Sunday, May 11, 2008

Can you say 'Xobni'?

Neither could I. Xobni (pronounced zob-nee) is 'Inbox' spelt backwards, and has been hailed by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates as the 'next generation of social networking'.

At first glance Xobni looks like yet-another-desktop-search-engine, much like Google Desktop and Windows Desktop Search. A second glance would prove all the difference.

Officially, Xobni is an Outlook plug-in 'that helps you organize your flooded inbox' (which doesn't say much).

While indexing your email Xobni will group contacts you email together much like the way Facebook and LinkedIn do. It will provide you with information on who this contact 'networks' with (based on the people he Cc's when emailing you), how many emails you have exchanged with each contact (in and out) and will even rank your contacts based on the number of emails you send.

Xobni will even let you know how many 'conversations' you have had with a particular contact and what files you exchanged with him/her.

Xobni will even attempt to associate telephone numbers with contacts based on 'signatures' and other algorithms and will allow you to call them using Skype. Whenever you click on an email (to read or preview it) Xobni will immediately provide you with the most relevant information for the person who has sent you the email.

Microsoft seems to have been interested in Xobni, but were turned down, price issues (rings-a-bell?). Xobni are planning versions for different email applications / services, but right now, its only for Outlook. Remember, its still in beta.

Enjoy!

Links:

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Monday, May 5, 2008

Long Live VB!!! or not?

Ok, first a disclaimer: I'm a Microsoft MVP with a competency in Visual Basic.

Normally I would not give this much thought, I've always favored VB (I started using it back when it was in version 3) over all other languages and thought very little of the debates that went on online comparing it to other languages.

Even when I read columns like this one, I felt nothing of it. 'VB will prevail' I used to tell myself, after all, no sane company in its right mind would alienate its 'largest group of developers'. I still think so.

However, when I am asked to 'consider' switching over to C# by my company, and specifically my boss and friend, who he himself is a former VB MVP, a few different thought-storms are brewing in my mind.

But probably the most important question is: how did this happen?

That is when I decided to write this blog. The fact of the matter is, there are many reasons for this to happen. The migration of developers from other platforms, J2EE for example, find a more familiar face in C#. VB6ers NOT migrating to the .Net world is another factor. And perhaps, the mere fact that VB is dubbed the hobbyists language of choice (after all, it is the most downloaded setup of Microsoft's 'express' editions) is yet another reason why 'professionals' are migrating.

But perhaps most importantly is universities worldwide offering C# as the development language of choice (or any semicolon language for that matter).

All the rest, is merely the chain reaction set in motion. C# books becoming more popular and better selling. C# developers becoming more desirable and thus paid better. Resources for C# are becoming much more available than for VB. And now Microsoft, the company that popularized the language, are treating it as a second-class citizen.

I don't mind becoming 'multilingual', but I've grown to love and respect VB throughout the years, and I won't go down without a fight! In my opinion, VB is and will remain the 'easiest' most efficient language to develop applications in; plus I don't think it is fair. Bill Gates: help!!

Anyway I'll take C#, with a grain of salt.

What do you think?

Links:

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Search Command Ribbon for Office 2007

Don't know about you, but personally I love Office 2007. Despite what I hear and read about it, it is much easier than its predecessor (which ultimately means it is more efficient).

Having said that, the number one problem users new to Office 2007 face is the 'ribbon'. To them, everything's NOT where they used to have it and that actually reduces efficiency.

Therefore, the guys at OfficeLabs (online at http://www.officelabs.com/, BTW powered by SharePoint) have come up with what they think would be the solution to some of their troubles; the search command ribbon.

What this does, is allow you to search for whatever command you're looking for and the search result will actually be displayed in the ribbon itself.

A picture is worth a thousand words:

Search Command Ribbon

Search Command Ribbon with Results

Remember, if you decide to download and install this, you should bear in mind that Microsoft will be gathering information with regards to your usage, and you can NOT disable this which can be turned off from the 'Privacy' menu (thank you 'Anonymous' whoever you are).

IMHO we 'developers' should be doing more with regards to integrating solutions into Office using the new 'VSTO' (Visual Studio Tools for Office). Right?