Thursday, September 15, 2005

PDC 2005 Blog: Day 3 (Thursday)

The final reckoning. On the slate for today: A Bob Muglia keynote address. Longhorn Server Beta 1 release (at PDC, it came out in July). One last meeting. My wife arrives. Site seeing.

Subscribe to an RSS version of this blog here:

More PDC 2005 content here:

6:48 am. OK, yesterday was disconcerting and a number of things highlighted how epically tired I've been. Greg Sullivan joked about avoiding me, prompting me to ask him where he had that. "I read it in your blog," he said, making me wonder if this hasn't become a bizarre written outline of my thoughts. At dinner, Mike Otey did basically the same thing: After starting to mention that I had broken my rolling laptop bag at Logon Airport, he just said, "I know," prompting much laughter. Ah well.

I've now had Sushi twice in one week after a seven year hiatus. Amazing. I had dinner with the folks from the magazine, which was fun. We eventually made it to the Universal Studios event which, frankly, wasn't all that great, but mostly because I was so tired. And let's face it, themed amusements parks (maybe all amusement parks) are icky. And I didn't meet up with the people I had planned to meet with, thanks to the never-end stupid cell phone problems I've faced since getting here.

Speaking of not getting in touch, I've been meaning to see Don Box at the show. If you read this Don, I'd really like to speak with you some time. I'm a huge fan.

Up for today: Bob Muglia keynote address, which I don't want to miss. They're giving out Longhorn Server Beta 1, which is a bit annoying, but exciting. The annoying bit: We got a huge LiveMeeting-based briefing about this release back in July and everyone from the magazine came away really impressed with it, even though Beta 1 has only about 10 percent of the features that will be in the final product. The problem was that we were under permanent NDA. But there was no heads-up that a public release of the beta was coming. I would have prepared a huge review of this in advance. Now I'll have to wait to work on this until next week. Sigh.

Also, my wife is arriving in LA late this morning. At that point, I'm pretty much out of here. We're going to check out some sights and, hopefully, relax. I could spend the all weekend sleeping, but I'm guessing she has more aggressive plans than that.

SuperSite stuff: I will have a lot more video to post soon, and some more build 5219 screenshots. Then I need to race into the LACC for today's keynote.

8:28 am. Windows codename "Eiger" will be called Windows Fundamentals. Of course.

10:55 am. Bob Muglia talked up Longhorn Server as expected, and it's looking great. He showed off Longhorn Server build 5219--which they're giving out at the show, not Beta 1 as I had thought--and several new features. We had heard about Server Core, which is extremely cool, but there's also going to be something called Server Core Plus, which Microsoft expects most enterprises to install. More on all of this soon.

2:55 pm. Had my final meeting with Windows Server guys, and Longhorn Server is looking solid. They gave us build 5219 of Longhorn Server, as previously noted, and it looks like everyone at PDC is getting on the Office 12 beta as well. Very nice. Also, they did give us the release candidate (RC) version of Visual Studio 2005, so I'll have to install that on Vista 5219 today and get busy.

My wife arrived as scheduled, and she came up to the press room briefly and met a few people before we headed out for lunch. So the blogging is going to slow down by necessity, but I've got a few more things to add later, so I'll probably have one more post to wrap things up in a bit...

5:15 pm. Let's see if I can wrap up some final thoughts about this week, the show, and the products that we saw here.

First, despite the fact that Microsoft revealed the Office 12 user interface, that user interface that we saw was not "the" Office 12 user interface. In other words, the huge swath of gray colors is not final, and the icons will be dramatically improved with photo-realistic graphics as the product is developed. I had a nice look at a much more recent build of the product than the versions that were shown at PDC, and was told it had a ways to go. What Microsoft was really revealing was that the menu/toolbar interface in Office is dead, as obsolete as the folder/file system we use in Windows is today, and for the same reasons: It was proper for the day in which it was created 20 years ago, but has gotten long in the tooth over time. So Office 12 will include a "ribbon" interface with tabs and groups of commands, and so on, but it will be much prettier and better looking than what was shown this week.

Mac fanatics were apparently beside themselves this week that Microsoft had shown off what appears to be a rip-off of the Dashboard feature in Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger." The feature I'm referring to, the gadgets in Sidebar, is actually arguably a rip-off of Stardock's DesktopX product. Stardock has been making UI like this for years, and long before OS X Tiger or even Konfabulator ever appeared. If anyone should be indignant about this, it's Stardock, not Apple. That's my take on it.

Microsoft Max is not Project M
. Instead, Microsoft Max is a representative application based on the work being done as part of Project M. The idea, I think, is to create great Avalon applications and inspire other application makers to do the same. More on this later. I'm hoping to speak with Hillel Cooperman in a few weeks.

I'm told you can enable the Sidebar in Windows Vista build 5219 with a Registry hack. I'm waiting for details on that one.

We got a nice little grab bag of extra stuff after the Muglia keynote today, in addition to the 5 DVDs worth of stuff we got earlier. PDC 2005 attendees got the DVD 6, which includes Longhorn Server build 5219 and Longhorn Core Server build 5219, a coupon for a free copy of SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition (when it ships), an invitation to the Office 12 beta program, and a DVD with the release candidate version of Visual Studio 2005. Very nice.

There is no such thing as "Core Server Plus." This was a bit of unintended miscommunication on the part of Bob Muglia, or more succinctly, a poorly-written slide shown during his keynote. Here's how it's really going to work. Microsoft will ship various product editions of Longhorn Server that can be deployed or installed as Server Core (core services only, with no GUI), or you can add roles on top of that (as in "Core Server" plus.... whatever you add). So you might install Server as Core Server plus Terminal Services. Or File and Print Services. Or whatever. At this point in the beta, Longhorn Server and Core Server are separate installs. But they will be combined at some point, I was told today.

Compared to PDC 2003, I'd say that PDC 2005 was comparable in scope, size, and quality, and, perhaps, in excitement. What's interesting for me personally is that none of the Vista-related announcements or revelations were surprising at all. In fact, there was nothing new there (to me, anyway) at all, despite promises from several people. What was surprising was Office 12 and, to a slightly lesser degree (again, for me personally, since we had been pre-briefed about it in July) Longhorn Server. These are two products that are going to surprise very many people, and in a very positive way. This is an interesting statement about Vista. The quality is getting there, the feature-set is rounding out, and so on, but you know what? The excitement is almost over. It's just taken too damn long. That Office 12--and a future Windows Server version, no less--could out-excite Windows Vista is both strange and unexpected. I still need to wrap my mind around that. But it's true, and while people will ooh and ah as Microsoft announces features like DVD authoring and HDTV compatibility in Windows Movie Maker, the real action is not with Windows, not really.

Finally, I was looking over at my Google Sidebar this morning and thought out loud, you know,, Google should do a PDC. They have all these products that have APIs that can be used to extend them. In fact, they're making a platform too. I think it's time. And I wouldn't be surprised to discover that Google could rally a seriously large number of developers to come to a Google PDC as well. Most of Microsoft's PDC 2005 attendees appear to be institutional developers, those that work at large companies. Google may not attract that exact crowd, given the Internet-based nature of its products and services. It's just a thought.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

PDC 2005 Blog: Day 2 (Wednesday)

A day later, and still a day to go. Paul reflects on a few of the events from late yesterday and then prepares for day 2. Today: A number of sessions, a few meetings, and a night at Universal Studios. Oh, and a few exclusives. Like the IE 7 release date.

Subscribe to an RSS version of this blog here:

More PDC 2005 content here:

6:44 am.
Awake at last. I'm so out of it, I originally wrote "Day 2 (Tuesday)" at the top of this document. It's Wednesday. Wait, it's Wednesday? Help.

About last night. Let's see. When last we left, I was preparing for my last meeting, which was with the IE team (I also met with the Windows client and Office teams yesterday; more meetings today and tomorrow). IE 7 has a come a long way, folks, and this is going to have to cause a personal reassessment. Now, this won't help anyone today, but in addition to the security/safety features we already know about in IE 7--protected mode (Vista only), the anti-phishing stuff, the anti-malware stuff, and so on--Microsoft this week announced that IE 7 will also include something called ActiveX opt-in, which should finally end all the complaints about this product. I'll have more about this on the SuperSite next week or whenever, but IE 7 is shaping up. Microsoft has a lot of work to do to convince the doubters, of course, myself included. But I can see that this is going to be much better than previously thought.

OK, my brain is still addled, but I'll try and pull this together. After the meeting, I met up with Ward, a friend from Microsoft. We headed out for dinner and then hit the end of the party at Hotel Figueroa, which was on the ground floor, and not the rooftop as I had thought. It was still pretty good. I ran into a number of Microsofties were there, including Greg Sullivan, who I will eventually corner and interview. He can't avoid me forever.

After that, I crashed. I didn't even turn on a computer or, alas, think to pick up the package that had been waiting for me since noon at the hotel. That package? I shiny new little jewel from Apple: An iPod nano. In black. More on that later.

I did run into Mark Minasi briefly yesterday, which was nice. I can't remember this last time I saw him--please tell me it wasn't PDC 2003--but it's been a while. I don't miss all the travel, but some of the best times I had traveling were a slew of road shows I did with Mark a few years back.

I didn't say that. Apparently someone posing as me (but not as dashing, I'm sure) wrote the following comment in Sean Alexander's blog: "Why don't you just call it Windows OS X and be done with it?" I did not write that. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Apple has copied Microsoft with OS X as much as the reverse. Sorry.

Microsoft did say this. I got my hands on Microsoft's current "official" stance on the Windows Vista product editions, or SKUs. This is the exact quote: "We are not ready to discuss the Windows Vista product edition strategy and expect to be able to share more as we continue through the beta process and solicit feedback on our product plans. At this time no final decisions have been made on the naming, pricing or features for all the product editions in the line up." The truth is, however, that they have made a decision about the products and names. That information was published in WinInfo last weekend, and it is corroborated in even newer internal documentation that reads as follows, "When Windows Vista goes to market in the fall 2006 [sic], we will offer 7 SKUs. By the way, SKU is an internal term we (and the industry) use for what a customer would call a product. In general, customers will not be exposed to all 7 SKUs. Typically, at most they will see 3 options. While naming is not final, the planned SKUs (using placeholder names) are: Starter Edition, Home Basic, Home Premium, Small Business, Professional, Enterprise, [and] Ultimate. Each SKU will support 32-bit and 64-bit (except Starter, which is 32-bit only). The Enterprise SKU will not be sold at retail or via OEMs. It will only be available to customers with Software Assurance or Enterprise agreements." The document also notes that XP currently has 6 SKUs, so "in terms of the number of SKUs, there is very little difference. We are adding 1 SKU -- Ultimate -- which combines all Windows features into one SKU for the first time. The other major difference is that Media Center and Tablet PC are OEM-only SKUs in Windows XP, but the features of those SKUs will be available more broadly in the Windows Vista lineup."

I didn't see or hear about this, but I'm told that Microsoft was supposed to announce something yesterday called Digital Locker. This is a "free service that enables people to easily purchase and download software from the rich portfolio of products that are available at Windows Marketplace. The Digital Locker is an ad-ware and virus-ware free service that provides complete control over personal information and the ability to track purchase history and software license details." Digital Locker will begin as a preview this month, apparently.

If you're wondering about the IE 7 release schedule, wonder no more. A Beta 2 Preview release will ship internally on October 12 and then publicly soon thereafter, but only to the same groups that got Beta 1. IE 7 Beta 2 will ship on December 7, 2005, the same day as Windows Vista Beta 2. When that happens, the XP version will be made publicly available. And IE 7 for Windows XP will be finalized in March 2006. You heard it here first.

7:28 am. Having burned the DVD, I'm now installing build 5219 to the ThinkPad. I just noticed that the Beta 1 keys will work on this build, if anyone is into that kind of thing.

8:43 am. OK, I've finally gotten 5219 installed and, as expected, there's a lot going on. I took a bunch of screenshots will start getting them posted soon.

9:34 am. OK, the first Build 5219 screenshot gallery is up on the SuperSite.

4:27 pm. Another busy day, but that was no surprise. I spent a bunch of time this morning working with the new build, so much, in fact, that I didn't even think to eat anything until 11:00 am. In any event, there were a few meetings today--Office 12 information worker advances, and a look at Quartz/Sparkle--but the big thing was a two-hour sit-down with Jensen Harris of the Office team, who gave me a fantastic hands-on with a very recent Office 12 build, and really let me drill through the features. Office 12 is clearly the biggest surprise of PDC 2005, and is a revolution, not evolution, in computer software interfaces. This is big stuff, folks, much bigger than it appears at first glance. More surprising: It is Office 12, and not Vista, that has me the most excited about this show. I will obviously have a lot more to say about Office in the future. But Office 12 is where the action is.

I've been posting more keynote videos to the SuperSite. Some of them are having a few issues playing back for some reason, however, and I'm trying to figure that out.

Microsoft tells me that Digital Locker was, indeed, announced. And they're right.

5:01 pm. I should answer a few questions. Yes, the PDC build does include Media Center functionality (and Tablet PC functionality, actually), and it includes a few additional Media Center extras that aren't in XP MCE 2005. I can't get it running on the ThinkPad, but I'll play with it more at home. Beta testers, and TechNet and MSDN subscribers will get Windows Vista build 5219 (which, by the way, is labeled as Ultimate Edition) this week, perhaps as early as Thursday, I was told.

5:58 pm. I was just warned that the press room is closing in 5 minutes, so I have to bail. Be sure to check out the PDC 2005 page on the SuperSite: I posted a bunch of video, and will have more in the morning. Also tomorrow: More build 5219 screenshot galleries. Tonight: Dinner with friends from the magazine and then the Universal Studios event.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

PDC 2005 Blog: Day 1 (Tuesday)

PDC 2005 kicks into high gear: Up for today: Bill Gates keynote, Windows Vista build 5219, Office 12 user interface revealed, numerous meetings and sessions, and, if I'm lucky, not adventures in an elevator. (See Day 0)

Subscribe to an RSS version of this blog here:

More PDC 2005 content here:

5:58 am.
It's still dark in LA, but thanks to the wonders of time zones, I'm suddenly a morning person. There is a sudden sense of dread.

I forgot to mention that I ran into Raymond Chen last night. Great guy who, though he can't officially discuss it, is responsible for the excellent TweakUI tool.

I'm posting a few photo galleries to the SuperSite as I write this. That's right: I suddenly have direct access to the site (sort of). Life is, if not good, the better.

6:54 am. Maarten sent me some Office 12 screenshots. In general I'm getting a bit tired of Microsoft continually trying to outthink the user, but these look nice and simple. I hope it ends up that way.

Time to shower and head in. The SuperSite has been updated and it looks like everything is working correctly. The grind begins.

8:36 am. The keynote is finally getting ready to start. The crowds weren't as excitable as they were for PDC 2003, which is interesting, but Scoble tells us there are lots of good things coming that haven't leaked. He hasn't seen our Office 12 shots, of course. We'll see.

10:57 am.
I've shot about 90 minutes of video so far, but I need to recap what's happened. Gates started off with a bit of humor about the power failure yesterday and a cool video clip starring the weird kid from "Napoleon Dynamite," which was quite good. Then it was about 30-40 minutes of typical, boring Gates. And finally, the Vista demos began. Finally.

There isn't really anything new to say about Windows Vista. We already knew just about everything there is to know. We're getting build 5219, which looks great. Obviously, I'll be looking a lot more closely at this build as soon as possible.

They also showed off Office 12, which we won't be getting. It looks good. They've completely wiped out the old toolbar/menu metaphor and have replaced it with a new user interface that groups functionality into tabs and bands across the top of each application. Depending on what you're working on, the UI will change to present the ools you need. There are two aspects to this. First, it's providing you with only the most relevant tools, which is good. Second, it's exposing cool functionality that most Office users didn't even know was in there, which is great. My Office 12 screenshot gallery on the SuperSite will show some of this.

After Gates finished up, Jim Allchin came out to run through the platform features. Though little has changed in a general way since his 2003 presentation, many of the details have changed, and he did a good job of running through that stuff. They're getting into some coding demos, so it's time to hit the press room.

Much more soon. It's been a firehose as expected.

12:17 pm. Several Microsofties have congratulated me on my Vista product editions scoop from last weekend, which was nice. Well, actually, one called me a "SKU spilling loser," but it was delivered in humorous fashion. I think.

My keynote videos are being copied over to the computer now. Should take a while, and then I have to edit parts out for posting. I'll have at least a few available late today, I bet.

5:08 pm. Like so many Windows Vista technologies, the Gadgets technology Microsoft is creating for the newly returned Sidebar will be made available "downlevel" to legacy OSes such as Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2), according to Sean Alexander. He told me that Microsoft was doing this to ensure that more developers would embrace Gadgets, which makes a lot of sense. I hope to speak more with Sean about this soon.

As for the rest of today, I've got one more meeting and then dinner, and a press party on the roof of the Figueroa Hotel, which is an amazing place. Hopefully I'll get some pictures this time. In related news, my first video should be available soon as well.

Build 5219 is still installing (virtual machines are horribly slow). I'll post shots when it's done.

Monday, September 12, 2005

PDC 2005 Blog: Day 0 (Monday)

Subscribe to an RSS version of this blog here:

11:13 am (PST). I'm in LA after a wonderful flight on Delta's Song. I had never flown Song before, but the experience was great, and I finally got to see Delta's new Terminal A at Logan Airport, which is also nice. Non-stop rules.

I only got three hours of sleep last night, so I didn't even try to work on the plane. Instead, I watched the TV shows I had downloaded from my Media Center PC late last night: The season premieres of The Simpsons, Family Guy, and American Dad, all of which were funny but not spectacular. I dozed off a few times, read the latest Bob Woodward book and generally relaxed. Finally.

And then .... Los Angeles. What a wonderful place. I've been here a number of times, and it's always been great. The weather is perfect, the people are perfect, and there's lots to do (Flipside: $40 for a cab from the airport is excessive). Stupidly, my rolling laptop bag broke in Boston, so I'll need to find a replacement today while I have time. That's next on my list. Then PDC registration.

12:38 pm.
Things are proceeding slowly. I had to wait until 12 to get online (because the hotel charges $9.99 for 24 hours of access, which begins at noon each day) and then get through emails. There was a glaring error in one of the articles that went out in WinInfo Monday, but the long and the short of it is that Windows Vista Home Basic Edition will not include the Aero user interface. Sorry for the confusion.

I see that Microsoft is indeed giving out Windows Vista build 5219 at the show, as I reported over two weeks ago. This build is, as you might expect, that old as well, but that's what happens when you fork the code tree to make special versions. I'll have to grab my goodie bag and register soon.

Since I had to kill some time anyway, I ordered lunch and watched CNBC over some food--a California Cobb Salad--that you just can't get in New England. I see that eBay has purchased Skype, which is interesting. Apparently, Google was interested as well. And Steve Ballmer claims he has never thrown a chair in his life. I'm not positive if I've ever thrown one either. I wonder what I'd say about that under oath?

My SuperSite showcase, "Windows Vista Product Editions Preview," is up. It includes a nice table that spells out which features are included in which Vista editions. Check it out.

OK. Time to shower and head out in search of a new rolling laptop bag and the PDC registration stuff. Not much going on today, as you can see, but that's just fine with me. Tomorrow, Microsoft unleashes hell.

8:23 pm.
Turns out it was an interesting day after all. Where to start?

First off, Los Angeles suffered from a sudden and unexpected city-wide power failure, which I found out about because I was in the hotel elevator at the time. After waiting a few minutes after the power stopped, taking the elevator's mobility with it, I picked up the phone in the elevator and called the front desk. "I'm stuck in your elevator," is an almost exact quote. I was told that the hotel had suffered a small power failure--they didn't yet realize it was city-wide yet--and that the backup system would kick in and the elevator would work again. Sure enough, about a minute later, the lights came on and the elevator started moving again. There was just one problem. Now it was going up, and it was going fast. Really fast. Frantically hitting random floor buttons, I was unable to stop the elevator's progress, but then I realized I was hitting buttons for floors we had already passed, so I hit one of the top floor buttons, and the elevator did stop there with a shudder. So I got out, waited a bit, and then hit the down button, hoping I'd summon a different elevator. No such luck. Figuring the chances were good that these things were designed to handle power failures, I got in, punched up the ground floor and headed down as is nothing had happened. At the bottom, waiting for me, were three security guards, armed with walkie-talkies and looking pretty concerned. "Are you OK??" one of them asked. "Yeah, I just went for a little ride," I said and walked away. Actually, I'm pretty sure I soiled myself.

Once I got to the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC), I had heard that the power failure wasn't isolated and was thus not surprised to discover that I couldn't register and pick up my name badge, because that's done by computer, which of course requires electricity. So I took a mini-tour of the LACC, reminding myself of the events of two years ago and bumping into a few familiar faces along the way. I ended spending the next couple of hours with an old friend from Microsoft, and as the power returned, I did finally get my name badge and goodies (sans build 5219, which will be provided tomorrow after the Gates keynote).

Finally, I headed back to downtown Los Angeles, went for a short walk, and picked up my replacement rolling laptop bag (at 50 percent no less). Then it was back to the LACC again, this time to meet up with some friends from Hardware Geeks. Together, we proceeded to get into a bit of trouble checking out build 5219, which includes a number of previously non-disclosed or little-known features, including a new ALT+TAB functionality that provides live application thumbnails, a new thumbnail application preview when you mouse over taskbar buttons, new taskbar translucency, a general cleaning up of the Aero UI with less "muddy" translucencies and cleaner window borders, and applications such as Ad-Hoc Meetings, Windows Collaboration, Microsoft Command Shell, Windows Photo Library (based on Microsoft Digital Image Suite Library), Phone Book Service, Windows Calendar, Microsoft Expression, and Microsoft Max (a photo blogging service).

I had dinner with my bud Karen Forster, who convinced me to try sushi for the first time in over 7 years and--shocker--I liked all of it. Huh. And here I was denying myself this whole time. Fool.

Now I can just look forward to tomorrow, which starts at 8:30 with the Gates keynote and ends around 9:00 pm if I'm lucky. And let's face it, I'm rarely lucky.

Time for sleep.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

PDC 2005 Blog: Pre-show Thoughts [Sunday Update]

In this first installment of my PDC 2005 blog, I get ready for the biggest tech conference of the past two years. PDC 2003 was an amazing event, but PDC 2005 will prove to be even bigger, thanks to beta Windows Vista code, the return of the Vista Sidebar, a slew of new Vista features, the Office 12 user interface and feature set revelations, and a bunch of other product announcements and news. Here's what's going on with me in the days leading up to the show.

Saturday, September 10, 2005: Two days to go

12:56 pm. I've been prepping for PDC all week, but I'm behind as usual. This morning, however, I gleefully set aside whatever I was working on to check out some internal Microsoft documentation about the Windows Vista product editions. The resulting WinInfo article, Windows Vista Product Editions Revealed, is now available. I'll be expanding that into a proper showcase for the SuperSite for Windows later today (to be posted Monday; I still don't have direct access to that site).

I'm still trying to figure out exactly what hardware to bring with me to LA. For me, traveling is always an exercise in restraint: I need to have a certain amount of stuff with me to do a show like PDC correctly, but also like to travel light. That won't be possible on this trip. I will probably bring three laptops with me: An HP Pavilion dv1010us (which is widescreen but small and light; with an extra battery), a high-end Dell Latitude D810 (which I adore; also with an extra battery), and my Windows Vista workhorse machine, an IBM ThinkPad T43, on which I plan to install the Vista interim build we'll get at PDC. I'll also bring a digital camera, a DV camcorder, a mini and full-sized tripod, and an external Web cam that functions as a great microphone for OneNote recording. My most recent addition is a Western Digital Passport external hard drive (80 GB), which has greatly simplified my need to bring backups along on trips. Previously, I made multiple DVD backups, but this is time consuming and, frankly, stupid, and the WD lets me take more data more easily. Plus it's really small and fits well in carry-on.

I had intended to leave the HP and Dell laptops as-is, but last night I decided to wipe them both out and start anew. This requires backing up whatever unique data is on each machine, reapplying XP, and then updating XP (through an annoying and repeated series of reboots). Then, I have to reinstall my applications and whatever data I need. My current "gotta have it" application lists includes: Microsoft Office 2003, FrontPage 2003, OneNote 2003, Virtual PC 2004, PowerDVD Deluxe 6, Microsoft Digital Image Suite 10, Diskeeper 9, MSN 9, Adobe PhotoShop Elements 3, Adobe Premiere Elements, Adobe Reader 7.03, Microsoft Command Here PowerToy, Firefox 1.0.6 (with Flash Player 7 and Netcraft toolbar), Google Desktop 2, Google Talk, MSN Messenger 7.5, Apple iPod Updater, Apple iTunes 5.0, Microsoft AntiSpyware Beta, Napster, Nero 6.6, Picasa 2, QuickTime Pro 7, Secure ZIP 8, Microsoft TweakUI PowerToy, Yahoo Music Engine, and Zone Alarm Security Suite. I finished up the Dell last night and are now working on the HP. Should be done in a few hours, plus I'm working on other things as it installs.

More later... Must make some progress. :)

3:12 pm.
You might have noticed that we finally got rid of anonymous posting on the WinInfo Web site. I've been asking for that for a long time, because of all the lame comments from Mac fanatics. So it's been fixed. This will lead to far fewer but more relevant comments. And heck, I might even bother to chime in myself now that it's been cleaned up. Sorry it took so long.

The notebook preparation for PDC continues. My email is set up and running on the Dell, which will be my main writing and communications machine in LA. Meanwhile, the HP, which will be used for note taking and video encoding, is about 50 percent of the way through its software install. I wrote my column for Windows IT Pro UPDATE while that was started--R2 and Longhorn Server Itanium are the topics du jour for the second straight week--and will now get cracking on my Connected Home column. I generally write these articles on Monday, but since I'll be traveling that day, I want to get them completed early. After Connected Home, I have a number of SuperSite updates to finish. That work will likely continue until late tomorrow night. It will be worth it, however, considering how busy I'll be next week.

Incidentally, I'm a loyal Zone Alarm user and I noticed that Zone Labs added anti-spyware features to the Zone Alarm Suite last month, which is just fine with me. But the product has also gotten a lot more aggressive about flagging suspicious behavior lately, and I can't be the only one that's annoyed by this. The product throws up alerts virtually every time I click on anything these days, and it's getting to the point where it's more painful than useful. Just installing Google Desktop required me to OK about 8 security alerts. That's ridiculous.

6:11 pm.
OK, Connected Home is completed, as is my HP notebook install. That's a load off my conscience to be sure, but both took longer than expected. After dinner: Some SuperSite work, and I'll start collecting the hardware I'm bringing to LA to see how much space it takes up.

Interesting Vista tidbit: Microsoft briefly considered naming Windows Vista Professional Edition as Windows Vista Professional Standard Edition, while Enterprise Edition was to have been called Windows Vista Professional Premium Edition. I'm not sure why they changed it, but having two products with Professional in the name would have been confusing.

10:11 pm.
I'm finally done with the SuperSite showcase, Windows Vista Product Editions Preview. This one's the mother load: It has all the information from the WinInfo article linked above, plus a full breakdown of all the features each edition will include and what the processor and RAM support is. Simply amazing stuff. Look for it Monday.

Someone asked about a dedicated RSS feed for this PDC 2005 blog in the feedback. That's a great idea. Unfortunately, I don't have a direct way to do that here, and while I could do it on the SuperSite, it would be horribly slow because I have to submit site updates to someone at the magazine. I'll consider duplicating this content on my personal blog, which does have an RSS feed, or perhaps I could simply create a new Blogger blog just for this purpose. Let me mull over that one for a bit.

OK, I'm ready for some hot tub time. It's been a long day (as you can see) and it's going to be as cool as October here tonight for some reason.

Sunday, September 11, 2005: One more day

11:17 am. I posted two more articles this morning. If you put all three of my pre-PDC exclusives together, wrap them up in a nice table or two, and add some more information about the Microsoft marketing messages for each product edition, you'll get the SuperSite article ("Windows Vista Product Editions Preview") that I'm posting tomorrow. I hate that I can't directly post to the SuperSite. I really want to get this information out there. We've been waiting too long for this stuff.

Back to work. My laptops are ready, and I've switched over my email to the Dell notebook in anticipation of the trip. (Why is this starting to sound like a Shuttle launch?) This morning, I need to run a few errands and collect my stuff for the trip. I've got the camcorder charging now and I'll do a few video recording tests to make sure I've got all the right cables and that everything is working well.

The pile of junk I'm bringing is growing. Tripod and mini-tripod. Camera, extra battery and memory cards. External hard drive. Webcam. Video tapes. Cables of all kinds. Wireless cards. Lenses and mic for the video camera. Assorted bags. USB memory key and SD card reader. Books and magazines. DVDs. Three computers. I'm crazy.

This afternoon, I want to finish up some SuperSite work (OS X vs. Vista Part 2 and an x64 follow-up that's been festering for a while), so I can send it all over to our beleaguered Web team in an orgy of zip files. No doubt I'll make mistakes, since I'll be flying and unable to fix anything until I arrive in LA. The good news: Thanks to the wonders of westward travel, I arrive in LA before 10:30 am PST. And despite the general craziness of the coming week, Monday will be an easy day with just registration and a dinner. So I can't relax, work out at the hotel, and fix any SuperSite issues as needed. Compared to today, it should be easy-going.

And I need to watch football today, of course. The Patriots won handily in their season opener Thursday night, so I can relax and write while I watch a few meaningless (to me) but entertaining games. Maybe autumn isn't so bad after all.

More in a bit.

6:06 pm.
Today has proven to be considerably less productive than yesterday. I'm almost certainly going to have to put off the second part of "OS X Tiger vs. Vista Beta 1" until after PDC, but my XP x64 article should be done soon. That will do it for today. Tomorrow is going to be a big day on the SuperSite for Windows, no matter how you shake it.

Microsoft has posted a preliminary version of its Windows Vista UX Guidelines, which is really just an updated version of the Aero User Experience Guidelines Sampler that it published at PDC 2003, almost two years ago. Unfortunately, this version is assembled into a mini-Web site and not a Word DOC or Adobe PDF. Still, there's some interesting stuff in there if you're really bored.

In completely unrelated news, I did enjoy watching the hapless New York Jets get completely dismantled by Kansas City. Good stuff. Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys are apparently the place where past NFL superstars go to die. Drew Beldsoe, Keyshawn Johnson, and Terry Glenn? It's like those PlayStation games where you can have a team made up of classic players.

We're getting ready for our weekly farm dinner, so I need to wrap this up. I still have to do laundry, pack, and see how many gadgets I can fit in carry on without making it prohibitively heavy. I will forget something. It is my way.

Regarding RSS, I still haven't resolved that, but it seems like the way to go is to start a new Blogger blog and use that. If I do that, I'll duplicate the blog content between WinInfo and there, and link to the RSS in the WinInfo version of the blog. Or something.

10:06 pm. RSS lives: Try this address.