I'm not the only one!

Good to know that Microsoft also messes up bigtime! Microsoft started testing their Flash Killer code named WPF/e in December 2006. They added an expiry date in that build of mid February 2007. Apparently they thought it was Feb 23, but it timed out yesterday. Teams mostly put such expiry dates in the product to force them to keep releasing new builds. The WPF/e team has been testing the Feb CTP for a few days now and were planning to release it in the next two weeks, but when they saw the Dec CTP timeout, the entire team got into action and released the Feb CTP today Smile. WOW! that was some mess up, but they came around pretty good.

Note: Microsoft has been beta testing with limited users their so called YouTube killer code named Soapbox for sometime now. The videos on soapbox is in Flash and word on the street is that they are working on converting it from Flash to WPF/e. That is one way to get WPF/e to the masses.

World's greatest macro photographer

WOW, check out these amazing photos captured by Lord V on flickr. Truely amazing! You can read how he does it here. He uses two of my favorite cameras Cool. Although I think it is the magic in his hands that do the trick not the camera.

Update: From one expert to another. I found this guy's link in the comments section of Lord V's explanation of how he takes his photos. I know what I am going to be doing for the next couple of days Smile. These guys have rekindled the itch for photography in me. What amazes me the most is that all their shots are taken with a sub $1000 Digital SLR cameras. I know you may be thinking that's too much but to give you perspective the truely pro cameras come for over $3000. Can you tell by looking at those photos that they were taken with a amatuer level camera Smile

Added Smiley support

I have added smiley support to this blog. It is enabled for both posts and comments. In order to get the smilies you just use the standard chat shortcuts.

Use the following for the smilies without the space in between:

: ) or : smile : = Smile Smile
: ( or : sad : = Sad Sad
: | or : neutral : = Neutral Neutral
; ) or : wink : = Wink Wink
: p or : tease : = Tease Tease
: D or : grin : = Grin Grin
: x or : mad : = Mad Mad
8 ) or : cool : = Cool Cool
    : oops : = Oops! Oops!

Credit: I have used the smilies from Long Zheng's istartedsomething.com and extended it to create my own mad, cool and oops icons. He uses WordPress as his blogging engine, but his icons are a lot more polished than those of WordPress. Of course WordPress supports a lot more emoticons than I do, but I will create better versions of those over time.

XBox 360

WOW, I was listening to this diggination videocast and according to Alex from this videocast, when the new 360 launches it will be priced at $399 (the price of the current premium 360) and the existing premium 360 will come down to $299. Of course Microsoft has not announced anything so please take this with a grain of salt. Mostly products are released in a Christmas to Christmas cycle. So don't expect any new product until the later half of this year.

C# 3.0 - New features - Part 1

If you listened to the two channel 9 videos I posted you might have heard a lot about functional programming, Lambda expressions, LINQ and so on. It was overwhelming to hear so many terms all at once and not know what exactly each meant. On top of that the speakers talked about multi-core and concurrency and my head started spinning, so I decided I would learn each of the terms mentioned and even better record it for others and myself for future reference.

Instead of going into the details of different terms used above let's see first hand what exactly we will be able to do in C# 3.0.

var customers = BusinessLogic.GetCustomers();

The above statement gives a sense of dynamism to C#. You would be thinking that you no longer have to specify the Type hence C# has become like VB where customer can be of any Type. While the first conclusion is correct, the second one is not. With the above statement the compiler tries to infer the Type using the right side of the expression. If it cannot figure it out, it throws an error. Also, after the above statement, if you write the following statement the compiler will throw an error:

customers = 10;

Although this syntactic sugar makes C# appear like a dynamic language, in reality it is actually statically Typed. Also note that you can only use the var keyword with local variables. There are a few other restrictions and you can read some of them here. There have been many times when I have felt a bit retarded to type the Type of a class two times. For Example Customer c = new Customer(); instead var c = new Customer(); makes it much simpler.

The real reason var was added is so that we can declare a strongly typed variable without needing to know the name of the variable's type. This is required in order to enable another new C# 3.0 language feature: anonymous types. You wouldn't be able to declare a variable of an anonymous type if you always had to include the type name as part of the variable declaration. That's the main reason var has been added to the language.

- from this article by Ian Griffiths

More to come ...

Windows Vista Ultimate Extras!

There was a time when I used to think that Operating System prices would go down overtime as the OS market stabilizes. I guess I was wrong. The prices have steadily gone up over the years and has now reached a whopping $400. Yes that's right, that's how much you would pay for Vista Ultimate. Knowing that Vista Home Premium is what would sell the most Microsoft created Vista Ultimate Extras (addon software only available to Ultimate users) to try and lur the geeks to buy the Ultimate version. Extras sounds very familiar to the doomed Plus! pack MS had created for Windows 98, except that it comes only with Ultimate and it's free. They previewed the Extras pack at CES and by the looks of it, it appeared far from ready. They only previewed two pieces of software as part of the Extras pack, but I suspect there will me a lot more applications that would be part of it. Here are the two pieces they did demo:

  • DreamScene (formerly know as Motion Desktop). In simple words this is a video that runs as your Windows Background. So far we only have been able to set an image as a background, but with this new Extra we could set any home video as Desktop Background. They did show some cool looking videos like Water dropping from a leaf, Waterfall that turns into a river, Rain drops. All these are very sutle videos which do not change the scene that much and only a couple of parts in the scene are moving. They have also taken a lot of care to make sure the video loops back properly without any hiccups in the scene, resulting in an infinitely running video.

  • GroupShot (A photo fixing application). Imagine you taking a family photo. To be sure you got the best possible picture you would take two or three snaps right? Well imagine that all three turn out to be bad, where one person is blinking in one photo, while another person is blinking in another photo and so on. What you can do with this application is that you can choose the select the good areas from each of the photos and the application will merge them into one good photo. It is really amazing to see how it creates a new photo out of all the actual photos. Words cannot describe it enough. You have to see it. Unfortunately I don't have a link to the video so you will have to see the entire CES keynote video by Bill Gates and forward it slowly until you reach the Vista demo.
  • There are a few other applications. You can read about them in Paul Thurrott's review which went live after I wrote this entry.

Interesting find: Jeep Waterfall

This is really awesome. Words can't express it, you got to see it.

Neflix movie streaming!

It had to happen sooner than later. Netflix has come out with a new service which let's users watch movie over the Internet. The way it works is, you need to install a software on your machine and then on Netflix site you will have two buttons play (for playing online) or add (for renting the DVD). Once you hit play the movie will start streaming down the Internet to your PC. The service does not let you download the movie, but is free for subscribers for a limited number of hours. From what I have read, those with $18.00 per month service will get 18 hours of free movie time. Also you only get timed for the number of minutes you watched the movie. So if you started watching a movie and found it crapy, you can stop it and get charged only for the number of minutes you were into the movie. The service is in the initial stages and I suspect it will be atleast a few years before this whole Internet Movies (if I were Apple I would have called it iMovies) gets mass acceptance, but until then I guess Neflix is just testing the waters.

Note: Verisign showed a demo of a similar service at CES 2007. The service lets you download HD quality content over the Internet. It uses a P2P backbone to speed up the content delivery.

Windows Live Writer is awesome

Windows Live Writer is a Windows Application that let's bloggers post entries to their blog in a rich and interactive way instead of having to deal with the browser. The application is written in .NET and has some really cool features around adding pictures and layouts. It also has a plugin model which allows developers to add functionality to the app.

Here are some examples of what I can do with it:

The standard rich text editor features.

Ability to add and layout images:

  Images from Google talk


using System;

namespace VaibhavKamath
	public class HelloWorld
		public static void Main(string[] args)
			Console.WriteLine("Hello World!");

It also has features like save draft, spell checker, auto-save draft just as we are used to in Outlook.

Really awesome!

New XBox 360 this fall?

Apparently Microsoft is preparing a new XBox 360 for this fall. The new device will sport the following:

  • 65-nanometer nm processor which runs at lower temperature making the 360s quieter than existing consoles.
  • A 120GB HDD compared to the existing 20GB.
  • HDMI port
  • Special circuitry onboard to make IPTV through your XBox possible.

A lot of users (around 10 million of those) who already own the existing consoles are crying foul at Microsoft for such a possibility as it would be like leaving the early adopters in the cold. My guess is that Microsoft will come out with some add on device for IPTV feature that existing users can attach to their console. These users will also get the option of buying a 120 HDD. The only thing that Microsoft cannot change for existing consoles is the HDMI port and the 65 nm processors.

Of course all this is speculation / rumor. I heard about this on Paul Thurrott Windows Weekly podcast on TWiT.tv and other news sources.