Monthly Archives: March 2012

Student-created “Bing Automatic” app concept augments desktop with search engine

First and foremost, “Bing Automatic” is a completely conceptual idea envisioned by what appears to be a team of marketing students for a college coursework assignment, so apply a generous coating of salt. I’m not even sure if Microsoft’s Bing team has seen this.

Besides the actual app, what’s somewhat amusing is the brief that Microsoft provided to these students, as one student proclaims,

During my third semester my team and I were given a very simple brief from our live client Microsoft Bing: “Do something that will scare the shit out of Google.” Nearly every team delivered an advertising campaign for the pitch. We presented a way for them to increase search traffic by using the most universal software application on the planet, Microsoft Office.

B+ for effort. B for execution. A for presentation.

MetroTwit 1.0 now available

Two years ago, I posted a little crud Photoshop mockup on this blog.

MetroTwit concept 2010

Recently we broke our record of over 8,000 unique/active users on a single day. Today, we’re releasing version 1.0 of MetroTwit with the much anticipated multi-account feature for professional users.

With all the blood and sweat David Golden, Winston Pang and I have put into taming the beast that is WPF, I’m unashamed to tell you all to download and try it now.

Short: Smoked by Windows Phone got too big too quickly

A somewhat unfortunate story unraveled today surrounding Microsoft’s “Smoked by Windows Phone” challenge which started at the show floor of CES 2012 and has recently become a US-wide advertising campaign.

I Won The Windows Phone Challenge, But Lost “Just Because”

I headed down to the Santa Clara Microsoft Store this morning after hearing about the Windows Phone challenge last night. For those not familiar, anyone who completes a task faster than a Windows Phone on their own smart phone can win a $1000 Special Edition Laptop assuming they meet some standard terms and conditions. Those who “get smoked” by a Windows Phone, have the opportunity to trade in their existing device for Windows Phone.

I was quite excited to take the challenge, but left the Microsoft Store in distaste. I sure hope the purpose of this marketing ploy is to attract new customers by demonstrating the highlights of Windows Phone, not frustrating them instead.

By raising the stakes from $100 to $1000, Microsoft also raised expectations from a fun-spirited “party game” at a trade-show to a serious invitation for a fair and competitive competition. I think the idea was a lot of fun but I wouldn’t say it was ever fair.

The problem is, it is set up more like a game of casino Poker and the house (Microsoft) always has the advantage of knowing what cards are on the table.

If you drew the right card by luck (a combination of scenario and which mobile OS/widgets/apps users have preloaded), you could technically beat them like Sahas did. However, the odds are highly stacked against players since Microsoft is only playing with a deck that is more advantageous to Windows Phones.

If the prize was only $100, I don’t think people really cared. But when $1000 is on the table, valid complaints like Sahas Katta’s are warranted. Even though Ben Rudolph of Microsoft has already offered a rematch, they should just offer the prize instead. After all, even casinos pay out, sometimes.

Update: And Ben delivers.

Nokia firing all cylinders for Windows Phone marketing in Australia

Since the Australian launch of the Lumia range earlier this month, Nokia seems to have done more Windows Phone marketing in Australia than any other device manufacture and Microsoft combined. If carrier sell-outs are any indication, it’s working.

For most of this week I’ve been traveling to the Melbourne CBD and it’s been surprising just how much Lumia advertising I see day to day – on several bus shelters, train station displays, tram stops and even on the back page of MX – a popular free metropolitan newspaper. Altogether I see it at least 6 times a day.

In companion to the media blitz, Nokia Australia has ran and is planning to run several promotional events in three major cities – the firsts being a giant touchscreen billboard and an Kinect-powered augmented reality game in the heart of Sydney (video above). Although it’s not to the scale of what we’ve seen in London or Chile, but still a notable to build product awareness.

Since the product speaks for itself, I applaud Nokia for at least spending a responsible amount of effort in trying to market it. The same can’t be said for any other of the Windows Phone OEMs.

I wouldn’t be surprised if all those distinctive WP7 default SMS notification sounds I keep hearing on the trains are mostly from Nokia devices.

Giveaway competition for 3 HP ProLiant MicroServers (Australians only)

Here’s the generous HP competition I alluded to last week where they’re giving not one but three HP ProLiant MicroServers to three lucky Aussies. It does require a little more effort than usual but it’s for a worthy prize.

Are you the technology whiz in your family? Are you the one who is constantly being asked to fix things? At HP we understand who you are. We also know that not everyone is as technically savvy as you. HP and I Started Something have teamed up to laugh and cry about the worst gadgets you have ever used, purchased or received. We want you to show us through videos or photos or simply tell us what gadgets you would trade-in for the chance to win something better! We know what you like; we know those gadgets don’t appeal, so why not get one that does?

HP Australia is giving away three HP ProLiant MicroServers with Microsoft SBS 2011 essentials (valued at $799) to the three best entries. All you have to do is tell us in 50 words or less why you would like to trade the most useless gadget in for the HP ProLiant MicroSever. You can get some tips here.

The HP ProLiant MicroServer:

  • Is a general purpose server that provides platforms to organise and safeguard information
  • Is easy to deploy, use and maintain while allowing you to effortlessly connect to online services
  • Allows effective communication and makes the most of your existing equipment and resources

It’s perfect for anybody who has large computing needs at home, is running a home office or a small office with up to 10 employees.

To enter:

  1. Simply send us a photo/video/creative or description of the gadget you want to trade in
  2. Tell us why you want/need the HP ProLiant Micro Server in less than 50 words
  3. Email your entry as well as contact number and address to istartedsomethingmicroserver@gmail.com

Competition closes 30/04/12 so take those photos and videos and send them over for your chance to win. Australian residents only.

HP ProLiant MicroServer: the neat little server for home & small business comes to Australia

Goodbye HP MediaSmart Home Servers. G’day HP ProLiant MicroServers.

Early last year, HP discontinued its popular range of Windows Home Servers, the MediaSmart Home Server. Although it’s possible this was in direct response to the lackluster Windows Home Server 2011 release without drive-pooling functionality, a lot of people including myself liked the form factor.

Late last year, HP Australia is starting to bring brought the ProLiant MicroServer down under. Even though it’s targeted at the small business community with its ProLiant branding, it’s very much appropriate for the home as well.

Out of the box, the MicroServer looks like most under-the-desk or in-the-cupboard server. It’s more or less similar in size to any of NAS servers you would find from other OEMs or even Drobo. Not that I’ve tried but the all metallic chassis feels sturdy enough to take some punishment.

Opening up the front door requires a key, a nice touch for those desiring some physical security. This reveals a standard set of removable 3.5” SATA drive bays which HP clearly labels as non-hotplug, a small inconvenience but not a deal breaker.

Speaking about the door, I want to point out a nice touch that it comes with a handy wrench and screws behind the door that can be used to unscrew/screw hard drives onto the plastic drive holders or even the slide-out motherboard for maintenance and upgrade.

The model I have is specced with an AMD Turion II NEO N40L which is a remarkably efficient and capable processor at 1.5GHz with only 15W power usage, barely contributing to the low maximum system power usage of only 72.3W. When your house runs on solar-power like I do, this is a huge bonus to decrease your baseload usage.

This model also comes with 1x4GB DDR3 ECC RAM and 2x500GB drives pre-configured in RAID1 with the AMD hardware RAID controller. Ports include Gbit ethernet, 7xUSB2, eSATA and 2 PCIe(x16,x1) slots.

The pre-installed OS for this model is Windows Small Business Server Essentials 2011. Although technically SBS2011 and WHS2011 are very similar, the additional domain-centric configuration and features of SBS can be a bit overwhelming. Having said that, it does support more users (25 vs. 10) so it makes more sense for a real small business. Since it comes with onboard video and a VGA port, reinstalling any OS is not a big deal.

As a server, probably the most important aspect of its internals is cooling and noise. This server does well for both. A single fan pulls draws in air from the front door grille to cool both the hard drives and fanless CPU. With only one other tiny fan for the power supply, this unit barely a whirl from under the desk where it sits for me. You could easily sleep with this turned on next to you.

Priced at just $399 for the entry-level (2GB RAM, 1x250GB) in Australia, the MicroServer stands as a reasonable option for anyone looking for a set-up and forget Home Server or Small Business Server for most server capabilities – NAS, media sharing, email and even serving some websites.

Giveaway: Since they’re nice people, HP Australia is going to give away not just one but three ProLiant MicroServers on this very blog next week. I asked them nicely to spec it out with SBS2011 preinstalled, the additional RAM and HDD which means they are each worth $799. Keep an eye out next week to know how to enter. (Australians only)