# Sunday, 23 August 2009
I pick up yet another China made PMP. But.. it's special!!! (Of course...) Read on to check it out.

Sunday, 23 August 2009 01:16:55 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 22 August 2009

Windows Live Movie Maker 1.0 has been released. There's no separate installer for Movie Maker so download the installer at the Windows Live page and run it to install or update Movie Maker to 1.0.

So... considering that I basically spat vast amounts of acid at the beta release of Windows Live Movie Maker. How did I find version 1.0 after giving it an initial run through?

I LOVE IT!

The timeline view which I used to arrange my movies previously in Windows Movie Maker is GONE! There isn't a timeline view in WINDOWS LIVE Movie Maker. Because there isn't a NEED for it! Not only did they integrated the split function into the storyboard, each clip occupies the same visual size in the storyboard, meaning even if I had short few second clips in a multi minute video, I don't have to zoom in to my timeline to find it! For someone who has been using the clip function to make my movie previously this is FANTASTIC!!

As someone who wants to tweak the encoding profile to my own liking and purpose (say maybe I need a custom profile for my custom Silverlight app) I really appreciated the fact that Windows Movie Maker allowed me to hack in my own Windows Media Encoding Profile files to tune the encoding output. And yes!! I can do this with WINDOWS LIVE Movie Maker as well! So I have control over the output process! GREAT!

The whole process of making a movie if you're a casual user feels much more simpler than even Windows Movie Maker was previously. And yet, for people like me who want to tweak dials, the dials are there. LOVELY!

So... if you edit movies on your PC. WINDOWS LIVE Movie Maker just became a viable choice again.

Why is it WINDOWS LIVE Movie Maker? Cause I want to diffrentiate the name from the old Windows Movie Maker that came with XP and Vista.


Saturday, 22 August 2009 00:13:38 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 15 August 2009

It was the darkest midnight in decades, as I hunched in front of my TV. Preparing the items for my most diabolical plan of setting up my primary Windows 7 RTM machine aka my development workstation where I spend most of my time on.  And here is where the magic happened...

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Through the power of having an MSDN Subscription, the essence of untapped future potential which are the Windows 7 ISOs are downloaded. And then after going through the completely unsanctioned process of creating an install disc that is capable of installing almost any edition of Windows 7, the modified ISO is put through a surprisingly strict process in which every step had to be followed exactly without deviation.

After countless failures, and countless hours lost trying to boot from USB, fail, redo copy procedure, restart and boot from USB, fail, redo copy... finally, there is success. Finally it works, finally it is complete...

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A Bootable USB Thumbdrive with the ability to install all editions of Windows 7 64bit. Going 64bit is a dangerous journey. The benefits? The ability to fully unleashed the capability of your 64bit capable system. Increased performance with native 64bit apps, fully utilize your 4GB of RAM, and more. The downside? You're screwed if you ever needed to use any hardware that doesn't have a 64bit driver.

And thus... another thumbdrive was made!

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Within the 4GB confines of this thumbdrive lies Windows 7 - 32bit edition! But... what crazy manner of multiple disk partitioning and multi booting would I need to perform in order to run multiple versions of the OS on ONE notebook? But there is no problem... cause this is Windows 7 and with Windows 7 there can be MULTI (forget dual boot!) BOOTING without the worries of repartitioning your drives, cause there is boot via VHD support. No worrysome disk partitioning required, just lots of hard disk space to hold the VHD files that contains each OS.

And because installing shit from thumbdrives are usually faster than from other media. One last thumbdrive was processed.

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This 16GB thumbdrive which I was using as a file backup store until recently, can now be called the Microsoft Developer's Obsession. Within it is EVERYTHING a Microsoft platform based developer needs to get started. Visual Studio 2008? Check! SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition? Check! SQL Server 2008 Developer Edition? Check! Office 2007? Check! Expression Studio 3? Check! And all necessary service packs are also included. This should ensure I have to undergo the least amount of downtime during Windows 7 migration!

The tools... are READY! But now I need to find the time to actually reinstall the system! :P


Saturday, 15 August 2009 01:32:46 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 08 August 2009

Today, everybody's all about Windows 7. Because the RTM of Windows 7 is available for download to MSDN subscribers, and already I'm preping systems for upgrade or transition.

And so... the countdown to Windows 7's launch begins, and also begins Windows Vista's walk into the darkness.

A lot of people hate Windows Vista, calling it a total piece of crap. But no... that honor falls to Windows ME. For me I shall remember the things which Windows Vista brought to the table, the enhancements and features which are built on and enhanced in Windows 7.

Security Security Security

Windows Vista was the first OS to come out of Microsoft after their trustworthy computing initiative which basically thought developers to FEAR what security holes can be introduced based on bad programming practices. It's also the first version of Windows to, for the first time NOT run users as administrators. And boy did that decision cause a stir. Program incompatibilities and problems aroused when they couldn't simply write to the PROGRAM FILES folder or the system drive, or were denied access to registry keys which they would just simply walk over and modify previously in Windows XP. UAC was also introduced in Windows Vista, and even though a lot of people hate it, it does help secure the system, and down the road with developers getting a better understanding of how to write programs that work hand in hand with the Windows security architecture users will forget that they ever hated UAC in the first place.

I hope Windows Vista will be remembered as the OS that bitch slapped developers to wake up and be responsible people and start writing code that acted responsibly like saving only to user folders, not treated the user's hard disk like a giant playground etc. etc.

A Better Driver Model

In Vista, the driver model changed. The idea was to increase driver performance, yet at the same time make it so that driver failures would have a less chance of taking down the system. Unfortunately the hardware vendors *cought* Nvidia *cough* weren't prepared properly for the change and the Vista driver situation was very.. very.. bleak. This turned out to be one of the main reasons that users started cursing Vista, since performance sucked balls for their high end equipment. One of the most visible features of this new driver model is that it allowed new features like Aero Glass and Flip 3D to be implemented, and in Windows 7 this is further enhanced in Live Preview.

Of course, there are plenty of other features that should be mentioned but these are 2 important ones that I feel will have the most effect moving forward.

And now.. let's head towards Windows 7...


Saturday, 08 August 2009 01:42:31 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [4]  | 
# Saturday, 01 August 2009

There was something that I wanted to get from Brando for a long time, but I just don't like the idea of buying something that expensive and shipping it through mail. So I was pleasantly surprised when I found this on sale in PC Fair.

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If you haven't already guessed, it's one of those simple one button record cameras. I just happen to like the shape and size of the thing so I can use it to record stuff less noticable, and it'd make a better camera to use in paintball matches! So.. how big is this thing?

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6 CM across. So it's quite small but you can't really call it a hidden camera. One nice thing is that the body ISN'T PLASTIC! It's some alloy casing, so it feels sturdy in hand. Feels about as heavy as a Rechargable Ni Mh AA battery.

On the left side of the camera is where the power switch is.

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It's just a simple hard on-off toggle, nothing fancy, the camera itself will go into standby mode if it's not recording within 2 minutes. You can also see the lanyard hole on the top.

The other side of the camera is where the MicroSD HC card slot goes.

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Yes the thing supports MicroSD HC cards so you can stick an 8GB card in it if you want to, but then you have to consider that the cameras recording format consumes 1GB per 40 minutes (according to the manual) while the internal battery only lasts for 2 hours. The manual says that the camera can record WHILE charging, which would make it MORE than just a simple toy cam. BUT I just can't get it to record while it's charging. The switch labeled VOX activates the Voice Activated Recording mode, basically the camera goes into standby and starts recording when it hears something louder than 65 dB (this is according to the manual) it'll stop recording 2 minutes after the sound level drops off. The manual says that the camera can sit in this sound trigger mode for 250 hours.

The top of the camera is where the record start/stop button is (the little nub)

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And the little hole with a lightbulb symbol is the status led, which you'll need to consult the manual to decipher like a new single button Apple iPod Shuffle. It has 3 colors, red, green and blue. And depending on how they blink or stay on, they can mean different things. The grill teeth thing on the rim is where the microphone is, and that's also one of my main complaints about this thing. The mic gain is WAAAAAAAYYYYY too high, if you clipped this to your shirt and you started talking your voice would more likely than not be broken and distorted, If the person is slightly in front of you then it'll be better. Oh and the mini USB connector sits at the bottom of the device, I was too lazy to try and position it to get a good shot.

The camera comes with a number of accesories, first of which being a 2GB Micro SD card.

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A 2GB UNMARKED Micro SD card! There's no sign of a manufacturer on it, in fact, they were so secretive about even the serial number that they stuck a reflective little sticker over the back where you see the numbers. I ripped it out cause the sticker wasn't perfect and nearly JAMMED the card in the camera!

They also included a silicon case (ie.. what is commonly known as the condom case)

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It's like the creators knew people would use this in say.. jungle paintball warfare where there's a high chance of sand or grime getting into the SD card slot thus the case covers it up. They should have just covered up the mini USB connector as well though. There are holes in the back of the case for you to run a belt through so you can attach the camera on a strap or something.

I don't see myself using the silicon case a lot though, but.. this OTHER holder which they included.

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Now this is more useful! A simple clip, but with this you can just clip it on your shirt and to most people it'd probably just look like an extra large bluetooth headset (tell them the lense is just the bluetooth sensor :P) The clip also serves another purpose because they included a multi purpose holder in the packaging as well.

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Doesn't seem like much right now does it? Let me put the camera on it and you'll see how it works.

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So the idea is to take the camera in the clip holder, and clip it to the grooved section of the holder. The holder base has a magnet on it so you can stick it to any metal surface, it also has holes for nails if you want to make a more permanent holding position. The box also comes with velcro shaped for the base so you can make a detachable holder. It's a great idea except for the fact that.

IT DOESN'T BLOODY WORK AS A BASE!

The main problem here is that the swivel joint? It DOESN'T LOCK and thus you can't make it hold it's position and the weight of the camera is already enough to pull it downwards. The strength of the magnet in the base? PATHETIC! I've seen fridge magnets that stick to the fridge with more power!

So that's the physical outlook, what about the results of the recording? Well first of all you can pick up the sample file here.

The camera video output is an AVI container, with a 640x480 19FPS MJPEG video stream and a poorly compressed PCM audio stream. Compression rates are poor given the quality of the output (hence the 1GB for 40 minutes rating) but is normal for devices in this class (the hey look at me I don't even have a BRAND NAME! device class).

If you can't play the file after downloading most likely you don't have the MJPEG video codec, personally I prefer FFDShow as my main DirectShow video codec provider. But if you're worried about fiddling with codecs on your system (and believe me.. it can get quite screwed up if you just keep installing every other video codec pack you find on the net) You can try VLC instead, VLC's codecs are self contained and thus you don't have to worry about mucking around with multiple DirectShow codecs on your system.

Finally the camera has one last trick up it's sleeve. You can use the darn thing as a WEB CAM! When you plug it into your computer with both the power and VOX switches turned on, instead of acting as a USB Mass Storage device, the camera reports itself as a webcam for all your video phone needs.

While it's not a HD camera, it's size does allow it to be used in some interesting situations. Duct taped to the helmet for paint ball, attached to an RC car for chase cam view, clipped to your shirt for a travel log, quite a lot of interesting possibilities. Video output is.. acceptable though audio is... ugh...


Saturday, 01 August 2009 01:02:26 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  |