Mac Font Smoothing and Large Displays

430hotFont display on MBP has a fuzzy wet-paper look which, while bearable, is not as good as ClearType. When displayed on my large screen (Dell 2407WFP) via VGA, fonts looked like the wet-paper has been dried in the sun, plain awful. Tweaking the font smoothing setting didn't help much which made me wonder if OS X Tiger is not properly optimizing subpixel rendering for Dell monitors. Display gets better using DVI but still not as good as the notebook display.
ClearType is just too good to dedicate the DVI port to MBP which means I'll have to look for a DVI port switcher or just bear the unbearable.
Update: I switched Mac to DVI and PC to VGA because I was spending more time on the Mac side. This improved Mac's display some and degraded PC display to Mac level of fuzzyness. It was then I noticed there was the AUTO-ADJUST option in 2407WFP menu. It appears in VGA mode but not in DVI mode. When I selected it, PC display in VGA mode sharpened! Fantastic.

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Falling Off Dashboard

I found none of the widgets in OS X Dashboard useful enough to keep in memory (open Applications : Utilities : Activity Monitor to see) so I looked for a gentle way to close them. Dashboard has no visible menubar and there was only the + button to add a widget so I pressed that to see. Pressing the + button puts Dashboard in customize mode and places an X button on each running widget. What a laugh. I closed the four default widgets and, after playing a bit with rest of the available widgets, pressed "Manage Widgets : More Widgets" button. Hmm. Nothing. I ran the Activity Monitor to see what's going on. Nothing. Checking the dock, Activity Monitor was hopping but no window. Launching Firefox left it in the same situation, jumping on the Dock, and no window. I restarted Finder to see if that loosens the deadlock. Nope. Now the system was hung, displaying just the desktop background. Keeping the power button down for 3-5 seconds to restart the system got me out of the jam…

Polished crap is still crap.

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Invoking QuickTime Plugin Methods

Just sharing a lovely filth I found which seems to lack g-coverage. When you go beyond run-of-the-mill QuickTime plugin usecases, you'll quickly find that calling its methods like Play() will throw an exception. Apparently, whoever wrote the QuickTime plugin wrote it very strictly because, instead of just queuing up request to play when the movie is not ready to play yet (like buffering), it throws an exception. This usually happens when you embed a QuickTime plugin with autoplay off then attempt to play too early or after telling QuickTime plugin to play another movie. The trick is to call the GetPluginStatus() to make sure it's in the right state (like "Playable"). QuickTime plugin doesn't support any event either (I couldn't find any) so you'll have to use the timer event to poll. Same technique can be used to detect when the movie is finished.
I could pile on the the guy for all the crap I ran into but I won't because it must not be much fun being a Win32 engineer at Apple. Let's just say, from a developer's perspective, QuickTime should have a "don't touch me unless your poll is 12 feet long" sticker on it. In comparison, Flash is like a choirboy.
Update: Another problem with QuickTime, this time with ActiveX version of the plugin. QuickTime ActiveX plugin gets confused when it's embedded inside a floating element. Workaround is to use the Netscape plugin version, even for IE, which means you should use the tag without the wrapping <object> tag. Also, I couldn't find a reliable way to force QuickTime player to play an arbitrary movie after it has been instantiated, forcing me to reinstantiate for each movie after cleaning up to avoid resource leaks.
At this point, I am thinking about pressing the eject button on this pet project because it's starting to look like a maintenance nightmare in the making.

Photosynth, Videosynth, Virtual World, Advertising

Photosynth demo is certainly impressive but I am more excited about where it leads to. If one can weave all the photos online into a single world fabric, imagine what will happen when you add video. One minute video taken by a tourist anywhere contains, on the average, 900 frames. Even after accounting for lower resolution, redundancies, and motion artifacts, there are a lot of information there, particularly 3D hints.
Now imagine a virtual world that is built entirely out of all the photos and videos uploaded to the Net, one that is constantly updated and missing parts filled-in over time as camera-wielding tourists roam the globe, a world that offers new business opportunities. A service like Like.com can let loose spiders into that world to tag products with price and shopping information. Enterprising individuals can also offer richer experiences for a fee.
Fun stuff.

TechGrill.com

Sizzling SistersWith so many new advertising startups, I think we'll soon see negative advertising sites. Call it TechGrill.com, the nemesis of TechCrunch. Instead of mentioning products and services that editors like, TechGrill focuses on the downside, kicking the balls of technology if you will. Why is this interesting? It's interesting because when someone is down (er, kicked down that is), others will profit. In practical terms, companies would want to advertise where their competitors are grilled.
PS: don't bother looking up the domain name. I took it just in case I get bored enough to actually do it. After all, I enjoy telling people what's wrong with them. ;-p

Drunk with Power

I trust the Democrats as much as I trust the Republicans. In my mind, democrats are incompetent fools and republicans are arrogant bastards. Now that the democrats are drowning in euphoric taste of power, I fear it will move too far and too fast to the other side. Can Bush provide the necessary balance of power to keep overly excited democrats in balance? I doubt it. Nancy Pelosi? How long before she freaks out in earnest?
What I hate about American politic is that it swings left and right madly like a teenager with hormone imbalance. What sickens me is that the division between the two parents, Republican and Democrat whom I consider to be father and mother of this country, continues to widen. Polarization is a nice way to describe a disfunctional family. There is no love in this family. Dad is as arrogant as before but with less finesse, more religious, and overly paranoid. Now the Mom is in charge and ready to kick some butt but I don't think anyone will be smiling happily anytime soon.
Well, that's enough politics to last a year at least. Now back to ignoring.

Playing with My MBP C2D

I got my MBP C2D today although today was shipping date not the delivery date. Actually, it arrived this morning but I was sleeping and my wife was at the gym so I had to pick it up after 6pm which means I couldn't focus all day.
After spending some time with it, two things surprised me:

  • it's very quiet (no buzz, no hiss, no fan noise, no hard drive clicking).
  • During normal use, temperature is just warm above the function keys and room temperature near the palm rest. Even the bottom was only slightly warmer than the top. On my lap, it was like having an electric blanket on my lap instead of a taster which was what I was expecting. My lap would probably sweat after a while but I don't think it's hot enough to burn or even slow cook. Things got pretty hot though with two yes >> /dev/null going, as hot as MBP used to be during normal use, well at least the ones I played around with at Apple Store a few months ago.

Compared to how hot MBP was before, I think Apple now has better control over the temperature problem. This doesn't mean they have manufacturing consistency problem licked though. I could have been just lucky.
Performance wise, there are noticeable delays but I think that's the usual OS X related delays and not CPU gasping for air. I know that some folks are pissed off because this C2D MBPs are not 39% faster than older models instead of reported ~10% gains. IMHO, the two key reasons to get this model are:

  • less problems (second rev!)
  • faster GPU (only slightly throttled)

Anyway, I am very happy with my MBP C2D so far. I haven't played with DVD drive much so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

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On Vlog Video Length

vloggingI've been focused on and tinkering with video for the past week and a half so the discussion over ideal length for vlog video grabbed my interest. I  think vlog videos will, in the end, be both long and short, meaning short ones will be strung together into one or more series and long ones will be broken down into small ones, affecting organization and presentation of clips as well as planning, production, and post-production.
Scoble's interviews, for example, should be broken down into shorter clips, each focusing on a subject so that watchers can experience either the whole interview or just the parts that interest them. Turning long interviews into bite-sized segments allows easier navigation and reference as well as offering drive-by advertising opportunities between segments. Seen abstractly, segments adds fine-grained connection points and increases the surface area at the same time, making it easier to link to other contents and resources, both internal and external, and allowing social interaction at attention-grabbing level. For example, each segment could be given a discussion area (comments) so watchers can discuss at a subject level instead of having at the interview level. From traffic analysis perspective, segments give producers better feedback data for improving content and service with.
Unfortunately, today's vlogging tools has not evolved enough to support segmentation. But I expect that to change quickly.

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Aptana TV

Check out Aptana.TV, a site just for screencasts demonstrating Aptana, an insanely fun to use IDE for AJAX developers based on Eclipse that offers almost Andrew-like (anybody still remember Andrew?) edit-and-play experience, almost too much context-sensitive help, and crazily useful javascript IDE macros (editing command keys seem rather odd though and caret likes to play hide-and-seek). You can run it as is or run it inside an existing Eclipse installation. Ruby nuts can create a powerful combo by using Aptana and RadRails together. They are both Eclipse plugins after all. Aptana was founded by Paul Colton, the JRun guy.
As to which AJAX library to use, I am now favoring Yahoo UI library for base functionality because YUI is well documented and thoroughly tested and because Douglas Crockford's presentations showed that they know what they are doing and are carefully cultivating the YUI library for practical use of AJAX without going overboard with excitement like most AJAX developers I've run across. I haven't tried it yet but I think complementing YUI with judicious use of AFLAX could be very effective.
Update:
After spending an evening with Aptana, I found some problems with Aptana editor views. It sometimes get confused with JSP pages. Auto-complete support is too eager and sometimes mangles nearby tags. Like I mentioned, caret disappears. I couldn't find manual pretty formatting. Smart indentation seems to conflict with Eclipse settings. I like it overall though. HTML pages are hosted through an embedded web server of sort so there is no need to deploy to a web server to see what your AJAX code does. Although turnaround time saving is probably only a few seconds, smooth edit-save-click cycle really makes tinkering fun.

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