Nowadays, it feels like many children can be unappreciative (I'm sure yours are great though!). Whenever I go to Walmart or Target, there are sure to be whiny little ones begging and demanding things from their parents. If their parents do give-in and buy whatever they want, there is a chance it will be broken within a week.
This is the problem with buying a child a laptop. Sure, they may need a computer for school, but if you buy them an expensive unit, they could ruin it by spilling juice on the keyboard or stepping on the screen. In other words, buying a top-of-the-line laptop for a child could be like flushing money down the toilet. Luckily, Microsoft has the perfect back-to-school deal; a $199 15.6-inch laptop, that looks very sexy and thin.
I'm not going to retread old ground too much here, but there's no getting away from the fact that Microsoft has something of an image problem when it comes to smartphones. But this could be set to change. The word on the grapevine is that Microsoft -- possibly in conjunction with the likes of Yahoo and Amazon -- is interested in joining forces with, or even, buying Cyanogen Inc, purveyor of some of the finest Android ROMs known to humanity. It's a branch of Android favoured by handset owners who live and breathe tweaking, who want an OS custom made to fit them like a well-tailored suit.
Little is known about what form any future arrangement might take, or how far talks have got so far. But we do know that Cyanogen Inc has met with Satya Nadella -- as reported by The Information. It would be interesting to see where this could go. There are two possible avenues that immediately spring to mind. The first -- and probably the least likely -- is that Microsoft might consider creating custom Windows Phone ROMs. This seems somewhat improbable, but there's another option: Microsoft could be looking to muscle in on Google's Android territory. This is not as far-fetched as it might first sound.
While I'm primarily an Android user, I'll dip my toes in the water of iOS and Windows Phone from time to time -- you have to check out what's going on elsewhere after all. A while back I tried to switch to the Nokia Lumia 928, but found Windows Phone too restrictive. But I'm open-minded... I'll give things a second crack of the whip. So now it's time for me to take look at the Lumia 930.
I am impressed with the look and feel of the handset. It's a very solid device that feels robust enough to be used as a tool for breaking and entering should the need arise. It feels like a high-end phone, it oozes quality. But it has Windows Phone 8.1 installed, and that's a massive problem.
One of the key ways to get people to buy a product is to actually make it possible for them to buy it. It sounds obvious, I know, but even a company as big as Microsoft has been having trouble fathoming this simple idea. Every Surface model has launched in a limited number of markets, taking its sweet time to hit new ones. Surface Pro 3 is no exception, but at least the delay is much shorter in its case.
Starting today, a little over two months after Surface Pro 3 went on sale in Canada, Japan and US, the Windows 8.1 device is available in 25 additional markets. What's more, also today, the much-anticipated Surface Pro 3 Docking Station is available to pre-order in all markets.
When I was a kid, generic foods were a staple in our home. Rather than have Lucky Charms or Froot Loops, my mom would buy whatever knock-off brand that Pathmark or Waldbaums was selling. An easy way to know if you are getting off-brand cereal, is that it comes in a bag rather than a box. While not as tasty, it at least provided nutrients and calories. It's not like there were rocks or sawdust in the package.
Unfortunately, the Windows Store has been full of knock-off apps that equates to buying a product and getting an empty box. You see, devious "developers" have been filling the store with phony apps that resemble legitimate ones. This means people were spending their hard-earned money on deceptive garbage, and these low-life developers have been getting paid. Today, Microsoft says enough is enough and removes 1,500 of the offending apps. If you were deceived by one of them, you can even get a refund.
Technology is almost always shrinking. The only thing that seems to keep getting physically bigger is displays (monitors). This is the reason that smartphones are now getting huge -- people like more real estate on which to work. Before the smartphone was popularized, cell phones were getting ridiculously tiny.
Home computers have been shrinking too -- laptops keep getting thinner, and desktops keep getting smaller. However, desktops still command too much of a footprint on a desk. The tiny Raspberry Pi, when paired with Linux, showed the world what could be, but Windows machines would never achieve such size, right? Wrong. Today, Zotac unveils a Windows computer that is impossibly small -- the ZBOX PI320 pico.
There has been more (big) trouble for Microsoft over in China, as the software giant is now facing scrutiny of its web browser (Internet Explorer) and Windows Media Player.
This is part of a Chinese antitrust investigation against Redmond, which apparently kicked off when Microsoft's offices in China were swooped on by officials from the State Administration for Industry & Commerce (SAIC) at the end of July.
As you're almost certainly aware if you're a PlayStation owner, this weekend saw an attack mounted on the PlayStation Network which took it down for a large chunk of time.
But PSN wasn't the only gaming service to get bombarded by DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks this weekend, and indeed, other attacks are continuing right now -- courtesy of the so-called Lizard Squad, a "hacktivist" group which is enjoying its time in the media limelight. (Though note that another hacker from Anonymous claimed responsibility for the PSN attack, so it's unclear exactly what went on in that case.)
At launch, Windows 8 was a mess. It was a brave and -- arguably -- necessary attempt by Microsoft to re-invent its operating system and keep it relevant as the world transitioned towards mobile computing, and tablets in particular. But the first release was seriously half-baked, and left many Windows users scratching their heads in confusion. Windows 8.1 improved things massively, and Update made the OS even better, especially for previously neglected keyboard and mouse users. But Windows 8.x’s poor market share tells a clear story -- the OS has flopped badly, and it’s time for Microsoft to chalk it up to experience and move on.
Windows 9 (aka Threshold) is expected to be the operating system that Windows 8.x should have been, just as Windows 7 was the OS Vista should have been. According to The Verge, we’ll get our first proper look at the next Windows iteration on September 30, but we already have a fairly good idea of what to expect.
OneDrive and Dropbox users with access to an iPhone or iPad rejoice: both iOS apps were just updated with major improvements with the release of Microsoft OneDrive 4.4 and Dropbox 3.3.
Both apps gain new features -- the ability to search within Word and PowerPoint documents in Dropbox, a brand new Photos view in OneDrive -- as well as a number of improvements and stability fixes.
The land of the rising sun, Japan, has some bustling cities. That can lead to headaches for tourists attempting to navigate the foreign surroundings -- not the easiest thing to traverse, as many travelers have learned.
However, Bing is attempting to improve on this, adding new features to its mapping service within the nation. Multiple updates have been made to the services.
Cruising is something that is near and dear to my heart. As someone who grew up very poor, my family never went on vacation -- it was a waste of money. This was the mindset that I was raised to have, thinking travel was stupid, when money can go towards bills. This thinking was dangerous though, as I became an adult that almost never left New York. It's a cliche, but life is short, and it is silly not to see the world.
What broke this frugal trance was cruising. While a normal vacation is very expensive and far from my grasp, a cruise can be very affordable as all food is included. Over the last 8 years, I have been on 7 Royal Caribbean cruises, and a couple of weeks ago, I went on my first Celebrity cruise (it's the same company). To say I like Royal Caribbean is an understatement -- I love it and am proudly a Platinum member of its Crown and Anchor Society. Unfortunately, technology on the ships has been very lacking. As a computer nerd, not having tech was maddening, although sometimes freeing too. Today, Royal Caribbean appeals to nerds, with the help of Microsoft, as its Quantum of the Seas ship goes high-tech.
With Microsoft focusing its attention on the bigger, newer and more expensive Surface Pro 3, it is easy to lose sight of its second flagship tablet on sale, Surface 2. It may not run Windows 8.1 Pro or tote a PC-grade processor, like Surface Pro 3, but it is nonetheless an interesting option for folks who wish to join the Windows RT 8.1 camp.
Unlike most other tablets out there, its build quality is solid, it is designed with multitasking in mind, ships with a version of Microsoft Office, and was designed to work well with a keyboard and mouse. Plus, after a $100 discount, the Surface 2 experience is now more affordable than ever.
Asha and Series 40 "feature" phones (read cheap, crappy phones) may be taking their last breath -- Microsoft plans to kill them off by the end of 2015 -- but it's never too late to try spicing things up by changing the default browser, eh? This is precisely what's happening with the ill-fated handsets, along with the Series 30+ range, as Opera Mini replaces the current Xpress Browser. Despite the seemingly short-lived nature of the deal, Opera Software is upbeat about the arrangement as, undoubtedly, will any poor blighter suffering with one of these handsets.
What is there to look forward to in the browser switch? Like other versions of Opera Mini, the version replacing Xpress Browser benefits from built-in compression that reduces data usage and helps to speed up web browsing. The deal will come as something of a surprise to many, and it has come rather out of the blue. Starting in October, Asha, Series 30+ and Series 40 handset owners will start to see notifications inviting them to upgrade, and newly produced handsets will come with the browser pre-installed.
Chromebooks are amazing computers. Part of the genius of Google's Chrome OS is its lack of freedom; a seemingly crazy statement, I know. You see, users cannot install software locally, which in turn, also blocks viruses and malware. In other words, limitations become a strength from a security standpoint. However, sometimes the limitations of the OS are not a positive, but a negative.
For business users in particular, using Chrome web apps exclusively is a non-starter. Sure, some small business users can get by, but many large companies rely on specialized software -- mostly for Windows. Today, Windows programs come to Chromebooks -- sort of. Google announces that Citrix Receiver is coming to Chrome OS. Will this massively disrupt the business market?