Archive for June, 2008

Goodbye and Hello Bill!

June 28, 2008

In our last interview, Bill Gates told me there was still a ways to go on empowering teh office worker with better technology

Bill Gates may be slowing down at Microsoft, but his passion for future technology will still command attention.

After our last meeting at the second-gen Media Centre PC launch  in Los Angeles, Bill Gates. left, said there was still a lot of work to be done to make the office worker more efficient. Even the Tablet PC we talked about during the interview is still considered ahead of its time by many.

 

 

A NEW BILL

Next week, Bill Gates officially becomes a part-time Microsoft employee. As announced two years ago, the co-founder of Microsoft is relinquishing his daily work chores to devote his energies to philanthropy.

He will still keep his company chairmanship and focus on future technology concepts, like different ways of communicating with computers – beyond the traditional mouse and keyboard. You will hear a lot from Bill on Touch Wall Computing and Speech Recognition, the kind that will be as accurate as typing. 

Bill had much to do with the stylus-driven Tablet PC and the Media Centre PC (concepts he spearheaded when he was thinking of new tech ideas for his new home) which were ahead of their time, even today. He won’t have to worry much about the business side of Microsoft – the relentless drive to keep the software licensing cash cow going, something the likes of Steve Ballmer can look after.

Although Bill said he will focus his energy on his philanthropy endeavors, I guarantee you his propeller hat will never stop spinning.

The man is driven to innovate 24/7, admitting to being so focused on work that he sometimes inadvertently drove to Microsoft campus instead of dropping his kids off to school.

His “why not” driven personality will be missed at Microsoft campus.

What will not be missed by many, is the dreaded BillG Review. That’s where new company projects where presented to Bill, sliced up and dissected every which way and either passed or failed.

Now, more civil-like review committees are set up to follow up on Microsoft projects.

I will miss Bill. He was the only Microsoft exec that could comfortably talk about the entire company. A company so big and diversified that no one person will be able to fill his shoes, with all due respect to Steve Ballmer and chief software architect Ray Ozzie.

I have interviewed him three times – on the Windows XP and Tablet PC launch in New York and the second-gen Media Centre PC launch in Los Angeles. Sure, he could switch topics on the fly, but his passion has always been the future of computing.

Bill’s absence from the daily goings on at Microsoft will align the software giant with a more non-patriarchal style of management, considered by many industry observers long overdue. In other words, the new mature Microsoft won’t resemble a family business anymore.

Although Bill talks about focusing on next-gen computing human interfaces, I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear him talk about other new technologies too. After my last interview with him he said there was still a ways to go on empowering the office worker.

I am sure we will be hearing more from the one-man think tank that went beyond bringing a computer to every desk. And according to some Microsoft insiders I recently talked too, his relentless e-mails may never stop. After all, he is only slowing down to part-time work.

Welcome back Bill!

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HP WORLD LAUNCH IN BERLIN

June 14, 2008

 

art and technology fusion. Raoul gives the one-hand holding test on the new Envy 133, a .70 inch -thick, fast booting, slick laptop that has HDMI output, built-in dual boot for your choice at bootup, eSata external connector. Very cool very must have.

Rahoul Sood CTO Voodoo will bring some competition to Apple’s Air with a .70 inch thick, multiboot, HDMI video out, external eSata and quick boot modes incuding built-in Linux and Windows. (Steve Makris Photo)

 

 

I was one of the invited 600 journalists and bloggers to HP’s Connecting Your World three-day event in Berlin, Germany, where a whole pile of new products, coming this way in the next several months, were launched.

This included 17 notebooks from value to ultra slick models, cool Voodoo laptops and gaming desktops, a walkup computer for the kitchen and more.

You wouldn’t know this was an HP event if it wasn’t from the signage.

Gone is the old monolithic HP of yesteryear. Say hello to an ultra-chic company that is eying the next value customer, the Net Generation.

Mind you, HP still has its business model going but consumers like you and me will see new products with design and function in mind.

-Take the HP TouchSmart All-in-One for example, $1,399, available in Canada in August, let’s run many functions just using you finger for touching and swiping on the 22 inch bright wide screen display. The touch program is actually a shell running on Vista 64 bit and you can easily switch between the two.

This is HP’s second generation walkup computer with noticeable hardware and software improvements. It’s an ideal walkup computer for everyone to use in the household, best suited on the kitchen counter. You can get into photos, music, video, games, the Internet (YouTube too) family calendars and more. Stay tuned for a review when I get to play with one in my kitchen. Check out my experience with the HP TouchSmart in Berlin at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBCxYhUF1Qg

-HP notebooks from affordable Compaqs to the EliteBook which from the name, says you have arrived. The magnesium alloy chassis that is bonded with aluminum which is virtually scratchless and the anodized aluminum palm-rest surface along with the metal alloy hinges and reinforced metal pins and hooks speak volumes to the quality of this laptop. The HP 3D DriveGuard protects hard drives from sudden dropage or any sudden movement on any axis and vibration. This even works when you are in ready or enhanced state too. I want one of these puppies too.

-And what can I say for HP’s acquirement of Calgary based Voodoo and branding under the same name. The new Voodoo Envy 133 is one sweet ultra-light and thin carbon-aluminum chassis laptop at 0.70 inches thin. It keeps slim by having its Ethernet port built in the power supply, boots in seconds and gives you a choice of which OS to use, Windows and Linux, both included. It has a fully functioning auxiliary LCD screen and will be priced just over $2,000.

-HP’s new DreamColor monitor, in collaboration with DreamWorks, showed an billion-colour, backlit, flat panel, 24 inch LED display ment for professional graphics studios like DreamColour who showed us behind the scenes video from their newest hit:  Kung Fu Panda. The animation folks at DreamWorks had to scrounge around eBay to find the fast-disappearing CRT monitors to finish their last project as traditional LCD flat panels with only millions of colour display capability simply don’t cut it. I want one of these too, if I can spare four grand, a bargain compared to other makes. A short 3D animation from DreamWorks blew our socks off. The company said they plan to make all future projects in 3D.  

-HP is getting hip. The marketing division is hiring young folks and is embedding itself with the Net Generation crowd. Check out www.mtvengineroom.com  an HP – MTV collaboration that features a first-of-its-kind online reality show.

But if HP wants to shed its older looks as it has their new laptops and jump into youthful hip websites, they had better get a fashion dress consultant for the company execs…we saw a lot of ties and suites at the show…that just don’t fit in with the next gen folks!

 

 

 

 

A Week of Great Tech News

June 4, 2008

CANADA HAS SOMETHING TO FLIP ABOUT

The Flip Video Ultra Series compact digital camcorder has finally made it to Canada. This pocket size camcorder couldn’t be simpler to use. There’s a red record button, a playback button and a delete button. The built in flip out USB connector means no cable worries and the included  built-in software for editing, organizing and sharing, makes this a must have get-up-and-go camcorder that your grandmother can actually use.  Created by Pure Digital Technologies, the Flip Video is available now at Wal-Mart for $159.99. Technically the Flip Video is VGA resolution at 30 FPS similar to most of today’s better digital point-and-shoot cameras but it’s much easier and handier to use. This is a winner, but how will it compete with Creative’s $99.99 Vado? Check out my review at  www.edmontonjournal.com this Saturday.

INTEL PUTS PEDAL TO THE MEDAL WITH NEW CHIPSETS

This week at Computex, Intel Corporation launched new technologies featuring significant advances in video and graphics, performance and energy efficiency. The Intel 4 Series Chipset family, consisting of the Intel G45, G43, P45 and P43 Express Chipsets, will get computers in line with demanding home applications like HD TV.

The flagship G45 Express Chipset (basically the chip guts of a motherboard on which the CPU, memory and all computer traffic takes place) has an updated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X4500HD which will enable up to 1080p HD video playback and editing. An HDMI connector is included now, finally allowing full integration of PCs and the cutting edge living room. You won’t need additional decoders to playback Blu-ray videos on this puppy, and imagine connecting your PC directly to your flat panel’s HDMI port. The new motherboards work with all existing 45 nm Intel processors. The graphics chip also boasts improved visuals including optimized performance and support for Microsoft DirectX 10 and Shader Model 4.0.

The Intel P45 Express Chipset, a follow up to the Intel P35 Express Chipset, is designed for mainstream platforms, including a new simple-to-use tuning tool to speed up your motherboard including CPU. Hang on to your seats folks, power computing has just fired its booster rockets to a higher orbit. And you won’t be needing a PS3 for your hot PC gaming and Blu-ray movie watching.

PDF POWER BOOST

Adobe announced Acrobat 9, a much improved version for creating PDF software. Every component has been injected with steroids making this release one of the most important in Adobe’s history.  It comes in three versions but Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Extended which I just got a beta of, includes three cool new features. The ability to build PDF Portfolios that combine multiple types of files (including Office files) in a single PDF document, the ability to store video files in PDF files that can be viewed by anyone using Adobe Reader 9 regardless of whether they have the right video playback codecs installed and the ability to compare documents in collaborative work environments. Despite all the new tools, if you are used to version 8 you will be up to speed with version 9 in no time. Can’t say more for now but like all good things in life, you get what you pay for. For more info go to: http://www.adobe.com/