When it comes to computer hardware, it can be very difficult for a manufacturer to differentiate its product from its competitor's offerings. Some companies go the superficial route -- adding fancy lights and colors as a distraction to the overall normalcy. Others will invent proprietary naming conventions for its features, making it seem unique when it really isn't. Both of these approaches are rather lame, but believe it or not, consumers fall for it.
Me? I prefer to see actual unique features and exceptional performance. Sure, truly innovative and impressive hardware can come with a high price, but so does a Lamborghini -- you can like something without buying it right? Yup, you can; often times you don't really need the features, but they are cool nonetheless. Today, ASRock announces one of the most unique and impressive motherboards that I have seen in some time. How so, you ask? The X99 WS-E/10G board features Dual Intel 10G BASE-T LAN ports! Very cool, but do consumers really need it?
It is often said that variety is the spice of life, so it is appreciated when a manufacturer takes a risk on a product design. Even though I am a Ford man, I was a huge fan of the Honda Element -- a boxy cross-over vehicle. Many people thought it was ugly and ultimately, the manufacturer stopped making it. However, I thought it was pretty and sexy. In other words, beauty is in the eye of the beholder -- what is ugly to some is pretty to others.
Today, popular case manufacturer, Lian Li, shows-off a new Mini-ITX case, called the PC-Q19. It is tall, skinny and weird-looking and I love it. However, I predict that it will be quite the polarizing design, just like the Honda Element. Do you think it is ugly or pretty?
When it comes to building a computer, there are many routes to take. Of course, if you are wealthy, you can throw money at your build and achieve something wonderful. However, for many of us average folks, money can sometimes be tight. If you are on a budget, you can aim for either cheap or inexpensive; there is a difference. You see, cheap components are of low quality, but inexpensive can mean high quality at a value.
For my last few major desktop builds, I have trusted G.SKILL exclusively. My brand loyalty is due to past performance; the manufacturer's memory has proven to be reliable and reasonably priced. Today, the company sets my heart aflutter, as it announces the Ripjaws 4 Series DDR4 Memory Kits.
Self-proclaimed tech nerds around the world are turning their backs on system-building. This is tragic, as this art is part of the foundation of the tech nerd lifestyle. It is hard to argue with these perceived traitors -- an off-the-shelf tablet such as an iPad can do very much. In other words, why spend the time and money building a PC? The same can be said for much in life. I mean, why cook when you can get take out? Why mow your lawn when you can pay someone to do it? The answer is simple -- fun and self satisfaction. Yes, building a computer is a rewarding experience and everyone should at least attempt it.
System-building is something I am still a fan of and I know I am not alone -- you guys are out there. Amazing components are constantly being released -- motherboards, processors and even power supplies. A power supply is the unsung hero of any system build. It literally powers the computer! It is sad how often people choose cheap PSUs for their builds and instead focus on the "fun" stuff, like RAM and processors. I have always cautioned against cheap power supplies. When I say "cheap", please do not misunderstand -- I am referring to poor quality and not low price. If you can get high quality for a low price, awesome. However, if you've never heard of the manufacturer, it is probably a good Idea to pass. Recently, I saw a new PSU from world-renowned manufacturer Cooler Master that got my motor running -- the V1200 Platinum. Once I wiped the drool from my chin, I obtained one to review.
There are a lot of weird people on the internet, into all sorts of bizarre fetishes, interests and behaviors -- I wont judge. Well, maybe I will condemn Bronies. However, I too have a very strange fetish -- PC hardware. Yes, I love drooling over pictures of PCI cards, power supplies and motherboards to name a few.
Today, ASUS' "Republic of Gamers" enthusiast brand announces a beautiful piece of hardware -- the Maximus VII Formula. What is it? A super-sexy motherboard. If you are a tech nerd, this should definitely get your motor running.
A computer nerd without a home office or "man-cave" is half a nerd. This is the exact predicament I am in. Without going into to much detail, my basement man-cave is out of commission for renovations. This means my test desktop, large monitor and computer desk are packed away for the time being. Thank God for the Surface Pro 3 -- it has enabled me to make any room my office, including the Starbucks I am in now.
However, not all people have a desire to be mobile. No, some without an office prefer to put a home computer in a small area of a kitchen or living room. This can be problematic however, as the desktop can be large and depending on the model, an eyesore. Even worse, the whirring of the fans may impede a desired silence for a movie or romantic dinner. Today, ECS announces a solution for geeks and nerds that are tight on space -- the LIVA mini-computer. At 118 x 70 x 56 mm and 190g, this thing is light and tiny.
Perpetual release cycles. Windows 8.1. The unified Windows ecosystem. If there are any key takeaways to remember from Microsoft's cornerstone keynote at the Build 2013 conference, these three items would sum it up quite well. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer reminded thousands of developers on stage last week that the company isn't getting left in the dust and it has a solid plan going forward.
While most of the tech world was keenly focused solely on Build 2013 as the gateway to the first official peek at Windows 8.1, Ballmer's keynote had a few other important messages to deliver. The Windows update, formerly known as "Blue", may have stole the show but Microsoft had a grander agenda to piggyback at the developer conference.
On Wednesday, right after the start of the Build 2013 developer conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that the Windows 8.1 preview is now available to download.
Early adopters can install the test build only by upgrading from Windows 8. Similar to Modern UI apps, the preview, which comes in at 2.44 GB, is installed though the Store. The software giant revealed that ISO files will also be offered, tomorrow, for those who wish to perform a clean install. Here's what you can expect from Windows 8.1.
That's the word late today from Microsoft. The next version of Windows will be available, as a preview, during Microsoft's BUILD developer conference June 27-29 in San Francisco.
To ship this year, as the company plans, the preview would need to be brief, with release to manufacturing ideally coming by end of August latest. PC makers generally need four to six weeks of testing before qualifying final images. That makes the timetable tight to get Windows Blue on holiday 2013 PCs.
You probably already know that Microsoft is bringing its BUILD conference to San Francisco this June. It's not cheap, the tickets and airfare could set you back considerably depending on where you are coming from, but it may be worth the expense to make the trip. Microsoft has promised to unveil Windows Blue there -- though you're likely to have seen the early leaked version already.
Today is the time to get your credit card ready because registration goes live at 9 AM PT and while it will not be easy on your wallet, those who register early, as in within the first 500, will get a discounted rate and only have their bank accounts lightened by $1,595. If you do not make that "early bird" special then you can expect to pay $2,095 for the privilege of travelling to the Moscone Center in San Francisco.
Suddenly San Francisco is the hot developer ticket of the year. Say, can I just rent a room in your house for May and June? Today, Microsoft announced that BUILD 2013 will take place from June 26-28 at the Moscone Center in the city on the bay. Google will be there, same city and venue, with I/O from May 15-17. Apple usually holds its developer conference there in early June but hasn't announced. Big Three trio would be a helluva travel schedule for anyone flying in from anywhere else, particularly outside North America. Choose your event(s) wisely.
I just have to ask: Did Microsoft bump Google? Last year, I/O moved from its more typical May schedule to late June -- 27th-29th. Did Steve Ballmer and Company book early and lock in the dates? I don't really care, and it's not news, but speculation is delicious given the rivalry between these two companies.
Microsoft's BUILD 2012 conference began October 30th and ran through yesterday, November 2nd. While the event is mainly for developers and IT professionals, there is always some exciting news trickling out that matters to the end-user. This year we saw a lot of news surrounding the company's Azure cloud platform, as well as Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Microsoft even held a "Hackathon" with prizes for developers present at the show.
In all, this was one of the more exciting and busier developer conferences that Microsoft has held in years. Perhaps that was due to the newly designed operating system that breaks the mold set way back with Windows 95 and the new ethos that everything should be capable of moving to the cloud. So, what did we learn?
Today, Microsoft kicked off its second BUILD. Last year's event replaced the Professional Developers Conference. This year marks a change in venue, from Los Angeles to Redmond, Wash. and comes amid, rather than before, a flurry of new Microsoft products. Windows 8 launched October 26, Windows Phone 8 yesterday and Office 2013 is released to manufacturing and available to developers and corporate customers. There's Windows Server 2012 and more either out the pipeline or coming down it.
Microsoft is determined to woo developers to its new stuff and accompanying platform changes. During today's Day 1 keynote, attendees learned about the schwag: Surface RT 32GB and Nokia Lumia 920 smartphone. Consider them tools of the trade, for creating and testing new applications. Microsoft also slashed developers' fee for Windows Phone to $8 from $99. That is for just eight days.
Mary-Jo Foley's article about a slide shown at last year's Microsoft BUILD conference raises uncertainties that bug me as a developer. It's the graphic that attempts to lay out the architecture of Windows 8, particularly in relation to Metro versus the Desktop. As a long-time Windows API programmer, I regard this graphic as the most important yet about Windows 8. Something doesn't seem right!
Somehow all the different interpretations of this chart don't make sense to me. Something's not right, especially the position the Win32 API is given. So I decided to do some digging to see if I could uncover what is really going on under the hood.
"We still have a long ways to go with Windows 8", Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told BUILD developer conference attendees today. "We've got a lot of work to do". But the work is off to a good start, as he announced 500,000 downloads of the developer preview released last night at 11 p.m. ET.
Yesterday, Steven Sinofsky, Windows & Windows Live president, described the "re-imaging" of Windows. Today, Ballmer went further, calling the strategy bigger -- the re-imaging of Microsoft. "We're all in. We're retooling all that we do" around all Microsoft's platforms.