Tag Archives: Microsoft

Click. Clack.

SomeAlt. Control stuff I ran into earlier.

I read that Windows 7 (Microsoft much-touted successor of Windows Vista) is positioned as the ‘Linux Killer’ (original article at Computer World). From that article:

The threat to Windows comes entirely from “netbooks” — lightweight, inexpensive laptops that typically use Intel’s low-powered Atom processor and don’t come with substantial amounts of RAM or powerful graphics processors

The last time I checked, was that Linux’s was actually taking out more bytes (ha-ha) out of the Windows Server market, which is basically because the open-source operating system is so easy to install on older hardware and that. Well, that is if you use Debian, of course.

A NASA team announced the discovery of cosmic radio noise six times louder than normal. Apparently, this noise happened in 2006 and after plenty of peer reviews, it appears that this (yet unknown) noise was not related to anything that humans do on earth. However, the researchers are still not sure what created this noise.

You thought we suffered economic hardship? In Zimbabwe, the government just introduced a $50 billion note, which (apparently) just buys you a loaf of bread in that same country. I am curious who’s portrait is prominently showing on that note, but on preview, I don’t think too many politicians (except for the dictator kind of types) would want to have his (or her’s) face on a bill that’s probably only usable for wiping one’s nose.

And the best is for the last: If you’re into fractals (sure you do), here’s an open-source Fractal Flame Editor (Windows only: for other OSes look here). Surprisingly, it’s written in Delphi 5.

Canvas

During my programming career, I’ve ran into several cases where I absolutely had to use owner-draw to accomplish customized drawing. Originally, as a Delphi programmer, this required knowledge of the specific graphic wrappers around the Windows GDI (and GDI+) functions which Borland (appropriately) called TCanvas. The C#/.Net equivalent is called ‘Graphics’, which (admittingly) does not sound as fancy as Canvas.

That said: in my never-ending quest to fill a niche craving, I decided to look into the basics of photo-editing; that is, on a much smaller scale. The first step was to create a component that (given a specific image), drops a frame on it, which you can use to crop a photo (by either moving it and/or resizing it). Additionally, I always liked how some photo-editors integrate the Rule Of Thirds during cropping of photos, so, that had to be part of the custom-draw routine too.

There are couple of common tasks that need to be taken care of when doing own-draw stuff, all in C# (however, should be similar in Delphi):

  • The first thing is to decide which control you’re going to ‘descend’ from, or rather, which control is going to be your base-class
  • If your control requires user-interaction (i.e. mouse/key input), you should probably override the control’s MouseUp/Down and MouseMove events. Most likely you’ll need a couple of (private) flags that track down if a mouse button is still ‘pressed’. Add to that a couple of variables that track down the last positions clicked on the screen.
  • Separate the drawing routines and call these routines from an overridden OnPaint event.
  • Debugging (owner-draw) graphical routines is extremely painful, so think through your drawing routines.

Boring sample code is about to follow.

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A suffering object

An assortmentA feeling that something is weird of links, or as my English-speaking portion of my brain prefers to call them: a ‘whole bunch of I-forgets’.

A while ago, a Dutch teacher discovered a weird object in the constellation of ‘Leo Minor’. Thanks to the discovery, it looks like that the Dutch word ‘Voorwerp’ is going to be the next famous Dutch word (The other word of course being ‘apartheid’). The word itself reminds me of long and repetitive Dutch grammar classes and yes that particular part, ‘lijdend’ voorwerp.

Talking about ‘suffering objects’, what can I say about the Conservapedia vs. Lenski spat? Not much, considering ArsTechnica‘s excellent breakdown of, well, the breakdown of Conservapedia? Too much spare time. Additional bonus: Reddit thread.

Slashdot reports that Microsoft released the specifications for pre-2007 Office file formats. And here I was thinking that I’ve read about this before (earlier on xsamplex). On the good side, that is if you feel obliged, go hack at the fileformat. This also reminds me of a website that discusses several other well-known binary formats, including PDF.

Find what

This weekend, I was surprised to see that Google Maps now also shows photos shot at locations (example): these photos are coming from a new service from Google, Panoramio. The site is very beta-ish, but seeing Google’s weight behind this, I fear for Yahoo!’s FlickR future (Note: Microsoft is still working on a photo site like this, but obviously has this ace (More on PhotoSynth) in the hand).

For no particular reason, I ended up watching a whole bunch of videos about ‘cats and treadmills’. You would almost say it’s the latest craze: throw your cat on a treadmill, tape it, mix it with annoying music and upload it to YouTube.

Also, I watched a couple of clips of ‘That Hillary Show’, a parody done by comedian Rosemary Watson: it’s actually excellent, that is, for amateur video. Not something I’d watch for hours, though, and that only because this kind of political satire wears off really fast. I hope miss Watson finds an agent and that she keeps looking for new things to make fun off.

Which brings me to the last checked item on my list: This comic should look familiar if you’re a Monty Python fan (see here for full scene).

Off-ice.

A couple of observations:

I follow the US Democratic race but tend to keep it off xsamplex: However, I keep thinking if the Clintons are just bad losers. Seriously, when is enough is enough? Keith Olberman’s summary perfectly illustrates the race.

I noticed something when using a (more) recent version of Microsoft Word (2003+): it loads documents in a background thread, updating the scrollbar and thumbnail size accordingly, until it is completely loaded into memory. I’m not sure who thought this was a brilliant idea, because, simply stated: it sucks because it suggests that the document is ready to work on when it clearly isn’t.

With the sun coming out longer, it appears that now it’s a good time to get rid of the Winter clothes. This is obviously good weather for a stroll and the camera.

I read that thousands of illegals keep eluding the Canadian Border and Imigration Services (the official count is at 41,000). Is that a high number, I wonder (I wish I had numbers of other countries).

In the past, I’ve read a couple of books by Martin Amis (son of Kingsley Amis, who’s books were, and maybe still are, part of English literature classes in The Netherlands). I especially liked ‘Time’s Arrow’ but since then, I’ve not read any of his books. The CBC has a brief interview with the (nowadays controversial) British author.

Update 1: Not at all related, OpenOffice 3.0 Beta review, courtesy of ArsTechnica.

The imminent

The CBC has an article about the prediction that Windows is about to ‘collapse’, because of Microsoft’s inaction towards the marked after the introduction of Windows Vista. Other industry experts say that Microsoft knows it’s Windows days are dwindling, which is why it’s pulling so hard at Yahoo so that it can refocus efforts to reclaim the territory lost on the Internet (services and advertisements, that is).

So, just earlier, I decided to go ahead with the installation of Ubuntu on one of the spare computers: I have my share of experience with Debian and Ubuntu (as a virtual machine, for example), so generally, I didn’t encounter problems I couldn’t fix: for example, every piece of hardware was detected correctly. Mind the following notes:

  • If you’re used to vi, you probably still want to install ‘vim’. The default vi version that comes with Gutsy sucks so hard that, well, if you thought vi already sucked… (so, yes, go ahead and apt-get install vim)
  • KeePass, the password manager that I use, is available too: apt-get install keepassx. I haven’t tested if it’s completely compatible with the Windows variant.
  • Skype is also available: you can download the Debian deb file from Skype.com itself and install it right from your favourite browser.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but I like my terminal session to be white letters on a black background and not the other way around.
  • You still have to go through hoops to get DVD to play, but then, this is basically because this is Linux: after all, on your Mac and Windows PC, someone has already paid for being allowed to play DVDs on those computers.

So, yes: if you have a spare computer in your house and you think you may want to give Linux a try, you can’t go wrong with Ubuntu “Gutsy Gibbon”.

Chances?

CBC had their documentary ‘Winning for a Living’ on tonight, which featured people who are obsessed with filling out contest ballots. The Internet, of course, has been the Great Leap Forward for these kind of contests. Ironically, most contestors use regular mathematical skills to ensure their win:

Mike Smith of Toronto has been contesting for over 30 years, winning an estimated $250,000 in free stuff, including seven TVs! He spent all of one weekend filling out 2,000 ballots in hopes of winning TV #8

In a way, I guess, you also need to have a talent to read the fine print before you start stuffing 2000 ballots with your name in a ballet box. I need to mention that I rarely commit myself to enter contests or even lotteries: if you do the math, you’ll find out the chances to win are generally too small. I did have a couple of wins in my lifetime, most notably, a Playmobil pirateship, which I (looking at the circumstances and my young age) obviously didn’t deserve to win because, well: that’s probably a separate story for another day.

As mentioned, I made a couple of recordings of the Yo La Tengo show last Sunday. The complete setlist can be found at Blog.WMFU. I missed a couple of sets: Set 3 didn’t work out because my stream connection was more or less flaky causing Audacity to flunk out a couple of times. One of the sets was interrupted because the WMFU crew had to restart one of the servers which, from what I gather, was to make room for more online music listeners.

Snipping through the Audacity audio recordings, I noticed that the recorded setlists (unsurprisingly) take up quite some space. Audacity stores project files in AU format (see history).

You may have noticed that Microsoft released their first IE8 Beta, which has caused quite a stir (or acclaim) among standards proponents, web designers and developers (I briefly touched on this before). I highly doubt that IE8 will beat out Firefox, Opera or Safari (Or Konqueror) if you look at it from the standards perspective.

Around the news

According Hey, I like Int64s!to the Dutch online news site Nu.NL, Flemish kids (as in “Dutch-speaking Belgians”1) are the worst bullies in Europe (Dutch language-alert). The original article (at the Belgian paper ‘De Morgen’) quotes a survey done by the British Council. Unfortunately, I’m unable to find the actual (English) survey on that site, so you have to believe my amazing Dutch translation skills:

Fifty-five percent of (Flemish) teenagers between the age of 12 and 18, say that physical appearance, like height, weight and clothing are the main reasons for bullying other kids.

Via the BBC, I read that a research suggests that vitamin E can increase the risk of lung cancer: unsurprisingly, the results of the research suggest that the risk increases with smoking (original article).

If you’ve followed the (technology) news the last couple of days, you’ve probably read that Microsoft unveiled Windows Server 2008, which now comes with a minimalist installation (Windows Core Server) for admins who wish to assign specific roles to their Windows server: no GUI, just the plain command-line [Slashdot thread]. There’s also an interesting article at (Microsoft infamous Open source portal) Port 25, titled ‘How Open Source has influenced Windows Server 2008′. More XML settings files, more modularization and well, more Unix-like stuff. Personally, I can’t wait for Microsoft to adopt and embrace the best-ever editor, vi (or rather Vim).

1 The term “Dutch-speaking Belgians” refers to an extraterrestrial race called the ‘Flemish’ who in and or around 1800 landed close to the city borders of Brussels and started their own country which we now know as ‘Belgium’.

The, Surprise

Microsoft’s move to open up the (file) specifications for its Office applications quite surprised me. I don’t think it has hit Slashdot yet, but it made it to the ‘frontpage’ of ZDNews. Brian Jones (Program Manager for Office) made the announcement late last week. All files are available in PDF format and, they’re actually quite readable.

The news that Toshiba is going to announce the end of the HD-DVD format is another surprise: Well, not nearly as much as the one above. Rumour has it that many movie distributors decided to go for Blu-Ray. The final nail on the HD-DVD coffin appears to have been Walmart’s decision to exclusively sell Blu-Ray discs.

Who broke it?

You may have witnessed theme switching the last couple nights: it happened so fast that you wouldn’t even know it was me. I’ve been working on changing the layout accordingly, something that involved plenty of PHP stuff because the original layout of a theme didn’t fit what I wanted to see. I have no plans for an immediate change over: after all, this bare-to-the-bones template has always been fast enough and has served me quite well the last couple of years.

That said: Microsoft launched the Zune 2 player, which, as you may have found out had a couple of favourable reviews. What’s unforgivable is Microsoft’s world wide rollout: that is, it appears that the world is actually only made out of the US. Zune Originals says it so prominently:

Sorry, this site is currently unavailable from your location. Please visit Zune.net for the latest news and information.

OK. Maybe in a few years then?1

Earlier this morning I ended up at Luis Sinco’s amazing story (and pictures) of the Marlboro Marine, which is about an Iraq veteran returning home.

And last but not least, MetaFilter has a discussion-thread about the upcoming PBS documentary about the Kansas trial. It is a long thread but worth every minute reading. Related: Eugenie Scott videos at Google, most of them discussing the history of Creationism and Evolution. Excellent stuff.

1 Officially, Zune’s are still not sold in Canada.

The Duh

I think I saw the announcement of the new Boing-Boing TV on MetaFilter or Reddit, I can’t remember (Oh wait, it was via Laughing Squid). I generally have no problems with videocasts (For example, I always enjoyed watching ‘Rocketboom with Amanda Congdon’ and ‘Ze Frank’), but the show produced by Boing-Boing was not something I could bear longer than one minute. I also know why: it smells ‘over-produced’, thanks to that ‘glossy soft-focus’ look. Yeah, ‘over-produced’ sounds like the right word.

Hey: Microsoft announced their Zune 2.0s. The only real killer feature of the Zune is the wireless connection feature, which allows Zune users (limited) filesharing. And talking about Microsoft, I hear that they plan to release .Net code under (Microsoft’s specific) Reference License (which falls under the company’s Shared Source Initiative, which allows you to view the sources but not to copy and ‘recompile’ them). Read the Slashdot thread.

And to top it off, at CBC’s there’s an excellent discussion (and a podcast) about the HPV vaccine.

iBlackhole

VSpace Worldia Digg, I think, a NASA/MSNBC/Microsoft collaboration to show off the PhotoSynth technology: Space World. I don’t think I ever mentioned it here before: PhotoSynth is an application that can create interactive/3d-like environments from a set of photos. The technology behind is amazing (and promising) but the actual demonstration here is a sort of boring. I was surprised to find out that Microsoft’s engineers been working on a specific Firefox plugin. It works good too.

New Scientist reports that black holes could be worm holes to other dimensions. The article quotes a couple of European physicists who studied some worm holes and were surprised to discover that it’s hard to tell the difference between either worm/black holes. Coming soon: volunteers who’d like to make that daring plunge, or, love to have that extra gravity pull.

I intentionally ignored mentioning anything about bridges and that, particularly after seeing those horrendous images of the collapse of that I-35 bridge (MetaFilter thread, Slashdot follow-up thread on the science of bridge collapsing). Using soundwaves to track down wear and tear in metal and concrete is old news. What do I think caused the collapse? As usual as always: probably the high traffic and a combination of construction work and heat. Not too many old bridges were made for supporting current day’s traffic. Maybe it’s time that governments check out bridges that are older than 20 to 30 years.

Table stuff

Via Slashdot, I read about the announcement of ‘Microsoft’s Surface’ (actual website): it’s a table with a (touchscreen)1 LCD and can be used for a variety of purposes. The idea is neat, but not original: Earlier in 2005 or 2006, Phillips Research announced the ‘Entertaible’ as a concept. Generally, Phillips engineering department is worldclass so I wouldn’t blame them for giving the ‘taible’ such a horrible name.

Popular Mechanics has more details on Microsoft Surface. Skimming through the article, I can’t really tell if Microsoft is thinking about rolling out the hardware or just wants to focus on delivering the software that drives this kind of hardware.

Interesting, for sure: particularly, now that prices of touchscreens have been going down.

1 (add 05/31/07) ArsTechnica goes ‘under the table’ and finds out that the Surface doesn’t work with touchscreens (as the Popular Mechanics article claims), but with near-infrared camera devices and plain light.