Articles from Technology

Hindsight on Foresight

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:21 PM :: 2091 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Predictions :: Digg it!

Zune 120

Nothing new here. After reading another tidbit on the latest 120 GB Zunes, I remembered an old post I had. Not that big of a deal, but I thought it was interesting to see my prediction come to light.

Retrospectiva en Previsión

En Español

No hay nada nuevo aquí. Después de leer otro comentario acerca de la 120 GB Zunes, me acordé un puesto que escribí. El puesto no es muy importante, pero pensé que era interesante que mi predicción se hizo realidad.

Interested in Zune 3?

By Michael Flanakin @ 4:56 PM :: 2007 Views :: Technology, En Español :: Digg it!


If you're interested in what software updates are coming out for Zune 3, check out the collection of videos on Engadget from this morning. There are a few things not mentioned, like the games, but it does cover all the heavy-hitting features the Zune team is pushing.

¿Se Está Interesado en Zune 3?

En Español

Si está interesado en lo que cambiará en el software de Zune, mira la videos en Engadget de esta mañana. Hay algunas cosas que falta, como los juegos, pero describe todas las características principales del equipo de Zune.

Want to Buy Surface?

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:24 AM :: 1294 Views :: Technology, Microsoft :: Digg it!


Microsoft has officially posted a Surface order form. Not quite the user friendly experience I had hoped for, but I can't say I'm surprised. The order form is split into three sections: commercial hardware, development hardware and software, and services, which includes installation, maintenance, warranty, and shipping costs.

  • Commercial Hardware: $12,500
  • Development Hardware & Software: $15,000

I have to say I was surprised to see the dev version being more than the unit itself. I guess I say this because I heard there are local development tools you'll install on a development machine, not a Surface machine. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. It'll be interesting to see if/how this takes off. I did get to play with a unit last month, but haven't had a chance to really post my thoughts. They're popping up all over the place, tho, so I think more and more people will be getting a chance to play with them.

Speaking of which, if you're in the San Jose area and/or plan on going to the IDesign WCF Master Class in October, I will most likely be showing it to some people then. That's assuming the unit is still there, but I'm sure it will be. I just hope they put some more apps on it. It'd be nice to see something new.

To summarize my experience on it, I'd say that it was nice, but there's still something left to be desired. There's a lot of potential, tho. One of the biggest things is going to be showing people how they can use it. Some people have the vision it takes to see how this will enhance their apps, but others need to see something a little closer to what they're doing to get that understanding. I do think this is going to be a great platform, tho. We just need to see lower costs, a great (not good, but great) API, and a more accessible API. If this remains a niche, I don't see it going far. This is something Microsoft needs to make every developer feel like s/he has access to. Unfortunately, that may take ~3-5 years.

Lenovo Keyboard Layout Survey

By Michael Flanakin @ 10:22 AM :: 3561 Views :: Technology, User Experience :: Digg it!

I've talked about my desire for a keyboard layout standard, especially with respect to laptops. Heck, I've even tossed the idea of buying a MacBook out the window because of their horrible keyboard. For me, this is the first thing I look at when considering a new laptop. Since last year, when I bought my first Lenovo, I've been griping about the ridiculous Fn key, which is on the wrong side of the Ctrl key. That's not my only complaint, but it's the biggest one. The next is the Esc key that's above F1, which causes me to press F1 occasionally. There's a few more, but I'll spare you. Luckily, Lenovo fans have a small glimmer of hope: Lenovo keyboard layout survey. This was recently mentioned on the Lenovo Design Matters blog Syndicated feed. Go, go, GO!!! Unfortunately, this doesn't explicitly ask about the Fn key, but I definitely left a comment about it. Please take the survey, but if you contribute to them screwing up the 3x2 Insert/Delete, Home/End, Page Up/Down keys, I'm coming after you.

Lenovo keyboard layout survey

Feed Update

By Michael Flanakin @ 8:06 AM :: 1564 Views :: Technology, Other :: Digg it!

Feed Update, thanks to FeedBurner

I hate self-promotional posts, which is why I never announced my move from Geeks w/ Blogs to my personal server and why I never moved to MSDN blogs, but I feel like this one at least serves a purpose for other bloggers...

I'm doing something I've been meaning to do for a while: update the URL of my feeds. I use FeedBurner, which has been nice, but I've always hated using a FeedBurner URL. I thought about creating a reverse proxy to do it, but never felt the sheer need to spend the time to do that. Luckily, FeedBurner has done the work for me. I'm not sure if this is a new service or not, but I have to thank Scott Watermasysk Syndicated feed for pointing me to FeedBurner MyBrand. This feature allows you to specify a custom domain for your feeds. While not the complete flexibility I'd like, it at least gives me the ability to maintain a controlled domain name in case I ever decide to self-host my feed.

With this, the following are my new feed URLs:

I'm probably going to be scrapping my feedback and ratings blogs. Feedback is too tedious because I have too many ideas and ratings gets annoying because I put everything in Netflix and sometimes IMDB. I'm looking for a good platform to support this type of blog, but haven't found one, yet. I'll probably just create some mashup using Netflix's feed.

Lower Xbox Prices = New Xbox Platform?

By Michael Flanakin @ 2:22 PM :: 1424 Views :: Technology, Predictions :: Digg it!

Here's some "Yellow Submarine" talk about the Xbox... by the way, if you didn't catch that reference, then you're missing out on Mac Break Weekly Syndicated feed, which is entertaining to all. But, I digress... The Xbox 360 has been dropping its price over the past few months, it seems like. I look at this and think about how long it's been since there's been a serious upgrade and I have to wonder if we might be seeing the very typical price drop before a new release. I have absolutely 0 knowledge about anything related to the Xbox and don't even own one, but I do admit that I'd be very intrigued by a new platform... probably enough to actually go out and buy one, which means a lot to me since I'm not a gamer. We'll see. Supposedly there will be something coming out at E3.

Invalid Firefox and IE Upgrade Comparisons

By Michael Flanakin @ 1:06 AM :: 1218 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!

Barry Collins, of PC Pro, is sharing numbers that showFirefox users migrating to Firefox 3 a lot faster than IE users to IE 7... well, at least for PC Pro users, anyway. Basically, it comes down to 55% of its users are on Firefox 3 after being released for 10 days, whereas IE users are sitting at 68% on IE 7, despite being released for over a year and a half. Nobody can argue the numbers and I'm sure we'd see something similar if we polled just about any group of sites. There's an important aspect that Barry is missing, however.

Firefox users are downloading the tool themselves and updates are done on individually from what amounts to nag-ware -- you are constantly asked to update until you do so. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with this. I'm a firm believer in staying up-to-date. I'm really just pointing out the fact that IE doesn't have this same forceful update mantra. IE is typically updated via Windows Update. if you don't use it, you won't get updates. This is very important when looking at cases like this because most IT organizations manage their software updates, instead of relying on individuals to update their software. So, when an organization doesn't streamline the IE 7 push, of course it's not going to get out. I'd put money on the fact that 95% of the 31% users still on IE 6 are there because of their company, not their personal lack of updating the software.

This stuff kills me. People are so hard up to get ratings that they present partial truths in an attempt to promote a half-ass story. Of course, I'm no better by encouraging and linking to it

Extending the Web into the Browser

By Michael Flanakin @ 5:06 AM :: 1361 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!

Today, web applications are fairly self-contained. This is definitely a good thing, but is it time to take the next step? Web 2.0 is about extending past your own boundaries, essentially enabling software as a service, in a sense. What I'm talking about is exactly that -- extending the web past your boudaries and into your users', with the express intention of enhancing their experience. Think about how much you can enhance a user's experience with such integration. While today's browser is capable of such an experience, achieving it easily is not possible. With 4 major browsers and countless others (I can think of at least a dozen), developers are forced to target a select number of clients. This typically causes developers to either completely avoid this approach or standardize on one browser, which I think we can all agree is not desirable.

I started this post in January and, now that the IE8 beta is out, we see some of what I'm talking about in WebSlices. The problem here is exactly what I mentioned before -- nonstandard implementations. In the same breath, standards bodies are slow in this regard. For instance, we wouldn't have AJAX if it weren't for the nonstandard implementation in IE4 (or was it 5?). Either way, I want more. I want interactivity, not just a real-time snapshot of information. For instance, if I have a mapping aplication, I want to take all of the zooming and searching out of the web page and let the web content strictly focus on the mapping elements. Heck, for any application, separating primary navigation would be nice. I'm more concerned with easily enhancing the app, not just moving contextual controls up one level, tho.

So Long, Click to Activate

By Michael Flanakin @ 5:27 AM :: 2190 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, En Español :: Digg it!

Internet Explorer: now with more sexy!

At long last the "click to activate" message will be going away in IE. This was brought about because of a much debated lawsuit Eolas filed against Microsoft for patent infringement. Despite having support from the W3C to prove prior art, Microsoft still lost and had to change IE and pay millions to the company. These things are ridiculous. I'm not against software patents, but stuff like this annoys me. Seriously, how long was IE around with ActiveX before Eolas filed the lawsuit in 2004? It's not like the browser just snuck up on everyone. Anyway, I'm glad to see it go. Good riddance. Now IE is that much more sexy

El Titulo en Español

En Español

Finalmente, el "clic para activar" mensaje de IE desaparecerá. El mensaje fue creado porque el mucho discutió pleito de Eolas contra Microsoft para el incumplimiento de patente. A pesar de tener ayuda del W3C para probar arte anterior, Microsoft perdió y tuvo que cambiar el IE y pagar millones. Estas cosas son ridículas. No soy contra patentes de programas de computadoras, pero la situación me molesta. ¿Cuantos años IE tiene con ActiveX antes del pleito de Eolas en 2004? IE no hizo furtivamente para arriba en cada uno. Estoy alegre verlo ir. Buena liberación. Ahora el IE es que mucho más atractivo

Latest on Windows 7

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:24 AM :: 2032 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Predictions :: Digg it!

Windows 7

There's been a lot that's come out regarding the next version of Windows, code-named Windows 7. Let me try to summarize what I've seen...

When it Will Release

First, let me touch on the release date, since that's been heavily debated. The initial speculation was that Windows 7 would be released in 2010. Later, rumors of a 2009 release cropped up. It wasn't too long until Microsoft released comments stating that Windows 7 would take three years to develop. Speculation from the field translated this to 2011 release. Of course, that was coupled with some doubt. As if that wasn't enough, Bill Gates recently stated that the team is targeting first quarter 2010. I'm sure the Windows team is slapping their heads wondering why he shared this, but it's too late, now. I believe the team has been purposefully quiet about the release for two reasons: (1) to ensure the release was on time; and, (2) to lessen the impact on Vista sales. I don't blame them. If you ask me, I think we'll be looking at an early 2010 release with hopes that it'll be ready in 2009. Of course, I have nothing to back that up, so it's merely a blind prediction.

How it Will Release

Microsoft has had a vision of releasing components of Windows independently for the past 6+ years. This was mainly related to the server operating system, but it's still a great feature for the client. With the software+services push, some are speculating there will be a piece-meal release methodology. I don't expect us to see this with Windows 7, but it's coming. There have also been rumors of subscriptions, which is another area Microsoft has been interested in for years. In my mind, this is more of an issue with society, than Microsoft. If the community would grasp the concept, Microsoft would definitely go there. I don't know if we'll see that in the next release or not, but it's another thing I see coming eventually.

What it Will Include

A while back, there were some hints to what was going to be included in Windows 7, but it now lookse the release is picking up a new set of pillars focused on design and usability: specialized for laptops, designed for services, personalized computing, optimized for entertainment, and engineered for ease of ownership.Taking it all in, the core concepts seem to be around ease of use, connected computing, and security -- pretty much taking the next step after Vista. I see this being evolutionary, as opposed to the revolutionary version of Windows I hoped this was going to be. I guess I can hold onto those hopes for the next release.

With an increasingly mobile workforce and consumer population, tuning the OS for laptops is going to be a big win. With this, they'll be looking at data security, responsiveness, touch/tablet interfaces, wireless connectivity, "on demand" access to all your information, and power management. Most of these are pretty obvious. The only one I had to take a second look at was "on demand" access. This is basically about either storing your information in the cloud or ensuring access to it, no matter where it may live. Windows Live is how we're going to get there. This pretty much says that Windows 7 will definitely have some Windows Live integration. I can already see the EU beckoning for "justice."

With the "on demand" component of the last pillar, we have a good transition into the second, designed for services. This one's obvious as well. Windows will focus on remaining up-to-date (as in with patches), worry-free upgrades, Windows online , help and community, family-friendly web experience, gadgets, and in-box application improvements. We already have most of what's here. I think the pillar is mostly about providing a more integrated experience. I am curious how Microsoft plans to achieve "worry-free upgrades." That's going a long way. Apple has that today, so it's not entirely out of the question, but I think Apple gets it thru customer confidence, not by technical prowess. Lastly, I'm interested in the application improvements. I've been using custom apps like Notepad2 and Paint.NET for a while now and it'd be nice to have something better than what was delivered in Windows 95 built-in. I heard about upgrades to these apps last year, but haven't seen what's come of that. The AeroExperience website posted these images. I hope this isn't it, tho. This is a bit minimal.

Calculator in Windows 7 Paint in Windows 7

Personalized computing is something that will really bring Windows back to the consumer. To achieve this, Microsoft will target customization, internationalization, access anywhere, secure roaming, and home network management. Again, these are pretty self-explanatory.

The next pillar is about high definition graphics, media streaming, better playback, TV on Windows, and audio improvements. This is another area that is pretty much just enhancing what we already have today. I'm mostly interested in the TV on Windows scenario. This is already available, but very limited today. I consider this to be part of the Media Center vision, but Microsoft seems to have a few different products in the area. I hope there will be some consolidation here, but that may not make complete sense.

The last pillar is about ownership. Microsoft will put a strong emphasis on diagnostics and data recovery, lessening the fear of new applications by decreasing the need for administrative access, improved upgrade experience, administrative productivity and security enhancements, devices that "just work," quick/clean out-of-the-box experience, reduced management time/cost, and improved data security. We've seen a lot of improvements in this area with Vista and there's still some room to grow. If you haven't jumped on-board with Vista, you're in for a vastly improved experience and it looks like Windows 7 will be even better.