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Next Generation Analytics

I was reading Wired, Beyond the Beyond blog post about Gartner’s Top Ten Strategic Technologies for 2011  and same topic in Gartner’s site for 2012. The list is quite obvious like Bruce Sterling puts it in his post. Topics like Cloud Computing, Mobile Apps,Social Commication/Collaboration, Video,  AI… But there was one topic that looks really interesting: Next Generation Analytics.

Next Generation Analytics. Increasing compute capabilities of computers including mobile devices along with improving connectivity are enabling a shift in how businesses support operational decisions. It is becoming possible to run simulations or models to predict the future outcome, rather than to simply provide backward looking data about past interactions, and to do these predictions in real-time to support each individual business action. While this may require significant changes to existing operational and business intelligence infrastructure, the potential exists to unlock significant improvements in business results and other success rates.

It would be interesting to see a software in real-life that can predict business infrastructure, basically predict anything that mattered… I think we are quite far from computers able to predict future. But perhaps by next generation analytics is just Business Analytics like Sitecore DMS? How does companies like IBM who is in deep on Business Analytics are going to implement something that pretectects something valuable. Is this something simple like behavior what should a webshop offer to a user or could we pretect something bigger like following quarter sales numbers based on customer patterns. I am looking forward to see how this can be built

Anyway, whole idea with predictive analytics is quite fascinating.

My Experience in TechEd Europe 2001 and 2012

I participated again to Microsoft TechEd after 11 years. Last time I was at TechEd it was in Barcelona back in 2001 where Microsoft presented .NET platform, SharePoint, XML/WebServices strategy and a lot of technologies that routed my path as web technologist working on Enterprise web solutions in Microsoft world. “This is the XML era,” like Gates boldly proclaimed back in the day.

I remember being very impressed about XML, C# and XSLT back in 2001.  There were also things that I did not like. Such as SharePoint which I thought it was useless and against “Web” and therefore wrong (I still think that way about SharePoint). I also did not like ASP.NET WebForms, I loved it concept of controls and code behind but it felt very limited when looking as frontend developer. That thing was generating HTML for me!  But I understand why it was designed that way. Back in the day as there was many Windows developers ready to build web sites. But for me and other web developers moving to .NET it felt really a limitation. Though, pretty much everything else on 2001 conference was fantastic! But no more old memories, let me tell you about TechEd 2012.

So what had changed in 11 years. For one is that there was a lot less “coding” and much more architecture and platform sessions. I think they have moved development more to MiX and other events which unfortunally is not in Europe.

Overall, TechEd was nice experience but I wont go there next year. I might go there again in some time in future but as a web developer TechEd was too much about infrastructure, cloud and servers (which is important too) and too little about the coding. But when there will be new Windows Server 2015 or Azure 2.0 I probably subscribe in again.

Azure

Azure was everywhere, it is the biggest effort that Microsoft is doing since .NET 1.0 to get developers in their platform on cloud and I think it might work out for them. New Azure is very nice, even company I am working at have everything already in cloud I still could see I might as well try out Azure on some point. The user interface of Azure is nice a simple, much more appealing than EC2 and others that I have been playing with. But I think Azure needs to come down in price quite a lot before I will move there. However, if you are just starting to move cloud Azure might be more appealing than Amazon. I believe Azure, Amazon and Google will have interesting battle on this field. I am really looking forward coming years on cloud computing. In Cloud winners are developers and losers are hosting companies.

SignalR

I joined to couple of sessions of SignalR and it is fantastic. I really love it. It is something I will definitely going to use in somewhere in the future.

Visual Studio 2012 CSS and JavaScript Engine

The new Visual Studio incorporates the JavaScript engine used in IE 10. This parser significantly improves the accuracy of JavaScript parsing resulting in improved design time JavaScript feedback. It supports Go To Definition, Function overloads, Bracket matching, Outlining, Smart indenting, XML documentation comments. Now writing JavaScript in VS is almost as writing C# :)

CSS engine on the editor is great as well. It supports now vendor specifc attributes and small snippets like color picker. If you are working with VS this video is worth  of checking out: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/Europe/2012/DEV302

Also, now VS has updates to definitions so every now and then you get automated updates for new vendor CSS attributes etc.

Windows 8

Even working closely in Microsoft world, I am going to stick with MacBook Air but I hear and hope Windows 9 will be great. :)

Other notes

Microsoft guys seems to like GIT, I did not see single demo with any other source control, not even TFS. Cool!

 

 

 

 

 

My first PC, Spectravideo SV-328

I stumbled to Roger’s Spectravideo page while back and it brought back good memories.

Back in 1984 I got a Christmas present that I had been asking from my mom for a long time. Finally my mom had been bought me a computer! I was exited when I open the package I knew what it was, there was no doubt… I finally had my own C64 no more I had to feel outsider on their C64 talks. Little I knew that my mother had asked from local electronics store a computer that can actually help me doing homework and on learning stuff. You know, all that nerd stuff you do with computer but not gaming.  So, finally when I got the present open I saw that she had bought me something else.

SV-328

I was pissed… I expected Commodore 64

So, there I was with my new computer and Christmas holidays ahead so no friends to ask where to get games and how to get started. Luckily in the box there was couple of games that I could play over the Christmas holidays. The computer game with big manual and introduction to BASIC both were written in English. As a 9 years old Finnish boy, I had just started English lessons in the school but my level wasn’t even close to understand what those books were saying. But from trial and error I finally figured out how to load a game from cassette drive and how to run basic commands.

 

SV-328 right after boot

The SV-328 was the business-targeted model of the Spectravideo range, it wasn’t really for gaming. It had full keyboard with numeric keypad, and no built-in joystick. SV-328’s Zilog Z80A @ 3.6 MHz processor combined with 80 kB RAM (64 kB available for software, remaining 16 kB video memory) was somewhat good hardware, better than C64 on that time.

My machine came with 2 joysticks and casette drive. I had half a dozen games to start with. I really miss that machine now. It’s probably like everything else from eighties (better leave it for that decade) but I would love to see and try it again anyway.

SV-328
Released 1983 (Summer CES, Chicago)
Processor Zilog Z80A @ 3.6 MHz
Memory 64 KB (+16 KB video memory)
Operating system Microsoft Extended BASIC
Country USA
Year 1983
Ram 80 KB
VRam 16 KB
Rom 32 KB
Graphic 256 x 192
Colors 16
Sound 3 channels, 8 octaves
Ports centronics, rs232c, rgb, tape, joystick (2), cartridge

For more Spectravideo info, take a look Roger’s Spectravideo page  and of course WikiPedia Page of SV-323.

If you have SV-323 in the attic, please contact me I am interested buying it just for the sake of good memories.

Thoughts on Future Of Interaction video

Productivity Future Vision (2011) by Microsoft Office Team

After watching the video I had two things in my mind.

  1. 1. Microsoft is really betting and moving somewhere with their Metro UI.
  2. 2. There is a lot of touch gestures involved in their future.

Like I wrote previously my ramblings on Metro UI. I am really liking Metro UI and where Microsoft vision on the Metro design is heading. The video above is really showing how typography and chromeless UI can make feel friendly, seemless and responsive but there is still something missing on Metro UI. I am not sure what it is that I am missing. Perhaps pictures under class panel is not enough for us? We should feel them like everything else we feel on our 3 dimensional world that we call it reality. Our hands can do a lot more than just multi-touch with our tip of fingers.

I just read awesome blog post A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design who had exactly same thoughts with me on touch interfaces. Although, his post goes a lot deeper on the analysis of it.

Challenge for the future of computing really isn’t how to make pictures behind class interactive. It is without the doubt 3D and ability to feel the objects, but it will take years before someone breaks that puzzle.

I hope Microsoft R&D is working their ass off to bring Kinect and Touch together.

 

The Touch, end of mouse?

I have been working a lot with Ipad and mobile sites these days. Mostly trying to create and redesign optimized experience for Ipad users on the existing web page without forgetting mouse. At the same time I have tested and sandboxed some apps for Windows 8 while looking into Microsoft approach to touch interfaces on their new Metro UI.

Touch is definitely the new black on interface design. Like the Director of Program Management for the Microsoft Windows User Experience Team Jensen Harris mentioned on his presentation in Microsoft’s BUILD Windows conference couple of weeks back. Harris was focusing on touch-first experience and then comes the rest which by the way resamples what Luke Wroblewski talked while back on mobile interfaces . Harris said that in coming years all screens will be touch enabled.
It will be like a screen without touch is like a computer without Internet connection. If you are interested how Microsoft is focusing for Metro UI in the future, I highly recommend watching this presentation to anyone who works with UI also check out Designing Metro Style Apps.  No matter if you are Web, Windows, iOS or Android developer.

Windows 8 Start Screen

Maybe today it feels strange to think if stationary PC or laptop would have touch capabilities. It is somewhat unnatural that you reach over your laptop to the screen to move things around and then back to keyboard. But is it really so weird behavior. It is more natural than reaching your mouse, right?

Metro is user interface design-language that is heavily type based, think text, and which uses design principles of classic Swiss graphic design. Metro design excludes traditional icons, superfluous graphic and window chrome and it puts actual content up front. It uses large and clean typography and pages with lateral scrolling. Result is clean, sleek user interface that gets out of the way.

Metro UI and Touch behavior requires Windows developers to re-think their applications. How to remove all the chrome from the app is going to be a challenge to anyone who needs to develop on Windows 8. How does a developer re-design Microsoft Word -ribbon to touch? Should one go Apple way and remove from Ribbon those 95% of functionalities that is not used? This is not what Microsoft is used to do. Microsoft strength and burden has been always backwards compatibility and more-is-more features. Now the only way to go forward is to simplify so the software program can become an “app”. It is true that there is still Windows 7 alike Desktop environment but for future developers, if developer wants to develop app that can  be used on all MSFT environments they need to forget desktop and go to Metro style. The Desktop in the future is for heavy users.

“When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks. But as people moved more towards urban centers, people started to get into cars. I think PCs are going to be like trucks. Less people will need them. And this is going to make some people uneasy”.
– Steve Jobs at D8 in 2010

I was really impressed when I saw where Microsoft is heading with Windows 8. Honestly I though the game was between Apple and Google but it is nice to see Microsoft is still on the game.  It is not as “lickable design” as iOS but it is definitely something new and for Microsoft defense it is just a developer preview. Microsoft is inviting developers around the world to develop on it and with their huge developer eco-system there will be innovative applications coming out in coming months. Also, if you take consideration all the effort and help from Nokia on handsets and gaming community on XBox this unified OS experience will take Windows somewhere into completely new level.

Tech documentaries to watch

While ago I watched on YouTube watched Code Rush, the documentary about Netscape’s developers back in 2000 and their decision to release their code as open source. After seeing it I got hungry about seeing more of these Web/Programming related docs. So, here is my list of few that I have found so far.

Continue reading

WebKit Radial Gradients (Circle gradient)

WebKit in January 2011 released new gradient syntax that is closer to w3c recommendation and Mozilla implementation.

The new syntax has four gradient functions:

  • linear-gradient()
  • radial-gradient()
  • repeating-linear-gradient()
  • repeating-radial-gradient()

On this post I am exploring radial implementation, radial-gradient() and repeating-radial-gradient().  Notice that there is also linear gradient which is most likely be used  more often than the radial.

Using CSS gradients in a background lets you display smooth transitions between two or more specified colors; this lets you avoid using images for these effects, thereby reducing download time and bandwidth usage. In addition, because the gradient is generated by the browser, objects with gradients look better when zoomed, and you can adjust your layout much more flexibly.

A gradient specified using circles is called a radial gradient. You specify a radial gradient by setting the type to radial and specifying a start inner circle and end outer circle. Each circle is specified by a center and a radius. The color values change gradually from the circumference of the inner circle outward to the circumference of the outer circle.

Examples

-webkit-radial-gradient(circle, white, black);

-webkit-radial-gradient(circle, white, black);


-webkit-radial-gradient(center, 20px 20px, white, black);

-webkit-radial-gradient(center, 20px 20px, white, black);

-webkit-repeating-radial-gradient(left, red 10%, green 20%, blue 30%);

-webkit-repeating-radial-gradient(left, red 10%, green 20%, blue 30%);


-webkit-repeating-radial-gradient(black, black 5px, white 5px, white 10px);

-webkit-repeating-radial-gradient(black, black 5px, white 5px, white 10px);


-webkit-repeating-linear-gradient(top left, red, red 5px, white 5px, white 10px);

-webkit-repeating-linear-gradient(top left, red, red 5px, white 5px, white 10px);

-webkit-repeating-linear-gradient(-5px -5px, circle, #bfeeff, #bfeeff 15px, #fff 15px, #fff 30px, #bfeeff 30px, #bfeeff 40px);

-webkit-repeating-linear-gradient(-5px -5px, circle, #bfeeff, #bfeeff 15px, #fff 15px, #fff 30px, #bfeeff 30px, #bfeeff 40px);

See working demo here if you are running latest WebKit (tested on WebKit Version 5.0.3 (6533.19.4, r77734))

References

in CSS | 345 Words

VMWare Fusion Keys Reference

I just recently bought new work laptop and setup Windows 7 on it. One thing that takes time to get used to is differences in keyboard shortcuts. I have put here some of the basic commands mainly for my own reference so I wont forget.

Reference

PC
Macintosh / Fusion
Ctrl+Alt+Del
To send Ctrl+Alt+Del to a virtual machine:
  • From the Fusion menu, click Virtual Machine > Send > Crtl+Alt+Delete.
  • If you are using an external PC keyboard, press Ctrl-Alt-Delete.
  • On a full-sized Macintosh keyboard, press Control-Option-|X>. The |X> (Forward Delete) key is below the help key.
  • On a Macintosh laptop keyboard, press Fn-Ctrl-Option-Delete.
Delete
The Delete key on an Apple keyboard is actually the backspace key to all other operating systems. To send the PC Delete key to a virtual machine:
  • From the Fusion menu, go to Virtual Machine > Send Key > (Forward Delete)
  • On a MacBook or MacBook Pro keyboard, press Fn-Delete.
  • On a full-sized keyboard, press |X>. The |X> (Forward Delete) key is below the Help key.
Insert
To send the Insert key to a virtual machine:
  • On a full-sized Mac keyboard, press the Help key.
  • On older MacBook or MacBook Pro keyboards, press Fn-M. Newer MacBook models do not support Fn-M, and mapping the Insert key (to any convenient key combination chosen by the user) can be achieved in Fusion’s menu bar under VMware Fusion > Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Key Mapping.
Print Screen
To send the Print Screen key to a virtual machine, press F13 on a full-sized Mac keyboard.
Alt-Gr
To send the Alt-Gr key to virtual machine:
  • Press the right Option key on a full-sized Mac keyboard.
  • On European MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards, press the Enter key next to the right Command key.
Notes:
  • This is overridden when Num Lock is used for numeric keypad support.
  • To disable this Alt-Gr mapping, open the file:

    ~/Library/Preferences/VMware Fusion/preferences in a text editor and the line: pref.mapISONumpadEnterToAltGrEnabled = “FALSE”

Selecting multiple list items
  • Press and hold Ctrl-Option, then click the multiple items.
  • Disable the mouse shortcut for the secondary button (see beginning of Resolution, above), and use Ctrl+click as you would in a regular Windows environment.
Num Lock
To send the Num Lock key to a virtual machine (allowing the use of the numeric keypad), press Clear on a full-sized Mac keyboard.
Function keys
  • Press fn + the desired function key.
  • To make the Mac function keys act like regular function keys, and trigger the special functions with fn + the function key instead, go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Keyboard (or Keyboard & Mouse > Keyboard), and select Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys.

For all keyboard shortcuts, not necessarily those pertaining to Fusion, see Apple’s Knowledge base article Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts.