Monthly Archives: November 2006

eGames expo – send in your tough questions

Consoles
eGames opens tomorrow. Anyone got any questions for the Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft people? I’ve been a bit out of the loop on console games so I don’t know what are the hot rumors at the moment. If you would like to put forward some questions in the comments, I’d note them down and harass some of those representatives for you with my shiny press badge.

The only question on my mind is about the Halo 3 public multiplayer beta. When is it? And how do people join? And when is Halo Wars going to be released? Not that I have an XBOX360 to begin with.

Got anything else? Send them in!

The Zune sucks, because everyone says so

welcome to the bandwagon

The Zune is big. The Zune is larger than the iPod. The Zune software fails to install. The Zune software is crap. Zune software crashes. The Zune DRM is crap. Microsoft screws PlaysForSure customers. Zune doesn’t work with Vista. Zune colors stinks. Kids hate the Zune. Zune isn’t hip. Zune isn’t a storage device. Zune doesn’t work with iTunes. Zune doesn’t support Macs. Zune’s Wifi sucks. Zune is expensive.

Of course, Microsoft has no intentions of pricing or selling the Zune in Australia anytime soon.

But that doesn’t matter does it? Because jumping on the Zune-bashing bandwagon is cool. I don’t even need to hold one to make a newsworthy judgment of it.

Ready Summit 06 & Expression Blend

Ready Summit

A few fine picks from my gallery of pictures taken at Microsoft’s Ready Summit 06 in Melbourne today. I tried not to take too many pictures of slides since they are available online (publically) from the Ready Summit 06 Resources website. These photos come from the keynote, developers keynote and various user experience-oriented sessions.

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Expression Blend

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I honestly didn’t expect any secrets to come out at Ready Summit, but I guess I was wrong. When Mitch Denny talked about “Building Differentiated User Experiences”, he demoed this application to build an application interface using XAML and Windows Presentation Foundation. It was titled, “Microsoft Expression Blend, Beta 1”. Everyone knows about “Expression”, but no one’s ever heard of “Blend”.

We all know Microsoft Expression is a set of graphics-creation applications for uses of image composition, interface design and website design, with the names of “Graphics Designer”, “Interactive Designer” and “Web Designer” respectively. So what is “Blend”? It was clear from the functionality and tools (e.g. timeline editor), this was is Interactive Designer. Therefore, I speculate “Blend” is the official name crafted by the branding team to make the product ‘hip’. Although I think Interactive Designer makes a lot more sense, but when has common sense ever been marketable, right?

And no, the projection is not black and white (unlike Andrew Coates‘ presentation). The interface is white-on-black, light-on-dark, contrasted, inverted, or blackish. Whatever you want to call it, it’s definitely not bright. This seems to be a trend Microsoft is following with Vista-generation applications, websites and marketing.

I guess you should expect to hear more about Expression Blend, and the Beta 1 release soon!

Jenny Lam

By the way, there was also a nice video with Jenny Lam in it. Not much to see that is new or unfamiliar to anyone reading this blog, except Jenny Lam. “Wooord”.

View: Microsoft User Interface video

Windows Sideshow, the future

Windows SideShowWindows SideShow is one of those features that has been implemented in Windows Vista since day one, but no one ever finds interesting or talks about. I’m speculating the cause of that is the lack of SideShow-compatible devices on the market. Although I’m sure thats a tiny problem, right? No loving review samples to go around. 🙁

Everyone’s impression of Windows SideShow is most likely a reminiscence of the Channel9 video which featured a demo on the faux-standard SideShow demo device, the ASUS W5Fe prototype. Or perhaps the glassy digital picture frame. Ever since, everyone’s imagination has probably been confined only to a bulky looking PDA glued to the back of a laptop or executive-priced picture frames. But that’s where you’re wrong.

Here is an illustration I found in the MSDN Library which shows off very well, the potential of SideShow.

SideShow devices

And there’s also an example of the expected interface on SideShow devices. Of course, in the hands of OEMs, that’ll get turned into a mash-up of bevels and drop shadows like Intel knows best.

SideShow interface example

But the most interesting out of all this is not what you can see, but who’s behind all this. The primary manufacturer behind the hardware technology is PortalPlayer, recently acquired by NVIDIA. You might remember PortalPlayer as the sole provider of the system-on-chip solution for all iPods until 2006 when Apple switched manufacturers. Oh the irony. But what could this mean for SideShow and Microsoft?

Could you imagine, a device that can be attached to a laptop and serve as a mini-PDA for when situations when your laptop is inappropriate, and when detached, lives a double life as a phone, PDA, media player and remote control? I know I can.

SideShow detached prototype device

Trust me on this

Important: This article is purely satirical and you should not value any of the opinions or ‘facts’ presented below.

Pinocchio and Windows Vista

Because I write a blog, my opinions need no justification. You should even base your life and your purchasing decisions around my extremely valuable, NASA-like accurate and self-justified rantings. If you were to ask me what I thought about Windows Vista, because your own opinions are worth less than hotdogs on a stick, I’m here to tell you Windows Vista blows. Just like what this guy, Robert Rittmuller, is telling everyone else. Let’s have a look at what Robert says in greater detail.

  • “(Vista has) no new features”None at all. For the last 5 years, everyone at Microsoft went on a cooking course. Thus had to drop features to make time for icing on the cake.
  • “(Vista has) no speed boost” – A dedicated performance team inside the Windows development division focused solely on how to improve Solitaire’s frame rate.
  • “Microsoft provided these programs in the ‘Ultimate’ version of Vista as a weak attempt to compete with Apple’s iLife software suite.” – The biggest Windows Vista secret yet to be revealed is a home productivity suite. Because Robert has obviously used it.
  • “My own informal tests on my Macbook Pro…” – Because formal benchmarks on Windows Vista are illegal, remember?
  • “…excessive use of transparency” – Transparency you can even see!
  • “Unnecessary eye candy is everywhere” – There are literally Aero bars popping out from left, right and center.
  • “Since Microsoft decided not to build Windows Vista on the longhorn kernel” – R.I.P. Vista’s code-name kernel.
  • “You can do everything promised by Windows Vista in Windows XP today” – Solitaire, check! Minesweeper, check! Notepad, check!

And of course Robert is spot on with his criticism of Windows Vista, so perceivably his next article on “Why Corporations Are Going To Hate Windows Vista” is also totally right. With straight facts like “Windows Vista lacks a ‘Start” menu'”, Robert has found a one-way ticket to successful journalism. I wish him the best of luck.