Monthly Archives: May 2010

Developing MetroTwit: how you know when you’re on to something…


For over a month now, I have been working with two Aussie developers (David Golden and Winston Pang) on my first WPF software project, MetroTwit. Although we’ve kept much of our work to ourselves, an interesting event occurred yesterday that amused us and made us extremely eager to show off what we’ve been able to achieve with just a couple hours a night.

Recently, I have been inviting a small number of people to try out an early version of MetroTwit which is undeniably buggy but showed off enough to give people an idea of where we’re going to gather reactions and feedback.

To make sure this was manageable (since we wanted to focus on features and not bug fixes), we added a primitive authorization check to prevent it from accidentally spreading. Although we know some people have been keeping a close eye on MetroTwit, we underestimated just how desperate they were.

Yesterday while we were looking over the Twitter feed for “MetroTwit”, we noticed a link to a blog who claimed “exclusive” images of MetroTwit. And lo and behold, he actually figured out our private download site URL (it wasn’t very hard to guess) and put in the effort to bypass our authorization check so he could play with it. By the looks of his enthusiasm, I like to think he’s impressed. 🙂

We’ve made a lot of progress since those builds and are very close to a wider technical bug-bash beta before our public release. If you’re interested in checking it out (without having to crack it), sign up below and we’ll ping you as soon as it’s ready. I look forward to hearing what you all think.

Update: Registration to technical beta now closed.

Microsoft Research’s Pinch-the-Sky Dome takes multi-touch interactivity to 3D space

[flv:pinchthesky.f4v 670 377]

Minority Report and Iron Man 2 may have set the benchmark for multi-touch interaction for years to come but Microsoft Research is never far behind. At the CHI (Computer-Human Interaction) 2010 conference last month, MSR publically showed off a technology it’s been working on for at least a year now, conservatively dubbed the “Pinch-the-Sky Dome”.

Unlike mainstream 2D multi-touch systems or even Microsoft’s Spherical Surface, this system projects omni-directional imagery spanning 360 degrees onto the dome immersing the user. It allows them to navigate the virtual space using multi-touch gestures anywhere in 3D space. Since the system utilizes infrared camera that see wherever the image is projected, the user does not have to wear gloves, use special tracking devices and is not limited to gestures on a flat (physical or virtual) surface.

As the name might suggest, an obvious use for this technology is viewing astronomical imagery from WorldWide Telescope. In addition, naturally omni-directional imagery including 3D panoramic photos and 3D visualizations also work very well. Could you imagine this with Natal for a first person shooter?

Although in the demos the controller conducts his gestures fairly close to the projector/camera casting a fairly large shadow, it is explained they are looking to enable much more natural gestures like pointing to something in the virtual space to navigate there.

If you find the official video demo above a little too slow-paced, the following CNN video report gives a better overview of the system.

Windows Live Wave 4 Hotmail and Messenger to be officially unveiled May 18th

In an event invitation emailed to a number of Australian bloggers and journalists this week (although I didn’t get one), it has been finally revealed Microsoft Australia’s NineMSN will be officially unveiling at least two components of the Windows Live Wave 4 and Windows Live Essentials 2011 suite, Hotmail and Messenger (which has already been partially revealed), in a media briefing on Tuesday May the 18th Sydney Australia time.

The date which coincides with some earlier rumors the Milestone 3 builds would be released to private testing the same day is described as only a sneak peek “ahead of significant announcements” which one would assume to be the general public availability of the entire product and services lineup soon after.

One the day, one could gatecrash the event or simply keep an eye on coverage from the usual lineup of Aussie bloggers and journalists. Although much less adventurous, the latter will probably save you from an troublesome trip to the police station.

Simplified box art for Office 2010 standalone apps

With the global business launch of Microsoft’s elusively-impressive Office 2010 productivity suite today, has unleashed the box arts for each of the individual (fourteen) Office standalone applications (Word, Excel, etc.) to satisfy your product packaging-fetishes.

In stark contrast to the previous box art, the new packaging takes on the recent trend of simplification in Microsoft box arts to a whole new level with a design that boils down to just a gradient, the name of the product and the icon. In fact the only functionally-unnecessary element in the whole design is the reflection of the icon.

As simple and colorful as they may seem, it actually looks pretty cool.

You wouldn’t drink 9-year-old milk, so why use a 9-year-old browser?

To the few remaining Internet Explorer 6 users on this site, this is dedicated to you.

Microsoft Australia has recently launched a new online campaign aimed at prompting Internet Explorer 6 users to upgrade to IE8 with an interesting choice of analogy, milk.

As bizarre as the comparison might seem, the claim is undeniable – IE6 is nine-years old technology and that’s a good enough reason to stop using it. I don’t know what 9-year-old milk looks like, but I’m sure Internet Explorer 6 isn’t that far off.

Now we just need a similar campaign for Windows XP. Come to think of it, they wouldn’t have to change much at all. 🙂