Google Driving Simulator to SS2 Murni

29 06 2009

Google Earth: Driving Simulator to SS2 Murni

Google’s map has one of the most detailed maps for Malaysia. Therefore, it is natural for most developers here to choose Google maps for creating Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

Last week, I had the chance to play around with the Google Driving Simulator API. The result of this is a simple driving simulator to SS2 Murni, a famous hangout spot at night at Petaling Jaya SS2 for special mamak food and drinks. By using this API, I could now direct people without GPS devices on how to get to anywhere I would like to point them to easily, with visual driving guidance as well.

Using this API will just require some basic knowledge in HTML and Javascript.You can get the entire set of script here from my Skydrive page and modify as you wish. I have already modified this page from the original code to make it easier for you to use.

To modify the destination, just go to the MurniDirection.htm file and change the value of the input tag at the bottom of the file from:

<input id="to" type="hidden" value="3° 7'12.40&#148N, 101°37'20.49&#148E"/>

to

<input id="to" type="hidden" value="Your destination" />

3° 7’12.40”N, 101°37’20.49”E” represents Murni’s coordinate in GPS latitude and longitude, so do not get confused. You may also put in any GPS coordinates that you like but please ensure that you replace the character with &#148.

If you would like to use this sample on your website, you must first register for an API key from Google which is available at http://code.google.com/apis/maps/signup.html. All clients must have the Google Earth plug-in, which you will be prompted to install if you do not have it before viewing the simulation.

To run my sample, just key in your location in name under the Directions section, e.g. Bangsar, Section 17 Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur KLCC and press on the “Go!” button to get the directions. Once you are done, simply click on the “Start” button under the Simulator section to start the driving simulation. You should then see a car driving from your typed location to SS2 Murni Restaurant both on the satellite map in 3D and the 2D map.

Directions from KLCC, Kuala Lumpur to Murni, SS2 Petaling Jaya

Directions from KLCC, Kuala Lumpur to Murni, SS2 Petaling Jaya

That was pretty simple and cool eh? I managed to finish everything including the modification within 20 minutes only, so I guess it shouldn’t be too complex for anyone to use. Start developing your own driving simulator today!

Source code – Murni.zip (61kb)





Windows 7 Box Art, Pricing

26 06 2009

Microsoft have just released their box art and pricing details for Windows 7. Below are the snaps of Windows 7’s box art.

Windows 7 Home Premium Box ArtWindows 7 Box ArtWindows 7 Ultimate Box Art

I think its just the exact approach that Microsoft wants to portray for their upcoming OS. Clean, simple and easy to use. The design is simple, clean and professional looking unlike previous designs. Really something to look forward to come October 22.

The next thing is about Windows 7’s pricing. Currently, if you are going for an upgrade from either Windows XP or Windows Vista, it will cost 49USD (RM172) for the Home Premium and 99USD (RM350) for Professional at the U.S. Not sure what offer will be provided to us at Malaysia though. If you are going for the full packaged version however, the prices are as follow:

Home Premium – 199USD (RM699)
Professional – 299USD (RM1050)
Ultimate – 319USD (rm1120)

So the best recommendation would be to go for the upgrade which is really cheaper compared to the full version. If you really want to save more, I would recommend you all to stick with RC until March 2010 and see what is being offered then.

Sources: Windows 7 Team Blog, CNet





Revenge is Coming Tomorrow… ROTF Preview

22 06 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen PosterAs some of my readers are saying that my blog is too technical, I have decided to talk about something more general. Since I am a huge fan of cinema and a Transformers freak I will just write a simple preview for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, a Michael Bay film which will be out on June 24th 2009. Transformers have been a cartoon that have a special attachment to me ever since I was a kid. I still kept most of the toys that my parents bought for me then (Thanks mum & dad!) and now, I am still collecting some of newer ones which are out it the market.

Now who wouldn’t want to watch the Autobots and Decepticons slug it out once again on the silver screen!? Tomorrow, I will get the chance to watch it a day before the actual release date with my friends. Even though the reviews are not really good (38% on RottenTomatoes so far), its going to be a film which is hard to miss. Tickets for this movie has been almost sold out in most cinemas here in KL.

This is the synopsis for the movie from IMDB:

Bumblebee vs Rampage in Transformers: ROTF

Bumblebee vs Rampage in Transformers: ROTF

The battle for Earth has ended but the battle for the universe has just begun. After returning to Cybertron, Starscream assumes command of the Decepticons, and has decided to return to Earth with force. The Autobots believing that peace was possible finds out that Megatron’s dead body has been stolen from the US Military by Skorpinox and revives him using his own spark. Now Megatron is back seeking revenge and with Starscream and more Decepticon reinforcements on the way, the Autobots with reinforcements of their own, may have more to deal with then meets the eye.

Here are some excerpts from some reviews that have already been made. The movie have already been screened in Europe, Australia and Japan by the way:

The good reviews:

  • In terms of explosions, firepower and sheer shrill, all-action, popcorn entertainment it is hard to see how this big’n’bold sequel can be topped this year. Mark Adams – Sunday Mirror [UK]
  • This thunderously noisy celebration of the Hasbro toy ticks all the right boxes with the fanboys…the rest of us might suffer metal fatigue. Tim Evans – Sky Movies
  • Like the original, the film is a giant frenetic spectacle that worships excess. Louise Keller – Urban Cinefile
  • While it would be hard to make a case for ‘Revenge of the Fallen’ as ‘good’ in any normal sense of the word, it possesses such brute force that the viewer is left with two options: surrender, or suffer in silence. Tom Huddlestone – Time Out

The bad reviews:

  • A lot of people put a great deal of effort into this movie to create great effects and exciting action but the whole thing is led by a man who directs by numbers. Paul Byrnes – Sydney Morning Herald
  • Revenge Of The Fallen isn’t only louder than Transformers, however. It’s longer, it’s more explosive, it’s more directionless, it’s all the proof you’ll ever need that more really isn’t always more. Richard Luck – Channel 4 Film
  • Revenge of the Fallen is just like Transformers 1, only longer, and that makes it even more boring. Chris Laverty – Mansized
  • Spectacular and totally meaningless, like a video game transposed to the big screen and worked by a maniacal enthusiast. Derek Malcolm – This is London

So there you have it. If you have enjoyed the 1st Transformers movie and want MORE Transformers, looks like your wish have been granted. If you are a person who is expecting a good story, well who cares!? This is Transformers we are talking about! We just want transforming robots, cool cars, hot babes (Megan Fox) and never seen before action sequences! Will write a review on the movie tomorrow once I have watched it. 😀

Roll out~!





Demystifying AJAX and Creating ASP.NET AJAX Applications using VS2008

19 06 2009

asp-net-ajax copyThis post was created after I have realized that most people gives me a blank (O.o) look when I first tell them about AJAX technologies on the web. In Malaysia, most people will mistakenly think that AJAX is a floor cleaning soap named Ajax Fabuloso due to its really cheesy advertisement on Malaysian TV. Football fans on the other hand always links AJAX to a famous Dutch based football club thus causing even more confusion. In this post, I will be highlighting what AJAX is (in the web development world) and how you can start creating your very own AJAX applications on ASP.NET using Visual Studio 2008 in 5 minutes.

What is AJAX!?
Simply speaking in layman terms, AJAX (shorthand word for Asynchronous Javascript and XML) is basically Javascript with the addition of XML involved as data passes through. In other words, a page can have its content changed dynamically without doing a page refresh or by going to another page. As a result, what you get is a really cool, desktop like experience on your web application because the page does not require any form of postback (refresh) to obtain/show new data.

If you have been wondering how AJAX is being used today, just refer to Facebook.  Facebook is one of the popular websites to advocate AJAX and uses it frequently in almost every page. From adding your friends, chatting, checking out pictures in a gallery, getting updated news feeds and doing quizzes, most of the time, a page refresh is never used there.

As a result, your web server will also get better performance because all that is being downloaded by the client browser is just parts of the page, not the entire chunk unlike what is being done in non-AJAX pages. It also provides a more responsive and easy to use website for your visitors.

I am Interested! So how do I Create my AJAX Page?
One way to use AJAX on your web page is to use type the relevant Javascript into your HTML files. But if you are a ASP.NET developer, you can rejoice because AJAX controls and functions have already been built in into Visual Studio 2005 and 2008. This means that you can create cool AJAX applications really quickly and easily. The only thing that will stand in your way is creativity in how you want to develop your applications. In this tutorial, I will be working on Visual Studio 2008 to create a AJAX RSS Reader to get most read most read RSS news from The Star Online, a Malaysian newspaper portal. If you are doing it on Visual Studio 2005, the process should be similar.

Step 1 – Startup Visual Studio and create a New Web Application

Step-01 Dialog Box OptionsThe first part should be pretty straightforward… Just open up Visual Studio and click to File->New->Web Site to get the “New Web Site” dialog box. In the dialog box, ensure that ASP.NET Web Site is selected and then give your site’s folder a name.

After doing so, you should be getting your empty page called Default.aspx. Please ensure that you switch to Design View by clicking on the “Design” button on the bottom left of the code editor so that we can add AJAX controls into it.

Step 2: Adding your ASP.NET and AJAX Controls

Step-02 - ToolboxAJAX controls are available inside your toolbox by default under the category “AJAX Extensions”. In order to use AJAX on your ASP.NET web application, it is COMPULSORY for you to insert a ScriptManager into your web page. This is because the script manager will be used to handle all AJAX calls or functionality by doing the necessary javascript conversion for the functions on your page.

The next control that you should have in your page should be the “UpdatePanel“. The update panel is the location of your web page where you would like functions to run without doing a page refresh. This is where I will place a GridView (a table to show the news details) and a Button which will be clicked in order for the news to be displayed on the GridView. Note: Make ensure that both your Gridview and Button is placed inside the UpdatePanel! Your design view should resemble the following:

Step-02 - Your Design View

Step 3: Add your Code Behind

Now we need to tell the button to download the news from The Star Online and place the details into the GridView. To do so, double click on your button in Design view to trigger the click event. The code should mirror the following:

Protected Sub Button1_Click(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles Button1.Click
     Dim reader As XmlTextReader = New XmlTextReader("http://thestar.com.my/rss/mostview/nation.xml")

     'return a new DataSet
     Dim ds As DataSet = New DataSet()
     ds.ReadXml(reader)

     GridView1.DataSource = ds.Tables(3)
     GridView1.DataBind()
 End Sub

If you want, you can basically try running your application by clicking on the debug button or pressing F5. If you get a dialog box requesting for debugging, just enable it. What you should get would be a page which will download latest news from The Star without any reloading or page refresh once you press on the button!

Step 4: Add Loading Effects

Usually in AJAX pages, you will be shown with a loading animated GIF while the data is being fetched from the server. These animated GIFs are useful to show your visitor that the site is currently fetching data. Currently in our web application, the data is being fetched asynchronously but the visitors may not be too sure whether the news is being fetched or not. But firstly, you will need to get an animated GIF for displaying the progress. You can generate and download dynamic and interesting loading GIFs from www.ajaxload.info. In this site, you can create dynamic loading animated GIFs that you want to place in your site really easily.

Since you have already got it, lets place it into our ASP.NET web page. Go back to your design view of your web page and add the control under AJAX Extensions called UpdateProgress. Place it into wherever you want the animated GIF to show when the page loads. Lastly, you must insert your animated GIF that you would like to display into the UpdateProgress Control. Your Design view for your web form should now resemble the following:

Step-04 - Design View with UpdateProgress

Step 5: Test your Application

Congratulations! You have successfully created your first AJAX web site. Now you can test it by debugging the application or right clicking on the Default.aspx file and clicking on “View in Browser”. You will notice the animated GIF appearing while it is fetching data from The Star, and the best part is, the page does not refresh one single bit.

News Details Loading upon Pressing the Button

News Details Loading accompanied by your animated GIF upon the click of the Button

The Star News Showing on your Page without Page Refresh/Reload

The Star News Showing on your Page without Page Refresh/Reload

But of course, your journey for AJAX does not end here. There are also many other cool AJAX features that you can play with by downloading the AJAX Control Toolkit

This toolkit is an add in to Visual Studio and contains plenty of other AJAX controls for you to try. To learn more about AJAX Control Toolkits, please head over to www.asp.net’s AJAX mini site.

Conclusion
So that is it. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and start your own ASP.NET AJAX web application soon. If you want to get the source code without trying, please get it here. Be back for more about tech at Derek’s Tech Blog.

Source Code: AJAXSite.zip (6.82 KB)





Blog Post Featured in HWM Malaysia!

16 06 2009

I have always dreamnt of posting a write up on a magazine, if possible.  Fortunately, I managed to get a slot in this month’s HWM Magazine Malaysia, a famous PC magazine which features PC hardware and software and local tech events. My first article that was selected features Microsoft Photosynth, a web browser technology which allows your pictures to be viewed in 3D planes.

I will never be able to justify this technology through my writings. You just have to see it for yourself here and here to find out how amazing Photosynth is.

You can also view my full article over here if your are interested to find out more regarding Photosynth. This feature have definitely encouraged me to write more stuff regarding tech. 😀

Till then~





iPhone 3GS (Malaysian Release CONFIRMED: 31st July 2009)

9 06 2009

UPDATE: Release date confirmed by Maxis. iPhone 3GS will be officially released here on the 31st July 2009. Pre orders yours now!

While not Microsoft related, I had to write this article as it would please any tech enthusiast in the country. Yesterday during the Apple WorldWide Developers Conference at San Francisco, Apple unveiled the next iPhone which will be released in the States in another 10 days (19th June). Touted as a new iPhone which will run 2x faster than the previous gen device, iPhone 3GS is set to make waves worldwide where it will be released in about 80 countries by August 2009.

iPhone 3Gs

The brand new iPhone 3GS

The best part of the news is that Malaysia will be part of it. Together with Maxis (should most probably be them as they are the telco provider for the current iPhone 3G), the phone should be released on 19th July 2009 (Mark your calendars!), one month after the US release. So far, the only concrete details unveiled is that there will be an in-built compass, better camera (3.0MP), higher speed HSDPA, better battery life as well as voice control and video recording which was not available in the previous gen iPhone. Processor speed is still unknown as Apple is coy about it.

Update (9/7/09): iPhone 3GS Page added by Maxis. Details here.





Windows Mobile 6.5 SDK Released Today

4 06 2009

Windows Mobile 6.5 ScreenshotMicrosoft have just released the latest SDK for Windows Mobile 6.5 Some of the new API features include functions for playing with the new gesture interface which includes flicking and scrolling.

Here is what Microsoft got to say about this new SDK:

The Windows Mobile 6.5 Developer Tool Kit adds documentation, sample code, header and library files, emulator images and tools to Visual Studio that let you build applications for Windows Mobile 6.5. … The Windows Mobile 6 SDK must also be installed in order to use any of the Windows Mobile 6.5 Gesture API or samples.

If you are not a developer, you can just get the SDK to test out the new interface and features of Windows Mobile 6.5 (You will need the Visual Studio IDE first of course). So what are you waiting for? Get it here right now!