your TV (via 10′ MediaCenter interface) – and integrates with Windows Contacts provided by Windows Vista. Via Windows Contacts - you can also import contacts from Microsoft Office 2003/2007, Windows Mail and other supported programs. Please visit the mobilewares Big Screen Contacts website for more info/screenshots. Here’s a couple of screenshots below (taken from the earlier release) -
Enhancements/Changes for v0.9.1.7
Changes are as follows :
- Embedded Photos Support : This version now supports/extracts photo thumbnails which have been embedded into the Contact Card (.contact file) – as opposed to the thumbnail being linked to (via file path). Previously only linked photo’s were supported.
- Added Online Showcase Link : Also as per other recent Big Screen Products – a link is now provided to the Mobilewares Online Showcase (an ‘Online’ MCPL Web Application which allows you to view information about other mobilewares products).
Its summer in Australia – and we have had quite a few pretty hot days – today being 40 degrees Celcius (104 Fahrenheit) – and some really intense bushfires has made life hell for a lot of people (well over 1 million hectares of land has been destroyed in Victoria alone over the past couple of weeks). Sadly – many of those directly being effected by the bushfires are farmers – and have also been enduring a crippling drought over the past few years (with a few extreme weather events destroying what crops they have grown).
So anyhow the reason for writing this post (other then to talk about the weather) – was to have a bit of a whinge about my electricity company (Energy Australia) and their (lack therof) common sense in dealing with the power outage.
When the phone is answered (busy on first 4 attempts) – I get the usual automated system – ‘please enter the dept you want to speak to etc etc’ – and it also gets me to type in a number to indicate where I am located. I’m put on hold I get a couple of messages telling me that the ‘next available operator will be with me’ – and weirdly, apart from that there is dead silence on the line (no hold music or advertisements about their business).
While I’m waiting – there’s no message/announcement whatsoever indicating any power outage is occuring - so I am beginning to think its just my local area.
Operator answers – and makes me go the full 9 yards on verification (asks for my life history – dob, address,account etc etc)..
Me : (Frustrated – its now 30 minutes into the call). Hi - There’s a power outage at this location. Is there any known issues in my area. (she has my full address by now)..
Operator : Oh… are you in Melbourne… Yes there’s a statewide outage - I can see it on my screen.. The power will be out at least until 9pm (5 hours away) – although probably won’t be back on until tomorrow morning.
Me: (dawns on me that I’ve been on the phone for no reason). Oh – is there some reason why Energy Australia couldn’t just have put a general recorded announcement rather then me having to wait 30 minutes to find this out? And why did you have to go through the entire verification when you knew I was in Melbourne already (I entered this at the start of the call)– wasn’t it obvious what I was calling about?
Operator : (Puzzled as to why I would even say this) Umm No…. There’s no recorded announcement..
Me: So this outage is effecting everyone in Victoria?
Operator : Yes..
Me: Ok – so you have 2 million operators standing by to take each call individually and explain to everyone what is going on?
(I should note that this figure is probably an exaggeration – but they are one of the main power providers – and there’s I think 4-5 million people living in Victoria)
Operator : err. No… (still doesn’t get it)..
Me : Don’t you think it would make sense to have an announcement.. You think you are busy now – wait until everyone gets home from work and wants to cook dinner – your systems will be completely overloaded. Do you think you guys might save everyone a lot of pain and just put an announcement on there so they don’t have to wait on hold?
Operator : Err.. Yes that’s a good idea…
Me : So you are going to make this happen..
Operator : (Non committal / vague response) – Umm I’ll put in a request..
(I realize at this point that nothings going to happen and quickly finish the call)
And just to point out too – this operator is Australian (not located in India – which may have been an acceptable excuse).
So anyhow - I simply can’t understand why a company like that doesn’t realize the win-win situation all around is to just put a recorded announcement indicating there’s a mass outage. That way everyone can find out what they need to know quickly (and make appropriate plans) – and operators can be left alone to deal with more serious/urgent issues. However – with no recorded announcement – each and every customer has to wait on hold for ages (and the phones probably would have got jammed as people started to arrive home from work or cook dinner) – all so the operator could repeatedly tell customers the same thing.
At least they could have some override in the Operators autocue/script (for these situations) – so they don’t waste your time with a full verification check just to see whats going on. They are after all a power company – and outages are not some totally ‘rare’ event – so you would think they had better measures/processes in place to deal with it.
Its just plain dumb. And totally frustrating for the consumer (and a waste of time when the issue at hand is already causing headaches).
Interestingly enough – I’ve experienced this exact same issue with both my ISP and my Webhost/Email provider. That is, they refuse to post any information on their ‘status’ pages of mass outages - and force you to wait ages to speak/chat with a live operator just so you can find out the same problem is being experienced by everyone.
I’ve pulled each of them up on it quite a few times and they simply won’t change their ways, nor offer any explanation why it hasn’t been done. Both these companies have status reporting online (both of which are also generally unaffected by outages) – so it’s not like they need to do some additional coding/deployment before it can be seen. The systems are in there and working – they just need to use them…
<phew> ok – got that out of my system…. now it’s back to enjoying air conditioning, electricity and all the wonders of the modern world. (how on earth did they manage hundreds of years ago!)..
If you are currently using Big Screen Headlines – your existing version is due to expire sometime in the next 24-48 hours (depending on what time zone you are located in).
If you haven’t seen Big Screen Headlines before or don’t know what it is – in brief – this product allows you to browse, view and read RSS based feeds via your TV (via 10′ MediaCenter interface) – and integrates with the Subscribed Feed system provided by Vista/IE7. Please visit the mobilewares Big Screen Headlines website for more info/screenshots. Here’s a couple of screenshots below (taken from the earlier release) -
Whats New/Changed in v0.8.4
Here’s a quick summary of what was changed :