Monthly Archives: January 2007

Vanishing Point ends, hints at Vanishing Point 2?

It all started four weeks ago with a spectacular water-show projection at the Bellagio, and now it’s come to an end. Finally, you can all stop drinking Red Bull, put away your Atlas, stop studying 16th century history and get some sleep.

Vanishing Point ends

What does Loki mean by “the next vanishing point”? Could we witness the first-ever online pseudo-alternative reality puzzle game sequel? It’s sure been popular enough to warrant another spectacular giveaway, you know, with all that money lying around in the Microsoft vault. I guess we’ll have to wait to find out in a few hours when the grand prize will be randomly selected and winner notified on the following day.

Maybe Loki didn’t really vanish…

Update: The correct answer’s to LOKI’s name was “Lorelei, Odessa, Kara, Ivy”. (Vanishing Point Wiki)

We created the Vanishing Point to reward the smartest minds (and communities) on the planet – and still we underestimated you. We used our smarts and our guile, not to mention money and connections and countless hours of time-and still you humbled us. We knew the terrain and barely gave you a map-and that didn’t stop you. We built puzzles that should have taken you days and you solved them in hours.

“Loki” is a genius: but you were far more brilliant. You were thought made fire. You were lightning.

Thank you for your work, your talent, and your dedication. It has been a privilege to witness: an honor and a delight.

Interview with Tjeerd Hoek, director of user experience design for Windows

Tjeerd Hoek in a dark interview roomDesigning Windows is no easy task. Tjeerd Hoek (pronounced “she-sells-sea-shells-by-the-sea-shore”) leads the design team whose resulting product used and seen by millions of people around the world. It’s a product without cultural, geographic, economic or language borders; which happens to be an insignificant product launching today.

After graduating in the Netherlands, Tjeerd joined Microsoft to work on many products including Office, MSN and most recently Windows. I caught up with Tjeerd at CES 2007 to ask a few questions.

This is a pretty long transcript. If you’re just here for the stuff about vector UI and Aero Diamond, then skip directly to it. :)

Q: So tell me about your role at Microsoft?

I’m officially the director of user experience design for Windows and I manage the team that designs the interface. For the last five years, the full focus has been on what was called Longhorn, now Windows Vista.

Q: Why did you choose to work at Microsoft?

After I graduated in 1992 with a background in industrial design, engineering actually, I had my own little design agency. I was looking for industrial products to go design, but had also done this project around Virtual Reality for my graduation project, and that had really raised my interest in computer-human interfaces.

At some point I thought if I really wanted to do something meaningful and design products that are being used by lots and lots of people, I should probably go work in the United States with companies that build products that are being used by millions of people. I applied for a job just out of the blue from Holland to Redmond, went over there and loved it. Thought the people were very interesting and highly passionate, so I joined the company.

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Clearification concludes – Demetri (person)

Clearification

Clearification, the comical viral video series featuring Demetri Martin at the Institute of Advanced Personhood sponsored by Windows Vista has come to a conclusion recently. Demetri, who originally entered the institute for a psychological condition called “Hyper-Achiever with No Direction and Tendency to Overcomplicate Situations Syndrome” (HAND TOSS) has been a test subject under the self-actualization treatment to become a person.

This is the last, and I think best video is the six-part series.

For the time and effort put in to creating such a project, I think Microsoft made the mistake of severely under-promoting it. However, they’ve tried to reclaim the losses by running a commercial on Comedy Central during Demetri’s Trendspotting tour. Whether or not this any had impact remains to be seen.

I really enjoyed the subtle humor and sarcastic overtone throughout the series, and I think this following scene from the last episode highlights why I enjoyed it.

This car is easy to steal when it’s on a very straight road.

Hats off to Demetri Martin, comical genius!

Vista & Office launch kit backgrounds

Here’s a bunch of background images of Windows Vista and Office 2007 from Powerpoint documents inside the launch kits that I thought could make some pretty nice wallpapers. I’ve rescaled them all to 1600×1200 with a bit of sharpening so they’ll upscale or downscale well to most resolutions.

Windows Vista orbWindows Vista orb - start here
Office 2007Office 2007 - document

I just love the orange gradient from the Office 2007 images.

New Windows Vista homepage

New Windows homepage

The guys over at Neowin noticed the Windows Vista website has been refreshed for the ever-imminent launch in under 24 hours. In fact, the whole “Windows Family” sub-site has adopted a new Vista look-and-feel with light auras, glass and a black toolbar.

There’s an abundance of new information and multimedia content that will take at least half an hour to appreciate. It’s also nice to see some friendly faces on featured blogs and communities section of the website. Microsoft seems to be doing a lot recently to empower communities. Credits to them!

Some people have drawn the similarities between it and the Apple OS X website which also uses a center-aligned wrapper, oversized banner graphic and a grid-based layout. Nevertheless, the two are still obviously different with the OS X website far more polished and consistent. The Vista website has different fonts everywhere, three different types of navigation on any one page and a pretty confusing color scheme. Hopefully it’ll improve over time.

However, one thing in particular on the site that disturbs me very much.

Weird Windows Vista logo

What the hell is that! It’s like someone tried to create a pseudo-glass effect with actual reflections and refractions, without actually making it look anything like a glass orb. Millions of people are going to see this. I wouldn’t even be surprised if some people will believe that Frankenstein-thing-some-might-even-call-a-logo is actually the logo for Windows Vista. Ugly would be a compliment. Get it off!

Windows Vista inspired

This comes from the Microsoft Enthusiast Launch Kit CD handed out with the Windows Vista launch kits. It’s suppose to be an inspirational video that presenters could show before or after their presentation to make people all mushy about Windows. The kind of thing that you’d normally expect on Oprah.

Windows has come a long way. It has made a huge impact on the world, thus empowering individuals to do amazing things to improve their lives by changing the way we work, play, and enjoy entertainment. This video conveys Windows Vista’s momentous occasion end-users are eager to experience.

At about 2 minutes 10 seconds, Bill Gates says “What we’ve done in the last 30 years, really is just the beginning”. Oh hang on second, where have I heard that before?