Daniel Hoelbling-Inzko talks about programming

Microsoft Natural Keyboard 4000 Review

I’m a keyboard addict. I love keyboards and they love me.
I never managed to break one in any way because I have never used one long enough to break it. I consider my keyboard the most important tool as a programmer, and that’s why I constantly try to get the best available.

I guess that is over, I haven’t bought a new keyboard for over a year now.

My last 3 keyboard buys have all been the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 so I have one for every workplace I happen to be at. My 2 computers at home have one, my desk at work has one, it’s just that great!


I got introduced to Ergonomic keyboards through the Logitech Ergonomic Desktop Freedom Pro (or at least I think it was called that way) and used it long enough to really learn how to properly type. It was good compared to what I was using before (10 pound IBM bricks) and it was the first keyboard I actually bought myself (for the ridiculous amount of 280€ as a 16 year old). Unfortunately Logitech discontinued the ergo series and Microsoft’s old Natural keyboard was discontinued too so I switched back to normal keyboards for quite some time (trying out all sorts of fancy keyboards like the Fingerprint Keyboard etc) before I found the Microsoft Natural 4000.

At that point I haven’t used a ergonomic keyboard for some years so I was hesitant, but I got lured by the price. 40€ is nothing after having spent 100€ on the Logitech G15 (worst keyboard ever) and I was blown away by what I got!

Typing is so convenient on this keyboard, and my wrists feel a lot better after extended periods of work than they did before on the (ergonomic nightmare) G15 (we’re talking about magnitudes of >300% here).
The leather I rest my wrists on feels very comfortable and soft even after a year of extensive use.

The keyboard also comes with some sort of tilt-attachment that creates a reverse slope. It’s unusable if you want to play games, but for typing it is very comfortable to not have to bend your wrist to access keys.

Also notable is that the keyboard comes with a standard pgup/pgdown layout instead what makes working pretty easy once again (who designed the DELL keyboards should be crucified for the Pos1/End placement!).

Some shortcomings:

  • No Next/Previous Media functionality. Only Play/Pause and Volume control buttons.
  • No lock workstation button, I had to remap my Calculator key
  • Zoom wheel in the middle of the keyboard is pretty much useless.

Still, the best keyboard you can get.

.NET Framework Library Source Code released

Wow! Scott Guthrie just announced on his blog that the source servers are ready and that they just released most of their .NET source code to the public.

This means that you are able to download the debug symbols and actually debug the .NET classes if you want to. Or you can just drool over the framework and try to learn a thing or two.

Go check out Shawn Burke's blog post about how to set things up.

Filed under net, net, net-35, microsoft

Windows Live!

How many of you know Windows Live?

Microsoft Windows Live

Windows Live is Microsofts new way of doing online applications. They changed almost every one of their services to match the Windows Live brand. Hotmail, MSN Search, MSN Messenger etc, all of those are now called Windows Live Search/Hotmail/Messenger.

And while at it Microsoft also released two cool new desktop applications called Windows Live Writer and Windows Live Photogallery! (You can get them at: get.live.com)

Windows Live Writer

How do you write your blog posts? Most people do so in their browser using those incredibly bad WYSIWYG inline HTML editors their blog software came packed with. When they post Images they do so after resizing it in Photoshop etc etc.

Now, that somehow works. I mean, most blog engines have some AJAX in place to save your drafts every few seconds and uploading works mainly through the browser. So how could this really be improved?

By installing Live Writer, handing over your blog address and login credentials and being set to go. Live Writer downloads the blog styles from the web, automatically checks for supported stuff on the blog engine and presents you with a perfectly intuitive and great interface for writing your blog posts. You can easily drag and drop, insert tables, images, links without any need to ever get down to the HTML source. And of course you can insert images, but instead of firing up Photoshop and doing the resizing yourself, Live Writer is doing it for you (while being able to add blur, shadows, border, watermarks etc).

You can even use Live Writer to edit already published content or create/edit new pages (if your blog engine supports that). To be honest, since I've been using Live Writer I haven't seen my wp-admin page for anything else than deleting Askismet spam!

Here Screenshot of Windows Live Writer while writing this post:

Windows Live Writer Screenshot


Windows Live Photo Gallery is the other great new app coming with Windows Live. Although it's not completely new, it's just a better version of the Windows Vista photo gallery. It does the same thing, it watches the filesystem for changes and shows them in a very clean intuitive way.

What's changed from the Vista default version is built-in support for uploading photos to Flickr or Live Spaces. And, that's why I started using it: It comes with a great new feature called "Create panoramic"!

It's so damn simple, take two pictures and click one button. Voila, you get a panoramic view like this:

panorama2 + panorama1 

Result: panoramic3

The final image still needs cropping, but that's something Live Photo Gallery learned since it's appearance in Windows Vista. Simple fixing like red eye removal, cropping, color adjustments or sharpness can easily be done from within Photo Gallery.

CES 2008 Keynote

billgates You know that you have some serious affinity toward Microsoft software and technologies when you live in Austria (being GMT+1) and stay up waiting to watch Bill Gates deliver his keynote speech at 6:30 PM Pacific Time (GMT-8) (that's only 9 hours of difference, meaning it's been 3:30 AM here in Austria) at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas!

And hey, I really really regret it!

  • Now I need to get myself a ugly Fiat or Ford to have Microsoft Auto on my car.
  • They made some vague assumptions that the Zune will launch in Europe someday (man I didn't want to spend those 300€).
  • They made me even more eager to buy an XBox360 (man, my girlfriend almost had talked me out of this!).
  • I now seriously need to get myself a Windows Mobile powered cell.

So, frankly - I loved this keynote.
I mean, I've seen most of this stuff somewhere before. There is a reason most of my friends ask whether I am paid by Microsoft for talking about their newest technologies all the time.
But still, Gates and Robbie Bach somehow managed to deliver their message.

Good, but short!

Whoever looked upon the Silverlight technology and it's uses, knows that to showcase Silverlight you clearly need the full keynote, not only some 3 minute spot from NBC.

If you've ever heard word from Microsoft Surface knows that that one technology alone is so freaking great that Steve Jobs would need 2 keynotes to promote it.
You should definitely check out the Videos on the offial Page as well as some on Youtube (like this one, or this one).

Something that also fell short was Microsoft Auto.
Although I didn't knew too much about this service before the keynote, I am very sure that they showed it wrong.
So, basically: Microsoft Auto is your new board-computer in your car. You have access to devices like your Zune, your Cellphone (running Windows Mobile) etc etc.. And that through voice recognition and integration into the car.
So, what did they do wrong? First off, they showed the Zune connected to car through a simple cable. - Heck, I know that the Zune has WiFi, and I am pretty sure it can't be so fucking difficult to build WiFi into my brand-new car! So why do they need that cable? Cables are for iPhones, I've got my Zune to get rid of those cables. They managed to connect my phone through Bluetooth, why not my Zune.
The way they showcased that stuff it looked like the presentation for some built-in hands-free device to control your Zune, not a entertainment and media-system that makes my car more fun!
(They only briefly mentioned a new service that's calling 911 when your airbag goes off and you don't interrupt the car's cry for help.)

On the XBox360, I am very pleased to hear that it's features will go way beyond gaming so that I may have some leverage in my ongoing discussion with my beloved one about buying an XBox360.
The XBox360 will start selling as a set-top box for Microsoft Mediaroom (their new IPTV Service) and in the near future start to broadcast (on the normal XBox360) shows from Disney and abc (Lost, Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives) through XBox Live. So maybe buying an XBox360 is a key to getting my digital home-entertainment system (after Intel failed me with their Viiv technology).


Oh, and by the way, you can watch the Keynote here.

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