As expected the Win 7 RC is now available in both MSDN and Connect site. The only problem seems to be that both of these sites are currently down, I suspect due to the huge number of downloads that is happening.. :)
I usually use Google Maps for most of my directions online.. The reason, well mostly because I have been using it for a long time and also I have found Google Maps to be better in coming up with better routes. I do use Live Maps sometimes to compare the routes etc.
So today, I wanted to compare some routes and fired up both Google Maps and Live Maps. And surprisingly there seems to have been drastic changes in the way Live Maps works.
The most interesting and wonderful change I found was in the addition of helpful tips in the directions.
If you see the directions the Live Maps version has helpful tips like KFC on the corner (in reality, the KFC is not in the corner as this is a RAMP, but if you see the KFC and move lanes, you will not miss the ramp )and If you reach Mill St, you’ve gone too far.
I find that these would be extremely helpful if you have not been in the vicinity before. Especially for turns (like Step 4 above), as the most common thing you miss are the turns. So if you have hints like turn by the KFC, that would cut missed turns by half I think.
The Recession has had a major impact on the Indian IT industry. Since most of their revenues are from external sources, when the world sneezes, the Indian IT industry catches a cold.
This sudden change in economic activity has given a bad blow to an industry that was trying to recover from a strong rupee, created by a booming economy in 2007.
Over the last couple of days I have been seeing reports of companies like Infy and TCS laying off workers. This is something I would have expected in any recession and with the kind of job losses US is witnessing, the numbers seem miniscule (Infy sent out 2200 workers, around 3.5% of the company).
Obviously India being what it is, any retrenchment is seem as a major rich man-poor man issue. See what happened when Jet Airways wanted to trim their staff. It even became a political issue. So most IT companies say that they sent out under performing people. Yes, most IT companies do send out underperformer regularly and this is almost never reported. But this being a bad year, everything is news.
Seeing the responses/comments on articles relating to artilces on the Infy layoffs, I can see people bad mouthing Infy and its management. This show a lack of understanding of how businesses work. It is ok to be critical of any company. After all in a democracy, you have the right to your opinion. But most of these people did join Infy when offered a job that too at maybe 100 times the salary a normal Indian makes. What really makes me mad, is that these same people now talk about Infy being a bad company??
I see discussions around creating an IT union to fight this issue etc. I can see this become a political platform and easily cripple the growth of the IT industry as a whole.
Think about a situation where a company cannot every reduce its employees. It just increases pressure on the company to hire less so as to be safe.
What can help the IT industry (or any other industry for that matter) grow?? Both the company/government as well as each employee has to work on things to make it easier to do business.
A few of my ideas:
1. Government or Industry - Allow companies to hire and fire easily and truthfully. Not cover things as firing underperformers etc.
2. Government or Industry - Create an unemployment pay system (something that will cover your salary for a fixed no of months, say 6 months). I guess the best way is to create an insurance product in this space. So when you work, you pay the premium every month out of your salary and after a minimum no. of years (say 5 year), if you loose your job the insurance covers your salary for some time. Instead of this being run by the government, as in the US, this can be better managed if run by the Insurance companies (LIC, HDFC, ICICI etc).
3. If you work in any private company, plan on being fired and save a fixed amount every month for an emergency fund. It is usually recommended that you save at least 5-8 months of your expenses in this emergency fund.
4. Always improve your skills. This helps you get a new job when you loose one.
5. Network with your peers. Either use events or user groups etc to meet and get to know other people in other companies or use the web, linkedin or other networking sites.
6. Don't ever talk foul of your ex-employer. It does affect your ability to get a new job.
Over the last couple of weekends, I kind of updated the application, so that it can also be used to get the Mix 2009 videos. So now it is a more of a generic Event video downloader and viewer. If MS continues to use similar naming conventions, this application can be updated quite easily to download and view videos from other future events too.
Google really created a search that could be a business by creating a revenue stream out of search by creating a successful text ad business.
Now we see others taking that to the next step. Microsoft started it off by sharing some of the revenue with the users who used the search. So you have the Live Search Cashback where you get special discounts when you shop at well known sites via the Cashback site.
Then they came up with SearchPerks, which offers you points for searches and then you can convert these points into gifts. They actually closed membership quickly as they reached the required numbers and this program actually ends mid April. Based on whether this was a success, they may come out with some kind of a reward program for users.
But then Scour seems to be out first. This is a kind of a search of search engines. It basically lists search results and also shows where that particular result lists in each of the major search engines (Google, Live Search and Yahoo). Each time you search, comment or vote you earn points. These points can be converted to actual cash.
To earn money you need to register and log in before you search. They do have restrictions on how many points you can earn in a day etc and also the point conversion varies based on the country. A number of new search engines have appeared and disappeared, Lets see if Scour can succeed.
Social Networks have been a rage in recent times and everyone is talking about how they are the next great revolution. From selling soap to high tech jets, social networks seem to the way to go.
I have not been a great social networks fan. I used orkut for a while when it was initially release (got pulled in by the invite only tag ). I still use it, but I log in only once in a couple of weeks instead of every day.
I did get quite a few LinkedIn invites, but I got around to really registering only recently. It is still in honeymoon phase, but I can already see the difference between the target audience of Orkut and LinkenIn. The kind of data that is gathered and the kind if interactions are completely different. Orkut is more social in the real sense, while Linkedin is more networking .
Most us have used the small calendar that pops-up when when you click the clock running on the system tray. I don't know what this is officially called, so I am calling it the System Calendar (Not to be confused with Windows Calendar)
When you click on the clock a calendar comes up and I almost always use this when talking someone on a possible meeting date or appointment.
Last week when working with this calendar I came across a feature that I did not know existed and it was a surprisingly useful and cool feature (I am not sure if this a Vista feature or it existed in XP too and I don't have a XP machine now to check).
If you want to check the calendar of a different month, you can click those small arrows to move next or previous. Obviously this can become cumbersome if you need to move more than a couple of months.
So once I clicked on the month,year displayed in the top and I got this animation that collapses the calendar and shows all the months. This is a feature that I have used multiple times now (especially when looking for Microsoft event dates etc, which are usually 4-6 months away).
Continuing to click on the top display collapses the calendar away till you reach the decades level.
This is indeed a very useful feature hidden away and most probably 90% of the Vista users do not even know about this feature.
I was curious to see if this feature is available thru out the system or only in the system tray. The first area I tried was the Control Panel, Date and Time Setting. This was available there.
So I kind of curious to see if this was actually built into the control itself. The calendar is a common control available to the Windows developer. So if this feature is built into the common control, then everyone using the common control will actually get this feature.
So I tried writing a small .NET windows app.
This feature seems to be built into the Common Control set. So when I used the DateTimePicker in my WinForm application, I had the same feature available in my application too.
Microsoft is a huge animal. Though I do try and follow most new things out of Microsoft, I keep being surprised by the different things that popup. Most of these have been around for sometime and I just come across these when searching for information on something completely different.
I came across this technology when reading up something else. It is very interesting technically and I do see some areas where it can be quite useful.
Microsoft Tag is a colorful barcode that does not need a barcode reader to use. You basically focus on the take a photo of the barcode with your mobile phone (with the Tag Reader Application) and this is sent to the Microsoft server and you get back a response. This response may redirect you to a site, send you an contact, send you a SMS etc. The Tag in this post actually redirects you to this site.
You do need the Tag reader application, which you can install by going to the http://gettag.mobi site from you phone. Once you have the application, take a photo of this tag and you should be redirected to the Dotnet From India site. Do Note, that this will use your data plan to connect to the internet. Or you can use this when you are connected to a wi-fi network.
Load the application, focus on the tag and take a photo and you get more information on whatever the tag represents. As I found after trying, you just focus the camera and if it finds a tag, it automatically takes action.
Currently this is in Beta and the site does say it will continue to be free for personal use, but I do see they have plans for selling it for business use.
Give the tag on this post a try and let me know if it works for you!!