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February, 2009

Do you actually want 3D?

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision

While researching an upcoming feature, I found a link from the BBC. Entitled “Why 3D is about to break through“, it explains the exciting world of 3D movies and projection, before concluding that it “looks like the future of 3D is firming up.”

Only trouble is, the article was from over a year ago. Since then I’ve been to see Beowulf at the IMAX, and toyed with an old game on one of Zalman’s monitors, but I can hardly say 3D leapt out at me through 2008.

This year, though, is different – one look at the barrage of 3D TVs launched at CES is enough to realise that. But while the industry hypes it, I’m intrigued to know whether you, the consumers, are actually interested in 3D at all. Going to a movie once in a while is one thing, spending your own money on kit is another entirely.

So, is it something you’d consider investing in? And, gaming and movies aside, are there any applications for which you see 3D being genuinely useful?

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Posted in: Random

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Flash Penetration: The Truth

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Last week I posted an item questioning Adobe’s claim that “Flash content reaches 99.0% of Internet viewers”. I made the argument on a number of grounds but the bottom line was that the figure just seemed unbelievable when you factor in the number of Linux users and other Flash haters (joke) as well as all those brand new users who haven’t got around to installing yet.

The post was picked up on Slashdot and generated a lot of comment mostly from anti-Flash zealots and those who thought I was questioning the maths rather than the methodology (a survey commissioned by Adobe based on a small panel of opt-in users who were asked whether they could see various items of plug-in content complete with player download dialogs!).

Flash player penetration on riastats.com

However there was one particularly useful response…

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Farewell you crazy Diamond

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Touch Diamond in full flowI’ve been desperately trying to like the HTC Touch Diamond, forcing myself to use it for the past six months, but fate has intervened. Or, more specifically, the Diamond getting soaked in water intervened – though I did my best to let all its parts dry out, it developed a nasty habit of switching on and off randomly. Not great behaviour for a mobile phone.

Digging through my drawers, what did I unearth? None other than my old HTC Touch, and I have to admit to falling in love with it all over again. Because, unlike the Diamond, it’s not incredibly annoying! (more…)

Why Microsoft should worry about VMWare once more

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

 

CloudsHas VMWare turned the tables on the competitors? Has it pulled off the great magic trick of pulling the tablecloth off the table while leaving the champagne glasses not only upright but still full of bubbly?

 Yes, I think so. Tonight, Contributing Editor Cassidy and I are having dinner with the senior Microsoft virtualisation people. And we will be reporting back tomorrow on their response to today’s announcements.

 But the move of VMWare to let anyone set up a cloud-computing infrastructure, to allow for SLAs and metrics in the delivery process, to let a customer have an internal business cloud or use a range of external cloud vendors (and cheefully move loads between them at will) has driven a hatchet through the lock-in plans of the existing players: Microsoft, Amazon, Google.

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5% of printed documents never collected

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

PaperI heard this thoroughly depressing stat at a HP briefing this morning: one in 20 office printouts are simply left in the printer’s output tray, never to be seen by the eyes of the thoughtless drone who pressed Ctrl + P in the first place. 

I’m not a tree-hugging, environmental doom monger, but even my green-weary soul was alarmed at the amount of wasted paper, ink and energy such needless printing consumes. Let alone the money. 

HP has a solution to curb the printer fly-tippers called Pool Printing, which ensures the document doesn’t actually print until the person physically goes to the machine to collect it. They have to swipe a card or punch in a pin number before the printer spews out the goods.

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Posted in: Green, Newsdesk

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The perils of cloud computing (part II)

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Following hot on the heels of Jon Honeyball’s warning about the dangers of cloud computing, comes another all too real example from no lesser source than the Google press office, commenting on this morning’s Gmail outage:

“I’d send you this statement by email, but I can’t”.  

Thè jóy öf áçcênts

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

If you ever refer to foreign words or names, you’ll know the trauma of typing accented characters on a UK keyboard. Microsoft Word has its own system – for example, to type an “é” character you can press Ctrl-’ followed by the letter “e”. But what if you’re not using Word? What if you’re writing an email, or a batch file, or – shock horror – a blog post?

The traditional way to type characters that aren’t on your keyboard is to hold down Alt and type in the extended ASCII character code on the numeric keypad; so to get “é” you’d hold down Alt and type 130. That still works, even in Windows 7, but the codes aren’t exactly convenient to type, nor easy to remember – especially since they’re in a completely illogical order (check it out). (more…)

Infragistics Quince

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Infragistics, who make User Interface controls for Windows Forms, WPF, Silverlight and ASP.NET applications, have just introduced a new web site called Quince.

Quince is a community tool that lets you explore and contribute to a growing library of UI Design Patterns – ways of designing a user interface to make it easier to use. Each pattern relates to a little piece of UI functionality, such as data validation, modal dialogs, filtering, etc and explains, with examples from real-world applications, when you might use that pattern and how you might implement it.

Users can contribute by adding text to say how they think the pattern might be changed or improved, adding extra examples or simply voting to say “I use this” so future users can see which patterns are popular.

You can explore the patterns in many ways, from an outline form where patterns are listed in-place or by tag relations which groups and connects patterns together to show how the patterns relate to one another. There are even RSS feeds so you can get alerts to newly entered patterns or comments.

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Live from VMWorld in Cannes

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Almost live, at least: the auditorium at VMWorld in Cannes today had about 85% of the seats glowing with laptop screens, all Twittering like mad as each sentence fell from the lips of VMWare’s new Chief Executive, Paul Maritz.

I won’t do the CNN-style instant new shape of Western Civilisation thing, 10 minutes after walking out of the hall – but there are a few snippets that seem to me to put contexts down for future analysis.

One was that while we are all seeing end-users going nuts about netbooks, I could only see three or four netbook screens glowing away in the auditorium: the traditional laptop marketplace is alive and well in the hardcore techie sector, at least.

Two: the welcome slide featured more Eastern European languages than Western.

Three: there was more processing power in the audience’s smartphones than there was in the equipment visible on stage. This is a step change from the presentation given by Diane Greene in San Francisco 18 months ago, with a stack of servers behind her. A very long time ago, even before PCs appeared, I used to do presentations which depended on an 11-mile multiplexed modem link to go from the mainframe suite to the presentation projector, and people thought I was crazy: it’s taken until 2009 for a sizeable presentation to be done on a link being shared by all those Twittering laptops up in the gallery.

The withering of Ma.gnolia

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Ma.gnolia videoIt is extremely easy to sit on the sidelines and say “hahahahaha” when someone else’s system goes bang. Schadenfreud is a particularly self-indulgent emotion.

But I strongly advise you to go to http://ma.gnolia.com and watch the video. The background is that magnolia was a service which stored bookmarks. A lot of people relied upon it for their bookmark stores, and it was a “software as a service”. A cloud computing thing, if you like.

Unfortunately, it has gone bang, with irretrievable data loss.

Without question, this has been a learning experience for those enthusiasts who put a lot of effort into building the service, irrespective of their understanding (or lack of it) of risk assessment.

When you watch the video, you too will wince as I did about the choices they made. “Did you do any backup testing?” “Nope” made me squirm.

But think of the wider SaaS perspective. When you put a SaaS into your business process, do you really know who you are dealing with? Have you really looked at the SLA, the recovery tools and so forth?

Of course, it would be wrong to scale up a disaster at a community enthusiast site into the wider space of Azure or Google or Amazon services. But vendors will be selling SaaS services hosted on those platforms, and on all sizes of platforms all the way down to one PC with no working backup.

At the end of the day, it’s your business and you have to take responsibility for it. SaaS is not a major thing which cures all known ills.

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