The Black Hole Travel Agency « Bit By Bit, Byte by Byte, Word by Word

February 10, 2008

The Black Hole Travel Agency « Bit By Bit, Byte by Byte, Word by Word

A few days ago I blogged about how the Microsoft’s hostile takeover attempt of Yahoo! was reminiscent of the Black Hole Travel Agency books. Looks like Yahoo! has finally decided to fight back.

I used to think that of all the three major Internet players, Yahoo! would be the most successful, since it appeared that it had the knowledge of how to use the Internet for information and media delivery, plus it had the most experience. Was I woy off on this or what!


When Returning a COM interface to a scripting client

January 20, 2008

that is not a default dual interface, always create a Standard Dispatch interface using CreateStdDispatch(…) and the IUnknown implementation, and return it as a VARIANT.

… I learned that over the weekend the hard way.

Rich AJAX apps in Firefox 2.0 and IE7

January 13, 2007

In my opinion, I think Yahoo has so far the best email client among the three major web-based email providers (Yahoo! Mail, GMail, and Hotmail or Windows Live! Mail). The only problem that I have with that is that there is no mechanism for organizing emails as conversations (the only way of organizing mail in GMail). About Hotmail, the less said, the better. They should change their web-based user interface for Hotmail, to the one they use for Outlook, which is very, very nice.

However, I came across an interesting senario in Yahoo. If you right click on one of your mails, the browser’s context menu appears over the context menu of the email client. There is a clash between the browser’s context menu and the context menu for the AJAX application. Perhaps context menus in AJAX apps are not the right UI element. See the picture below for an example in Firefox.

Interestingly enough, this does’nt happen with IE7. See the figure below.


Safari does’nt support Yahoo’s AJAX version

Digg|OS X vs. Vista – a GUI development and concept analysis

July 4, 2006

Great article on interface design concepts and developement process on both operating systems. Different company philosophies for different results on user interfaces.
read more | digg story

An interesting article in the design process of Windows Vista and Mac OS X. One of the comments had a link to a video superimposing a presentation about Windows Vista’s upcoming features with all the features that Mac OS X has right now.

I’m Back…

June 20, 2006

Well Hello There!! My non-existent readers….

After a long hiatus, I’m back. I’m not sure why I stopped blogging. Probably a combination of reasons, work, mood swings, lethargy, feeling morbid, low self-esteem. But I’m back. Not sure about the reasons about why I’m back either, probably some obscure reason again, but really I dont think anyone really cares.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been following Rocketboom. This is a video blog thats become quite popular around the internet. Great content, pretty good-looking host. Todays newscast was about twin bombshells that were dropped on the computing industry, namely, first Robert Scoble’s departure two weeks ago and then Bill Gates’ announcement that two years from now, he will work part-time at Microsoft as a non-executive chairman and immediatly cede his role as Chief Software Architect.

Here are my 2 cents on the matter.

Robert Scoble‘s role at Microsoft was a little tad confusing for me. His technology evengelism on Channel 9 was awesome, but his blog sometimes bordered on childish petulance especially when people outside the company criticised it. This was really evident, in my opinion, when Joel Splosky criticised Microsoft. I cant find the links to those blog flame post war between Splosky and Scoble, but I think Splosky came out better in that “debate”. Plus, Scoble’s continuous posts seem to make him over-exposed. I generally skim through this posts after 20 or so posts accumulate. In contrast, other bloggers seem to only post when they genuinely have something to say and then can say it well. I guess that makes me look forward to their posts.

As far as Bill Gates is concerned, people tend to forget that he’s been in the same job for 30 years. Thats a pretty much my whole life. and thats enough to sicken anyone, not matter how passionate someone is about their jobs. I think he made the right decison to move on. New people can now move in and make the tough decisions that need to be made to compete effectively. People may say a lot of things about Microsoft and Bill Gates, but a lot of people in the computing industry (including your’s truly) owe their careers to Microsoft’s vision.

As for the stock market, I’m not a big fan of using the stock market as a barometer of a companies performance. Its kind of hard to believe that a company which has shown a profit quarter after quarter, and has billions of dollars in the bank is somehow doing badly.

March 27, 2006

So I decided to test drive the mapping service from Microsoft today.

The first thing I usually do is to directions for the unlikely senario that I have to drive from Miami to Seattle. The first time I tried it, I got the "server is busy. Please try again" message. That put a little damper of my opinion.

Then I decided, that I would do comparison of different routes that I take home to work. Now, most other mapping services like google's and yahoo!'s and Rand McNally's ask you for a start and end addresses, and then find "best" directions. These directions are often not the best if you have some local knowledge about shortcuts either from a person who lives there, of having been to the place, you have some vague memory of it.

Microsoft's offering on the other hand allows you to locate the locations you're interested in without specifying the address. All you have to do is point, right-click and select either "from" or "to". Now this allows a user to plan the route in stages, or if the user has some local knowledge, use it for route planning. I'm pretty sure Google, Yahoo! and RandMcNally must have thought about this, but they must have figured that most users would just want to input the start and end address and get the directions. The Microsoft user experience for me was pretty good, except for the the initial hiccup about the "server being busy…" but I dont think its going to go down well with users. At least I dont think they will use the service to its full potential.

The one other feature I was curious about was the "locate me" feature. I clicked on that, and a window opened up giving me three choices.

  • Install an ActiveX control.
  • Use an IP address
  • Cancel

I'm betting that most users are either going to skim down the text, see the cancel button and click on it, or alternatively, they're going to see ActiveX control click on the small "x" on the top-right corner. This is typical Microsoft UI.

All in all, my initial reaction is that its a great and feature-rich service. While it may win me over, I dont think it will over rank-and-file consumers, either because of the halo effect of google and yahoo! or they might not use it to its full abilities.

…I'll be writing more about this as I use the new services more.

Mini-Microsoft: Vista 2007. Fire the Leadership Now!

March 26, 2006

I read this post a couple of days ago on my RSS aggregator. I think that was one day after MS announced, that consumer version of Microsoft Windows Vista would be delayed about 6 to 8 weeks. At the time there were like a few comments on the post. Right now there 419+ comments.

Some MSFT employees are really pissed.