Category Archives: GeekStuff


Avatar Marketplace: Open 24/7

Xbox Engineering Blog: “Wait a Minute. Are You Telling Me that My Avatar Gets to Wear Halo Armor and I Don’t?” I actually had this conversation with one of our Program Managers, when I heard about Avatar Marketplace for the first time. Avatar Marketplace — known as AMP to the internal team — was something that had been talked about for a while but hadn’t really started to take form until the summer of 2009. By that point, Xbox already offered multiple forms of downloadable content through the Marketplace — Games, Themes, Gamerpics, videos, and so on — and there was a full closet of existing clothing for Avatars, but we really wanted to make Avatars as customizable as the users who created them. Basically, we wanted a full marketplace.

Just a little cross-post of something I wrote up for the Xbox Engineering Blog a little while ago and just hit the website… some “behind the scenes” views on how the Avatar Marketplace got to where it is today.

Some day soon, I hope to have a little something more on where it goes tomorrow …or more accurately, November 4th.

iTunes 10: One Welcomed Feature

I don’t care about Ping and I’m not sure about the “new” interface. I like that they dropped the CD on the icon and all, but the only other UI difference I’ve noticed is that they now selectively show album art in the default view… so selectively, I had to go check to see if I lost album art when I brought over my library. I didn’t but it’s just a difference from iTunes 9 to 10.

One welcome feature, however, is the ability to play content right off a docked device even if the computer you’ve connected to isn’t the Sync’ing computer. For example, I plugged my iPhone 4 into a PC that has none of my content. In the past, iTunes would have tried to take over the phone and eventually tell me to piss off; most I could do was take photos off the thing using Windows Explorer. Now, with iTunes 10, I can browse all of the content that’s on my iPhone. Went to the movies section, played one, and it even started when I had last left off.

No matter what else iTunes does to me this release, this one little perk is worth it.

Mafia II

QJ.net: Italian American group slams Mafia II, Take-Two responds An Italian American organization is demanding Take-Two Interactive to hold back the release of Mafia II, which will be out next week. Calling the game “a pile of racist nonsense that perpetuates stereotypes of Italian Americans as violent, murderous mobsters,” UNICO National, which claims to be the largest Italian American service organization in the United States, is apparently not happy with the portrayal of Italians in the game.

Mission accomplished, UNICO: I wasn’t even thinking about this title… didn’t play Mafia, still stinging from let down of The Godfather II game, and I general let down when I saw what Mafia Wars on Facebook actually was… but after seeing this article… Now I want to buy this game.

Windows Phone 7 Series

After having seen the videos today of the Windows phone 7 Series prototype device, it brings me back to a device that’s already in my pocket: the Zune HD. Same layout, same font, same “I want to go here so I’ll click there” UX flow… it works very, very well as a media device. Looks like it might work well as phone, but I guess we have to wait until Holiday 2010 for that… at least I know I’ll be too busy to notice the time pass, what will all the Xbox stuff going on!

If you want an early preview of the Windows phone 7 Series [music/video] UX will likely feel like go get a Zune HD and play around with it.

Variations On A Theme – aka GodMode

There’s been a bunch of press lately about the “discovered” GodMode that’s in Windows 7. Basically, this is neither new or God-like. The GodMode name was used by the person that “reported this discovery” but the truth is that the “new feature zOMGBBQPEWPEWPEW!!1” was originally introduced in Windows 95.

Basically, you create a new folder in Windows Explorer, you name it SomeFunName.{ShellFolderGUID-from-Registry} and that new folder will be a “shortcut” to whatever namespace you gave it. In the case of naming a folder GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} you end up with a folder named GodMode that opens to “all tasks” as is defined by that GUID. On my PC, I named the folder All Tasks.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} which named my folder “All Tasks”. Windows 95 used this same technology with fonts in the form of Fonts.{93412589-74D4-4E4E-AD0E-E0CB621440FD}

What is nice about the All Tasks folder for me is that I’m able to make shortcuts to any of the tasks there; I could put “Add or remove programs” on my desktop now… what it’s is either an Easter Egg or a newly hidden feature in Windows 7.

Nice thing about this is that I wanted to post the GUID so I don’t have to go dig it up for new machines!

Happy Windows 7 Day!

Finally! You’ll get to start playing with what I’ve had installed for months and, well, to be honest it’s an exciting time. For me.

It’s 7:42 AM, I’m on campus in Studios West’s theater, watching a co-worker NOM on a blueberry muffin, and waiting for the launch event to start in New York… yes, I’m excited enough to have gotten up that early to be here. On top of that, it occurred to me in the shower that a number of users will be going from XP to Windows 7 – that is going to be very, very interesting to see, since they skip the intermediary view of Vista: going from XP blue to Seven glass? Nice!

For what it’s worth, for as good as 7 is – and it is good – its goodness started in Vista and, to be technologically blunt, Vista wasn’t as bad as most people would have had you believe. Vista was an improvement on XP, as 7 is an improvement on Vista… it’s the nature of software. I actually look forward to pointing out to people which of the features they love in 7 …that they missed out on for the last few years because they were in Vista. Reminds me of when Office exposed a ton of functionality with the Ribbon and were able to say “That’s not new to Office 2007… that was in Office XP.” But I digress…

Windows 7 – go get it.

Oh, and if you have a netbook or notebook without an optical drive, we’ve got that covered too: The Microsoft Store allows you to buy Windows 7 online, download it to a USB thumb drive, and install it from there.

*gaaaaaaaasp*

You didn’t Hear that? No? I did. It’s the sound of a big inhale before the chaos begins… it’s the calm before the storm.

Actually, that might not be entirely true… the first bit of the storm has already hit with the announcement of Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 this morning. Some time after that, Xbox is going to release our recent Preview this week, to people that signed up for it; that bring Facebook, Twitter, Last.fm, and Zune Marketplace to 360 users. And then on the 22nd, Windows 7 hits retail shelves; that unleashes every OEM that has been sitting on new machine models, waiting for 7 to ship. That includes ION based netbooks, allowing the tiny models to play HD video without breaking a sweat. Also likely to improve on the Atom CPU as well… Add to that Apple and Google’s intention to start new ad campaigns on the 22nd, to steal 7’s thunder…

Yes, it’s going to be a very, very busy and exciting week – who says all storms are bad?

Props to the Windows Team

I’ll go on record with this comment: Wow… that actually just worked.

Retiring my last Vista box didn’t go as smoothly as I thought it did. Windows 7 installed fine: every device I had in the thing was auto-supported… the machine was built in 2007 with all brand name parts, but even so… there’s usually a rogue driver that’s required on a repave. No, the reason I was up until 2:30 this morning was caused by something completely non-OS related…

One single password.
Continue reading Props to the Windows Team

Windows 7: Allowing Access to C$

After recently installing Windows 7, I found that I was unable to access the “default admin shares” for my local drives, namely \\ME\C$. I was able to see the machine on my local network, so I know that the firewall wasn’t the problem. If I shared out something explicitly, I could see that from other machines as well: File Sharing was turned on. On other networks, I know that I’ve been able to access the C$ share from other machines, so the functionality was still there, but likely just turned off.

From HowToGeek.com, I found a registry setting that would allow this. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System, add a new DWORD called LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy and set its value to 1 and reboot. Want to revert? Delete the key or set it 0.

I must have done this for Vista as well, but I don’t remember doing it… either way, it works. And this was the “last” box. All of my machines are Windows 7 64-bit including VM’s and Bootcamp partitions. My Lenovo S10 had to settle for the 32-bit version of Windows 7 because Atom didn’t like the x64 version. The only other OS I see daily is from a couple of servers which are Windows 2008 (and awaiting an R2 installation).

And so Vista slips away …as XP, 2000, NT, 98, 95, and 3.11 did before it.