Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

World’s First 64 Bit Tablet PC

November 20, 2008

HP is rolling out a new Multi-Touch Tablet PC on November 28th.

There’s an interesting preview of it here.

This looks like a great alternative to the Dell Latitude XT and soon to be released XT2.

The most interesting part is that you can customize it to use the 64 bit AMD Turion Ultra ZM-86 processor.

This means its the very first 64 Bit Tablet PC on the market.

Correction: The HP tx2524ca Tablet is the first 64 bit Tablet. It went on sale in September 2008. Please see comments.



Dell’s new Touchscreen Tablet PC and Multitouch?

August 1, 2007

I’m anxiously waiting for the soon to be released Dell Touchscreen Tablet PC.

Dell’s teaser announcement of the Latitude XT Tablet PC is here.

The two key features are Intel’s ultra-low power dual core Santa Rosa [Centrino Pro] CPU and the Touchscreen.

IMO, Touchscreen on Tablet PC’s are long overdue. Going forward, all new Tablet PC’s will have touchscreens. You can buy a Lenovo Thinkpad X60 and HP Pavillion tx1000z Tablet PC with the touchscreen option today.

The bad news / good news about today’s Touchscreen Tablet PC’s is that they do not provide the cool iphone-like hand gesture multitouch capability. The good news is that for today’s office applications, the pen stylus with an occasional single finger touch works better than the hand gesture multitouch.

Regardless of which interface works better, a hand gesture multitouch capability on the larger screen Tablet PC would be super cool.

My question is "how can I modify the touchscreen device driver to provide hand gesture multitouch?"

As always, there is hidden complexity. Some rough requirements are:
– finger point tracking: ability to track the 10 finger points: N points where 1 < N < 10.
– finger vectoring: determine speed and direction when two fingers are joined together and then moved apart.
– finger locator: cross the fingers and determine where they crossed which one went which direction.

Some further research lead me to this very cool multitouch C++ library.

Thanks to Google Code, you can browse the source code here:

I hope to find some time to experiment with this further.

In any case, if done properly, a hand gesture multitouch tablet PC can bring Surface Computing to the masses.

Some possible apps may be:
– More Natural Newspaper Style Readers similar to the New York Times (XAML) Reader
– Cover flow-like media browsing
– Multi-user Multitouch Drawing tools and games
– 3D Virtual Map Browsing
– Video/Audio Editing
– Data Visualization Apps (e.g., Excel, Tableau, etc.)
– Student Notebook Apps
– E-Learning Apps with Realtime Exams

It’ll be fun to see how this evolves.

In the mean time… When’s that dang Dell Tablet Shipping?…

Will there be a Zune 1st?

May 31, 2007

There are a few rumors of a new "Zune Coming Zoon in June".

It may happen tomorrow but I have my doubts.

Some passionate Zunesters say that it will be launched on Friday, June 1st or should I say Zune 1st.

The buzz is about the following:
– Flash Zune
– Purchase and download tracks over Wi-Fi
– Zune 2.0

We all know that a Flash Zune product is in the works. The only unknown is the launch date.

The more interesting news is Zune 2.0 and getting the ability to purchase and download tracks over Wi-Fi. It’ll be interesting to see usage metrics on the new Wi-Fi feature a few months after launch. as it’s a key differentiator.

The rumored Zune 2.0 features are:
– 80 GB
– 16:9 wide 640 by 480 pixel with 256k color screen
– Purchase and download tracks over WiFi
– no more 3 by 3 WiFi track sharing restriction

The key Zune 1.0 features:
– 30 GB
– 4:3 wide 320 by 240 pixel with 65k color screen
– 3 by 3 WiFi track sharing

You can see more Zune 1st info here.

In the mean time, take a look at Amazon’s top selling hard drive based MP3 player sales info here.

Sleeping with the Deepfish

March 31, 2007

"Sleeping with the Deepfish" is my metaphoric reference to the Luca Brasi Godfather character.

Luca Brasi was a fiercely loyal personal hitman for Godfather, Don Vito Corleone. He was eventually killed by a competing crime family. The message of his murder was delivered to the Corleone family as a fish wrapped in Brasi’s own bulletproof vest. 

My sleep with the fishes topic is meant to be a segue to a story about Microsoft’s Live Labs group.

This group recently released a pre-beta version of a mobile web browser called Deepfish this past week. I’ve been using it for the past few days and it’s a better way to surf the web on a tiny screen.

Microsoft Live Labs is an internal think tank/incubation team for next gen web technologies. I consider it the "Luca Brasi of Microsoft".

I always felt that low cost wireless networking will be the catalyst for the next tech surge. We’re starting to see it now with Apple’s coming iPhone, Deepfish, mobile GPS, Zen Zui, etc.

Most tech companies realize that the digital future is in the ‘cloud’.

Microsoft’s Live Labs group has been working hard on the ‘cloud’. It has been getting much criticism lately for being too little too late.

The Mix07 Conference will be held from April 30 to May 2nd in Las Vegas. It’s Microsoft’s chance to save face. The tech press has high expectations for them to deliver some compelling cloud products.

IMO, the expectation is too high. Ray Ozzie is expected to have a blockbuster keynote but I have my doubts. I’ve seen his keynotes before and they’re snoozers.

Many in the industry think that the Live Labs group will eventually be killed off to "sleep with the fishes" by Microsoft management if they don’t deliver soon.

Let’s see what happens on April 30th.

Vista ReadyBoost

February 28, 2007

I bought this 4 GB USB drive recently to boost the speed of my Lenovo T60 laptop.

The T60 is my office PC. It’s loaded with Vista Business Edtion.

Despite the UI, Vista’s backend services are the most innovative.
The SuperFetch and ReadyBoost features are key differentiators that set it apart from other operating systems.

Ever since I plugged in the USB drive, I’ve been experiencing less disk thrashing and better overall system performance.

There’s a good ReadyBoost FAQ here.


Tech Trends to Watch in 2007

December 31, 2006

2006 has been an exciting year.

Some key developments have been the Vista business launch, Java SE 6, Internet TV as per YouTube, white hot MP3 Player market, AJAX’d web apps, sleek new Smartphones, and cool new game consoles.

Rather than dwell on the past, here’s my list of Fifteen Tech Trends to Watch in 2007.

1. Low Cost High Speed Ubiquitous Wireless Connectivity

I just purchased Cingular’s 8525 Smartphone and went with the the $40 per month unlimited data plan. Its a great phone but the $40 buck per month data plan is a lifestyle changer. I’m addicted to being wired 24/7 now. The 8525 has a Tri-band UMTS / HSDPA radio and a Quad-band GSM®/GPRS/EDGE worldphone radio. Without getting into the 3G alphabet soup the following table may help explain the different mobile and wireless technologies.

# Technology Base Standard Network
(max Mbps)
1 GPRS TDMA and GSM 2.5G Mobile .040 21 miles  
2 EDGE EDGE / EGPRS 2.75G Mobile .384    
3 EVDO Rev A CDMA2000 / IS-95 3G Mobile 2.500    
4 EVDO Rev B (future) CDMA2000 / IS-95 3G Mobile 4.900    
5 HSDPA WCDMA / 3GPP 3G Mobile 3.600    
6 HSDPA (future) WCDMA / 3GPP 3G Mobile 14.400    
7 UMTS WCDMA / 3GPP 3G Mobile 3.600 1 mile 850/1900 MHz
8 UMTS (future) WCDMA / 3GPP 3.5G Mobile 11.000 1 mile 850/1900 MHz
9 Wi-Fi 802.11a Wireless 54.000 300 ft 5 Ghz
10 Wi-Fi 802.11b Wireless 11.000 300 ft 2.4 Ghz
11 Wi-Fi 802.11g Wireless 54.000 300 ft 2.4 Ghz
12 WiMAX 802.16e Wireless 30.000 1-3 miles 2.6 Ghz
13 WiMAX 802.16a Wireless 70.000 3-5 miles 11 Ghz
14 WiMAX 802.16d Wireless 75.000 4-6 miles 11 Ghz

The cool part of the 8525 is that it may eventally get the ability to switch between 3G and Wifi services on the fly. So if you’re on the phone using UMTS and you walk into a Starbucks with Wifi, the phone will switch to the lower cost higher capacity VOIP via WiFi connection.

This new type of adaptive network capability will be a catalyst for a flood of new types of SW apps. We just need to get Cingular’s monthly cost to come down to $15 bucks to fend off the ghastly digital divide.

2. Declarative Programming

The declarative programming wave has been building ever since the advent of rules engines and XSLT. Declarative programming is the alternative to old school imperative programming.

Microsoft’s new .Net 3.0 has a new declarative presentation layer called WPF/E that uses their new XAML spec. Java has embraced declarative programming in many ways. The new Java EJB 3.0 depends heavily on the new declarative annotations features in JDK 1.5.

Another new approach to take note of is intentional programming. I consider it a derivative of the Model Driven Architecture (MDA) effort from a few years ago. The famous Charles Simonyi is pioneering the effort.

3. Apple "iPhone"

There is much speculation about Apple’s rumored iPhone. As overly reported, Cisco launched a VOIP phone called iPhone recently so Apple can’t use the name iPhone or iFone. Apple will use other names like iMobile, iCell or MacPhone but my guess is that the name of the Apple phone will be “iPod Phone”. In 3 years, all iPods will have 3G Cell Phone and WiFi but in the mean time, the iPod Phone will be the hot item.

4. One Billion PCs Sold

5. Multi-point UI

6. Zune Flash Player

Despite the Zune bashing in the press, I am impressed with the Zune sales forecast. The expectation is to sell 1 million units by end of June. That’s not bad for a product being on the market for just 7 months. That comes to 143,000 units per month. According to Amazon’s best seller list, and comparing it to the other 30 GB hard drive-based MP3 Players, Zune is in 4th, 7th and 8th place. In any case, I expect to hear announcements of a Zune Flash player that will compete with iPod’s Nano within the next 6 months.

7. Low Cost GPS Services

8. Federated Identity

Microsoft Cardspace (formerly InfoCard) and Identity 2.0 will start to bring user-centric federated identity to the masses.

9. Object Mapping

Microsoft’s new language integrated query (LINQ) may spark new interest in the OR mapping space.

10. Terabyte Disk Drives

2007 should be the year of the Terabyte disk drive. Having one terabyte on one spindle will be a significant single point of failure risk. This will highlight the importance of having adequate RAID and backup services. The largest hard drive available to date is a 750GB barracuda drive from Seagate.

11. Microsoft’s new Home Server

Home Server will be used to control everything in the home (e.g., lights, thermostats, entertainment, phone, windows, washing machine, kitchen appliances, garage door, car, etc.).

12. Team Foundation Server (TFS)

TFS will gain some traction this year.

13. Virtualization

Virtual OS’s will be important this year too. OS X 10.5 (leopard), Vista Server and Solaris 10 have added virtualization to the OS.

14. Automotive PCs

15. Some Adoption of 64-bit desktop apps

I expect to see interest in 64-bit versions of the resource intensive apps (e.g., video compressors, video editors, CAD, CAM, CAE, Mathematica, etc.). Both AMD and Intel have compelling 64-bit processors now. A 64-bit MacBook Pro and this Dell Inspiron 1501 may start the 64-bit desktop revolution.

Future PC User Interfaces will be Multi-Touch

October 31, 2006

As shown in the movie Minority Report, Multi-Touch UI is the future (see photos).

The keyboard/mouse paradigm will be around for a while but a future of free form 3D multi-point input is coming. When it happens it will be the first step towards conversational interactions.

Please see Jeff Han’s interface-free multi-sensor device presentation here.  Some more info is here.

As Jeff Han notes, the interesting aspects of the technology is the ‘state of the art’ mesh and data visualization algorithms used to pull it off.

I’ll try to resurrect some Michael Abrash image Morph mesh code that I implemented back in 1993 in a future post.

At the time, I was using a PC with an Intel 80386SX CPU. The 386SX CPU had no math coprocessor which meant that the execution time of the image morph mesh calculations was much longer than expected.

I remember that the time needed to generate 20 images was approximately 2 hours.



Vista RC1 Milestone

August 15, 2006

Vista is expected to be the first software product to ever sell one billion licenses. Consequently, the need for Microsoft to deliver a quality product is paramount.

Bill Gates recently implied that there is a 20% chance of a delay.
IMO, a 3-month slippage should be expected.

In any case, it’s interesting to note that Microsoft has consistently delivered monthly beta 2 builds.
The next big milestone is Release Candidate 1 (RC1).

Rumors are flying that RC1 will become available to Beta 2 testers on Tuesday, August 15.

The latest update is that Microsoft expects to ship RC1 on or after September 7.  The build number will be around 5520.

Here’s my revised take on the Vista delivery roadmap.

# Milestone Date
1. February CTP February 22
2. Beta 2: Build 5342 May 23
3. Beta 2: Build 5346 June 25
4. Beta 2: Build 5372 July 17
5. Beta 2: Build 5505 August 11
6. RC1: Build ~5520 September 7
7. RC1: Build ~5545 October 7
8. RC2: Build ~5570 November 1
9. RC2: Build ~5600 November 15
10. RTM Volume License November 30
11. Full Commercial Release January 31, 2007
12. Vista Server (Longhorn) RTM Q4 2007

Coming Zune

July 21, 2006

The Zune story is gathering steam.

Microsoft’s Xbox development team has been working on a Portable Music/Video Player for the past few months. The team is managed by Robbie Bach, J Allard and Peter Moore. They know the drill.

The product is called Zune.
It is scheduled to launch during this Holiday season.
BTW, I love the name.

The viral marketing site went live today:
The music is a song called "Us" by Regina Spektor.

Regina Spektor earned her wings in a club called the Sidewalk Cafe in Manhattan’s East Village. The East Village happens to be my favorite neighborhood in New York City.

Here’s a bird’s eye view of the Sidewalk Cafe.

All roads eventually lead to the East Village.

The Rolling Stones did a video in the East Village back in 1981. It was shot on St. Mark’s Place in front of the same building that Led Zeppelin used for their Physical Graffitti album cover.

Origami Device to Ship on March 23rd?

February 26, 2006

Microsoft is scheduled to make a big announcement on Thursday, March 2nd.

Rumors are flying that it will be a new ultra-portable computing device. Some more thoughts about it here.

I hope that it will be an actual shipping product and not just the usual Microsoft prototype platform.

My take from the web site is that it will. The web site’s implied 3 week timeline suggests a shipping product on Thursday, March 23rd.

Ultra portable computing is an extremely exciting space.  We all know where the industry is heading and its not just the predictable Dick Tracy watch.

I’d like to rehash an old blog entry (again).

My prediction for the next 10 years, by 2016, I expect to see one multi-purpose portable device offering the following services.

# Service
1. Voice / Video Phone
2. Entertainment – Music, Movies, Games
3. Social Network Provider – Six Degree Separation Features
4. Wallet
5. Commuter Pass
6. Videoconference Device
7. Encyclopedia
8. Health Monitor
9. Passport/Security Card
10. Personal Blackbox – recording vitals in case of accident
11. Traffic Advisor
12. Language Translator
13. Project Planner
14. Financial Planner
15. Transportation Planner
16. Vacation/Travel Planner
17. Personal Life Recorder – records / archive all daily activities
18. Meeting Presentation Device
19. Air Quality Metering Device
20. Person Locator