I wrapped up my fourth work term today. I had a great time working as a Product Manager at Sybase, learned a lot and gained valuable experience. This being my third term at Sybase, I wanted to fully leverage my previous experiences to get the most of out these fourth months. So I fully committed this term to develop my skills as a Product Manager. I guess it helps that I was very enthusiastic about the work too =).

I gave an “End of Term Presentation” today and as I went through some of the projects that I worked on, I surprised even myself with the amount of work that I accomplished this term! It was one of those terms where you enjoy going to work and being challenged by the projects given to you. It may sound cliché, but it was true. Work is so much better when you like it!

Now, I have a few days to rest before hitting the books again. 3A starts on Monday. Meanwhile, I should probably get started on that work term report…

Thirteen years later

April 24, 2009

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Patrick Roy – 1996 Carey Price – 2009

Carey Price’s reaction to Canadiens fans’ jeers was reminiscent of Patrick Roy’s gesture before demanding to be traded thirteen years ago.

Microsoft has finally taken the offense against Apple’s ‘Get a Mac’ video campaign with a series of ‘Laptop Hunters’ videos. MS has chosen to target Apple where it hurts the most – price.  Especially in these tough economic times, people are less willing to spend the extra cash.

This is proven by the fact that Mac shipments dropped 3%  (but still exceeded analysts’ predictions overall in its second fiscal quarter). Although Mac shipments dropped, Apple was able to come on top because of iPod and iPhone sales. It is also expected that Microsoft’s earnings will drop because their revenue is dependent on PC sales which has dropped 7.1% in the last quarter.

Interestingly enough, Microsoft has to compete against both the Mac OS and its hardware. Really, Microsoft is trying to sell its OS, but no one is going to buy an operating system without a computer. However, since the Mac OS is married with its aesthetically-pleasing hardware, Microsoft has to compete against both. It’s a tough battle, I wonder what would happen if Microsoft produced its own computers?

My last post only showed leaked pictures of rumoured ZuneHD. While I’ve been intrigued by its outward appearance, I want to know what’s on the inside. Will it be like the late Dell Adamo which has little to show for apart from its luxurious casing? I decided to answer my own question and scour the internet for any specification leaks or rumours. Obviously, take the specs with a large grain of salt:

wmpoweruser.com reports:

– Capacitive multi-touch OLED screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio
– TV out and HDMI port
– HD Radio
– HD media playback from Zune Marketplace
– 3D Xbox game support
– 16GB or 32GB of storage
– Wireless synchronization
– Multi-touch browser
– Launches this Fall, around September in the US, Canada, UK, France and possibly other European countries
– Likely to be a “showcase” for Windows Mobile 7 when released
– nVidia Tegra powered

Neowin reports:

An overview of the Zune HD specs:
– 3.6 inchish OLED full touch screen.
– NVIDIA Tegra powered.
– 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB versions.
– HDMI Connection to stream straight to your TV.
– HD Radio.
– Web Browser.
– WiFi compatible, with wireless marketplace.
– Released, early fall.
– International release of the Zune device itself.
– Home AV packs, Car packs, Charge packs.

Unconfirmed rumors (A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment or confirm):
– Camera?
– Company insiders tipped us off with the possibility of a limited edition dock accessory in various colors.
– 3D Xbox Game Support?
– Windows Mobile 7 preview bits included? (Maybe these reports mean an early WinMo 7 beta?)

There are a lot of common elements in these two reports, make what you want of that… But they do seem impressive. I’m interested in the Windows Mobile 7 preview. Does this mean that the mp3 player will double as a pocket PC =)? That would definitely make it more appealing to me. I’m cheering for Microsoft to cause a ruckus in the ipod-monopolized-mp3-player-market with this new piece of hardware.

Zune HD?

April 16, 2009

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Could this be photos of the rumoured Zune HD? Only time will tell. If so, it looks really promising!

Hovering micro-robots

April 13, 2009

Some time ago, I was at a family’s house for dinner. We chatted about a range of topics, one of which was the types of research that my professors conducted. I thought back to my school terms and one example that really stood out in my mind was a magnetic levitating robot. My 2A Statistics professor explained that he was working on micro-robot that could be suspended in the air by manipulating electromagnetic fields. At that time, that was about all he explained to our class. So as we were discussing this topic at the dinner table, we weren’t too sure what real purpose it served. In order for this robot to levitate, there had to be magnets under or above the robot. We pictured a huge room with electromagnetic plates as the floor or ceiling. That doesn’t sound too safe, nor does it sound practical. But today, as I was surfing Engadget, I stumbled across an online article about my professor’s research! Finally, my questions were answered.microrobot_270x2081

Khamesee said that the micro-robot could be used in clean rooms or hazardous environments.

“Since there is no wiring, and the robot freely floats in air, it can operate in an enclosed chamber while the whole setup is outside,” Khamesee said. “It can work in hazardous environments, toxic chambers, and it can be used to conduct bio-hazardous experiments. Also, since there is no mechanical linkage, it has a dust-free operation, suitable for clean room applications.”

The research team, which includes Khamesee and graduate students Caglar Elbuken and Mustafa Yavuz, submitted the paper last fall to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for possible publication.

Another funny thing is that Behrad Khamesee and Mustafa Yavuz were my professors and Caglar Elbuken was my TA. Go Waterloo!

A couple days ago, I spent the afternoon changing the oil and swapping tires on my car, and fixing a lawn mower. I almost felt like I was practicing the Mechanical aspect of my Mechatronics Engineering degree =P.

It turned out that removing the snow tires wasn’t such a good idea since it started to snow this week. However, it was a good learning experience… just in case, you know, I ever need to change a spare tire. Actually I got a flat last winter and I didn’t know how to change a tire, so I had to call a friend to help me out. I felt really embarrassed and hope that it doesn’t happen again.

31hcejho6jl_sl500_aa280_The tire swap went pretty smoothly except for the fact that we managed to flatten a lug nut. The nuts on the Malibu Maxx have a hollow cap, see photo. When we were removing one of the nuts, the wrench slipped and flattened the cap of the nut. Luckily, it didn’t damage the actual screw. It just doesn’t look the best.

Changing the oil was quite an interesting event. After draining the oil and changing the filter, it came time to pour in the new oil. We poured the oil in the engine, and popped the dipstick in to check the level of the oil. When we pulled it out, guess what? There was no oil markings on the dipstick! That got us really worried, I frantically checked under the car just to make sure nothing was leaking and there was nothing. I then proceeded to start the engine for a dozen seconds, just in case the oil hadn’t made its way into the pan, and still nothing. It was certainly quite a mystery. In the end, we concluded that the oil couldn’t have just mysteriously disappeared, so we just left it at that. Let’s just hope nothing bad happens.

Finally, the lawn mower. One of my neighbours and family friend was having trouble starting her lawn mower. Apparently, someone had done an oil change last summer and it couldn’t start ever since. I was reminded of my experience of changing the oil in my gas lawn mower. I remember having trouble starting the engine as well. It turned out that I put way too much oil and flooded the engine. With that experience, the first thing I checked was the oil level and boy was it high! There was definitely waaay too much oil… After pouring out some oil and making sure the level was proper, I started the engine a couple times and voila, it started like a charm!

Pretty productive day if I don’t say so myself.

In less than a month, I will be back at the books again for my 3A term. I can hardly believe that I’m more than halfway done my degree! Time really does fly. The next term’s Mechatronics schedule is quite odd actually. Usually, Engineering schedules are pretty structured. What I mean by that is that we have lectures in the mornings and tutorials/labs in the afternoons. However, I guess this term the University decided to switch things up for us. I’ve got a random tutorial first thing on Wednesday mornings and a lecture Thursday nights. An evening class?! Unheard of! It will be interesting for sure. I wonder how long it will take me to get used to the schedule.

So, my next term will be a Spring term… That means less students on campus. I actually enjoy the spring terms when there are less students rushing across campus. Also, the nice weather makes it more inviting to get outside and walk to class =).

Speaking of the weather, the weather here is so odd! On Sunday, it was bright and sunny… no clouds. I was outside in a t-shirt. But this morning we were hit with a snow storm! Road conditions were so nasty, and slippery. And I thought winter was over

kumo

Microsoft plans on spending $100 million on an ad campaign to promote it’s rebranded and updated search engine, “Kumo”. Right now, the search engine is under internal testing by Microsoft employees. A couple screenshots have been leaked and they look quite promising.

According to one person close the situation, the forthcoming campaign will be careful to not position “Kumo” as a competitor to Yahoo or Google and instead cast it as a reimagined search engine that ups the game by yielding fewer but more-focused results. The proposed strategy is probably a good — if not the only — way to go.

I am eager to see the results of this new push. It’s about time that someone challenges Google in the online search world!

April Fools!

April 2, 2009

megatechblimpYes, I know that I’m one day late, but I just didn’t have time to write a post yesterday. It’s better late than never, right?

So as you know already, yesterday was April Fools’ day. Maybe you were made aware of this fact by being the gullible recipient of a prank or joke. One thing that I do look forward to each year is seeing what kind of “innovative ideas” big companies come up with. With so many companies and different April fools’ pranks out there, it’s almost like a competition. This year, I have to admit, it was pretty dull. Though, I found Amazon‘s new “cloud computing” solution to be quite funny. Maybe that’s stirred by the fact that my work is closely related to this innovative concept… That is to offer software as a service (SaaS). Maybe I’ll write about that at another time.

In any case, Amazon’s new solution is a “cloud that can come to you.” Essentially, it’s a blimp “with a capacity of 65,536 small EC2 instances, or a proportionate number of larger instances.” It has two methods of communicating with the ground, WiMAX or laser. Naturally, the laser option doubles as a self-defense mechanism. Cloud wars, anyone?