What I expect in Windows 8

Here is what I expect from the next version of Windows from Microsoft — Windows 8 (Windows Eight).

  • Very fast barebone installation. All drivers and a basic desktop should be up and working within 15 minutes after the installation media is booted. Users of the old Windows should be blown away by the speed of Windows 8.
  • This barebone installation should be completely free of charge for the end users and everyone can download a free copy from the Microsoft website. The activiation machanism should be completely eliminated.

A real cashcow

How can Microsoft make profit? You may ask. Here is what I suggest: with the barebone Windows up and running, users will be immediately presented options to quickly access the best applications and services they need.

  1. An assortment of free applications, either made by MS or other developers, should be presented to users. There should be a forum or user group for every application available the list. MS can charge users a little fee if they need technical support and even share the revenue with application developers. This strategy kills two birds with one stone: tightly integrate the Internet with the desktop OS and bond the developers and Microsoft in a win-win situation.
  2. Likewise, MS should gather the best web services on the Internet and users should be able to use them with a few clicks. It should be so convenient for users to set up a universal account and use it with twitter, gmail, youtube or facebook, to name a few. Ms does not need to outcompete these services or provide its own secondary services like hotmail or bing search. Instead, MS can cleverly fuse these services with the operation system, making it a much better experience than users on other platforms such as Mac OS or Linux. Do you know how painful it used be to install a flashplugin under Linux?
  3. Deliver information in a timely, authoritive and accessible manner. MS can cooperate with live media and news providers such as lastfm, wikipedia and BBC to deliver information and entertainment to the doorstep of the users. How wonderful it would be.
  4. All these three services can be fused smartly into one instant-messenger program — a Google wave style — initiating program. Call it ‘smart portal’, ‘star trek’ or even ‘MS assistant’ as long as it does the job mentioned above, MS would be unbeatable.

To my Linux buddies

No I am not a traitor even though I devised this best strategy for Microsoft to dominate the world for a few score of years. Linux fans should be rested assured that the last thing Microsoft wants to listen is a piece of advice from a dual booting Linux-Windows user. Maybe Linux community should use this strategy?

To Bill and Steve

Yes, I am ready to be hired and put your dream of friendly world dominiation into reality. It is interesting when I poped into a speech excerpt by the Microsoft CEO: “The fifth [computing] revolution is about more than personal empowerment and social interaction; we literally will get the tools to help us better understand and address global issues that affect billions of people, including education, healthcare, science, and environmental change.”

How can this revolution be possible when you only have a few Windows and fail to keep the door wide open and bring the best of the software world and the Internet to the doorstep of the users? Search me.

What the perfect MS Windows is like?

Windows 7 has just been released in the market, and it has got a lot of media attention. Still it is just an upgrade of the previous Windows and another step forward on the familiar design track of Microsoft. As time goes by, this will not work very well on this Internet age. Here I offer some advice to MS on how to make a better OS in this Internet age.

The very first thing — the starting point and the foundation of a revolutionary Windows release — should be integration of the OS itself with the flow of information. Let’s face it: the sole function of an OS is to facilitate the flow of information. So far, Windows just give you a tool to process information rather than deliver information right to the door. Bill Gates has to think one step ahead — what a typical user actually need right after installing a new OS? How much work does the user have to do in order to actually getting his daily life on a computer started?

So far, all the Windows versions are just like an unfurnished house, and the users have to labor hard and attend to many chores just to start living in it. This is too much work for users and a better Windows should be like a hotel room that well anticipate users needs and provide for them.

Let me elaborate on this with specific suggestions:

  • Present to users a list of wonderful free applications in the software world. There are hundreds of free, powerful easy-to-use applications available in the wild world. MS can make the user’s day by present to them this list classfied with its functions and a short description, or even a popularity rate and help the user install them with a few clicks. Those good applications will make the Windows a humble servent presenting a tray of gems to the user, and people will buy Windows simply to use the applications they love.
  • Make Windows highly componentized. Windows should scale its installation choices from a barebone installation with minimal services, a server, a media station and an Internet Information Station. And people should easily combine or remove components without hassel. Most people will still have the default installation that suits every body, but there should be a choice that the user can installation a minimal Windows version and expand it the way he likes — have his own browser, media player, email client and instant messenger. Instead of obstructing this from happening, MS should do all it can to make it happen. MS just need to keep this in mind: a winner OS is a one that facilite rather than control or obstruct what its users want to do. What’s more — this will make Windows resource-efficient and safer.
  • Forget its MSN search, the windows media player, the live space and hotmail. There are secondary services and products compared to the leading providers such as google. These secondary services waste MS’s engery and money, and make it forgetting what an OS is truely supposed to do — to provide the best services and the faciliate the information flow. It should make itself the best platform for discovering and delivering the services its users need.

The perfect Windows I envision should be called ‘the Information OS’ that takes users on a joyous ride in the torrent of information flow — nothing less, nothing more. I’ll leave the details to Mr. Bill Gates to figure out.

Two handy screen capture tools

Both Snag-It and Hypersnap are ovekill for getting fast screenshots for a blog post. My search led me to two light-weight screen caputure tools.

GPL licensed Greenshot is a quick and no hassel screenshooter. Just press a few global shortcuts and you can easily get shots for a region, a window or the whole desktop in a blink of an eye. For example, I can just press ALT+Printscreen to get a shot of this window and automatically save it to a folder for later use.

If you want more advanced features like adding a watermark or resizing an image in a row after you capture a screen, WinSnap is the tool to use. Unfornately it is not free and it covers your screenshots with its logo if you use the unregistered version — rending the so-called trial time totally useless. Still, It is sweet to witness its power to process a caputured file based on the “effects” you designated and make it immediately available for use. The following screenshot has a water mark and is resized from the original one.

WinSnap.png

Getting things done with To-Do Desklist

So often does the computer become a lonely person’s companion rather than a tool to process information. I found myself aimlessly clicking my time away hither and thither on the computer without focusing on what I am supposed to do in this electronic box. Making a to-do list is one way of prompting action and avoiding procrastination. Unfortunately tools such as Tudomo, Task Coach and the popular web-based NXT are overkill for this purpose if they are not distractions themselves. Today, I found a nice tool called To-do Desklist and it does the exact thing as I expected: you create a list of things on your desktop and mark them as done when you finish them.

to-do desktlist.gif

Finally there is something better than the pen and paper to make a to-do list and get your things done.

How to avoid WordPress cropping images into thumnails

I am always frustrated with the way WordPress handles pictures in a post: when you upload an image, WordPress automatically crops it into a thumbnail, a medium and a large sized picture. The result is a crowded upload folder and a mess of file names that makes it hard to pinpoint the picture you really want to show to the readers. It’s time for change.

What I want to do is really simple: show the picture in the post with the exact size I upload it. One way of doing it is uploading the image via ftp and just link the url of that image in the post. Also you can use flicker or Picasa to insert pictures into your post. The handy weblog client Zoundry Raven integrates these two online ablum service in its program.

But the easier way and faster way for my goal is directly changing the media settings under Media Settings of WordPress and set all the values to zero. This will prevent WordPress generate a few copies of the image with various sizes in your upload folder and you have a sense of super cleanness and orderliness.

wordpress media setting

Migrating this site to a new place

I am choosing a new place for this site. That’s means probably a few days downtime. I’ll restore this site once I find another vps. I will keep writing.

Update: my communication with the the vps provider of this blog does not work well. The provider refunded me a month’s fee for the preposterous downtime of September and ignored my request to refund a whole years fee and close my account.
Considering I have no time to migrate and configure a new vps at the moment, I’ll have to use this arrangement and bide my time for the next year to get another provider.