Windows 8 Secrets: PC and Device Requirements

Last month, Microsoft released its hardware requirement documentation for Windows 8 logo certification. This documentation contains Microsoft’s guidelines for designing systems which successfully meet Windows performance, quality, and feature criteria, to assure the optimum Windows 8 computing experience. As you’ve probably noticed, the blogosphere is hung up on one of the Secure Boot on ARM requirements, thanks to a single misguided post about this issue, completely missing the far more interesting information peppered throughout the document.

Here’s some of the more interesting requirements.

5-point digitizers
Microsoft requires that Windows 8 touch PCs use digitizers supporting a minimum of 5 touch points. Yep, you no longer have to hunt down information to answer that question: “Hey, does this thing do multi-touch?”. This requirement ensures your Windows 8 certified PC supports at least a hand of fingers on the screen, for all those gestures and finger-painting activities.

“Hey Windows 8, this is HP TouchSmart… you win.” (Even the newest HP TouchSmart only works with two touch points.)

NFC “touch marks”
Microsoft requires that Windows 8 PCs featuring NFC technology have “touch marks”. This one is a no brainer – A PC, likely a tablet or slate, must have a sticker or similar signage indicating where another NFC capable device can mate with it. I bring this up because we’re not used to NFC being visible in this manner. Today, NFC is available in Google’s new Galaxy Nexus phone for the most part. To invoke it, you presumably start a supportive application and mash it onto a NFC reader, moving it around until it beeps. With a larger form factor, however, knowing where the sensor is physically located becomes crucial to avoid Neanderthal-like clashing of tablets.

Hardware buttons
Microsoft requires that Windows 8 tablet/convertible PCs have 5 hardware buttons. Not three; not six. Five. Those buttons are:

  • Power
  • Rotation lock
  • Windows Key
  • Volume up
  • Volume down

The Windows Key will be at least 10.5 mm in diameter and be sported in any number of shapes (e.g. circular, rectangular, square).

New button combo for CTRL + ALT + DEL
Microsoft requires that Windows 8 PCs joined to a domain and without keyboards implement new Ctrl+Alt-Del sequence. While the on-screen keyboard remains an option for logging into a domain-joined PC, the quicker (and new) option is to press Windows Key + Power.

Minimum component set for tablets and convertible PCs
Microsoft requires that Windows 8 tablet/convertible PCs feature a minimum set of components. Requiring partners to install a baseline set of components isn’t new, but we can now begin to drool over what future Windows 8 tablets/convertible PCs will look like. Here’s what a bare minimum Windows 8 tablet would look like:

  • Storage: At least 10gb free space after the out-of-box experience completes
  • System firmware: UEFI
  • Networking: WLAN and Bluetooth 4.0 + LE (low energy)
  • Graphics: Direct3D 10 device w/ WDDM 1.2 driver
  • Resolution: 1366×768
  • Touch support: At least 5 touch points, must pass all tests
  • Camera: 720p
  • Ambient Light Sensor: 1-30k lux capable w/ dynamic range of 5-60K
  • Magnetometer
  • Accelerometer: 3 axes w/ data rates >= 50Hz
  • Gyroscope
  • USB 2.0: At least one controller and exposed port
  • Speakers

No reboot driver upgrades
Microsoft requires that Windows 8 PCs support no-reboot upgrade of graphic card drivers. Finally. While Windows Vista has supported reboot-less upgrades of WDDM drivers, enforcing that requirement was hard with unified driver sets containing both XDDM and WDDM drivers mixed in. With XDDM drivers gone in Windows 8, however, enforcement is easy and should be welcomed by users and gaming enthusiasts with wide open arms.

2 second resume … but not for ARM
Microsoft doesn’t require that Windows 8 ARM PCs resume in two seconds or less … only Intel-compatible Windows 8 PCs have this requirement. And yes, the two seconds max for Standby (S3) to “resume complete” requirement was in place since Windows 7. But I suspect ARM doesn’t come with this requirement because of architecture implementation volatility or, more likely, that Microsoft simply doesn’t yet have enough data in this space. As ARM improves and matures as a Windows host, I suspect we’ll see this requirement pop up in a future release.

Is photoshop the best photo editor ?

Windows users have a few image editors to choose from, but as you probably expected Photoshop comes out as king. Here’s a look at why it’s the best, as well as a number of (much cheaper) alternatives you can try.

The Best Image Editing App for Windows

Adobe Photoshop

Platform: Windows
Price: $699 (30-day trial available)
Download Page

  • Layer-based editing allows for flexible adjustments
  • Several image adjustment tools for a variety of options
  • Layer styles save time when creating common effects
  • Includes a robust set of filters for image alteration and manipulation that can be expanded with third-party plug-ins
  • Supports importing and exporting many image formats
  • Built-in Camera RAW plug-in is like a specialized RAW image editor app inside of Photoshop
  • Excellent image exporting tool for getting images ready for use on the web
  • Excellent color management tools for images that will be printed
  • Smart Objects make it possible to easily re-use common assets
  • Healing brush and content-aware fill tools help you easily remove unwanted blemishes and even objects in photos
  • Create animations with Photoshop’s frame-by-frame animation tools
  • Several tools for quickly making complex selections and removing backgrounds
  • HDR imaging tools
  • Complex brush tool for great painting effects, including custom brushes you can create yourself
  • A lot more!

Note: This doesn’t even begin to dive into the features in Photoshop, which are too long to name here. You can visit Adobe’s official Photoshop page to learn more, but even they don’t detail every single feature. Your best bet is to make use of their 30-day trial and explore for yourself.

The Best Image Editing App for Windows

Photoshop is absurdly powerful. Not only can you do a ton of things to your images, but it does them in a much simpler way than a lot of image editors—functions that would take a few clicks or keystroke in other programs take one in Photoshop, and you can even make your own macros to perform repetitive tasks instantly. It works equally well for photos as it does for web site layout and illustration, and supports a ton of different file formats. It also has a great exporting tool for the web, great color management, and tons more. It’s been the go-to program for image editors everywhere, and there’s a good reason why: it’s amazing.

The Best Image Editing App for Windows

Photoshop’s biggest downside is, obviously, it’s $699 price tag. Most people can’t afford software that expensive, and while you can get some student discounts, it’s still way out of most people’s price range, which is a big deterrent. If you want to buy it, though, and want to get the best price possible, you can buy into the Adobe product family as a student and get a Creative Suite bundle for around $600 (and sometimes less). You can also upgrade to a retail version for about the same price later on, without ever paying full price for the bundle. If you aren’t a student, there are always ways to get that student discount anyway.

Apart from that, Photoshop is made by Adobe—which means it’s full of bloat. As its grown over the years to include things like 3D modeling, it’s only gotten more chances to be big and slow, which is very annoying when you just want to hop in and tweak a photo. It does so much that, frankly, you probably won’t use most of its features all the time, which makes that big price tag seem all the more annoying. Still, the time it’ll save you on the features you do use is awesome enough to keep it in the top spot among image editors for Windows.

The Best Image Editing App for Windows

GIMP is a free, open-source image editor that aims to do a lot of what Photoshop does. In fact, there are quite a few Photoshop tricks it can do just fine, though sometimes it can be a bit more tedious and quirky than Photoshop. If you prefer Photoshop’s interface, however, you might want to check out GIMPshop instead, as it is basically the same program made to emulate the style of Photoshop.

Paint.NET is our other favorite image editor. It isn’t quite as advanced as Photoshop or the GIMP, but it will work for the majority of people. It still has a layer-based interface, lots of effects, and easy access to your recent actions, it just can’t do quite as much as the other two. If you’re looking for an image editor, we recommend starting here, then moving to the GIMP if you aren’t happy.

Any other Photoshop alternatives you love? Share ’em in the comments!

Social Insanity

Social Networking: one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Or maybe not… Neil Armstrong might have uttered one of the most impactful lines in history when he first set foot on the moon, but what I am trying to explain here is the fact that it is now social networking in general that has taken over our lives.

You might not agree with this, but let me put across this one question. When you sit in front of your computer or laptop, what is the first thing you check? This was what I had put forth to my teenaged nephew and his group of friends a few weeks ago. And guess what! I was taken aback by a rather loud chorus of “Facebook!” along with a few quiet “Orkut” squeaks. Irrespective of whether it is Orkut, Facebook or even Hi5, the point is, we are all victims of social networking.

Continue reading

How Facebook eradicated Orkut from Indian Markets

There was a time when everyone (i too) was using orkut instead of facebook. But it was a past I never logged on to Orkut since *** (i don’t know the exact time).
well, How Orkut’s enormous popularity was declined by facebook.It all boiled down to one killer feature that Facebook introduced. This seemingly game-changing feature was nothing but Facebook Wall feature, which was already present in Orkut as Scrap Book !!

How Facebook eradicated Orkut from Indian Markets

How Facebook eradicated Orkut from Indian Markets

The reason, why Orkut clicked in India, after wooing the masses in Brazil, is the fact that both these countries are very similar in nature, especially the social culture, how people maintain their familial relations (Giving respect to elders, a liking for emotional TV soaps, undue interest in others’ affairs ; to name a few of them). But one thing that stood apart in Indian culture is We Indians are extremely interested in knowing what others are doing, did Roy broke up with his girl friend or not, how is SharmaG’s conventional family coping with their modern daughter-in-law et al. This was one of the biggest factor, which propelled Orkut’s enormous growth in Indian market. I still remember, one of the favourite timepasses used to be looking others’ (read babes’) Scrapbooks, see the conversation unfold and extrapolate the relationship. Continue reading

Know whether the URL was rewritern or not

A simple function to detect if the current page address was rewritten by mod_rewrite:

<?php
function urlWasRewritten() {
$realScriptName=$_SERVER['SCRIPT_NAME'];
$virtualScriptName=reset(explode("?", $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']));
return !($realScriptName==$virtualScriptName);
}
?>

Now, How to use this function? Continue reading

curl timeout problem and solution

If you want cURL to timeout in less than one second, you can use CURLOPT_TIMEOUT_MS, although there is a bug/”feature”  on “Unix-like systems” that causes libcurl to timeout immediately if the value is < 1000 ms with the error “cURL Error (28): Timeout was reached”.  The explanation for this behavior is:

“If libcurl is built to use the standard system name resolver, that portion of the transfer will still use full-second resolution for timeouts with a minimum timeout allowed of one second.”

What this means to PHP developers is “You can use this function without testing it first, because you can’t tell if libcurl is using the standard system name resolver (but you can be pretty sure it is)”

The problem is that on (Li|U)nix, when libcurl uses the standard name resolver Continue reading

Lets begin curl scripting

cURL is a library which allows you to connect and communicate to many different types of servers with many different types of protocols. Using cURL you can:

  • Implement payment gateways’ payment notification scripts.
  • Download and upload files from remote servers.
  • Login to other websites and access members only sections.

PHP cURL library is definitely the odd man out. Unlike other PHP libraries where a whole plethora of functions is made available, PHP cURL wraps up major parts of its functionality in just four functions.

A typical PHP cURL usage follows the following sequence of steps.

curl_init – Initializes the session and returns a cURL handle which can be passed to other cURL functions.

curl_opt – This is the main work horse of cURL library. This function is called multiple times and specifies what we want the cURL library to do.

curl_exec – Executes a cURL session.

curl_close – Closes the current cURL session.

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White Screen of Death

Right now some situations (parse errors, undefined function call, no more memory) in PHP result in fatal error – which means the engine can not continue with the request beyond this point. From the user point of view, this often results in a blank page. I wonder if it would be possible to have standard recovery mechanism that would allow the PHP engine on fatal error to enter some kind of “recovery mode” when it would output some very basic page saying “ok, I have some problems here, but don’t panic and just tell my programmer to fix the code”. It won’t give much info probably but it would allow production sites display nice message to the users instead of the boring snowfield panorama it displays now (that is if the administrator was smart enough to set display_errors to off). Continue reading

My first cron

Few days ago when I was working on unseenapps, I came across a functionality which must be executed repeatedly after a certain interval of time. I thought of it and later find out the simplest way.
It was the cpanels in-built functionality called cron jobs.

So what a cron job is?
Well, a cron job is a cpanel module that allows you to run a certain command at times set by the jobs.
For example, you could set a cron job to delete temporary files every week so that your disk space is not being used by those files.

How to setup a cron jobs?
Basically you will want to run a PHP script file in specific intervals. Suppose you want to execute a php file called cronjob.php every one hour. This is what you do:

The CRON Command is in the Following Format

[ Minute – Hour – Day – Month – Weekday ] – Command Continue reading

Send files via FTP using php

Sending files to a server via FTP is an essential ability of any web developer or designer. Of course, we all use glossy FTP clients like WS_FTP and FireFTP, but what about FTP automation? You can use PHP to FTP files from one server to another. Let me show you how

<?php
$server = “server name”;
$ftp_user_name = “username”;
$ftp_user_pass = “password”;
$connection = ftp_connect($server);
$login = ftp_login($connection, $ftp_user_name, $ftp_user_pass);
if (!$connection || !$login) { die(‘Connection attempt failed!’); }
$upload = ftp_put($connection, $dest, $source, $mode);
if (!$upload) { echo ‘FTP upload failed!’; }
ftp_close($connection);
?>

Continue reading