Monthly Archives: September 2007

Summer 08 Internship at Jackson Fish

L’Atelier de JFM

The people who helped design Windows Vista, “They’re Beautiful” and “Tafiti” are looking for interns to join their gig! The talented crew over at the Jackson Fish Market are looking for developers and designers for the summer of 2008 to be part of their new internship program. The sell, apart from their cool studio, free snacks, Lego and the Wii, includes the rare opportunity to actually ship an entirely new product in the 12 week program, everything from concepts to launch. Fully paid of course.

Working at startups seems to be the new fad so this is definitely a good opportunity for anybody remotely interested in designing quality software experiences.

Enter the dragon: HP Pavilion HDX 9000 review

HP Pavilion HDX notebook
“20-inch” and “notebook” are two words that should probably be never used together in a single sentence. This computer gives new meaning to “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, but on the bright side, the camel can enjoy a feast of entertainment choices on this somewhat portable powerhouse.

A HP PR representative sent me an email asking if I was interesting in participating in a bloggers program to test drive Hewlett-Packard’s new Pavilion HDX9000 Series entertainment notebook PC, otherwise known as the “Dragon”. Being a sucker for freebies I gladly accepted. And today it arrived.

Continue reading

Revisiting Microsoft’s “Vista PC” concept

Windows Longhorn PCWhen Microsoft shipped the “Microsoft industrial design toolkit” to over 70 original equipment manufacturers last year before the launch of Windows Vista, Microsoft hoped to get rid of the “beige box” ideology and turn PCs into objects of desire. More than a year on, as charming John Hodgeman might be, the sad fact is that most OEM PCs today with a few premium exceptions are still bulky boxes with just as many stickers are wires connected.

It might probably take more than a year for an industry thriving around function over form to do the opposite, but Apple’s iPod and iMac demonstrates most people are even willing to sell body-parts to look good. Apart from the minority who likes to tinker with the hardware, there’s no reason why the PC can’t be more compact and integrated.

Carbon DesignToday I stumbled across Carbon Design Group’s portfolio, a Seattle-based industrial design company who’s worked on many Microsoft projects including the X360 controller, racing wheel, LifeCam, Laser Desktop 6000 and Windows Home Server. One other was the “Vista PC“. A set of 9 images provide a pretty good example of what Carbon and Microsoft envisioned for the “Vista-generation” of computers.

With the launch of Windows Vista, Microsoft embarked on a never-been-tried-before initiative that spanned the entire hardware industry and attempted to bring the hardware and software design and development closer together than ever before. The design strategy was communicated in an Industrial Design Toolkit, which contained all the design components and specifications to create tangible visual representations of the colors, materials, fonts, and form language in the Windows Vista operating system.

Microsoft engaged Carbon’s design and engineering team to create a flagship concept PC to inspire as well as validate Microsoft’s Industrial Design Toolkit. The Vista Concept PC emphasizes the dual nature of the PC as both a productivity tool and an entertainment device and became the purest embodiment of the Vista design language. The work is helping industry design the wave of next generation PC’s.

1-mad-cow.jpg

Continue reading

Believe. I do I do.

Well the wait is over for Halo 3, the ad that is. Named “Diorama”, it features a theoretical but ‘real’ monument created in the year 2607, on exhibit in the (imaginary) Museum of Humanity. Crafted by historians (artists) to pay tribute (make an ad) to the greatest of heroes, Master Chief Petty Officer John-117. I’ll just leave the figurines to do the talking. Check out the Flash version below or the original HD version.

[flv:BELIEVE_90_noESRBnoDATE_HDformat-hi.flv 640 360]

Oh yes, how freaking cool is that. And yes, that is a real miniature model crafted by real people. I’m not sure how they can achieve the flame or smoke effects, but it’s pretty much one of the most detailed models I’ve seen. You can explore it in much more detail on the site, as well as see the following (fake) “making-of“.

[flv:SXBX0479_Halo3_Monument_Mocku_wESRB_Xbox.com_StreamHI.flv 640 360]

The creative strategy is very unique, but is the result better than Gears of War’s award-winning “Mad World“? I don’t speak for everybody, but definitely a contender.

Windows Home Server: perfect family, joyful children and Macbook sold seperately

Ramping up to the ‘official’ launch of Windows Home Server, the WHS mini-site got a minor refresh today with a subtle new visual style, some additional resources and links. Besides the site still lacks the most fundamental information including specification and screenshots, it’s worth noting the interesting choice of stock photography.

Windows Home Server website
Windows Home Server website
Windows Home Server website
Windows Home Server website

Life is perfect with Windows Home Server. I mean just look at the third picture, the family looks so happy in their sunburnt living-room of a house designed to spec from an Ikea catalogue. The kid is having so much fun throwing his bear, the wife has time to read a book, and the husband surfing away on his trademark white Apple Macbook.

Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 will ship in October? Lock it in? Final answer, Microsoft?

Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000

Microsoft Hardware had a big day today announcing a load of new hardware peripherals, but let’s not forget the already 7-months-late Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 dubbed the “ultimate keyboard” – at least it was when it was announced. Microsoft Australia today sent out a slightly different press release to the one in the US, stating the ultimate desktop keyboard and mice set in now on track to be available in October. Has Microsoft cried wolf far too many times?

Pricing and Availability
The products introduced today will be available to customers through major retailers or local computers store in the following months. The recommended retail prices* are as follows:

September 2007
Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000 $199.95
October 2007
Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 $449.95
November 2007
Microsoft Mobile Memory Mouse 8000 $149.95
Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 $69.95
Microsoft Sidewinder Mouse $129.95
Microsoft LifeCam VX-7000 $149.95
Microsoft LifeCam NX-3000 $99.95
December 2007
Microsoft Notebook Laser Mouse 7000 $99.95

*Prices are Australian recommended retail prices. Actual prices may vary.

Right up there alongside Duke Nukem Forever, the Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 seemed like vaporware ever since it was announced exactly a year ago today, September 13, 2006. Originally intended to ship alongside Windows Vista in February 2007, then May, then September, and now October. Even Amazon has no idea.

No one really knows why this perfectly fine product keeps being pushed around. Hardware reviewers have all had the opportunity to play with the product, some impressed, others not, but nevertheless have all touched the product. If the problem is mass manufacturing, then I’m afraid by the time this product finally ships, no one would want it anymore. Will Microsoft actually ship any of these ‘next-generation’ hardware devices?