Archive for June, 2006|Monthly archive page

The 4 Concepts

In Programming on 28 June, 2006 at 3:00 pm

In trying to design a great software with great User Experience (UX) most developers and designers will normally follow 4 great concepts.  They are:

  1. Functional
  2. Aesthetic
  3. Interaction
  4. Process

By using these 4 concepts, you will be able to generate great memories of using the software and thus create an emotional connection.

The software has to be functional, it must achieve all the objectives of the user and in a way that is elegant and advantageous to the user. A knife can open a can which meet the objective of the user but it is better to use a can opener.  Most importantly the user must feel that the software works great!

The software should be beautiful.  Human will naturally be attracted to things that are beautiful.  A set of black and dull speakers can serve it purpose of giving great sound effect but a set of great looking speakers will add to the warmth of the room and at the same time give you great sound effect.  Most importantly the user must feel that the software look great!

The software should create interaction.  A coffee machine that make 2 cups of coffee at one go helps to create togetherness.  You and your friend can enjoy coffee together without the need to wait.  Your coffee will not get cold while waiting for your friend’s coffee to be made.  Most importantly the user must be able to relate to your software!

The software should take care of the process of getting the user to her objectives.  Imagine that you are going for a vacation in a special hotel.  You interact with the hotel’s online reservation system, it is a joy to use.  You then took a cruise to the island where the hotel is situated.  When you arrive at the island you find the scenery is so beautiful.  And when you finally arrive at the hotel you are floored by the service that you received.  This create a whole experience of the process in getting to the hotel.


Harry Potter is going to die?

In Books on 27 June, 2006 at 3:00 pm

Joanne Kathleen Rowling, 40, author of the Harry Potter series of books had hinted in a recent television interview.  In the final installment (7th book) of the boy wizard series, 2 main characters will perish.

I wrote the final chapter in something like 1990, so I’ve known exactly how the series is going to end,’ she told a chat show on Monday.

The final chapter is hidden away although it’s now changed very slightly. One character got a reprieve. But I have to say two die that I didn’t intend to die

However when asked whether Harry Potter would be one of them to perish, J.K. Rowling said that she had never been tempted to kill off the boy wizard before the finale.

Isn’t it interesting how writer actually can create a character, a world and some interaction.  Add a bit of magic (I think) and the story will come alive and unfold itself in the mind of the writer?  Stephen King also admitted that his characters run the story themselves once he created them.  It a wonder how a mind works.

This is how an article should be read

In Programming on 21 June, 2006 at 3:00 pm

The good thing about Windows Presentation Foundation that Microsoft will be releasing together with Windows Vista is that it allow text to automatically flow into column, instead of current fixed width presentation of text.  Study have shown that it is easier to read text in column than text that span the whole width of the screen.  This is exactly the same reason why the printed newspaper is done this way.  And because human uses pattern matching to read, a standard spacing is also easier to read.  Instead of making the text left justified (like in this blog) and having the ugly non-align right ending, WPF will also automatically split word and add a hyphen to make the column width stay the same.  Moreover, WPF will also help to flow the text into pages.  In this way, you will just need to press the next button to get to the next paragraph of the article instead of scrolling.  Scrolling will actually make you lose track of where you have stopped and thus time is wasted to re-track.

By solving all these issues that have made on screen reading not a good idea, Microsoft has generated a way to read article as if you are reading a newspaper.  New York Times will be the first online newspaper to make use of WPF to present to their reader a much relaxing read.  I hope this will take root and all online article will be viewed this way.  Then it will be easier for me to read my morning “paper”.

Talking about books

In Books on 20 June, 2006 at 3:00 pm

I am recently without a decent book to read again.  However, I hope it won’t be long since I am ordering the latest Dark Disciple series from Magaret Weis.  In the mean time I have been re-reading some of the books that have been collecting dust on my book shelf.  And why not to start with my all time favourite.  The Magician by Raymond E. Feist.  This is actually 2 books in 1.  Raymond E. Feist started with The Magician: Apprentice and then followed it by The Magician: Master.  If you consider Lord of the Rings by J.R. Tolkien to be the Fantasy novel then The Magician by Raymond E. Feist in my opinion should stood side by side.  In fact, I find The Magician more of my type rather than Lord of the Rings, I can’t finish reading Lord of the Rings, I can’t get past the middle part of the 2nd book.  Raymond E. Feist book is fascinating from start to the end.

Following the path of the kitchen boy Pug who grew to become the greatest magician of Midkemia was simply enjoyment to the extent of ecstasy (OK, I am a bit exaggerating here, but you get what I mean).  Thus reading the book again after so many years is still a sheer enjoyment.  I sure hope that one day someone like Peter Jackson will make this novel into an excellent movie.

If you haven’t know …

In OS on 20 June, 2006 at 3:00 pm

Bill Gates is stepping aside for new blood.  After 6 years as Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect, he is giving up the post to Ray Ozzie, who was the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Microsoft.  Craig Mundie, another CTO, will become Chief Research and Strategy Officer.  The reason for Bill Gates to step was that he wants to focus more on his other obligation, his philanthropy work, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which he founded together with his wife in year 2000.

So we will be seeing more of Ray Ozzie and hopefully even better OS with lesser delay time.  Ray Ozzie will face a different battle in the arena from what Bill Gates face in the 80’s and Steve Ballmer face in the 90’s.  So we shall see what turns out in the end.

World Cup is not important to Star Players?

In Sports on 19 June, 2006 at 3:00 pm

I’ve heard over this afternoon radio whereby some audiences who called in and said that playing for the country is not important to those soccer players who had made their name.  This is because these star players are normally paid handsomely by their private club, like those in English Premier League, and they wouldn’t stress themselves to go all out for the World Cup.  Since in the event they might get injured and cost them their career, especially when their private club will urge them not to do that.

This is quite far from the truth…

Private club will hope that their investment will not be injured during the World Cup season.  But those star players who thought the same have no place in the World Cup.  Look at Wayne Rooney, he suffered an injury during the English Premier Leagure season, but how eager was him to play after he himself think that he has recovered.  This make his club manager not very happy with him.  How about Michael Owen?  He is definitely a star player, but if you don’t think so, he is still handsomely paid by their private club, especially in Real Madrid.  Why did he get a pay cut to just go to Newcastle?  Because he wants to be selected in this World Cup.  In Real Madrid although he was highly paid, he was mostly on the bench, this is not good as he will not be conditioned enough to play for World Cup, which is confirmed by England coach.  Thus he decided to go back to English Premier League where he can always start as the first 11.

If you are a star player and you have made all the money you want, what more do you want?  Glory.  And what better game to give you glory then playing superbly in the World Cup?  This is like an athlete who win in all major competition and earn herself a few million but is without an olympic gold.  You will be always a star player but you will never be a legend like Pele, Maradona and Beckenbauer.  Eric Cantona was a superb player under Manchester United but he didn’t shine in the World Cup stage for France.  Thus anyone who didn’t watch English Premier League will ask: “Eric who?”.  And anyone watching English Premier League will know about George Best and will regret that he didn’t shine in the world stage.

Any star player who just think about the money he made in his private club will just be that, a star player.  He will never be a legend.  10 or 20 years down the road and few will remember who these star players are.  And Pele, everyone who loves soccer still know about Pele.

A blunder

In Books on 16 June, 2006 at 3:00 pm

It is amazing how one’s mind remember something so vividly and forgot about other related things.  Recently I was feeling bored and decided to visit Borders to buy some books to read.  While I was there I clearly remember that I have one book that is the ending of a trilogy that I missed.  The trilogy is by Magaret Weis and Tracy Hickman and is called the Soverign Stone Trilogy and the last book name is Journey into the Void.  I have clearly remember that because the first book of the trilogy I have bought is one of a special package, thus wanting to make sure that all 3 look the same, I did not buy the last book when it came out because the type was different.  At that time when the last book was launched I wasn’t actively searching for the book with the correct type as my first book.  Then it happened, the last book went out of stock, it seems that either this trilogy is very popular or that the publisher had only printed limited copies of the book.

Thus later on I was searching frantically for the last book as I don’t want to miss the ending of such a well done trilogy by the masters (Magaret Weis and Tracy Hickman is the original author of the Dragonlance Chronicles).  I even wanted to order it on line.  Some how or rather, it wasn’t burnt into my mind that I have finally got it (it is of the same type some more).  Thus upon seeing the paperback version of the book on Border’s shelf, I bought it immediately.

When I reach home, I was eager to read it (imagine that I was still full of anticipation of the book).  After reading the first chapter, I have this feeling of De Javu.  After a few more, I have decided that I need to check my study room and see whether I have this book already or not.  It turns out that the last book of the trilogy is sitting snugly on my book shelf, looking innocently at me (for I’ve forgotten it).  However, since I have started reading the book, I can’t stop, it was calling out to me.  Thus I have read the book again even though I have read it already.  This prove how nice the story really is.

Thus I will recommend the Soverign Stone Trilogy by Magaret Weis and Tracy Hickman to any devotees of the fantasy world.  Read it, it is a very good story.

Fever and fever

In Sports on 15 June, 2006 at 3:00 pm

I didn’t know that I will start my World Cup 2006 viewing sick.  Some how or rather I fell sick 2 days before the kick off of the World Cup 2006 and hasn’t fully recover when the ball was kick off at the Munich stadium on 9th June 2006.  So with still a bit of fever, I was catching the fever on my bed.  With a big head I saw how 6 goals were score in the first 90 min of the World Cup 2006.

The fever is still on, but it is not my fever, but the soccer fever.  And now all 32 teams has demonstrated their skill on the big world stage.  Germany is closer to getting into the round of 16; Brazil is such a disappointment; England has no creativity; Ecuador is such a surprise; Spain is stunning; Czech Republic shows how wrong the FIFA world ranking is by trouncing the rank 5 USA; And finally Argentina has hope.

Would you be willing to be a CEO that earn US$1 annually?

In Personal on 5 June, 2006 at 3:00 pm

I would.  So would Yahoo’s chairman and chief executive (CEO) Terry Semel and Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt or even Google’s co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.  They all earn US$1 annually.  Why would they do that?  That’s because instead of an actual decent annual salary, they are getting their pay through stock option.

Terry Semel has since raked US$429 million for the past three years by selling 18.1 million of his stock option.  He was able to do this because ever since he took over as CEO of Yahoo, the share price has increased 3 fold.  By accepting a pay cut from US$600,000 annually to just US$1 annually, he get another 6 million stock options at an exercise price of US$31.59 – the closing price on the Nasdaq last Wednesday.  Google’s CEO and 2 co-founders has also rake in millions of dollars through stock option.

This way of rewarding CEO has the effect of pushing CEO to make sure that the company will keep on growing.  If not their stock options will just be some form of waste papers.  Thus their pay will really go down to just US$1.

P.S.  Its 4 days to the World Cup!!!

Why are we such a litter bug?

In Personal on 3 June, 2006 at 4:22 pm

Litters at PC Show 2006I went to PC Show 2006 at Suntec City yesterday.  Apart from the amazing amount of people there, there were also an amazing amount of litters everywhere.  Everywhere you walk you were bound to step on some thrown away brochures some where.  We are still very far away to become a litter free country.

Although the streets outside are clean and green, this is not due to the elegance of Singaporean, this is the work of our cleaners.  Can’t you just hold on to that several pieces of brochures before you reach a trash can?  At least I have done my part.  Those brochures that I have collected went with me all the way home till they rest in peace in the trash can.