10 Things We Want To See In Windows 9

Posted by Harshad

10 Things We Want To See In Windows 9

10 Things We Want To See In Windows 9

Posted: 24 Feb 2014 07:01 AM PST

Let’s face reality, there’s just no way Microsoft is going back to the old ‘classic’ Windows look that we’ve grown so accustomed to. The Metro UI is here to stay and is probably going to be improved upon when Windows 9 gets released in 2015.

Of course we’re looking forward to more new features, and in this post we’re naming 10 things we want to see in Windows 9.

Windows 8

Much like how groan-inducing Windows Vista was quickly replaced by a relatively successful Windows 7, Windows 9 is set to be the peacekeeper for Windows 8. There weren’t many ground-breaking changes in Windows 7, just lots and lots of improvements. Let’s see some of the things that could help make or break the newest OS for Windows.

1. Separate OS For Desktop & Tablets

Windows 8 had a 2-in-1 thing going on, in an effort to try to work for both Touch and Click. In trying to be a Jack of all trades, it became master of none and Windows 8 merely irked users because it basically didn’t and couldn’t work properly for either. Although laptop hybrids are hot in the market today, the idea to combine a desktop OS and a mobile OS into one may be alluring but impractical.

Windows 8 Store

You would never catch Apple packaging iOS and Mac OS into one; they are both two totally different environments. Apple however, does make them work extremely well with one another.

Microsoft should probably separate the hybrid OS they have come up with and allow users to easily switch from a desktop mode to a tablet mode. This will be great for laptops with touchscreens giving them the choice of both worlds without one getting in the way of the other and also good for desktop users who would probably never use the tablet features.

2. More Metro Apps

One obvious reason why app developers are paying less attention to Windows apps is because its market share is very weak as compared to Android and iOS. Right now, the Microsoft Store doesn’t have the quantity to even talk about the quality of the apps. It’s unfortunate that the growth of Metro apps, which wasn’t that strong to begin with, is actually slowing down over time.

Windows App Growth
(Image Source: Computerworld)

Microsoft can afford to have fewer mobile apps because thanks to its hybrid OS, users can use full-fledged desktop programs instead of slimmed down apps. Then again, these programs were built for Click, not for Touch: the buttons are too small for fingers, and navigation that isn’t intuitive is just downright horrible. Perhaps in Windows 9, Microsoft can make a clean break between desktop and mobile and revive developer interests on Metro apps.

3. Windowed Metro Apps

Multitasking on mobile is still a few steps away from effective and practical use but in terms of environment, Windows 8 already has the real estate required — they just need windowed Metro apps. When established in windows, the situation effectively allows several Metro apps to run simultaneously, letting you multitask like you would on desktop.

Windows 8 Multitasking

There’s already a paid third party program to that now, but it should come as an option to begin with. A full screen Metro app isn’t only overkill as it underutilizes screen space, it also reduces productivity. Time to break the rules, Metro.

4. Metro That’s Out Of The Way

On Mac, the Launchpad can be "summoned" with a simple gesture when it is needed. It doesn’t get in your face when you start up your machine but if you need it, it is still there. Metro could work like that rather than being a constant pain, forcing you to navigate through it to get to desktop mode.

If Microsoft is not down with the idea of splitting the desktop from the tablet in their OS, they should at least allow users to hide the Metro mode, particularly for those who are there to use the device as a laptop, not as a tablet. Let users choose to start their Windows in desktop mode instead of forcing them to face Metro everytime they start up the computer.

5. Customizable Metro

Metro’s live tiles give you plenty of information without having to run the app to get it. The idea is brilliant; its interface however, leaves a lot to be desired. It lacks customizability as it is stuck on a strict grid that can turn otu to be messy because of different-sized Metro tiles.

Windows 8 Start

Although there are tweaks like OblyTile to change the tiles of installed programs, it’ll be nice if Microsoft had a native way to customize the look of individual tiles. Not only does it look way better than the small program icons, the tile space gives Metro a way better experience.

6. Reduced OS Size

Windows tablets in the market today suffer from lack of storage space because Windows 8 takes up about 16GB. This means when you buy a 32GB tablet you are left with only 16GB free space for all your other apps.

Windows 8 Storage

Although Surface tablet storage can be extended with external hard drives, USB flash drives or microSD card, selling a 32GB tablet when only half of it is free is simply a bad sales pitch. If this cannot be fixed by reducing the OS size, then perhaps a revised marketing strategy is at hand.

7. Return Of Vertical Scrolling

Intuitive navigation is black or white, there is no in between. When Metro UI was first shown to the world, everyone was stumped by the scrolling of the mouse wheel up and down to see the screen move horizontally. Despite Metro being built for tablets, even in that environment, horizontal scrolling is pretty alien compared to what we are used to.

The good news is that horizontal scrolling is limited to just Metro and its apps, and while it probably takes only a while for users to get used to it, perhaps developers can put a bit more thought on the navigation and not try to go against the grain so much.

8. Organized Search & App Management

The Windows 8 search is quite powerful, allowing you to search for keywords (within apps) and indexed files stored in your computer. Although powerful, it is also quite messy and disorganized. Installed desktop programs are hard to find because it’s existing in an interface made for tablets, not desktops.

Windows 8 Search

It would be nice for the search results to be a little more organized. A great example would be Apple’s Spotlight search that gives you a ‘Top Hit’ which is the app or file you’re most likely looking for, followed by a clean list for files, apps or folders that have the keyword you’re searching for.

9. Integration With More Services

Since Microsoft has their own email provider, it doesn’t play nice with other services like Gmail. Gmail users who want to use the live tiles on the Calendar app within Metro couldn’t do that because there isn’t the option to add a Gmail account calendar.

Windows 8 Calendar Accounts

The Mail app also does not support POP email although IMAP is superior, and yet something this basic should be supported for the benefit of users. If Microsoft can solve these little issues and support a wider user base, chances are more people would be interested.

10. Better Notification Delivery

Windows 8 now supports notifications for its apps but unlike Mac OS it doesn’t have a notification center — a norm on platforms like Android and iOS. On Windows, the notifications you will see will only be on the app tiles, and you only see them if you are looking. A centralized notification center would deliver the message more efficiently.


Windows 8 in Microsoft’s most powerful OS yet, but these improvements on top of others will probably encourage more users to upgrade to Windows 9 and hopefully still keep Microsoft in the running in both the tablet and desktop platforms, for the long run.


20 Books To Understanding Photography You Can Buy

Posted: 24 Feb 2014 05:01 AM PST

As more and more people can afford DSLR and high-end compact cameras, the photography industry is getting a boost in subscribers and avid hobbyists. For those of us who really want to learn the tricks of the trade, there are plenty of great books produced by for photographers.

In this post we’re listing 20 great books to help you grab the basics on topics like how to shoot in low lighting, how to shoot creative black and white photography and even on how to shoot at night. You’d be spoiled for choice with the following books that share different photography techniques as well as great sources of inspiration.

You may also be interested in the following list of books:

Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition by Bryan Peterson

There’s no need to go to exotic locations in order to shoot wonderful photographs. Through the discussions in this book, you’ll learn how to use composition, available color, light, and point of view to create smashing photographs in any environment. [$18.73]

Shooting in Sh*tty Light by Lindsay Adler and Erik Valind

Written by two experienced photographers, this is the ultimate guide to lighting techniques. Here you’ll find a lot of solutions to the worst possible lighting situations (e.g. low lighting, overcast day, strong backlight, and situations where flash is forbidden). [$23.47]

Basic 35mm Photo Guide: For Beginning Photographers by Craig Alesse

This is a very useful book for beginners as it will teach them all the basics: aperture, speed, film types, shutter, stopping motion, depth of field, and much more. It also serves as a step-by-step guide on how to choose, use, and care for each piece of a photographer’s equipment. [$11.47]

Best Business Practices for Photographers, Second Edition by John Harrington

Any professional photographer should have this book as a handbook. Often photographers are too focused on the art instead of spending some time to think about the business aspects. It’s a great guide for those who hope to turn their hobby into a source of income. [$22.71]

Color Management in Digital Photography by Brad Hinkel

Color management is very important when it comes to digital photography, and you can learn all about it with this book. With emphasis on creativity rather than technology, the author explains his methods in a simple but effective way. [$22.13]

How to Photograph Absolutely Everything by Tom Ang

This is a great beginner’s book that goes into details about using DSLR as well as compact cameras. The instructions provided in this book are also not overly long-winded and technical. The book is perfectly structured with images and examples. [$16.07]

Creative Black & White: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques by Harold Davis

This book will show you how to shoot great black and white photographs. It’s filled with awesome pictures taken by the author himself. All in all, an incredible book for those who want to start, expand and master the art of black and white photography. [$19.44]

Complete Digital Photography by Ben Long

Written by a photographer with extensive experience, this is a book that photographers of all levels can benefit from. With 640 pages and 23 chapters, it’s a great resource of tips and tricks pertinent to digital photography. [$29.90]

Digital Photography in Easy Steps by Nick Vandome

Learn how to get the most of your digital camera(s) with this book. As the title suggests, it’s a book that will teach you the basics of digital photography, ranging from camera accessories and features to pixels and CCD’s. [$12.75]

Extraordinary Everyday Photography by Brenda Tharp and Jed Manwaring

This is a book will help you to open your eyes and notice things that you have never paid attention to before. It has easy-to-follow exercises that will you help you in developing the ability to shoot great photographs anywhere. [$16.26]

Night Photography: Finding Your Way in the Dark by Lance Keimig

Written by a photographer with more 2 decades of experience under his belt, this is an awesome guide on how to shoot at night with film or digital cameras. It’s packed with advice from experts and examples (in both black and white and color). [$25.80]

Tony Northrup’s DSLR Book: How to Create Stunning Digital Photography

What’s most attractive about this book is that it offers more than 7 hours of online video tutorials. You can also get help from the writer and other readers for free. And that’s not all: by purchasing this book, you can also get the ebook and receive lifetime updates. [$20.04]

The Digital Photography Boxed Set, Volumes 1, 2, and 3 by Scott Kelby

This book is an easy read. It’s like having a photographer friend sharing all his secrets and experience with you, and providing answers to your questions without getting too technical. It’s an especially good set of books for beginner DSLR users. [$50.97]

The Photography Book by the Editors of Phaidon Press

First published back in 1997 and acclaimed as the most important reference on the subject, this book contains over 500 photographs from the world’s best photographers. The photos range from landscape photography to documentary shots. [$22.31]

David Busch's Mastering Digital SLR Photography by David D. Busch

Written by a best-selling author of photography books, this is another book that will be useful for both professionals and beginners. It is easy to understand and should come in very handy for self-taught photographers. [$27.40]

Digital Photography Visual Quick Tips by Gregory Georges

This book offers a simple and visual method of learning about the process of taking and enhancing digital photographs. It may not be a very thick book, but it’s filled with concise explanations and full-color illustrations. [$11.14]

A Short Course in Photography (8th Edition) by Barbara London and Jim Stone

Now in its 8th edition, this book shows the fundamentals of photography and suggests different ways of capturing meaningful shots. It also discusses techniques, resources, equipment, accessories, and more. It’s filled with clear explanations as well as illustrations. [$62.33]

LIFE 100 Photographs that Changed the World

Featuring photographs of historically significant figures and events, this aptly titled book is a showcase of the 100 most memorable and impactful shots in modern history. A must-have for anyone who’s interested in history or art. [$24.23]

The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman

Now published in 16 languages, this highly popular book is intended for professional photographers as well as hobbyists. Its aim is to show how one can acquire the skill of visualizing and taking fantastic digital photographs. [$17.71]

In Focus: National Geographics Greatest Portraits

Any photographer should be able to find something exciting from this wonderful collection of 280 portraits spanning a century from all over the world. Many of these portraits tell stories that stood the test of time. [$12.02]


Install PHP, Apache, And MySQL In Mac Without MAMP

Posted: 24 Feb 2014 02:01 AM PST

Using MAMP is probably the easiest way to have PHP, Apache, and MySQL up and running in OS X. You simply put the application in the Application folder, launch the app, and hit the Start Server button and off you go.

But, OS X has actually been shipped with PHP, and Apache built in so why not use them to develop and run websites locally instead of using third party apps like MAMP or the likes? That way, we will occupy less space for apps, and we will also learn a few things in the process of getting them to work.

In this post, we will show you how to configure PHP, Apache, and MySQL in OS X without MAMP.

Step 1: Enable Sublime Text Command Line

First, since I’m using Sublime Text, I would like to enable the Sublime Text command line so I will be able to open files and folders through Terminal, and edit them within Sublime Text. Here’s how to do this.

1. Create a symlink of Sublime Text subl binary in the ~/bin folder with this command:

 ln -s "/Applications/Sublime Text.app/Contents/SharedSupport/bin/subl" ~/bin/subl 

2. Then run subl --help command.

It will return the Usage and the list of Arguments that can be used with subl, as you can see from the screenshot below. In addition, this also ensures that subl is registered and working.

Step 2: Configure PHP

As mentioned, PHP has already been installed in OS X. You can check the PHP version that is installed in Terminal with the following command command:

 php -v 

Enable PHP

The PHP module, however, is disabled by default. We have to enable it in order to use and execute PHP scripts in Apache server:

1. Type the following command to open httpd.conf in Sublime Text.

 sudo subl /etc/apache2/httpd.conf 

2. Uncomment the following line by removing the hash sign #.

 LoadModule php5_module libexec/apache2/libphp5.so 

See the following screenshot for more detail:

Enable PHP.ini

PHP configurations such as Increasing Memory Limit, File Upload Allowance, and Set the Maximum Upload File Size are done through php.ini file, which also is disabled by default. Let’s enable it.

Go to Terminal and run the following command line. This command copies the php.ini.default and rename it to php.ini.

 sudo cp /private/etc/php.ini.default /private/etc/php.ini 

Step 3: Configure Apache

OS X is also shipped with Apache. You can type the following command in Terminal to start Apache server.

 sudo apachectl start 

To stop Apache type:

 sudo apachectl stop 

Access localhost in the Browser to verify that the Apache server is working. If it does, it should show “It Works!”.

Change DocumentRoot

The default Apache DocumentRoot, where we should put our website documents, is located at /Library/WebServer/Documents. But all my existing web projects reside in /Users/username/Sites. Let’s change the DocumentRoot to that folder:

1. Run the following command lines consecutively to create user-level configuration file. Change the username with your OS X shortname account.

 cd /etc/apache2/users/ touch username.conf 

2. Open this file in Sublime Text

 sudo subl username.conf 

3. Then, add the following lines in.

 DocumentRoot "/Users/username/Sites" <Directory "/Users/username/Sites"> Options All AllowOverride All Order allow,deny Allow from all </Directory> 

Change Apache Port Number

Apache, by default, run on port 80. But, since I was using MAMP that uses port 8888, I’m making Apache point to this port number instead. That way, I will not need to change the site urls for all my exisiting websites.

1. Open httpd.conf and comment-out the following line by adding a hash sign, so it won’t listen to two ports at the same time.

 #Listen 80 

2. Then open username.conf and add:

 Listen 8888 ServerName localhost:8888 

3. After all the above configurations, save httpd.conf and username.conf, and type the command below to restart Apache:

 sudo apachectl restart 

4. Lastly, access localhost:8888 in the browser. It will show all the directories that are stored within ~/Sites folder, as shown below.

Run Apache at Startup

You might not want to launch Terminal and type sudo apachectl start repeatedly to start Apache server so let’s make it run automatically at startup. To do this, run the following command:

 sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/org.apache.httpd.plist 

Wrap Up

In this tutorial, we have configured PHP and Apache. Technically, we can run a PHP website already. You can test it out by creating a PHP file named phpinfo.php in ~/Sites and put this code phpinfo() in. Launch the file in the browser: localhost/phpinfo.php. It will show information of the current PHP configuration.

In the next part of this series, we will show you how to install MySQL and make it all work together. So, stay tuned.


How To Find The Writing Zone And Stay There

Posted: 23 Feb 2014 09:01 PM PST

The runner’s zone is a situation that occurs when you have run for a long time, and your body finds a "place" where it hits its peak performance. Your body synchronizes your breaths and move more efficiently, essentially putting you "in the zone". Well, writers have a zone as well. It is that precise spot where our minds and bodies begin to function as one.

When a writer gets in the zone, inspiration, imagination, posture, keyboard command, focus and concentration, and even the perfect amount of emotion all settle in, making us type much faster, make fewer mistakes, automatically correct the mistakes we do make, and essentially enter a supercharged writing mode.

Giotto’s Circle

It is rumored that the famous painter Giotto, an artist working in 13th century Rome knew about the zone and learned to enter it upon self-command. When Pope Boniface VIII was in the midst of choosing artists to be commissioned for paintings for Saint Peters, he sent a courier to all of the renowned artists for a sample, including Giotto.

Why The Pope Chose Giotto

When the courier explained, Giotto slipped into the zone, dipped his brush in red paint, and drew a circle. This he gave to the courier, who was visibly affronted. In fact, when he presented it to the pope, he explained that Giotto, out of disrespect, (so thought the silly courier) used no compass or any instrument at all. Rather, he drew a big, red circle with just a paint brush.

Of course, the pope was nobody’s fool. He had his people check it. Giotto had drawn a perfect spherical shape freehand and apparently, did so without regard to thought, preparation, meditation, or parlor tricks. The ZONE!

So how did he do it? That is an excellent question.

The Four-Step Flow Process

Different writers will tell you different things just as different writers call it different things. To some, it is the writer’s zone. Others call it the kill zone. I have even heard it referred to as simply "the flow", which is more apt. I have a 4-step process that gets me into the zone almost every time.

1. Leave Your Troubles Behind

The first step is to let go, of everything. In order to get to the place where we can write so that the words just flow from us, we have to stop caring about everything and just write. When we do not care about mistakes, misspelled words, grammar, or even time… that is where we will find that uninterrupted flow.

We can fix everything later but right now, we just write. Once we get completely into it, you will be surprised to find that you will make few mistakes anyway. By the way, you have to stop being your own worst critic as well. Let go of everything.

2. The Quiet Time and Place

Choose a time and place to work in carefully. It does you little good to be in the zone if you have four kids running around, the phone ringing off the hook, and an appointment looming in 20 minutes. If you must leave the house to find peace… do so (and leave your troubles behind you).

I have an office with a door I can lock but I also have a park with a bench not too far from my home. Be creative with where you choose to work at.

3. Get the Junk Out By Writing It Out

Write about anything. It does not have to be about a current project at first. Even if you have nothing in your head, just start writing. Clear your mind and write from nothing. If you begin to struggle, keep writing as fast and as hard as you can. You will find that after a few minutes of this, it starts to become easier.

The idea is to get the junk out of your system. You are beginning step one again and starting to let go. You are in a distraction-free place and time, and you are writing. All of the ingredients of being in the zone are falling into place.

4. Stop Writing and Breathe

You are writing, you are not distracted and you do not care about anything. Continue to do this for several minutes until you feel the earth spinning beneath you. When you feel that, you are ready. Stop and breathe in through the mouth and out through the nose. Wait for it: your starting point. Sometimes it comes fast. Sometimes it comes slow. It will come if you wait. The moment you find your starting point… begin to type.

This form of self-hypnosis for writers helps many of us find our writing zone, or flow, or whatever it is that you may call it. Many people also use this process to break the spell of writer’s block as well. Simon, of the WriteMindset.com uses a similar method except he incorporates music as well.

Finding Your Rhythm

Once you have reached the last step and begin to write, the words seem to flow from your mind and your body is completely relaxed. You form symmetry between them that allows for an excellent writing set without the muscle cramps or aches that come with it.

Once you have found your rhythm, enjoy it!



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