Tag Archives: Microsoft

Microsoft Manual Deskterity: An Exploration of Simultaneous Pen + Touch Direct Input

Just had a look at this awesome prototype from Microsoft. I am loving what Microsoft is up to these days, researching and developing some great new UIs and interaction mechanisms. Have a look at this Microsoft Manual Deskterity prototype video and you’d love it too!

Pen and touch computing have long-thought to be mutually exclusive methods of human-computer interaction, but as the Microsoft Research project “Manual Deskterity” shows, the two intuitively combined makes for a much powerful input method than each of them might ever be on their own.

If you’re short on time, the real soul of the demo – a custom application for the Microsoft Surface with a special infrared pen – starts at the 1 minute mark and shows off capabilities that either wouldn’t be practical or possible at all by either pen or touch alone. Bear in mind however this is a research project so the application is quite limited in scope.

I Started Something

I just hope it makes it out of their research labs and into our hands soon.

How to Create New Docking Toolbars on the Desktop in Vista?

Docking taskbar toolbar in Windows VistaI liked the way I was able to create additional toolbars from the taskbar in Windows XP, and then detach and move them around to dock to any side of the desktop screen. Unfortunately, this is not possible in Windows Vista, or so I experienced at first. The ability to detach a toolbar from the taskbar is no longer there, but there is another way now.

This nifty little feature of having a toolbar dock to any of the edges of your desktop screen is still there; only the mechanism to achieve this has changed.

The new technique is nicely described here: Create a New Vista Toolbar – Magic Trick. It’s quite simple: all you have to do is drag a folder to the edge of the screen and it will dock! Yes, that is all.

Here are a few additional links to take maximum advantage from this sweet little feature:

Detached and docked Quick Launch bar in Windows Vista

10 things you’ll miss when you upgrade to Vista (and how to get some of them back) – #1 tells you how to get the Quick Launch bar off of the main taskbar and dock it vertically to one side of the screen.

Trim Windows Vista’s Bloated Window Borders – You might find the new docked toolbars a bit ugly because of that thick translucent border around them (with Aero in Windows Vista). Follow this link and put those borders on a diet for good!

The Vista taskbar: it’s worse than XP’s – Although this rant by Dan Warne is no more relevant, since the solution has been discovered (and mentioned in the comments), but it’s still fun to read this old blog post on this at-that-time-presumed missing feature (of detachable-n-dockable toolbars) from Vista.

How to Create a Toolbar in Vista – Once again, the link to the article containing the solution (magic trick) mentioned above.

Highly Compelling Reasons for Switching to an Apple Mac

Interesting experience of why Rob Christensen, from Adobe AIR product development/management team, decided to switch to Apple iMac in his post Six reasons why he made the switch. His reasons are quite compelling and I agree fully with what he has to say against Microsoft Windows and in favor of Apple Mac. My most compelling reasons, from Rob’s post, for switching to an Apple Mac would be:

Apple. In the past year, I’ve purchased two iPod Shuffles: one for myself and one for my wife. When I thought I had lost my Shuffle recently (for the second time), I decided to upgrade to an iPod Nano. It’s an absolutely incredible piece of technology. … The allure of hooking up iPod hardware to a Mac is difficult to ignore. Also, Apple’s decision to extend the hardware capabilities of the iMac has really put it in direct competition with Dell’s flagship desktop products like their XPS line.

Apple, and Steve Jobs, is an inspiration. I had the first generation iPod Nano and it was awesome! I love Apple and what it is creating. Correction: Innovating!

Media Management. It’s truly shocking to me that Microsoft has not improved the user experience with Windows Media Player (WMP). Something about the design of WMP has always felt exceedingly video centric as opposed to library focused. Playing an .mp3 will force most of the screen to be taken over by an annoying visualization. … In addition, the lack of basic photo management in Windows has been the source of tremendous grief.

I have to agree with Rob’s WMP experience. Though I have been a Windows Media Player user since long (I was hooked to the ex-king Winamp before that, during its 1.x and 2.x versions reign, and Sonique too – ah what a super cool player that was!), but since my WMP music database has been wiped out (the database itself, and not the music files) after the Vista of my laptop’s pretty Windows was shot down by a vicious virus and I installed it anew, I am trying out a new media player: the open source Songbird. And it’s pretty good.

Most applications are now on the Mac. Nearly all of the applications I use are now available on the Mac such as Firefox, the Creative Suite (Dreamweaver, Flash, etc.), Office, Stellarium, AIM, Google Earth, etc. If the tools you use and depend on are portable, then it makes it even easier to make the switch.

That’s definitely a compelling reason. And on top of that, if a Windows application has not yet been ported to the Mac, one always has the option of Boot Camping to Windows. Tada! Nice one, Apple.

Now all these reasons make me crave for an Apple iMac/Macbook all over again! I hope I’ll be able to afford one soon.