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So, I got new branded Asus R50A UMPC for test. This ultra mobile machine with 5.6″ WSVGA (1024×768) screen, based on Intel US15W chipset, comes with Intel Atom Z520 (1.33 Ghz, 533Mhz) processor, 1Gb of RAM and 20GB SSD. Also it has 3.5G mobile unit, integrated 802.11b/g network card and GPS. First impression was very cool. Slick design, big screen build in fingerprint reader.
What in the box? Power adapter (110/220V), compact keyboard, bunch of cables, extra stilus and handling strap.
What else this machine has? Microcard reader, three mini-usb sockets, one regular USB and camera. Looks like pretty fine machine, but not for €1K+ price tag. But who cares when we buy real good gadget? However, my euphoria disappears during 6 minutes startup (this was not first startup – first took more, then 15 minutes).
It was preinstalled with Windows Vista SP1 Ultimate (for this tiny machine) aside with huge amount of Asus junkware, so it was was even unable even to calculate Vista experience score
Also it has no drivers for strange device, named “Mini Card” (with factory branded Asus OS installation)
Well, it’s probably because I’m still not connected to internet… Let’s connect office WiFi… Err… It has some troubles with wireless network discovery – 2 bars for 12 feet distance from access point (my W500 has all 5) and no other networks (with 4 and less bars on another machine). Let’s connect it. Hm, “unable to connect”… Weird. Leave it by now. This is multimedia device, so, probably, video will play better? Well, it failed also with playback of Windows sample movie. So maybe it has great battery life? Not really. Without doing anything new 2 cells, 2600mAh battery enough for less, then two hours (with vista battery saver it extended to 3, while this device does not support aero interface).
But the final accord was this one (one again – this is branded Asus installation):
Bottom line: 0/5. I paid $360 for my wife’s pink Acer Aspire One and got much better computer (it even has camera).
The only thing remains enigma for me is why, the hell, this piece of crap costs more, then €1,000?
Have a nice day and be good people – do not buy this machine!
November 12th, 2008 · Comments (9)
Well, Windows 7 is going to be released by the end of next year. This is great news, because it seemed, that Microsoft finally understand how to get the best of Windows Vista and make it to work not only on monster machines.
It even works on new brandy my wife’s pinky machine. And if it works there and my wife is happy with it, this OS going to be very impressive.
But from the other hand, we, as developers should be ready today to developer Windows 7 ready application (by the way, Vista Battery Saver works for Windows 7 as well as for Windows Vista, in spite of the fact, that power management in Windows 7 was improved dramatically). So let’s start!
First thing we need is to read big Windows 7 Developer Guide. This document will explain most of new features for developers to build applications right. What is includes?
Windows Driver Kit (WDK) 3.0
Basically, Windows 7 works with Vista drivers, however, hibernation, power management, networking, PREfast will work much better. You also will have new WMI access for reliability monitors and ACPI.
Management and deployment
By default Windows 7 uses PowerShell 2.0 and Windows Installer. For PowerShell it includes enhanced cmdlets to manage Active Directory, IIS, etc. For Windows Installer, you finally can build “chainers” by yourself (the same approach, used for latest deployment of Microsoft products such as Silverlight, Visual Studio 2008 SP1 etc.) Also, you can get advantage by using Windows Filtering Platform (Firewall) and User Account Control (UAC) from inside your application by using new APIs.
The most significant change in Windows 7 for end-user point of view is improved performance. Windows 7 kernel is much smaller, that kernel of Windows Vista. Also it uses specific patterns to decrease background activities on low power, based on system triggers. New user-mode and kernel-mode APIs are used by Windows Drivers Foundation much more efficiently. Also system services are much smarter. For example, DCIA starts only when you connect new hardware. After drivers were installed the service shuts down. The same approach used by domain join, GP changes, new IP fetching etc. Windows 7 knows to run and stop services, based on system events, which decreases average work load and enhances whole system performance.
Multi-touch gestures and Interia API and used interface in general
Yes, you can use this API for your applications. Finally we can have more, then just mouse. And it is not only about multiple mouse devices. We can use single finder panning, raw touch input data, internal multitouch ink recognition, which is also supports math. Also it uses build-in MathML export feature.
There are a lot of other enhancements, such as smart bars, windows’ stacking, gadget desktop (it does not eat battery as external process anymore), system ribbon menu integration. etc
Direct 11, new Direct2D, DirectWrite (we can turn text anti-aliasing for small fonts, hurrah!), improved WIC, DX/GDI interoperability on system level with automatic fallback for weak hardware (yes, you should not be worry about it anymore). Also new video and audio format support with human readable interfaces. Yes, no more DirectDraw hacks. We can use new high level interfaces such as MFPlay to manage playbacks, Source Reader for decoding, Sink Writer for transcoders and re-coding compressions.
Web and communication
WCF is inside, as well as distributed routing table for peer-to-peer operations. BranchCache – new technology to reduce WAN traffic and latency.
Also Windows 7 is compatible with OpenSearch (I told, that Microsoft does not know to build search engines). Sharepoint integration and environment sensors platform, that can be used either for desktop and web applications.
There are much more features, that makes Windows 7 to pretend to be very good operation system. If you want to learn more about all those Windows 7 new features, I highly advice you to download and read this document. It includes most of new features of new OS with explanations and screenshots to make your learn and understand what can your future application do with all those new features.
Have a nice day and be good people.
Download Windows 7 Developer Guide and start programming.
November 8th, 2008 · Comments (5)
I tired to write about programming, code and similar nerd stuff. So today I’ll write about … batteries. How is it?
Today, batteries are in use all over our life. We have a battery in our mobile phone, computer, camera, mp3 player, even microwave, alarm and hand clock. So, the main problem with batteries, scientists all over the world work about is how to extend the working and life time. Let’s try to understand how to know whether the battery is good for us.
How to measure batteries
The number, can tell us whether the battery will work longer for us is charge (or actual). We measure charge in Ampere/hours (Ah). One ampere-hour is equals to 3600 coulombs (ampere-seconds) and represents an amount of charge, transferred by a steady current of one ampere for one hour. As higher this number is, your battery will work longer for the same consumer.
What does “steady current” means?
Steady current is the power in watts, associated with an amount of electricity, named voltage (V). So, constant voltage, associated with one Ah produces the power of the battery in Watts per hour (Wh). So, why we cannot measure batteries in Wh? The problem is, that the power vary during charge and discharge process. So, the exact energy is the integral over time of the instantaneous voltage time and the current. Calculation of those three parameters is simple:
W = V * A
Today’s battery contains large number of elements (cells) with different fillings. As higher the number of elements, this your battery will work longer. Total work time may vary because of different parameters: charging methods, temperature, the way we’re charging it, number of charge-discharge cycles, etc.
Types of batteries
There are various batteries, however the most famous are following:
Li-ION (lithium-ion): Number of charge-discharge cycles is between 500 and 700. The number of it depends on the depth of discharge. As more the battery discharged, this less number of cycles the battery will provide. It necessary to make a number of cycles for 14-16 hours until the battery will provide its nominal capacity. Each cycle the battery’s current will be increased until the nominal.
Pros: Good energy to weight ration – the battery rather small in compare to the current because of their high energy density.
No memory effect (no loss of maximum energy capacity on repeatedly recharge after partial discharge)
Slow loss of charge when not in use
Cons: Those batteries might explode under certain conditions.
Energy loss starts directly after first charge, thus don’t buy this battery if you need spare battery and will not use it directly after purchase.
NiCd (Nickel-Cadmium): Number or charge-discharge cycles is between 1000-1500. This number might increase if you’re using the battery properly. However, you need to “train” this battery to assure maximum performance.
Pros: Tolerate to deep discharge for long period.
High energy density
Low self-discharge rate – about 20%/month
Cons: Cadmium is toxic material
Memory effect – wrong usage pattern may cause to “false bottom” effect. The battery will stop charging, before the total capacity gathered.
Negative temperature coefficient – As the cell temperature rose, the internal resistance fell.
NiMH (Nickel-metal hydride): Number of charge-discharge cycles is under 1000 and depends on depth of discharging. Those batteries are very similar to NiCd, however those batteries can have two or three times the capacity of an equivalent size NiCd, but discharge rate is also higher.
Pros: Less toxic, price effective and have higher capacity then NiCd
Cons: High self discharge rate
High application discharge rate
Voltage drop near as it nears full discharge
Li-Pol (Lithium-polymer): Number of charge-discharge cycles is very low 100-150 and depends on depth of discharging. Newer Li-Pol batteries has higher cycle durability, however they are still expensive. This is successor of Li-ION batteries.
Pros: Energy density is over 20% higher, then that of Li-ION.
High charge rate, about 1-3 minutes for cell
Greater life cycle degradation rate in comparison to Li-ION
Very efficient current per size ration
Cons: High cost
Low charge-discharge rate
Today, most of batteries are Li-ION, in spite of the fact, that it has high life cycle degradation rate. This is about two years by now for general user. Also, those batteries degrades, even when not in use inside devices. You cannot leave uncharged battery unattended, because of the fact, that recharge may become impossible if the current drops under certain level. Also, those batteries are sensitive to temperature changes. On very low or high temperature the current degrades.
Ni-Cad batteries provides the most optimal life cycle degradation rate, however it very sensitive to the way, you’re using it. The ideal pattern for such batteries is “full charge – full discharge – full charge”, else you’ll suffer from the “memory effect”, I spoke earlier.
As you already understand, there is a wide range of battery types, so chargers are also different for those types of batteries. So, how to know if the charger we have is good for me and what to choose.
The best charger for your battery is the one, you got with the device. It tuned for the battery you have. But can we use 3rd party chargers? The answer is: yes, we can, however it’s very important to understand, that if you have Li-ION battery and slow charger, you might be unable to charge it, even if you’ll put it in forever.
Slow chargers works with current equals to about 1/10 of nominal battery current, thus it will take about 10-12 hours to full recharge cycle. Quick chargers uses 1/2-1 of nominal battery current, so recharge cycle can take between 1 to 3 hours.
In both cases, do not leave NiCd and NiMH batteries in charger for a long time after the end of charging process. Even after the end of charge, those batteries keep charging, thus the quality will degrade. The story is different for Li-ION and Li-Pol batteries, those types of batteries are indifferent for overcharging. They usually have controllers to stop charging process after full recharge.
Car chargers are not very healthy devices to charge batteries. Each time you’re turn your car on, it initiate new charge cycle, thus the quality of battery will degrade.
How to prolong battery life time?
Let’s assume, that most of devices have Li-ION battery. Once, you got a new device do not start using it with minimal capacity, also do not want to full discharge. Recharge it number of times until the capacity will be equal to almost equal to the nominal power.
Also, switch your device to turn into idle mode after reasonable amount of time. It’s better, if it possible to switch or hibernate the device, rather then turn it into idle. Turn off all unused modules (such as GPS, Wi-Fi, Blootooth for mobile phones). Large number of concurrently running processes are also degrade the power quickly, so you can use Vista Battery Saver to decrease this number in Windows Vista. In PDAs, almost all plugins for battery level and processes performance measurement usually only use the battery, rather then provide usable information. If you can, turn GPRS in your mobile phones and use only GSM, this might save about 30% of energy without QoS degradation. Also, in places without coverage mobile phones increase the level of signal, so decrease the time, you can use the device.
If during the charging process, the temperature of battery exceeds 60C (140F), stop charging immediately and recycle the charger. If the battery become swollen, recycle the battery. If Ni-MH battery discharges very quick, it’s possible to restore it, however restore is impossible for Li-ION batteries. If you’re feeling, that the capacity of Ni-MH battery degrades, you can calibrate it. Never train Li-ION batteries, the quality will degrade.
Do not store your battery empty. Charge it unto 40%-50% of nominal capacity and store in 15C (60F) in fridge. Also it worth to recharge unused batteries once a half-year. However, the best you can do is to use battery. This what it designed for.
September 19th, 2008 · Comments (11)
Great thank (how will it be in Danish?) to Bjarke Istrup Pedersen for Danish translation of Vista Batter Saver.
If you would like to take a challenge and test new RC2, you can do it also (no locale yet). It includes additional functionality and dozen bugs fixes.
August 21st, 2008 · Comments (4)
I had to reinstall my working notebook, so I begun to backup all it’s settings. I almost finished, when recognize, that Windows Vista has no tool for backup and restore wireless networks settings (tnx to Daniel Petri). You can manually add or remove it. You can even change the priorities, but you cannot backup or restore it.
What to do? How to save all my passwords for networks and all certificates. Digging a bit deeper I found a way to do it, by using command line prompt.
“netsh wlan show profiles” will show you all wireless network profiles in your system
”netsh wlan export profile name=”name” folder=”folder”” will export each profile to xml file (you can also run netsh wlan export profile” to export them all as bunch
”netsh wlan add profile filename=”name”” will restore each one of profiles and returns them into the system
For some reason, I cannot see my mother doing it… More then this, I cannot see myself remember all those command and doing it manually for each one of saved profiles (and I have a lot of them)
What’s the solution? Build handy tool! I’m developer after all and know to solve my and other’s problems by code.
Let me introduce you WirelessMigrator
What is WirelessMigrator? Wireless Migrator is a handy small program, that knows to backup and restore all wireless networks setting from your computer by one click. For some reason, there is no way to do it by using regular Windows Vista tools.
This feature is extremely useful, when you have to reinstall your computer or use the same settings of wireless networks for different machines. In order to use the program, all you have to do is to run it once. The program generate small file, can be handled and transferred in diskette. Later if you’ll run this generated file, all settings of wireless networks will be restored on target machine.
Run “BackupWireless.exe” to backup
And “RestoreWireless.wnb” to restore
That’s all, folks. Now you can save and restore your settings for wireless networks for migration easily.
At first run, the program will request elevation on Windows Vista, to assign backup archive extension with the program and be able to restore with one click. To completely remove all registry nodes, wrote by program, from the registry, use BackupWireless.exe /remove option. To reinstall the program, just run it for the first time. That’s what I’m calling SmartClient. This is not “real” installation it also not very “web” application.
WirelessMigrator has very advanced and smart user interface
Now a little bit about the user interface of this program. I though a lot about it and decided not to make any user interface for it. Theoretically, it was possible to make kind of “Funky-Vista-Glow” list of all available networks and three buttons “Backup”, “Restore” and “Cancel”. I even done it with half an hour in WPF. But wait a moment. Is it really necessary to have user interface for such program? It wont be more functional by having it. All it have to do, done automatically and you have nothing to do if something going wrong.
So, I build text-only progress bar and key switches to show progress (with will not take more, then 3 seconds), but that’s all. ‘m really interested to know what do you think about it?
Your feedback is really important for me. Please take a moment and tell me what’s good and what’s bad with this program in order me to be able to continue it’s development. Full source of the program is available under MS-PL from CodePlex.
My other open source projects, you may be interested with
- Duplicate images finder
- Silverlight controls library
- Vista Battery Saver
- WebCam control for WPF
- Wireless Migrator
Have a nice day and be good people.
June 5th, 2008 · Comments (27)
Amir Shevat from Microsoft Israel DPE department started cool competition, named OpenUp. I decided to give hand to this initiative and posted sources of some of my applications on CodePlex and submit it to the competition.
- WebCam control for WPF
- Silverlight controls library
- Duplicate images finder (yes, yes I posted sources for this application too)
Later I’ll submit my other applications (first I have to make it’s code to looks “submittable” ). This will include generic plugin based free hosting upload tool, some applications for Windows Mobile, some Time Tracking applications and others. Keep tracking
For more information about OpenUp, visit its website
Vote for me and see you in PDC
May 13th, 2008 · Comments (4)
Preston Gralla from PCWorld US marked Vista Battery Saver as one of 20 best applications for Windows Vista. Respect…
September 26th, 2007 · Comments (5)
Less, then 12 hours and more then 2500 downloads – that’s the verdict for this tool. Awareness, there are some critical bugs found in Battery Tracker. Please download the new version (from the same location) and replace the version on your computer. This is required action, due the version from August, 29th has number of bugs, that prevent you from sending me system traces. Sorry for inconvenience and thank you for cooperation.
August 29th, 2007 · Comments (16)
A lot of people ask me about how to measure power charging or discharging rate. How to know the quality of your battery and power needs of operating system. How to be sure, that Vista Battery Saver really helps to prolong your battery life and detect exactly how it prolongs it. Two evenings and I wrote small utility, that helps you to know exactly what happens with your laptop battery and helps me to understand what to fix and what to add to VBS to make it better.
All you need to do, is to download Battery Tracker, run it, and after some time of tracing hit Stop Tracking link. It asks you to save traces. Write work conditions or any other useful information and then press Save button then, hitting Submit link, send it to me via email. If you want me to know any particular event, write it into text area. By pressing Add link you’ll save in into current trace.
Log data-minding tool still not ready to public release, thus currently you can not work with log files, however, submitting this information, highly important for me for future development of Vista Battery Saver. Also, this program works on Windows XP, so if you still have it, please send me traces as well (this mode is not checked enough)
This tool is not collecting any personal information, so, you can quietly submit traces to me. Thank you for cooperation.
August 29th, 2007 · Comments (30)
I want to purchase Code Signing Digital ID for VBS to sign code and pass Certified for Vista. There are more, then 500K installation of this software. All we need is 99$ (simple certificate) or 399$ (advanced), thus if each 1000th person will donate 1$, we can buy the certificate and have one dollar spare :). Chip in for Microsoft Authenticode here
August 24th, 2007 · Comments (4)
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