The future of the PC

8269195505_3cea982395_c

The machine on the photo above is my current PC. An AMD FX-6300@4,5GHz with 16GB RAM, Radeon HD 6870, Samsung 128GB 840 SSD, 1TB HDD and a case with 5x 120mm fans… but this desktop computer running Windows 7, built for optimal gaming performance and value, is a dinosaur. The desktop PC era is coming to an end and the big players in the PC world understood it. The Home Personal Computer that had a specific immobile place in your apartment or house is dead. Most people use notebooks, tablets, smart phones or video game consoles for media and content consumption as well as social actives. Microsoft made the bold move with Windows 8 and hardware makers along with chip makers like Intel and AMD try to adapt to the new situation. CPUs tend to become System-On-Chips integrating  GPUs even in the x86 world as they would try to copy ARM, the dominant architecture for mobile chips. For home consumers I think the Windows x86 PC will survive as a hybrid tablet and Microsoft did a good job so far in initiating this transition. They killed the desktop user interface along with the task bar and the start button and adapted Windows to work with a touch interface. Not many people know but Microsoft was behind the design of most first generation Windows 8 Tablet hardware along with releasing their own reference device, the Surface RT and Surface Pro (more info: http://news.cnet.com/8301-10805_3-57561849-75/how-microsoft-became-a-control-freak-with-tablet-makers/).

The big question is if corporations will adapt to Windows 8. I talked with the IT support folks in my company and none of them can imagine using Windows 8 in the corporate environment. There is also a funny video about an admin reacting to Windows 8 on YouTube:

Everyone who is into content creation, will it be image or video/audio editing, print layout (aka DTP), web design or programming, won’t give up a mouse and a desktop user interface designed for it. No matter if on a Windows 7 PC, Linux PC, or Mac Pro or even a Notebook/Ultrabook or MacBook Pro/iMac/Mac mini. All of them are designed to be used with a track-pad or mouse. OK, it’s possible to do some nice content creation with touch and there are some cool Apps but I feel they are still toys compared to the mature software packages used on desktop machines. Also the classic office application suite is difficult to use on touch and you need also a wireless printer even though I reckon Microsoft did a good job with Office 2013. For typing a physical keyboard is a must but most Windows 8 tablets are hybrids anyway. It’s understandable why Microsoft want’s to keep this exclusive to Windows 8 and is not releasing an iOS Office version (more: http://www.zdnet.com/why-ballmer-doesnt-want-office-on-the-ipad-7000010566/). So the problem of Windows 8 is the hardware but it’s about innovative corporate hardware!

The following article by a professional analyst comes to the same conclusion more or less: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9236658/If_the_PC_dies_Windows_8_will_be_its_killer_says_analyst

So far I didn’t see many corporate hardware concepts for Windows 8 that are compelling enough but the ones that are our there come surprisingly from Dell (yes, the company that went private lately). It seems that most hardware makers like Lenovo with the Yoga 13 forgot to release a docking station. In my option an essential piece of hardware making life easier in a corporate environment is a docking station (or do you want to plug in your keyboard, mouse, wired network and monitor each time?). Windows 8 has multi-monitor support so such a configuration can work pretty well in my option (more: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/05/21/enhancing-windows-8-for-multiple-monitors.aspx).

Latitude10_dock_image

Another concept that makes sense is a kind of stand for the tablet that connects keyboard and mouse wireless.

tablet-docking-station

Of course you could tilt a touch PC like this Dell and use it in a kind of Star Trek Geordi La Forge manner by typing and touching the interface.

w8hw3a_medium-1

My advice to Microsoft would be to release a set of Windows 8 (or Windows Blue by that time) reference devices similar to the Surface Pro especially optimized for the office corporate environment and content creation. The Surface Pro is a good start but more has to follow and most importantly those devices have to prove they improve efficiency similar to what is shown on the video below.

More thoughts on Flash vs. HTML5

I started a video tutorial training at lynda.com on HTML5 as I’m getting more and more impressed by the new possibilities of HTML5 and CSS3. Yesterday during lunch I ran into a hot discussion about Adobe Flash vs. HTML5 with a colleague who is a former Flash developer, just as I am … I have been a bit more on the designer side but stopped working with Flash about the time MX came out. So we both are not using Flash actively anymore although I have to check FLA files from time to time and got recently into the Flash-Video topic at work as I supported a project related to online advertising and video. Moreover I had a Flash CS4/ActionScript3 training a few months ago at work so I got up to speed regarding the latest features and capabilities of Flash. A good starting point for an intense tech-discussion! 🙂 I also learned about the possibility of creating Flash projects without actually buying Flash by using FlashDevelop. So basically a hardcore developer can’t tell you anymore that he doesn’t get into Flash because for him it’s an ugly piece of 2D animation software and you can’t say that it’s a matter of money what you chose. There are many aspects of the discussion like the speed and reliability of Flash on mobile devices or older machines (Apple picked that up and banned Flash) and if you are more a designer who wants do do animation or really code stuff from the scratch.

In the end I think there is a fight going on to win the hearts and minds of developers (this article comes to the same conclusion: http://techcrunch.com/2010/02/05/the-future-of-web-content-html5-flash-mobile-apps/)… Flash, Silverlight and HTML5 are awesome frameworks for great web content but the question for me is: why should I build HTML5 sites that look and behave different from browser to browser where I can have a cross-platform-plug-in like Flash that renders them the same way everywhere? Is it because Flash is a proprietary technology (I know that Adobe claims the opposite) and HTML5 is an open standard driven by W3C, whatwg.org, Apple, Microsoft, Google and some other companies ? For sure it is but what has Adobe done wrong that would make people switch? Has it been abusing their market position? The answer is NO in my opinion. They never made people register for downloading the Flash player or tried to abuse their dominance too much. Microsoft provides with Silverlight an extremely powerful toolset… but yea, it’s from Microsoft so nobody really trusts them (I recently tried out their new Expression… pahh! Forget Adobe Dreamweaver! This is much more powerful for only-CSS-based-websites).

I’m very curious where the trend goes but there are indications about an end of the “Adobe vs. Apple” war. Apple now allows apps to be compiled in Flash for example: http://www.reghardware.com/2010/09/09/apple_ios_runtime_green_light/

So maybe Flash, HTML5 and Silverlight will peacefully co-exist in future. People who always used open source like PHP will probably support HTML5 and everyone who used to work with Flash like media agencies will keep it and Silverlight? Not sure but there must be someone using it 😉 I keep learning HTML5 and CSS3 just as I enjoyed learning Adobe Flash AS3 … and right now I’m downloading Microsoft Visual Studio Lightswitch Beta 🙂

One thing I forgot about… once HTML5 gets finalized the Flash vs. HTML5 debate will be over. Everyone will learn HTML5 instead of HTML4 or do you know someone who still writes HTML3 and embeds Flash for the advanced stuff? The question won’t be: “will HTML5 replace Flash?” but “now that I know HTML5 why should I use Flash?”. Consequence: Flash must get better (probably much better) to survive once HTML5 becomes a final standard.

Useful info on Flash vs. HTML5:

http://remysharp.com/2010/02/08/html5-vs-flash/

http://www.ludamix.com/archives/2010/02/entry_5.html

demos:

http://websatisfactionpr.com/projects/websatisfactionpr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=131:html5-demo&catid=51:tips&Itemid=18

http://www.mygeekpal.com/276/working-with-html5-the-future-of-web/

Make your XEOX gamepad Xbox 360 compatible

This is the controller I bought for GTA IV as the game supports only the Xbox 360 controller from Microsoft since one of the latest patches. Guess what… it just looks like a Xbox 360 gamepad but it’s not compatible with it. OK, it’s much cheaper (around 20€) and it has rubber panels that are really nice. Overall a decent gampad but not compatible with the original Xbox 360 controller.

First I started mapping keyboard keys to the gamepad with Xpadder (http://xpadder.com/) but then I found out that it’s pretty hard to drive like that as such an A-S-W-D control mapped to a gamepad stick it not very precise. Now I managed to emulate the Xbox 360 gamepad with the XBOX360 Controller Emulator by Racer_S. I had to fine tune the .ini file in order to make all the buttons work but it runs perfectly now.

So if you have the XEOX gamepad and want to turn it into a Xbox 360 gamepad then get the emulator and install my .ini file. It should work with every game that supports the Xbox 360 gamepad!

Instructions and D/L of the emulator: http://www.fragtheplanet.com/808/emulate-an-xbox-360-controller/

My custom .ini file for the XEOX: http://www.pazurmapping.com/misc/x360ceini_02.zip (replace the original file with this)

Mirror: http://cid-d3011d77266e15a4.office.live.com/self.aspx/xeoxini/x360ceini^_02.zip

Specs of the XEOX: http://speedlink.com/?p=2&cat=3132&pid=22714&paus=1 (in case you look for a good but not expensive gamepad)

UPDATE:

The latest version of the Emulator has a preset for this gamepad that also supports vibration! Download it at: http://code.google.com/p/x360ce/

Here is how to use it:1. Unpack the file you downloaded from http://code.google.com/p/x360c/ (download link is on the left hand side – current version is x360ce.App-2.0.2.158.zip)

2. Run the exe included in it
3. If the program asks for it allow it to create an .ini file
4. Select from the drop down on the bottom the preset for Speed Link XEOX USB Gamepad (SL-6555-SBK-A)
5. Save the preset
6. Now copy the content of the unpacked folder to the folder that hosts the .exe of your game (i.e. Batman Arkham City\Binaries\Win32\BatmanAC.exe)
7. When starting the game you should hear a soft “bing” when the game starts that indicates the controller is working

Please note that with the Xeox you can’t press the left and right trigger at the same time as shown in this video I recorded: http://www.screencast.com/users/ypiotr/folders/Jing/media/6af6e44d-031a-4c1c-bad2-d1059712293a . In GTA IV for example this means you can’t aim by pressing the left trigger and then shoot by pressing the right trigger. I’m using the gamepad for driving in GTA IV and the mouse when shooting so this works for me but there are games you might want to play with the controller only.

One of the readers of my blog commented below telling that the new product line of XEOX gamepads (6556-wired and 6566-wireless) has got an interface to switch between Xinput and Dinput (like the Logitech F series) so there is no more need to use an emulator. Only the 4446 model (for PC and PS3) still needs it.

HTC EVO vs iPhone4

Hilarious! 😀 The guy who made this video nearly lost his job at Best Buy although he didn’t say anything about it in his video.

Personally I don’t like Google Android (that the HTC EVO runs for example) but I think it will continue to grow market-share as phone makers just need some fancy OS on their smart-phones or tablet computers. I think Google will discontinue their Nexus One bullshit thingy at some point. They already closed the online-ordering site for it. What should I say about the iPhone? For me the iPhone is still the coolest smart-phone ever built and as with all other Apple hardware or software (like the Mac and Mac OS) it was clear that some competitor will copy them one day and try to take away their business. It’s pretty weird it’s Google though. I don’t think Microsoft is really out of the game either… Windows Mobile is still a great mobile OS and the new Windows Phone 7 just looks cool. Where is Yahoo! in this mobile game BTW? Well, Yahoo! does now Apps for both platforms:

http://ycorpblog.com/2010/06/30/androidhtml/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+yodelanecdotal+%28Yodel+Anecdotal%29&utm_content=My+Yahoo

Games for Windows


I always thought that the “Games for Windows” badge is some compatibility badge that games get when they run well on Windows machines but it turns out that Microsoft tries to market their Xbox 360 controller with it! Grand Theft Auto IV doesn’t work with my Speedlink Striker 2 gamepad… it needs this Microsoft Xbox 360 controller for Windows although Grand Theft Auto Vice City works with it. I noticed the same with Star Wars Force Unleashed. IMHO this Xbox controller is absolutely ugly!

More: http://www.microsoft.com/games/en-us/aboutgfw/pages/gamesforwindows.aspx

Apparently there is a workaround to play with the gamepad I have (It’s a Speedlink Strike 2 – see picture below – is basically a PS3 gamepad that looks much better than the Xbox 360 gamepad)

A software called Xpadder can simulate the gamepad by using keyboard mappings and works according to their support with GTA IV: http://xpadder.com/forum4/viewtopic.php?f=54&t=1812

What does Xpadder let you do?
*****************************
– Play PC games with poor or no gamepad support
– Add gamepad support to emulated, internet and DOS games
– Play multiplayer games with each player using a gamepad
– Control video/music players using their shortcut keys
– Use a gamepad with a browser or any Windows program

Download: http://xpadder.com/ – it’s 10$ so pretty affordable

Windows browser choice in Europe

The Windows browser choice in Europe is really the right step forward but why only browser choice? Ideally every program that has been bundled with XP like Movie Maker, Photo Gallery, Outlook Express and most important Windows Messenger needs to get out from Windows to ensure a fair competition on the market. The only component that should not be removed IMHO is the Windows Firewall… I’m using Zone Alarm but the basic Windows Firewall is a must-have for everyone.

More: http://microsoftontheissues.com/cs/blogs/mscorp/archive/2010/02/19/the-browser-choice-screen-for-europe-what-to-expect-when-to-expect-it.aspx

The revenge of Netscape

It looked for a while that Microsoft won the browser war with their Internet Explorer against Netscape… but since a few years the trend is changing. It’s not Netscape coming back of course but it is a late revenge in my opinion. Many people don’t know that Mozilla Firefox is a successor of one of the latest Netscape versions (more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla_Application_Suite). How large the market share of Firefox is depends on the country and the visited site but IE gets the underdog with more users having Firefox than Internet Explorer on many sites! It’s amazing how a browser that doesn’t come with your Operating System can gain such a vast popularity!

My first browser has been something that came with the CompuServe installation CD-ROM and I’m not sure if it has been Mosaic or an early CompuServe-branded Netscape version but after discovering Netscape I started using it for many years… till version 6. Then at some re-install of my Windows system where I’ve been too lazy to install Netscape I started using Internet Explorer and kept using it for many years. About two years ago I started using Firefox due to the vast amount of very useful add-ons! It hasn’t be the browser itself or any security related issue that made me switch… it have been the add-ons!

More on the browser wars: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Browser_wars

Check how Firefox gained market share: http://gs.statcounter.com/?nomore=ie6#browser_version-ww-weekly-200827-200951

  • Calendar

    • August 2017
      M T W T F S S
      « Jun    
       123456
      78910111213
      14151617181920
      21222324252627
      28293031  
  • Search