Saturday, March 31, 2012

Win8 beta- Part 3


By Jan Fagerholm

Compiling sample Metro programs from MSDN hasn’t produced the desired results yet, but this is because of what I don’t know about Windows compilers, and I’ve probably failed to link something properly. When the program is installed, a tile is created in Metro, but it doesn’t work. YELP - (Yet Another Learning Experience Pending).

Windows 8 Developer Preview “pre-beta” is the build they get when they first jam code pieces together and knock off some of the pointy parts in a first effort to make them work together. I must mention that you really don’t want to try and use this on your main computer. Batteries Not Included. Some Assembly Required (pun intended). Object Oriented Code In Mirror Is Closer Than It Appears. You Have Been Warned.

Nits:

1) Bluetooth doesn’t work yet, and the factory driver for the 2GoPAD refuses to install. This is a real penalty using the traditional desktop on a tablet, as you really want a bluetooth keyboard and mouse when working with the traditional desktop.

2) Wireless doesn’t start reliably, and it often takes two or three restarts before it wakes up. Again, 2GoPAD drivers won’t install.

3) The traditional desktop is no more usable with a multi-touch screen than Windows 7 was.

Picks:
1) Boots up really fast! 10 seconds from power on to login screen.

2) Shuts down really fast! 10 seconds to power off completely.

3) Several beta Windows components support multi-touch screen. Internet Explorer can pinch-zoom Web pages, which makes it easy to touch-select links on Web pages.

Conclusion: Windows 8 Developer Preview is equal parts fascination and frustration. By the time you read this, the Consumer Preview version should be available for download. If you intend to try this on a traditional desktop or laptop computer, don't waste your time. The traditional desktop interface is no different than Windows 7 and is less reliable. Rumor has it that Microsoft wants it out for the Christmas shopping season 2012. That means it will have to be finished sometime in October 2012. This is a short development cycle, but it look like they have a good chance of making it usable by then. Check this space for progress.

Friday, March 30, 2012

New Otterbox iPhone cases


Our favorite Phablet case maker is Otterbox. This week they announced a new line of cases for iPhones that are perfect for military families. Our offices are in Clarksville, TN the home of the 101st Airborne so we see people dressed in camo every single day. The new Otterbox cases will be perfect for them!

Here’s the announcement:

For a fashionable Apple® iPhone® 4/4S fa├žade, OtterBox® introduces military-style camouflage patterns to the Defender Series® line of cases. Eleven options are available for deployment:
  • Urban Funk: black/gray digital camouflage silicone with pink polycarbonate
  • Blizzard: gray/white digital camouflage silicone with black polycarbonate
  • Ocean: blue digital camouflage silicone with black or blue polycarbonate
  • Desert: brown/tan digital camouflage silicone with black or white polycarbonate
  • Urban: black/gray digital camouflage silicone with black or gray polycarbonate
  • Jungle: green/brown/black old-school camouflage silicone with black or orange polycarbonate
  • Forest: green digital camouflage silicone with black polycarbonate

Since 1998, OtterBox has delivered products that embody ultimate protection. In traditional Defender Series form, the new military-style camouflage cases feature three rugged layers that offer the utmost defense against drops, dust, dirt and scratches. Layer one is an impenetrable screen protector that is built into the second layer, a high-impact polycarbonate shell. Layer three is robust silicone skin featuring a military-style camouflage pattern. A holster-style swivel belt clip is included for convenient carrying.

For the ultimate camo collector, OtterBox also offers Defender Series cases for the iPhone 4/4S that feature Realtree® camouflage. More information can be found at www.otterbox.com.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

How to save film for cameras


If you are a regular reader of this blog, and if you’re not you should be, then you know about the rapid death of film cameras. You also know about the death of film for those cameras. Kodachrome is long gone and Ektachome dies very soon. If you’re a diehard film user then you’ll need to do something about this situation and stockpile film while you can.

We recently were sent this article and found it to be very informative. If you are one of the film lovers, then here’s how to keep your film usable a bit longer.

http://content.photojojo.com/tutorials/how-to-store-film/?utm_source=Photojojo%20Newsletter&utm_campaign=df376df0f6-Film_Storage3_22_2012&utm_medium=email

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ubuntu 12.04 beta


Canonical has released the official Ubuntu long term support version 12.04 late beta for public use. The official version will released next month, hence the 12.04 version name. That means there are beta version of Win8 and the Precise Pangolin version of Ubuntu are both available for testing. We’ll be downloading 12.04 today and testing it out soon.

12.04 continues the development of the Unity desktop and from what we’ve seen online, it’s beautiful.


We’re looking forward to testing the new version and we’ll report on what we find. It’s reassuring to know that Ubuntu continues it’s steady development and is still on schedule. If only MSFT were capable of staying even close to a schedule!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Angry Birds Space


Rovio’s Angry Birds Space app is now available and it’s already been downloaded over 700,000,000 times! It’s been a huge success already and both Android and iFruit Phablet users have raved about it.

It’s a shame that MSFT employees (they are required to use WinPhones) and the half-dozen or so people who actually bought a WinPhone won’t be able to enjoy it. Rovio has confirmed that the game isn’t compatible with WinPhones and there are no plans to make a version for the platform.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Plustek MobileOffice D430


Plustek has announced the new MobileOffice D430 high-speed commercial sheet-feed document and card scanner with an MSRP of $349. Here’s the full press release:

    Plustek Launches Commercial High-Speed Sheet-Fed Document and Card Scanner
    The MobileOffice D430 offers small footprint scanning in professional settings
   
Plustek Technology Inc. (www.plustek.com/usa), a manufacturer of
consumer, prosumer and professional imaging devices, announced today the launch of its new MobileOffice D430 commercial sheet-fed high-speed document and card scanner.       

“Designed for front desk and vertical applications, the MobileOffice D430 is perfect for scanning applications such as patient registration, medical records, pharmacy prescriptions, remote deposits, bank teller stations, nurse stations, transactional documents, identification verification, club registration desk or any document or card imaging application where high-speed and a small footprint are requirements,” said Mark Druziak, Plustek’s director of marketing and business development.  “The D430 can scan an 8.5 by 11 inch page in about  two seconds while only weighing about two pounds.”

Plustek’s MobileOffice D430 is an easy to use, high-speed scanner with a compact design that is ideal for independent software vendors and systems integrators with vertical market applications that require scanning of identification cards, embossed cards, and mixed sized documents up to 8.5 inch by 50 inch. The D430 provides fast-scanning speed and can simultaneously scan both sides of a standard 8.5 inch by 11 inch document in 2.4 seconds. The scanner can scan any media including plastic embossed cards up to 1.2 millimeters thick.

The MobileOffice D430 features a robust transport mechanism that practically eliminates jams and misfeeds and provides easy access for cleaning and user maintenance. TWAIN and WIA drivers are included for interface to any image enabled application that supports input from scanners.

Built-in DocPlus automatic image processing ensures high optical character recognition (OCR) accuracy. DocPlus also allows users to scan batches of mixed sizes and types of documents without sorting.  Because the D430’s footprint is less than four inches by 12 inches, the scanner can be deployed just about anywhere.  A choice of paper output options, straight through or vertical, provides added placement flexibility.
   
Key Features
  • Duplex and simplex color, grayscale and black and white scanner
  • Scans cards and documents up to 50 inches long
  • Fast scanning speed (30 pages-per-minute, 1.8 seconds per page, simplex mode)
  • Built-in advanced image processing ensures high OCR accuracy and fewer rescans
  • No warm-up time
  • DocAction single touch scanning
  • Scan to searchable PDF
  • Compact design
  • Industry standard TWAIN drivers
   
Sales/Purchase Information:
All Plustek products can be purchased from authorized resellers, DMRs, VARs, and distributors NewWave Technologies, Ingram Micro and D&H.  Additional product information and photos can be found by visiting, http://plustek.com/usa/products/mobile-office-series/mobileoffice-d430//introduction.html.
    

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Win 8 Beta- Part 2


By Jan Fagerholm

Installing Windows 8 is geeky enough for those willing to test alpha software. Download the .iso image of your choice from the MSDN Website. Desktop versions are: 32-bit client, 64-bit client, and a 64-bit client with previews of the Windows 8 developer tools preinstalled. If you try this, note that the version with the developer tools requires a DVD9 (dual layer) disk to burn it. The CTL 2GoPAD SL-10, like most tablets, does not have an optical drive. After several failed attempts to use utilities to make a bootable flash drive out of the .iso file (that’s another story), I plugged in an external DVD drive and installed from there.

Installation is much the same as Windows 7 retail; the choices are an Upgrade install (if Windows is already on the target hard drive) or clean install. I elected for a clean install to avert complications. The installation process took about 45 minutes.

First boot presents a simple green screen that walks you through elementary configuration. The Preview version is wired to connect to a Windows Live account if you have one. It asked for the password to the Live account, then made that the password for login to the computer. It did not enable the wireless card during Setup, so Action Center complained that I was not logged in when the desktop arrived.

“Desktop” is a dysphemism here, as where you arrive is Metro, the tile-based interface. Metro is stocked with several tiles that allow you to see what a populated Metro looks like, and allow you to play with touch-scroll to view the entire desktop. Pinch-zoom does not work here, however.

In Windows 8 Developer Preview, not all the Metro tiles work yet: Control Panel, Windows Explorer, Computer, and Desktop are some that do. Additionally, Visual Studio 11, the Windows 8 version of the development environment works. The Desktop tile takes you to the traditional Windows desktop with the Windows 7-style Taskbar and wallpaper.

Metro is quite simple to navigate: the home desktop scrolls sideways with the swipe of a finger, similar to Android tablets. Tapping a tile launches its application, which usually then starts in the traditional desktop. Tiles exhibit an intriguing possibility of differing actions depending on how you press them. If you press center, the application launches; if you swipe the tile, a check mark appears on the tile, and a menu bars pops up at the bottom of the screen offering several actions that can be performed. If you press the top, bottom, left or right edge of the tile, the tile distorts in that direction, implying that you can get a context-sensitive response there. So far, this doesn’t do anything.

To get to the conventional desktop, tap the tile in Metro labeled “Desktop” (duh). There you will encounter a Windows 7-style desktop – wallpaper, Taskbar and all. The only difference is that the Start button has been replaced with one that goes to Metro instead. This is the intended launcher rather than traditional menus. Working on the desktop, the traditional windows and menus demonstrate their unsuitability for touch screens. This can be alleviated somewhat by fiddling with the desktop font size, which makes the menus and other items large enough to tap fairly accurately with fingertips. The tradtional desktop does not support pinch-zoom: too bad, that would help a lot.

Applications that are Windows 7 compatible install normally, without having to use compatibility mode as in the previous Windows 8 alphas. Microsoft Office 2010, WordPerfect Office, and LibreOffice work (so far) normally. During installation, the shortcut items that would normally go on the menus in Windows 7 create tiles in Metro instead, stacking them to the right of existing tiles and grouping them together according to installation session. Undesired tiles can be removed by the aforementioned swipe-the-tile to select, then choosing “Unpin” from the pop-up menu.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Windows 8 Pains 'n' Gains- Here we go again


For those people that missed this excellent article in our ePub this week, here’s the first part of it for your reading pleasire.

by Jan Fagerholm, Pained Previewer

The Bullet Points: Windows 8 is the next version of Microsoft's operating system. Windows 8 is intended to be a single code base that will run on Intel and compatible processors, and additionally run on ARM processors, the principle processors found in smart phones as well as many tablet computers. The intent is to create a Windows that will run on everything from enterprise servers to smart phones. The central feature is the new Metro interface, intended principally for multi-touch screens found on smart phones and tablet computers. Windows 8 Developer Preview is reviewed here on a CTL 2GoPAD SL-10 multi-touch screen tablet computer running a 1.8 GHz Intel Atom N470 64-bit CPU, 2 GB DDR2 RAM, and a 64 GB SSD hard drive.

The Review:

You’ve heard it. Windows 8 is coming. We just got Windows 7 fixed and now Microsoft has a major media blitz promoting Window 8. It’s still a year away, but they are spending millions of dollars to put  Windows 8 in your face. Why?

Windows and Intel are not getting warmed by the hot space in the computer marketplace. Intel CPUs are conspicuously absent from any of the popular tablet computers, and what few there are run the underpowered Atom CPU and have abysmal battery life. Windows tablet sales have been slight against Android and iPad. Sales performance was epitomized by HP’s late introduction of a Windows 7 tablet followed a few weeks later by its cancellation.

This is the first in a series of articles chronicling the development of Windows 8. My effort is sparked by a lack of media coverage on Metro as implemented on touch screen tablet computers, its intended audience. Apart from Microsoft demonstrations at developer conferences, there is very little about actually using the Metro interface. And after all, it is tablets, not desktop PCs, that started Microsoft on this project to begin with.

Microsoft is often on the backwash of the marketplace, and now is no exception. Tablet and netbook sales are the growth market, and Windows’ heavy resource requirements are deplorably unsuited to this hardware. Thus, Microsoft has set out to rewrite Windows to be leaner, run on more than the Intel platform, and to create an interface suitable for touch screen use. We will explore how they are doing.

The new interface is Metro, and is populated by Tiles, which are big pushbutton icons that start things. Metro looks sparse, a stark contrast to Aero, and a clear nod to the lesser graphics hardware found in tablet computers and smartphones. In Windows 8 Developer Preview, Metro is invoked by the desktop's Start button and replaces what used to be the programs menus.

Tomorrow: installation.

Friday, March 23, 2012

If you can't beat 'em, ban 'em!


We recently found out about an internal memo from MSFT that we believe may be real. The basic concept is that MSFT will not pay for employees to purchase iFruit products with MSFT money. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that MSFT would try to prevent any of their money from going to the iFruit company, it actually makes sense. To me it’s the same as Ford buying Government Motors cars for their executives to use on company business. This may be one of the few times I actually agree with MSFT!

Here’s the memo:

From: Alain Crozier
Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 1:17 PM
Subject: Apple Purchases

Within SMSG we are putting in place a new policy that says that Apple products (Mac & iPad) should not be purchased with company funds.

In the US we will be turning off the Apple products from the Zones Catalog next week, which is the standard purchasing mechanism for these products.

Outside of the US — we will work with your finance and procurement teams to send the right message and put the right processes in place.

The current purchase levels are low, however we recognize there will be a bit of transition work associated with this.  Details of historical purchases in the US are provided in the attachment to help understand the changes that will be needed.Thank you for your support and leadership on this.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

More iPad news


The iFruit company recently addressed the new iPad heat problems that many users have complained about with their usual caring attitude. Their official position is that the new iPad operates within specs and if anyone has a problem they should contact customer service. This is the same attitude they have had with every problem that was reported in the past for any iProduct. They have a history of keeping a lid on anything that may sound negative about all of their products, even if it’s true!

The second news concerns how much bandwidth the new 4G LTE version uses. If you have a 2GB per month data plan then you’ll be happy to know you can watch one hour of HD streaming video before you’ll have used an entire month’s data!! Every function, downloads, voice, video, even email, takes 2 to 4 times more bandwidth with the new iPad than it did with older models. I imagine we’ll be hearing a whole lot of screaming from people who find themselves running out of data or paying a whole lot more to use they’re expensive new tablet.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The HOT new iPad


It seems like the new iPad from the iFruit company is really hot in more ways than one. From what I’ve read there have been numerous reports of the lower left corner (when held in portrait mode) gets very hot. Several of the reports I’ve seen say it gets so hot and error message pops up saying the iPad should be turned off and allowed to cool down before using it again.

It will be interesting to see if the same media outlets that hyped the new iPad so loudly last week will mention the problems at all. Fanbois and gurls never like to hear anything negative said about there precious iFruit products. iFruit Phablets have problems just like any other technology products and users shouldn’t be afraid to talk about the bad as well as the good.

Our readers know that they can depend on us to tell them both the good side and bad side of the products we review.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

April issue is out


The April edition of our ePub was distributed this morning. It includes the normal mix of interesting, informative columns and excellent software and hardware reviews.

For digital photographers there are several great reviews that are well worth reading, including pieces on cameras from Leica, Fujifilm and Olympus. On the software front look for the review on tax software and on the Win8 beta.

There’s something for everyone so just email me if you’re not a subscriber but want to become one.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Future of Phablets


With the introduction of the “new iPad” we had hoped there would be an influx of new Phablets for us to review. Instead there seems to be a very clear movement towards consolidation in the market. “What does that mean?”, you ask. Simple. Many of the vendors who produced Phablets in 2011 have put their products on “hiatus”.

In my opinion manufacturers of Tablets are missing the boat completely. All they need to do when they evaluate their products and sales potential is to look at the Smartphone market.

The iFruit company once was the big seller in the market with their iPhones. Today, Android phones are the biggest sellers. One company doesn’t sell more phones than iFruit but they all sell lots and lots of phones. They need to approach Tablets the same way.

iFruit Fanbois and gurls will continue to buy iFruit products because the are “true believers”. However, for the rest of the billions of people on Earth who want the best product for their hard earned money, Android makers must continue to produce new, and innovative, products. Never fear, the Dark Side can be defeated.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Olympus Standard Zoom Lenses


Over the past few years we’re reviewed several Olympus PEN cameras. All of them have been excellent and each camera was much better than it’s predecessor. Obviously Olympus really cares about the PEN series and does a great job of improving each new version of the camera.

The interesting thing is that all of them were sent to us with a 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens. Why is that interesting you ask? Simple. Every single one of them is a very different lens!

Look for a review in our ePub in an upcoming issue of all of the lenses because it’s very interesting. Size, shape, weight, construction are all different and we want to see how they compare head-to-head.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The "New" iPad

OK, how many of you stood in line yesterday to shell out your hard earned dollars (and Yen, Euros, or whatever) to buy the latest tablet from the iFruit company? As a devout Android user I was never tempted in the least. To me, only true believers in the iFruit religion would waste their time anxiously awaiting the latest creation from On High!

I was actually surprised at how much coverage Fox Business News gave to the new iPad. During the day yesterday they actually had a reporting crew working in the rain to do interviews with Fanbois and gurls. I guess from the perspective of what the iFruit company's stock price has done lately this makes sense. With the largest market cap of any company in the world they are a company that should be covered by a business network.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Last of the Mohicans


Over the weekend I watched the movie version of The Last of the Mohicans once again, the version starring Danial Day Lewis. I’ve watched it many times before and I’m always surprised at how good it is. It’s filmed beautifully, the acting is first rate and the screen play is well done. What does that have to do with Hi-tech you ask? Simple, ASUS has released what is the technology "Last of the Mohicans", the Eee PC 1025c Flare.

Over the past few years every computer manufacturer (except the iFruit company) made a version of the Netbooks. They were all VERY similar with almost identical processors, RAM and memory. They all tried to make their products a bit different while keeping price at about $299. They all had the same mediocre performance but their wonderful size, weight and battery life made the trade-off worthwhile.

In 2012 there have been zero new Netbooks, except for the ASUS Flare. It’s the last of the breed and I doubt if we’ll see any additional Netbooks in the future. They have been totally replaced by tablets, and to a lesser extent, Ultrabooks. People wanted Netbooks as simple email and web browser devices and tablets perform those tasks as well as the bigger, heavier and slower Netbooks.

I still love my Netbooks and will probably keep using one for a while yet. Some day I may be called the Last of the Mohicans too.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review products


One of the misconceptions many people have is that the products we receive to review are pre-checked by vendors to make sure they’re great. Nothing could be further from the truth! The reality is that we often get pre-production products with all the bugs you'd expect in products that are almost ready for the market. Over the years we’ve received a number of products that were DOA or had major functional problems, including cameras and, most recently, speakers. We even once received a camera in retail packaging that was a hollow plastic shell intended to be a trade show demo!

We recently received an excellent digital camera to review that is truly impressive. We spent time learning to use it because it has an incredible number of shooting options that needed to be understood. Finally we were ready to take it out and do some real testing with it. The camera exceeded our expectations in every way. The auto-focus time and shutter response were absolutely phenomenal. During our afternoon of shooting a rugby match we were able to test multiple shooting modes and used several lenses.

When we got back to the office and starting looking at the pictures we were shocked. Every single picture, almost 100 of them, had a bright white spot in the upper right quadrant!! We checked for dust on the sensor but that wasn’t the problem. Apparently there is a bad spot on the sensor that always registers as a bright white spot. It’s a real shame because other than that one glaring problem it’s a tremendous camera!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Another one bites the dust


Once again we have evidence of how technology is changing the world. The New York Times is reporting that after 244 years, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is going out of print. That makes perfect sense to us.

It may well prove to be short-sighted, but digital publishing is the current trend. Publishers must look at the market and evaluate the cost/profit ratio and then they realize that it’s far cheaper to only make digital versions of publications. People no longer read newspapers, magazines and print books. ePubs are the way people want to access information today on their Phablets. As an example, we no longer do a print version of our ePub or our blog. You must be digital to have access to our content.

We’re not saying this is good, bad or indifferent. We’re just saying it’s the way things are today. The far bigger question is: what does this mean for the future? Will our grandchildren be able to read anything written today?

We can learn so much from the writings of ancient societies because they wrote on physical media. What will happen when there are no more Rosetta Stones? We’ve only been publishing our publications for about 20 years and I wonder how much of our history is already lost forever because of digital incompatibilities.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Another new Plustek scanner

We received this press release this week announcing a new scanner from Plustek. It sounds interesting and we want to pass on the information:

Plustek Technology Inc. (www.plustek.com/usa), a manufacturer of consumer, prosumer and professional imaging devices, announced today the launch of its new MobileOffice S410 portable USB-powered scanner.     

“Designed with the reliability demanded by business users, and a price point attractive to home users, the USB powered MobileOffice S410 scanner and document management solution converts paper documents, rigid embossed cards, expense reports, business cards and more to searchable PDF with the touch of a button in six pages per minute,” said Mark Druziak, Plustek’s director of marketing and business development.

The MobileOffice S410 can scan documents to Evernote and photos to Google Picasa by simply pressing a button. The included document management and Optical Character Recognition software suite allows for easy scanning and management of documents. DocAction single touch scanning and industry standard TWAIN drivers ensure compatibility with thousands of scanning and imaging programs including: document management, healthcare electronic medical records, financial, and thousands of other image enabled applications.
   
The built in automatic image processing enables the scanning of mixed sized documents with no adjustments. Images are automatically straightened, rotated and adjusted for exposure. The result is more accurate Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Business Card Recognition (BCR) which allows for fewer pages that need to be rescanned.
   
Key Features:
  • USB powered mobile scanner with simplex scanning in color, grayscale or black and white.
  • Scan to Evernote and Google Picasa.
  • Bundled with document management, OCR, BCR and imaging applications.
  • Six pages per minute scan speed (nine seconds a page for color, 300 dpi, A4).
  • Supports scans to searchable PDF.
  • Scan rigid embossed cards such as licenses, insurance cards, membership cards, credit cards, etc.
  • Two single-touch buttons automates frequent scanning jobs.
  • Advanced image enhancement to automatically straighten and rotate pages, adjust brightness,and crop images to minimize file size and increase OCR / BCR accuracy.
  • Software productivity suite enables PDF, Microsoft Office, JPG / TIF creation and management.
  • Includes Abbyy Finereader Sprint and Hotcard BizCard Finder.
  • TWAIN and WIA drivers   

Sales/Purchase Information:
All Plustek products can be purchased from authorized resellers, DMRs, VARs, and distributors NewWave Technologies, Ingram Micro and D&H.  Additional product information and photos can be found by visiting, http://plustek.com/usa/products/mobile-office-series/mobileoffice-s410/introduction.html.

Monday, March 12, 2012

LibreOffice


Intel has announced that they are now offering LibreOffice, the free alternative to MSFT Office on their AppUp web site (www.appup.com). We’ve used LibreOffice in the past and have always found it to be an excellent office suite at a perfect price.... FREE.

If you haven’t used the AppUp web site as yet it’s a view of the future of all software distribution, it’s all apps all the time. We have predicted the demise of old fashioned software for some time and Intel seems to have gotten it right. Good for you!

Of course, you can always go to www.libreoffice.com/download and get the suite that way. Which ever route you choose you won’t be disappointed. You’ll be getting a very good product that is constantly being improved.