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Archive for June 2008

Very Geeky vs. Main Stream journalism

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Since Randall Stross (the guy who wrote many best seller books like Steve Jobs and the NeXT big thing and The Microsoft Way: The real story of how the company outsmart its competition) wrote the article entitled, ‘Windows Could Use a Rush of Fresh Air ‘ on The New York Times… It has been referred to by many other blog sites on the need for Microsoft to ‘redo’ their OS in order to compete in the modern operating system war with both Apple OSX and the rising of Linux and its variation like Ubuntu and many others…

When I first read it, it make some sense but as I did some other reading from the two following sites, I am tempted to agree with Paul and the guy behind Shipping Seven on some of the ‘not-so-well-research’ part of the article written by Randall Stross.

Have a read yourself and draw your own conclusion, if you need to… (but take all article with some salts unless you really dive into the core stuff of each topic mentioned, like kernel history and all that stuff…)

Here’s the extra from Paul Thurrott’s site, entitled ‘Randall Stross jumps the shark’:

So before I rip into this one–and honestly, how could I do otherwise, given how wrongheaded this is?–I would like at least take a moment to note that I generally enjoy Randall Stross. This one, however, took me by surprise and I had to resist the urge to toss aside the Kindle (from which I read it this morning) and jump online (“someone’s wrong on the Internet!”). But seriously. This is just idiotic. I’m sorry, but it is.

Beginning as a thin veneer for older software code, [Windows] has become an obese monolith built on an ancient frame. Adding features, plugging security holes, fixing bugs, fixing the fixes that never worked properly, all while maintaining compatibility with older software and hardware — is there anything Windows doesn’t try to do?

The best solution to the multiple woes of Windows is starting over. Completely. Now.

Vista is the equivalent, at a minimum, of Windows version 12 — preceded by 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, NT, 95, NT 4.0, 98, 2000, ME, XP.

Except, of course, that it isn’t.

Windows Vista is the latest in a line of NT-based OSes that includes just Windows NT (versions 3.1, 3.5, 3.51, 4.0), Windows 2000 (5.0), and Windows XP (5.1). (There are server derivates as well, but whatever.) The Windows 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, 95, 98, and Me release he mentions are completely different products with different code bases.

But the assumption here, of course, is that OS X and Linux, both based on UNIX systems that actually pre-date the original version of NT are somehow “newer” or “fresher” and, equally illogically are somehow “better.” UNIX is older than NT. And NT is a descendant of VMS, which was an attempt by DEC to make a better UNIX. Let’s leave the architectural discussions to the experts and at least just agree that all three–Vista/Server 2008 (i.e. “Windows”), UNIX/Linux, and UNIX/OS X–are all modern, scalable, and capable OSes. Because they are.

After six years of development, the longest interval between versions in the previous 22-year history of Windows, and long enough to permit Apple to bring out three new versions of Mac OS X, Vista was introduced to consumers in January 2007.

And here we have the second bit of iCabal BS that Stross passes off as “fact.” Actually, Microsoft shipped a wide number of OSes between XP (2001) and Vista (2006). In fact, they shipped more OS releases than Apple did during this same time period. These OSes include Windows XP Table PC Edition (two versions), Windows XP Media Center Edition (four versions), Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2, a free gimmee to users to make up for security issues), and two versions of Windows Server, among many others. If you’re going to make Panther and Tiger seem lke “new versions” of Mac OS X, then you need to include Table PC and Media Center Editions on the Windows side too. Certainly, the Windows OSes were more impressive from a functional improvement standpoint. Geesh.

And this is the article from the blog site Shipping Seven whom no one knows for sure whether this guy knows his stuff or that he is really a Microsoft employee or how far deep is he involved in the development if any… Here’s a different post that talks about the validity of this guy…

Written by gooddealz

June 30, 2008 at 10:21 am

Posted in Great Stuff, News Only

How is your desktop like today?

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For at least 7 years now, I have been obsessed with having a dual monitor setup to increase desktop real estate. From the early days in 2000 which I had two 17” CRT monitor side by to the current setup of one 22” wide LCD and one 17” LCD (which lasted my over 5 years now, it’s a Philips).

I am of the notion that every one, regardless if you are a power user or a normal user, that having two LCD side by side will benefit you in a lot of ways. It is not about being ‘cool’ but rather allowing one to be more productive. Below are some benefits of having a dual LCD setup:

  • Maximize or minimize application will be minimal. Having two LCD, one can place two documents side by side when you need to refer to another. Instead of alt-tab or going to the taskbar, two LCD give you quick reference to documents / web site you need without losing sight of what you are doing.
  • It is a lot cheaper to extend you desktop real estate by adding another LCD to it as compare to say, buying a much bigger LCD screen. Some people argue that instead of having two LCD, they would rather just get a bigger one! If you can afford a bigger one, by all means please. It is always nicer to have larger LCD (in my opinion, 24” would be rather ideal as compared to the 30” which to me is an overkill… for now), no doubt about that. Even if you get a much bigger LCD, don’t throw away your old LCD! Stick it to the side and you will find good use for it. But if you really want to get productive by having more space on your desktop for different application, then you might want to consider just adding a reasonably size LCD to your existing one. For example: before I got my 22” Chimei LCD two years ago, I only have an old 17” Philips LCD (my two CRT monitors died on me before that). At that time there was a PC Fair here in Singapore and the 22” was going for $565. 24” were all costing around $800 ~ $1200. 30” were already out… and the temptation was to get a 24” which gives me a screen resolution of 1980 x 1200. My 22” only gives me 1680 x 1050 but due to budget constraint and knowing that my 17” LCD can be reuse, I opted for the 22” Chimei. Two years has passed and I am still loving my dual LCD setup.
  • Most modern day graphics card support dual LCD monitor and all modern drivers has the dual setup option very easily setup in Windows or Mac, so no worries on that.
  • Landscape + Portrait combo setup! There’s one thing I realized lately and that is a lot of documents I worked on a regular basis do require me to scroll up and down as most LCD manufacturer has turned to wide screen LCD and has completely dropped the standard definition (4:3) LCD… for different reasons. Some manufacturers do produce 22” and above wide screen LCD that could be rotated to portrait mode (Dell, Samsung, Philiips, Hp…) and that became a hope / obsession for me. Imagine having a wide screen LCD on one side and another wide screen LCD in portrait mode on the other side! That would be awesome! My emails and media player sitting on my wide screen while my browsing, document editing, configuring web sites are on the portrait LCD!!!

Below is my current desktop setup, on two LCD. Running Vista Home Premium, Stardock ObjectDock (free), and Switcher (free) as my expose-like desktop manager!

My Desktop Edited

I am currently checking out the HP 2207w (22” wide screen LCD) that can be rotated to portrait mode and will add that to the setup… hopefully soon. By then I might have 3 monitor setup or mostly likely, remove the 17” and place that in my bedroom for watching online media via my Eee PC.

Below are some other articles on dual lcd setup and its benefits. Enjoy.

Tech tips from Geeks.com

Joel on Software

This following video is rather extreme… on 4 display but you get the idea. 🙂

 

There are many solution out design to support / hold multiple monitors and allowing for adjustable heights… Here’s one from 9X Media which is really on the high end… My current two LCD setup is elevated using four pack of A4 printer paper, which only cost me $20! Or you could use any books you have. With the A4 paper, the height are even.

I ever pondered two years ago about why LCD manufacturers themselves do not built such holding mechanism into the back of the LCD series. So rather than having additional 3rd party stand to hold / stick the two LCD together, the same manufacturer could promote the extensibility of that series, simply by getting another LCD from the same series and just ‘hook’ it up! The cost would be higher, yes I know… the weight support has to be the considered, yes I know… and I believe those can be solved. It is about marketing and promoting the series as say a professional LCD series and differentiate itself from the rest of the LCD manufacturer. Just a thought…

Anyway, what is your desktop like today?

Written by gooddealz

June 28, 2008 at 3:02 pm

Will we see the PC vs Mac ads… in Windows favour?

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A good read from FastCompany, (a beautiful online publishing site done on top of Drupal!) on Microsoft finally waking up to proper advertising & marketing?

Here’s the excerpt:

Now Crispin has been handed perhaps its biggest challenge to date: Microsoft. The tech giant stunned the ad world in March when it passed over safer choices like Fallon, JWT, and its agency of record, McCann Worldgroup, and awarded its new $300 million consumer-branding campaign to Crispin. It was an act of courage or desperation, depending on whom you ask. Over the past couple of years, Microsoft’s already problematic reputation in some circles — as the soulless, power-hungry purveyor of lackluster products — has suffered a series of self-inflicted wounds. It spent two years and $500 million on the media blitz around the long-delayed Windows Vista launch, only to see the January 2007 "Wow" campaign, which likened Microsoft’s new operating system to Woodstock and the fall of the Berlin Wall, derided as arrogant and creatively void. Vista itself sold poorly, leading to price cuts of up to 40%. Worst of all, the flop bred a new generation of Microsoft haters. "Microsoft has really lost control of its image," says Rob Enderle, an influential advisory analyst for tech companies including Dell, HP, and Microsoft. And with its two most formidable competitors — Apple and Google — boasting their own consumer cults, that’s the last thing Microsoft can afford to do.

That’s a lot of money…  and if any of ads campaign is as good as the following ads done by Lenovo, then there might still be hope…

Let’s revive the Pepsi vs Coke war of the 80s…

This should be nice to see… provided the ads and stuff coming out of this newly appointed agency is first and foremost, believable and add in funny stuff to counter the Apple ads… That would be entertainment weekly for many of us.

Written by gooddealz

June 23, 2008 at 5:56 pm

More details on iPhone subsidy… revealed

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According to this report from Macworld, AT&T is paying Apple $325 for each iPhone 3G it sells, a report claim… (take it with a little salt… for now)

Here’s the excerpt:

Speculation as to just how much Apple is charging mobile firms for each iPhone 3G has been ongoing since before the product launched, as it became apparent Apple was shifting from its previous revenue-sharing strategy.

The subsidy is more than 50 per cent higher than most other smartphones, leading the analyst to say this reflects the carrier’s confidence that iPhone 3G will lure in new subscribers and help it make money on other services, such as data plans.

Apple’s move means rival firms such as Research In Motion and Nokia will be challenged to deliver devices that match the iPhone in features, at prices that compete.

The end result is that Apple will earn just as much money under the new way of selling the iPhone as under the old, with the main difference being all the money will be up front, rather than deferred.

I wrote in a earlier post that predicted that… well, isn’t it obvious? 🙂 Apple commands a premium and they are confident about that!

Written by gooddealz

June 21, 2008 at 2:02 pm

Posted in News Only

My home bandwidth speed…

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I am on Cable Broadband from Starhub and amazingly the speed has been rather consistent. It’s expensive… but it’s fast and I like it.

Speedtest 21st June 08 Speedtest 21st June 08_2

My previous test was around 4 months ago and it too displayed an average of around 40000 kb/s download and 1650 kb/s upload.

I am on the 100 mb/s plan and pay around SGD$100 a month. We all know the shared and theoretical nature of the spec / bandwidth… and to have it consistent at 40 – 50 mb/s download is awesome!

Written by gooddealz

June 20, 2008 at 6:33 pm

Posted in Opinions

Exodus… from Yahoo

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Could this be the most disappointing turning point in Yahoo history… where the once online and media powerhouse is going downhill…

Since the rejection of Microsoft 40 over billion dollar bid to take over… key influencers and decision makers has left one by one, possibly as a sign of the disagreement with managements’ lack of leadership and direction for the company… Below are the few articles I read on the exodus from Yahoo… 

Yahoo natives abandoning ship from CNet

Tracking Former Yahoo Execs – Where Are They Now… from TechCrunch

Yahoo’s Executive Structure Crumbles: Lu, Garlinghouse and Makhijani To Leave from TechCrunch

It Gets Worse: Joshua Schachter Leaving Yahoo from TechCrunch

Am pretty sure the ‘Shark’ aka competitors like Microsoft, Google, AOL… are fiercely eyeing the recruitment of those talented people…

Stocks will tumble further… 🙂

Written by gooddealz

June 20, 2008 at 4:23 am

Posted in News Only

Lessons from Firefox 3… A good read.

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A must read on lessons learnt from Firefox 3…

Firefox demonstrates the importance of having platforms that people are allowed to customize. That’s considered normal in desktop computers and servers, and few companies would dare to release a system that placed limits on the types of applications that could be installed. That isn’t the case, however, in cell phones. Google is trying to change that through its Android initiative and the pressure it has put on the FCC to force telcos to allow any phone to connect into their networks. Pushing the other direction is Apple, which though boasting the sexiest phone in existence, also backs a model where Jobs and company controls what is officially allowed onto their Apple-logoed creation (and given the money he gets from telcos for the privelege of shipping an iPhone, is likely to bar things like VoIP clients). As a developer, that’s something that concerns me.

Firefox shows that the open source community can challenge even pre-included (and undermines demands for less pre-inclusion among fans of antitrust, but that’s a discussion for another day). Firefox is fast approaching the level of Adobe’s PDF reader, something that few people get as part of a Windows machine, but practically everyone at some point downloads. Granted, there isn’t the “hook” that comes from the fact that you can’t read a PDF until you download that plugin, but if you notice the amount of coverage Firefox’s record download figures are getting across major news sites, it sure seems like Firefox doesn’t need that hook. It makes me wonder what the community could achieve if one Instant Messaging project could focus the energies of like-minded developers the way Firefox has.

Firefox also shows, at least to me, that the future does not lie in protocols unique to your products that you don’t tell anyone else about. The future, in my opinion, lies in companies that understand that computing is so ubiquitous that it demands open protocols. Products that do a good job of being reliable stewards of that principle end up building the key infrastructure that meets with explosive success upon release. Those that build closed systems, particularly those made by platform companies, end up ignored.

Written by gooddealz

June 19, 2008 at 5:04 pm

Posted in News Only

Type of apps that won’t be found on the iPhone App Store…

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Here’s a short article detailing the type of applications that will never make it to the App store… from ZDNet. I heard from somewhere that the SDK has documented clearly certain types of functionality not allowed to be developed for use on the iPhone, one of them being turn by turn GPS… Here’s the list from ZDNet.

There are certain kinds of applications that Apple will most likely never offer in the App Store because they conflict with their own offerings. Some examples include:

  • Music purchases not tied to iTunes (Amazon MP3, Napster)
  • Other browsers (Firefox mobile, Opera lite)
  • GPS applications (although this is debatable)
  • Office Suites (MS Office, OpenOffice)
  • VOIP over EDGE or 3G (Skype, Fring) – In a Q&A session after the SDK was released Steve Jobs said that VOIP applications would be allowed “only via Wi-Fi connections, not via cellular data connections”
  • All scripting languages (.Net, JavaScript, Ruby, Perl, Python)
  • Unlocking/Jailbreaking applications (duh!)
  • Porn
  • Programs that could compromise your privacy
  • Bandwidth hogs (presumably BitTorrent, P2, file sharing apps_
  • Malicious and/or illegal apps (duh!)
  • Apps that require multi-tasking
  • Apps that are memory-resident

It is still a wonderful platform… and I guess developers will just have to live with the Apple Rules, if you wish to have your apps on App Store. Let the jail breaking begin on iPhone version 2.0!

Written by gooddealz

June 19, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Posted in News Only

A glimpse of what Microsoft Silverlight can do…

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Microsoft announced the DeepZoom technology at Mix08 and it has stirred up quite a bit in the web space… A couple of flash version came to the scene but none is as good as this version utilizing Microsoft Silverlight DeepZoom technology

It combined both Virtual Earth and DeepZoom. Check it out.

Make sure you have the latest Beta 2 version of Silverlight installed.

Written by gooddealz

June 19, 2008 at 4:33 pm

Anything with Adobe Flex…

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The digital agency that I worked for is pretty obsess with a couple of things, sales being one of them! 🙂 and the other is Adobe Flex.

By now you probably have come across some sites that are pretty cool… like way beyond those flash intro coolness from the late 90s… Having kinda desktop like application functionality and fluidity… Well, a good chance is that it is developed in Adobe Flex and a less lightly chance using AJAX stuff. Sometimes it is a combination of both…

Anyway, I am starting a category on my blog called, ‘Anything  with Flex’ to sort of list out those nice flex sites that I gotten to know over the weeks and will have it listed out for your easy reference.

Starting with…

Comiqs. An online comic creation site that is easy to use… and to create your very own comic story!

More coming in the next few days…

Written by gooddealz

June 18, 2008 at 3:28 pm

Posted in Anything with Flex

Samsung Omnia i900 at CommunicAsia 2008

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I went down to CommunicAsia 08 today at Singapore Expo and together with my digital director (aka my boss) we scouted the floor of CommunicAsia and man, it was huge. Not too sure if it was the biggest ever but it sure was tiring walking from hall to hall.

Anyway, met up with a partner in the webtv space and checked out their partners in the mobile framework and broadcast space and certainly a lot of opportunities for all parties to explore working together. We now have a solid team of 6 developers across multiple programming discipline and mobile space is one we ain’t gonna sit by and watch.

Yahoo was there with their mobile framework for ‘planting’ gadget like application across multiple handset. Looks simple enough to start and all one need is code according to their template / xml and that’s it. Something like the Apple Store or iTunes, where all the developers need is to submit to Yahoo and it gets deployed by Yahoo to their Yahoo widget / gadget section on their website, across the mobile site, and the ability to have user download the widget application onto their mobile phone. Yahoo will take care of the different screen size, platform and so forth… All the developer need is the code on their xml template. The client version that gets installed is on Java so any platform that supports Java is fine, other than iPhone which one could access the Yahoo mobile web to see the same functionality of the gadget online, the rest of the mobile OS like Symbian, Windows Mobile, Mobile Linux (whatever variant of it) are supported, including Blackberry.

Then we checked out the all new Samsung Omnia i900. Yeah, the one I was curious about days ago and posted some videos of it here and here. Based on what I read and saw on those video, my gut feeling disappointment was the screen resolution which is measured by 240 x 400. The rest of the other disappointment are… already accepted as fact on the Windows Mobile platform so I won’t bother much with the complaint…

Back to the screen and the overall feel. My opinions here:

  • The build quality is excellent. I must admit it really is very sleek, because of the narrow design, just like the HTC touch… in comparison to iPhone which is wider and I will come to that in minute why I felt the iPhone is best while Omnia isn’t. The back of the phone is some sort of metal cover rather than plastic… need to verify but at least it feels aluminium. It feels professional and it fits nicely.
  • The UI enhancement that Samsung placed onto the phone is not too bad… except the home screen part. The whole sidebar widget thingy with drag and drop onto the desktop… what the heck is that for? It does not sit well as on a small mobile screen. I have not fully explore  if it could auto arrange it such it stick to some form of grid if need be and even then… I don’t quite get the beauty of it. In my opinion, it just makes the home screen more messy and and I have a feeling it’s there because it is fancy… and it can be disable under the home theme setting.
  • Another nice thing that I noticed in my short 8 mins with the phone and that is the little vibrating feedback when you tap on the screen. Not sure if you will like to have that turn on with the stylus but it worked flawlessly with finger tap.
  • The video recording on the phone was a nice touch. Not sure the fps but the playback was pretty acceptable for a phone camera. I like that.
  • Here comes my biggest compliant, the screen. The width of the screen to be precise. It has a 240 x 400 resolution and that’s not gorgeous in my opinion but that’s not the biggest disappointment. The disappointment is that the screen width is too narrow. The Omnia has the nice accelerometer effect with you go from portrait to landscape and that does a pretty good job with the overall experience, but because the screen is narrow, the landscape keyboard takes on a huge compromise and what you are left with to type is just one small area at the top of the screen (in landscape mode) to see what you are typing! A slightly wider screen would have make the experience of typing on it fast and nice. Now back to portrait mode, same thing… typing on it was horrible as all the soft buttons are narrow in design just so that it could fit the qwerty soft key on it. And that is horrible to tap on!!! Of course one would argue that I was tapping on my finger and not the stylus which would probably be fine… so if you are a stylus guy all the time on this phone, then you probably can live with it. To me, it could have been so much better with a slightly wider screen, not necessary have to be iPhone screen width but at least wider than the current one. The pros of that is that the whole phone on the hand is nice as your hand can kinda grab it nicely. The compromise to me is bad input experience cos the soft keys are either too narrow to tap faster in portrait mode or the typing area is too small when in landscape mode.  And inputting on a mobile device… isn’t that suppose to be a big thing?

There you have it… my little 8 mins of experience with the Omnia i900. Overall it’s a nice implementation from a Windows Mobile manufacturer… Other than the screen resolution and the width of it, the rest are well implemented. The price is pretty high though without mobile plan… SGD$1000 plus just for the phone itself and it is available in retail in Singapore next week according to the Samsung personnel there. Other than the Singtel formula 1 car simulation that drew the most crowd, the Samsung Omnia certainly gotten a lot of attention.

Side note, there’s a nice Microsoft Surface table at the Samsung booth… the level of interactivity of that kinda surface and the application that one can develop for that is incredible.

Written by gooddealz

June 18, 2008 at 2:51 pm

Posted in Opinions

Ideas on ponder on… for touch screen.

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Just a quick thoughts that came to mind.

Currently on pdas or touch screen smartphones, there are two main type of screen technologies. One is the traditional pressure sensitive type found in most-last-year pdas or smartphones. The other is the one made famous by the iPhone, which is the capacitive type that respond only to materials that conduct current (if not mistaken).

Now, ever since the iPhone is out, there’s been a wave of ‘imitation’ phones from different manufacturers like HTC, Samsung and more… that mimic the user experience through running another software layer on top of Windows Mobile 6.1. Great try… But I do notice that so far, all of them are still using pressure sensitive screen and not capacitive screen like the iPhone.

Why is that the case? My guess is because Windows Mobile 6..1 at its core is still a stylus type experience as the system level control panel or the bundled application like Word, Excel are still designed with stylus in mind… example being the scroll bar at the side.

Now here’s my thought. Assuming my understanding of capacitive screen is right, can some one just invent a stylus that has a capacitive tip… and then design the device screen with capacitive screen just like the iPhone so that, on both occasion it will work!!! Too simple or too complicated?

I look at the HTC Touch Diamond and the Samsung Omnia i900… they did a great job on top of Windows Mobile but at the end of it, there’s still stylus needed which is fair enough as Microsoft needs to ‘fix’ it in WM7 if they deem that as a problem. But the screen, as seen on the HTC Touch or Samsung Omnia, with their UI shell over it, is not so responsive to the pressure sensitive screen as opposed to the capacitive screen…

Just invent the stylus that can work on the capacitive screen and problem solved.

Or am I being too naive…

(updated as of 18th June…)

According to Wilfred, a geek from SIM and a friend… there’s actually such thing!!!

http://www.tenonedesign.com/stylus.php

Is it a gimmick? or is it true?

Can someone from Windows camp like HTC or Samsung use a capacitive touch screen!!!

Written by gooddealz

June 17, 2008 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Opinions