Third Best New Zealander…

After Neil Finn, JD comes Nas. She is smart and really funny.

She’s started her blog, Flickr’ng and met her hero all in the same week. Not to mention something with fish. Here she is choosing lunch, or finding Nemo. Or probably both.

Mmmm, fish

WPF and Silverlight for Designers. Removing the “bloke-i-ness” of Silverlight and making it real.  Excellent topic Nas.  I am watching!

A Day in The Life of a Professional Geek…

4:00am AEDST – alarm, alarm, alarm. Snooze for 5 minutes, then up and check the laptop in the midst of uploading an episode of “The Geek Stories” to Redmond. Failed. Bugger, not happy Jan.  Must find a more efficient way to get these videos posted faster. Sometimes it might just be easier to Blip.TV these suckers.

4:30am AEDST – showered, shaved and in SCRLTT to airport. Missed tunnel entrace, had to divert through Harris Street and Redfern to Sydney Airport. Park, checkin. Strange looks from be-suited and en-tied men wondering why someone would proudly wear a “geek” T-shirt. Smile, and I walk on.

5:15am AEDST – checked in, waiting to board 737-400 for a 1:10m flight to Brisbane Airport. Sleep, breakfast, sleep whilst eating breakfast on the flight.

6:30am AEST – Same longitude, different time zone. Yes, an hour has been lost in this timeline due to the cows in Queensland going off their milk. Long story. Wiki the answer why.


7:15am – in a small hire car (small 4-cylinder, manual transmission Toyota – closest thing to a MINI and the cheapest on Avis’ books) driving down M1 to north of the Gold Coast. Over Gateway (AU$2.50) with a friendly lady taking my money. Roar down freeway past Dreamworld, Movieworld and mortgageworld.

footage review

8:45am – Alive Technology video shoot with Bruce + team. Approx 25 minutes of footage shot; excellent gadgets! Bruce wants a “geek” t-shirt. Frankarr may trade for Mambo shirt 🙂 People have now seen “The Geek Stories” so know what to expect. Heart rate 83bpm with blood oxygen of 97%. I want one of these just for the geek factor alone.

10:00am – back in hire car to Margaret Street, CBD of Brisbane. Roar up the freeway and redline the Toyota to see how fast it can go in second gear. Sorry Avis.

11:30am – Joel, John, Wayne and Joseph all waiting for me for interview. Takes a few minutes to set the scene and for me to attempt to show I might be an OK guy. Feel a little like a storm trooper at a Star Trek convention, but that soon wears off and we get into it. 3 video shoots and at least 1.1 hours of footage. Parallel processors, transactional memory, CLR, compiler lore and incantations. Oh, there are some excellent geek stories here!

1:45pm – lunch with Wayne and John in very fast Chinese restaurant; just like Singapore – even the weather! Discuss more of John’s history with Compilers, Microsoft CLR, PDP-8s, XOR and life in general. Tuscany, riding bikes up hills and stuff.

2:30pm – on return to QUT, discuss with John why people are not going into IT as a profession. Are we turning into a nation of miners and shopkeepers?

3:00pm – more video with Andrew Smith of Studio Solutions in Milton off Coronation Drive. Makes excellent coffee and revives me for rest of the day. Watch video promo for Cairns airport. Andrew tries to rope me in to help with a friend moving house. Politely explain my back isn’t what it used to be, and continue on with interview.

4:00pm – back in the Toyota negotiating football traffic around Suncorp statium, car accidents and general Friday afternoon CBD madness experienced in any city. Toyota airconditioning gets a blasting in 30degC Brisvegas weather.

5:15pm – explain to Berno on mobile why his video is in limbo (check 4:00am entry)

5:20pm – check footage from the day (2 hours in total) and decide what to put where, in generally what order. Sleepygeek. Two comments on checkin about “geek” t-shirt and Microsoft. Brand name recognition cool.

sleepygeek with apcmag

6:00pm – Disconnected from everything for a day is cool. The world could have exploded and I wouldn’t know!

sleepygeek on a plane

6:30pm – board flight to Sydney. 737-800 packed to the gills.

9:05pm – land Sydney. Sydney is 31degC, warmer and certainly more humid than Brisbane: this is not normal for the southern hemisphere

happy scrltt

10:00pm – after negotiating the heavy Friday night traffic out of Sydney domestic, arrive home to a happy family and inquisitive cats.

General Notes

Camera has worked flawlessly. Microphone used today was the gun/zoom mic.

Thanks to Charles Sterling for Alive Technology and Joseph leads for interviews.

Yes, I will be returning to SE Queensland in near future for more video capturing and footage. Next time I go interstate for “The Geek Stories”, I’ll take a little more time and spread a busy day into two so I can really speak to people rather than seagull in.

XML Goo-i-ness Inside

Microsoft pre-released their XAML-in-the-browser technology, WPF/e earlier this week. XAML inside.

XAML “smells” like the W3C’s Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). DOM-inside-a-DOM, Declarative animation, 2D graphics. XAML maybe not SVG, but it certainly tips its hat to SVG.

Adobe today pre-released their XML-in-a-PDF technology, Mars, for Acrobat 8. Essentially, Mars as a technology is presently delivered as plugins for Adobe Reader 8 and Acrobat 8 Professional. You can save an existing ‘binary’ PDF out as a .mars file. These .mars files are like .jar or .war files: manifested, structured ZIP files. Looking inside a description of a page, you have an SVG Tiny 1.2+ (as Adobe state, SVG/FSS0 representation. The specification clearly documents that .mars takes the current concept of PDF, a document format, and extends this as XML.These technologies do not directly intersect: an XML representation of SWF rather than PDF would be closer to XAML. Having cross-platform viewer support for Microsoft’s XPS would be closer to PDF.

I was premature in saying SVG was deprecated.

New York Times Reader Trumps Adobe Reader

The recently released New York Times Reader ( is what the Adobe PDF Reader should be today. Small, data-driven, dynamic, interactive and skinable.

Scott Hanselman states this is a precursor to WPF based RSS readers. I am going to go one further and state this is the future of dynamic publishing for large, paper-based publishers. A territory traditionally marked by Adobe as their home soil.

Adobe, the old leader in this space with PDF, has missed the ferry to New York and may be stuck on the island for a while. Even Macromedia (now married to Adobe) has missed this boat.


Times Reader will requires .Net Framework 3.0. Today this is a hassle. In the future, with Vista and wider deployments the base Framework, the comparative size of the downloads will become very noticeable.

The installer is less than 1Mb, installing an application that is 2.5Mb.

The Adobe Reader is larger (21.5Mb).


Rather than the content being bound up with the presentation, something that IT professionals constantly consider bad architecture, with the Times Reader these are kept separate.

The display resizes correctly, but within the bounds of the New York Times look-and-feel. Designing for this style of layout is not simple today: it requires the smarts of a developer to generate. I believe there is a market to wire backend services to custom publisher-centricinterfaces in a mechanism non-experienced programming designers can grok.

Maintaining the ownership of the content, even in a creative-commons mantra world, is critical. There is a significant investment in infrastructure to run a publisher, and this must be paid for. Adding value is the only way a large publisher can charge for their premium content. Whilst the Adobe Reader has mechanisms for, cough, DRM, inbuilt – it is another barren wasteland in daily publishing worlds.


The central dogma/mantra of the Adobe Reader is to retain the original designer’s intent (including fonts) Acrobat does have limited reflow and resizing ability; mainly tacked onto the Reader to permit accessibility. There is an under utilised feature of Acrobat called the Article Tool. Ever used it? It has been in there since the very early versions.

The Times Reader permits resizing of the application and correctly reflows the text; in a composition mechanism that Adobe has living in InDesign, InCopy – even PageMaker. Why can’t these be bolted into an Adobe Reader? InDesign could be turned into the frontend design tool; Coldfusion is at the backend. Maybe this is too old ground for Adobe?


Searching in the Times Reader is a pleasure, and surprises you. With dynamic searching; that is the relevant articles appear under the search box as you type is way excellent. The Topic Explorer is worth the price of entry, alone. It reminds me of Apple’s MCF/Hotsauce/Project X.

Topic Explorer


New York Times owns the interface, lock-stock-and-barrel. The experience is theirs. Being a newspaper of record, this is critical. To change the interface to match their corporate standard is something that the Adobe Reader should permit.

As Scott Hanselman states, the Times Reader is the current poster child for Microsoft’s WPF technologies. The only arrow I can aim at its heart is the Windows XP/Vista only nature of the Reader. Come on Microsoft, release a MacOS version! Having .Net on the Mac platform is probably the friendliest Unix you guys are going to get since Xenix.

It also happens to trump the old king of type and presentation: Adobe. Will Apollo save Adobe’s reputation? Let’s hope its Apollo 11, not Apollo 13.