* Posts by mdc

10 publicly visible posts • joined 2 Jun 2012

The Metro experiment is dead: Time to unleash Windows Phone+


The problem...

... with all of this is that Microsoft launched Surface at roughly the same time as Windows 8.

You see, Metro was never designed for tablets. I should know, I was one of the people who designed it; and I did so primarily for keyboard usage. not touchscreens. The "chromeless" design simply lends itself well to touchscreen use as well, which is why it was initially trialled as a replacement for Windows Mobile. As a non-core market, it was a pretty low-risk environment that was used to gain customer and critical feedback on the design principles.

Unfortunately, this led to people thinking that Windows 8 was somehow WP7 ported to desktops, which couldn't be further from the truth. The goal with Metro was ALWAYS keyboard first.

First video inside thinking fish's brain captured by boffins



Swim swim hungry swim.

Licensing snafu leaves Windows 8 open to PIRATES


Reddit, I think not.

This method was actually discovered by myself and a few others over on the MyDigitalLife forums, and is in fact rather more serious than this article makes out. KMS activation is NOT required to activate using the ProWMC key; all that's required is a modified data.dat, and then the OS can be installed AND activated using the ProWMC key.

Design guru: Windows 8 is 'a monster' and 'a tortured soul'



I can't understand why The Register keeps posting articles like this :-/

I think a strongly worded e-mail to the editor is required.

Microsoft: 'To fill 6,000 jobs, we'll pay $10K per visa'


Can't believe nobody picked up on this bit...

"'We don't trust big institutions. They're taking our jobs. Globalization isn't working'"


Firefox's birthday present to us: Teaching tech titans about DIY upstarts



What the hell kinda drivel is this article? Since when has The Register been sponsored by Mozilla?

I should add, also, that alternative browsers started the HTML work-around NIGHTMARES that web developers had to go through for what... 6 years? Purely because they couldn't agree on how to implement the W3C standards. As someone who went through all that nonsense back then, 9 times out of 10, it was Firefox which had things wrong, not IE. I wrote perfectly compliant XHTML 1.0 Strict, and it rendered on IE perfectly. Firefox, on the other hand, would have a fit over even the most basic markup.

Pentax K-01 16Mp APS-C hybrid camera review


Ignore the Sample Photos

As a daily K5 user (same sensor as the K-01), I can confirm that RAW photos with appropriate focus adjustment dialled in via the AF Adjustment menu are MUCH sharper than the ones shown in this article, including with the bogstandard 18-55 DA-L lens.

Personally I use a Tokina 19-35 most of the time as I find it has a little less barrel distortion and falloff than the 18-55, being a full-frame lens, but the kit DOES still give you decent sharpness and resolution. I also use the 18-55 WR (weather sealed) version quite a bit when doing club work, as there's always the risk that some idiot will spill a drink all over your gear (as happened last night as a matter of fact). Shooting in RAW is a must though; to be honest, I'm surprised the major players haven't ditched JPEG output entirely from their offerings by now.

There is ONE somewhat inadvertent benefit to the K-01 over the K-5, and that's the fact that by omitting phase-detect AF, it doesn't suffer from the rather annoying sub-3000K focussing issue... one of the venues I cover is outdoors and has sodium-based heatlamps, and phase-detect is a nightmare in there, so I find myself using - and looking/feeling ridiculous while doing so - the live view (with contrast detect AF) mode to focus.

Researchers hide malware from Google Bouncer


Missed Opportunity

Joe & Charlie vs The Chocolate Factory?

Windows 8: We kick the tyres on Redmond's new tablet wheels


Re: Windows 8

Not quite - been a LONG time reader (since the Reg first opened) - but never felt the need to comment on anything before!

@Thad, I'm not saying everything's hunky dory in Windows 8; on the contrary, there are features absent which I myself am a frequent user of on Windows 7, and the look of traditional application's tiles on the Start Screen is quite frankly shocking... even on the traditional desktop we can have 96x96 icons - why are we stuck with 48x48 on the Start Screen?

Also, the decision as to whether or not a tile can be single or double width should lie with the user rather than be limited by the application creator; I would much rather have a double-width IE icon leading a column of pinned sites than have reside next to one of them, but then again I'm OCD and I like things "just so".

I've since moved into a different field entirely (photography) and therefore no longer have any input into the design process; but I'm still - on the whole - supportive of what we're getting in Windows 8. There's just a few additional bits and bobs I'd like to see added, feature-wise to make things perfect, and there's still time before RTM to add them. Failing that, there's always service packs and I daresay Stardock have something in the works regarding Start Screen customization if all else fails.


Windows 8

As the person responsible for the original concept and a significant amount of the design work for Longhorn (which became Windows Vista), including Aero Glass, if anyone should have a problem with Metro it's me; but I don't.

The initial premise for Glass (as it was called back then, the Aero UX sprung up around the Glass model) was not - as most people believe - to provide eye candy for the end user. Instead, it was an attempt to pull the window chrome away from the content and make it as unobtrusive as possible. The whole point of the glass effect itself was to allow the end user to make better use of their screen real-estate by allowing them to see content beneath the active window.

The first concepts did exactly that - completely transparent window borders with floating titlebar controls, however, this proved distracting to the end user as when a window behind had a lot of text or otherwise "busy" content, the user had to fight to recognise the window caption. It was then that we decided to apply a blur filter to the surface beneath, still allowing recognition of the content beneath but without being distracting to the user. Many, many trials were done to ascertain the appropriate amount of blur, incidentally. Desktop compositing and the DWM window manager were born out of a desire to make this as smooth an experience for the end user. Things like Aero Peek and hover thumbnails were also designed to fit this goal of making the chrome less obtrusive.

Some of my other concepts promoted a VERY different approach to the user experience, much more in line with what is seen today in Windows 8. In fact, the premise for the shift in the desktop paradigm goes back as far as the early Blackcomb concepts first demoed by the MSN services division in 1999; it has ALWAYS been felt that the desktop itself is a rather clunky way of providing content to the end user, which is - after all - the purpose of computing devices, be they traditional desktops, laptops, phones, or even set-top boxes. Windowing systems were designed to allow users to work on multiple pieces of data in quick succession, and yet over the years usability studies have found that users rarely manipulate more than 2 documents simultaneously.

A radical shift away from the desktop metaphor WAS considered for Longhorn, but rejected for numerous reasons; primarily due to the scale of the undertaking that was already planned for Longhorn. Various features got dropped over the course of the development - NOT the ones that were complained about by the public and the media at the time - but other technologies first proposed in Cairo and later carried forward to Windows 7 - and the focus slowly shifted towards the HAL, networking and the Aero UX, luckily for myself.

One of the other reasons for keeping the traditional desktop paradigm was Mac OS X. There were rumours that Apple would be making the switch to x86 and there was always a possibility that they would open OS X up to non-Apple hardware, in either a full or limited capacity. It was felt - most notably by Jim Allchin - that the familiarity of the Windows interface would offer people a strong incentive to upgrade to Vista, rather than exploring alternatives. Linux has never been considered a credible threat due to its inaccessibility to the average user, but OS X already had a niche - but highly vocal - following and was well-known by the public. The possibility of it being available as a competitor, which opening the OS up to generic hardware would have started, was a compelling reason to keep the familiar experience for those afraid of change.

Now, however, it's become clear that both OS X and Linux have been unable to provide a credible alternative to the general public, and so the plans for a content-centric interface were finally put into place. While some have suggested that Windows 8's interface is "touch-only" or "based on Windows Phone 7", that couldn't be further from the truth. Windows Phone 7 was instead a pilot program - in a relatively low risk sector - for the designs originally suggested for Blackcomb, which have now found their way into Windows 8. At the time, touch interfaces hadn't even been conceived of - remember, back then touch sensitive screens were Resistive nasties that required at best a stylus, or at worst jabbing at them hard with a finger or pen.

The fact is that Metro just happened to be easily accessible for touch devices, and that has been touted as one of its benefits; it is NOT, and never has been, the original aim of the design. The aim of the design is exactly the same as Aero was - to take the chrome away from the content, and allow the user to focus on what they're doing rather than unnecessary clutter. A perfect example of this is internet Explorer on Metro; in its default state, all you see is a webpage; chrome CAN be pulled up if the user requires, but is otherwise absent. The majority of Metro applications are like this - in fact it's part of the Metro UX specifications.

This has always been the way that computing has been going; customisation features have subtly been taken out of each successive version of Windows, as users have - on the whole - moved on from eye candy and instead focus on productivity. This isn't specific to the software sector; even social networking has experienced this shift - from the cluttered, flashing, marquee-laden MySpace profiles of 2003 to the clean, customization-free Facebook profiles of today.

Personally, I see Metro as a good thing; it allows me to do my work without distraction, and I'm just disappointed that I wasn't the one who did the design work for it this time around.