Michael Olivero
The official blog of Michael Olivero, Software Architect & Humble Entrepreneur

Microsoft Courier - The tablet Microsoft shut down

Tuesday, 29 November 2011 20:02 by Michael Olivero

Recent rumors has it Microsoft was working on two tablets simultaneously, one inspired with a "think different" approach lead by J Allard and another as an evolution of Windows lead by Steven Sinofsky.  In short, Balmer had a tough decision and resorted to Bill for helping him making the best decision.  Bill, having the natural affinity to Windows, killed the think different version because it was not designed with Windows in mind didn't integrate with Office at it's core.  This is the first time I see the promotional video of the think different version -- Microsoft Courier; not too shabby.

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ExFAT filesystem with Mac OSX and Windows7

Thursday, 22 September 2011 15:35 by Michael Olivero

Do you have a drive partitioned half NTFS and half OSX format just so can utilize the drive on both operating systems or resorted to the unreliable FAT or FAT32 for the convenience?

FAT was never designed to scale to the large storage systems available today. so modern operating systems evolved their own sophisticated file systems (Linux Ext3, Windows NTFS, & Mac HFS+) with various features to handle not only the enormously large capacities, but also provide fault tolerance among other valuable features.  FAT, once ubiquitous, still survives today as the defacto file system for flash cards and USB drives. So why is a new file system called exFAT necessary?

It turns out, the modern file systems have significant overhead and are considered to be an overkill for flash drives -- some times making them slower.

exFAT (Extended FAT) was devised specifically to address these issues and more.  Since the latest versions of Microsoft and Apple operating system support exFAT, it coincidentally serves as a great file system to interchange data between the operating systems too!

On OSX's Disk Utility application, you can easily select exFAT during the erase process and similarly on windows as shown:

In summary, exFAT borrows some valuable features modern file systems such as transactional file system TFAT among others.  I'm personally using this as the filesystem for my external USB drive, however I did notice some applications on the Mac side, which rely specifically on Apple's HFS+ file system, are disabled.  For example, I cannot move a Final Cut Pro X project to my external drive to work remotely -- it simply doesn't let me drop it there as it would an HFS+ partition.

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Windows 8 and HTML5 is this a deja vu of the 90's and Visual Java?

Friday, 9 September 2011 20:30 by Michael Olivero

A few weeks ago I read about Microsoft making Windows 8 UI and platform based on HTML5.  Meaning, developers should adopt towards HTML5 over say the previous product they were pushing really hard - silverlight.  This about face has a very interesting parallel to the past which I will digress into shortly.

 

Silverlight was destined to be the solution to all the deficiencies of developing within the stateless http applications.  The technology embraced the best features of existing technologies unifying them with a serious amount of innovation into a mature platform many developers swore as the future of web technology.  It is declarative using XML (XAML to be specific), it has a rich presentation similar to flash but much better as it was SEO friendly among other things, it is a runtime which is cross platform so Linux users just as much as Windows users would be able to run these apps with the same consistency as Adobe Flash today.  They even borrowed the best from their own .NET platform and cherry picked the essential APIs (to keep the runtime as small as possible).

So, with all this innovation and push towards silverlight, even including it as the basis for their new mobile platform, it's understandable developers are in uproar as to why Windows 8 will move towards HTML5 instead.

A few hours ago, I came to a realization. I'm not second guessing Microsoft, but it sure feels like deja vu.

Back in 1996 or 1997, Microsoft created their first Visual Studio integrated product. They called it "The Year of the Developer" and I probably still have the nifty poster they included in the box somewhere.  In short, they decided to integrate all their development tools similar to how they integrated all their office products. The idea was simple and novel.  Sell the suite cheaper than the individual products and give a Word user a new application to play with (Excel).  The same applied to the development tools and both integrated suites were a phenomenal success -- and still are as we are still working with these integrated suites to this day.  As part of this integration, Microsoft included Java as a language to develop with and build a large class of libraries so Java could work with Windows (call this the precursor of .NET).  So this suite contained Visual Interdev, Visual C++, Visual Basic, and Visual Java.  

As we now know, a large legal battle with Sun eventually forced Microsoft to remove the Java name and instead change it to J#.  The core argument from Sun was very simple -- Microsoft cannot call it "Java" if it is not Java from all the Microsoft specific windows libraries.  By the time the settlement came around the damage was done.  Java was climbing up stream from an adoption perspective with development environments such as Eclipse either non-existing or nowhere near the maturity of Microsoft's development environments.  So with Microsoft's marketing muscle and center-of-attention position they had before, they were able to get a vast majority of developers to develop Java with Visual Java.  Why not right?  It had all the environment features were developers were used to such as intellisense, was binary compatible with Java so long as you didn't use Microsoft's extensions, etc.

Well, many already know the end of that story and transcripts of the various cases against Microsoft essentially shows Microsoft intentionally derailed the adoption of Java enough, keeping Visual Java stuck on Java 1.1 as declared by BillG himself in key emails, while they developed their response.  This put the breaks on the evolution of Java significantly, especially at a core juncture where Sun was pushing Java 1.2 with it's revised event model to better handle large scale applications.  Microsoft literally stole the spotlight using Visual Java and suite as a tool.  This derailment and time-buying was all Microsoft needed to build their version of the runtime -- calling it .NET.  To ensure they lure all their existing developers C++ and VB, their model was to have all languages compile to a common byte-code.  In this process, their new language, C#, very similar to Java, will take center stage in the new developer suite.

So how does all this relate to today?  Well, for quite some time Microsoft has been pushing silverlight.  Why the about face to HTML5 for Windows 8 if they have a great following and even included it for their new mobile phone platform?  I hope I'm wrong, but I feel it may be a repeat cycle of what occurred with Java.

Microsoft may see HTML5, the richest application framework-to-date for building desktop-like applications on the web, as a threat to their desktop dominance. Their celebratory sabbatical for winning the browser wars, with over 90% market share at peak, caused them to leave Internet Explorer in limbo on version 6 while the rest of the world was moving along with the evolving web standards.  They even moved the developers off Internet Explorer to the Windows group.  This allowed for a slow shift towards using standards based browsers with Firefox taking a decisive lead.  Following Firefox many others popped up -- including Apple with Safari and Google with Chrome utilizing rendering engines such as WebKit while others such as Opera built their own.  Developers started alienating Internet Explorer by building sites with the emerging standards -- after all standards worked with all browsers and for the most part, so long as it it's not too fancy, worked with Internet Explorer too.  If we fast forward to today, Internet Explorer is actually behind in market share in Europe and has lost significant market share domestically as well.

So it's clear to me, either two things are happening with Microsoft and HTML5.  Either Microsoft it truly adopting standards and making genuine strides in interoperability with other technologies and platforms like Linux and even building it into their next Windows or they are simply attempting another coup.

I shared this with a friend and colleague via text (I'm not sure if he wants me to publish his name so I blurred it out), but he always has a valid opinion on matters and his response was decisive.  There were four consecutive texts; each with more emphasis than the previous so he clearly sees it as possibly a deja vu.

Only time will tell where the truth lies.

Inktel Direct's 100 days of innovation and GiveMeFeedback.com

Wednesday, 7 September 2011 15:32 by Michael Olivero

Inktel Direct announced 100 days of innovation just about 100 days ago.  See their blog post for more information.  In short, various groups were created with the idea of applying Ideo's principles and create or change something in an innovative way.

I was designated as a judge instead of a participant, however I was inspired to go at it alone on my personal time.  I came up with GiveMeFeedback.com.  Give me feedback arose primarily from the desire to receive feedback from peers quickly and easily for pretty much anything. I copied the following short description from the site to summarize:

Most people have the desire to improve in one shape or another. Improvement, aside from formal and self directed means, relies heavily on the interaction and feedback from others. 

Traditionally, feedback is given every quarter or semi-annually within corporations. While this is a good for self-improvement, it's traditional and doesn't keep up with the "immediate" times of today. By the time you receive the necessary feedback, weeks and months have passed potentially missing out on other opportunities to apply such feedback, or worse yet, the feedback is no longer applicable and is either omitted or simply useless. 

GiveMeFeedback.com addresses the gap to request, give, & receive feedback immediately after an event occurs where feedback would be beneficial in a seamless and friction-free click-friendly manner.

The first phase is focused on person to person, a future update will allow for general anonymous feedback.  Go ahead try it out:
 

Apple Revolutionizing Retail Support with iPhone & GPS!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011 13:19 by Michael Olivero

 

I was at the Apple store the other day and was quite surprised the Apple store iPhone app interacts with the store once you are within the vicinity.  I was going for a Mac genius appointment and the process was so smooth words cannot do it justice.  Checkout these screenshots I took of the whole process.

The pictures left to right speak for themselves...super smooth.   Notice iPhone's time indicator from for the duration of the screen shots from 3:07 to 3:22.

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Windows7 may drain battery faster than Max OSX on MacBook Air 11"

Tuesday, 30 August 2011 20:30 by Michael Olivero

I was intrigued at how fast the battery drained while running bootcamp on my MacBook Air 11" (2011 model).  There are various blogs discussing how Windows is not SSD friendly, particularly Vista, however I felt this would have been resolved with the latest version of Windows and/or latest service packs.

 

After various trials and errors, I achieved reasonable battery life by turning off Windows Search which has indexing running in the background.  Simply turn off the service called "Windows Search" and change it's startup to either "Manual" or "Disabled".

Thunderbolt and MiniDisplay Mac Compatibility 101

Thursday, 21 July 2011 19:05 by Michael Olivero

I have a MacBook Air 2010 model with the mini display port.  At the office we recently ordered an iMac with the thunderbolt port.  On occasion, I want to use my MacBook Air at the office so I was exploring the option of using the iMac 27 as an external monitor via the thunderbolt port.

The latest macs, both the 2009-2010 models using mini display ports as well as the 2011 using the thunderbolt ports support a feature referred to as "Target Display Mode".  In essence, when properly cabled with either of the two cables, hitting Command/F2 will enable it.

The main question is, what are all the possible combinations?  Meaning, here I am with a mini display port MacBook Air and an thunderbolt iMac 27", do they communicate?  Turns out no, a mini display port cannot target a thunderbolt machine (or monitor) as a target display.   So a little frustrated, I went to them Apple store to sort things out and the Apple employee was super friendly on testing all the combinations with a new thunderbolt MacBook Air and cables I had just bought.  Here are the results:

SourceDestinationCable UsedResultDestination iSight Camera works
MBA Mini Display Cinema Display (Mini Display) Integrated Mini Display Cable Worked Fine Yes
MBA Thunderbolt Cinema Display (Mini Display) Integrated Mini Display Cable Worked Fine Yes
MBA Mini Display iMac 27" Mini Display Mini Display Cable  Worked Fine No, MBA prevails
MBA Mini Display iMac 27" Mini Display Thunderbolt Cable Did Not Work NA
MBA Mini Display iMac 27" Thunderbolt Mini Display Cable Did Not Work NA
MBA Mini Display iMac 27" Thunderbolt Thunderbolt Cable Did Not Work NA
       
MBA Thunderbolt iMac 27" Mini Display Mini Display Cable Worked Fine MBA Prevails
MBA Thunderbolt iMac 27" Mini Display Thunderbolt Cable Did Not Work NA
MBA Thunderbolt iMac 27" Thunderbolt Mini Display Cable Did Not Work NA
MBA Thunderbolt iMac 27" Thunderbolt Thunderbolt Cable  Worked Fine NO, MBA Prevails

One thing to note, when using target display mode and mirroring, the resolution will default to the lowest resolution device. In my case, I had a MacBook Air resolution displayed on the iMac 27 which didn't look great for extended reading. There are two ways to achieve target display native resolution. One way is to close the MacBookAir and tap on the mouse to wake it up. When it wakes up, it will adjust to the target display resolution. With the Thunderbolt MBA, you will need to have the magsafe power plugged in. I am not sure if this is required also for the Minidisplay MBA.

The second way entails setting up a second monitor side by side (uncheck mirroring). The problem here is, if you want to ignore the MBA's monitor and solely use the target display, the dock and menu bar are annoyingly on the MBA monitor making it very cumbersome to work. We accidentally came across a nifty solution by trying out various options. We discovered, just like you can move the orientation of the second monitor, you can move around the menu strip too. So while viewing the monitor orientation window, click and drag the little white strip above one of the monitors and drag it to the other. This in essence moves the doc and menu over to the target display monitor. At this point, you can either dim the brightness of the MBA and you are all set to go.  Thanks!

 

Unfortunately WordPress didn't make it convenient for migrating blogs out of their system.  As a consequence, I'm linking to the original posting for this topic so others can have access to the comment history.  Moving forward I will be updating this blog.

http://mike952.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/thunderbold-and-minidisplay-mac-compatibility-101/

 

Transporting and Sharing Files Reinvented

Wednesday, 1 June 2011 16:54 by Michael Olivero

Wouldn't it be great if you could edited a document at work and seamlessly can continue editing it on your laptop while waiting for your flight home and finally finish proofing it on your home desktop computer without copying it or transferring it from one computer to the next?  And once completed, regardless of size, deliver it with the same ease as an email?  If so, the next few minutes will be worth your time Sharing has been around since the dawn of time. As we evolve in this digital world, how does one share documents with ever increasing efficiency? In the old times, one would make a xerox copy and deliver by mail while today one may simply email them a copy they already have on their computer. Notice the there are two important concepts here, (a) making a copy (xerox or copying a file) and (b) transporting the copy (mail or email). The focus of this post is on the later and how transporting has been completely reinvented and why one needs to break from the past and leverage the changes time brings to be effective in every day work. Briefly looking at history you can easily see how disadvantaged one would be if they hadn't adopted and changed from the means of the previous era.

PRE-COMPUTER ERA   courier, postal mail, FedEx, UPS, briefcase **
COMPUTER ERA   courier, postal mail, FedEx, UPS, floppy disk or cd media **
EARLY INTERNET ERA   FTP, POP EMAIL (minimal attachments), USB flash drive **
MODERN INTERNET ERA   FTP, IMAP EMAIL (attachments), larger USB flash & portable drives **

** how people transport large files for themselves typically to/from work In the past, one would have to carry a briefcase, a floppy or cd, or more modern times a USB drive.  

We'll the next era is here  and one of the first successful incarnations of this era's transportation concept is a company called DropBox. DropBox is quite simply a folder on your computer which is automatically and seamlessly available on all of your computers -- including your mobile devices.  Unlike having the files reside in the cloud like google docs requiring connectivity to the internet for accessing them, they reside locally on your machine and are transparently replicated to your other machines in realtime as modifications are made. Oh yea, forgot to mention, when you are finished editing the document and are ready to share it with someone, simply right click the file to get the public URL to the file and send this link to whomever you would like share the file -- the era of attachments which are too large to email is also over.

The product and concept speaks for itself, to see a tour of drop box and download it, use this link:  Drop Box Download

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iOS 4.2 and iPad with Camera coming soon...

Wednesday, 1 September 2010 13:26 by Michael Olivero
During Apple recent press conference showcasing all their new hardware and software toys, Jobs introduced a new feature called High Dynamic Range photos (HDR) where the iPhone combines an under exposed picture with an over exposed picture making a strikingly beautiful combined picture. Well, as part of his presentation he also previewed iOS 4.2 to be released in November. As he introduced it, he mentioned all the various features coming to the iPad ..including multitasking, folders, new printing feature, etc. and HDR photos. How can HDR photos exist if the iPad doesn't have a camera?...Well that's the new guessing game... I say we have a 7" iPad coming to town in November. If it were the same size iPad, this may alienate some existing iPad customers, but if they introduce a newer model with slightly new hardware features, they are set for the holiday season smash!
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Windows 7 GodMode

Thursday, 7 January 2010 19:10 by Michael Olivero
This is a nifty little feature I just came across and verified with my Windows 7 installation. With Microsoft's recent updates, they are hiding more and more of the nitty gritty details making you either search for them or in futile simply switch back to classic view from within control panel. To the rescue is recently discovered GodMode setting and works with any Windows 7 version. Simply create a folder anywhere on your harddrive and rename it to the following guid: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} Once, you do this, you'll see the folder's icon changes to a icon similar to the control panel and once you double click you have quick access to a plethora of Windows customization options.
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