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  def Softwaremaker() :
         return "William Tay", "<Challenging Conventions />"

  knownType_Serialize, about = Softwaremaker()

 Monday, May 31, 2010

Google has released an analysis on the 1000 most visited sites on the web. Considering that we own/operate 3 of the top 10 sites and has a significant interest in Facebook, plus this recent report that states that Microsoft employees are the most social-media-savvy will go to great lengths to show how well we can operate in our cloud and social media integration and collaboration strategies.

Monday, May 31, 2010 5:11:40 AM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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  •  Friday, June 13, 2008

    I had recently purchased a Canon Hi-Def Flash Camcorder HF100 at wholesale price (please dont ask me how much and where I got it from). There was a long thought process before this high-end purchase. I knew I wanted a camcorder to record in Hi-Def (HD) format. The question I had was the recorded video format. I did some research and poking around and there were some pros and cons that I was seriously considering such as:

    1. What is the recording storage medium ?
    2. What is the recording format ? If answer to [1] was a DV Tape or sort, then the answer would probably be HDV/MPEG-2 format.
    3. Do I have enought processing power / software infrastructure to deal with the answer to [2] ?

    In the end, I decided that I would not want to do the route of using a DV Tape. Tape is proven, tested, good, mature and cheap but has its limitations. The fact that it is a sequential access medium puts me off. Even newER backup solutions of today seems to provide disk storage, whose prices have dropped in recent years, as an alternative to tape. Usually, the restoration granularity and the time it takes to restore is the deciding factor for customers to champion disk over tape. Moreover, if I record on tape and then later edit on disk, it does somehow seem that I am going backwards.

    So, instead of carrying bulkIER tapes around with me (and I do a lot of random recording), not forgetting that the housing for these tapes in the camcorders itself does take up some bulk and effectively limits the handling of the camera at hand, I dumped the idea of either the Canon HV20 or HV30. Mind you - their dual recording format in a choice of either Standard-Definition (SD)or HD is really attractive but I doubt that I would want to record in SD in a couple of years down the road where computing power, screens, bandwidth are all commodities.

    That left me with Question [3] above. What does it take to process/edit those videos ? From searches of many forums and reviews, a lot of people buy a AVCHD Camcorder (such as the Canon HF100) without realizing that they dont have the infrastructure to process and edit the recorded HD clips. I guess a lot of peple dont realize that there is not much choice of video-editing software that can process a AVCHD video clip today. So. what most of them did was

    • Pay X Dollar for the camcorder and then 2X Dollar for a brand new Mac - Holy Smokes. Since when does money grow on trees ?
    • Pay a couple of hundred dollars more to buy a decent video editing software such as the Pinnacle Studio or the Sony Vegas

    I didnt like both options. First or all, I edit video clips - Yes - but I dont consider myself to be a "pro-consumer" of sorts that would want to fork out much money just to have 3000 over video transitions up my sleeve ... and ... I am not a MAC fan. Yes, I admit. Crucify me. I am just not genetically engineered to use a MAC or any of Apples' products. Yes, I love my ZUNE and its marketplace very much. Thank you.

    Therefore, I had to look for an intermediate solution since my old, trusted and most FREE Windows Movie Maker and Media Player cannot handle AVCHD video files natively and I am not willing to fork out anything more than SGD100.00

    Luckily, my prayers are answered and my search leads me to media\video developer ShedWorx who has the VoltaicHD for both the PC and the MAC. Bascially, VoltaicHD transforms your AVCHD High-Def video clips to WMV-HD, which both Windows Media Player and Microsoft Movie Maker can handle. FAQ here. This little known shareware (just USD30.00) has gotten some great independent reviews so I went for a trial, downloaded a sample AVCHD .MTS file and it worked like a charm.

    [Note to ShedWorx]: Now if you could make a command-prompt version of your awesome tool, that would be a great addition as it would complete a workflow scenario of an "unattended" conversion process of the captured AVCHD .MTS files to WMV-HD.

    With that, I bought it and went broke but GOSH - what a camcorder !!! Its light, intuitive, great handling and churn out great looking HD video clips. I guess the reviews out there in the wild will do it better justice than me writing about it here.

    Yes, the computing power and storage resources are high. At the best quality mode, the HF100 records at 17Mbps and my usual mode would be to record at a compromised (between storage and battery power) bitrate of 7Mbps. Even with a decent Core2 Duo Processor T7200 2.0 GHZ (highly-rated) Merom chip and 2Gs of RAM that I have, editing a WMV-HD 7Mbps video clip does require some patience. And the file recordings are huge - as a rough gauge - AVCHD are abt 120Mb (15MB) /min of footage and becomes 500Mb (wmv) after decompression !!!

    Luckily, I delegated the conversion of AVCHD -> WMV-HD files to one of my servers, running a Dual Core XEON Pro 5140 2.33GHZ 4MB L2 cache 1333MHz FSB - Woodcrest Chip and this was much faster, comparatively. In any case, this can be done unattended, and this would also give me a good excuse to plug in another same processor on this 2-way box in the near future. .

    All in all, this is a great buy at near-wholesale price and I already had quite a lot of fun doing roving and recording real 1080p high-definition videos and enjoying the processed WMV-HD clips on my wide-screen LCD monitor, my HDTV as well as my Rapsody N35 media center (which plays WMV-HD High-Definition videos).

    Below is a "short" clip I took with the above Canon HF100, with the sarcastic emphasis on "short". I took this 50-second clip in full 1080/9Mbps HD glory. Uncompressed file size is 210MB. In order to "dumb" it down so that it can squeeze and play better over the HTTP ravine, I had to re-encode it to a smaller scale/Mbps at 856x480/3Mbps. Even then, this same 50-second 856x480/3Mbps clip's file size is still at a large 19MB !!! If you blow up the player to your full-screen, you can see that it maintains a clear and good quality at full-screen even at 3Mbps. Mind you, the source look great on my local playback at 1080/9Mbps/25fps.

    Friday, June 13, 2008 4:13:25 AM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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  •  Tuesday, February 05, 2008

    Great Poster for reference. Courtesy of wikipedia

    Tuesday, February 05, 2008 12:31:51 AM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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  •  Saturday, June 30, 2007

    Earlier this month Microsoft announced the Microsoft Media Room, which is really a rebranding of the Microsoft's IPTV platform. While I could go on and on touting the endless possibilities that TV over the internet brings, I might as well point you to Scott's blog to find out more about it.

    One of the things Microsoft Media Room has that is totally mind-blowing is the fast-channel-switching, which you can actually see in the video on the MediaRoom site, that allows you to surf channels are break-neck zapping speed. You totally have to really see it to believe it. Unbelievable ! If you think your current channel switching is fast, wait till you experience this SetTopBox.

    While this is a TV/Broadband provider play, I am glad (and somewhat mininalistically involved ) that we, Singaporeans, will get this very soon in our very own living rooms.

    Stay tuned and dont be too quick to renew your current cable subscription of your current provider yet, if they are displaying territorial, monopolistic behaviour in your house. And even if they are not, why not exprience TV over a new medium ? How about chatting with your pals over MSN while watching your favourite reality TV on the same screen ? How about discussing with your contacts about who you are voting for in Americal Idol, or similar, while you paused the TV and then resume watching on-demand and sending your vote through the TV on the same screen ? How about sending an email/IM to your friends/contacts and notifying them of your own-content that you have just uploaded to your own TV channel ?

    Heh. The market is sure big enough for another TV service provider. If you look at the picture below on some of the cable providers carrying Microsoft MediaRoom, you will notice a familiar national icon there.


    Like I said - It is really coming to a TV near us.

    Friday, June 29, 2007 10:11:14 PM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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  •  Wednesday, May 30, 2007

    I have seen this in the labs in MSFT Corp Redmond at the Centre of Information Work for some time. I am so glad that it is finally out and will be available to the public.

    What is even more cool is that the user interface of Surface is done in Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). How about that ?

    Wednesday, May 30, 2007 12:31:37 PM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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  •  Friday, February 02, 2007

    Windows Home Server will be one of the better well-kept secret products that will be ultra-cool once its released into the wild. You can go here for a brief animation overview. The official Home Server Team blog can be found here and the forums here.

    Some of the interesting briefs include:

    openquotes.png This is not a product based on the Windows Server 2003 codebase. It's a consumer-oriented product that is quite similar to Media Center Edition, in that it's less of an "edition" of Windows Server than it is a special application (like Media Center) that runs atop a version of Windows.closequotes.png

    There are, of course, many features on this server but what I love best about it is placed on emphasis here:

    • Expandable Drive space - Add as many Hard-Drives in gigs, teras and petas as your hardware allows. (No problem with the hard-disks I have lying around. I could easily squeeze 6 SATA suckers into this once I can find the supporting muthaboard ...)
    • Remote Access - Access your photos, music, videos from any computer with a WWW connection. Even give restricted access to your cronies through your free, customizable Live Web Site.
    • Automatic Backup - It stores only a single copy of every file, remembering which computer had what and saving your drive space - Hard Disk Storage Space Virtualization, anyone ? (this is just music to my ears ...)

    I dont know about you but my living room is ready ...

    Thursday, February 01, 2007 10:36:32 PM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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