When the fish met the puppy

As you folks know I'm a long-suffering Windows phone user and that's been one of the topics we've discussed the past couple of weeks.

A few weeks ago I talked about how Windows phone 10 does not agree with me and then last week I talked about all the people who yelled at me because I said that. Well, I have bad news for those people.

I got more bad news today. I was reading all over the web that the Facebook graph — the API that programmers use to bolt into Facebook and pull information out — is being changed in such a way that Microsoft products cannot access it anymore.

Say It Ain't So

So the Facebook Connect, which is what Microsoft calls it, the Facebook Graph, will be shut down or probably is already for Windows 8 (the desktop OS) and Windows Phone. Now if you've got a Windows Phone, one of the things that's always made it great is the way it merged all your contacts together.

I loved that.

So if I've got a contact in there and I've just got his name and email address, if I'm friends with him on Facebook and he's got his phone number in there, it will pull it into the people app.

It'll pull in user pictures and things like that. It did all kinds of great stuff and the loss of that functionality makes me very sad because that was just one of the great features of Windows Phones. 

One thing that seems odd is that Facebook Graph is only unavailable for Microsoft products. It's apparently not broken on Android devices or things like that.

I don't know if that's because Facebook writes a first party app for those platforms and it just puts everything in, whereas Microsoft writes the Facebook app for Windows Phone. But for somebody who's kind of on the edge, man … it's just like another tiny little finishing nail in the coffin of Windows Phone.

And just to be clear: I love the phone and I love the OS and I would love to keep using it. But it's just that, well, here's another one of those things that I can't do on my Windows Phone. 

(Ed. note: A Microsoft spokesperson told CMSWire "Due to changes in Facebook’s latest API, Microsoft will no longer support Facebook Connect, a service that integrates some Facebook content with a Microsoft account. We are proactively working with customers to communicate the changes. A comprehensive list of impacted features can be found here.)

Dreaming of a Fish in My Ear

So another fun piece of tech that has come out: Microsoft is adding automatic translation functionality to Skype for the Windows desktop later this year.

Microsoft previewed this last year and it was nothing short of amazing. It was nothing short of something right out of science fiction. And by right out of science fiction I mean "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."

So for those of you who have read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a great series of stories, there was a thing called a Babel fish, small and yellow and leech-like.

You put the Babel fish in your ear, much like a Bluetooth thing and then it automatically translates anything anybody around you said.

That's how they got around the whole thing with, you know, aliens speaking English. Can't recommend The Hitchhiker Series highly enough. Now here we are: Skype is doing the same type of thing. 

Goodbye Language Barriers

So if you're in a Skype video call with somebody, and you speak German and they speak English or Italian or whatever, Skype will translate it automatically, which is just flat out amazing. Microsoft did a demo of it last year and it worked pretty well.

Microsoft has thought of a lot of things. It will show that if I'm speaking, I likely can only speak English because I live in America and everybody speaks nothing but English for a thousand miles in every direction of me.

But if I'm speaking English and I'm Skyping with someone and they're speaking German or we'll say Mandarin because that's more crazy, then when I speak it will show me the text that it thinks that I am saying on my screen. And then it will speak the text in Mandarin to them on the other end, and then show them the text also. Which is just insane.

So if I see that and I see that it misunderstood a word, because it's showing me the English interpretation of what it's saying, then I can correct myself and the person can respond back in his native Mandarin, and then I will see that back.

I will see the text of what he's saying in English and I'll hear it. Right now it works for four languages: English, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin.

Now when I was in Europe a couple of years ago for conferences in Madrid and Sweden, I was using the Windows Phone's translate app. It offered live translations of text and speech and all that kind of stuff and I thought that was amazing. But this Skype thing is a little further developed, so keep an eye out for that.

Plug It In, Plug It In

So here's another story that came out last week that I thought was kind of cool.

There was this big tech conference somewhere in Asia, I think. I forget the name of it now, but while they were at this tech conference, and I'm going to load the article here so I don't mispronounce it and embarrass myself even more than I've embarrassed myself already ... and now the page won't load.

But anyway, at this tech conference, Microsoft or somebody showed pictures of these new prototype Windows computers that are coming out.

Now, we've all got lots of Windows computers, there's nothing fancy about that. But the thing that makes these Windows machines crazy is that they're the size of wall warts, those larger than normal power supplies.

Picture a wicked machine inside of a wall wart. So you plug it into the wall and it's got a couple of USB ports, it's got an HDMI port and it's this big. Or small as the case may be.

So as you guys know, as I sit here with a pile of tablets to my left and a pile of tablets to my right, obviously I'm going to buy one of these because they're just the cutest things ever.

At this point, still no idea what I'm going to do with it, but I will get one. It's running the same chipset as all these budget Windows tablets are running: the Intel Atom Z3735 system. I don't know if they've got a price on them or not but this is just another way to get Windows everywhere, get it all over. Get them behind TVs and things like that.

One of the things that will be a problem with this, and is also a problem with my little HDMI stick, is if you look at the picture of these devices, the power button is on them.

Well that's not a big deal, right? You need a power button. The problem is if it's the same as my little stick here, then that's the only way to turn it on.

So you've got this computer, and in this case a little HDMI thing, and in this case a wall wart that you can hide somewhere. You can put it back behind somewhere, you can get it out of the way and nobody can see it, and it can just be there doing its stuff. But you gotta be able to get to it to turn it on. 

And There Is More

Ok, we've still got some more stuff for you this week in Podcast 249. So if you're tired of reading, watch the podcast or listen on iTunes. The time stamps will link to the location of the content.

26:39 Interested in running Windows 10 Mobile on 10-inch ARM tablet? it looks like that somewhere, somebody's got a build of that and they have been showing it off. 

29:04 Want to know how to authenticate on SharePoint? Tips you may find helpful.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by ifindkarma.

Simpler Media Group, 2015