Monthly Archives: March 2007

Windows Live Sushi

Live SushiMicrosoft Japan is trying to convince people to use Windows Live through some questionable advertising. The latest of their crazy ideas is “Live Sushi” – a Flash-based interactive website which somehow ties together Windows Live Search with the art of Sushi. I don’t exactly know what it is and don’t really want to know, but on every 5 clicks, you get something like this…

That last one looks somewhat uncomfortable. It’s anyone’s guess what type of drugs these designers were on, but it’s some quality stuff by the looks of it.

Go check out this pile of craziness for yourself. Make sure you turn sounds on with the “BGM” button up top-right corner to maximize your freaking-out experience.

DeepFish – a blessing and concern for mobile web

Microsoft Live Labs DeepFishFollowing what might appear to be a trend for names associated with mysterious sea creatures, Microsoft’s Live Labs today announced the availability of a technology preview for its DeepFish project. Incidentally, Microsoft’s On10.net technology-enthusiast site who hyped up this announcement two days prior took a good beating.

When you try to understand what exactly is DeepFish, the first thing that springs to mind is the Apple iPhone, which also has an intuitive web-browser built around the zoom functionality. But credit where credit is due, Microsoft has actually been developing DeepFish for a while, surfacing December last year before quickly diving into the void unknown again. It’s not so much as who thought of the idea first as who has a functional product first in the market, and that winner is Microsoft.

Microsoft Live Labs DeepFish

Although when I say functional, I literally mean the bare essentials. Don’t be fooled by the number of dots. It’s kind of weird to see “URL address bar navigation” and “links navigation” in a features list for a web-browser, but I’m also glad they had time to build in a viewport to view the web page for this beta release, as a web browser without a viewport could have been disastrous.

For anyone who’s used a browser in a screen resolution smaller than most website logos, you know how frustrating it can be and how much of a godsend this is. Let me say this even though I don’t own a Windows Mobile, this is the holy grail of internet browsing on a mobile. Regardless of whether or not Microsoft is the first to do this, this technology should be in every small-screen device no matter what brand it is.

The technology that makes DeepFish tick is interesting. It first renders a image of the webpage you request, scales it down to fit the resolution of your device, then sends it down to you. Opera MiniIf you want to read or interact with certain parts of the webpage, you’ll have to zoom-in to render the real page. What this means is that between you and any web server, lies Microsoft. Opera has a similar service for its Opera Mini browser where it resizes and optimizes images when you access any webpage through their browser. Both of these techniques carry significant performance enhancements, but also legal and ethical issues.

Not so much with the Opera service as it is only relaying images, but Microsoft’s DeepFish relays an entire webpage. What this means is, every web page you visit, every text, every image will first go through a third-party. Whilst it is currently technically impossible to access a lot of sensitive materials without JavaScript, cookies and HTTP POST, but imagine in the future where it can do anything your desktop can, how would you feel somewhere in Microsoft, something is taking a picture of every webpage you visit?

Granted no one will or should be looking at these processes, but you can never trust the government. One day, the NSA might suspect you of conducting terrorism activities from your Treo – like every good techno-terrorist do, sends a court order to Microsoft, and they starts tracking your every move. Even if you’re not a PDA-phobic terrorist, you might just be bankrupt, but you’re checking out the 6 figures in your Swiss bank account. In that sense, it’s like someone’s always peeking over your shoulder, but you don’t know that they’re even there, so you can’t cover it up with Disney.com.

Until that day, this is the coolest thing to ever come to internet on mobile phones! :)

The “Fun” starts now!

The Playstation 3 finally arrived in Australia last week much to the anticipation of 40 individuals who were shopping for a new grill on Friday night. Of course, that didn’t stop the major electronics retailers across Australia from hyping and promoting this spanking new gaming console in catalogues, radio and TV. But how did the little guys compete? You know, the corner shop down the street with a 100sq.ft. showroom and no advertising budget.

One Tandy Electronics store in Hobart Australia decided to take Playstation 3 advertising matters into their own hands with 9 pieces of A4 paper, some sticky tape and a lot of creativity.

Playstation 3 advertisementPlaystation 3 advertisement

Obviously this store did not contribute to the 20 million copies of Windows Vista sold, but however, their marketing ingenuity gives new meaning to “improvisation”.

A Tandy representative, if were to be contacted, would have said something like this, “It is unfortunately that a store owner in Hobart has resorted to such desperate measures of marketing. One day, we too will master the art of printing, but until then, we cross our fingers and pray at night this will never happen again.”

Special thanks to reader Tim Bendall for sending this in.

Microsoft job teases Office 14 and new Office Workspaces team

I want YOU for Office 14A job posted on Microsoft Careers a few days ago for a position of “Software Development Engineer in Test” in the Office team teases with a snippet of information about plans for the next major release of Office, codenamed “Office 14“. The job description writes,

The new Office Workspaces team for Office 14 is a V1 effort chartered to excel at empowering our Information Worker customers to easily organize their documents around the projects they work on and to seamlessly collaborate with others on these documents. We will deeply integrate elegant UI into the major Office applications along with creating a new standalone interface and effective integration into the Windows shell. In addition to delivering simple document organization, we will also make document synchronization and collaborative merging an intuitive cinch.

(Followed by lists of acronyms and adjectives that make you feel somewhat incompetent)

I like the sound of seamless collaboration and elegant UI, but integration into the Windows shell smells like EU anti-trust actions. Having said that, I’m totally sold on the whole “intuitive cinch” thing. Where do I sign?

Q&A with Christian Schmidt, Product Manager from Ventuz Technology

Ventuz and MicrosoftIf you haven’t been following in the last week, I’ve been totally awed by what Microsoft and Ventuz has done at CeBIT 2007 and the Vista Germany launch. Ventuz is of course a company in Dubai which delivers presentation solutions beyond the conventional flying text in PowerPoint. Their solutions cater for all sorts of industries and businesses, but Microsoft Germany seems to a very happy returning customer.

Their solutions are a combination of hardware and software technologies. Hardware technologies that allows for rendering to a large number of connected large-screen displays, touch sensitivity using light barriers and motion sensing controls with partnered technologies like goMonkey. Their software is an authoring tool which enables designers to use both 2D and 3D compositors to create compelling animations and renderings to display data both static and dynamically updated from external sources.

If none of that makes any sense, then watch this show-reel.

I got in touch with Christian Schmidt who is the product manager from Ventuz to ask a few questions about the technology and its future. Here’s what he had to say.

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