# Sunday, September 26, 2010

Whenever people compare performance between an iPad and a Windows Tablet, they always like to fire up the browser, try to pan the page around by dragging. Then finding not much difference between the two, they’ll then proceed to pinch zoom. At which point they’ll promptly point out that the Windows Tablet is slower because the browser will stutter during zoom instead of smoothly zooming around the page.

To see the effect which they’re seeing on your Windows browser (I don’t know wheter it’ll be the same on others), hold down CTRL and slide your mouse wheel up and down, this will zoom your browser in and out a few times, and you’ll see that it’s not a smooth zoom but rather in steps.

What the people are comparing with is a smooooooooooth zoom experience on the iPads, or rather most mobile browsers. Which looks something like this. (Below is a webpage hosted as an image by zoom.it, if you don’t have Silverlight installed the Javascript viewer will be used and it might not be buttery smooth). Just go ahead and fiddle around image by dragging it around, scrolling in and out with your mousewheel.

OK, so now you’ve seen the 2 types of zooming and panning which people like to compare tablet performance with. If you tried out both zooming methods you would also have noticed that the mobile browsers have a nice fluid zoom movement, whereas your desktop browser didn’t have that. Does this mean your desktop browser sucks?

Not really, because the 2 browsers don’t really zoom the same way.

A mobile browser renders the page into something akin to a very large and long image, zooming is then achieved by panning and moving around the image. Hence the use of zoom.it to simulate the mobile browser navigation experience.

A desktop browser renders the page based on how big the browser window is, dimensions defined in the document, etc. etc. For every page you view in your browser it has to perform a layout pass to determine where exactly to place that 250 pixels wide center aligned paragraph of 12pt text in the window. What does this have to do with zooming? When desktop browsers zoom, they are basically (I’m doing a very general explanation of it, I realize that it could be much more complicated than this) bumping up the defined sizes in the webpage, therefore at 150% zoom the 12pt text now becomes 12 * 1.5 = 18pt.

Because the size of the elements have changed the browser would have to perform a new layout pass whenever the zoom level is changed. This is not so much of a problem on a normal desktop where a user would explicitly select a zoom level from a drop down menu and immediately choose the zoom level they want. When operating with touch gestures the user is basically cycling through zoom increments at a rapid pace which desktop browsers weren’t designed for.

You might ask why don’t desktop browsers just implement a rendering method similar to how mobile browsers work, while that would just solve the problem of the desktop browser’s poor performance I’m sure some other deeply engrained legacy issue would crop up since that’s basically how IE, Firefox and Chrome work right now and there’s must be some reason why all 3 of them work essentially the same way.


Sunday, September 26, 2010 11:19:53 PM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, September 25, 2010

I’ve been using a Windows Tablet PC for as many years as they’ve been out. I’ve already compiled my own list of Tablet PC optimization tips and since everyone’s going slate crazy now, I’ve been going keyboardless too. Through out my use of a Windows 7 Tablet PC, I’ve always felt that while it’s not perfect (mostly due to apps that don’t work well with only the mouse) it’s really not the hopeless scenario which most of the tech sites paint it out to be.

I guess the best thing I could do then would be to make videos of my Windows Tablet PC Experience, starting off with a general introduction to the Windows Touch Experience.

Then we get to the all important question of "What makes a Windows Tablet PC so special?"

And finally the stumbling blocks when using a Windows 7 Tablet PC


Saturday, September 25, 2010 9:12:50 PM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, September 13, 2010

DSC00402[4]

As I mentioned previously, I would attempt to FULLY use my Asus T101MT in slate (that means without keyboard access for those unfamiliar with the term) mode and now here are the findings from my little adventure.

Know The Shortcuts And Gestures For Using Windows Without A Keyboard :- Everyone who uses an iOS device is familiar with the various gestures such as swiping, pinch to zoom, rotate, etc. etc. As I mentioned in my Windows 7 Touch Optimization article, do read the help about what kind of gesture are available for Windows 7 Touch. It's also important to note any useful shortcuts that might help you when you're using your apps, for example :- Most Windows web browsers don't have a way to easily clear the address bar and get it ready for a fresh URL like Safari on the iPhone, instead of having to try to select the whole address bar by using your fingers you can also just hit the ESC key on the virtual keyboard when the address bar has focus, that usually selects the full address which you can then easily clear and replace.

There's An App For That! :- That's one of the primary tag lines which the iOS crowd likes to use. To which I can just ask "Is there an app to watch a 720P Soft Subbed MKV video file LOCALLY on your device without the need of any form of encoding?" Or I guess I can just ask the simpler "Does it play RMVBs then?" On a REAL PC, be it Windows, Linux or Mac, there IS definetly an app for that! But...

The Apps Aren't Touch Friendly :- Most apps on the PC were not made to be touch friendly, they were meant to be operated via keyboard and mouse. While the Windows 7 Touch features can make interacting with these apps possible it's less than ideal in some cases, and downright impossible in others. This is a classic Chicken and Egg problem, there aren't that many Windows 7 SLATES out there to call it a viable market, and thus developers don't really concentrate on this niche category of applications for now. One of the worst/best examples of apps that just expect a keyboard and mouse to be around is Adobe Reader, once in full screen mode, left click goes to the next page, right click goes to the previous page. To exit full screen mode, press the ESC key. If it wasn't for the fact the Tablet Input Panel bar is always floating around at the side of the screen my little keyboardless experiment would have ended right then. Smile with tongue out This of course means most fullscreen games are totally unplayable unless they can work without the use touching the keyboard at all.

Windows Resume From Stand By Works :- One of the primary arguments about Windows 7 as a UMPC is that it takes too long to boot up, when I ask those people why don't they just standby or hibernate they tell me the system crashes on resume. Well... go complain to your hardware manufacturer and ask them to make drivers that sleep and wakeup properly! My Asus Tablet PC wakes up from standby in less than 10 seconds, just like the old UH900, just like the old U1010. Proper drivers ensure proper sleep operation. How long does it take to go from waking up from standby to normal operation? Well... that depends on what password you use to lock your system then. Winking smile

Microsoft OneNote ROCKS! :- I've known this since the first time I booted up OneNote, I don't know which was the first note I created, but the oldest note I have in my OneNote notebook is dated July 2003. If you haven't yet experienced Microsoft OneNote, you should give it a whirl. My executive summary of what Microsoft OneNote is would have to be, You know that notebook/legal pad/scrap book you carry around to meetings? The one where you put down your ideas, circle off problem points and other tasks? THAT's what OneNote is, a flexible notetaking application. It indexes your text for easy searching, and it indexes the best guess of your HANDWRITING for easy searching too!

I'm still using the Asus in slate form most of the time, I'm growing more and more comfortable to being keyboardless and Windows 7's touch features do make it very much possible to use it that way. As I've said before, a Windows 7 Tablet PC will never be better than an iPad. You can't even compare them as Apples to Apples since they can't be categorized as the same thing as much as Steve Jobs would want to. (in the sense that an iPad can be used as a NetBook) But taken on it's own merits, can Windows 7 be used purely driven by touch? Yes, there might be some bumps here pertaining to some usability issues with some apps, but yes it is possible.


Monday, September 13, 2010 12:38:51 AM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, September 11, 2010

Even before my little keyboardless adventure, I've always known that a Windows 7 Tablet PC's biggest disadvantage is that not many apps are optimized to be run by touch. So I guess I need to start writing some myself, here's the first thing I finished a while back for my UH900, An extremely simple RSS reader. EXTREMELY simple, mainly because I wrote it just to help navigate through some feeds on the UH900. Also because I wrote it while waiting to see the Doctor one day.

It's a Silverlight 4 based application, so you'll need to grab that runtime to try it out.

Marauderz Simple RSS Reader


Saturday, September 11, 2010 2:33:53 AM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, September 07, 2010

So I've been greeted by this message when I tried to login to Facebook.

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So... ok I tried to add my phone and I see this.

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Maxis not being in I picked the My Mobile Service Provider Isn't Listed link. And I eventually get to this window.

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Since I didn't get me code, I decided to let them know. But....

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WHAT THE HELL !?!?!?!?


Tuesday, September 07, 2010 9:25:59 PM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  |