Thursday, May 31, 2007
The Surface OS

I like the new Surface computers. I think they're really revolutionary. They don't have keyboards. Or mice.

My first impression is that this is the first step of getting rid of the need for every new Windows computer to be backwardly-compatible to run every Windows and DOS program that's ever been written.

Scott Guthrie said the interaction is built with WPF, which reaffirms to me the wisdom and synergy of Microsoft's overall planning and strategy. I think they were being literal when they put the F in WPF, because it seems to be a foundation that future computing will be built on. I'm starting to read up on it.

I think they'll factor out and expose chunks of functionality, like the wireless device interaction, so that creating programs for the tabletop display computer will be done for the most part several levels of abstraction above individual lines of C# (on a mock design surface in the middle of Visual Studio, I'm thinking).

But we'll still be using PCs with keyboards and mice to create the programs that run on the surface--at least for the foreseeable future.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Flying fish!

Copper River salmon from Alaska are on sale now here in the Pacific Northwest. The season is brief. The fish is expensive. But the fish from these pristine Alaskan waters taste more flavorful than any farmed varieties.

Bake up some salmon and top with this simple sauce.

Mix equal parts of:

Soy sauce should contain just water, soybeans, salt, maybe alcohol to preserve freshness, and maybe wheat (for shoyu soy sauce).

Mirin is a kind of sweet rice wine "similar to sake but with lower alcohol content" (Wikipedia).

I buy Eden brand, made with water, rice, salt and koji (a natural fermentation agent). You can get it in health food stores and maybe asian markets. Other brands, like popular soy sauce maker Kikkoman, are just glucose syrup, so check the labels.

A bit of this simple mixture brightens the flavor of fish (salmon, trout, scallops). I put some cornmeal on scallops or trout and bake covered with a few Tbs of water. I remove the pyrex bakeware's cover halfway through the cooking.

According to the Eden Mirin label, "shoyu soy sauce and mirin are the right and left hands of Japanese cuisine."

I think this mixture tastes good because it is both salty and sweet, two of our (5?) primary tastes. If it tastes familiar, it's teriyaki if you add some garlic, ginger and sugar.

Everyone has different reactions to salt and sugar, so check the labels and use your individual discretion.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Self-esteem is the reputation one acquires with oneself.
--memorable sentence from some book
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Silverlight will be pervasive.

I was going to end the blog entry right there.

First, Silverlight will be built into Internet Explorer in the future. Second, I assume it will somehow not frighten people when the browser asks if it can download it. I suppose if the average person sees this request a few times when trying to access some video on a web page, especially on some big media site like CBSNews.com, even their initial caution will be worn down when they see the same request on several reputable web sites.

Rule number seven about Microsoft (you know rule number one is wait until the third version) is that any graphical program they make will be simple, inflexible, and somehow an uphill battle to get what you envision onto the computer screen. Adobe owns the graphics market.

I blogged earlier about Expression Web as a solid product. I used to use Adobe Dreamweaver, and Expression Web has all the nice layout features of that product. My favorite feature of Expression Web is that if you select some text or image on a page you're building, you'll see faint grid lines indicating the margins and padding (CSS settings) for that individual item, and you can adjust these settings just by dragging the grid lines up or down, left or right. (I'm several versions behind the latest version of Dreamweaver, so it may also have this.)

This feature will be part of the next version of Visual Studio for laying out ASP.NET pages.

But the real reason I think Silverlight will be a complete success is that for interactive Web applications where Flash has been king, it will offer all the power and ease of development of WPF. Again, I'm several steps behind the latest version, but I dabbled in Flash in the past. I created a Checkers game (you can try it out: swipe through the player one or player two default names and type your own name).

At the time, adding the functionality was done through a JavaScript-compatible language (they called ActionScript) and the IDE offered very primitive debugging and no IntelliSense. I haven't followed the latest offerings from Adobe, but I thought I heard that their new Web programming uses Eclipse as an IDE. Eclipse seemed to have a modern feel to it when I tried it out a few years ago. It even had built-in refactoring before Visual Studio did.

But all the elegance of the .NET framework, and all the power of the tools to create it, will make Silverlight nearly effortless to add video, audio, and animation to a web page. It may also be simpler for retrieving, displaying or manipulating data, but just to be able to add those big three media will make Silverlight IMO an almost instant success.

I don't know whether major web sites will use this new Microsoft technology to deliver video. Flash video is pretty well entrenched, but there might be some advantages to going with Silverlight.

Whenever I visit a page with video, I look for a control on the player that allows it to be viewed full-screen. Lacking that, I double-click on the rectangular video area.

[sometimes it's one square inch]

The ability to resize the player without degrading the video quality and make full-screen video easier to provide could be crucial advantages to Microsoft. And if the video quality is better and file size is smaller, all bets are off.

The jury is still out, but I guess it's time to revisit rule number seven.
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