It’s official, and we had a party to prove it!

Last night (Feb 9th, 2009) down in Santa Clara, my company hosted the Meet & Greet party for the SMX West 09 conference.  This was the kick-off party for the conference where we were officially announced our new product, Pixelsilk.

Most of the Sales & Marketing folks were down at the party in Santa Clara.  It looks like they had a great time.  You can read about it in Kandi Humpf’s blog post here.  Be sure to take a look at the picture of the laptop!

On the other end of the laptop connected via Skype, the rest of the team (development, web and support) were having a great time eating cajun tater tots, pizza and of course drinking hand-crafted beer at our local McMenamin’s, the Old St. Francis School.  Here are some photos of the team enjoying a well deserved celebration.

I want to give a shout out to the entire team for helping us get to this point!  It has been a lot of hard work, but thanks to the all of the great folks it has always been fun!

Ready to Launch

At Smart Solutions, the company I work for, we’ve been working on a new product for quite some time now.  Our target has been a launch in February at the SMX West 2009 conference.  We’ve just announced it on our company blog.

Warning…Warning…The Coolest New Product of the Year Announced!

But you’ll have to be at SMX to see it!

Well, that’s not entirely true – you can also see it at www.pixelsilk.com; but you’re going to want to be at SMX to really get to know the geniuses behind this leading-edge…some would say “futuristic”… SEO-enabled Content Management System.

You can read the all the details here.  It’s an exciting time and very fulfilling to see the the results of our labor bear fruit.  Congratulations to the entire team!

Is Science Fiction finally coming through?

For years science fiction authors have written about fantastic technologies that will make our lives easier, more fun, and generally better in many ways and ever since we have been wistfully dreaming of those times.

Now it seems that there are a lot of things new announcements and products that fulfill some of those visions.  Here are some of the cool items you may not have heard about.

Video on Demand Evolution

Cable companies have had limited video on demand for quite a while now, and more recently companies like Joost, Netflix and Hulu have began bringing us a whiter variety of programming available to watch what when want to when we want to watch it.  The networks are getting the hint by making some of their shows available as well; however until now most of these choice required you to sit in front of your computer unless you were among the small percentage of folks that have some sort of media center integrated with your audio-video system.

We have seen set-top appliances that allow us to stream this content to our sets, but that is still yet another piece of equipment to have in your living room, something many wives simply do not like.

image Recently some television makes have announced their sets will support streaming with no other device, and they will do it over Wi-Fi.  LG announced 2 of their lines will support NetFlix, CinemaNow and YouTube, while Vizio unveiled models that not only stream NetFlix, Blockbuster, Amazon and Yahoo!, but it will also support images from Flickr, streaming music from Pandora and Rhapsody and more.  Not to be left behind, Sony announced the ability to stream from Yahoo!, Amazon, YouTube, Slacker(sm) and more..  I would also be remiss to mention that the XBox360 got streaming movies from Netflix last year, and with applications like PlayOn Media Server you can get your Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, ESPN and CBS on the XBox, Playstation 3 and soon the Wii.  All we need now is to replace the actual screen with a hologram ala The Minority Report and we will have arrived!

Mobility and More

Of course everyone knows about the iPhone.  What you may not have heard of are the new generations coming with the Android operating system, with the T-Mobile G1 being the first to market.  BlackBerry and Palm have also provided significant updates to their operating system given us many choice for little computers walking around in our hands with functionality from GPS navigation to price comparisons via scanned bar codes.  Oh, and they still let us talk to people too!

This revolution in mobility is beginning to make its way into other devices.  Android has been spotted as the underlying OS for new desktop phones and with its easy to use interface it makes it perfect for other embedded devices.  Can you imaging having a microwave or oven that you can set up to come on at certain times more easily, or a refrigerator that will let you know you are running low on milk via SMS before you come home?

Automotive

The newest Microsoft Sync is pruported to read your text messages as they come in, and even recognize your voice commands for not only calling, but for interacting with the navigation system and all of your music as well.

Oh, and since you asked (I know you were going to!) the flying car is making progress.  There are still a lot of issues from logistics to infrastructure and more, but it looks like there are some very smart folks working towards making the ultimate sci-fi dream a reality.

There’s far too many other gadgets to go into without turning this post into the size if War and Peace, but be assured that it is an exciting time in technology!

JavaScript == English

I was born and raised in the USA and as such, the English language comes naturally to me.  Sure, I see the idiosyncrasies such as 3 words spelled 3 different ways sounding exactly the same (their they’re there), 1 word with multiple meanings (rich, row,  tear) or a word spelled the same, pronounced differently and meaning something different (lead, bow, ..) when that is done.  Due to these traits, it has been said that English is one of the, if not the, toughest languages to really master in the world if it’s not your native language. (Note: this is a generalization and every situation is different)  The basics are easy, but to really grasp the language takes real  immersion into the culture.

JavaScript feels the same to me.  If your native programming language uses similar concepts (Lisp, Scheme) then you’re probably good, but if you are among the majority coming from a C based language (C++, C#, Java..) you will likely have problems.  Sure, the basics are easy, it looks like your C based language, but mastering it can take a lot of time immersing yourself in its culture.

The question becomes this:  In today’s web environment, is it worth it to truly master the language?  The creator of JavaScript, Brendan Eich, casts his own doubts regarding his creations future:

I don’t really believe ES4 is a demon from the ancient world, of course. I’m afraid the JS-Hobbits are in trouble, though. As things stand today, Silverlight with C# or something akin (pushed via Windows Update) will raze the Shire-web, in spite of Gandalf-crock’s teachings.

Of course the Shire-web he refers to is the current status quo, and Gandalf is clearly Doug Crockford, one of (or perhaps THE) top authority on JavaScript.

My own experience have just recently brought me to an understanding of JavaScript that makes me feel like I finally really get it.

I feel like the <pick your Latin language based country here> who learned enough English when I was young to ask how much my dinner cost, where the bathroom is and to call a cab to get back to my hotel.  Finally, moving to the USA, living, working and playing with native English speakers I get the mastery of the language.

Having made that analogy, albeit a stretched one, I think I now have enough information to say, it depends.

What?  It depends?  I’ve just read this entire piece of junk for a non-answer!?!?  Well, yes.  Nothing in this life is black and white, or at least very few things are.  This includes JavaScript!

I really do think that JS’s multi-paradigm nature means there is no one-true-subset for all to use (whether they like it or not)

I feel JavaScript will of course be around for a long while.  While the web does need an overhaul, there are too many people and pages invested in JavaScript to make some grandiose statement that Silverlight, Flash, Air or whatever will replace it.  These new, powerful and exciting technologies have found ways to work with JavaScript and it is my belief that the world (wide web) will be a better place for it.

I also believe JavaScript will evolve, kicking and screaming if necessary.  I believe it will become more powerful for the programmer.  Of course, the problem with evolving JS is browser support and browser saturation.  The platforms must support it and people must upgrade.  That is the one advantage the other technologies have, at least for the moment.

If you feel you do not have the level of mastery you should have with JavaScript, I suggest immersing yourself with Doug Crockford’s writings.  It’s a great place to start.  Use jQuery as well since a lot of the examples you find force you to use patterns you may not have already investigated.  As with all things, practice and perseverance are the key!

Good luck on your journey, Grasshopper!

Spelling is very important at Microsoft

While I am not saying that spelling is unimportant, indeed we should all try a little harder to improve our spelling and grammar, the update made available to me today in Vista just blows my mind.

Update for Windows Vista (KB995020)

Update for Windows Vista (KB995020)

It’s not so much that Microsoft feels it necessary to push out an update with five…yes that is only 5… words to the English and German dictionaries, it is the fact that it is flagged as important and that it may require a reboot!  The last time I looked, checking spelling has the option to add a word that has been flagged as incorrect to your local dictionary.  One button click is required to do this.  Uno.  Eins.  That’s it!  Yet, if I accept this update, according to the informational dialog, I may need to reboot!?  C’mon Microsoft!

I decided to read the knowledge base article for KB955020.  It shows me that the five words that will be added to the dictionaries are:

  • Friendster (Is that a real word?)
  • Nazr
  • Obama (Oh c’mon, that’s a proper name!  Surely we can add that manually?)
  • Racicot
KB995020 Article

KB995020 Article

Scrolling down in the article to the resolution section I see under Restart requirement that indeed I will have to reboot my computer.  Looking further down the page to the Workaround section shows me the Add to Dictionary method which I have already deduced.  The update itself just seems a bit unnecessary, don’t you agree?

In closing, beware of KB95502 from Microsoft Update as it may require you to reboot….all in the name of proper spelling.

Lawn chair balloonist Kent Couch’s chair found!

Kent_Couch_Cluster_Balloon It has been ten months since I reported about a local business owner and cluster balloon enthusiast Kent Couch took his ride from Bend across Oregon.  After a little more than 10 months, someone finally found his lawn chair and video camera!

Congratulations to Kent!  I know that the longer the lawn chair and video camera stayed missing, the less likely that it would ever be found and reported.  I’m sure he’s quite happy about it since the camera contained the documentary of his flight from the perspective of the rider.

Gmail on Windows Mobile 5

OK, I’ve been through this twice now, so I figure it is time to write it down.  Yesterday I had to do a hard reset on my HTC 4300 running Windows Mobile 5.  I would LOVE to upgrade to 6, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.

I had previously had a version of the Gmail for Mobile application installed and working, but forgotten how I’d done it.  After a couple of hours repeatedly trying to install the current version 1.5.0.1191, upgrading my Java Intent MIDlet Manager, trying to install again, downloading the .jar directly and more, I had no luck.

I finally decided to try the 1.0 version of the applet.  Viola!  That worked!  If anyone from Google happens to read this, you may want to test the current version with WM 5 since there are a lot of phones out there waiting for their providers to upgrade.

Here is the direct link to the 1.0 jar file.

Good luck!