Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Never Miss Discovery

A few months ago Discovery Channel Asia released a new website called Never Miss Discovery

I had the privilege of working on this excellent site, building the HTML, CSS and some JavaScript for the site.

So why is this so special?

A site like this would normally not be all that blog-worthy, but this is one of the first websites launched that makes use of Microsoft Silverlight

The company I work for, was the first company in Australia to use Silverlight as the platform of choice for development of a commercial website.

So what is Silverlight?

I'm feeling a bit lazy, so I'm just going to quote the Silverlight website:

Microsoft® Silverlight™ is a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering the next generation of .NET based media experiences and rich interactive applications for the Web. Silverlight offers a flexible programming model that supports AJAX, VB, C#, Python, and Ruby, and integrates with existing Web applications. Silverlight supports fast, cost-effective delivery of high-quality video to all major browsers running on the Mac OS or Windows.

The funky innards, what does Never Miss Discovery do?

So this brand spanking new website thats been built is quite nifty.

In short, you get to sign up at the website, which will allow you to set reminders, pick your favourite categories to keep an eye on, and they'll even send you a monthly newsletter covering new and featured programmes for the coming month.

At the moment the site is only available for users in select countries in SE-Asia, lets hope that they expand this great idea!

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Safari On Windows... It seems a popular topic of conversation

Yeah ok, its been blogged to death, but I still want to put in my 2 cents!

And please remember, I am coming from a web developer/designer point of view, so my opinion is slightly biased.

Right, now that Safari 3 for windows has been out for a few weeks now, and has seen several patches, I read a few posts here and there about people comparing its speed, its type rendering, and how long it took for them to crash it.

One by one I guess:

So Mr Jobs is claiming Safari to be significantly faster than all of the other popular browsers (ok, so we're talking about Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Opera here)
So far I have noticed no obvious speed improvements, then again I don't use Safari as my main browser on a day-to-day basis

Type rendering
This is one of those things where most people are very confused about wether or not they like the "fuzzy fonts" in Safari.
I guess you've already guessed where I stand. Thats right - fuzzy fonts rock. Why you ask ? because it makes the fonts look like they were meant to look, not the way the OS wants them to look for the sake of fitting them inside of pixel boundaries. (Not sure what the hell I'm talking about? Joel Spolski from Fogbugz blogged about it on JoelOnSoftware a short while ago and did quite a good job of explaining it in this post)
Now after you have been overindulged with information...

Crashing Safari
The browser is in BETA people... this means it's not even release quality software - its still in (final) testing.
If you have something to say still about Safari crashing... please read the above line again... yes.. BETA means Use-Me-On-A-Production-System-And-Suffer-You-Fool.
Ok, so I installed it on my dev machine at work, and upgraded my Safari 2.0 on my macbook to Safari 3 and I haven't had crashes yet. But if/when it does crash, you won't hear about it, because I will simply accept it's still beta software that needs a few bug fixes here and there.

Awesome less boxes!

Finally - a 1 TeraByte hard drive!
Seagate released a 1TB HDD a few days ago, not long after Hitachi released its 1TB model. The RRP so far is around AUD$450 (US$399) so its not at all over priced. In fact its almost in line with current HD prices. I mean AUD$0.45/GB isn't a bad price at all. I mean if this trend actually went into the current hard drive market, we would only be paying $36 for an 80GB HD.

So, for those of you curious as to why the 1TB drive is a feat worth mentioning, and why there have been sudden jumps from the classic 80/120/160/250GB drives to 1TB (500GB wasn't all that popular - like the Hitachi Mammoth drive).

Up until recently hard drive technology was slowing down in the rate at which it could increase data density on the hard drive platters. Essentially about to contradict Moore's Law if this had in fact happened.

Since a few years ago, some very clever people came up with the concept of perpendicular recording of data bits. This meant that data density went up by a fairly decent amount.

Ok, I can imagine some of you are looking puzzled right now. Allow me to elaborate:

The current popular storage method is longitudinal recording, the new and improved method, perpendicular recording, puts the data bits on the platter a different way, essentially we can represent it like this:

(image courtesy of wikipedia)

So you see, this means that on the same amount of real estate (being the HD platter) we can now fit a lot more data bits. This allows for larger drives, more storage, less paper in boxes. In fact - one of these 1TB drives could hold enough documents that would approximately 50,000 trees worth of paper. Now all we need to do is stop printing every useless email, or tell your bank to send you online statements rather than mailing them to you. This way we can all save a few trees (or a whole forest if you feel like filling your new HD up with a few hundred gigabytes worth of books). OK I'll stop sounding like a tree hugger now!

On the surface...

Recently I came across one of Microsoft's new gadgets. It is being touted as a great new piece of hardware that has a large variety of consumer and commercial applications.

I'm talking of course about Microsoft Surface. Have a gander at the website, the videos are quite impressive.

Though after I stopped being excited a few minutes after watching the somewhat information-less videos, I started to wonder about the feasibility of Microsoft Surface.

From a commercial perspective, I can see the enormous benefits of the device, as it will allow many things like paying bills, splitting bills, ordering food and drinks to go a lot easier for the consumer. Then again, as the video shows a couple ordering drinks of one of the Microsoft Surface tables , I ponder what business would let customers put their drinks and dirty fingers (from eating the food they just ordered) on their brand spanking new $5000 table (this price is purely speculative... I have absolutely *no* idea what the RRP for one of these things would be).

And what about the home consumers. I can see the application working from many points of view. From using it as a Media player, to a photo organizer to a very convenient way to do shopping... Now the question is, who in the wider consumer market will
a) spend what I would expect to be a reasonable sum of money for one of these
b) if you have kids, there is no way in hell you would want to have this thing in the living room, or any child-accessible place for that matter. unless of course it comes with a special "reject-all-foreigh-substances", is unbreakable and unscratchable...

I guess I am sounding a bit pessimistic about this grande new product, but don't get me wrong, I can see the benefits and the applications and the fact thats its just plain cool.

One of the features shown in the videos on the Microsoft website is the ability to simply put your phone on this table and according to sync settings (I presume there would be something like that) it will sync the photos/contacts etc. to your Microsoft Surface device. This is an absolutely awesome concept, of course we will all need to either upgrade our phones and/or other such portable devices or install some kind of software on it (this would be a nice solution, a-la Apple iSync).

In the end, I would really like to see Microsoft Surface in action in a commercial environment, I think it would work rather well. On the other hand I am a little skeptic about the feasibility of it as a consumer device. I guess the boys at Microsoft know what they're doing though, it's been in development for about 6 or 7 years now (well, from concept start).

Some people have too much time on their hands!

I just got sent this link, so I thought I would share it here considering I'm somewhat of a HTML/CSS guru (when I say guru I mean nutbag).

So his code might not be valid, but it's still cool!



Ah first post!

Yeah, ok so I'm trolling my own blog. But every blog needs its first post. Anyway .. enough about blogging. More content to follow very soon, and hopefully on a regular basis.