Marvels

It’s been a long day today but thankfully a good one. I’ve been out of the house since 12pm at both IJN and KL General Hospital and am very, very relieved & thankful that my dad’s angiogram went without a hitch. The blockage is mild and treatable through medication plus changes in diet I guess. My mom should be discharged tomorrow too so yeah it’s a huge relief that both my parents will be out of hospital too.

My HTC Touch Pro

My HTC Touch Pro

I’m thankful for the hi-tech stuff I have that have been great tools especially when I’m on the go. My battle-scarred HTC Touch Pro is truly a God-send as I’ve been keeping tabs on work emails as they come in. The only thing is that I’ve gotta re-organise them on my work laptop again cos’ my office isn’t on Exchange Server. Here’s how I work around the limitations I have currently with work email with Windows Mobile 6.1’s email client.

  1. My HTC Touch Pro syncs normally with Outlook 2007 so that’s no bother.
  2. I configure a separate email account that checks my work email account every 30 minutes or so. Think of this as a temporary place on my phone for mails that come in when I’m away from my PC. Of course for this to work your PC needs to either be off or Outlook set to offline mode so that emails stay on the server.
  3. Of course my phone is also configured with separate accounts for both Gmail & Hotmail for personal emails.

It’s a horrible workaround I know but that’s how I get around not having push or MS Exchange for work. The strange thing is that I really find it funny that I can’t get the default  account that’s set to sync with Outlook to pull email in and still remain in sync  but I figure it’s probably a limitation with Windows Mobile 6.1.

The Touch Pro has been such a great tool and with all the family emergencies that I’ve been having in the past 2 years, it’s been a great companion for both work & play. In fact I even use it as a modem both on my Windows 7 machine & my Macbook. It’s a fairly simple process getting a Windows Mobile smartphone to work as a modem for my Mac by setting up Bluetooth PAN (Personal Area Network) that my Macbook can connect to.

As much as Apple & Microsoft like to bash each other in their ad campaigns, it’s a nice surprise to learn that both Windows & Mac OS X actually play really nicely with each other. I haven’t yet gotten around to figuring out how to get Windows 7 to connect to my mobile as a modem via Bluetooth but so far I haven’t had the need for it as it works just fine via USB.

Other technical marvels that I am thankful for today are:

  1. PockeTwit (my preferred Twitter client for Windows Mobile)

    PockeTwit

    PockeTwit

  2. My Nintendo DSi together with The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Elite Beat Agents & Disgaea DS
    The Nintendo DSi

    The Nintendo DSi

    A Trio of DS Goodness

    A Trio of DS Goodness

  3. Palringo that connects to GoogleTalk, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger & surprise, surprise Facebook Chat!

    Palringo

    Palringo

  4. Windows 7 (which I have a slightly unhealthy fascination for these days & incidentally doesn’t have any relation to any of the events of today)

    My Favourite OS Right Now - Windows 7

    My Favourite OS Right Now - Windows 7

I am thankful today. Really. It’s been a long day. Tiring. But it was worth it to be able to be there for my parents. On top of that I have these technological marvels that let me keep my responsibilities at my job somewhat whilst at the same time helping me to pass the time a lil’ bit more interestingly at both hospitals today.

*Yawns* I’m tired out now so I guess it’s time to go to bed. I’ve been sleeping early the past few days and waking up at around 6.30am every day which is a good thing.

Cheerios & g’nite everyone!

Am So Missin’ Aero Snap in Windows 7

Aero Snapped.

Aero Snapped.

After a long day at a shoot I’m kickin’ back a little and decided it’s time for me to fire up Snow Leopard for a bit. Why? Well I’ve been on Windows 7 all weekend till today cos’ of work. It’s easier to work off my Vostro 1400 cos’ all my files are there so I’ve been missing Snow Leopard and my Macbook a fair bit. Anyways, back to my tale for today.

Funnily enough the first thing I tried to do when Safari launched was to do an Aero Snap maneuver which didn’t turn out too well. Ha ha! Obviously the window I was trying to Aero Snap didn’t maximise as it does on Windows 7 and I must say that I’m beginning to love Windows 7 a lot and Aero Snap ranks as one of my favourite features on the OS that Microsoft built.

I am so missing Aero Snap right about now on my Mac and I’m looking forward to getting back on Windows 7 tomorrow at work. Snow Leopard, I still love you but right now I’m enjoying my everyday experience with Windows 7. I’m thinking that Mac fanboys would so want to kill me right now for saying that. LOL!

I still like Snow Leopard but Windows 7 really does have some uber cool features.

I still like Snow Leopard but Windows 7 really does have some uber cool features.

What is Aero Snap? It’s a simple but great feature that allows me to maximise a window by just dragging the window to the top of the desktop. A glow/touch effect occurs and voila the window in question maximises! Cool eh? The handiest thing about Aero Snap happens when I need to compare 2 documents when I’m not dual-screened (which happened today on location). All I need to do is just “snap” each window that I wanna compare. One to the left. The other to the right. And just like magic both windows are instantly resized into equal sized windows that sit side by side for me to compare.

I know, I know. I’m supposed to do an indepth look at Grabber on Snow Leopard but I couldn’t help but write about Aero Snap today. It is such a cool feature.

I [heart] Aero Snap. I really do.

Windows 7 & Snow Leopard: Snipping Tool vs. Grab

Here’s part 2 of my indepth look into both Windows 7 and Snow Leopard in my day to day use for work and for play.

I take lots of screen captures at work on a daily basis to give feedback on designs, layouts or just to point out errors in copy and screen caps are an important part of what I do. Which is why part 2 is gonna be focused on the bundled screen capture utilities that came in both Windows 7 & Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

Before Vista, Windows never came with proper screen capture tools and I remember having to resort to 3rd party software to grab screens more efficiently which was kinda annoying. If you’re writing a document that requires lots of screen captures, Windows XP or below would really annoy you. Apple on the other hand did quite  a lot of thinking and came with out of the box snapshot tools which came in handy for work. Snow Leopard comes with a more “canggih” tool called Grab which I assume takes a page out of Vista cos’ I never noticed any such tool in Leopard before my Snow Leopard upgrade.

Snow Leopard Grabber.

Snow Leopard's Grabber.

I’ve always hated the basic print screen functions that came with Windows so it was a joy to discover Snipping Tool (which incidentally comes in Windows Vista too) that  takes a page out of Apple’s default Command 3 or 4 snapshot feature.

Windows 7's Snipping Tool.

Windows 7's Snipping Tool.

Snipping Tool is great and has a number of options that allow you to take snapshots of your desktop and windows. The best part about it is that it saves all these snapshots in a variety of formats; the default being PNG. That’s pretty cool cos’ Snow Leopard’s Grab saves snapshots in *.TIFF format by default which is a bit cumbersome especially when I have to convert it back into PNG to be published online. I haven’t mucked around with it too much but I assume it can be changed to save the image in another format.

Snipping Tool options.

Snipping Tool options.

If you work on dual screens then Mac OS X Snow Leopard does a nifty thing when you hit Cmd 3 – it actually creates 2 TIFF files  of each desktop which is super handy if you need to take lots of screen shots quickly without having to crop the images. Windows’ default Prnt Scrn button doesn’t do the same unfortunately and the Prnt Scrn button just takes one big image that combines both desktops. Perhaps a future update could alter this behaviour within Windows but then again I don’t think that many people are addicted to dual screens like me for work.

Both OSes come with great screen capture tools and I’m glad to have equivalents in both OSes to use for work. All in all I think Windows has finally caught up with Apple in this respect which is a good thing for the large install base of PC users all around the world.

One thing to note about Windows 7’s Snipping Tool is that it’s able to save screen snapshots in HTML form too. I can’t figure out why I’d save a snapshot as a HTML page though but nevertheless I’m sure someone out there would have a use for such a feature.

If you’re curious as to where Snipping Tool is; just go to All Programs -> Accessories in the Windows Ribbon to access this useful function. It’s snapped on to my taskbar cos’ I take screen caps every day! Same as Grab which I’ve locked within my dock on my Macbook.

Check back later over the weekend cos’ I’ll be dropping a quick post from my Mac that’ll show more screens off my Macbook give everyone a better idea of what Snow Leopard’s Grab does. I’m too sleepy & a tad bit lazy now to go back & forth between my Dell Vostro 1400 and my Macbook. Besides I need my Saturday afternoon nap now after last night’s 4am karaoke with some friends.

Ta!

For more on Windows 7 in Malaysia visit the Windows 7 independent community site here.

Windows 7 & Snow Leopard: Aero Peek vs. Expose

Windows 7

Windows 7

Operating systems. No one thinks twice about what’s under the hood but everyone certainly cares about how easy it is to use and I am loving both Windows 7 and Mac OS X Snow Leopard so far. My only gripe is with Apple at the moment cos’ I had problems with the install disc that came bundled with my copy of the Mac Box Set that I purchased from Machines in 1U. I had no issues with Windows 7 but then again my IT department set my office laptop with a burned copy that we obtained off MSDN so I can’t really judge Microsoft in this respect as I have yet to get a hold of a retail copy of the disc.

Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Mac OS X Snow Leopard

As I experience both OSes at work and at home I’ve decided to write up a fair play by play of the features that I use on a daily basis on both OSes. I’m not a power user so I’m guessing that my experiences with both Windows 7 and Snow Leopard would reflect what most of you do out there on a daily basis with your PCs.

Pardon the low-res screen captures but I don’t wanna kill anyone who loads up this post with sharp PNGs that will take ages to load up. The screen caps are meant to illustrate a point not look pretty.

Windows 7
First up! Let’s have a look at the number one feature of Windows 7 that I use every day… AERO PEEK! Yep … I use Aero Peek on a daily basis to go through all my open windows as I work in the office.

With Aero Peek I get live previews of any open windows when I mouseover app icons in the taskbar.

With Aero Peek I get live previews of any open window when I mouseover app icons in the taskbar.

For everyone’s info, I compare and reference a lot of materials in the office and this is a huge time saver which also helps to keep my screen clean of clutter. When I scroll over open windows within the taskbar, the coolest thing about Windows 7 is that I get to view the contents of windows that I mouse over directly on the desktop with other windows going translucent; exposing the window that I wanna look at. It’s a big help when I have a multitude of windows open.

Check out the cool translucent window effects when I mouseover a window I wanna preview.

Check out the cool translucent window effect when I mouseover a window I wanna preview.

The coolest thing about Aero Peek is that I am able to close windows from within the live preview boxes that appear in the taskbar whenever my mouse pointer hovers over open applications and windows. It’s a simple yet nifty feature that allows me to be more productive at work.

Mac OS X Snow Leopard
Mac OS X Snow Leopard on the other hand still uses Expose that allows me to view any open windows and apps that I have running at any point in time by just hitting the F3 key or by holding left click mouse button on an open app in the dock. Expose was revolutionary when it first came out and while useful it is a bit of a pain to always have to hit F3 just to view all the windows that I’ve got open.

Expose shows all open windows by hitting F3.

Expose shows all open windows by hitting F3.

By clicking on an app's icon you can see all open windows it has.

By clicking on an app's icon you can see all open windows it has.

I’m not really a power user on my Macbook but I don’t think I can close any open apps I have from within Expose. So Windows 7 does a one up on Snow Leopard in this respect. Apple’s introduction of enhanced stacks and Expose re-arranging windows in a grid format does help but I definitely like how Windows 7 treats the viewing & previewing of open windows on my desktop.

To be fair to Apple I really do like how I don’t need to go into Finder anymore when previewing folders and apps within stacks on my dock, which is a feature that should have been introduced earlier in OS X in my opinion. It’s a bit hard for me to illustrate this in writing so take a look at the screen shots below that I’ve taken to illustrate this.

Just click on a folder within the dock to pop a stack open.

Just click on a folder within the dock to pop a stack open.

Click on a folder within a stack to view it without having to open Mac OS' Finder. Neat!

Click on a folder within a stack to view it without having to open Mac OS' Finder. Neat!

Stacks in Mac OS X are cool but Windows Explorer does the same thing pretty much and stacks in my opinion function just like mini Finder windows in Snow Leopard. It is handy though when it comes to looking through folder shortcuts in the Mac OS Dock.

Explorer does the same thing as a stack doesn't it?

Explorer does the same thing as a stack doesn't it?

I think I’ve covered enough for Part 1. Suffice to say both OSes treat windows niftily but I definitely prefer Windows 7 in this respect. And it really helps that Aero makes the desktop sleek & sexy which was a selling point of Mac OS X to me. Hey … what can I say? I’m attracted to sexy.

Tune in next week as I continue to experience both OSes on a day to day basis. Windows 7 launches October 23rd here in Malaysia so I’m gonna try to cover as much as possible to help everyone get a sense of what to expect with the new OS and to see how it stacks up against Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

Cheers!

Note:
This post was written by tediously swapping between my Macbook and Dell Vostro 1400. Oh the sacrifice … heh.

Exonerating Apple

First things first. I’m big enough to admit it when I’m wrong so here it is.

“I’m sorry Apple.”

I must say that I made a mistake by ranting online first about my Snow Leopard problem. So here’s an apology of sorts to Apple. I gave their helpline a call upon the advice of a friend and explained the problem I had with my disc. It was a relief to hear that Apple acknowledges the issue and all I need to do now is read out the serial number on the disc to them.

It was a breath of fresh air to me cos’ most retailers/brands in Malaysia tend to push the problem back to the user first. I understand why Machines couldn’t do a one-to-one exchange for me without a ticket number from Apple themselves and even though I was recommended to give the Apple Helpline a call I didn’t. The basic distrust I had for brands kicked in and I didn’t. Instead I opted to try to reach someone at Apple.com which so far has proven futile. There goes another illusion I had about good customer service from American brands and the web as a communication tool. Oh well. I’ll try the local arm first next time before trying to go international.

I'm sorry Apple... *sheepish look*

I'm sorry Apple... *sheepish look*

I haven’t done so yet cos’ I didn’t have the disc yet and the call centre was closed over the weekend so hopefully I’ll be able to clear things up tomorrow. For all Apple users here in Malaysia here are the correct steps to take should you have problems with Apple stuff as the local distributors have to follow a procedure when it comes to exchanges or faulty products.

  1. First give Apple a call at 1-800 803-638 (for the latest contact numbers in your region click here)
  2. Describe your problem to the friendly voice on the other end
  3. If everything goes well they should be issuing you a ticket number
  4. Have your ticket number on hand when you visit a local retailer to do your exchange

I’ll make the call tomorrow and will do the one-to-one exchange some time within the next few days.

Wish me luck!

P.S. I’ve been putting together some notes to compare Snow Leopard against Windows 7 as I’m one of the privileged few at work to be running Microsoft’s brand new OS. Check back in a couple of days!

My Bad Snow Leopard Experience

I am annoyed with Apple! Very annoyed. *Takes a deep breath* And the object of my annoyance sits in the very pretty box below.

Pretty box. Too bad it's not that pretty on the inside.

Pretty box. Too bad it's not that pretty on the inside.

Yes! You heard that right! I’m annoyed with Apple for their crummy Mac OS X Snow Leopard install disc which is dual-layered and apparently cannot be read by the Superdrive that comes standard on my 1-year old Macbook. The disc worked and installed fine on the demo iMac at Machines 1U which made me feel even more crap. Gargh!

In order to deal with my annoyance I am gonna do just what anyone with access to the Internet will do. I’m gonna … wait for it … RANT! I decided to write directly to Apple.com on Sunday and unfortunately I’ve not gotten any response yet from them so in an effort to elicit a response out of Apple I’ve decided to plonk the contents of my next complaint to them that I am just about to post on Apple.com through their feedback form.
Enjoy the following and let’s hope I can get someone to do something about my defective disc (Apple … I’m talking to you).
Hi again,

I am really annoyed that no one at Apple has bothered to get back to me about the issue that I have been having. I emailed my problems with Snow Leopard over the weekend and it’s Tuesday now. I would really appreciate a response on this and action on replacing my Snow Leopard disc as the Superdrive on my Macbook cannot read the disc properly and the install does not occur at all.

I have managed to borrow a USB DVD-RW drive and created a disk image on a thumb drive which works but I still cannot get over the fact that I paid RM619 for a Mac Box set for a copy of Snow Leopard which I am finding out has problems being read by Macbook Superdrives because it’s dual-layered?!

I know I live half-way across the world in a region that probably is not important to your company but that does not mean I am any less as important as a customer. I must say that I am sorely disappointed in the response time that I’m getting here. In fact I think I’m gonna be posting this up somewhere for the world to know. It’s a shame really cos’ I’ve always had a high regard for Apple and I’ve been increasingly pursing genuine software as a means to support the fight against piracy. Apple products are premium-priced items here in Malaysia and it’s really disappointing that I can’t get a simple install to work.

I hope to hear from someone as the reason why I am writing in here is because I believe that my complaints can be better dealt with by the mother brand rather than the people who distribute Apple products here in Malaysia.

Thank you.

Regards,
Chris.
If someone from Apple is reading this. I hope you can do something for a very unhappy customer who has always thought that Apple had better QC on their products.

Lazy Blogger

I realise that I am such a lazy blogger. I am not compelled at all to write on a daily basis. I think that’s because I keep a journal of my own which contain all my thoughts. Writing is therapeutic and I think my personal journal is one of the things that helps me get through life. It unravels the jumbled mess that’s in my mind and it’s sorta like talking to God too. I’ve been keeping a journal since 2003 I think and I’ve yet to go back and read all the stuff from before. It’s like I pen all these things down just to get it out of my system.

The BIGGEST news I have is my brand new iBook (well almost brand new cos’ I bought it 2nd hand from my Singaporean friend’s girlfriend). Macs are totally cool and OS X is a joy to use. It’s UNIX roots are something I have yet to explore fully though and the thought of writing time-saving AppleScripts sends a tingle down my spine. Looks like the programmer in me isn’t that dead after all.

I wish the iBook had a bigger hard-drive though cos’ I loaded it with MP3s and I pretty much filled the hard-drive already … BUMMEROO! White objects are so hard to keep clean and already the pristine white surface is getting dirty. Sigh … time to plonk more money down for some expensive cleaning solution. Will probably get some when I hit Singapore at the end of the month since all items TECH are cheap there. MacASIA is really ripping us off; this anti-static protector I saw which costs USD17.00 is being sold for RM99 bucks which is soooooo expensive. Man! Talk about a huge profit margin.

On another note, working in Oops! Asia is uber cool. The music industry is cool although it’s a real challenge to figure out how a small label like us can make a difference. Malaysians are a tough bunch; no one really supports local musicians and it’s at times like this that I dislike being one. I’m the same too and I guess it’s an ugly reflection of myself that I never really thought about. I don’t watch local movies and I don’t listen to local music. Funny how I’m now in a local music label. God certainly has a sense of humour. Don’t get me wrong though … I love what I’m doing now and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

Hmm … looks like I’m back to my old habit of rambling. Unfortunately it’s not about video games. Maybe I’ll write something about video games after this. Till then … ta!