Posts in category microsoft - page 7

Heading to Redmond

I’ve been invited out to Microsoft HQ for a couple of days (October 22-23) which should be very interesting – more details on the what, why and how at a later date.

I will also be spending an extra day and a half in Seattle, perhaps taking in some of the sights of and maybe meeting up with a couple of on-line contacts for the first time.

Flights & hotel booked, now where I did put my passport…

The event was a Software Design Review for Microsoft’s ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions including MVC. Twenty-four of us gave our thoughts, feelings and opinions to the teams on how we believe we would or could utilize various aspects.

[)amien

Confusing co-workers, family and friends for fun

Everybody enjoys a good laugh and there are some fun simple things that can confuse your co-workers, family or friends for a few minutes.

Here’s a few tricks that may… or may not cause some amusement. Just make sure you step in before they need to call their IT support guy!

Simulated operating system crash

An operating system crash sends a shiver up the most confident of spines.

Windows Blue Screen of Death

Install the SysInternals teams BlueScreen Screen Saver complete with genuine looking reboot sequence.

Mac OS X Kernel Panic

Try out Doomlaser’s Kernel Panic Screensaver although be prepared for genuine confusion at their first exposure to an operating system crash ;-)

Confused keyboard

If they are a hunt-and-peck typist confuse them by swapping a few keys around on their keyboard (make sure it lets you pull the tops off, some of them don’t and leaving them with a broken keyboard isn’t fun at all).

An alternative if the keyboard doesn’t allow you to remove the key tops or if they’re a touch-typist is to change the keyboard map to one similar but not the same. Favorites include US for Brits and and British for Americans if you want something very subtle that may take a few hours to be noticed (when they hit some symbols, pound signs etc.) or German for something a bit quicker (W and Z reversed).

Head to the Windows Control Panel or Mac System Preferences to activate.

Permanent hourglass (Windows)

A simple trick that just involves heading into Control Panel > Mouse Properties then choosing the Pointers tab and double clicking on Normal Select. From there choose hourglas.ani

Google goes abroad

Google remembers which language you you last used so simply head to something like http://www.google.com/ru (Russian), http://www.google.com/cy (Welsh) or http://www.google.com/fr (French) then close the Window and walk away.

Any further visits will show in that language, even searches made from the built-in boxes of Internet Explorer and Firefox. To set back head to http://www.google.com/en (English) or whatever language you normally use.

Swap short cuts (Windows)

Choose properties on either the desktop, start-menu or quick launch icon they use to launch their favorite applications and change the target to a different but perhaps similar application. i.e. iTunes and Windows Media, Word and WordPad, Excel and PowerPoint. They’ll probably think they hit the wrong icon or that something has messed up the file associations.

Change the display gamma

Head into Control Panel > Display (Windows) or System Preferences > Display (Mac) and adjust the gamma or color profile for their display. No amount of fiddling with the displays brightness or contrast settings will get it quite back to how it was.

Jeff Atwood has further suggestions for people who don’t lock their machines. Remember kids, WindowsL is your friend.

[)amien

Windows Mobile 6 on the HTC TyTN with a Mac

Windows Mobile 6 on the HTC TyTNIt’s been a while coming but HTC have announced Windows Mobile 6 for the TyTN (Hermes, Dopod 838Pro, iMate JASJAM , SoftBank X01HT).

Curiously the update isn’t available on their site yet despite the announcement however the enterprising folks at XDA Developers Forums have made the official HTC versions available for download.

Upgrade process

The Windows-only (crack out Parallels) upgrade process didn’t go too smoothly, perhaps because I’d been running an unofficial pre-release version.

The first two attempts failed despite following the instructions to the letter. On the third attempt I left it on the familiar red-green-blue boot-screen a previous attempt had left it on and just ignored all the on-screen instructions and it flashed just fine.

Sync on the Mac

There is no official Windows Mobile sync software available on the Mac however Missing Sync for Windows Mobile is a capable, if somewhat temperamental, solution.

Version 4 is required for Windows Mobile 6 compatibility and is capable of syncing files, music, notes, bookmarks and photos as well as the expected contacts and calendars.

The initial problem is getting the Bluetooth to start syncing is a bit of a nightmare. The best advice is if it fails to do anything when you try to sync then delete both ends of the Bluetooth pair, reboot the Mac and follow the help instructions again.

Calendar sync problems

Everything was now syncing nicely with the exception of the iCal entries. The log gives the cryptic error:

Mark/Space Calendar Events: NSInvalidArgumentException [ISyncConjunctionFilter shouldApplyRecord:withRecordIdentifier:]: the record com.apple.syncservices:0845AD5F-A4C7-48D3-B1D3-B5809C9D000E should have an entity name, but instead it is {}

Over in iCal I couldn’t find anything looking corrupt but a quick Back up Database… followed by a Restore Database Backup… took care of it.

[)amien

Font rendering philosophies of Windows & Mac OS X

Jeff Atwood asked What’s Wrong With Apple’s Font Rendering? and as I answered in the comments it comes down to philosophy:

The primary difference is that Microsoft try to align everything to whole pixels vertically and sub-pixels horizontally.

Apple just scale the font naturally – sometimes it fits into whole pixels other times it doesn’t.

This means Windows looks sharper at the expense of not actually being a very accurate representation of the text. The Mac with it’s design/DTP background is a much more accurate representation and scales more naturally than Windows which consequently jumps around a lot vertically.

Jeff and Joel both wrote follow up posts agreeing that it is one of philosophy but both are of the opinion that the Windows pixel-grid approach is the better whilst our displays are only capable of low dots-per-inch (DPI).

What they don’t seem to appreciate is the compromise this causes.

Here is an example of Times New Roman on Windows (left) and Mac OS (right) scaled over whole point sizes with sub-pixel precision:

Font scaling on Windows and Mac OS X

The two thing to note here arising from this “pixel-grid is king” approach are

  1. Windows does not scale fonts linearly as the rough line points out
  2. Windows scales the height and width but not the weight of the font

Neither of these may matter to a casual user but for professionals preparing material destined for high DPI (film or print) then it’s a world of difference. How can you layout a page on-screen and expect the same result on the page when the font isn’t the same width?

The issue is reminiscent of the “I hate black bars on wide-screen films” brigade who believe that the film should be chopped, panned, scaled and otherwise distorted from the artists original intention simply so that it fits better on their display.

Typography has a rich and interesting history developed and honed over centuries. It is a shame to misrepresent typefaces especially as the pixel-grid approach becomes less relevant as displays reach higher resolutions.

Update

Some additional comparisons and a note that the gamma differences between Windows and Mac will affect how you see the “other” systems rendering on your machine.

Further update (21 August 2007)

Thanks to Daring Fireball and ZDNet we’ve had a few more great comments which I’ve summarized here:

George thinks the philosophy idea is wrong because “What percentage of Mac users sit around all day doing nothing but pre-press work?” but as Fred points out Microsoft’s desktop-user optimized rendering ends up on images and videos all over the web, thus escaping the environment for which it was crippled.

George also claims that Vista’s rendering is improved, I can’t vouch for that one way or another but from looking at his screen shots the difference there could simply be the contrast level as adjusted by the ClearType tuner.

Nathaniel believes that it’s not Microsoft’s job to manipulate a typeface and that if you want on-screen readability then choose a font designed for that such as Microsoft’s own Tahoma or Apple’s Lucida Grande.

I’d go further and say that Microsoft’s own aggression in sticking to the grid kills font choice at the regular reading size of 10/11 point by optimizing everything to a generic sans or serif look:

Windows XP

Windows fonts around 11pt in ClearType

Mac OS X

Mac OS X fonts around 13pt in Medium (Best for LCD)

James points to an article called Texts Rasterization Exposures that proposes a combination of using vertical hinting only and calculating horizontally to 256 levels and has some convincing screen-shots showing the benefits. Probably too late for Leopard or Vista SP1 though.

[)amien