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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.

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Written by gooddealz

July 7, 2008 at 12:30 am

Posted in News Only, Opinions

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

Google, Microsoft… or somewhere else. It’s common!

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It’s been a challenging 2 months… ever since a call to do more in my full time role, from being just an Accounts Manager in a 360 digital agency here in Singapore, to more like a General Manager where not only am I involved in business development and client servicing, but more involved in planning, organizing, directing, controlling…

We have a great solid team of people working together and I am really proud of where we are at right now as a team. The chemistry mostly are very good (can improve…)… no politics among us…

It’s been challenging… because I felt personally I have swung to the extreme of being so consumed with work rather than taking care of my personal / spiritual life which has dwindled. Took me a while to face up to the fact that I need help and my wife has been super supportive and encouraging towards me and I thank God for that. A man has to lead and if a man needs help, he’s gotta face up to the issue, get humble and get help. That’s what I am going to do and that’s what I am going to change.

Came across some articles about staff leaving Google and pursuing their career elsewhere… and some even returned to Microsoft!!! Kidding right? No.

Between the lines from Danny Thorpe – the guy that was involved with Piclens and then now back to Microsoft.

Dare Obasanjo

Sergey Solyanik – Dev Manager at Microsoft

Svetlin Nakov – A guy who rejected Microsoft offer but provided some insights into the interview process at Microsoft. This is a must read!!!

Where does Google go next – from CNN

Dion Almaer – Google engineer and his thoughts on some of the post above.

It’s a good read and I am sure there are Microsofties that left for Google or elsewhere… and it is common. But what I see in the pattern is that we all leave for different reasons, not necessary all the time over salary or politics… but growth in our capabilities, taking up new challenges… Which reminded me of a few meet ups I had with some colleagues who thought of pursuing their career somewhere else… and I have always expressed myself very candidly on that matter when it was made known to me and that is to always be clear WHY we leave our existing role / job and not ‘react’ to the situation.

If there are issues, try to resolve it first…

If it is a salary issue, evaluate if you have given your best and take up ownership and then talk to the management about it… negotiation is a lot easier after you have done your part.

If it is job scope issue, bring it up to management and express what you would like to try…

If it is a politics issue, avoid getting involved further and make a stand, unless management / boss is the one flaming it… then probably it’s best to get away…

If it is simply a much better offer, go for it!!!

Sometimes we may feel like we have brought it up to management but they don’t listen and that’s fair… at least you have done the most important part and that is TALK TO THEM!!! Decision comes a lot easier after that…

But always leave because you have a clear objective WHY you leave and not because of some unresolved issues or some reaction to something unpleasant…

Learn to see from a Boss / Management mindset and ask WHY… before asking WHY from an employee mindset… Many times I have learnt that it put things in better perspective and allow one to get out of the ‘WHY NOT ME’ mindset…

WHY boss is like that…

WHY boss did not do that…

WHY boss did not appreciate me as much…

(I know it’s over simplifying the process… and issues of pursuing a greener pasture… but you get the point, right? :))

Sharing and hearing some of the colleagues and expressing our view candidly has in turn helped them us to see the growing opportunities the agency has before us (my personal opinions)… Through some analysis, they too became clearly on what was clouding their thoughts and eventually decided to hang on for a while to see the opportunities and the growth that we can gain from it. No workplace is perfect and in our agency too, we are getting feedbacks and implementing changes to grow staff capabilities and job scope and hopefully every one get some rewards… Surprisingly, some stayed on while others whom did not open up to anyone in the company / management… has left somewhat with some unresolved issue… (nothing wrong with that… just felt it was a lost to the company, and perhaps a lost to the ex colleagues as they lost an opportunity to learn something about themselves if it was something that could have been resolved, and then they can still decide to leave…)

Anyway… just some random rants / thoughts on employment stuff…

Time to make some change to my spiritual life.  

Written by gooddealz

July 2, 2008 at 1:52 pm

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

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

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