Upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $39.99

Sep 9, 2014   //   by Richard   //   IT  //  Comments Off on Upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $39.99

Microsoft has announced that they “continue to drive toward the RTM (Release to Manufacturers) milestone for Windows 8” and plan on releasing Windows 8 to consumers in or before October 2012. There seems to be a general census that Windows 8 will be a very important release for Microsoft, particularly in relation to whether its mobile strategy starts paying dividends and allows Microsoft to better compete with Apple and Google.

Depending on who you listen to, some love Windows 8 while others…shall we say don’t like it so much. One aspect of Windows 8 that everyone seems to like is the limited time upgrade price of $39.99. On July 2, 2012 Brandon LeBlanc announced on the Windows Team Blog (posting is no longer up) that “if your PC is running Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 [which really should be everyone on Windows] you will qualify to download an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for just $39.99 in 131 markets.”

Previously Microsoft announced that Windows Media Center will no longer be included with Windows 8 but could be purchased separately. Notwithstanding, Microsoft has announced that during the promotional period, Windows 8 users will be able to download a copy of the Windows Media Center for free.

Microsoft has advised that the installation procedure has changed and that Windows 8 will only install on a computer that already has Windows installed on it. There is a process to do a clean install, but it appears to be a lot more involved then the current process. It is important to note that this will be a limited time promotion that will expire on January 31, 2013. If you prefer, when Windows 8 is released to consumers you can purchase a DVD version of the upgrade at your local store. Microsoft does not advise what the upgrade cost will be come February 1, 2013.

So what do you think? Is $39.99 low enough for you to upgrade your computers?

Copyright Rulings from the Supreme Court of Canada

Jul 12, 2012   //   by Richard   //   IT  //  Comments Off on Copyright Rulings from the Supreme Court of Canada

Today (July 12, 2012) Mr. Michael Geist wrote an excellent article in which he discusses the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in two of five copyright cases that they heard in December 2011.

Mr. Geist advises that “It will obviously take some time to digest these decisions, but the clear takeaway is that the court has delivered an undisputed win for fair dealing that has positive implications for education and innovation, while striking a serious blow to copyright collectives such as Access Copyright.”. He further states that“Led by Justice Abella, the court has reaffirmed that fair dealing is a user’s right that must be interpreted in a broad and liberal manner. In fact, the court provides further guidance on interpreting fair dealing with an emphasis on the need for a flexible, technology-neutral approach.”

I highly recommend that you read the full article.

All the best,

Publish first to your own domain

Jul 6, 2012   //   by Richard   //   IT  //  Comments Off on Publish first to your own domain

Interview with Brett Slatkin at Foo 2012 discussing why end users should own their own content and use the social networks to engage their audience.

I recently watched an interview with Mr. Brett Slatkin, Engineering lead of Google Consumer Surveys, in which Brett explains that he has only recently opened a Twitter account. He has been hopeful that he would be able to tweet from his own blog without having to be part of another service…the idea being that there would be this “decentralized social web that my node could be a participant of, just like email”. He goes on to explain that “social networking is not like that, Facebook accounts cannot talk to MySpace accounts and there is this real inter-operability problem”. He has worked for years to try to find a solution and it just hasn’t worked.

He started looking at it from the “other side”, in other words looking at it from the end user. He explains that end users need to understand why it is important to run their own website and own their own content. He thinks the end user should publish from their own blog so they are in control of how their content is accessed, how it is monetized, how it is packaged. He acknowledges that if you do this, you lose “engagement”. The new thought now is “to publish from your own site, but use all of these great social networks like Twitter, Tumbler and Facebook, to connect with your audience to boost engagement and to get as much reach as you possibly can.” If you would like to see this interview, the relevant part starts around 53 seconds: Brett Slatkin’s interview at Foo 2012.

Brett’s comments made me really stop and think. I find that I post signficantly more on Twitter and Google+ than I do on my own sites. As a result, for anyone looking at my sites, you do not see the content that I am posting. Furthermore, if anything happens to my social accounts, I loose that content. Therefore, taking to heart what Brett said, I am going to try to first post on my sites and then use the social sites to engage and expand my audience. This will also require a bit of a change in mindset for me, as I will have to be okay with posting smaller posts and not feel that I need to write 400+ words for each post.

So what do you think, do you agree with Brett’s assessment and more importantly, will you change how you use social media?

All the best,

Book Review – Introducing HTML5 Game Development

Apr 2, 2012   //   by Richard   //   IT  //  Comments Off on Book Review – Introducing HTML5 Game Development
Book review by Richard Hamilton of Introducing HTML5 Game Development

Introducing HTML5 Game Development is a short 120 page book that is an easy, concise read that provides an excellent introduction to building a 2D side-scrolling HTML5 game using Impact, a JavaScript game framework. While the author notes that there are free JavaScript game frameworks, he chose to base the book on Impact since it “has an extra level of polish I haven’t seen with anything else so far”. Unfortunately, for the reader who would like to follow along using Impact, this means that you must spend USD$99 to purchase Impact since there are no trial or lite versions available.

I personally found that it was not necessary to purchase Impact as the book does a great job explaining the steps and providing screenshots that allow you to understand and follow the process. Chapter 1 introduces you to Impact and the additional programs that you will need to install, including the links to download them and a brief explanation on how to install them. Chapter 2 discusses in-game graphics and how to build automation scripts in Photoshop. Chapter 3 introduces the reader to game design and provides a detailed sample game design document that I found very interesting and helpful. Starting in Chapter 4, the book shows you how to build a game. This chapter was extremely well done and included all of the necessary components of a game including developing levels, maps, collision maps, classes, players, monsters, health, weapons, and so forth. In Chapters 5 and 6, the book shows you how to add text and sound to your game. Chapter 7 creates various screens including the opening, closing, credits and settings. The chapter also discusses the importance of keeping track of in-game analytics using Google Analytics. He wraps things up in Chapter 9 with references and links, but not before discussing in Chapter 8 how to debug your game and how to compile it for native iOS.

The author does a very good job at setting the reader’s expectations. By way of example, he states that the “book is not for developers who are looking to build fully cross-browser and mobile games with JavaScript”. On the other hand, he states that the book targets all levels of game developers and prior programming knowledge is not a necessary requirement. However, I think it is important to note that this book is an introduction, and in my opinion an individual with little to no programming knowledge will need to learn significantly more about programming before they are in a position to develop their own HTML5 games. In this regard, the author provides links throughout and at the end of the book to assist the reader to obtain additional information.

Overall, I thought it was an excellent introduction to developing 2D side-scrolling HTML5 games using Impact. My only wish was that he provided links and guidance on how to use a free JavaScript game framework.

Disclosure: A copy of this book was provided to me as part of the O’Reilly’s Blogger Review Program on the understanding that I would read it and provide an honest review. If you are looking to join a review program, I highly recommend that you consider O’Reilly’s. Full details of the program can be found by clicking on the following:

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

Book Review – The Art of Black and White Photography

Mar 30, 2012   //   by Richard   //   Photography  //  Comments Off on Book Review – The Art of Black and White Photography
The Art of Black and White Photography, 2nd edition, reviewed by Richard Hamilton

When I first started shooting in the 1970s, I used black and white film and did most of the developing myself. I have always loved black and white photography and was really looking forward to reading The Art of Black and White Photography. However, it appears that the book is primarily meant to “facilitate both amateurs and professionals as they transition from analog to digital…[while helping] you become familiar with digital photography and focus again on the image in the digital age”. I stopped using analog (film) over 10 years ago. I don’t know anyone that has used film in the past five years, so I found it puzzling that the author put so much emphasis on analog photography. In fact, I found it very frustrating at times. For example, he does a wonderful job of explaining color filters and then concludes by saying “color filters just described lose their effect, lead to flat images, and are therefore useless in digital photography”. To his credit, he does then explain what you need to do with digital photography in lieu of the color filters.

The author states that “this book will stimulate you to analyze images in-depth and will motivate you to find your own photographic style”. Unfortunately, for me this didn’t happen. I will admit that this is a very personal opinion, but there wasn’t anything in the book that made me go “wow”. Furthermore, while the photos were okay, I didn’t find them great or inspiring.

Having said this, I think the book would be a wonderful resource for someone who is still shooting film and is looking at transitioning into digital. In Section 3 of the book the author does a good job in discussing and demonstrating the Rules of Composition, including pictorial composition, the golden ration and elementary construction, triangular composition and so forth. I found that Section 4 of the book does a good job providing an overall introduction to the Digital Darkroom (Photoshop CS5) including the steps to convert your digital photos from color to black and white, simulating analog filter effects, brightening dark areas while increasing midtone contrast, adding grain, dodging, burning and retouching the photo. He also spends a chapter explaining how to partially manipulate a photo using the Lasso Tool in Photoshop.

In summary, I think the book would be useful for those individuals that are transitioning from film to digital and have little too no knowledge about digital photography and Photoshop.

Disclosure: A copy of this book was provided to me as part of the O’Reilly’s Blogger Review Program on the understanding that I would read it and provide an honest review. If you are looking to join a review program, I highly recommend that you consider O’Reilly’s. Full details of the program can be found by clicking on the following:

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program