Microsoft Surface

•March 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Hi there! Today we will be talking about a product of Microsoft – Microsoft Surface (a coffee table!!). Some of us may also know it as Microsoft Milan (its codename). It was first launched on 17 April 2008 at AT&T stores for customer use.

As you can see from the above video, Microsoft Surface is multitouch (touchscreen). Did you know that it is capapable of responding up 52 touches, WOW!! It has a 360-degree user interface, a 30-inch reflective surface with a XGA DLP projector underneath the surface which projects an image onto its underside, while five cameras in the machine’s housing record reflections of infrared light from objects and human fingertips on the surface. The surface is capable of object recognition, object/finger orientation recognition and tracking, and is multi-touch and multi-user. Users can interact with the machine by touching or dragging their fingertips and objects such as paintbrushes across the screen, or by placing and moving placed objects.

How we interact with the coffee table is known as a natural user interface (NUI). Now let’s look at the specifications of this fabulous table!

  • Up to Intel Core Quad Xeon “WoodCrest” @ 2.66GHz
  • Up to 4GB DDR2-1066 RAM
  • Up to 1TB 7200RPM Hard Drive

It also has a custom motherboard form factor about the size of two ATX motherboards.

Well, after knowing so much about this table, aren’t you tempted to own one yourself? I dare tell you that you’d probably not buy this coffee table. Why? After looking at the price… My friend, it costs approximately US$10,000!! What a beautiful figure, isn’t it! Well, let’s all wait for the price to drop as you know, tech stuff always do! That’s all folk! Please give your honest comment about this post so that there’s always an improvement. See ya! 🙂

Virtual Art

•March 18, 2009 • 1 Comment

Welcome back! Today we will be covering on another area of discipline of New Media Art – Virtual Art. If you had ever done sort of a research before regarding this aspect on the net, chances are you’d receive plentiful of “out-of-the-world” beautiful images and very few information (about what virtual art is and its history etc…). I tried to look for definitions of virtual  art and guess what I’ve got? After sieving through all the unwanted info, I can only say that there’s only one pathetic definition from Wikipedia that sounds logical. Here it goes: Virtual art is art practice using Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality as a medium.

Frankly speaking, I don’t really find that the definition’s a good one. The word “virtual” has been used throughout and this defeats the purpose of explaining what “virtual art” means (this applies more to less IT-savvy people). Therefore, I shall bring in the definitions of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality to make this explanation more explicit.

Virtual Reality (VR) is actually a technology that allows users to interact with a computer-simulated environment, whether that environment is a simulation of the real world or an imaginary world. This should sound more sane to gamers. Gamers play their 3D video games using the computer, XBox, PSP etc… By doing so, they are interacting with a world that does not exist in actual fact but only “exists” thanks to the development of Information Technology. We can also say that Virtual Reality is like a fake reality although it sounds crazy to say that something is real when it’s actually fake, haha!

Next, augmented reality. This combines the real world and virtual reality, where computer graphics objects are blended into real footage in real time. We actually hardly get games using augmented reality. I guess it wouldn’t be as exciting games that add in a little fantasy here and there to spice up the whole content. Well, probably museum use augmented reality to re-enact the histories of their countries. With the help of technology, museums may get people to produce 3D historical characters (real character of the history) to tell a story of the countries’ history. Here’s an example:

Lastly, we look at mixed reality. Mixed reality merges both virtual reality and augmented reality. This implies that mixed reality contains both facts and imaginations. Games such as Dynasty Warriors and Age of Empires are using augmented reality. Dynasty Warriors uses the true background history of Romance of the Three Kingdoms and then adds in some fantasy to spice up the content. Same goes to Age of Empires. It uses the true history of various empires and adds in some creativity to make the game more fun for gamers.

We can now conclude that that Virtual Art is a form of art that uses technology to bring in imaginations and creativity of people to the art. This then adds another level of depth to the original definition of conventional art.

If you would like to share about your knowledge on Virtual Art, please do so by keying in your comments. Please also give your honest feedback on this post. Thank you!

Windows 7

•March 15, 2009 • 1 Comment

Here’s Windows 7, your future operating system for Windows users. If this still sounds greek to you, have you heard of Windows Vienna then? Yes, that used to be Windows 7’s codename. A less known codename for this operating system (OS) is Blackcomb.

Windows 7 has been officially announced to succeed our current Windows OS, Windows Vista by Microsoft in 2007. The OS would be utilised for personal computers (home and business desktops, laptops, Tablet PCs, netbooks and media center PCs). It would be another 3 years (counting 2007 and onwards) on estimation before the final release, when product quality has been assured.

Unlike all its previous versions of Microsoft Windows OS, this one would be an incremental upgrade from Windows Vista. This implies that the OS would be fully compatible with all device drivers, applications and hardwares currently compatible with Windows Vista. Based on presentations held by Microsoft, the OS developers would focus more on multi-touch support (touchscreen) and redesign the Windows Shell and its taskbar. A surplus to the taskbar would be a home networking system known as HomeGroup. At the same time, computer performance would also greatly improved. Application currently available in Microsoft Windows OS will still continue to exist in the new version.

The reason for the codename Blackcomb for Windows 7 was due to a planning for it to be the successor of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Major features such as an emphasis on searching and querying data and an advanced storage system (WinFS) to enable the emphasis was planned for Blackcomb. However, it was delayed and another minor release (Longhorn) surfaced. Longhorn was also reset after three main viruses exploited flaws in the Microsoft Windows system.

Microsoft then diverted its development priorities to Windows Vista. It threw in major concepts from Longhorn and everything turned well. Windows Vista was successfully released on 30 January 2007 (retail).

In early 2006, Blackcomb was renamed Windows Vienna and then Windows 7 in 2007. According to an interview by Newsweek, Bill Gates suggested that Windows 7 would be more “user-centric”. Another statement by Senior Vice President Bill Veghte was that Windows 7 will  not have the same kind of compatibility issues with Windows Vista like what Windows Vista has with the previous versions. On 16 October 2008, Microsoft CEO Ballmer confirmed the compatibility between Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Users can download the Windows 7 OS beta via the Microsoft Connect program although the official release will be on 10 April 2009 worldwide.

What is a computer algorithm?

•March 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

(Adapted from

To make a computer do anything, you have to write a computer program. To write a computer program, you have to tell the computer, step by step, exactly what you want it to do. The computer then “executes” the program, following each step mechanically, to accomplish the end goal.

When you are telling the computer what to do, you also get to choose how it’s going to do it. That’s where computer algorithms come in. The algorithm is the basic technique used to get the job done. Let’s follow an example to help get an understanding of the algorithm concept.

Let’s say that you have a friend arriving at the airport, and your friend needs to get from the airport to your house. Here are four different algorithms that you might give your friend for getting to your home:

  • The taxi algorithm:

1. Go to the taxi stand.
2. Get in a taxi.
3. Give the driver my address.

  • The call-me algorithm:

1. When your plane arrives, call my cell phone.
2. Meet me outside baggage claim.

  • The rent-a-car algorithm:

1. Take the shuttle to the rental car place.
2. Rent a car.
3. Follow the directions to get to my house.

  • The bus algorithm:

1. Outside baggage claim, catch bus number 70.
2. Transfer to bus 14 on Main Street.
3. Get off on Elm street.
4. Walk two blocks north to my house.

All four of these algorithms accomplish exactly the same goal, but each algorithm does it in completely different way. Each algorithm also has a different cost and a different travel time. Taking a taxi, for example, is probably the fastest way, but also the most expensive. Taking the bus is definitely less expensive, but a whole lot slower. You choose the algorithm based on the circumstances.

In computer programming, there are often many different ways — algorithms — to accomplish any given task. Each algorithm has advantages and disadvantages in different situations. Sorting is one place where a lot of research has been done, because computers spend a lot of time sorting lists. Here are five different algorithms that are used in sorting:

  • Bin sort
  • Merge sort
  • Bubble sort
  • Shell sort
  • Quicksort

If you have a million integer values between 1 and 10 and you need to sort them, the bin sort is the right algorithm to use. If you have a million book titles, the quicksort might be the best algorithm. By knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the different algorithms, you pick the best one for the task at hand.

Net Art (

•March 14, 2009 • 2 Comments

(Adapted from Wikipedia, (derived from internet art) was first introduced in 1994. It is a self-defining term created by a malfunctioning piece of software, originally used to describe an art and communications activity on the internet. net.artists sought to break down autonomous disciplines and outmoded classifications imposed upon various activists practices.

The movement arose in the context of the wider development of Internet Art. As such, is more of a movement and a critical and political landmark in Internet Art history, than a specific genre. Early precursors of the movement include the international fluxus (Nam June Paik) and avant-pop (Mark Amerika) movements. The avant-pop movement particularly became widely recognized in Internet circles from 1993, largely via the popular Alt-X site.

The term “” was probably coined by Pit Schultz in 1995, but is also attributed to Vuk Cosic, and stems from “conjoined phrases in an email bungled by a technical glitch (a morass of alphanumeric junk, its only legible term ‘’)”. It was first used with regard to the “ per se” meeting of artists and theorists in Trieste in May 1996, and referred to a group of artists who worked together closely in the first half of the 1990s. These meetings gave birth to the website per se/CNN Interactive, a fake CNN website “commemorating” the event. developed in a context of cultural crisis in Eastern Europe in the beginning of the 1990s after the end of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall. The artists involved in experiments are associated with the idea of a “social responsibility” that would answer the idea of democracy as a modern capitalist myth. The Internet, often promoted as the democratic tool par excellence, but largely participating in the rules of vested interests, is targeted by the net.artists who claimed that “a space where you can buy is a space where you can steal, but also where you can distribute”. net.artists focus on finding new ways of sharing public space.

#Lesson 3 – How to make Ice Text

•March 14, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Welcome to the third lesson on “How to make Ice Text”. Today’s lesson would also be quite fun and the end product is quite cool too. Without any further ado, let’s start the ball rolling… (Adapted from

Start out by choosing Filter > Render > Clouds. Make sure that your foreground color is white, and your background color black.

ice text tutorial 1

Take your text tool and write whatever you like in large white text. Duplicate your text layer, but hide the duplicate. We will come back to this one later.

ice text tutorial 2

Rasterise your visible text layer by right clicking your text with the text tool, and choosing rasterise. We are now going to apply the wind filter to make an icicle effect. After you have rasterised your layer, merge it to your background by pressing Ctrl+E. Now choose Filter > Stylise > Wind. The filter can only apply the wind in one direction, so we are going to do one side of the text at a time. Choose “from the right” in your wind options menu, and click ok. Your text should be blown to the right, now lets do the other sides. Choose Image > Rotate Canvas > 90 Degrees CW. Press Ctrl+F to reapply the wind effect. Do this to each side of your text, and you should have something like the image below. I applied the wind filter twice to each side, you can do it however many times you like depending on the size of your text.

ice text tutorial 3

Lets make the text stand out a bit more, choose Image > Adjustments > Brightness Contrast. Darken the image slightly and then up the contrast, yours should look like the image below.

ice text tutorial 4

Lets give our text some color. Create a new layer, and change the layer mode to “colour” Change your foreground colour to light blue, and your background to a darker blue. Click on your gradient tool and apply a Radial Gradient to your canvas.

ice text tutorial 5

Now we are going to use that duplicate text layer you have been saving. Control click the layer to give you a selection of your text, create a new layer above everything you have so far, and fill your text with blue gradient. While your still on this new layer, choose Filter > Pixelate > Mosaic. I used a cell size of 7. Your image should look similar to mine.

ice text tutorial 6

To make our text look more “ice cubish” lets sharpen it a bit. Choose Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen. Reapply the filter a few times by pressing Ctrl+F until yours looks similar to mine.

ice text tutorial 7

You’re done! here is how mine turned out.

ice text tutorial 8

Hope you enjoyed it! Practise a few times and you’ll be an expert at this. Don’t forget to leave some comments behind.