Thomas Reardon! The Doogie Howser And the Internet Explorer’s creator

A while ago, I purchased a book called “How The Web Was Won”. It chronicles the journey of several Microsoft idealists who convinced Bill Gates to jump into the Internet bandwagon. It was the beginning for the Internet Tidal Wave, a memo written by Gates himself and sent out to his employees in 1995.

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Among the handful of Microsoft denizens  who pushed Microsoft from Windows and right into the web, figures Thomas Reardon. A thin, pal skinned computer and math prodigy with a feature of an Irish poet.

I’m interested in Reardon because he was the driving force behind the Windows 95 and 98 projects and the man behind the famous Internet Explorer.

According to his biography, Reardon grew up in the New Hemisphere among 18 children in a strict working class family.  According to his relatives and significant others, TR was a child prodigy, learning math and computing. He took a few courses at MIT, and at 15, he enrolled at the University of New Hampshire. He was miserable—a combination of being a peach-fuzz outsider and having no money. He dropped out within a year. “I was coming up on 16 and was, like, I need a job,” he says. He wound up at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, at first working in the radiology lab at Duke, helping to get the university’s computer system working smoothly with the Internet. He soon started his own networking company, creating utilities for the then-mighty Novell. He sold his company to the venture capitalist and Bill Gates’ former girlfriend Ann Winblad, who ushered him later to the Gates’ empire.

Reardon’s first job there was leading a small team to clone Novell’s key software so it could be integrated into Windows. However, the major turnover in his career came in  1993, when TR saw the original web browser. He created the project that became Internet Explorer, which, because of the urgency of the competition, was rushed into Windows 95 in time for launch. For a time, it was the world’s most popular browser.

In 2001, Reardon left the company,  frustrated by the bureaucracy and worn down from testifying in the anti-trust case involving the browser he helped engineer. Reardon and some of his browser team compatriots began a startup focused on wireless internet named Avogadro. He is now the CEO and co-founder of CTRL-Labs (formerly Cognescent Corporation) specialized in Mind Control, and according to TR, it’s ain’t no sci-fi thing.

Sofiane MEROUANI

Oh Julie! So long Julie and thanks for all the goodies and “The Ribbon”

She was Steven Sinofsky’s top lieutenant during Windows 7 and 8 era, Julie Larson Green is leaving Microsoft after 25 years of tenure at Redmond. She joined the company in 1993.

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Larson helped build many Microsoft products, including the Xbox, Surface but she is also known for bringing the Ribbon UX to the Office 2007, which she expended to the Windows 7 and the ill-fated Windows 8. She won a technical leadership award in 2013. In addition, she led the efforts to work on a new platform and the brand new “Metro Style”, which shipped as part of Windows 8, in 2012. “User interface is customer service for the computer.

Upon Steven Sinofsky’s departure in 2012, Larson was charged with overseeing all Windows software and hardware, including the then-upcoming Xbox One!

During her early years at Microsoft, Larson worked on various projects, starting with the C compiler, UX interfaces of IE 3 and 4 under the leadership of Thomas Reardon. Then she moved to Office Team, where she would enhance her passion for UX, including the flat user interface of Office XP, the “painting the pig with the lipstick” on Office 2003, and the implementation of the Ribbon UI in Office 2007.

When Microsoft reorganized the Windows Division after the debacle of  Vista back in 2007, Sinofsky ousted most of Jim Allchin’s team, and brought in Larson as his top lieutenant.

In later years, Larson took a break to recover from spinal cord surgery. While out, she spent time advising other firms. “It made me realize I was ready to take what I learned at Microsoft and apply it in other places,” she said in a statement.

Sinofsky, her former boss at Microsoft paid her a tribute in his tweet.

So long Julie and thanks for all the goodies and “The Ribbon”

Sofiane MEROUANI

On this day, 16 years ago, Microsoft debuted Windows XP

While the release of the upcoming update of Xbox One, known as the Xbox One X is looming closer, let’s have a trip down a memory lane with one of the flagship Microsoft’s operating systems : Windows XP.

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On this day, on October 25, 2001, Microsoft released Windows XP to the world. After 18 months of frenzied development. The project can be traced all the way back in early 1999, when Microsoft unveiled its next version of Windows targeted to consumer and built using the reliability  of NT Technology. Windows Neptune started. Slides were shown off, revealing several improvements over Windows 98, like the Welcome screen and task-based operations. Neptune also experimented with a new HTML and Win32-based user interface originally intended for Windows ME,called Activity Centers.  Windows Odyssey was, on the other hand, intended to be the successor of Windows 2000.

Only one alpha  build of Neptune was released to testers and that was in late 1999.

In early 2000, Microsoft decided to merge both engineering groups of Neptune and Odyssey into one cohesive team. And project Whistler started. Windows XP official name was revealed in February 2001, and  was a major advance from the MS-DOS based versions of Windows in security, stability and efficiency due to its use of Windows NT underpinnings. It introduced a new Fisher-price User Interface and the first operating system that bundled product key activation in an attempt to reduce copyright infringement. (after Microsoft experimented this method on Office 2000).

Upon its release, Windows XP saw three major service packs, with an end support slated for April 2014. Windows XP Service Pack 2 released in 2004 was considered a major security update to the OS, with the introduction of Security Center.

Despite its popularity, Windows XP is used in several countries in Africa and in Asia, mainly in China.

Sofiane MEROUANI

It’s alive. Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is here!

Microsoft finally let the tiger roars out of the gate. The much anticipated version of Windows 10 is now available. Dubbed the Fall Creators Update is the must install update for your current version of Windows 10, bringing the figure up to 1709 after six months of development.

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It’s an exciting release for many reasons. First, the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update brings up one particular goody, it’s the Fluent Design language. The new UX for a the operating system. When Windows 10 hits the shelves in its initial release all the way back in mid 2015, I was complaining about the flat UX that the OS bore across the board. It reminded me the Watercolor UX that debuted during the development of Windows XP, 17 years ago. But now, the Fall Creators Update finally brings niceties to the OS with this fresh user interface, with some elements that quite reminiscent to the AERO look-and-fell from Windows Vista.

The Fluent Design won’t be visible across the board. That’s it to say, don’t expect to see its elements being integrated into the OS as you get your hands on the Fall Creator Update. That’s it the UX will be updated sporadically with the next releases. Redstone 4, will certainly bring lot of niceties of the Fluent Design when it will hit the shelves next year.

Here are the improvements coming to the table for the Fall Creator Update :

Windows Mixed Reality. Microsoft’s hardware partners are now selling the first generation Windows Mixed Reality headsets, which provide access to a new spatial interface for Windows itself as well as new virtual reality (VR) and 3D games, apps, and other experiences.

Remix: Photos, videos, and 3D effects. One of the most stunning Microsoft consumer demos ever is now available as a feature inside of the Windows 10 Photos app.

OneDrive Files On-Demand. One of the best features from Windows 8—OneDrive placeholders—is back and better forever as OneDrive Files On-Demand. This feature lets you navigate your entire OneDrive storage directly from File Explorer and access files and folders that are stored only in the cloud in a very seamless fashion.

Pick up where you left off. With the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft is finally getting serious about integrating your PC with your smartphone, and while some of these features will get better over time, the basics are there now.

My People. It’s nice to see Microsoft bring its people-centric user experiences to the desktop. And while My People isn’t for everyone, those who prefer this type of interaction will wonder how they ever used Windows without it.

Microsoft Edge improvements. As has been the case with each Windows 10 version, Microsoft Edge gets a major update this time around, adding big performance improvements, many more extensions, simple and consistent full-screen support, and many ink-based updates.

Gaming improvements. In the Fall Creators Update, Windows 10 gets several gaming-related improvements, including an improved Game Bar with easier access to Game Mode, improved Mixer broadcast capabilities, improved Game settings, and GPU performance tracking capabilities.

Inking improvements. Windows Ink has improved all across Windows 10, with new inking capabilities in Microsoft Edge for ebooks and PDFs, an improved handwriting panel with overflow and correction support, more customizable palm rejection capabilities, pen scrolling, and a new Find My Pen feature.

Security and privacy improvements. Windows Defender now includes ransomware protection for the first time, with controlled access to protected folders. And with the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft has once again tweaked the system’s privacy features to make them more transparent and easily managed.

That’s it. Windows 10 Fall Creator Update is a huge upgrade for any Windows User. Highly recommended.

Sofiane MEROUANI

 

Lenovo unveils retro ThinkPad 25th Anniversary

It’s a remake of some sort for Lenovo

They did it again. It’s a do-over. A remake of some sort. Lenovo just unveiled The 25th Anniversary of its successful Think Pad laptop computer.

Even if every ThinkPad looks retro, this is a particularly retro version of the ThinkPad design based on the current ThinkPad T470 model.

The original ThinkPad, designed by Richard Sapper and engineered in Japan, was inspired by the traditional Japanese bento box, and Lenovo has taken some of these classic elements and fused them with modern hardware. The overall design is very similar to the retro-classic ThinkPad. It has the classic rubberized coating, a TrackPoint, ThinkPad keyboard with ThinkVantage blue enter button, the colorful ThinkPad logo, and lots of status LEDs.

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Even the laptop retains the classic retro look, under the hood, it’s all modern and high tech.Lenovo is using Intel’s 7th generation Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of SSD storage, an Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics chip. It also has all the modern ports you’d expect from a laptop in 2017: USB-C port (Thunderbolt 3), three regular USB ports, an SD card reader, HDMI port, and Ethernet connectivity. There’s even a fingerprint reader that lets you log into Windows 10 with Windows Hello.

And it is ain’t cheap though, the 25th Anniversary Editon is price-tagged $1,899.

Sofiane MEROUANI

He was a Hardworking Farmboy. She was an Italian Supermodel

The Rosetta Stone ad that covers an entire page with information of why the software is ideal for everyone. The upper half of the ad has a black and white picture of a “hardworking farm boy” in a plain white shirt holding a colorful Rosetta Stone box that teaches Italian. The farm boy is gazing nervously at something not in the picture as he holds his hat with his left hand over his head and the box he holds with his right arm. The picture shows a cloudy horizon behind the young farmer who stands on some sort of grass field. To the right of the black and white image the page is entirely yellow with writing in black bold letters saying “He was a hardworking farm boy. She was an Italian supermodel. He knew he would have just one chance to impress her.”

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Visual Rhetorical Analysis

The ad uses a very interesting contrast in its layout since the top of the page is split between a black and white image with a colorful Rosetta Stone box and the black writing over the yellow background. Because the entire page design involves bright colors except for the picture, the eyes are essentially forced to examine the picture first. The picture itself complements the simplistic black and white layout since the model has a simple farm look to his face and body. His facial expression hints that he is innocent and nervous at the same time, and more importantly, he has an average body. The ad purposefully made sure the farm boy look nothing like what someone would expect an Italian supermodel to date. Making him look plain attracts a larger audience to the ad than if they would have chosen a more attractive model. Any average male can look at this advertisement and place themselves right in the picture waiting for that very same Italian supermodel. The bold letters on top of the yellow background quickly explain what would otherwise be a random picture on the magazine page. The overall message idea that the ad gives the reader is that the Rosetta Stone will help any guy attain an attractive foreign girl by giving them a way to impress them.

Impressive ?

Sofiane MEROUANI

PlayStation 4 titles playable on Windows!

Starting today, you can run you favorite PlayStation 4 games on Windows thanks to PlayStation NOW service.

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PlayStation Now breathed life when Sony acquired Onlive Streaming Services. When the PlayStation 4 launched, it did not support backwards compatibility, and since Sony couldn’t get PlayStation 3 games to run on its latest console, it introduced the streaming service. After the launch of PSNow, Sony has received backlash for its pricing structure and the fact that if you owned any of the games on the service, you would have to pay to play them again. Since then it changed the service with a monthly subscription.

Sony will add more games to the library as the times goes by.

  • Killzone Shadow Fall
  • God of War 3 Remastered
  • Saints Row IV: Re-Elected
  • WWE 2K16
  • Tropico 5
  • F1 2015
  • Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition
  • Evolve
  • MX vs ATV Supercross Encore
  • Resogun
  • Helldivers
  • Broken Age
  • Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition
  • Grim Fandango Remastered
  • Guilty Gear Xrd Sign
  • Castlestorm Definitive Edition
  • Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky
  • Arcania Complete Tale
  • Nidhogg
  • Super Mega Baseball

PlayStation Now is available on Windows & PS4.

Sofiane MEROUANI