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Archive for the ‘Tech Ideas’ Category

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.

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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

Ideas for Apple iPhone / Tablet PC…

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The idea came about slightly after Microsoft debut the Tablet PC and if memories served me right, it’s around 3-4 years ago… Back then and even till now, there are basically two kinds of design for the Tablet.

One type is where it is a full laptop with a swivel screen that can flip down and allow user to hold in the arm and tap on it… though it is much heavier due the extras like full size keyboard, CD drive and so forth…

The other design is a ‘pure’ tablet so to speak… (unless someone really define what it is, it’s kinda broad…) where there is no attached keyboard and user manipulate the input through stylus or on screen soft keyboard. Some of this design comes with a docking station to allow keyboard and CD drive to be attached…

The second type of design is the kind of design that I personally like… (I never used any one of them before but tested it out many times in showroom and exhibition) primarily because of the size and weight. This design however comes with a disadvantage. Keyboard input.

I personally type faster than I write and many of us are like that… so the idea of having a tablet without the attached keyboard is a great idea as it gives portability and flexibility. On the other hand, I want to use tablet to write report / thoughts whenever I am sitting down and would prefer to have a keyboard than using the stylus… (I have a pocket pc and even though the transcriber is excellent in the recognition department, I still type faster on the attached keyboard)

How to overcome the issue? I thought through and came out with an idea… and it still remain today as an idea… thus this blog / tech idea page to share with whoever think is workable to implement it or improve on it. The idea itself may not be original as I ain’t here to publish that I am the first and only one to come out with ideas like what I am about to describe… but certainly I have not seen it myself.

The objective of this Tech ideas page is to share the idea and not to make money (unless you hire me 🙂 ) / claims that I am the original inventor / conceptualizer… or whatever… My purpose is that I love stuff that goes around in the tech world and sometimes, being a partial geek myself, I just want to be able to have it or play with it… if the idea is good and practical. For years, many ideas come and go… and like many out there, ideas can come and go easily if not acted upon. I got a few of those that came 3-4 years ago and only recently realized that people just implemented it… thus the sense of regret… 🙂 Anyway, I overcame that part of me and decide to act on some of the ideas… To cut a long story short, due to limited resources here, or perhaps me not being determine enough… some ideas aren’t able to take off or me not having a very detail spec of how to do the prototype and so forth. But I still think it can work! So no point keeping it to myself and decide to share it.

If you / company find it workable and managed to work out something practical and money making, my only wish is that you say a thank you, give credit where credit is due, if the ideas on this page somewhat helped in the process… and provide me one final product sample to me will do. 🙂 I ain’t here for money or fame through the ideas… but simply to see good ideas come out into the commercial world and not sitting somewhere in the corner of my mind and years later, having regrets that nothing has been done or share to make it possible…

Anyway, back to the tablet thing. The first thought that came to me was, since people can write application on the platform, like Microsoft XP Tablet Edition… or any OS, and soft keyboard already comes as part of the OS, why not extend that space on screen and allow a piece of plastic or some light very portable size keyboard to be PLACED on the screen itself, occupying say 1/4 of the screen or whatever size that a comfortable keyboard would fit.

I ain’t good with image manipulation thus will not provide any visual idea on this site… but imagine a tablet the size of an A4 paper, place it in landscape mode. Have the piece of keyboard (soft or hard) to be placed over the screen to occupy 1/3 of the screen. That would give it enough space for text to be displayed and for a reasonable size keyboard to be placed over it. The keyboard just need to be something that can give the user the similar feel of typing / pressing onto a key and the impact of the key will press against the screen on the tablet where the soft keyboard will be mapped exactly underneath it.

It’s portable, it’s lightweight and there’s no extra mechanism to mount the keyboard onto the devices. Just something to hold it in place will do. This allow the user to have full screen estate if needed and if need be to type something, just simply pull out the keyboard and place it on the screen. The screen will be design with toughness in mind of course and tablet pc screen came with a layer of glass over it as they aren’t impact based like the pocket pc I have, but rather uses some sort of magnetic stuff…

You get the idea. Now, fast forward to the Mac Phone that Steve announced recently! Man, I love the design and the interface! As always, kudos to Apple for a great design / integration. The biggest concern over it would be the one hand operation of the phone. The concept itself ain’t new, cos other smartphone or pda phone or phone pda have implemented such before… no hard key… just screen and stylus. Apple pull it off very well because of the interface and the cool animation from the platform they use, which is a stripped down version of OSX… as claims.

Same idea as the tablet… to overcome this or to satisfy those people who may want the option of having a one hand operation on the phone… Something like what Sony did with the P series would work. A flip over key would revealed full screen space for stylus / tap operation. Flip it back and you get to press the key to make quick calls or sms…

Apple might have considered such thoughts but that would certainly affect the elegant design of the Apple Phone… and the cool factor… Perhaps the idea can be implemented as an add on, accessories to the phone… In this case, instead of placing it in landscape, you have the keyboard placed portrait view and it will occupy say, 1/3 of the screen (lower part) to allow for key pressing and sms function. Again, software driver can be written to call out the softkey below to map to the exact location of eact key above… It can even be made detachable if need be… or like what Sony implemented, a build in connection.

If Apple is not going to provide the accessories, imagine the possiblities for 3rd party manufacturer to have that as an add on to the Apple Phone! Get a great team of programmer and write the driver, get some good design to wrap about the phone as a form of casing / protection and have the keypad as part of the connection to connect to the phone. Walah! You solve the biggest complaint on the one hand operation thing… and leave the rest of the people to come out with push email and all those Outlook integration or document management thingy… That would certainly appeal very strongly to me if such accessories are available…

Well, if you have thought of it, great. Hope you can get it out to market in time to ride on the possible success of the Apple Phone.

I won’t mind even if you sent me the accessories as a gift, then I consider buying the Apple Phone… cos it ain’t that cheap… and coming to Singapore, in a years’ time… that would leave other phone manufacturer to catch up with their interface and implement a good phone with that much functionality and friendliness for me to choose from…

We will have to see how that goes…

Thank you for the time… here’s my first article on tech ideas… and I got a few ideas in my mind for years and will be getting them out one by one… Everyone can have ideas… but not everyone has the resources / capacity to turn those great ideas into reality… If for whatever methods have you tried and not succeeded (funding, government help, prototype, patent…) in bringing the idea to commercial use, my personal take, keep trying or if not, just share it out and let others who has the capability / resources to make it happen… and let the idea lives on.

And remember to give thanks to the one that helped your success and give him / her a piece of that commercial product! 🙂

Welcome your input / comment on the ideas…

Written by gooddealz

May 23, 2007 at 10:37 am

Posted in Tech Ideas