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Anything that is worth reading… and learning from. Just my opinions.

Archive for July 2008

90s music video… looking back… it’s funny.

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Can’t believe those are actually the clothes that I wore when I was in my high school years… Great memories.

Written by gooddealz

July 15, 2008 at 1:13 am

All the Windows Vista shortcuts… here

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Written by gooddealz

July 14, 2008 at 4:04 pm

Posted in Great Stuff

The biggest news last week & this week… iPhone App Store & iPhone 2.0

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Check out Ars in depth review of the iPhone 3G.

Their conclusion:

The $199 (or $299, or $399, or $499) question is: is it worth it? As usual, the answer is "it depends." If you’re using some old, crappy cell phone, you’re looking for something new, and you’re not allergic to AT&T, then go for it. Do it now. Well, maybe wait until the lines subside.

If you’ve got a smartphone for personal use—iPhone or otherwise—then the answer depends on how much you value the new features. Are 3G, the louder speaker, and GPS worth at least $200 plus $10 more per month for two years? Remember that you can get the iPhone 2.0 firmware and the App Store on an older iPhone as well. For us reviewers who are using the iPhone 3G as a personal phone, we feel happy with the decision to purchase it. Sure, it’s not a religious experience, but we’re definitely satisfied. If you want to wait and see what comes out of Apple in another six months to a year, however, there’s no huge reason not to do so.

If you’re a business user, then we feel the answer is no, it’s not worth it. The original iPhone was not made to be an enterprise device, and the new iPhone isn’t either. Although some baby steps have been made, BlackBerry users will find themselves frustrated with the lack of complete Exchange support and may even end up returning their devices, or at least carrying an iPhone alongside a BlackBerry. We already know several who have done this, and it will happen to many more.

Although we have dropped numerical scores from our product reviews, we feel the need to enumerate the iPhone 3G in comparison to our original iPhone score. A year ago, we gave the iPhone an 8 overall (with significant caveats based on personal use). The original iPhone was truly an innovation in the mobile space and it has most certainly shaken things up over the last 12 months. The iPhone 3G is being marketed not only as a faster device, however, but as a business-capable device as well. So, not only is it being compared to the original iPhone, it is being compared more heavily to its competitors in the smartphone space than its predecessors. Because of this, we at Ars have agreed that the new device deserves a 6. It’s great as a consumer device, but with enterprise users’ expectations having been raised this time around, we feel it still has quite a ways to go.

The good:
  • Data speeds are faster (duh)
  • External speaker is louder, better
  • Third-party apps, finally
  • Screen still virtually unscratchable
The bad:
  • For most casual users, battery gets sapped quicker thanks to 3G chip, power-sucking apps
  • Still locked to AT&T and still requires a new two-year contract (US-only. Contracts in other countries vary.)
  • Plastic back means potential for scratch city
The ugly:
  • In-store activation requirements crud up the previously-smooth process, Apple caves to the broken mobile system (at least in the US)
  • Battery life, combined with non-user-replaceable battery, make for an ugly situation for road warriors
  • Not yet fit for serious business users, as Exchange support is pretty weak

Written by gooddealz

July 14, 2008 at 3:15 pm

Posted in News Only

Meet the beautiful minds… C# 4.0 design team

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Love Channel 9 on geeky stuff around the Microsoft camp and though some are more marketing and promotional in nature… I have always been a big fan of Going Deep series and technical architecture stuff around anything Microsoft.

Today we got Anders Hejlsberg and the C# 4.0 design team talking about the next iteration of C# programming language.

Here’s some excerpt:

As expected, merging functional constructs into imperative C# are still top of mind for the C# design team. Here, you’ll meet some new programming language gurus and some old time Niners (you’ll recall the great Eric Lippert. He was in fact the very first developer we interviewed for C9 back in 2004 – even though his was not the first interview posted, it was the first one shot and the one where Lenn, Jeff, Scoble, Bryn and myself looked at each other and said "wow, we are on to something here!".).
C# 4.0 will contain many new features that will help developers be, yeah, you’ve heard it before, more productive. There’s also some very interesting work going on with adding dynamic constructs to the language, which is of course very interesting given the static nature of the C# language.
In this video you will not get any specific details since the C# team wants to reveal exactly what they’ve done at PDC 2008. That said, you’ll still get a very clear sense of what they’ve been up to and where they’re taking the language.

Enjoy!

Written by gooddealz

July 11, 2008 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Great Stuff

After Picasa, Windows Live Photo Gallery… here comes Pictomio!

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Check out this new free image organizer, Pictomio! Now you can add cover flow style to your gallery viewing!

Here are the excerpt on the features:

Image Management

Conveniently mange entire photo libraries and archives with several thousand images. When managing photos, browse directories on your hard drives or add photos to a virtual photo album by using drag-and-drop.

Library

Use the library to sort your photos by date, rating or category.

Create albums and sub-albums

The main internal difference between albums and categories in Pictomio is the fact that albums can be nested, that means an album can have sub-albums. Use the "Add Folder" button when an album is selected in the library tree view to add a sub-album or just create new albums.

Smooth Image Browsing

Use the scroll-bar or the mouse-wheel to scroll the thumbnail view (in grid or filmstrip mode) to take advantage of the smooth scrolling function which is much smoother than in most other applications.

Liquid-Zoom

Smooth high-quality zooming, utilizing mip levels to reduce aliasing, allows you to continuously zoom into your photos. You can also disable bilinear filtering to view every pixel of your photos.

3D Image Carousel

Scroll through your photos quickly and easily by flipping through the 3D image carousel. Use your mouse to specify the direction in which you want your photos to move.

Exif-Editor

The integrated Exif editor allows you to view, edit, and save meta data associated with JPEG files.

Browse database by image information (EXIF value)

You can browse for images by their EXIF meta tags in the Library. For example you can easily select all images that where taken with a certain camera model or at a certain shutter speed.

Image Rating

While you are viewing your photos, you can use a dynamic toolbar to access all of the main software functions. The rating system uses stars, which makes rating your photos quick and easy.

Tools

Web designers can utilize the color pipette and the measuring tool to determine the color values of pixels and precisely measure any section of a photo.

Slideshows

Pictomio makes it easy to create slideshows simply by using the drag-and-drop option. Elaborate transitions are now available with Pictomio by utilizing the capabilities of modern 3D graphics cards.

Tagging support

An arbitrary number of tags can be attached to individual pixel positions or to an image as whole.

Search functionality

You can enter search terms in the search box at the top right of the Pictomio main window. The text you enter is searched for in several attributes of the image files, e.g. filename, tags, categories, albums, description etc.

Video & audio-playback

Simple video and audio-files can be played in the zoom-view and in the carrousel view (even with a mirror-effect on the virtual floor).

Image information collapsible window

A collapsible window in the main window shows the most important information about an image and lets you consistently change rating, annotation, categories and global image tags from one central place in the application.

Start external applications to edit an image

You can start your image editing programms that are registered for its file-type. Click with the right mouse button on an image and select "Open with.. “(choose your editing programm) from the context-menu that appears.

Just installed it and it does look sleek… more sleek than Picasa and Windows Live Photo Gallery which by the way is excellent. I would use Picasa for uploading to my online Picasa account while my default photo viewer on my Vista machine is Live Photo Gallery. Now with Pictomio, I will have to try it out… to see if it is useful enough for me to make it my default image viewer. It does seem like there’s a huge community around it and improvements should be very accelerated.

Everything is hardware accelerated!!! Cool!

Written by gooddealz

July 10, 2008 at 4:29 pm

Posted in Great Stuff, News Only

Google Ranking Explained…

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There’s many sites I love to read daily and one of them is this one, Google’s own blog! Being the digital industry it is vital to have a good understanding of what’s going on, particular relating to Google. Stuff like page rank, search engine optimisation, page title, meta tag… sitemap, web spider… and it gets very useful when I sit in front of a client and simply explain how simple and yet powerful little things can make a difference to a site.

I found this post on Google’s blog today titled Introduction to Google Ranking and here’s some excerpt of it:

Google ranking is a collection of algorithms used to find the most relevant documents for a user query. We do this for hundreds of millions of queries a day, from a collection of billions and billions of pages. These algorithms are run for every query entered into most of Google’s search services. While our web search is the most used Google search service and the most widely known, the same ranking algorithms are also used – with some modifications – for other Google search services, including Images, News, YouTube, Maps, Product Search, Book Search, and more.

The most common question I get asked about Google’s ranking is "how do you do it?" Of course, there is a lot that goes into building a state-of-the-art ranking system like ours, and I will delve deeper into the technology behind it in a later post. Today, I would like to briefly share the philosophies behind Google ranking:

1) Best locally relevant results served globally.

2) Keep it simple.

3) No manual intervention.

The first one is obvious. Given our passion for search, we absolutely want to make sure that every user query gets the most relevant results. We often call this the "no query left behind" principle. Whenever we return less than ideal results for any query in any language in any country – and we do (search is by no means a solved problem) – we use that as an inspiration for future improvements.

The second principle seems obvious. Isn’t it the desire of all system architects to keep their systems simple? Well, as search systems go, given the wide variety of user queries we have to respond to in multiple languages, it is easy to go down the path where more and more complexity creeps into the system to serve the next incremental fraction of the queries. We work very hard to keep our system simple without compromising on the quality of results. This is an ongoing effort, and a worthy one. We make about ten ranking changes every week and simplicity is a big consideration in launching every change. Our engineers understand exactly why a page was ranked the way it was for a given query. This simple understandable system has allowed us innovate quickly, and it shows. The "keep it simple" philosophy has served us well.

No discussion of Google’s ranking would be complete without asking the common – but misguided! 🙂 – question: "Does Google manually edit its results?" Let me just answer that with our third philosophy: no manual intervention. In our view, the web is built by people. You are the ones creating pages and linking to pages. We are using all this human contribution through our algorithms. The final ordering of the results is decided by our algorithms using the contributions of the greater Internet community, not manually by us. We believe that the subjective judgment of any individual is, well … subjective, and information distilled by our algorithms from the vast amount of human knowledge encoded in the web pages and their links is better than individual subjectivity.

The second reason we have a principle against manually adjusting our results is that often a broken query is just a symptom of a potential improvement to be made to our ranking algorithm. Improving the underlying algorithm not only improves that one query, it improves an entire class of queries, and often for all languages. I should add, however, that there are clear written policies for websites recommended by Google, and we do take action on sites that are in violation of our policies or for a small number of other reasons (e.g. legal requirements, child porn, viruses/malware, etc).

I always emphasis to client, SEO does not need to be expensive… and you don’t necessary have to use pay Google or Yahoo to attain high relevance… What’s need is three simple thing that I have used and tested and found it to work really well:

1) Page title page title page title. Get a proper Content Management System or do some hard coding if you still on simple html page and add relevant keywords to your page title, every single one of them!!! Whatever keywords you placed on that page title should reflect the actual contents on that page to some extent else it will not be effective.

2) Meta tag data! Most modern Content Management System like Drupal or Joomla allows you to specify what meta tag description are to be included whenever you create a new page / content. Make use of that area as well as those description / keywords will come in handy for the web spider.

3) Contents contents contents! The simplest of all and yet the most trying of all… is to regularly post and update your site with new contents. That’s why I would always suggest to clients to have a Latest News / Press Release section on their site. Not only will the new contents help the relevance / opinion leadership of the company but also it allows your visitors to regularly know what is going on with the company… thus establishing a good feeling in your visitors that, the business is still around or at least, there’s a focus on keeping customers informed. Whatever real motive it may be… it helps with your website SEO and that’s worth it.

There are more elements that may help your website relevance and some are tricky like the inbound links (if you paid for some SEO work, most of the time, they would use link farms to help you… be careful as it might be penalised by Google) and keyword density… explore them out and monitor it using tools like Web CEO and you will stand to gain a lot from it.

One of the great plugins I used on Firefox is SeoQuake which adds some very useful information extracted from all over the place, about a website. Important stuff like webarchive age, whois, keyword density… and Google Page Rank!!!

Google will constantly tweak their algorithm again to increase the actual relevance of the search result and until the community discover another way to grow your page rank or whatever it may be called… page title, meta tag, contents, inbound links, age of the site… and other factors will help you with the page rank. 

So install SeoQuake into your Firefox / Internet Explorer and start exploring into the world of SEO… remember though that it can be very addictive.

Written by gooddealz

July 10, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Posted in News Only, Opinions

Could this be implemented in Singapore… soon?

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pedra-branca-2012

For those living in Singapore… we know of the recent ERP gantry being placed in more location around business district / traffic area. Well, a colleague found this funny image above that may predict how ERP gantry may be implemented in the future… on the sea. 🙂

Written by gooddealz

July 9, 2008 at 5:18 am

Posted in Fun Stuff

Starhub blocking BitTorrent…

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Interesting news that I picked up recently, despite it being old news and that is Starhub, my Internet provider is blocking bittorrent sharing across it’s network.

According to this AsiaOne article, Starhub is not denying it and mentioned that other ISP do just the same. I know that in the USA, this is a major debate that is going on right now among the different ISP and people who are legitimately sharing programs, particularly open source program are facing a roadblock… and are looking elsewhere for the connectivity.

Well, I am happy so far with my Starhub broadband speed and overall performance and rarely uses bittorrent so I am not too pissed by this… Anyway I have one more year to go on my contract. Will evaluate the situation then on other ISP if they have instituted the same blocking mechanism.

Written by gooddealz

July 7, 2008 at 12:30 am

Posted in News Only, Opinions

Microsoft: Silverlight content is searchable…

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According to this article from Mary-Jo Foley, Microsoft Silverlight content is apparent designed with searchable content in mind from the beginning… but the only question left is if Google or Yahoo will even bother to add the indexing capability to their search engine or just simply… ignored it whenever it comes across sites built with Silverlight. Either way, as I wrote in my previous post on Flash being indexable, the battle for controlling online standard has just gotten tougher for Microsoft.

Written by gooddealz

July 3, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Posted in News Only

Fresh Mango Bouquets Launched

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To all the Singapore Florist Shop out there, something new has landed…

Fresh Mango Bouquets Launched

Enjoy the freshly made gift products by 7Degree C!

Good day.

Written by gooddealz

July 2, 2008 at 5:19 pm

Posted in Food Stuff

It’s in the people…

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Powerset talented engineers and computational linguists… is now at Microsoft… hammering away at how to win a single digit market share from Google…

I salute Microsoft for trying… even though the search game is already very one sided…

The good thing is that there is always the element of time… depending on how long one wish to measure the catch up… It’s a marathon race for Microsoft, a very long race…

In 2 years time, not a dent… (Google Search on mobile phones / devices will rule)

In 5 years time… maybe…

In 10 years time… who knows…

In 20 years time…  the once forgotten Altavista will rise again and buy over Google and Microsoft by then. 🙂

Written by gooddealz

July 2, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Posted in News Only

Mark Anders on a new approach to searching Flash

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Big news this week for RIA developers and ActionScript programmers… Flash is indexable by Google and Yahoo (soon to be) and Microsoft Live Search!!! Wait a minute… Microsoft is being LEFT OUT of the equation!!!

Hmmm… how would Microsoft retaliate? My thought would be to open up Silverlight such that Google, Yahoo and all other search engine can index its content (if it is even possible) so that IT CAN AT LEAST GAIN SOME MARKET SHARE!!! (provided that Google and Yahoo are even bother to include that… Joke man!) Good move by Adobe! Very good move!!! Nip Silverlight when it is still so little… else the Microsoft tenacity may come sooner in waves against Flash and Adobe… This way, it will be even harder…

Here’s one of the big brains behind Adobe success / advancement with Flex and Flash in recent years, Mark Anders:

One of the projects I worked on a while ago that I can now talk about is a new approach to more effectively search Flash based applications and content. We developed it in collaboration with Google and Yahoo. Google is in the process of rolling it out and Yahoo is committed to doing so in the near future.

To understand why a new approach is needed, let’s take a step back and examine how search engines work with basic web content today. During the indexing process, HTML and other well defined file formats are retrieved, parsed, and analyzed for content such as text, graphics, metadata, and most importantly links to other content. By traversing the set of links, the indexer can crawl the site and discover all of its content.

This works because HTML is a simple, declarative format that is easy to parse and understand. Or at least, that’s how HTML used to be! The declarative nature of HTML is important, because it means that you can look at a tag such as a link or heading and the format "declares" what it is. You don’t have to run any code to understand it – you can tell just by looking at it.

The fact that SWF files are binary has led some people to conclude that this is why Flash is hard to index. However, this isn’t really the reason. Search engines can and index SWF files today.

So what we’ve done is to enable the search engines to actually run the app just as an end user would. They can not only run it and see the information that’s displayed, including data dynamically loaded from the network, but can interact with it as well, pressing on buttons and links to interact with the app and explore all of is content.

To enable this we have created a special version of the Flash player that is designed to run on the server as part of the indexing process. As the code executes, there are special API that notify the search engine when something changes and that allow inspection of the textual and other data that would be displayed to the user.

There are other API that enumerate links and allow the indexer to instruct the player to simulate a “click” on various objects that are displayed. In this way, the indexer can navigate the running app.

What’s especially cool about this is that it doesn’t require any changes to the application code to enable it to be searched. It just works.

Of course, adding things such as deep-linking – exposing URL for distinct parts of a running app, will make searching content more effective, but it’s not required. This and other techniques will undoubtedly become important tools for optimizing how to most effectively expose Flash-based information to search engines.

Thermo wave is coming next…

Written by gooddealz

July 2, 2008 at 4:31 pm