# Tuesday, 31 August 2010

My search for the best tablet pc to write on continues, and this time the subject is the Asus T101MT


The T101MT is an 10 inch SVGA widescreen (1024x600) Intel Atom N450 powered Netbook class PC so it's basic performance parameters are pretty much the same as any of the recent N450 Netbooks such as the Lenovo S10-3T.


Inside it looks pretty plain and simple with not much in the sense of bells and whistles. You get a Chiclet style keyboard.


Which I can't tell you how well it works because I have been running an experiment to keep off the keyboard for as long as possible. As is typical for convertible Tablet PCs, the screen hinge rotates in only one direction.


For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term Tablet PC, that means the T101MT's screen can be folded 180 degrees and closed down on the keyboard to become a writing pad.


Unlike the Lenovo S10-3T though the Asus T101MT reaches the This feels quite a bit heavy region due partly to the higher capacity battery.


Depending on your usage and how you choose to throttle the CPU using Asus's Super Hybrid Engine app, you should be able to get around 3 ~ 4 hours of battery life.

The Asus T101MT does not have an accelerometer and thus doesn't do auto screen rotation (which I absolutely HATE!) Instead you press and hold on to a button beside the power button to rotate the screen.


As it is a full sized netbook, the Asus T101MT doesn't skimp on ports. You get all 3 USB ports in total, and the whole shebang of standard connectors at the back.


The main exhaust port is on the left side, along with the audio out and SD Card slot.


And now for the people who are interested in modding the T101MT, the bottom panel.


After I went through the shock of not seeing the usual regulatory stickers, Windows key stickers, serial number, etc. etc. (they're all under the battery) I noticed the lone panel on the back. That's the EXTRA memory slot. The Asus T101MT ships with 1GB of RAM... INSIDE the system underneath the keyboard, also known as the serious modders access only location. So you can add one extra GB of RAM while the additional slot, problem is that... because there's already one piece of RAM in the system, any other piece you get would have to work well with the preexisting one, so be sure to boot into Windows and crunch some numbers when buying additional RAM to ensure that the new RAM you bought works fine with the existing one.

Asus is not scared of Steve Jobs whole It's Wrong To Have A Stylus spew, and has a magnetic stylus silo on the right side of the screen.


Not just any cheap piece of plastic, it has a metal body giving it weight and feels like you're holding a real pen.


And it extends to a more reasonable pen like length.


And now let's talk about the touch screen, now we come to the one reason that I was willing to go through the wrath of my wife screaming "You bought ANOTHER ONE?!?!?!" to get the Asus T101MT. My whole purpose in getting Tablet PCs is to find that best machine to bring to meetings, write notes on, and brain storm on. And the Asus T101MT's touchscreen is almost close to being the perfect thing to write on.

First of all, it's a resistive screen instead of a capacitive one. Not as good as a real digitizer but a resistive screen is much better to write on than a capacitive one as I mentioned here.

Then it has 2 point multitouch so once app developers finally start making mutlitouch aware apps for Windows 7 you can use them properly.

But those reasons are not what tipped the scales in favor of risking the wrath of my wife vs living a calm peaceful life. Smile with tongue out What tipped the scales was that.

The Asus T101MT's touchscreen has PALM REJECTION.

I've seen palm rejection in resistive touchscreens before with my Fujitsu P1610 and U1010. They worked, but still left quite a bit to be desired.

After testing the Asus T101MT's palm rejection in the shop, I knew that I had to have it! While testing it in the shop I found that it could detect the palm and reject input from it 95% of the time! So I was elated when I found that out.

The main difference between the T101MT's palm rejection and the previous ones I used was that you have to specifically turn it on by running a program which Asus docks to the task bar. That's probably why it works so well, because in previous cases the touchscreen was basically trying to guess between what's valid input and what's not. Whereas for the T101MT the user specifically tells it that they ONLY want stylus points to be detected and nothing else.

As I was writing around in OneNote and in Journal I suddenly noticed something, my ink input looked different... it looked as if... the touchscreen was supplying Windows with PRESSURE INFORMATION!

Which means that not only did the touch screen do palm rejection, it was pressure sensitive as well! Which made it a very interesting touch screen indeed, and such an interesting touch screen deserves a video!

But... alas it is still not perfect, while the palm rejection works very well, it seems to falter at times, and fails to detect pen inputs. Not enough to call it a failure, but enough for me to get nit picky about. Still, it is by far the BEST Palm Rejection I've used outside of a digitizer! And that's saying a lot!

After using the T101MT, I sincerely wish that Asus is gonna put this same touchscreen (or an even better one!) on their Windows 7 powered slates in the future (hopefully something that's 10", anything bigger is too bulky to be called a pad).

So what's the verdict? If you're looking for an affordable tablet pc to write on NOW, I don't see why the Asus T101MT won't work for you. If you can wait, there should be better things come in the future, and of course if you have the money. You can go for one of the tablets which offer a hybrid digitizer for the BEST writing experience!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010 18:31:08 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 30 August 2010

Toys are interesting things, and I like to buy toys which seem to have uses sort of funky technology application or systems design. Because it's always neat that sometimes you see some interesting application of tech and design on something that's designated as a toy. But I guess the things I've been working on for the past few weekends don't exactly count as toys. First of all there's this.


This is a Kamen Rider Double Cyclone Joker 1/8 SCALE MODEL. If you still don't get it.. it's a MODEL, as in cut from plastic frames and build up with your own bare hands type of scale model. But.. from a far it looks just like any other toy statue figure, on close inspection though.


You can see where I cut the parts from the frame, the flaws of the middle black line, the decals, etc. etc. So why did I get this? Quite simply I wanted to see why the heck is Bandai getting into this market, because I had one question in my head. Which was there're many many MANY MANY companies that make figures and other collectibles, and they pride themselves in making detailed figures. So why is Bandai making a line that's basically requires the customer to try and make a figure look as good as the others? Because unpainted and unfinished, a model will never be able to compete with a retail figure.

After completing this model though I guess I can see some of the appeal, first of all the figure is HUGE!!!! It is at 1/8th scale, which makes it stand at about 24CM high. It's actually quite posable given the fact that it's just a model. Secondly, If I had the proper equipment and skills to finish the model properly it's basically cheaper than a model that stands this high.

While there is value here if you are the type that builds models, if you're more of the I'd like to have to cool figure to put on display you should probably avoid this even if you really like the character.

And at the same time I got the Kamen Rider I also got this.


It's a GUNDAM! I never thought I'd get another Gundam in my life considering my previous experiences with them. Also I know I totally lack the skill to make a Gundam look decent. But... this is no ordinary Gundam model. This is a 1/144 REAL GRADE Gundam RX-78-2, it's a SMALL model, but the complexity, detail and posability of the model is very high!


You'll only feel astonished by the degree of posability if you're familiar with Gundam models in general. Detail wise, before painting the model already posses some nice detailing due to the use of different colored plastics.


And here's a Zoom.It version for people to see how detailed it is, and how crummy my decal job was.

It even comes with a CORE FIGHTER! (Again... only Gundam fans would appreciate this).


And it's a WORKING CORE FIGHTER! (Wheels have to removed though)


But.... the instructions to make the Core Fighter comes AFTER finishing the main model, and I couldn't for the heck of me remove the placeholder piece to insert the Core Fighter in, so I guess I'll just leave it outside.


Why did I get this? Was it for the detailing? No... I'm not a Gunpla enthusiast so I don't care about that. I was more interested in the fact that the joints, eg. knees, elbows, waist. are in COMPLETED form on the parts frame. You don't have to put the together, you just snap it off, trim off some places where they secured the movable bits and.. it's done! It's amazing to me since I'm still wondering how they manage to mold movable pieces of plastic together in the tree without increasing costs too much.

Even though it's small... or maybe because it's small, this was one HECK of a complicated model to make! Due to the misread of the instructions I accidentally broke an armour plating on the leg, and cut off something I should have pulled out! I haven't even stuck the stickers on yet! I'm no Gunpla enthusiast, but I guess if you want to get the gist of how complicated these things can get without having to shell out loads of money on a 1/60 PERFECT GRADE this would give you an idea of how much trouble the real enthusiast go through making their masterpieces. In total I think I spent half a day trying to put this thing together!

And.. quick size comparison picture


The Beam Saber is TALLER than the Gundam itself... does it have something to prove?

ps. I know... the lighting in these pics are HORRIBLE, I'm not used to either taking things that are this big and errr.. tall. And also things which are small and tiny. Come on.. look at my shooting setup? I guess I'd consider a lightbox if I actually make money off this site. Smile with tongue out


Monday, 30 August 2010 00:11:58 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [1]  | 
# Monday, 23 August 2010

I've recently acquired what I must say is close to being the best affordable Windows 7 Tablet PC. And now I shall run an experiment, for the next 7 days, starting from yesterday I shall ONLY interface with the system using TOUCH ONLY, I will not type on the physical keyboard or track pad, by doing this I'll be able to then properly experience what's it like using a slate Windows 7 PC and how is the user experience.

This experience will definitely help add some weight to the statement which I've always been saying, that while the Windows 7 OS is quite Touch friendly and capable, the APPS aren't. So stop blaming the OS for not being touch friendly.

First thing I did yesterday after installing Windows 7 Ultimate on the thing (Cause I'm testing driver compatibility as well, so I'm booting from VHD) was to perform my touch optimization settings.

So let's see how long I can last without touching the physical keyboard!

Monday, 23 August 2010 17:09:19 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, 19 August 2010

I decided to go for a little test run to try and see how to best get 3D effect pictures with the Sony NEX, 3D effect here being that when you view the photos with a compatible viewer and glasses such as Stereo Photo Maker


For each pic below I'll also include the link to the MPO so you can view the thing in actual 3D.

Now instead of calling it 3D, I'm gonna be using the word POP, cause that's the effect I get when I see it. The images aren't really 3D, it's just an effect, and the effect is how the images POP out of the screen towards you.

First... remember that from the shooting tips on the camera :-

  • Your subject should be at least 3M away from you, too close or too far means no 3D effect.
  • Stationary subjects work the best.
My addition to the rule is

It's hard for the camera to seamlessly join a large long object when you do panoramic sweeps, such as a long sofa or a wall, move very slowly and keep your hand level if your subject is like that.

MPO : http://cid-9d81d8eb3fbbb0ea.photos.live.co...ts/DSC00331.MPO

The BEST way to get pictures that POP, is when you have things that overlap each other in different depth areas, when you view the picture above in 3D, notice that the slide on the left pops a little, where as if you look at the archway, and then the gate behind it, you can feel that one is in front of the other.

MPO : http://cid-9d81d8eb3fbbb0ea.photos.live.co...ts/DSC00332.MPO

This picture demonstrates 2 things, first being that because the dustbin has nothing close to it to make it pop, there's not much 3D effect there. But there's some if you look closely.

2nd is that, remember you can take 3D shots in 3 sizes, 16:9, Standard, Wide. In terms of angle and arc, Standard is about 180 degrees, Wide is about 270 degrees, 16:9 is errr... 45 degrees? Basically while you'd use standard and wide for scenary, if you needed to take a 3D photo of a SINGLE OBJECT, switch size to 16:9 focus lock on the subject, tilt the camera to the left abit then fully depress and start sweeping right. After practicing a few times you should be able to get your subject in the middle sweet spot for 3D pop.

MPO : http://cid-9d81d8eb3fbbb0ea.photos.live.co...ts/DSC00347.MPO

This is a good example of how when you take panorama pictures try to make sure your scene works well with a single exposure setting. half of the scene was in shade, half was not, since I started from the shade part, the unshaded parts are over exposed... But.. this is not a post about shooting tips, its about making POPing 3D pictures!

MPO : http://cid-9d81d8eb3fbbb0ea.photos.live.co...ts/DSC00349.MPO

When viewing in 3D you can see the proper depth difference between the front and rear chairs, so you get POP!

MPO : http://cid-9d81d8eb3fbbb0ea.photos.live.co...ts/DSC00357.MPO

Ok, last one, just a simple scene, but the stone markers and tree around the area give each other the POP feeling.
Hope my little experimental afternoon helps everyone understand how to make pictures with 3D POP effect, oh in case you're wondering I'm looking at them with RED/BLUE glasses since I dont have any 3D hardware.


Thursday, 19 August 2010 23:55:32 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 16 August 2010

Ok, better get this post up before IE9 Beta hits and I miss my chance for doing it. The recent IE9 Platform Previews have demonstrated that MS is able to put new features and enhancements into IE just as fast as Chrome and Firefox can. Contray to how people has always viewed IE as being the slowest to evolve and react to changes in the web landscape.

But how was this possible? It was because the IE9 preview was deployed as a separate app, instead of upgrading the internal browser component that is in Windows. AFAIK it's a Microsoft policy that if you fix or update something that was delivered in the core Windows OS, you'll have to run a full test suite AGAINST Windows OS again. This would severely hampers speedy updates and feature enhancements such as needed for a web browser.

With Windows 7, a bulk of non system essential apps were already decoupled in the form of Windows Live Essentials. While leaving the core Windows 7 with some basic tools, this allows the programs that make up Live Essentials to be updated faster and without the bulk of testing that's required if it was considered part of the OS.

So.... what if IE9 was delivered as a separate program as well? Moving forward, what if IE8 becomes the standard included browser that comes with Windows, and then on install, you get to choose IE9 as well as the other browsers from the browser candidate screen (*sarcarsm* Thank you EU *sarcarsm*) to use the latest and greatest web technologies vs the standard no frills browser of IE8.

IF this does happen then most likely for us developers who use the IE browser component in our applications, we'll be given a COM shim that's about to use either IE9 if it's installed, or previous versions of IE if it's not.

It's an interesting scenario and proposition when I think about it... cause if IE9 does sit outside the "Included in Windows" category, the ability to quickly add features and functionalities to it would make it a browser to be reckoned with.

This is just my guess of what might happen. We'll know on September 15th 2010 when the IE9 Beta is launched to see if my prediction is correct.

Of course.... it's possible someone already mentioned this before, but I thought about this idea the moment the first Platform Preview was launched, just took awhile for me to write this. Smile with tongue out

Monday, 16 August 2010 10:52:47 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 14 August 2010

Look here!

Not often that I get to take pics with WZ.

Saturday, 14 August 2010 17:34:08 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, 12 August 2010

The recent launch of the Apple iPad has fueled a hunger for keyboardless tablet browsing appliances, and who better to feed such a hunger than your favorite ODM manufacturers in China. Armed with the availability of the relatively free Google Android OS, those guys have been churning out many an Android tablet with various functions and looks. (Check some out here!)

I've recently acquire one such Android Tablet, it's called the eFren and is an Android 1.5 powered tablet made rebranded by local company Mi-Store.


Yes, it looks like a extra large iPod.

Here is their brochure for the eFren. (Presented to you by Zoom.It!)

So... what can you expect to find from a company that couldn't even put the correct URL of their website on the brochure? (The Mi-Store website URL is www.mi-store.com.my, the brochure says www.mi-store.com )

Pretty much a standard job of just ordering a couple of thousand units from China and slapping your company logo on it. As a web browsing tablet the eFren is pretty decent.


It's 800x480 screen means that you might have to scroll horizontally for wider sites but at least it's better than a VGA (640x480) or worse.. QVGA (320x240) screen. The screen is a single touch resistive touch screen, so you won't be pinching to zoom on the thing anytime soon. Responsiveness is ok for something of this quality but I have some problems with the lower right corner sometimes. The Chrome (lite I believe people call it) browser has pretty good Javascript support, but as I've seen recently when testing Zoom.It browsers that use touch panning don't work well with javascript code for dragging and dropping.

Also because this thing only has Android 1.5, it can't run Flash on web pages so you can't use it as a portable Farmville device.

It has the following ports running on the side where the On/Off button is... oh yeah... that center button? That's the on/off button. Yup... that's what you get for trying to copy the iPad in design and functionality.


You get a mic, Micro SDHC slot, a USB client port, HARD power switch, another USB client port, headphone jack, and the charge port. The first problem that the eFren has is that it CANNOT CHARGE FROM THE USB PORTS. I tried with my 5V2A charges and various cables and none of them delivered juice to the eFren contray to what their support people are saying on the Facebook Page

One good thing about the eFren is that it comes with a PROPER USB OTG cable (What does PROPER USB OTG cable mean? Check here) So you can connect thumb drives to the eFren and consume files from it. It DOES NOT have enough current to power a hard disk, so only low power devices. It's supposed to be able to recognize a few USB 3G Modems and use them for internet connections, but I don't have one ready on me to try out that feature. Seems to be hit or miss based on the feedback from the Facebook page though.

If you look back to the eFren brochure on top you'll see them touting their WIDE RANGE of media support. Well.. I can tell you that it plays RMVB files PRETTY WELL, that's probably due to the fact that if you want your device to be able to survive in the Asian market you NEED to have RMVB support nailed down. The eFren is not able to play 720P content smoothly, and here the deception of an OEM Chinese device shows, the eFren contains a DEMO clip with the filename of "Coral Reef Adventure 720P.avi" allowing the salesman to show potential customers that the eFren plays 720P video properly. But... in reality the file's video resolution is just 848x480 and has some pretty weird video/audio bitrates. Check it out in the video below.

The brochure as well as the YouTube video below mentions that H.264 is supported.

The video is PARTLY TRUE, the E-Fren's video player CAN open MKV files. But when I gave it an MKV file with a H.264 stream, I heard audio but I see no video. (For those of you unfamiliar with how video files work, MKV is just a container, inside the container you can have video and audio streams of different types of encoding, H.264 just happens to be what they usually use with MKV files) Given that they've proven they WILL lie with the Coral Reef video, I'm pretty sure the MKV file played here probably doesn't have a H.264 video stream.... hmmm.. maybe it's an RMVB file in an MKV container? UPDATE : I threw a 480P H.264 video into the thing, and it can be played, so it means that H.264 support is there.. but fickle, so be warned.

Now, misinformation like this is pretty much PAR for these kind of products. So there's no use crying foul over something like this. Given that it has a pretty decent web browser, and a pretty decent RMVB player if those are the 2 main functionalities you were looking for. I would have told you the eFren is a pretty good choice, since you're buying a low quality rebadged product which might break down at any moment, buying it locally instead of online means you can replace it... hopefully.


It's small, it's portable, it surfs the web. Normally I would have said "If you find the price satisfactory, and it meets your requirements go ahead and buy it!" But this time I'm just gonna flat out say DON'T BUY THIS!

Not because it doesn't run Froyo, not because of the lies of video support. But because the eFren shipped with a TERRIBLE design flaw.

You can't set the screen brightness to MAXIMUM.

At close to maximum (95% on the brightness bar) the screen is pretty decent, but you'll need 100% brightness if you want to even TRY to use it in direct sunlight. At 100% brightness the screen actually looks quite good.

At 100% brightness the screen flickers like hell on battery power!

Now that's just ridiculous! You'd think that when they accepted the good they went through a proper phase of testing to make sure something as simple as setting brightness to 100% would work properly. What pissed me off more was that when I was shown the device at the store I saw the sales person fiddling with the screen brightness, at first I thought it was because the device had a low battery charge and he just dropped the brightness so it could be used for a while. But after I found this flickering problem I guess it's highly possible that HE KNEW ABOUT THE PROBLEM and choose to conceal it.

And because of this simple little problem I must say that "No, the Mi-Store eFren IS NOT WORTH the RM599 price tag!"

Just wait a bit more if you're looking for a web surfing MID, Froyo devices should be hitting the market soon and maybe they'll work better than the eFren.

Thursday, 12 August 2010 22:46:33 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Sunday, 08 August 2010

PC Fair used to be a place where you can get some nice deals, and see some nice gear on sale. But... in recent years it has just devolved into nothing might just a great big waste of time since things aren't any cheaper at PC Fair, in fact there're instances where things are more expensive then what you can get at Low Yat. While it is true that you get more freebies at PC Fair, you have to ask yourself if it's worth the time and effort of getting over to KLCC and making your way through the crowd.

So.. I made this short video detailing the PC Fair experience. It's short and boring... kinda like going to PC Fair yourself.

Sunday, 08 August 2010 15:05:48 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, 06 August 2010

When Silverlight 2.0 was released, it came with the ability to view image pyramids built in. The feature is called Deep Zoom and it's a very interesting function, you can find GREAT examples of Deep Zoom usage over at www.deepzoomstudio.com.

Deep Zoom at it's most basic form is to allow you to see BIG pictures without downloading the whole thing at once and killing your bandwidth. For example, this knife picture below is a demonstration of Deep Zoom.

This is the RAW untouched file of the image I used in my Leatherman Style CS review, straight from the camera its 4592 x 3056 in size. And it's of course unheard of to upload the raw image onto the web for viewing purposes. But thanks to Deep Zoom and the spanking new http://www.zoom.it it's no longer a problem.

All you have to do is first upload the big original image into a PUBLICALLY ACCESSIBLE location like Flickr or Live Photos, then go to Zoom.It and drop the URL of the picture into it and it'll spit back up a link or script which you can use to show people your extra large image file all nice and viewable in a zooming viewer.

Deep Zoom has a few issues in practical applications, The Semi Pro feels that it encourages WAAAY too much pixel peeping if you apply it onto a normal picture. For example... here's a panoramic shot straight from the NEX-3 in WEB safe resolution.


Generally looks fine, and people won't care too much about the stitching imperfections etc. etc. But... if I allowed the viewers to see the ACTUAL image, what would happen then?

What happens when they can see all the imperfections? Pixel peepers would just use it as an opportunity to find problems in your equipment and editing among other issues.

The other problem... is the FEMALE issue. If you told your model that you're going to allow people to be able to inspect every SINGLE, MINUTE DETAIL of the picture you're taking of her, that any minute flaw that your lense is able to pick up, viewers will be able to see? Most likely they'll tell you to never call them again! This is because all the beauty is gone when you look at them up close! Can you find the mole on her left arm and leg?

This is not the best example... just be thankful there's no one around to take a picture of my face with the 50mm Macro. Smile with tongue out

Zoom.it also work on webpages as well, so do check it out even if you know that if you used it on pictures of anyone, they'd probably kill you. And to cap it off, here's a self stiched panorama that's 9154x2395 in size. These are things which you really want to use Zoom.It on!

Friday, 06 August 2010 02:21:31 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 03 August 2010

I always criticize that Bing Maps (http://maps.bing.com) is so bloody useless for Malaysian maps because they have ZERO street data on Malaysia. Google Maps (http://maps.google.com) become more useful a few years back when they finally added Malaysian maps data to their DB. So imagine my surprise when I loaded up Bing Maps today and saw....


And that was a BIG surprise for me, their map data looked more like street only data, let's compare it with Google Maps of the same area.

View Larger Map

Google has more of the localized building names, if you go to the full map you'll see that Digital Mall is marked on it already.

Routing is already supported on the maps so they obviously have real road data, though Bing Maps location DB is very very limited, you can search for street names well enough, (My bad, while the street names do show up when you get driving instructions, you can't SEARCH for them yet) but buildings? Not so much, doesn't even know where One Utama is.

But it's a good start, at least it means someone actually cares enough to provide us with map data now. Also, I do like one simple little feature in Bing Maps which I just don't understand why Google Maps can't do properly.


For me to put a pin in a Bing Maps embed, all I had to do was right click in the map window and select "Place Pushpin Here!"

View Larger Map

Where as for Google Maps I had to right click and select What's Here BEFORE I even create the embed link, not to mention it brings in some additional search results as well. I understand that Google Maps's embed feature is very powerful, allowing you to include search results and other information on the embedded map, but they should realize that sometimes users just want to be able to tell people "X marks the spot!"

Other than the lack of location information, Bing Maps seems to have multiple map source images. After I discovered that the WEB was working I immediately tried using the Bing Mobile application on my phone, but alas, they were still getting the OLD useless maps like this.

Hopefully they'll synchronize and update the map DB before the launch of Windows Phone 7 here so we can actually have SOME sort of map application!

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 22:15:57 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  |