Monthly Archives: June 2007

Microsoft Surface Demo in NYC (Review, Pics, and Info)

I went to the Microsoft Surface Demo at the Sheraton in NYC.  I was first in line at 9:30am.  It was a neat event.  There were three MS Surfaces on hand for some extremely controlled tire kicking.  There were no (positive) surprises about features and functionality.  The good news is that the Surface was able to do everything that was shown in the Launch videos.  The bad news is that it couldn’t do much more than that, and there were a few gotcha’s.  I’ve got all the dirt below.

 The Microsoft Surface Demo Event at the Sheraton was scheduled for 10AM.  NYPD barricades were set up wrapping around the side of the building on 53rd St.  I was first in line at 9:30.  A few others joined the line by 10AM, but the throngs of geeks didn’t show up.  There were no more than 50 people watching the demo, and many were hotel guests.  The main demo was conducted by Jeff Gattis of Microsoft.  (Jeff can be seen in this Popular Mechanics demo of the Surface.)  Jeff went through the different features such as Pictures, Puzzle, Music, drink ordering (Concierge?), and Paint.  I’m proud to say that I was the first person I know to crash the Surface.

Jeff from Microsoft launched the Puzzle feature that uses the clear tiles.  This feature basically illuminates the surface under the location of each of the tiles to create a puzzle effect.  I took a picture with flash and the whole thing locked up.  Jeff did something to the screen that reset it.  The Surface software ran slowly after that.

I also uncovered some of Microsoft’s smoke and mirrors.  Microsoft’s launch video show’s that you can place a Zune on the Surface which will automatically interact with the Surface and other Zunes.  This feature DID NOT work as advertised.  I borrowed a Zune from a friend to test this feature.  Jeff launched the Music app and placed his Zune on the Surface.  He copied music to the Zune.  I whipped out my Zune and placed it on the Surface and nothing happened.  This is when I was told that it’s not going to work because I didn’t have an ID tag on my Zune.  (BTW, Jeff was “very impressed” that I had a Zune.)  It turns out that every Zune, cell phone, glass, credit card, and comp card used for the demo had a special tag affixed to it.  I got a picture of the tag which you can see here: 

Surface Tag

 There was also another incident where a Surface bug was exposed.  The Surface seems to have a problem with drastic direct changes of lighting.  Someone was using the Paint program.  They began drawing on the screen.  Someone else took a picture with flash.  The corner of the screen that was hit by the flash lit up solid green as if someone had “painted” it.  Thankfully the unit didn’t lock up this time.

The only other item of interest from the demo was a quick Q&A between Jeff from Microsoft and one of the attendees.  The attendee asked Jeff if he was familiar with Jeff Han’s work.  Jeff from MS said that he was and that he’s “very impressed” by it.  He said that a few guys at MS Research know Jeff Han, but that Jeff Han isn’t working on the Surface project. 

The ultimate question is whether it was worth waking up at 7AM on a Saturday to see the Surface in action.  I’d say yes.  Microsoft’s Surface is an early example of the more interactive computer interfaces that we’ll see in the future.  The Surface is barely capable of performing its demonstrated functions.  The greatest disappointment is that Zune’s and camera’s need to be tagged before they could interact with the Surface.  Jeff from MS claims that this will be fixed and seamless interaction is down the road.  I hope he’s right.

Check out the pictures and let me know what you think!

Surface Tagged GlassSurface Tagged GlassSurface Tagged Glass Notice the tag on the bottom of the glass.  Kids paint on Surface Kids Painting.  Surface Tiles Puzzle Tiles.  Surface Puzzle Solved Puzzle Solved.

Surface T-Mobile Buying a phone from T-Mobile.

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Bill Gates and Steve Jobs interviewed together at All Things Digital

This is a spectacular video of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs being interviewed together at the All Things Digital conference a couple weeks ago.  They talk about themselves, their history, technology, and the future.  I was extremely impressed with how engaging, down to earth, and obviously brilliant Bill Gates was.

 Make sure you watch all videos in order.  They are posted backwards on the site.  Start here: http://video.allthingsd.com/?bcpid=910498365&bctid=958475626

Safari 3 Beta for Windows was released today, and I’m wondering why I should care.

Apple released Safari 3 Beta for Windows today and the link got over 8000 Diggs.  I just can’t understand why.  Who cares if there is another browser for Windows?  Is it just BS Apple fanboy hype?  Is it Windows users that are excited to have another alternative?  Windows only users have no idea what Safari is.  I can’t imagine that they’d be so excited about it. 

I’m also wondering what this means for Apple, Windows, potential future browser wars. 

Apple must have learned that there is more money to be made where 90%+ of internet users reside rather than with their 5%.  I find it interesting that Apple created Safari for Windows.  It’s the first time that I remember (please correct me if I’m wrong) Apple creating an app for Windows that wasn’t either coupled with hardware (iPod) or required for compatability purposes (Quicktime).  Apple seams to be spreading out from their little closed world of Macs, iPods, etc.

And does Windows need another browser?  Maybe.  IE has been badly neglected by Microsoft.  IE7 is working fine for the sheeple, corporate environments, and MS fans.  Other than that, it’s lacking in innovation.  Firefox has been developed relentlesy and it has paid off (33.7% browser share in May).  Apple is a much bigger name than Firefox and they might be able to steal some browser share (currently at 1.5%).

So is this the first shot in the new browser war?  That’s up to Microsoft.  Do they want to develop IE anymore?  It doesn’t seem that way.  Is IE still important to Microsoft’s success?  I don’t think so unless Firefox and Safari intentionally don’t work with MS technologies.

WordPress is growing in a hurry Part 2

I posted on March 12th that “WordPress is growing in a hurry.”  WordPress was up to 762,426 blogs that day.  It’s now exactly 3 months later and WordPress is up to 1,069,492.  That’s an increase of 307,000+ blogs in just three months.  I’m extremely impressed with the growth.  WordPress deserves all of the good that comes it’s way.  It has created an amazing software package for the price (free).  Wordpress’s founder Matt Mullwenweg is someone that gets it.  He recently blogged about WordPress’s 4th birthday and said

It’s not about selling out to a single company, it’s dozens of companies independently adopting and backing an open source platform for no reason other than its quality.

 Matt is wise beyond his years and we are all better for it!

emoms at home: Top 10 Blogging Mistakes I Made in My First Year

Fellow WordPresser Wendy Piersall at e-moms at home posted an incisive list of “10 blogging mistakes she made in her first year.”  It’s worth reading.  BTW, I’d suggest that the 11th mistake is wallpapering the site with advertisements.

The Image Resizer Powertoy is very useful.

I constantly need to resize pictures and images for blogging or email purposes.  A colleague showed me a useful Microsoft Powertoy that’s going to save me lots of time.  The Image Resizer Powertoy is a simple installable program that integrates itself in the right click menus.  All you have to do is right click on an image and select “Resize Image.”  A menu pops up asking for the desired size.  Make your selection and the resized image is dropped in the same location.

All kinds of goodies to post tonight

I have not been posting much over the last few weeks because of:

  1. An upcoming wedding that is keeping me busy (June 30.  Be there!)
  2. Writers Block
  3. Lack of inspiration

Tonight I’m back, and I’ve got all kinds of goodies for you including a first hand look at MS Surface.