Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Teaser

I don't know when I became an uber-Harry Potter fan, but I took a month off work (3 weeks actually combined with our week of rest) after completing this and one of the things I did was read the Harry Potter series cover to cover in about a week and half. A week and half well spent. I don't enjoy the first two movies very much but like the last three quite a abit. I may go re-read Half-Blood before this November just to brush up. Enjoy:


Why doesn't the Mojave Experiment use Silverlight?

I don't get it. I just posted about how great I thought the Mojave Experiment is - and I still think it is great. But why doesn't the site:


use Silverlight for its interactive video wall. I am pretty certain Silverlight can do everything going in in the Flash app that is running instead.

The only viable reason I can think of is that the Silverlight market penetration is still too low and that Microsoft really wants people (en masse) to go to the Mojave Experiment site. If they have to install Silverlight and then see the experiment results it will be a barrier to entry.

Still though - makes you wonder.

Windows "Mojave" Experiment

I think this is really cool:


Microsoft basically disguised Vista as a new OS named "Mojave" and then showed it to users. Before the test users were asked to rate Vista and gave it low scores on a scale of 1-10. Then after being shown Mojave they were asked to evaluate the OS and the scores were much higher. The kicker is that Mojave is Vista.

I have been using Vista Ultimate on my ancient desktop and have been more than pleasantly surprised by mostly the numerous little features here and there in addition to the larger, more prominent features. For example, small changes like this to the volume control allowing for per program volume:



or the newly improved Calendar:




are just tiny of the level of change throughout the whole OS.

Other things I find valuable:

  • Start Menu Search is indispensable.
  • Sidebar: I use it daily to keep track of stocks and local weather without having to go into IE (lazy I know).
  • Speech Recognition: This still has a long way to go, but it is a huge leap in the right direction.
  • Windows Explorer "Breadcrumb" Navigation is much more versatile than the simple address bar.
  • Built in Windows Media Center (I mean come on, that is sweet)

Going back to XP makes me cringe. What is even better though is there are a bunch of Vista features I haven't even started to play with - like System Restore, the new wireless connection management (I am on a desktop at home), the Photo Gallery (I am still using Picasa, but this looks comparable now), Windows Remote Assistance (to help the parentals), etc.

Anyway, hopefully more people give it a chance and some good vibes about Vista will start forming.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

AutoCAD 2009 Cue Cards Online

One of the fun things our User Assistance group did for the AutoCAD 2009 release was a set of cue cards that shipped with the media. Now these Cue Cards are available online for everyone to enjoy. They are great way to get a quick overview of the new features introduced:

AutoCAD 2009 Cue Cards

By the beard of Zeus!!

Two words: Anchorman 2. With Step Brothers getting pretty good reviews compared to Ferrell's recent duds Semi-Pro and Blades of Glory, let's hope this continues the upward trend and Will returns to form.

Story at EW

"It's called Sex Panther ... 60% of the time it works every time"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Professional Introduction

I have been meaning to, for awhile, start writing about bits and pieces of what I do at work on a day to day basis. Trouble is, most of what I do at work cannot be revealed until we release our product.

I work at Autodesk, in Marin County, as a Senior Product Designer on the AutoCAD team. For a certain portion of the product I am in charge of designing the user experience - everything from UI layout to business logic.

My education entails a BS in Computer Science so my first passion, I guess you could say, would be coding. I graduated near the top of my class, and really did like coding, but the dot com bubble had just burst (2002) and jobs were harder to find.

I had already been an intern at Autodesk since high school and eventually a position in QA opened up. I took that and eventually moved to product design making the 'decision' (although nothing is ever definite) to forego a career coding away.

But I still loved tinkering with code and kept up on new technologies and even flirted with them for awhile making silly games and other applications (Snake and an Outlook Contact Status Bar utility come to mind).

Whereas some Product Designers on my team opt for mockups in Illustrator or Photoshop, I would always start in Visual Studio and add interactivity as I went along.

Then WPF and XAML came along. xamllogo Ah, what a wondrous piece of technology. Finally I was able to please the code tinkering with my designing side. Such a beautiful union. I am now one of the only designers in the company working on WPF related projects and actually contributing real, working XAML to the code stream. Last year, members of the development team and I pioneered a true designer~developer workflow for AutoCAD using XAML.

The experience has been amazing although there have been some frustrating days where I am sure I was experiencing what most developers experience when they are under the gun trying to fix bugs, get to code complete, and finish off their respective features.  When you are working with XAML, you *are* still working with code. Not to mention WPF is a huge, robust set of functionality with lots to learn.

Which brings me to why I started this post. Since I cannot talk much about what I am doing on a day to day basis with AutoCAD, I was going to post some interesting WPF tidbits I find through my work. Hopefully I can post some stuff about AutoCAD too, with respect to our last release, AutoCAD 2009. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Dark Knight

I have held off seeing any but the first trailer for this movie. This new poster that was just released is making the wait for July 18 that much harder... originally posted here.


Zune Card