2015-03-20T05:16:05.434+11:00Last night I made a guest appearance on the AppBizDev podcast to talk about some of the work I have been doing to help developers around the world build better software.
2014-04-03T06:13:01.806+11:00While I cannot be in San Francisco at the Microsoft Build conference this week, I still managed to virtually attend and ask Satya a question in the keynote.
2014-02-01T17:14:57.090+11:00The Kinect for Windows development team in Redmond have just posted an excellent article on Face Tracking, along with a bunch of code samples for managed code developers.
2013-12-30T12:52:46.286+11:00We all need to have conversations, every so often, that can make us feel uncomfortable. Yet without these conversations it is hard to maintain interactions with colleagues and business partners.
2013-12-20T09:35:15.412+11:00The new Kinect for Windows 2 device that I received as part of the alpha kit last month is a big step forward form the previous Kinect for Windows device. The resolution is far better and the opportunity for multiple user applications seems to be better. My favourite feature is the possibly the lest expected, the fact that the device has a standard thread for mounting on a tripod.
|Kinect for Windows 2 device|
2013-11-24T17:26:57.305+11:00If you know me then you know I have been a fan of the Tablet computing form factor for over 10 years. I started working with tablets in in 2001 and have built software for these devices for over 12 years.I wrote a book to help developers to get started building software for the Tablet PC in 2002. It received a lot of attention in the little community of tablet PC enthusiasts that existed at the time and I ended up working with the Tablet PC team in Redmond for a few years.This is the first convertible Tablet PC I owned, the Acer C100. It was a great little device and I wrote Getting Started with Tablet PC Development on this device. I also wrote most of eXtreme .NET using this Tablet.Once I started working with the Tablet PC team at Microsoft I was able to get my hands on the Toshiba M200, pictured below. This was a amazing convertible table for its time and provided the main platform for my work with Tablet PCs for the first few months of my work.I then discovered the joy of a pure slate tablet. The Sahara tablet from TabletKiosk that I next acquired was my primary mobile device for a couple of years. I still have it on my desk in my home office and it works great. It was a beautiful writing experience in a form factor that just made a lot of sense. The screen is approximately US letter (or A4) sized and applications such as OneNote are an absolute joy to use with the rich inking capability of the active stylus.Then the hiatus began, In 2006 I got involved in other projects that required some different thinking, and while my heart was still longing for an amazing tablet experience, the hardware didn't keep up with what I needed to achieve on a tablet. My trusty Sahara kept going and I did get a Toshiba M400 that I used for a while. I found the combination of smartphone and laptop was doing enough for me. Smartphones had got smarter and acted as better mobile devices than a tablet and the laptop was my machine for getting 'real' work done.Then in 2010 Apple unveiled the iPad, I saw the potential but was disappointed by the lack of stylus support.I still bought one and started filling in the gaps for some of the missing functionality I wanted.The iPad is still really a companion device. It is not my full-time work device. Yet is is clearly possible for a tablet to be your full time work device. The new Sahara Tablet PC from TabletKiosk is an amazingly powerful PC, supporting touch and active stylus. This is more than powerful enough to do everything you can do on PC and work as a tablet. The screen is a decent size and it supports an external monitor for when you are at your desk.I am sure you a now thinking about the new Surface product from Microsoft.I bought the first generation Surface Pro device and found it painful to use, the screen is just a bit too small. I love the active stylus support but find that while Windows 8 has had the shell redesigned for touch I still need to spend a lot of time in Outlook, Excel and Word and these applications on the desktop are far from touch optimized. I am also not a fan of the keyboard.In my opinion if a tablet requires a keyboard to make it useful it is not in fact a tablet at all, but some type of laptop.Saying all that, I purchased a Surface 2 device earlier this week and have been using it for the last few days while attending meetings. It is light and much faster than the Surface RT. I also got a keyboard for the Surface 2, but I have thrown it away. I want a tablet, not a laptop. The keyboard experience is useless, and if I wanted to use a keyboard I would take a laptop to the meeting.One of the main differences of using a tablet in a meeting vs. a laptop is the fact I can lay it down flat on the table. It then doesn't act as a physical barrier between me and my colleagues in the meeting. A slate laid down flat on the table will change the social dynamics of the meeting. It is cle[...]
2013-09-21T11:57:38.164+10:00Last month I had a conversation with Scott Hanselman about vision based computing. This conversation is now available for your listening pleasure here.
2012-01-15T09:32:54.437+11:00In November I sat with Carl Franklin and explored some code to help you get started with Kinect development. Carl has broadcast this on DNRTV.
2011-11-04T03:53:06.195+11:00I met with the MSDN UK team recently to discuss the work we have been doing to create seamless computing experiences. Sara Allison has posted on the UK MSDN team blog about some of the topics we discussed.
2011-11-04T03:31:07.270+11:00I am heading back to Sydney in a few days and some friends at WiseTech have asked me to come and spend an hour at UTS talking about Seamless Computing scenarios.
2011-08-02T07:37:14.077+10:00This is something has been nagging at my mind in the last couple of years. When I started getting interested in eXtreme Programming in 1998 it represented a step up from some of things I was already doing with software development teams. We were using techniques best classified as Rapid Application Development. First eXtreme Programming and then the Agile manifesto represented lightweight methods to get software shipped.
2011-04-09T10:29:48.284+10:00The last few weeks have been action packed, and each week seems to have more than the last.
2011-03-28T20:15:24.971+11:00The February issue of Cutter IT Journal published an article I wrote on the experiences nsquared had building a table top solution for Telstra.
2011-03-23T08:45:50.423+11:00After some recent conversations I thought I would jot down some thoughts on how different companies position their brands through the way they target their audience.I have recently been involved in a number of conversations regarding breadth marketing, essentially this means going for more customers over a wider range of vertical markets. On the other hand depth marketing means targeting a small number of (often already known) customers and spending more time making sure they are incredibly happy with your product.Given a limited amount of resources (every company in the world has its limits, just some are bigger limits than others) the breadth approach means a lower level of engagement per customer than a depth approach.The question in my mind is how does the approach taken to marketing impact on the perceived value of the brand.and can making the right choice of approach combined with a price point help a brand become more successful.The question about perceived value seems like it might be a no-brainer. Yet the question might be better asked this way; in order to be successful does the marketing approach effect the perceived value or does the product value determine the marketing approach ?Surely an approach that encourages a deeper level of customer engagement will increase the perceived value. Take for example the custom built super car industry. Here the customer is cherished and their hand is held through each step of making choices about the car, including fittings and extras. This is clearly a high value product and nearly always perceived as high value brand; you don’t go to Citroen in order to get a customer super car built, you go to Ferrari or Lamborghini. Yet we could flip this on its head and say that because this is such a high value product it dictates that the customers be given a better service. If you look at it this way it would then suggest that the higher the value of the product the deeper you would want your customer engagement. I also wonder if deciding to position your product for a breadth marketing campaign actually lowers the perceived value of your product. The more people that use your product the less exclusive they feel.Some products are clearly well positioned for breadth-marketing examples include; soft drinks such as Coke or Pepsi, consumer electronics such as iPods or televisions, and mainstream movies such as Spiderman or Harry Potter. These are all low value products and have mass-market appeal, or so their producers would like us to believe.Lets focus on technology for a moment and consider the entire experience, not just hardware and not just software, but the end-to-end experience. Clearly Apple has a lot of passion in this space, they have built a strong brand on the user experience of their products. Yet the Apple products are themselves not that expensive and are certainly targeting the mass-market space. Apple is clearly going for breadth marketing, and it seems to be working out pretty well for them. Microsoft has done well in this space with Xbox and recently incredibly well with Kinect, again a low value, consumer focused device with mass-market appeal.So why all this pontificating?Recently I have come across a few products that are clearly high value propositions, not targeting consumers but rather specific verticals and small numbers of clients (in the big scheme of things) and yet they are taking a breadth marketing approach. They are twittering like crazy, putting their products to be touched by consumers that will never be able to afford the products and trying to drive what appears to be a consumer facing m[...]
2011-03-17T19:50:14.017+11:00This week I have been at the Hotel Hospitality and Design Expo in Sydney. The nsquared team released the nsquared hospitality pack for Microsoft Surface. This includes three applications designed specifically for the hospitality industry, nsquared concierge, nsquared room service and nsquared tourist table. Each of these applications helps the hotel up-sell services that they offer directly or through affiliations.
2011-03-09T11:55:11.004+11:00With so much discussion recently about moving your computing solution to the cloud as opposed to building a rich client application I thought I would make some observations.Step back 30 years (1981) to the days when the mainframe was being positioned as a computing solution for business via thin client terminals. At the same time a new type of computer was starting to become popular, the personal computer. The personal computer was a low powered device by comparison to the mainframe, but it was all yours,.There was no sharing of resources or concerns of your personal and private data getting into the wrong person's hands. Microsoft made it their mission to put a computer on every desktop, it was a noble cause, a democratization of computing power. As personal computing power increased and with it the software for personal computers, the dream has become a reality. Now the modern day personal computer is often more powerful than many of the mainframe devices. The personal computer has also become so cheap as to be considered a disposable item by large companies. Place a large number of personal computers together and you can create an immensely powerful shared computing resource. In many ways, this stacking together of large numbers of computers provides more redundancy than a single large powerful computer. When a part of it fails it is really disposable and can be left as a dead component in the array of computers. The operating systems that these personal computers run is not considerably different from the operating system that runs the modern day laptop or the desktop computer.This has lead to a shift in the dynamics of the industry. The manufacturers of the personal computer operating system (let's face it, I am talking about Microsoft here in the main), is now the same company that is producing the operating system for the shared resource computing accessed through the modern day terminal (the browser). This now means the same company that has lead the charge to bring computers to the desk and into your hands is motivated to create large online shared resource centers, centers that run their operating system. The interesting thing is that over the last 20 years Microsoft's Windows operating system has matured into a far superior server technology than client technology. Consider the Vista issues that clients reported and compare that to the lack of issues reported for Windows Server 2008. Windows Server 2008 is a really solid operating system and yet at its core is the same operating system as Windows Vista. It should not be surprising then that a company like Microsoft would play to its strengths and be motivated to sell more of its server operating systems. Windows 7 has done a lot to regain credibility for Microsoft as an operating system on the personal computer yet it is clear that market share is being lost to other products.Many of these other products are no longer the traditional 'personal computer' and Steve Jobs in his announcement of the iPad2 referred to these computers as 'post PC' devices. Clearly your phone, slate computer or TV are not quite the same as your personal computer, yet these devices all harness the same (if not more) computing power as the personal computer of 5 years ago.These post pc devices are often designed for richer media consumption such as movies, video chat, music and games. In order to optimize the experience for the consumer the software running on the devices is getting increasingly complex.This clear movement to richer and richer experiences on client devices lead[...]
I recently had a chat with Ken on CodeCast about Surface 2.0, Kinect and a bunch of other Microsoft technologies.
It has been difficult in the last few months to discuss what we have been working on and there are still areas that we cannot discuss. Yet the cover has been lifted on the surface 2.0 project and I am proud to have been involved in the new software development that the team at nsquared has been creating.
Grab your headphones and listen to this easy going chat between Ken and myself.
2011-01-31T10:00:06.110+11:00Las Vegas will host Mix again this year, between April 12 and 14. As always I expect there will be a wide range of interests around Microsoft technologies represented at the event.I proposed a total of nine talks for the event, sadly only three were accepted for the community voting. If you would like to attend any of these presentations please will you click on the link in the title and vote for them.Wave, Touch, Pen, Speech, Mouse and KeyboardIn the last decade we have seen a variety of new interfaces popularized. With Microsoft Kinect you are the controller. There are screens that can see like Microsoft Surface. We have touch screens that can feel you and pen interfaces that provide rich digital inking capabilities. Speech technology to control an computer has existed for over a decade now. Yet we still are using the mouse and keyboard almost daily.In this session you will explore how the different input technologies can be applied to different categories of engagement. You will learn why the mouse and keyboard is here to stay and when you should take advantage of the other input technologies. This session will also provide you with some insight into how you can apply combinations of input to enhance your applications further.How to build a great Microsoft Surface applicationMicrosoft Surface represents a new category in computing. Vision based screens enable unique interactions and they present fantastic opportunities for innovative software to be created. In this session you will learn what makes Microsoft Surface unique and how you can use that to build great software for Microsoft Surface. This session will cover the user interfaces and concepts that you need to apply in order to take advantage of the technology in MicrosoftSurface. With the imminent release of Microsoft Surface 2.0 this session will cover everything you need to build really amazing experiences for MicrosoftSurface.The company Dr.Neil works for has more applications certified for Microsoft surface than any other company in the world. This session will provide some insight into how they conjure up the magic that enables them to repeatedly build awesome Surface experiences.Building Really Social SoftwareTechnology can be both an inhibitor and an enabler of social engagement. This session presents a discussion on how technology can be used to enrich the dialogue between users. When you consider many forms of computing today you think of users staring into a screen and yet the most successful systems, such as twitter and Facebook, are really about how people converse with each other. In the last few years new categories of technology, such as Microsoft Surface and Kinect, have emerged that truly bring people together. This session will discuss the way these new technologies (and others) will change the way we can use technology to enhance human interactions.Then with the other Surface MVPs we are proposing a discussion on all things relating to Natural User Interfaces.The Microsoft Surface MVPs present: Natural User Interfaces, Today and Tomorrow; an interactive discussion and demonstrationJoshua Blake; Neil Roodyn; Dennis Vroegop; Rick Barraza; Bart Roozendaal; Josh Santangelo; Nicolas CalviThe Natural User Interface (NUI) is a hot topic that generates a lot of excitement, but there are only a handful of companies doing real innovation with NUIs and most of the practical experience in the NUI style of design and development is limited to a small number of experts. The Microsoft Surface M[...]
2011-01-18T22:29:00.296+11:00Over the weekend a new iPad app became available in the Apple App store; ntask.
2011-01-04T15:33:05.099+11:00The latest wave of social media frenzy is about sharing your location and knowing where your friends are, or have just been.
2010-11-30T06:07:30.169+11:00Let me ask you a question, what is a table for?It may seem like a strange question yet it is not something we typically think about.Furniture is taken for granted, in fact sometimes the word furniture is employed to mean the adornments in or on an object. You could say someone with lots of facial jewelry has 'furniture on their face' or, as I have heard it said, they have 'face furniture'In our everyday lives we utilize furniture to enhance comfort and to perform functions, it is these functions that are worth exploring.Think of all the things you do at a table. Eat food, work on your computer, layout a puzzle game, hold a meeting, and many more 'events' occur at a meeting. Consider which of those events take great advantage of the horizontal surface that is presented by the table. Playing puzzle game with friends, or holding a meeting at a table is something that clearly requires a horizontal platform. The horizontal nature of a table with multiple sides open and available for people to sit, presents the ideal place for holding a meeting. It enables eye to eye contact, allowing all participants to engage in a much fuller conversation. Such a large portion of communication between people is non-verbal and by facing the other parties around a table we can pick up on these subtleties. We can understand from proximity and quick glances of the eyes the nature of personal relationships between people.Many technical solutions ignore the human interactions that are crucial for us to work together and create far shallower modes of engagement. Instant messenger, for example, provides a mode of communication between multiple parties, each siting at their own workstation. The nuances of passion, humor and disgust during the conversation can be hinted at with the use of emoticons. These provide a limited set of clues to hint towards the users feeling as they make a statement. The vocabulary of these is not just limiting but also deceptive. A person may want you to feel they are being jovial while really they are sad. You would only ever pick this up if you actually with the person. The telephone can provide a better medium for judging the mood of someone, through the tone of their voice and through other audio clues.Yet nothing bis better than sitting at the table with someone for truly understanding their feelings and position on a topic. Most digital content is still presented using vertically oriented displays, yet these displays act as barriers to the optimum personal communication.When working with the Tablet PC team at Microsoft in 2003- 2005 one thing became very clear, the slate form factor could radically change the dynamics of a meeting room. In a typical meeting at Microsoft people will bring their laptops and sit around a table, each staring into their own screen. This is incredibly anti social and detrimental to the level of engagement of the people in the room. In a meeting where each participant had a slate device the device did not act a barrier between the individuals at the table. Tabletop computing now has the opportunity to take this to the next level. By sharing the content directly on the tabletop the number of barriers is further reduced. A personal screen can present personal distractions during a meeting (email, IM, etc...), on a shared screen the focus can be on just the content desired.Today I presented these concepts to a potential client showing the nsquared b[...]