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Ben Reierson

Ben Reierson Seraph

Niner since 2004

User Experience Architect currently focused on touch technology including Surface.
  • Nick Baker: Xbox Architecture

    ummm, i think Schneider was talking about the phyical noise the fans and dvd drive make, not electrical noise on the wire. You have to agree, the 360 is a pretty loud machine when compared to pretty much every other set-top box. It's louder than my desktop and my home server put together. Still a great machine otherwise.

  • Expert to Expert: Inside Bling - A C#-based library to simplify WPF programming

    Hey Sean, thanks for the detailed response. I'm on board with the idea of using more physics-based layout for NUI design. I've worked with Surface quite a bit, and you're right, physics play a big part of building NUI apps. And what the Surface SDK has is not very flexible yet. I can see Bling being a great step towards a time when layout is thought of as a more fluid thing that just has constraints set around how you want it to behave.

    I think my next question would be what it would look like to integrate some physics-based Bling layout into a WPF application based on the MVVM pattern. And as long as you're (hopefully) reading this, do you have any opinion on the Behavior pattern introduced with Expression Blend 3? Some of the early examples of behaviors involve adding physical properties to visual objects by just dragging behaviors onto them in blend. This is very designer friendly because programmers can do the work of defining the physics and expose that functionality to the designers to be used at their discretion. Do you think it would be possilbe to combine Bling with these behaviors?

  • Expert to Expert: Inside Bling - A C#-based library to simplify WPF programming

    *Disclaimer - I haven't watched the whole video yet.

    To be honest, I got annoyed in the first few minutes when Sean was getting interrupted and not able to finish his thoughts. I understand the idea of experts having a back-and-forth, but it can be frustrating at an observer when no one actually finishes fully articulating their point because someone is jumping in with the next question or thinking they are helping to clarify. That being said...

    I think Bling is very interesting, but I'm really struggling with the target audience. To me, I don't see this as a prototyping tool that's going to make me any more efficient. But maybe I'm not doing prototyping at the same advanced level. I'm a developer who is crossing over into design. I see tools like Blend and Sketchflow as the future of my prototyping universe. Even when I'm writing the actual UI, i want to spend as much time in visual tools like Blend as humanly possible. I do not find binding to be a very painful experience right now (at least not to the extent this video implies). So when I find myself immediately disagreeing with some of the base assumptions, it's hard to stick with the concept.

    However, it sounds like there is some really cool stuff in here. I like the idea of easy constraints, for instance. I'd like to do more with physics in my applications (although, again, this is an area where the demo of physics behaviors in Blend 3 was a lot more exciting for me), and I have definitely found that doing anything beyond the simplist geometry calculations in WPF is currently way harder than it should be. So maybe there is value here for me, I just need to know how it could fit into my workflow.

    Value transitions are something that I currently really struggle with, and I'm wondering if Bling might address it. I see that it makes an effort to make creating bindings easier, but my current gripe with bindings isn't creating them in the first place, but dealing with what VISUALLY happens when the value changes. Especially when developing NUI applications, you want everything to transition smoothly. A value should almost never just update, it usually needs to animate to it's next value. Making this happen is completely manual and often requires short circuting the traditional binding methods. Could Bling be setup to, for instance, make a slider animate to the new value whenever it changes? Or could you tell a list box to always apply a given animation to an item about to be removed? I constantly deal with needing to add items to lists and then deal with the container in some way after it's been generated, or stop my code-behind from removing an item from a bound itemsource until I've had a chance to run a 'closing' animation. To me, these are the real pain points with the current binding system.

  • Joe Fletcher – Touch and Gesture Computing

    That's actually pretty much how the surface sdk already works. There are gesture events, and you can subscribe to them happening at any level in your app. There isn't yet a great way to define your own gestures, and there aren't a lot of built-in gestures (just the basics) but I expect that will change with the next SDK version.

    @JoeF
    Looking forward to your talk at MIX. What I'm really interested in lately is how Microsoft is viewing touch as a whole. It is presenting touch in so many different ways to consumers, and I'm starting to wonder if they will ever pull it all together into a coherent story. Right now its quite fragmented. Already I'm getting lots of questions from people who confuse Surface and Win7, or Tablets and Touchsmart, or Windows Mobile touch screens vs. Windows 7 touch. I think Microsoft needs a Touch Czar. Smiley

  • Larry Osterman: Windows 7 Audio - What's New

    I just tried this out on an HP Touchsmart. It turns out these audio drivers are setup to recognize the 3.5mm headphone port as a separate device. This is very cool.
    I noticed that, by default, the headphones were treated as a communication device. So the audio from this video didn't actually switch over until I went and set them as the primary default. I guess I would have expected the obvious. Now to try it out with my bluetooth headset. Smiley
  • Microsoft Expression Blend: Tips & Tricks

    Yes, please publish that registry entry for VSM, I can't find it anywhere.
  • Rules Driven UI using WF

    This is good, but I agree with Beep in that what's shown here isn't really practical for a production application. I totally understand the idea of presenting something that is simple as an introduction, but I think it should at least be mentioned in the demo.

    I have some larger concerns/questions about the included rules editor and the extensibility of the rules execution model shown. I woked on a large winforms application last year for which we developed a custom validation framework. This framework was similiar to what's shown in this screencast, but our rules were almost always too complex to be evaluate with only a single If/Else condition. Our rules usually required broader knowledge of the current state of the application (often beyond the current screen) and would often contain quite a bit of logic.

    The very fact that the rules are complex, of course, is why it's useful to separate them from the rest of the application. The real value comes when you create rules that are reusable, and rules that are written directly against a particular UI are not going to be reusable. But I love the idea of having a rules config editor to help you wire up custom rules along side simple conditional rules that can actually be coded entirely in the editor.

    I'd like to see a more in-depth screencast that demostrates how you can extend the WF model shown here to handle complex rules, executing against business objects, and requiring broader application state access. Ideally you can do this while keeping the actual UI code just as simple, and the rules reusable (so they can be used on another screen that access the same business objects).

  • Ken Levy - Showing off his gadgets

    I know this is kind of snobbish to point out, but the PSP's screen resolution is not that great (480x272). I also understand that current encoding techniques require the video to actually be 320x240.

    Some people might think that's acceptable quality, but I beg to differ. The purpose of a portable media player (for me anyway) is to watch things I normally would have wanted to watch sitting in front of an HDTV but couldn't because I have to be traveling.

    I use the Sony U71, which has a vastly superior 800x600 screen that basically gives you full-dvd resolution. You lose none of the detail and none of the experience. I know it costs $2000 instead of $250, but then again, it's a fully functioning laptop as well. I don't understand why more people don't bring up this amazing machine when talking about the supposed "great quality" of the PSP screen. I guess just not enough people have seen what Sony can really do.

  • Mike Gilbert - Demonstration of Flight Simulator 2004

    Thanks man, I appreciate it!

    I've actually had a chance to try out a couple of Northwest's full-motion flight simulators, and they are awesome. It's strange, because when they engage motion, you get the exact same feeling you get when you take off in a real plane. And while the graphics are definitely not as detailed as MS's, they have 3d projection systems that give a very convincing feeling of depth. To the point that, when flying at night, it is nearly impossible to convince your brain that you're not looking through a window of some kind. Of course, that didn't help my landing any:)

    My point is that I know those simulators are good. But flying a plane after having only flown MS's flight simulator, that would be an interesting challenge.

  • Mike Gilbert - Demonstration of Flight Simulator 2004

    Wow, I watched the first segment, hit refresh, and the second one popped up. Sweet!

    I enjoyed this video a lot. The flight sim team definitely occupies an interesting place at Microsoft. I mean, they obviously don't really fit in with the people writing MS's business or development apps, but then again, they aren't really "game" developers either.

    The constant incremental upgrades, and the fact that most of their work goes into including the tiniest of details, makes Flight Simulator more like an Office product than a video game. At the same time, they get to work with a huge variety of talent and face a very interesting set of challenges.

    One other thing. When I watch the Channel 9 videos, I seem to be constantly thinking of questions I wish would be asked but never are. Is there any way to suggest questions for upcoming interviews?
    Like with this video, I really wanted to ask if any of these people would trust themselves to a pilot who's only experience with a specific plane was in the simulator. I mean, theoretically, a person can actually teach themselves how to fly on this product. I've always thought it would be cool to play it for a while, just to get myself to the point where I think I could really fly in an emergency (don't ask me how that would happen).

    It also would have been interesting to get someone's take on WHY they think it's fun to play the game. I just don't really like simulators because they can be so tedious, but it would be cool to hear someone from the team make an argument for why they love to fly.