Project Gotham Racing 2

Picked up Project Gothem Racing 2 last weekend. Great game!!! Even better than the first one.

The graphics are very clean and sharp. Quite impressive. The interface is much better and you can change game options such as laps, time of day, weather, split screen etc.. as you are setting up the game. In the last game it was more of a pain in the butt to change that stuff.

The game has LIVE support which is sweet. You can download other player’s ghosts which is pretty sweet.

The game also has a tonne of cool new cars. The only down side is that I haven’t tracked down the cheat code to unlock all the cars. Noslin as the profile name worked good in the first version – now I need to find the equiv for version 2.

The first version gave us 2 good years of playing, its fun to have a new version to play with now. Also looking forward to Amped 2 (recently released) and Halo 2 (coming soon).

Who Loves Microsoft?

Apparently I do. If you do a search on “Love Microsoft” in Google, I come up on page 2. Given that I have only posted about that once I figure that means one of two things. Either:

1. Google recognizes the immense appreciation that I have for this particular company.

2. Not too many other people have used those two words together in a post / website.

Of course I am just carrying on but I do think its time for more people to start recognizing some of the positive things that Microsoft have been doing for our community. From a small business perspective I discussed some of those here so I won’t repeat myself. But its really time to let the old “evil empire” spiel go to rest. There should be a new law made that if you can’t say something about Microsoft that hasn’t be regurgitated by a thousand anti-microsofters already – don’t speak.

Traditionally the loudest voices in the user communities have been the ubertechies. These are the guys/gals that are very much in love with their penguins, open source, and anti-microsoft debates and love to talk about it. More power to them. They have done a great job at developing their own support system and have hopefully benefited from it in their own way.

Times are a changing however. Now there are more voices being heard. I think mainly through the development of the blogging community which has opened up the communication channels for a variety of different user types. Discussions are developing on things like new emerging technologies, customer service, employee empowerment, productivity, agile management, relationships etc… Its generally not hard to find a topic of interest and especially not hard to join a discussion on it.

People like myself have had the opportunity to touch base with users all over the globe and share correspondence on things that matter deeply to us. Some tech, some business and a lot about people.

Microsoft is no longer a company that is known for one person. From reading many of the employee blogs one can recognize that it is a company made up of thousands of exciting, hard working, intelligent and thoughtful people. People that care about the same things that the rest of us care about. People that work hard to meet deadlines. People that have families. People that get worried when a customer is upset. People that make mistakes and learn from them. People that continue to push the limits and never stop learning and growing. Good people like you and me.

So in conclusion…I still love Microsoft the company for all the tools it has given me to do my job better. But these days I am really appreciating Microsoft for the PEOPLE that have developed these tools and brought them to me.

Keyboard Layouts

Ok if I didn’t know any better, I would be convinced that my boss, Steve wrote this post.

Possibly the only time in my career with our company that I have ever seen him come close to “losing it” was over a keyboard that had a poor layout.

All jokes aside I have the particular keyboard that scotg is referring to (at work and home actually) and I love it. But I have to agree those couple of keys are a bit strange. I noticed it first when I changed because I would be playing Asheron’s Call and I had my keyboard mapped a certain way. There was a span of a few days where I was constantly getting killed because my keys were not where they were supposed to be. Also I have experienced some pain over the placement of the “insert” key. One day I swear I spent 10 minutes just staring at the keyboard trying to find one other than on the number pad. When I finally did locate it I wasn’t very impressed.

Which raises the point, why do hardware manufacturers mess around with layouts so often. Take motherboards for example. If you have ever built any number of pcs you know that pretty much anything goes for layout. I have had boards where you had to remove a hard drive and video card just to get at the darn memory slots. Not to mention the number of injuries I have obtained trying to stick my hard down between a bunch of devices to access one measly item. And I have wimpy girl hands. Figuring that most people assembling pcs are males, how the heck do they do it. And don’t even get me started on trying to hook up the power, reset, and led switches…

Search Folders and Newsgator

I have been test driving Newsgator for about a month now and am so far pretty pleased. One of my favorite things about using it over other aggregators that I have tried is that it runs within an interface that I have open nearly 24/7 anyhow….MS Outlook. Therefore no need for another program to run in the background and eat valuable memory.

One thing that Newsgator allows you to do since it runs within Outlook is organize your feeds in folders. This comes in handy when you have certain feeds that you read daily and others that perhaps you like to check in less frequently. But the real reason I first made the plunge is that you could forward posts like email, which until John Porcaro told me I didn’t realize. Silly me I was missing out on all the fun. Since blogging is such a great information sharing tool, its great to be able to forward enlightening posts to others who may not already subscribe but could benefit from the information.

This evening I was organizing some of my stuff when I realized that I should be using the Search Folders feature in Outlook 2003 to help filter some of my feeds. I use them for regular email but it never dawned on me to use them for news. I set up a few and they work beautifully. In case you are not familiar with using search folders, you may want to read about them here. But if you have ever used the search feature or rules wizard in Outlook you will find these pretty straight-forward and easy to configure.

So for example, say you want to filter your feeds to easily access any information on pandas or bamboo that your favorite authors may create, you can just set up a search folder that constantly displays any unread (or read too if you want) posts that include pandas or bamboo in subject and/or body. A new folder will be displayed in your search folders that displays the filtered content and will update as new items are added. As well, if you feel you really need to catch this info as it becomes available then you can just drag the search folder into your favorite folders list on the top left of your screen (if you have it there) and voila beautifully filtered news content at your fingertips.

Pandas and bamboo aside, I have been able to set up some dandy pre-fined searches for some of my favorite topics: knowledge management, tablet pcs, xbox, whidbey etc…

So if you are using Newsgator with Outlook 2003 and haven’t already done so I would suggest setting up a few of these news search folders. They are quite cool and as always if you have any questions on how to do this, drop me a line.

Look Ma I Invented a Word

At least 10 times in the past week I have started to type “infrastructure” and my brain did an autocomplete and I ended up typing the word “infrastruction”. Its really weird but maybe I am on the verge of something genius here. Maybe I invented a word that means instruction on developing infrastructure, or better yet the construction of infrastructure..or maybe I’m just an idiot that types too fast. Or maybe I never did anything new at all.

Note: the google functionality that lets you look up a word by entering “define: yourword” is really cool.

Remember…

Today is Remembrance Day here in Canada. While I am not a supporter of war, I do take this day to honour those that fought for my freedom so many years ago. As well I pray for those that are continuing to battle evil throughout the world today in order to protect others. So whatever your nationality, beliefs, or location, may God bless you and may we offer our respect to those that fought for our freedom and continue to protect others today.