Too bad: Microsoft Courier canceled

Even though Microsoft never publicly confirmed that the Courier would actually ship, I was very excited about the prospect of them releasing such an innovative piece of technology. Unfortunately, they have just confirmed that the Courier is canceled.

But maybe some of the technology will live on in Surface. This video shows some of the things around improving touch interfaces that they have been working on. When I first used an iPod touch, I fell in love with touch interfaces and they are so easy, even a child can figure them out.

Nonetheless, as companies like Apple use not only what I would call the basic, intuitive gestures such as tapping, pinching to zoom, swiping and maybe one or two more, but more complex ones (swiping with two or three fingers for more advanced operations), I think touch’s inherent intuitiveness is lost.

So I really liked how in the video above they are taking touch on the Surface to the next level by combining it with other input devices like the pen. Or other on-screen objects like when they cut one photo along the side of another. This seems to be the right direction for touch to be going. Too bad it won’t be available in as nice a form factor as the Courier.

Pictures from Israel, part 2

Now that I’m back again, here are a couple more pictures from my recent Israel trip. Part 1 is here. I should note that all these pictures are courtesy of M.

This is the view from one end of the Yad Vashem holocaust museum towards Jerusalem. The museum is quite spectacular: Like the Met in New York City  it’s one of those museums, where the museum building and surrounding park are as much worth the visit as the actual exhibition.

The following two are from Caesarea, a port city built in Roman times. In each of the following periods of settlement (Byzantine, Crusader…), some parts of the city have been rebuilt. For instance, as can be seen in the second picture, during the Byzantine period the interior of the hippodrome was built up with houses on the left while the right was converted into a amphitheater.

The next one is from Beit She’an. This ancient Roman town had once a population of 40,000 people and was thus larger than Jerusalem at the time. Again, the original Roman town has been heavily modified in the Byzantine period and there are several relicts visible from both periods. Alas, as you can see in the picture, many pieces are still lying around, awaiting proper reconstruction. Nonetheless, walking through the streets there, one does get an idea of how monumental this city must have been once.

This last one is a view from Masada down towards the Dead Sea. Unfortunately, this pictures doesn’t do justice to the magnificent view one has from this fortress atop a mountain.

Pictures from Israel, part 1

I promised some pictures and here they are. I have plenty more – among others from Masada – but in order to capture the stunning scenery they are mostly panoramic pictures. Unfortunately, I could not get them stitched together properly using Photoshop CS 4. Maybe I have more luck at home with Photoshop Elements which is better suited to my particular photo editing talents (or rather the lack thereof).
These are two pictures from yesterday’s trip to Jerusalem, Yad Vashem and the Holy Sepulchre.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC