Windows Live Mesh users must switch by Wednesday

Still using Windows Live Mesh? You won't be much longer.

Come Wednesday, the online storage and syncing service will draw its final breath, leaving Mesh users without a home. So, where can you go if you're currently using Mesh to back up, store, and synchronize your files?

A variety of online storage sites are available. Microsoft's SkyDrive is one obvious choice since it already offers some, but not all, of the features of Live Mesh.

How do you switch from Live Mesh to SkyDrive? And what are the potential pitfalls? Let's go through the process.

First, … Read more

Microsoft: Come next February, Live Mesh will be dead

Live Mesh fans, the day many of you feared has come: Microsoft is acknowledging its plans to "retire" its Live Mesh PC-sync service on February 13, 2013.

"(W)e're starting to communicate with the remaining Mesh users and provide a set of instructions on how to keep their files in sync and alternative options for some of the features they're still using," said the Redmondians in a December 13 post on the "Inside SkyDrive" blog.

Microsoft introduced Live Mesh back in 2008 with much fanfare. The original plans for Live Mesh were … Read more

Microsoft replaces Live Mesh with SkyDrive in Windows bundle

Microsoft yesterday released a new bundle of free services meant to complement Windows 7 and Windows 8. Now known as "Windows Essentials" rather than "Windows Live Essentials," it adds some new capabilities, but also removes Live Mesh from the PCs of those who install it.

Microsoft has used the "Windows Live Essentials" name to refer to the bundle of services that has included Windows Live Mail, Messenger, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery, Family Safety (parental controls), Writer (its blogging tool) and Mesh (its PC sync service). Microsoft released the 2011 version of its Windows Live Essentials bundleRead more

Flying drones getting smaller, smarter, cheaper, and scarier

A little more than a year ago, we did a Roundtable episode on aerial drones and UAVs. The discussion mostly focused on how remote-controlled and robotic vehicles were getting bigger, more capable, and more scary. Since then, a funny thing happened. The drone revolution downsized. Today we're talking about cheap and small drones. Today, perhaps, a collection of a hundred $1,000 drones can be just as capable -- and just as scary -- as a $100,000 drone.

It's not all Skynet doom-and-gloom, though. Small robotic flying vehicles can be used to save lives, keep repressive governments … Read more

Unbreakable: Mesh networks are in your smartphone's future

It's not that we're running out of mobile bandwidth. It's just that it's poorly distributed.

If you're in your home next to a Wi-Fi router, you might have a clean signal and access to a 12-megabit connection. Meanwhile, someone outside your door could have a smartphone that's struggling to hold onto a slow connection to a cellular tower a mile away. But mesh networking might make things better for everyone.

Mesh networks let devices share their connections with other users. If one user has a clean network connection and another nearby user does not, the second user can piggyback on the first's, automatically. If there's a collection of many people, their machines can all cooperate to make connections -- to each other and to the global Internet. In advanced mesh networks, connections and data can hop among devices, creating ad hoc bucket-brigade paths for communication.

The concept of mesh networking is not new. Many military systems rely on mesh networking, since forces in the field cannot rely on communications infrastructures. Utilities also use mesh networks for collecting data from equipment, like smart meters.

On this Reporters' Roundtable, I interview two innovators in mesh networking. They're both trying to bring this liberating (they say) and bandwidth-saving (ditto) technology to the masses.

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Next on Roundtable: Unjammable networks and aerial drones

I'm preparing for two very cool Reporters' Roundtable shows that I'll be recording this week. First up, we're doing a show on one of my favorite technology topics, mesh networks. Then, it's attack of the drones.

Mesh networking Mesh networking is when wireless devices pool together to share bandwidth and connections. Mesh networks can also be made more resistant to jamming and censorship than traditional point-to-point wireless. The tech is hard to implement, but the the military has been using mesh technologies to great effect for years, and commercial and consumer implementations of mesh networking pop … Read more

Green Mesh open-air PC case is magically dust-free

TAIPEI, Taiwan--We stumbled upon YoungYear Electronics' new fanless PC case made of mesh here at Computex and did a double take. Instead of being fully enclosed, with fan ports for proper airflow, the Green Mesh Computer Case does away with all that in favor of an open-air approach. It looks nothing like your usual PC chassis.

That's right. There's nothing to stop the dust from accumulating inside the case, not even a filter. But according to the Taiwanese manufacturer of power supply units (PSUs), this open-air design is actually the reason dust will not magically accumulate inside the case. In fact, the company claims it will have three to four times less dust than a normal PC tower. … Read more

Open Garden seeks to crowdsource mobile connectivity

Open Garden wants to help you share your Internet connection with every Wi-Fi-enabled device within 20 meters.

The San Francisco-based mobile startup, which launched today at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, lets users create a large mesh network that allows all the Open Garden-enabled devices to automatically share Internet access and bandwidth, according to a TechCrunch report. Essentially, what Open Garden wants to do is create a crowdsourcing platform for mobile connectivity.

The mesh network currently only uses one Internet connection, but it will break down larger networks into smaller ones with about 10 nodes, TC reports. If the network detects … Read more

Dear Microsoft: Please don't take away my Live Mesh

Microsoft giveth, and it taketh away. At least, that's how it looks with the latest incarnation of the SkyDrive online storage service.

Unveiled this week, the preview of the new SkyDrive kicks in several improvements over its Web-based predecessor.

The old SkyDrive Web site separates documents that you upload from those synced via Live Mesh, creating a limited and clumsy workspace. The new preview edition ensures that all files are stored in one place, whether they're uploaded or synced from your PC.

You can now view and open all your SkyDrive files directly from Windows Explorer, eliminating the … Read more

Microsoft improves SkyDrive's sharing and file management

Microsoft SkyDrive users will find some much-needed enhancements the next time they log onto the cloud-based storage site.

As part of an ongoing effort to improve SkyDrive, Microsoft yesterday revealed a series of tweaks designed to make the site more efficient and user-friendly. Described in a blog posted yesterday and seen in the video below, the changes focus mostly on sharing and file management.

Admitting that sharing folders and files on SkyDrive has been difficult and unreliable in the past, Microsoft has simplified the ability to share. Instead of setting up specific folders for sharing, you can now share individual … Read more