Tip o’ the Week 302 – Bing Maps Preview

clip_image002Bing Maps has had a bit of a refresh recently, with a new look and some tweaks to functionality & feel. The quickest way to get to the site is to type bingmaps into your browser’s address bar then press CTRL+ENTER, to add the www and the .com bit to either end, and be redirected to the maps URL.

clip_image004If you end up looking at the old Bing Maps, then try replacing the /maps/… bit of the URL with /mapspreview, or just click the Try the new Bing Maps banner.

Sometimes, however, old things are cooler than new things. There are some missing features: maybe that’s part of being in “Preview”. There’s an intro video that’s shown to introduce what’s new in the Preview. Check it out here.

clip_image006The old Bing Maps featured lots of layouts of facilities such as shopping malls and museums when you click on the outline of the building (along with a directory on the side – compare the view on the right with the Preview below – not quite so nice, unfortunately).

clip_image008Still, there are plenty of other things that are better in the Preview, and there’s always an opportunity to provide feedback (link at the bottom right), and ask for any missing features to be restored.

You can switch back to the old format by clicking the Leave Preview button on the lower right if need be, and provide an explanation of why you’re bailing out.

The most visible difference is the change to the way search results are displayed – you get a history of different searches you’ve carried out, colour coded and stacked up on the left, while the information panel below the current result set is used for displaying all sorts of search info – on searching for a location or clicking a point on the map, context-sensitive info is displayed on the side, with details from Wikipedia, reviews from the likes of TripAdvisor and Yelp, and in the case of a tube or train station, times are displayed.

Navigation between different types of maps has changed, with a drop-down on the top right, now including Ordnance Survey maps view if you’re in the UK (or you go to the UK version). For Hallowe’en, you can Spookify your maps should you wish, and there may be other map variants to come.

The A-Z style London Street view has vanished from the UK variant too (maybe in the realisation that the old format just isn’t as easy to read as most smartphones maps), as has the ability to see the layout of the tube network by clicking on a station to see the familiar colour-coded lines superimposed on the real map. If you still want to see that kind of view, check out Here.com mapping and click on Transit to show the layout of train lines etc.

The Streetside service isn’t universally available – in the UK, major cities are covered pretty well but don’t go looking out in the sticks. Try right-clicking a point on the map and if Streetside is present, you’ll be able to select it from the context menu and see a quick preview without moving away from the current map view. Useful if you fancy a refreshment and yet your watering hole of choice is tucked away somewhat.



Tip o’ the Week 304 – Xbox One goes to 10

clip_image001When the Xbox One console was released in November 2013, it marked a change in architecture compared to its wildly successful predecessor, moving away from a PowerPC processor and essentially a bespoke operating system, to instead using an AMD-powered but Intel-compatible architecture and the core elements of its operating environment running on a version of Windows 8. Although this was unnoticed by the majority of users – except that their old Xbox 360 games and peripherals didn’t work on the new console – it aimed to help developers build software to run on the console more easily.

Now, this week sees the general release of the “New Xbox One Experience” – aka NXOE – which delivers a load of new and changed functionality to the Xbox One, largely underpinned by a shift of the underlying OS to a version of Windows 10. This should mean that by the end of the year, you’ll be able to run the same OK – albeit different flavours – on your phone, tablet, laptop/desktop and home console/TV.

See more a few videos of NXOE, here. clip_image002

The big news for most Xbox fans, though, is that the NXOE also brings with it an ability to run selected Xbox 360 games on your Xbox One console – the intial list of 104 titles spans a variety of game genres with both Arcade games and full paid-for titles, with a promise of more to come in future.

So, if you didn’t pre-order COD: Black Ops III and therefore didn’t get the Nuketown bonus map, you might be able to play it on the original Black Ops, in a while.. Or you could do it for real…

Check your Xbox One this weekend – if you haven’t already taken part in the preview program – and you may be able to grab the update and start playing with the new console layout, and maybe dust down some of your old 360 games to see if you still have the magic, or you’ve lost it.

Tip o’ the Week 305 – Windows 10 “Fall Update”

clip_image001The first major update to Windows 10 – known variously as the November Update, Threshold 2 (TH2) or the Fall Update – is now making its way out to users via Windows Update. The update brings new features , bug fixes and some under-the-covers management functionality to enjoy.

Any Brits who grind their teeth over the use of “fall” (now a North American term, where the rest of the English-speaking world still refers to the season as Autumn) might want to know that in the 17th century, the season was known in Britain as “fall”, but only became “autumn” through the Latin/French influences after the American colony had been established. So there.

If you’re patient, you should be offered the update via Windows Update (if a home / non-domain-joined PC), though if your Windows 10 PC is run by your company, there may be a managed deployment of the upgrade.

If you’re less patient, and you’re not using Windows 10 Enterprise, then you can force the update by re-running Windows Setup – it’s a bit of a palaver as you’re essentially running a full re-install of Windows over the top of your existing setup, although all your settings, files, applications etc will be maintained. If running from home, best allow a couple of hours.

Go to the Get Windows 10 page, click on Upgrade now and go through the wizard just as if you’re upgrading from Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10, even if you’re already running Windows 10. This clip_image003process uses the most up to date version of Windows 10 – the November update, included – to run the setup and to upgrade whatever you’re running already.

There are lots of new features in the November Update, such as a “Find my Device” function in Settings -> Update & Security. There are other improvements to Cortana, Tablet mode, Edge, and Skype. More fodder for another tip or two.

The November update brings Windows 10 to version 1511 build 10586 (where, according to Paul Thurrott, 1511 denotes the year & month of the major release). If you’re not sure which version of Windows you’re running, clip_image005try typing ver at the Start menu, and choose the “See if you have …” option – or visit Settings | System | About to see the current version & build.

clip_image007Only after the November update will you see the “Version” & “OS Build” details appear. This should be an indicator of the pace of major updates – if “Threshold” (aka Windows 10 RTM) was effectively version 1507 build 10240, and TH2 is 1511, then who knows when RS1 (or “Redstone 1”?) will arrive?

Another quick way of getting the same kind of info is to run winver at the Start menu.

Or try msinfo32 if you want an old-school look at your PC’s software and hardware config.