Friday, March 28, 2014

Facebook, Oculus. Why not?

I've seen so many articles speculating about why Facebook would want to by Oculus. Theories about different ways to delivery Facebook feeds, through to Facebook wanting to compete in the gaming market.

I've come to the conclusion that it's probably a lot more fundamental than this. It's about Ads.

Facebook is an Advertising company, it's how they make their money. Oculus are working on creating a highly immersive environment that can be used for games, research, manufacturing, you name it. Now imagine having ads in this highly immersive environment. Full field of vision, no distractions. Just you and an Ad, pretty much a captive market.

This might seem a little over the top, but just imagine waiting for a game or other VR app to load, and having a nice big Ad beamed right into your head. Surely it's the holy grail for ad delivery.

I could be wrong on this, they may just be looking at having ads inside games, like other companies have been working on for years. But just the simple fact that this is a fully immersive environment, the value of the ads would have to be much higher that what they can currently get.

Makes perfect sense to me.

Thursday, July 04, 2013


I’ve been working on a migration of code from VB5 to .Net. Due to the size of the project, I’ve been slowly migrating functionality over and using COM interop to call the new code from the old VB5 code base.

One little gotcha that I’ve stumbled across access to the Application.Current instance for the AppDomain. When called from VB5, Application.Current is null, and it’s read-only. Oh no!!

After a few minutes of play, it seems the fix is very simple.

if (Application.Current == null)
    Application newApplication = new Application();

That’s it. Just create a new Application instance, and the Singleton Application.Current is now referencing the newly created application.

* Yes, VB5 apps still exist in the wild.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

2 Clicks to Shutdown!

The web is full of reviews from the new wave of 'Blue' coming out of Microsoft. Most articles seem to focus on the return of the start button. A fair number of these articles talk about how good it is that you can now shutdown your computer with 2 clicks of the mouse using the new start button. That's amazing. Two clicks!

Now, I'm starting to think I've been doing it wrong, as right now in Windows 8, I just press the power button once, with one finger. That was it, just one button, one finger, one click.  Clearly two clicks of the mouse is going to be so much easier... I can't wait!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Resistance is Futile

Well, maybe that’s a little over the top, but it’s an absolute waste of time.

Before reading below, I need to make it clear that I use Windows 8 without any tweaks, I use Visual Studio 2012 with just a few small add-ins (that add features to improve productivity), and in general just stick with the defaults for most things.

Now, to my point.

I’ve been watching a thread in a mailing list recently, talking about how to change Visual Studio 2012 back to the style of Visual Studio 2010. It’s a series of tweaks, add-ins, and ancient Indian rain dances, and once complete, Visual Studio will kinda look a bit like the older version, but not quite.

I’ve seen this same thinking over and over with people trying to revert Windows 8 (Start to Desktop, Start Button) back to the old ways and I’ve seen people installing old/unsupported versions of Office to avoid the ribbon.

My question is why? Is it about Productivity? Usability?  These are the two main reasons that people use when justifying these reasons. For me, I just don’t get it.

First I want to look as Productivity… This is the strangest one of all. I’m a keyboard masher, I do everything I possibly can to reduce the amount of time my hand is resting on the mouse. I’ve been in the Microsoft eco system for a very long time, and despite the fact that everything is graphical, a vast majority of the tools I use fully support keyboards. By this, I mean I can do everything I need to, quicker with just a keyboard. This applies mainly to Visual Studio and Windows. Productivity in Windows 8, despite the strange dual personalities, is on par if not better than Windows 7. The keyboard shortcuts I used still work, or there are now quicker ways to do things.

Visual Studio is the same. I type, I mash the keyboard, I press shortcuts. I tend to focus my attention on the code I’m writing, not on the upper case menus, the lack of colour that was supposedly taking my attention, or the strange flat icons.

This is really what productivity is about, it’s about being able to do your job, it’s about a tool not interfering with your work, it’s about a tool that automates every day tasks. Both Windows 8 and Visual Studio 2012 do this.

Then there is usability. Once again, I’m a keyboard masher, I’m not an icon hunter, and I’m even less of a menu monkey. Visual Studio introduced a feature called Quick Launch. Press Control + Q and type what your looking for. Visual Studio does the rest. That’s very usable (and productive).

Windows 8 is much the same. Just type what your looking for, right from the start screen. Yep, just type. No scrolling, touching screens, or strange gestures. If your on the desktop, just press the windows key then type. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

I’m sure you’ve all noticed that I left out office. The fact is that I’m now on the third version of office with the Ribbon toolbar. I can’t remember much about using older versions that didn’t have it. The only thing I do remember was searching through menus, clicking on tabbed windows trying to find something, only to realise I was in the wrong screen and having to look for another menu option that may be right. Now, I just click a tab or two on the ribbon and normally find what I’m after pretty quickly. Having said that, most of my work in office is typing content. The way you type content hasn’t changed a single bit. It’s still mashing a keyboard.

I know this has been a lot of rambling, but I think it’s safe to say I just don’t get the resistance to these newer products. Yes, they look different, and yes, they come with some downsides, but without any wasted time looking for ways to resist the change, I’m more productive now than ever before. That’s a win.

Friday, November 02, 2012

I’m missing you already Windows 8..

That’s my thought for the day.. As I’m busy working away on both Windows XP and Windows 7, I’m finding that I really miss some of the little things in Windows 8.

For those who know me, I’m a news junky.. I think I’m addicted to news, regardless of what it is, I just have to know, and know now. It’s one of the main reasons I have a Windows Phone, and the biggest reason I jumped head first into Windows 8. Instead of having to open apps/web sites, I now just rely entirely on live tiles. “Hey look, there are some unread articles”..

The other killer for me, is the ease of navigation around windows 8 with the keyboard. Yes, I know, lots of reviews will have you think that Windows 8 is touch only, but put simply, I find I now spend a lot less time reaching for the mouse than ever.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Tasks in Silverlight…

Yep, the RC for Silverlight 5 now supports Tasks. You can do your own parallel processing in Silverlight 5 now.

Oh, and here are some of the other features:

  • P/Invoke (Native function calls)
  • 64 Bit
  • Vector Printing
  • Remote Control and Media Command Support (I have no idea what this is.. time to do some reading)
  • DataContextChanged Event
  • In-Browser Trusted Applications
  • PivotViewer Control
  • Power Awareness

All in all, some cool features seem to be coming..

More reading is here


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

OMG It’s the Ribbon!!

That’s what I’ve woken up to today. The web is ablaze about Microsoft’s decision to put the ribbon into Explorer in Windows 8. Everybody seems to be an expert about the ribbon, and the critics are all busy bagging it out. Exhibit A

Now, a lot of people may well be correct when they talk about the ribbon taking up extra room, and showing items that normally are not used. But I take a very different view on the ribbon.

In file explorer, 95% of what I do is hidden in the right mouse click context menu, or it’s done with shortcut keys. nice… But in this new world of touch screens, how does this work? I can’t just right mouse click or press Control + N as I no longer have a keyboard or mouse…

The ribbon provides common ground within the OS, allowing all form factors to perform the same tasks using the same mechanism. Is this a bad thing?

I think my only concern is to do with the one size fits all. Microsoft’s previous incarnations of Windows Mobile all tried to turn Mobile phones into computers.. It didn’t work. Finally they came out with Windows Phone 7, the phone OS that’s not a computer. Are Microsoft about to come undone in the same way with tablets? Are they trying to hard to force a PC based OS onto a tablet. I hope not.

If you have any thoughts, great opinions etc, drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you.