Archive for January, 2006|Monthly archive page

Red packet

In Personal on 31 January, 2006 at 1:26 pm

Normally, the children will be very excited to get the red packet.  But this year, as my younger brother-in-law brought along his dog, a cute little Pomeranian, the children were all over the dog.  Not even the giving of red packets by the elder can move their focus away from the dog.

Rest Rest Rest

In Personal on 31 January, 2006 at 1:18 pm

Finally, Chinese New Year is here.  This is the 3rd day of Chinese New Year.  As the first day fall on a Sunday and both first and second are holidays in Singapore, the third day is a replacement for the first day.  And here I am on my bed, sleeping away nearly the whole day.  Its a well deserved rest if you ask me.

Count down to Chinese New Year

In Personal on 27 January, 2006 at 4:03 pm

2 more days to go.  Most of the cleaning chores have been done.  Now I just look forward to the time when I can finally relax and have a good rest.  That would most likely be after the first 2 days of Chinese New Year, coz the first 2 we will be busy visiting relatives.

Office 12

In Software on 26 January, 2006 at 3:09 pm

After using the Office 12 Beta-1 for 2 days, I feel that the office team has really made a big step forward, especially in the user experience space.  The toolbar and menu bar have been replace with a so called “ribbon”, something like a tabbed toolbar.


“Ribbon” (click to enlarge)

The ribbon is task oriented.  Right on top are things that you would want to do to your document.  In this case for Excel 12, if you want to do any insertion, you just need to click on the Insert button and the “ribbon” will change to shows all command related to insertion.  For example, for this version the first thing you will see when you click insert is the pivot table.  When you click on the pivot table, a side bar will pop up on the right, prompting you what to do next.  When the pivot table is inserted, clicking on the table, and you will notice that the “ribbon” will show another button right on top, this is the so call “contextual ribbon” at work.  Clicking on this new button will give you all the command related to the pivot table.

Because of the “ribbon”, my work became more efficient.  That’s a good step forward.

Why do I need Vista – take 3

In OS on 25 January, 2006 at 1:43 pm

In my last post, I’ve forgotten to talk about another major improvement in Windows Vista.  This is in their audio architecture.  Microsoft has always let user interact with devices in the audio environment.  For example if you go to Windows XP control panel and then find and launch Sounds and Audio Devices, you will get to choose the default playback device and the default recording device from one of the tab page.  Microsoft is going to change this in Windows Vista, users are going to interact with speakers, headphones, microphone etc., which is more natural for most people.  You will want to lower the volume of your speakers if you find that the sound coming out from your computer is way too loud and not that of the playback device.  Furthermore, you will be able to adjust the volume of system sound and leave the volume of your MP3 playback at the same level.  This will make sure that when you are listening to your favourite music on the headphones, a sudden new mail notification will not make you deaf.  Finally, the audio will also be more smooth even when there is a sudden surge in CPU usage.

Why do I need Vista – take 2

In OS on 25 January, 2006 at 10:45 am

There is a comment about my previous post on Windows Vista.  I have to say that to a certain extent, I agree with the comment.  The look and feel of Windows Vista is going to be just “incrementally better”.  But the user experience is going to be substantially better, at least from the look of the current build, it has the potential to be substantially better.

For example:

  1. Microsoft is going to take bulky dialog boxes (that give too much information) and simplify them to become much more task oriented.  When user need more information, they can then follow the link that is on the simpler dialog
  2. Another aspect would be security, it would be much harder for spyware and virus to attack Windows Vista, and user can then feel more secure when surfing the Internet
  3. The revamp of the Graphic pipeline will mean that for the first time adding a decent 3D Graphic card will make your system become much more responsive as all graphic related rendering will then be offload to the GPU

Google and Apple started to talk about having a indexed file system so as to enable a better desktop search after Microsoft announce their intention at PDC 2003.  Both Google and Apple then race to beat Microsoft by coming out with the desktop search way before Microsoft did.

Having said that, I find that the “spectacular improvement” might not come from the OS itself but by the tools that Microsoft is going to make available for developer to use.  Namely, Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Communication Foundation and Windows Workflow Foundation.  You can take a look at this video for a glimpse of what can happen in the future.

What’s in a name?

In Personal on 25 January, 2006 at 6:17 am

It appear that a name will cause confusion even in a serious place like the court.  Recently, I have read an article in The Straits Times, that talk about this guy, let’s call him Huat.  Huat went to the court to hear out his charge, which gave out a fine and he paid the fine immediately.  But later on, Huat was arrested on the charge of not appearing in court after a summon was given out to him.  There he was, back in the court, and the judge ask him what he has to say.  Huat told him that he did answer his charge and produce the receipt to prove that he even made the payment for his fine.  That is when the court realize that there was a mistake, there is another guy with the exact same name as Huat with the exact same offense.  Huat turn up to answer for the other guy charge and paid the fine for the other guy.  Thus the court revised the sentence and make the fine that the original Huat paid effective for his own charge.  Huat later on told his wife that at least he gain some experience about court order.

How long do you need?

In Personal on 25 January, 2006 at 4:49 am

This morning, as usual, I came to the multi-storey carpark to take my car.  The once quiet carpark was pack with cars queuing.  This never happen in my years of stay here.  Then I realized that the church opposite the carpark is having an event and that all the cars queuing are driven by middle-age ladies.  This is so very strange.

Expression Interactive Designer preview build is out!

In Software on 24 January, 2006 at 2:27 pm

Finally, the long waited preview version of Microsoft’s upcoming Expression Interactive Designer (part of the Expression Suite) is out.  If you are going to develop for Windows Vista (in fact Windows XP as well, coz the tools to run Windows Vista’s app can be install on Windows XP), you definitely need to check this out.  Remember, you will need to install .Net 2.0 and then WinFX Runtime Component first (order is important) before you can try out this software.

Thanks to Manuel Clement for blogging this and if you don’t know what is Expression Interactive Designer you can check out this video.

Why do I need Windows Vista?

In OS on 24 January, 2006 at 8:48 am

Manuel Clement, Designer of Microsoft’s upcoming Expression Suite (a set of tools to aid in software development), blog about why you will need Windows Vista after people keep insisting that Windows Vista is actually Windows XP SP3 and nothing more.  He gave a list of 15 things that differentiate Windows Vista from Windows XP.

My take is that people are falling into the trap of negative publicity.  After Microsoft announce that it is removing WinFS (the future storage system that will revolutionize how we interact with Computer), skeptics are putting off Windows Vista as just another service pack.  After playing around with Windows Vista December CTP for about 2 weeks, my  point of view is that Windows Vista is a substantial step forward.  Though it has its own set of problems now, it is still in beta, when it finally ships, it will be better than Windows XP.