Posted by Alan Buckingham at 8:02 AM on March 27, 2013
Microsoft’s next version of Windows 8, code named “Blue” leaked out this past Sunday and ever since then I have been feverishly testing the new operating system in a virtual machine. There is a lot new here, making this “update” much more than a service pack, but also not quite “Windows 9″ either.
In a rare move, Microsoft has actually acknowledged the leak and added information about it. In the process, the company also took a swipe at Google’s recent decision to kill Reader.
Microsoft vice president Frank Shaw began his announcement by telling us “While some folks were out doing “spring cleaning,” we used the opportunity to look back a bit at what has happened in the past season, and to look ahead at what we have coming”.
More important than the shot at Google, which Microsoft seems to take on a regular basis, was the acknowledgement of Blue, which would have been hard to deny, given that many of us are testing it out. Shaw stated “Now, the look ahead. With a remarkable foundation of products in market and a clear view of how we will evolve the company, product leaders across Microsoft are working together on plans to advance our devices and services, a set of plans referred to internally as ‘Blue’.”
He went on to inform that “today, Steve Guggenheimer announced the next Build developer conference. At Build, developers will see what’s next for Windows, Windows Server, Windows Azure, Visual Studio and more. This is just one place we’ll discuss the advances coming – another is TechEd”.
Of course, he could not resist one final parting shot at the end — “See, spring isn’t just for cleaning/whacking away at things. It’s also a time to plant and get ready for summer”.
Posted by Alan Buckingham at 12:50 PM on March 23, 2013
Windows 8 launched way back at the end of October last year and it has steadily grown since then, though there is a vocal minority who would like you to believe otherwise — some of whom have a vested interest in making you think that way. While the growth of the operating system itself has been rather quick — four million copies sold in less than a week — the growth of the App Store has been slower, but rather steady.
Now the web site Metro Scanner reports a new milestone has been reached. As of this writing, the store is officially as 50,304 apps. This is likely a big moment for Microsoft, as it is validation of the company’s plan and proof that people, most importantly developers, are finally coming around.
Of course, there is a long way to go. The operating system is still without a number of feature apps. Lacking still are official versions of things like Twitter, Facebook and others.
However, the growth should steadily become a self-fulfilling prophecy. As more apps appear the pressure on others to get in there will mount. The steadily growing number of users will also add additional pressure on developers to get them on the ball with this OS and Store.
Posted by KL Tech Muse at 12:33 PM on February 24, 2013
gDoc Binder is the electronic version of the traditional physical binder. It has the three rings, tabs and sections just like a regular binder. gDoc Binder is a great way to organize a project. Each binder can be secured with a password and has 256AES encryption. You can store text and images in the notebook. They hope to add the ability to store audio and video files in the future.
The gDoc Binders is a Windows only application, but you can easily share the content to an iPad. You can print, copy, share a page, a whole section or an entire notebook easily. What makes these binders great is that they help you organize information in an easily searchable and shareable format. Right now gDoc Binders is looking for users for their beta program, however they expect to sell a set of ten binders for $10.00. More information is available at the gDoc website
Posted by Alan Buckingham at 6:13 AM on January 22, 2013
One of the cool devices that GNC found at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was the Joystick from Noitavonne. This device is kind of a one-stop-shop for many cool features.
It acts as a remote control for your devices, like an Android phone or tablet or a Windows 8 device. When paired with your TV, it turns your big screen into an Android device and if your phone rings you can answer it through Joystick’s built-in speaker. It even has a full QWERTY keyboard to add to the functionality. The keyboard is hidden beneath a small flip-up 1080p screen.
The product is expected to be released in the spring of this year with a price point of “between $249 and $349″.
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Posted by Alan Buckingham at 7:31 AM on December 9, 2012
You know that those of us at GNC love space and astronomy almost as much as we love computers and technology. While we all use different operating systems — Windows, Mac, and even Linux, we can all agree that a good space theme is cool. There isn’t any shortage of those available either.
In fact, you don’t even have to look far to find one. Microsoft and other sites make them available. Even NASA themselves posts one now and again. So, it’s the weekend and news is slow. With that in mind, it’s a great time to do a quick roundup of these themes that are floating around out there.
Microsoft does a great job of making themes for all occasions — movie and game releases, seasons, holidays and just cool photography. The latter is the category we are looking for. Head to the personalization gallery where you can browse or do a keyword search.
Richard Hay, who runs the great Windows Observer site and podcast, has created several space-based themes. Thanks to NASA images being in the public domain, anyone can do this, but thanks to Richard you don’t need to. He also posts idividual wallpapers and has even begun breaking down themes specifically for both Windows 7 and Windows 8. You can browse the themes here.
Windows 7 Themes
Another great web site for finding themes and wallpapers, although it’s a bit confusing to navigate. If you want to take a look then head over to this site.
There are many other sources for wallpaper and themes around the internet, just be careful of fakes when downloading anything from a web site that you aren’t familiar with.
Following on from GNC’s review of the MiniStation Air earlier this month, Buffalo have a launched the MiniStation Thunderbolt SSD. As you might guess from the name, it’s a portable SSD with a Thunderbolt connection so it’s ideal for connecting up with Apple Macs.
Combining the SSD with Thunderbolt, the MiniStation has a read performance of more than 370 MB/s and a write performance that exceeds 250 MB/s, which is pretty nippy in anyone’s book. And I think those are Bytes and not bits. PC users aren’t left out with a USB 3.0 connection too, though it’s not as fast as the Thunderbolt connections.
Paul Hudson, Sales Director for Northern Europe at Buffalo, said: “The MiniStation Thunderbolt SSD combines a highly robust and aesthetically pleasing design with exceptionally fast data transfer speed. We have seen how Thunderbolt hard drives have transformed the available speed for read and write to storage devices, but with the additional of SSD in the Buffalo range, the speed stakes are raised again providing astounding performance.”
The drive is bus-powered and will be available in two storage sizes, at a recommended price of £229.99 for the 128 GB product and £349.99 for the 256 GB version. There’s a .pdf spec sheet here.
Hopefully GNC will be bringing you a review of the MiniStation Thunderbold SSD in the not-too-distant future.
Posted by Alan Buckingham at 7:31 AM on November 27, 2012
Microsoft made major changes with the move to Windows 8. Many users love the new operating system, but it also seems to have it’s detractors and they tend to be the loudest voices. Yes, the new OS is different, but Microsoft has always made Windows pretty customizable and features that aren’t readily so can be changed by third-party apps. That hasn’t changed in Windows 8.
I personally don’t mind the new Start screen, although I rarely use it. I don’t mind having to hit the Desktop icon after boot up and I genuinely like the Charms menu. With that said, my opinions aren’t shared by all and Skip Metro Suite will help those who don’t share my views. It will let you skip the Start screen on boot up, disable the switcher, disable the Charms menu and remove edge panels.
The lack of the now familiar Start button has probably been the biggest cause of concern for Windows traditionalists. Again, I find no reason to bring this back — using the Charms menu Search feature to open an app is perfectly acceptable. However, many seem to feel they simply can’t live without this Windows 95 leftover.
For those of you who want that feature back, there are a number of apps that have sprung up to take care of it. Perhaps the best is Start8 from Stardock. It isn’t free, but the $4.99 price tag isn’t too steep if this is truly what you want.
Now here is an app that I really like! Not that the previous two aren’t good, but only that they do things that I don’t find necessary. You see, Microsoft did update Windows Explorer by adding the ribbon interface which became popular in Office. However, the company failed to add perhaps the most requested feature – tabs. Tabs like those Chrome, Firefox and even Microsoft’s Internet Explorer have had for some time.
QTTabBar is perhaps the simplest way to add tabs to Explorer. It’s also free and open source software, which makes it even better.
So, what apps do you like to use with Windows 8? I am always looking for suggestions.
Posted by Alan Buckingham at 9:05 AM on November 20, 2012
Windows 8 is here to stay regardless of if you like it or not. Microsoft is now looking to get the operating system boosted to worldwide appeal and doing so through a variety of advertising means. But, regardless of all of that, the company also “released” some early screenshots from the development days to show how far the operating system has come.
The interface is not vastly different from the new Metro Start screen that we all love or hate. The basic format is already there in this image, but it lacks the now familiar Microsoft apps like Mail, People, Store and the rest.
While this image doesn’t really mean a whole lot, it is a nice insight into the early mock-ups and ideas that Microsoft started with when building Windows 8.
The jury is still out regarding if the OS will be a success or if it will it fail miserably.
If you are thinking about upgrading to Windows 8 from Windows 7, my suggestion would be to stop thinking about it and save your money for something else. Cheap as the upgrade is, the user interface is terrible.
It’s like Microsoft have taken the new user interface (previously known as Metro) and smashed into the traditional desktop interface, with the interface layers competing for the user’s attention. Some components have gone completely – the Start button – and other components are hidden in unintuitive places: how do I shutdown the PC? Charms slide in from the right – even the name gives no clear idea as to what charms do. The new front page pops up in the bottom left. The desktop appears sometimes. Apps are windowed or full-screen but you can’t get from one to the other. It’s truly awful.
Before anyone accuses me of being an old dog resistant to new tricks, I have bought every single previous version of Ms DOS and (consumer) Windows as it came out, (with the exception of Windows ME). Not this time, though. I’m sticking with Windows 7.
I like the Windows Phone 7 / 8 user interface and it’s great on a phone or tablet but on a desktop or a laptop with a mouse, it’s a disaster. Here’s my prediction….Windows 8 will be to Windows 7 what Vista was to XP. That’s how bad it is.
Sorry, Microsoft, but you’ve got this really badly wrong.
Posted by Alan Buckingham at 2:18 PM on November 8, 2012
Depending on what time zone you live in you may or may not have been ready to grab a copy of Angry Birds Star Wars when it blasted onto mobile platforms and computers at 11pm PST last night, complete with an online launch event. Rovio even held a live-streaming event for those who were awake at that hour, which I suppose was morning in Finland where Rovio is based.
From that Scandinavian country the company has reached out and dominated the mobile markets on Android and iOS devices and even is available now on Windows Phone and OSX and Windows computers.
The last big release from the Finnish game studio, Bad Piggies rocketed to number one on the download charts in under three hours, making it the most successful release in history, surpassing Angry Birds Space. At the same time, the original Angry Birds game remains in the most popular download list in the Google Play Store.
You can grab a copy now. There are both free and paid versions. You will find some very different birds here thanks to the Star Wars branding. The game play, while similar to Angry Birds Space, is also a bit different thanks to the George Lucas (recently purchased by Disney) influence.