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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

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

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

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

Samsung Omnia i900 coming…

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The all new Samsung Omnia i900 is coming… another attempt to offer more iPhone like choices to consumer! 🙂

Here’s is more details on the Samsung Omnia.

Written by gooddealz

June 16, 2008 at 4:53 am

The world versus Apple

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If you have noticed lately from all the different brand like HP, Lenovo, Dell and more… their laptop, desktop are all taking a page from Apple’s minimalistic design philosophy.  The Lenovo IdeaPad U110, Dell and their XPS series and here, HP with their Envy 133.

The great thing to see is that they are not only getting better at design, but the material they used to build the laptop are state of the art as well. Like for example the HP Envy 133 is a full carbon fiber laptop!!! Talk about sturdiness!!!

newvoodoo

Apple will continue to innovate and set the trend on consumer product but I have to say, the rest ain’t that far off… Rather than always brag on the cheapest and lowest price, consumer who wishes to have pay for design… now has more nicer choices from the rest of the manufacturers.

It’s about time… finally. They get it.

To borrow the concept from blue ocean strategy, Apple set the pace by building a strong brand recognition through paying attention to user experience and design… and by doing that, Apple has set itself apart years ago from the rest of the red ocean manufacturer that beat on prices and features… Every product that carries the Apple brand are sold with a much higher profit margin than any other competing products on the market. Amazing…

Written by gooddealz

June 16, 2008 at 4:17 am

Posted in Great Stuff, Opinions

Google Doc now support PDF upload!!! Yippee!!!

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I wrote a short article previously on some upcoming Google Doc enhancement as well as what we as a company are using it for… Well, I am happy to say that the Google Doc just gotten better!!! With PDF upload supported!!!

The main usage for me is all those visuals, images, diagrams that I can create in Word or Excel or PowerPoint and then be saved as pdf to preserve the integrity and upload that to Google Doc for project management.

Thank you Google!

Written by gooddealz

June 15, 2008 at 5:08 pm

Posted in Great Stuff

Google to let users test new Gmail features

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As shared earlier in previous post, I am a Outlook / Gmail user and I certainly am a big fan of the Google Apps service for hosting email accounts… Our corporate email, personal email, wife’s company email are all hosted by Google now and it’s fantastic.

Just in recent months Google has flooded features into the already many free services available… and I find myself using the Google Docs so often that it has become our Document Management System. We used it or Project Management, Individual Project Milestone Chart, Support Document… and more.

But one main area that I still use my Outlook for is inbox management. Gmail is great and highly reliable, but it certainly lacks the rich feature of Outlook like the ability to set custom categories, tag task / reminder to an email. These are features I cannot live without… so it certainly excites me when, according to CNet News, that Google is adding new features to Gmail!

Among the new features that are possible:

• A quick-link tool that lets people bookmark specific Gmail messages. (NICE – hopefully it can match the custom categories in Outlook)

• Superstars, which lets people select custom stars to label mail. (NICE)

• The “e-mail addict” tool that lets people lock themselves out of their e-mail account for 15 minutes.

• A fixed-width font option to view a message within a font whose characters are the same width–handy for some formatting challenges.

• Mouse gestures that let users take actions based on mouse movements.

• Custom keyboard shortcuts.

• Signature tweaks that let people automatically add a signature file above quoted text in an e-mail reply.

• “Muzzle,” which conserves buddy-list screen real estate by hiding status messages.

For now at least, only Google engineers can add features. “Any engineer can code a labs feature,” Coleman said. “Once the code is written and mostly working, it’ll get into the next product build that goes to users” through the labs feature.

Eventually, though, the company is interested in opening the system up to outsiders if it can find a way to integrate outside code.

One more feature, whether coming from Google or 3rd party integration is to automatically tag the email such that it becomes a task / reminder in Google Calendar. That would be complete for me… to dump Outlook and move to Gmail. Ok! I probably won’t dump Outlook but will drastically reduce the usage other than to back up the email to PST format…

Another good to have feature is probably the ability for Gmail to add the attachment in emails straight into Google Docs and that document can be tagged, just like an email so that user can easily find reference in Google Docs on related documents.

Written by gooddealz

June 6, 2008 at 4:30 am

Posted in Great Stuff, Opinions

The Age of Bad Journalism… Debunking another bogus malware study

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Definitely a must read on Ed Bott debunking this article on super exaggerating the state of malware infected pc in the States…

Like everything else on the Internet… always look for a second or third reference or dig deeper using Google Search as that has been the most important lesson I learnt in my career last year.

Learn to unleash the power of Google, stick some patience into the online research and you will reap the benefit of being able to stand in front of a client and smoke anything, I mean… connect on any topic which you may not necessary know much previously. 🙂

The key differentiator is and always will be… cultivating the habit of reading and be curious and learn to Google it.

Written by gooddealz

June 4, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Posted in Great Stuff, Opinions