June

June 26, 2010

June came and went just like that, I can’t believe it’s the end of June already! Highlights include my birthday, changing my schooling schedule, and getting some pretty awesome work done at Sybase… and watching the NHL/NBA playoffs =P.

I’m actually writing this blog entry from Windows Live Writer. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s part of the Windows Live Essential suite of applications by Microsoft. It provides an interface for you to write, edit and publish blog entries on a variety of different blogging platforms including Windows Live, WordPress, Blogger, LiveJournal, SharePoint and some more…  I’ve never actually tried any other third-party blogging applications, so this is brand new to me. I did have some gripes about the online WYSIWYG editor that WordPress provides. I found it to be a clunky experience, it was definitely not as responsive as a desktop application. I even enabled the Google Gears cache functionality which is supposed to make faster. I have to admit, I did see some performance increase, but still not the same experience as a native application. Adding photos to a blog entry and then getting them positioned where you want is not the easiest thing in the world. So, I’m hoping this will be a better alternative… maybe it will encourage me to post more ; ). I like the fact that you can edit a post just as you would see it on the screen, then preview it and still have access to the source code! AND it’s a super responsive interface. Since this is a desktop application, I believe you have the option to save the draft locally before publishing… this means that you can write posts even while offline! Maybe one day… if I’m really eager to blog in an area without internet connection, I’ll try out this offline feature, haha.

This is me testing out the “Insert Image” feature…

bg

Pretty sweet.

So another year of my life has passed… and before you ask me what I did on my birthday… well I’m not big on birthdays, so it was just like another day with more birthday wishes =P.

Now I’m going to publish this post and see what happens…

Advertisements

Just in time for spring

March 28, 2010

It seems like whenever I get into the middle of a school term, I abandon my blog… but this time I’m not going to let that happen! I shall to take some time out of my busy schedule to write a quick update.

In my previous post, I wrote about an imaginary “Windows Zune phone”. Well just recently, Microsoft announced their newest OS for mobile devices, “Windows Phone 7”! They’ve completely revamped the whole design and approach they took to developing a mobile phone OS. From the early demos and screenshots, the user interface is much more “touch-friendly” and intuitive. Actually, it looks very similar to the ZuneHD interface which turned out to be quite well received amongst the tech crowd. And right now, the same looks to be true for the Windows Phone 7. I realize that it’s not an actual physical device, but they’re getting one step closer to challenging the Apple iPhone and Google Nexus One. The only two things I’m hoping that Microsoft will add to their new OS are: multi-tasking and copy/paste. Right now, it doesn’t seem to be included and I don’t understand why if you consider that those were two of the biggest areas of criticism that Apple got when they first released the iPhone… So I really hope it changes before its final release.

Spring is here, and while others are outside tossing around a frisbee, I’m either cooped up in a classroom or a lab. These past few weeks have been super hectic because we’re trying to finish our robot for a competition next Tuesday. The purpose of the robot is to navigate an obstacle course and extinguish lit candles. At first the problem didn’t seem too difficult. We had a mechanical design and algorithm worked out, but now we’re realizing how different real life is from theory.  We’re running into a lot of issues that are unpredictable and completely out of our control…!! Anyway, it’s slowly coming along and we’re learning a lot… Only two more days left!

Zune Phone

January 18, 2010

Zune Phone, anyone? I don’t know about you, but I’ve been dreaming of a Zune Phone ever since the first ZuneHD rumours. Who knows if it’ll happen, but Engadget posted this mock-up of a “Zune Phone” and it just got me thinking… Microsoft could really put a dent into the iPhone’s dominance if they can produce a phone that was as good as the ZuneHD was a music player!

Disclaimer: This is just a wishful mock-up…

All we can do now is wait until the next Mobile World Congress…

Zune HD vs. iPod Touch 3G

September 9, 2009

The time has come, time to look for a new portable media player (PMP). They used to just be called mp3 players, but now they can do everything. So one contestant is the Zune HD, I blogged about it before when it was still just a bunch of rumours. Now, it has been officially confirmed and the release date is less than a week away (Sept. 15)!

Right now, I’m using the iPod Nano 2G mainly because it came free with my MacBook. Compared to what’s out there now, it’s not outstanding. But it was revolutionary when it first came out and I haven’t encountered any major issues, so I’ve been also considering the iPod Touch as well… Apple has been dominating the mp3 player market, so would I be wrong to give them a look?

I was highly-anticipating the Apple event [this morning] because of some rumoured announcements (camera anyone?). What Apple announces could really be the deciding factor for me. I was holding my breath to see how Apple would respond to Microsoft’s Zune HD.

What new surprise did Apple unveil this morning? Well, not that much. Let’s just say that I expected more, everyone expected more. With rumours and photos flying around of an iPod Touch with a camera, the fact that there was no camera was a major disappointment. In fact, all they did was cut the price on an already expensive music player and made it a bit faster… and games. They kept going on about their vast selection of games compared to the PSP and Nintendo DS. I’m not much of a gamer, so this didn’t really impress me. All in all, not much can be said about the new and improved iPod Touch. Nothing that would tip the balance. At least, not for me.

I think the fact that the Zune HD is cheaper, offers HD radio, HD video output, a cheaper subscription service, OLED screen on top of what Apple offers (App Store, iTunes LP) is making me lean towards the Zune HD. Please don’t disappoint, Microsoft.

The one thing that’s holding me back is the fact that I need iSilo. Currently, there is no support for iSilo on the Zune HD, but there is for the iPod Touch. I hope that Microsoft will release an SDK for the Zune HD so that developers can get started on that iSilo application! I really want to get the Zune HD, but if it can’t run iSilo, I may have to turn to the iPod Touch (or iPhone) or a Windows Mobile smart phone (way more expensive). But that’s a different story.

In case you’re not constantly keeping track of my life and which school or co-op term I’m in… I thought that I’d just let you know that I have started another work term. I have once again chosen to return to Sybase (for those keeping count, this is my fourth term there). Many people have asked me why I keep returning to Sybase. The short answer is because the atmosphere is great, the work is challenging and as one who is familiar with the culture and services of the company, you get to work on more important projects. Some have argued that it is necessary to  try different jobs in order to discover what you really like. To some extent, that is true. However I really enjoy what I’m doing and in the software world, nothing is ever stagnant. The maturity of the product is always developing and the stage of  the “software life cycle” always changes as well. Contributing and being a part of different stages of the life cycle of one company and one product over a long period of time has definitely given me a broader understanding of how software is developed. It’s never a dull moment!

microsoft_silverlightRecently I had the chance to work with Microsoft Silverlight (web application framework) Essentially, I was asked to demo SQL Anywhere’s compatibility with Silverlight. So, I developed this application with Silverlight and incorporated as many new features as I could cram into it to push it to its limit. I truly believe that Silverlight has gone a long way since it’s first release which was mainly targeted at streaming video (like Flash). However, it has evolved into a fully-fledged web application framework that businesses can use to create professional data-driven web sites quickly and easily. I watched a lot of talks from MIX 09 and was thoroughly impressed at how simple it was to hook up our database to Silverlight using the ADO.NET Entity Framework. But, it didn’t just stop there. With the latest version, Silverlight 3, Microsoft developed something called the “Silverlight Navigation Framework”. I thought this was absolutely brilliant. It only took a couple hours to get a beautiful (not to mention customizable) site up and running connected to a database with all CRUD (create, read, update, delete) operations. The great thing about Silverlight is not only its ability to display data efficiently, but also in an elegant manner. I’m working on getting this demo wrapped up and still I’m finding new features to play with! I hope that developers would really give Silverlight a try because it has a lot to offer and potential to take a site to the next level.

Windows 7 RC is out!

May 6, 2009

Since I’m working on my work term report and running some tests with my computer, I will have to download and play around with it as soon as I’m done. Can’t wait!

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

zunehd2

zunehd_big_engadget_1

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

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!