Randall C. Kennedy

Microsoft Surface 3: Interesting but flawed [Review]

Surface 3

"You can't get there from here". That's how many customers must feel as they ponder the broken Windows 10 upgrade path for first-generation Windows 8 hybrid PCs. With Intel refusing to update the Atom z2760 video driver, and with existing Windows 8.1 drivers providing spotty compatibility, these early adopters are at a crossroads.

Do they stick with Windows 8.1 and watch while the bulk Microsoft's development effort goes into Windows 10 (leaving them clinging to an all but abandoned OS platform)? Or do they bite the bullet and begin vetting potential replacements for their still functional HP Envy x2s, Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2s, Dell Latitude 10s, etc?

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Intel to touch-first early adopters: No Windows 10 for you!

Pinocchio Liar

"Wintel, Wintel – why hast thou forsaken us?"

It's a sad day for early adopters of Microsoft's touch-first OS strategy. Customers who bought some of the first examples of Windows 8.x hybrid systems -- the HP Envy x2 and ElitePad G1, Dell Latitude 10, Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 and Miix series, ASUS VivoTab, et al -- will not be able to reliably run Windows 10 because the powers-that-be are refusing to release a compatible video driver. In fact, anyone with an Intel Atom z2760-based PC is fresh out of luck when it comes to Windows 10 support. As far as the hardware vendor community is concerned, the demise of Windows 8.x signals End of Life (EOL) for your systems.

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Threshold: Windows for the Neanderthal set

prehistoric man with laptop

What’s with all this excitement over Windows "Threshold"? I get it that Microsoft sort of fumbled the ball with Windows 8. I also recognize that the subsequent tweaks and retrofits (Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 Update 1, Windows 8.1 Not-Update-2, et al) are viewed by many as "too little, too late" to save the product.

However, I’m sensing a deeper disturbance in the force here. When it comes to Windows Threshold, there’s a palpable aura of anticipation -- a kind of electric expectancy, and its emanating from what I like to call the "Neanderthal set".

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Why I'm still right about the BlackBerry Passport (and other things)

Right

What a firestorm! I sort of knew going in that my previous entry, "Do NOT buy a BlackBerry Passport until you read this", would evoke a heated response from the BB faithful. However, I never imagined there were still so many dedicated BlackBerry fans out there. Over 200 (mostly scathing) comments later, and I can feel the rage (the "Zionist" quips, in particular, were hilarious).

Another pundit might try to backtrack in light of such unrelenting animosity. But not me! The potent combination of unbridled hubris and geographic isolation have emboldened me to double-down on my original assertions. So, instead of dancing around the issues, I’m tackling a few of the major objections head-on to show you why I’m right (and you’re all wrong) about the BlackBerry Passport.

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Do NOT buy a Blackberry Passport until you read this

Blackberry passport

BlackBerry’s got a new device, the Passport. It’s sleek, with a polished industrial design that exudes quality. It’s funky, with a non-standard size and shape that challenges the status quo. And it’s cool, with lots of innovative features you won’t find on competing devices.

In fact, BlackBerry’s new Passport is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Which is why you absolutely, positively should not buy one.

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The PC: A companion device for your smartphone

Presenting PC

New in stores: It’s the "Personal Computer" -- the ultimate companion device for your smartphone or phablet!

Ever wished your mobile device had a larger screen? Or that there was a better way to input long documents than tapping tiny little virtual keys on a slab of glass (or sapphire)? Well, then you’re a perfect candidate for PC ownership.

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OmniROM: The alternative Android ROM you should be running

omni

Want to get more out of your rooted Android device? Looking for unique features and expanded functionality? Unhappy with the CyanogenMod team selling their collective souls to the VC devil?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above, you owe it to yourself to check out OmniROM. Billed as the "anti-CyanogenMod", OmniROM is the result of efforts by several former CyanogenMod team members to create a new custom Android ROM, one that adheres to the CM team’s original vision of an open-source alternative to Google’s stock OS.

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Swapping 'Surface' for 'Lumia' -- is Microsoft really about to commit branding suicide?

face palm head in hands embarassed

Boneheaded. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think about Microsoft abandoning its Surface branding in favor of Nokia Lumia.

You see, successful branding is a tricky business. Getting people to internalize your brand or product name as part of their everyday vocabulary is a herculean task. Coke did it. So did Xerox and Kleenex. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve gone to "Xerox" something, or asked the person next to me to pass me the box of "Kleenex".

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Apple, Google and the kings of 'abandonware'

shanty town

"Abandonware". It’s the scourge of the industry. Every time a vendor abandons a software product, a puppy dies. Or an orphan. Or a Java developer.

Regardless, nobody likes to see their favorite app/game/platform get left behind. It’s the worst kind of techie betrayal. You spend days, weeks or even months mastering a product only to have the virtual rug pulled out from under you.

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iOS 8 multitasking: What’s the holdup?

iOS 8 screens

Has Apple painted itself into a corner with iOS 8 multitasking? I ask because, like many technology enthusiasts, I came away from WWDC feeling a bit let down. After all, everyone and their grandmother was expecting Apple to announce some sort of split-screen multitasking capability for iOS 8. Yet when Mr. Cook and friends took the stage there was no mention of the feature.

So, what happened? According to my sources, it all comes down to a programming mechanism known as "Auto Layout". Introduced with iOS 6, Auto Layout allows developers to create apps that support dynamic resizing, using pre-defined rules for object spacing to adapt an app’s UI to fit a particular screen resolution or orientation.

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Cloud's a highway, but I hit some speed bumps on the post-PC road

road cloud

Call me a pioneer. Those who have followed my contributions of late will have noted that I'm somewhat of a post-PC fanatic. I've taken it upon myself to blaze a trail into an IT future that features virtually no Microsoft or Intel technologies. Along the way, I've managed to stitch together a fairly functional post-PC solution. However, my journey has not always been a smooth one, and I will forever carry the scars of slings and arrows gone by.

For example, as I write this I'm sitting in the nearly empty family room of the new waterfront condo my wife and I just bought near Manalapan, FL. And as is often the case with a new property, I have yet to set-up any sort of Internet access -- nor do I plan to do so since we'll only be staying in the property for a few days before returning to Mauritius.

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So long robot, I'm ditching Android

Android

Dear Google, that's it! I've had enough! Enough of the random lockups and reboots. Enough of the buggy browser and convoluted multitasking. Enough of Android!

Google, I've given you a fair shot. I drank the Kool-Aid. I joined the Android Army. And I wore my green robot tattoo thingy with pride. However, I could never shake the feeling that I've been running with the wrong crowd.

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The Church of Appletology

Apple logo China

So there I stood, in the middle of the Gardens Mall, transfixed by the sight in front of me. On my left, a seemingly endless line of bohemian-looking individuals stretching away from the doorway to the Apple Store. On my right, the much quieter entry way to the New Religion Jeans Company. Apple on one side. New Religion on the other. And then, the epiphany: Apple is a lot like the Church of Scientology!

Now before you click away at least hear me out. I'll start with origins. Scientology is the creation of one man, L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer who once famously stated that "if you want to get rich, start a religion". The modern day Apple is also essentially the creation of one man, Steve Jobs, who once famously stated "Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me". Clearly, both were keen financial minds -- kindred spirits, if you will, sort of opposite sides of the same coin.

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Friendly advice to a fellow post-PC traveller

travel tablet

You do even better! That's what I'd say to fellow BetaNews contributor Mihaita Bamburic if I ran into him in a hallway somewhere. As I watch with amusement, his "existential struggle" with the post-PC question, I have to chuckle a bit at his naïveté. Like most PC veterans, Mihaita tries to squeeze a square peg (tablet) into a round hole (desktop-centric thinking). He'll need to leave those preconceptions behind if he ever hopes to do more than scratch the post-PC surface.

For starters, reset your purchasing criteria. You need to forget about those expensive "clamshell" tablet/dock combos and start off with a simple, cheap Android tab. I picked up a dozen Acer Iconia A200s on eBay for use at the new school my wife and I are building. Prices ranged from $170-200 for refurbished units with 8GB or 16GB of onboard SD storage. At that price point, you can pretty much experiment to your heart's content without worrying about trashing some "transforming" device that costs more than a decent laptop.

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You're living in post-PC denial

Finger Pointing

Talk about your bitter clingers! Here I am, minding my own business, just writing about my experiences using an Android tablet, when out of the woodwork comes this wave of angry post-PC deniers. I mean, the level of rage on display is unreal. You'd think I walked into a Steve Jobs memorial service wearing an "I love Android" t-shirt or something!

For those of you who missed my earlier post, I noted how pleased I was with the outcome of my own post-PC experiment. I wrote how, with the right supporting peripherals, I could be perfectly productive on even a cheap Android tablet -- like my trusty Acer Iconia Tab 200. In fact, I was so impressed with the results that I declared being done with laptops forever. I would literally never buy another traditional laptop PC.

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