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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

Isn’t this similar…

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OLPC 2.0… Isn’t this similar to the idea I wrote about last year here? All I care is, please make it happen! And please put some thoughts into the interface and user experience.

Written by gooddealz

May 21, 2008 at 4:57 pm

Posted in News Only, Tech Ideas

From fantasy… to reality

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Months ago I wrote an article on a tech enthusiast dream… a device, having capacitive touch keyboard like the iPhone screen but instead, have it on the keyboard for those occasional typing (assuming it was made to a small portable device…) It seems that it might be coming to reality sooner than I realized…

Check out the Samsung’s 12.1-inch OLED laptop concept

Here’s the details from Engadget.

080516_sdi

The Keyboard should be be an OLED screen with capacitive touch and can be switched to display just about anything… text input, writing recognition, drawing board, application interface area… and more.

It is coming… tech reality begin its life as a fantasy / dream in someone’s head.

Written by gooddealz

May 16, 2008 at 9:04 am

Posted in Great Stuff, Tech Ideas

Samsung i780 coming to Singapore…

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Months ago, I wrote a possible phone design from Samsung that could have been a major design win… see here for details. I forgotten to follow up after that article. Basically, I would rather have Samsung take out the D-Pad and the few keys above the keypad all together and give it more screen space instead. That would have been fantastic from usability standpoint in that since the key for Calls or Reject or direction pad are softkey based, it could be turned on or off depending on the application, given it more space to display the information on the already smaller screen.

What do you think? Do you think such devices are on the horizon? I have yet to see a Windows Mobile Devices that only has a screen and mini keyboard only. Most would have some hard keys to allow for Calls or D-Pad or Reject keys which honestly do take up the space… Could it not be solved by a software layer over the WM5-6 interface? Could Microsoft consider assisting hardware manufacturers with such changes to the OS layer if needed?

Anyway, I look forward for the Samsung i780 to arrive in Singapore. It will be noteworthy to see how Samsung is continuously pushing their design capability. Here’s the details.

Written by gooddealz

January 5, 2008 at 8:14 am

Posted in Tech Ideas

Leaked MacWorld 2008 Transcript…

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According to InsanelyMac.com, there’s a leaked version of the MacWorld transcript available online now at their site here.

Interesting though is the idea that I posted weeks ago on something that probably Apple could pull off, a dual screen multi touch device. (I did not get any rumor or hint from any news site… but was just wondering off on some tech ideas…)

See my article here.

MacTouch
• New product not in the MacBook family
• Two 9″ multitouch-sensitve widescreens, both at 1280 x 854
• Innovative, minimalist, two-way folding/sliding, dual-screen, multi-position design with magnetic clasps. Inspired by the paperback book, but thinner, more flexible and surprisingly tough.
• No optical drive or mechanical HDD, uses a SSD drive.
• Will run most existing OS X apps when in dual screen mode; 2nd screen becomes keyboard and touchpad
• iPhone-ish springboard when in single screen mode
• Multitouch sensitive version of iPhoto
• Bluetooth, 802.11b/g, USB2.0, optical/analogue audio in/out, built in speakers & microphone.

It will be interesting to see if that really do come true at MacWorld. Then I will be one happy dreamer! 🙂

Written by gooddealz

January 3, 2008 at 8:45 pm

Posted in News Only, Tech Ideas

Old ideas for new wave of tech gadgets…

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Following up with my previous thoughts on something rather spectacular and that probably only Apple could pull it off.

The idea is a Nintendo DS style two screen devices but in this case, more like a laptop feel to it. The top screen will be the traditionally LCD based, non touch sensitive while the screen below will be using similar or exactly the one used by iPhone which is a capacitor sensitive type. Then again, heck… throw in both screen as capacitor touch based!

Now the size, I see that being slightly bigger than the iPhone but definitely smaller than a 11.1 inch size laptop. Perhaps something like the Eee pc width but with 2/3 the height of the Eee. The logical reason for reducing that is obviously for battery as now the system has to power two screen instead of one.

Input system. The iPhone like screen below will serve as two ways of input. Either using the same onscreen keyboard style like the iPhone but now with wider area for input due to the wider footprint of the screen area and it will be dimmed down to conserve battery and allow an add on layer of physical keypad on top of the screen that will hit on the capacitor screen below. The physical keypad could either slide out or be folded in some way to allow user to interact directly using their fingers. Either way, it will be a old idea used by the Nintendo DS and apply it to a near real world UMPC or whatever you wanna call it.

Imagine the interaction of that kind of devices. The touch screen not only can do onscreen keyboard, but a big mouse pad so to speak to manipulate / control all kind of applications / features… Plus it serves as a second screen for the application should there be more information to be displayed.

Assuming that the size of the devices is the same thickness as the Eee (or two iPhone stacked together), the width being that of the Eee Pc and the breadth to be about 2/3 of the Eee PC. That would be something I am comfortable bringing around. The best thing is that a typical palm can hold it tightly due to the breadth of the device. We are mostly used to carrying thicker books around our palm… the problem is never the thickness, but the width / breadth as the weight will tilt the thing to a less comfortable state. This I imagine will be just nice.

So, will we see such devices one day… from Apple or other manufacturers… Time will tell and in particular battery / cell development will accelerate it to a more usable stage. The rest really is up to our imagination… but certainly looking at today technology, the iPhone, the Eee PC and the software that powers it all… I don’t see why not.

Written by gooddealz

December 26, 2007 at 12:45 am

Posted in Tech Ideas

iPhone killer… possibly

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Just the other day as I was writing about the up and coming Samsung i780, a simple thought came to my mind on how I would have done it differently from the design that Samsung showed… given the excitement surrounding the iPhone touch interface and how it can make life without a stylus, simply easier.

I will be coming up with my own renditions of an Samsung – iPhone combo phone with the best of both world… That’s right! It’s coming… and I do not think it is that hard.

More on this topic soon.

Written by gooddealz

September 26, 2007 at 11:39 pm

Posted in Tech Ideas

From Dual to Quad…

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My current home system is an AMD Opteron 170 (2.0 Ghz) with 2 Gig of DDR ram and it’s already a screaming for me for the last two years of existence.

I have for the longest time hold off any temptation to upgrade to Intel Core 2 Duo series or the latest DDR2 type of RAM which would require me to upgrade my motherboard as well in order to fit the newer high speed RAM. The time may be drawing near for me to make a decision…

I had the privilege of playing with Mac OSX for over the last 2 years or so. My eldest brother has a Mac Book while my current company has like 6-7 Apple machine for all the designers and they are just gorgeous. Played with OSX on and off and it is an awesome experience, the OS is fine, just like Vista, is a matter of getting used to and matter of preferences. Reason for saying that is that most modern main stream Operating System like OSX or Vista has evolved to the point where the architecture are stable and fine for day to day pounding. The revolutionary part has moved on to the user interface, which is a matter of preference. And if you are a Windows user, a company called Stardock has created lots of application / skins that are great for customizing the look and feel of Windows, some even to the point of mimicking OSX like the Dock (Stardock has something better called ObjectDock) I owed the Object Desktop Suite and it has been a fantastic choice for over 2 years now and that satisfy me on the look and feel customization part. Don’t get me wrong, OSX is great looking and I love it too but that is not why I brought it up. The reason is Apple’s suite of bundled application that comes with the operating system like the iLife 08 suite just rocks! Those are just no where to be found in the Windows world when you are looking for something out of the box! An interesting thought though… Many PC makers will load up 30 days or 60 days trial application onto a new PC which is a NOT A PLEASANT experience for any home user cos they would have to make this and that purchases to get the full license version and so forth… BAD BAD BAD.

Why can’t Microsoft work with some great applications makers like Corel Draw for photo editing suite or Pinnacle Studio for Video editing or any other great product and work out a bundled package for home user where Microsoft will provide an application shell / layer to ‘integrate’ all the 3rd party application together. The APIs will be provided so that 3rd party application, if they want to can easily hook up to it so that any other application that hook up to the Microsoft platform for package application, will easily have ways to import / export to each other. It will provide some simple user interface and default export area so that one application can easily export out the files and another program import for further editing. Certainly this will not be as smooth as what Apple iLife does as like within iMovie, one can just select the songs from iTunes or importing photos from PhotoBooth and so forth. I know Microsoft do provide the basic applications within Vista itself but they are just not good enough though it is a commendable effort with the recent Live update. Sometimes, people do want choice for the out of the box experience and this would be a WIN WIN situation for all parties. Basically the idea is that the ‘suite’ of PC application, covering photo editing to video editing to music will have a way to work with each other through the interface that Microsoft provide, seamlessly. That will be sold as a bundled package to OEM for their installation to customer PC upon retail or selection. There’s complication, I know… cos there’s different interest / parties involved… but it’s WAY BETTER than putting trials software onto new computers where home user experience will be disrupted. Then they will look else where… for better user experience.

I believe the Windows ecosystem can get better at that but it needs focus on out of the box experience rather than putting in useless stuff just to rip money off consumer or getting paid by application maker for bundling with the new PC. Windows world are filled with price war vendors which is another reason that it is difficult… Microsoft has to do something on the software level or provide the interface shell for 3rd party to hook on easily so that hardware partners can just focus on their price war / feature sets while able to provide a consistent out of the box experience.

So where was I.. yeah… about Apple and the OSX… I saw the demo on iLife 08 and I loved it. Was thinking of getting a Mac Mini for my home so I could use both for different purposes. (Mac mini can easily sit in the living room for some entertainment box like photo slide show or games in the living room) That was a thought… until the price of Quad Core processor dropped!

More power on the PC vs getting a Mac Mini… Decision decision decision… I know! I will get both! 🙂 Will wait till post Leopard to decide.

Below is an excerpt from AnandTech, a well respected reviewer site, on the Quad Core scene:

If you pardon the pun, power continues to be a hot topic in the world of computer servers. The costs associated with operating and cooling an average server are certainly not cheap, and these costs continue to rise over time with higher performing and higher power parts being released. Low-voltage processors try to reverse that trend, although they are only truly effective at halting the CPU power requirements. Unfortunately, the CPU is just a piece of the puzzle. Memory, fans, chipset, drives, HBAs, etc. all play a role in power requirements, and in some of those areas (FB-DIMMs in particular) the increase easily overshadows the power savings associated with low-voltage processors.

In our previous article that compared Intel dual-core parts to AMD dual-core parts, AMD came out on top. The main reason for their victory is their power consumption figures. The Intel dual-core Xeons compete on a performance basis, but FB-DIMMs hurt overall performance/watt numbers. In this article we see the tables turn somewhat. With two extra cores the Intel Clovertown parts are able to easily outpace the AMD Opteron, at least when overall load is near saturation. At low to average workloads, there is little difference between any of the parts, in which case server consolidation might be a better solution. Obviously, the quad-core parts are best suited for loaded database servers and their sweet spot is in virtualized environments.

If there was ever any doubt that Intel made a bad decision not going true quad-core, it should be clear with numbers like these that their decision was sound and is paying off. Quad-core processors may not be faster in every situation, but in heavily threaded CPU intensive environments the extra CPU cores are easily able to make up for any penalties associated with the dual-die packaging.

This is not the end of the story, however. The next few months should prove interesting for the two processor giants, as AMD’s Barcelona should begin to show up in volume and Intel is set to refresh their Xeon line-up with Harpertown. Stay tuned; we’ll have thorough coverage for both products in the near future.

Written by gooddealz

September 14, 2007 at 3:35 pm

Posted in Tech Ideas

Make Windows simpler…

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For years I have pondered on the idea of a custom shell / interface on top of explorer where during login or user accounts creation, to specify if the user is a home user, power user or custom.

What that means is that not only are their access control / permission created but even the interface shell of all the settings across the control panel in Windows will be different. What do I mean…

For home user, they know nuts to begin with and thus need vendors / expert to assume their workflow / process for them. (borrowing from Apple) That would mean making it less complicated with little or no settings option for them to fiddle with, which they won’t since they are home user. By taking on that role, designing the shell / settings option will be less confusing and more user friendly. (no need to expose everything to a typical user!)

For power user, give them all they need as they will still find ways to fiddle with all the settings all the way down to system level. The existing setup in Vista / XP seems to be great for technical people but total unfriendly for home user.

Is that too hard to implement? A shell that assume certain decision underneath (the underlying design / architecture is the same, but just having a less confusing shell for user to interact and macros to make few assumption for them as they select their choices) the system so that it appears less confusing to a normal Joe user… I wonder.

Written by gooddealz

September 12, 2007 at 12:30 am

Posted in Tech Ideas

Apple is the new bully…

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Following a good read on this article from PC World, I certainly have to agree with the author on the fanatic criticism towards Microsoft in the past couple of years, on all the monopoly, locked in platform, no user choice and blah blah blah…

Years ago, when Apple and the OSX started to gain momentum across the industry, with all the great out of the box experience that Apple provided via the iLife Suite, I was wondering… ‘How in the world that Apple can get away with all the bundling while Microsoft has to be sued with billions of dollars for bundling IE or other apps with their OS…’

It became clear to me that three possible reasons might have been the cause of all that.

  1. Market share. With Windows covering over 90% of the worlds’ personal computer (at least back in early 2000), anyone else fighting to have a piece of that pie has no other target but to hone in on our big Gates. There is just no other alternatives. Linux was no where to be found then, Apple with its outdated OS (version 9) simply is a disaster. When you are at the top of the hill, every friend or foe sees is you. Either they join you at the top (through alliance or partnership which can be rather hard given the mind set of Microsoft back then…) or they break you at the top through lawsuit.
  2. Timing. It was just bad timing for Microsoft… If Apple was doing a fantastic job like what they are doing right now, with all the locked in experience and applications and even hardware… They too will likely face similar complaints / lawsuit base of the fact that when a home user do get a bundled suite of application that comes with the system, the chances of any other 3rd party application out there will be ignored.
  3. Immature legal understanding in dealing with software / application. Back in Netscape days… what other lawsuit occurs in the realm of monopoly / antitrust legality? Hardly any… When DOJ steps into the Microsoft case, it was probably a historical moment for the entire software industry. There probably was not many case study to be referenced at… and all hell just broke loose.

The main market that kills of many software application house is home user market. People like Adobe that does more on professional tools will not be affected while small companies that build application focusing on home user will get killed easily by bundled suite.

The landscape has certainly changed now… Microsoft is no longer the bully it used to be… More incline to play nice with all parties / authorities… The key word is incline. And out of the ashes rises a new bully… Jobs.

iPhone is not going to be opened up according to Apple for fear of low quality application that will ruin the user experience! Microsoft with Windows Mobile platform is entirely opposite. Again, two great company, different focus. Apple focus on what they tell others to do / follow. Microsoft focus on others building great experience on their platform rather than they themselves doing that… which is one lesson we see Microsoft learning from Apple. They too have to step in and carefully build application / services that ties in with the Windows ecosystem without coming as part of the OS… (Live Suite… )

Will anyone else ever sue Apple for killing the competition. Or is that all right because it’s part of the design / services / experiences promised by Apple from the beginning…Honestly, I do not think Apple will be sued because their most people loves their stuff. It just works! But like what the author from PC Mag, I agreed with the core message of the article, and that is that the lawsuit on Microsoft yada yada yada was really unnecessary.

Consumer do have a choice. They just need to be informed or get their lazy act together and do some research before deciding on the choice.

Microsoft, step up and get focus and don’t have half hearted effort at partnership (like URGE) or product launch… It’s not too late to build great user experience into all your efforts, just like what Apple did. It just take some ‘bully’ at the top of the company to pushes everything through, consistently.

Written by gooddealz

September 9, 2007 at 2:46 pm

Posted in Tech Ideas

The Dawn of Touch Interface

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Apple… One has got to give it to them for an incredible trend setting appetite on just about anything they put their hands on, from computers, laptop, music player, phones…

User experience… user experience… I remember Microsoft ‘slogan’ has also been focused on developer experience and perhaps it is me who missed out the subtle fact that, developer are user as well. Not your average user I might say but they are user too.

In terms of platform superiority, Windows still has the upper hand in terms of what Microsoft have done over the last 25 years of developer focus mind set. The tools they provide to people to build onto of their platform is incredible. But even that faces an incredible upheaval from the open source and platform independent community which has, in a very good way shaped Microsoft strategy on building services on top of their bread and butter business.

But regardless of whatever one is doing in the computing industry, the focus right now is on User Experience and Apple seems to be leading the pack.

I am pretty sure the smart people in Microsoft are probably doing something about the WPF / Silverlight implementation on a broad level, now that Visual Studio 2008 is almost ready for mass deployment… The sooner the development tools are out, the sooner we can really see the promise of WPF on desktop and mobile application. I really cannot imagine, if Microsoft can get the right framework on their next Windows Mobile 7 or whatever name given, the UI framework… how much of great user experience the phone / pda can bring to many of us…

Time will tell… Right now, all the WPF / Silverlight developers out there, please bring us some cool UI Design / Experience to the application we use on a daily basis…

As for me, I am beginning to like the ipod Touch and iphone…

Written by gooddealz

September 7, 2007 at 3:35 am

Posted in Tech Ideas

Part II on iPhone…

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Continuing on the idea shared previously… Rather than having it flip over or detach literally, it can easily be made into a more stylish, more elegant looking slide version. The same underlying principle apply, have the soft key onscreen to map to the exact location of all the rubber key on top of the screen.

Extend that idea to the current range of large screen PDA Phones… which already has an on screen keypad for finger / stylus operation. The other thing that happens is that most people that I seen will uses the other hand to tap on screen as one hand operation is rather limited…

The more I think about it… the very possible it is to be implemented. There are some challenges that I can imagine though:

1) Driver / application to initial the soft key and that would require someone / team that’s familiar with Window Mobile which, should be alot… still need 3-6 months time for testing and development.

2) The rubber (soft or hard) on top of the screen needs to be able to give the similar keypad feel that we all are so accustomed to on our existing phone… and it needs to be durable, at least close.

3) If it is an add on, then the casing / holder needs to be well design and well constructed to ensure that prolong flipping / slidding will not cause damage to it.

Those should be common challenges that I can foresee for such implementation. For the Apple Phone though, there might be one more to worry about…

How soon or how open will Apple be to allow 3rd party developers to develop application for the Apple Phone if they are not going to implement this idea… Apple prefer a ‘closed’ framework for most things to ensure the out of box, ‘wow’ experience that everything just work! Perhaps in time after the initial launch, it will open up for developers to come in and create a eco system around it… that’s my personal guess. With its elegant design and Apple’s attention to details on the application, a lot of people will buy it because it’s ______ period. (super cool or Apple) Whether there’s a need for more application or 3rd party developers, well… it might not matter much to how well it will sell… Different approaches for Apple… different approaches for Microsoft. Both can learn from each other. 🙂

What are your thoughts today?

Written by gooddealz

May 23, 2007 at 12:22 pm

Posted in Tech Ideas