Beta – Xobni – First Impressions

Recently I started using a new Outlook plug-in called Xobni (thanks for the invite Nick!)  Xobni isn’t new. In fact Bill Gates talked about it over a year ago:

What Xobni Does

Basically, Xobni (pronounced ‘zob-nee’) lets you track email relationships, conversations, connections with others, and (my favorite feature) provides a no-search list of files exchanged with others.  It also provides metrics on what time of the day someone emails you.

imageHere’s an example from my personal email account,
and just for fun, we’ll pick on Kevin:

Top Section – Name, Emails Received, Time of Day, Emails In (received) vs. Emails Out (sent) and includes To From CC and BCC, and Rank based on the number of emails to and from this person.

Contact Info – Phone (this is automatically pulled from email body), link to schedule a meeting, link to create an email.

People Connected to… – These are contacts that I’ve CC’ed in an email to Kevin, or contacts he’s CC’ed me on.

Conversations with… – Threaded conversations with this contact.

Files Exchanged with… – My favorite feature! Whether I sent the file to Kevin, or he sent it to me, it shows up here. VERY nice.


  • The ‘Files Exchanged’ folder (obviously)
  • The time chart at the top. This has actually been pretty helpful in identifying when someone is typically in front of their computer
  • The ‘Stay In Touch’ feature – This shows who you haven’t emailed in a month, 2 months, 3 months or longer.


  • The contact card in Xobni is limited and doesn’t pull a photo from the Outlook contact card (you have to add it manually)
  • No mobile version
  • Can’t see a list ranking with all the people (who’s #1, who’s #500) as far as I can tell. If you want to know where someone is, you have to hunt them down first.
  • I’m not clear if the metrics go away when you delete items (I think it tracks the archive though).
  • No way to change the time zones for senders

Regarding the time zone issue, I could go either way on this one.

Take Susan for example, she’s in California (GMT -8) and I’m Kentucky (GMT-5). So, while it’s true that sometimes she sends email when it’s 3AM for me, it’s only midnight for her, so it’s a bit confusing at first glance because it looks like she’s still up at 3AM (maybe she is 😉 :

Susan in GMT -8 needs more sleep ;-)

With Wayne in Sydney, Australia (GMT +10), it’s even more noticeable with the time difference:

Wayne GMT +10 doesn't get enough sleep either

So, if I look at the chart, before I even try to send Wayne an email, I know that if it’s before lunch time for me, he’s probably asleep down under.

And resource-wise, I’ve been pretty happy w/ Xobni:

Right now Xobni is a closed-beta, but I’ve got some invites left. If you’re interested, log a reply to this post.

And if you’d like a bit deeper look at Xobni, here’s a link to a video tour:

UPDATE – I found out Wayne already blogged about this, but my post is prettier and I’ve already typed it all, so I’m posting it anyway 😉

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Beta Invite – TruckFullOfNinjas

Sally Jones, my name is Haru. I believe you are looking for a beta invite, no? Tucked away in a hidden location inside the FunCave (can’t tellya, hafta killya) is a new project code named:

TFON (I call dibs on the acronym, Chris) has been tasked with resolving an issue known simply as; “The Biggest Problem With Windows“. 

“Sounds like hype” you say? Well, don’t be too quick to judge. After all, have I ever steered you wrong, gentle reader?  And before you say anything, “The Cave” was so a good movie, as was “Stealth“. Eh, well, there was that time I recommended “Sabrina” and I never lived that one down (I blame the Shiraz). But that was before your time, so it doesn’t count. 

Anyway, I digress.

To find out more about TruckFullOfNinjas, you *definitely* want to surf over and follow the instructions to get on the early list to get a beta invite when it’s announced.

Seating = limited. You + late = sad. You get the idea.

You can thank me later.  Dr. Codec

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Cougar Beta 1 DVD is Here

The friendly DHL guy stopped by today, and he always brings the good stuff.

Today he delivered the Windows Server Code Name “Cougar” Beta 1 DVD.  

Windows Server Code Name "Cougar" Beta 1 May 2007

And no, I’m not leaking any news – CRN announced Cougar back in January.  But I am posting the info here to thank Kevin Beares and the Microsoft Windows Server team for listening to feedback and really working with the SMB community.  You guys rock!!

And if you haven’t done so already, you can thank the team yourself by filling out the SBS WW Community Survey – the deadline has been extended.  It takes 2 minutes to fill it out and they really appreciate the feedback.

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Office 2007 Beta Death Rattle

Can you hear it?  It’s getting close.  As stated in a previous post the life cycle of the Microsoft Office 2007 Beta is coming to an end.  Soon.  About 2 weeks away for those not on B2TR.

If you personally registered for the beta you should have gotten an email from Microsoft yesterday explaining the expiration dates.  But for the benefit of those who installed the beta beta bits from the DVD of a friend or co-worker, here are the details:

“Depending on whether or not you implemented the beta 2 technical refresh, you will not be able to use the 2007 Office beta 2 release after one of the following dates:

  • For the 2007 Office beta 2 release with no update: 02/01/2007
  • For the 2007 Office beta 2 release updated with the beta 2 technical refresh: 03/31/2007
  • For the 2007 Office beta 2 release server products updated with the beta 2 technical refresh: 05/15/2007

If you would like to continue using the 2007 Office release to create, open, or modify files, you may:

1. Receive a FREE copy of Microsoft Office Professional 2007 when you attend a launch event for the new versions of Microsoft’s most popular software. Register for an event near you.

2. Sign up for a FREE 60-day trial of the new 2007 Office release by visiting Microsoft Office Online.

3. Sign up to be notified when the new 2007 Office suites will be available by clicking here.

If you would like to use Microsoft Office 2000, Office XP, or Office 2003 to open and modify Microsoft Office Word, Excel®, and PowerPoint® files that have been saved using the 2007 Office release file formats, please download the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack.”

I have to wonder if the inclusion of Office 2007 in the Microsoft Action Pack this quarter will bring the same shocked response as the inclusion of Vista?

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Office 2007 Expiration Date Clarification

There has been a fair amount of confusion about the expiration of the Office 2007 Beta2 Technical Refresh (B2TR).  Even the Q&A session in the SBSC webcast yesterday didn’t yield an immediate answer.

Understandably Partners are concerned that the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (MAPS) version of the final Office 2007 bits may not arrive before the Beta bits time-bomb and drop into hockeypuck mode. 

Like many folks, the copy of Office 2007 B2TR on my demo machine states an expiration date of Feb 1, 2007.  This date is incorrect!   

The correct expiration date for Office 2007 B2TR is March 31, 2007.

Proof (and I quote):

“The correct expiration date for Beta2 Technical Refresh is displayed during setup. If the user checks the License Agreement from the client once Beta2 Technical Refresh is installed, it will display the incorrect date. The correct expiration date for Beta2 Technical Refresh is: March 31, 2007.”


So now you can breathe a little easier and not have to worry about downgrading to 2003 if your Action Pack gets held up by DHL.

Props:  Hats-off to Paige Boesen, Chris Van Wesep & Stacy Miros for tracking down the official date and for the excellent followup.  You guys rock!

BTW: To save a follow-up blog post, Vista Beta RC1 expires on June 1, 2007.

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Windows Live Search Beta for Mobile

Looking for a killer Windows Mobile app that can make your Smartphone both fun and useful? Check out the Windows Live Search for mobile downloadable application.  (Windows Live Search works on J2ME-capable phones, Smartphones and Pocket PCs.)

  • Mobile rich client – Download the app to your phone for local search, maps, driving directions, and live traffic information in a faster, richer and more interactive user interface.
  • Mobile Browsing – Access maps and directions directly from your phone’s browser. Just enter into your phone’s address bar and select Map. Choose from Local, Web, Map, News and Spaces and get Live Search on your mobile device.
  • Text Messages (SMS) – If you don’t have a data plan, you can just send a text message to 95483 (WLIVE) with a query like “Toys Chicago, IL” or “Coffee 90210” and you’ll receive a text message reply with the nearest business listings with address and phone numbers.  Normal SMS text fees will apply from your mobile carrier, so check that out before you run up your SMS bill.

Source:  Windows Live services for mobile devices blog

Note:  That blog also has a good article on doing a Windows Live SMS Search.  Nice if you have unlimited SMS messaging on your plan.

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SMS Link for Microsoft Outlook 2007

SMS Link is definitely one of the coolest feature I’ve seen in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 so far.

With SMS Link, now you can set rules in Outlook 2007 that will forward important e-mails, tasks, ect. right to your cell phone via SMS text messages. You can also send SMS messages to other people from Outlook, even if you don’t know who their mobile carrier is.

Check out the Shockwave video demo of SMS Link for details.  The video is a quick download, and it gives an excellent overview of the capabilities of SMS Link. 

Once you’re done with the video, click the Getting Started link. They have a nice FAQ too.

Note:  SMS Link is a free download and a free service, but remember that not everyone has free incoming SMS text messsaging.  So be sure and touch base with your addressee before you run up their mobile phone bill.


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Outlook 2007 RAM Issues

I was experiencing the joys of IE7 tonight (multiple 404 errors trying to enter Passport sites after XP SP2 resumes from Standby Mode) and decided to give up and reboot.  After the reboot I hit to Ctrl-Alt-Delete and launched the Task Manager to watch the show.

So as I sit patiently watching, my 1.5 GB of RAM gets slowly eaten by the loading applications: Anti-Virus, MSN Messenger, ZoneAlarm & FolderShare, etc. And when the hard drive activity stops, I launch Outlook 2007 B2TR. 

Little-by-little, the RAM usage climbs slowly as Outlook 2007 connects to RPC over HTTPS, syncs with SBS, and then continues to climb as Outlook updates the RSS feeds.  Eventually, RAM usage for Outlook peaks at 110 MB (pictured below).   

But 110,428 K of RAM usage isn’t the odd part.  A few minutes later, Outlook 2007 drops down to 15 MB of RAM.  It stays there for 2 minutes, and then climbs back up to 49 MB and sits happily ever after (even as I type this). 

So my question is, ‘How in the world did Outlook go down to 15 MB of RAM, and why?’  As you can see from the screen shot above, even MSN Messenger uses 15 MB.  This isn’t one of the great mysteries of life – just a curious observation to which I haven’t been able to Google an answer.

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Vista Step-by-Step Guides for IT Pros

Windows Vista logoMicrosoft has released 15 ‘Step-by-Step Guides for IT Professionals‘ to assist in deploying or migrating to Windows Vista.  Each whitepaper is available as an individual download in Microsoft Word 2003 .doc format, and WGA is not required to access the downloads.

Date Published: 9/11/2006
Document Format:  Microsoft Word
Download Size: 118 – 748 KB, or 4.1 MB for all 15
Download URL: Click here

  • Deploying Vista (19 pages, 195 KB) 
  • Managing Group Policy ADMX Files (13 pages, 150 KB) 
  • Managing Roaming User Data Deployment Guide (39 pages, 414 KB) 
  • Performance Monitoring and Tuning (23 pages, 209 KB) 
  • Print Management (25 pages, 260 KB) 
  • Controlling Device Installation and Usage with Group Policy (49 pages, 640 KB) 
  • Device Driver Signing and Staging (44 pages, 748 KB) 
  • Managing Multiple Local Group Policy (24 pages, 274 KB  
  • User Account Control (11 pages, 146 KB)  
  • Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption (16 pages, 169 KB)  
  • Windows Vista Beta 2 Migration (14 pages, 152 KB)  
  • Windows Vista Beta 2 Trusted Platform Module Services (14 pages, 157 KB)  
  • Windows Vista Multilingual User Interface (14 pages, 158 KB)  
  • Windows Vista Speech Recognition (9 pages, 118 KB) 
  • Windows Vista Windows Meeting Space (44 pages, 388 KB)


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Gone In 6,000 Seconds

Question:  What do you do when Vista RC2 (2.5 GB) is taking over 10 hours to download?

Answer: Download the ISO from an international server instead of a USA server and be done in about 90 minutes.

  • Log in to your account
  • Navigate to the desired ISO and click on the download link
  • When the Microsoft File Transfer Manager opens, click Options
  • Change your local language to something other than English (for example, German), click OK
  • Close the Microsoft FTM and confirm that you want to abort the transfer
  • Now, click on the download link again, and this time the Microsoft FTM will launch in another language
  • Your download will proceed as normal but much faster if it’s the middle of the night in the country you’re downloading from
  • When your download is finished, switch the local language back to English (this is the tricky part since the buttons are no longer in English)
  • The next time you use the Microsoft FTM, your buttons will be back to normal

See, the “Windows Vista (v5744-16384) for X86 and X64 (English)” ISO on an international server is the same ISO that’s stored on the USA servers. And since it was 5:00 AM in Germany when I started my download, I’ll be done before Oliver even wakes up.

Danke schoen Olli! 😉

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