Tip o’ teh Week # 59: Apps on Bing Maps

Another tip from  Bing’s Tony Young this week. Remember kids, Bing Maps is not just for mapping.

Tony wants to show you how you can use Bing maps to help you plan your day on the road…

clip_image002If you are travelling to a new destination  (as long as you’re in London, Manchester, Aberdeen or Glasgow) and require a taxi, but don’t want to get ripped off by the local cab driver, then there is a neat Taxi Fare Calculator available on Bing Map App’s which is very accurate.  Trust me, I use it a lot.  To use the application…

clip_image004· Go to the Bing Maps Silverlight experience at (www.bing.com/maps/explore) and look for the Map App icon on the bottom left of your screen

· Once you are in the Map App gallery look for the Taxi Fare Calculator; .  Once you have clicked on the icon it will open up the application…


Enter your route and then hit ‘Calculate Fare’ & hey presto…

You can access the booking system via catch a cab. And if, like Tony, you make a habit of catching £90 cab rides, maybe you can search for a 2nd job whilst you’re in Bing…

Actually, the Bing Maps Silverlight client is a very slick & smooth experience, and has many interesting Apps available – some are a bit US-specific but it’s clip_image006worth having a play if you find yourself with a few minutes to spare.

Try out a few in your favourite US city to get an idea for what’s available – particularly interesting is Streetside Photos in Seattle, or Weatherbug that shows reported current weather conditions.

At least it isn’t raining in Seattle at the moment.clip_image007

Tip o’ the Week #58 – Find your meeting, or your Windows Phone

clip_image003This week, a couple of smart tips concerning Windows Phone 7. Both revolve around finding something – in one case, how to find your phone if you’re not sure where you left it, and the other, how to remind yourself where you’re going.

Dude, where’s my phone…?
This tip uses the location services built in to Windows Phone 7 – services which you may want to switch off if you’re having battery life issues, but which can help you out by geotagging photos (so the GPS location of the photo you take is recorded in the photo, and it’s supported in Windows Live Photo Gallery too) or by finding where you are on the map.

· clip_image005If you do want to switch off Location Services, go into settings | system and under location, switch off

          • To turn off geotagging by default, go into settings | applications (by swiping to the left), then under pictures and camera, switch off Include location (GPS)
          • To use location services in maps, just go into the Maps app and press the crosshairs button (bottom, middle) to have the phone show where you currently are on the map. When in the map view, try using use the search button on the bottom right of the phone – enter a term like restaurants, pubs, vets, petrol etc… and the map will show you what’s nearby.

If you habitually leave your phone and don’t know where, there is a facility to find out where the phone was last seen, but you need to switch it on (it’s off by default), in settings | system and under find my phone.

To check where you left your phone, you’ll need to have already set up a Windows Live address on the phone (giving access to SkyDrive etc), and then visit http://windowsphone.live.com/ on your PC – under the “FIND MY PHONE” link, you can see your phone’s approximate location on a map, erase its contents if it’s hopelessly lost, lock the device so it can’t be used (and include a “please return to… “message on the home screen) or even make the phone ring, regardless of whether it’s on mute or not… so if it’s in a hidden pocket, you’ve got a chance of giving it a poke to make some noise.

If and when you find the phone, to stop the special ring-tone, just press the power button once (the same trick that you can use to silence any ringing phone, even when locked).

Where do you want to go today?

clip_image007One reader started using a great trick for remembering where he’s going – by pinning the map location to the home screen. Start by searching for a location, address, facility etc in the Maps app, then press and hold on the flag to see a detailed view of that location offering “about” (including address details, phone numbers), possibly some restaurant reviews etc, and “nearby (other places in the vicinity).

If you look to the bottom left of the screen, you’ll see a pin shape that lets you pin a tile to the home screen; tap on the tile to return to the “about” page, and tap on the map image in the about page to go straight to the map in the Bing Maps app.

Tap and hold on the map tile on the home screen to remove it when you’re done.

Nice. Really nice. For more map tips, check here.

Tip o’ the Week #57 – Using Microsoft Tag on Windows Phone

clip_image002The “Tag” initiative has been around for a little while, in beta guise initially, then general release. The idea is that anyone can generate a 2D “barcode” that can could be a link to a website for more information, could be contact information, some plain text or even a “dialer” that would redirect a mobile device to call your number. If you’re printing posters or any other ad material, it’s easy to include a tag, and it can be customised so it’s not such an eye-sore as other, similar tagging approaches.

The ideal consumption device for tags is a mobile phone with a camera, and the team behind this technology have been profligate with their support for phone platforms – send anyone to http://gettag.mobi and they can get software for Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Java, Symbian, Windows Mobile & Windows Phone 7 (also available from the Zune Marketplace on your PC if you’re using WP7).

To use a tag, just fire up the app, point your phone at the physical – or on-screen – instance of the tag, and within the app, “scan” it by taking a picture. It’s as simple as that. The phone will then take you to the website, call the number, display the text or give you the option of saving the contact details.

If you want to generate your own tags, it’s a piece of cake – head over to http://tag.microsoft.com and sign in with your Windows Live ID. You can then create tags and download in a variety of formats, and even track how often the tags you create have been opened.

For stories of how Microsoft Tag is being used – including a photo of a guy with a Tag tattoo on his head –   check out the team’s blog. Here’s another example of tag customisation that blends in a bit more than the relatively ugly QR Codes that some ads contain.

Tip o’ the Week #52 – OneNote on 3 screens & a cloud

After the first year of ToWs, let’s start the 2nd with a short celebration of a cool feature in OneNote – not revolutionary, but the kind of thing that makes one smile when encountering it – somebody really thought about how OneNote was likely being used.

clip_image001Try typing a sum – like 52×1045= (that’s the number of ToW emails times the current readership) and when you press Enter, Space, TAB etc, you’ll see that OneNote does you the service of calculating the answer. It even works with brackets and everything… try out different operators (*, x, /, ^2 etc).

Not everything in OneNote’s garden is rosy. Try copying a table (with formatting) from Excel and pasting into a OneNote notebook and you’ll maybe feel a little short changed. You could try grabbing the screen area (by looking for the Screen Clipping tool on the Insert tab), or by pressing WindowsKey-S, which will immediately grab a screen area of your choice and paste it either into a OneNote book, or put it in the Clipboard.

Share and Share alike
OneNote is such a useful way of sharing info, using SharePoint to host shared OneNote documents for work purposes, or synching personal info around – there was a way of sharing a notebook between work & home PCs, using the now-superceded Live Mesh (which was replaced by Windows Live Mesh as part of Windows Live Essentials).

imageA potentially simpler way of achieving the same thing is to use the newly-upgraded SkyDrive & OneNote in concert with one another, using SkyDrive to create a notebook that lives in the cloud and then, having opened the Notebook in the OneNote Web App, it’s a snap to open it in OneNote and to synchronise it onto multiple PCs.

If you have a Windows Phone 7, check out the Office Hub and look in there at OneNote – if you set the WP7 up to use your Windows Live address and choose to sync OneNote with SkyDrive, it will (by default) create a notebook called Personal (Web) in the Documents / My Documents folder. You can keep it to yourself or share it with others – click the “Shared with:” link on SkyDrive to assign permissions.clip_image003

If you use this OneNote notebook to keep your scraps of personal stuff, it will synch to the cloud (accessible via a browser and OneNote Web App), via any number of PCs that you choose to synchronise it to, and it’ll also be accessible from – and updateable with – your phone.