Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I can’t be the only one to see the pattern lately.

Large retailers are getting their customer data and credit information hacked/stolen at an alarming pace and if we have learned anything, its that future successful attacks are inevitable.

So why do these Fortune companies trust all their customers privacy and data to one system?

Doesn’t it make sense to diversify their customer data into smaller chunks so that the inevitable next hack will bot grow exponentially?

People do this with their stock portfolio, we do this with out email addresses; people have been using this technique for centuries – even the Romans and Egyptians did it.

So why don’t the top retailers, e-commerce, and financial institutions do it!?

It might be because they don’t know anything about technology and not if you will be hacked, but when.

If the “best and largest” financial and retail institutions don’t take these common sense precautions to limit the theft of our personal and financial data, then each user must take the matters in their own hands and limit the data we trust with these retailers.

Maybe we need to go back to an all cash system, maybe we need to conduct our financial transactions via the US Mail, use our local notaries, call our brokers on the phone.

Because I the end, it’s our money, our data and our peace of mind which we need to protect and value – not theirs.

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Microsoft currently has two multimedia platforms, one is full featured and one if floundering.

  • Windows Media Center
  • Xbox 360 Media Center Extender
  • Xbox One

What is Windows Media Center:

Windows Media Center is a Microsoft add-on for Windows 8.x that brings advanced DVR and multimedia capabilities to your windows PC.  This is not the same as what your “geek” brother, friend, co-worker swore about in 1999 as being the greatest thing ever!  No this is real, it is well designed, simple to use, easy to navigate and like all great things from Microsoft, has a 3rd party API so that hardware and software vendors can build on top of it and make it better.

There are a few “requirements” your Windows PC needs to possess in order for it to record HDTV from your cable company on your Windows PC. 

  1. It must have a dual core CPU at 2.5GHz or faster
  2. It must have at least 4 Gigabytes of memory
  3. A hard disk big enough to store 1080/720 HDTV

So, assuming you purchased your computer with Windows Vista already installed on it, all you would need is to purchase add one device to your existing home network.

  1. Internal (PCIe) or External (Ethernet) CableLabs certified Tuner
  2. (rent) A CableCard supplied by your Cable Company

A quality no-fuss HDTV cable tuner that supports recording 6 simultaneous shows can be purchased from Ceton Corp for about $240 or you can opt for a 3 tuner model from SiliconDust for under $150.  Once you have one of these cable tuners, just run the Media Center setup, select your cable provider and turn on your Xbox 360.

Add to that a CableCard from your Cable Company and you are ready to record!

Monthly Cable Bill

If you have 3 televisions at home, you likely have 3 cable boxes and or DVRs, you also have your monthly premium tv subscription.  Si many cable companies charge you the following monthly fees:

  • Cable Box rental (x3)
  • DVR upgrade fee (x3)
  • TV Basic and Premium Channels

With Windows Media Center on your Windows Computer recording between 3 or 6 channels with ONE cable card, you pay one fee for all your televisions.

  • Cable Card rental fee (1 card supports up to 6 simultaneous premium hdtv recordings)
  • TV Basic and Premium Channels

So if your premium television package costs $50 a month, and your Media Center CableCard costs you $6 a months you pay $56 a month, vs over $140 a months for your 3 DVRs plus subscriptions.

Heck, I can control my Media Center and it’s recordings from my Phone with the Ceton My Media Center App for anywhere in the world!

But what if you don’t want to watch television on your PC!?

That’s where the Media Center Extender comes in.  Media Center Extender comes on every Xbox 360 (no, it’s not available on the Xbox One) and allows your networked home PC running Windows Media Center to extend it’s screen/user interface to your television — how many televisions?  Well, as many as you can afford, because an Xbox 360 is required for each television.

This Media Center Extender (MCX) functionality comes one every Xbox 360 and isn’t quite what it at first appears to be.  You see, MCX is actually running on your home PC and not on the Xbox 360, the 360 is used to extend your Windows Media Center to external screens — in this case an HDTV.    Just use the $20 Multi Media Remote control from Microsoft, don’t worry, you don’t have to use your “joystick,” to navigate your recorded shows, television guide/listings, DVD movies, music, photo slideshows and videos stored on your computer — on any Xbox 360 on your network.

Since all the content is recorded and technically played securely behind Microsoft and CableLabs developed DRM on the PC it was recorded on, you can record as many shows as you like in once central location in your home and play those shows back anywhere in your home.

The Xbox 360 can even act as a DLNA receiver to play other content form your PC, tablets or smartphones too.

That brings us to the Xbox One:

The Xbox One does have the MCX interface built into it. In fact, you can only use the Microsoft “Play To” or “Share To” feature to push video or music from your computer to your television.  That means, if you want to share a video on your PC in your den with your family in the living room, you have to rush back and forth to start the playback of the video.

To be fare, the Xbox does have an HDMI pass-through port to pass through television recorded on your cable operator supplied DVR through your Xbox One — you know, so your Xbox One can be on your televisions “Input 1” – ROTFL! However, that interface leaves much to be desired.  To watch television through your Xbox One you must not only navigate the Xbox One menus and guides, but you must also navigate the menus and guides from Xfinity, Time Warner, Cox etc.  There is no bypassing it and it gets messy really fast. (the team lead must have suffered a brain hemorrhage when he thought of using this tired and broken in/out video past hrough – HDMI doesn’t make it any better than 8 analog cables for video and audio, it still pass through!)

If you thought having a remote control for your DVD player, TV and cable box was messy, it aint nothing compared to this!  Oh, but I can “talk to my TV” instead, yea. right. do so and you’ll see your cable box put channel numbers on your screen seconds before the channel changes.

ITunes and Apple Store

So why did Microsoft not include Media Center Extender in the Xbox One?  Because the age of getting your content from whomever you choose is going away.  Ever since Apple tied the purchasing of music to their iTunes for the iPod, our choice to shop for content has been going away.

Microsoft see’s this trend and has watched as consumers quickly gave up the ability to buy products from an open market.  Why should Microsoft create a TV platform where they make no monthly revenue when they can charge you to rent or buy movies from Xbox services?

There is still time to turn things around.  There is nothing on the Xbox One preventing it from becoming a Media Center Extender.  It has DRM built in.  It has a more than fast enough processor, it supports HDTV 1080p output, supports explainable hard disk storage via USB 3.0, it has gigabyte Ethernet and Wifi — there is nothing stopping Microsoft from adding the existing MCX architecture to the Xbox One, and there isn’t anything preventing Microsoft from at least adding live TV streaming from a networked TV tuner directly to the Xbox One and thereby bypassing the cable supplied DVR and HDMI pass through, (just like the Xbox 360 to 360 Slim, or the PS3 to PS3 Slim, these non-used ports can be removed as needed).

How would Microsoft benefit from re-launching Windows Media Center?

Look no company is going to introduce something, anything if they are not going to benefit from it. Either directly or indirectly.

The simple math shows that Microsoft can not only make lots of money by selling the software, but they can once again, easily and quickly, have domain over the biggest screens in ones homes and apartments — the TV.  Microsoft makes money on Windows upgrades, not on new PC sales.  If people are doing more and more of their computing on their phones, tablets and laptops, they no longer feel the need to upgrade the operating system of their aging computer….  Give them a reason to upgrade, give them value they have already committed to — such as the high cost of cable.

With gazillions of users still on Windows 7 its obvious they are not in a rush to upgrade and Windows 8.2 or Windows 9/Threshold, isn’t going to encourage them to upgrade either — why upgrade the PC when it works well enough for web surfing or banging out a document in Word? 

Apple is rumored to be coming out with an Apple TV, Google has their Chromecast and Android TV. One of the three is vaporware and nothing more than a dream or an idea, and the others from Google play on the ignorance of consumers that they have been able to stream/push videos to their smart televisions and bluray players since Windows Vista and it’s only got better with Windows 7, Windows 8 and now 8.1!   

If Microsoft was able to give users a reason to re-purpose their aging computers and upgrade them with $300 worth of hardware and $xx for a Windows Media Center 8.1 “Upgrade” then Microsoft would again make money on current and future upgrades.  In addition to the simple math of upgrading the operating system, Microsoft could make money that is now going to cable pay-per-view, and streaming movie rentals and purchases — they just need to add it to the existing Extender interface and everyone wins.

Why do I think this is possible?

Because everything I have stated above already exists.  The licenses with the cable companies are already in place, the cable television guides are already procured by Microsoft around the world, “everyone” has a PC already, everyone already commits a large portion of their monthly cable tv bill to rental fees and dvr fees.  Customers want “new features” brought to them by fancy new DVRs such as the Xfinity X1 and X2 — these “new devices” barely scratch the surface of what I can do with Windows Media Center Today.

Go Retro!

First there was Windows XP Media Center 2005, it was complex and could only be sold on new specially designed personal computers. They were big, ugly and nobody wanted to put a tower PC under or next to their television — no one.

Now even the thinnest and lightest tablet computers running Windows 8.1 can record and stream live cable HDTV to a tablet — I can get my Dell Venue 8 Pro to stream recorded HDTV flawlessly, and live HDTV nearly as flawlessly on my home network.  You don’t need a huge powerful box or a geek to install a TV tuner card and set up the system.  My 80 year old mother has set her Windows 7/8 Media Center with Ceton tuner herself!!! 

The first Windows Tablet PC was big and clunky and wasn’t well received. Then Apple enlarges their iPhone and turn it into an iPad and the world falls quickly in love. 

Don’t allow this to happen again and allow Google and Apple to come out with their television based products.  They are no doubt working very hard behind the scenes to get favorable licensing deals with the television and cable networks.  Who know when they will launch, but they will launch and they already have the momentum needed.

If Microsoft were to play the Media Center hand now they would win the game

  1. Launch the Windows 8.1 Media Center w/Bing operating system as a free or cheap upgrade
  2. Add Media Center Extender support to the Xbox One
  3. Simultaneously add support for live HDTV via networked cable tuners for the Xbox One (no HDMI cable box needed)
  4. Work with OEM partners, VARs and Geek Squad, etc to create bundled packages of hardware and software

This is all very possible and within Microsoft’s grasp.  It is a shame that Microsoft owns every piece of the puzzle to enter the living room, they have it TODAY and yet, they are handing over any lead currently held to Apple, Google and likely Sony.

Laptop to a Tablet Fight

Posted: January 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

It was June 18th when Microsoft surprised the world with what it deemed, their new Surface tablets; the problem is, tablet sales are skyrocketing and no one was looking for a tablet that did more.

What Microsoft introduced was not a tablet, but a new device soon to be called a “2 in 1” or in other words, Microsoft released two laptops with removable keyboards.

It’s clear that Microsoft spent a lot of time working on these two new computing devices and even when announced, still required another 6 months of backing before they would be ready to ship.

Do Microsoft’s Surface “tablets” do more than tablets from Apple, Samsung and others? Yes, they do, they have keyboards and operate in a more “PC like” horizontal, widescreen fashion. Tablets from other vendors are held in a portrait fashion and are squarer than widescreen.

Holding any Microsoft Surface in this portrait fashion is not only gives pages a “too tall feeling” but the all of the Surface devices are too heavy to hold in this upright fashion.

Again, the Surface is a laptop and not suitable as a dedicated tablet.

So while other vendors were working with Google to design tablets that users were craving, Microsoft was working internally as well as with their OEM partners to develop the “non-tablet” or what we now call a “2 in 1” device. A laptop with a removable keyboard.

Anyone who has ever tried holding a Surface in front of them for more than a few minutes knows that the designers never intended the Surface, either of the Surfaces to ever be used as a mobile tablet. It was clearly designed as a laptop where it’s weight would anchor it to a table and provide a firm location for their flexible keyboards.

Windows 8 was designed for Tablets (and works great with the Surface too)

So it’s surprising to see all the things Microsoft’s Operating Systems design team got right, when their top secret hardware group got so much wrong.

Microsoft Windows 8 and 8.1 are great touch oriented operating systems as well as solid platforms for developers and has all the 21st century features a developer could want. Windows 8.x has open APIs for 3rd party devices, solid programing languages, solid user interface cues and design metaphors that are clean, efficient and a pleasure to use.

Google’s Android OS which is found on most all smartphones and tablets in the world doesn’t share these strengths and has developers, OEMs and users all clamoring for some consistent rules to follow, design ques that don’t change and require developers to re-wright their apps every six months.

OEMs can’t upgrade their current and previous device models at a fast enough pace, nor can they or do they upgrade their devices because the cost to update their designs is too costly.

By the same token, Google doesn’t have the maturity required to develop standards which continue from current generation devices to the next and the next after that.

Windows Phone 7 led to Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 and now today we have Windows 8.1. With very few exceptions, all apps written for Windows Phone as far back as 4 years ago all could still exist or co-exist with today’s more matured operating systems.

Another strength Microsoft has is again in its software. I can turn on my Surface RT or Surface 2 and out of the box, can print to my Epson or HP all in one devices that were released and end of life long before Microsoft announced Windows 8. In Windows 8 RT I could scan from my scanner too via the Windows Control Panel and today with Windows 8.1 I can use a Modern App to Scan photos or documents directly to my SkyDrive, Email or Fresh Paint.

Google’s Android and Chrome can print, but must to the “cloud first” which means you must have a) a network connection and b) an internet connection, but Google does let you use your devices camera to “scan” in documents and photos.

Apple invites vendors into its walled garden with licensing its AirPrint API, but only for customers who are big enough to afford the steep prices for these APIs. I for one, don’t like that I am paying money to Apple for their AirPrint license when I buy a new printer.

Will the Real Tablet Please Stand Up?

So, while Microsoft is still busy confusing the market with their “2 in 1” Surface devices, which I love, I am still waiting for Microsoft to release their first true tablet.

They don’t have to look too far for examples of great Windows 8/8.1 tablets, there are a multitude of new 8 inch tablets with quad-core Intel parts, and crisp IPS LED displays. They even come in 10 and 11 inch models too.

So when will Microsoft release their first tablet? I’m guessing they will release their new tablet(s) in the first half of 2014 and it will be thin, light and have a 16×10 more squarer display like the tablets running Android and iOS.

These tablets will run a version of Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8, but it won’t really matter which, because neither of them has enough market penetration for it to matter.

But what will matter is that now Microsoft will have brought a tablet to a tablet fight and with the support of Windows Modern Design language these new tablets will now have both the hardware and the software to take over the consumer market – a market that wants stability.

One last prediction: When these new lighter tablets are released, they will be compatible with Microsoft’s Surface keyboards, but the difference will be that the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 will now include the keyboard in its base price.

Tablet Distraction

So the question is, was Microsoft’s Surface enough of a “tablet distraction” for consumers and analysts while Microsoft developed their first tablet?

I attended Microsoft’s Surface 2 Sneak Preview event tonight in Sam Francisco.

I’ll write about the preview and post it tomorrow, October 2.

If you already think you know what I’m going to say, you are in for a surprise. 

There will be no pompoms or fireworks.

Windows Phone Start Screen

Posted: July 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

What is the Start Screen?

The Start Screen in Windows Phone 8 is just like the Start Screen in Windows 8, it is a “home screen” where you place “tiles” of your most commonly used and accessed apps and phone functions.

What are Live Tiles?

Put simply, Live Tiles can be thought of as ADVANCED widgets or gadgets similar to the ones you find on Android or like the ones you can place on your Windows Vista desktop.

These Tiles are square or rectangular in shape. Most but not all Tiles on the Start Screen can be made “Live” and show you status updates, notifications, appointments, etc, but many of them can also be turned off so they just have a static Tile which does not update in the background.

How many Tiles/Apps can you place on your Start Screen?

While I don’t know of any “limit” set by Microsoft for how many apps you can have on your Start Screen at any one time, there is a limited number of Tiles which can be displayed on your Start Screen without scrolling downward. The most frequently checked and less personal Apps get Tiles placed at the top of my Start Screen, and the Apps which are more private or less frequently checked are placed at the bottom where they are out of view from casual onlookers, but easy to see with the scroll of the screen.

What apps can I place on the Start Screen?

ALL APPS! Unlike other platforms, all apps can be “pinned” to the start screen and moved around freely without disturbing other apps and Tiles.

Simply long-press on the app name in your list of apps, and select Pin to Start.

Many apps also support pinning content to your Start Screen from inside the app. For example, you can pin your hotel location on your Start Screen so your phone can always get you back to your hotel the fastest and quickest way. Pin your favorite web page, a recipe or review on your Start Screen and have access to what you need, when you need it.

Windows Phone 8 Features

Here are the apps I have pinned to my Start Screen

From top to bottom:

Phone (Microsoft): History of calls, voicemail, visual voicemail (not Verizon), dial-pad, contact search, history search Phone Tile Description from MS Windows website

Messaging (Microsoft): Text/sms messages, mms messages, Facebook messages (chatting), set “online status” for Facebook, set Messaging Settings such as Group Chat, Facebook Chat on/off, text message backup to cloud, chat backup to cloud, etc.

Mail (Microsoft): View, create, edit and reply to emails. Swipe function allows quick access to your Inbox/Folder, unread messages and flagged messages. These features are very helpful for people with large inboxes and/or folders.

Searching emails stored on your phone as well as on your email service are also supported, as well as many other advanced email features. (varies by email hosting service) Email Description from MS Windows Phone website

HERE Transit (Nokia): HERE Transit makes it easier for you to get anywhere by bus, train and subway. Quickly compare routes, departure and arrival times and even how far you need to walk for each route option. Available in over 740 cities globally, this is the only transit app you’ll ever need. Store Description

Key Features

  • The new start experience lets you plan a trip in advance, access your favorite places, your history and nearby transit stations with a swipe
  • Now you can easily create, access, and manage all your favorite destinations from the new dedicated favorites screen
  • See door-to-door walking directions that take you all the way there
  • Compare route options, arrival and departure times, transfers and even walking distances
  • See a detailed view of each segment on the map, and station by station details
  • View nearby stations and stops both on a map and in a list
  • Access favorites from other HERE apps and here.com
  • Pin frequent destinations to your Start screen
  • Stay current with over-the-air updates of transit information
  • Switch from HERE Maps to HERE Transit with one tap

Calendar (Microsoft) Windows Phone Calendar Description

The Forecast (RIPETUNGI) THE FORECAST is a beautiful colour driven weather app. Store Description

Using colour to display weather type, THE FORECAST is a uniquely simple weather app. Providing daily along with 5 day forecast for locations worldwide across 3 stunning screens, the weather never looked this gorgeous.

People Hub (Microsoft) The People Hub is more than just an address book on your phone. It’s a one-stop shop that keeps you up to date with your social networks and helps you stay in touch with the people you care about most. People Hub

Here’s a quick rundown of the different sections of your People Hub.

• What’s new – Here’s where you can check out all your contacts’ latest updates, pulled together from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Bracing for an avalanche of posts, tweets, and pics? No worries—you can filter the info you see in the People settings.

• Recent – Here you’ll see—and get quick access to—the contacts you’ve viewed or communicated with most recently.

• Together – Get to your Rooms and Groups and create new ones from here. Tap into a room to start a chat or see what’s new in the calendar, notes, and photo album. Or open up a group to see the members’ latest posts and pics.

• All – This is your contact list. Just tap a name to call, text, chat, email, write on the person’s Facebook Wall, or see their latest social updates and photos. The History view shows your recent calls and conversations with a contact—handy!

Tip: If you pin a contact, room, or group to Start, its Live Tile will show new updates and messages.

 

Nokia Smart Camera (Nokia) here is an exclusive app only for Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices: Shoots a sequence of photos, making it easier to capture great moments. Choose your Best Shot or combine the photos into one picture, make a strobe effect to emphasize motion, remove unwanted objects or choose the best faces for great group shots. Nokia Camera

Internet Explorer 10 (Microsoft) Open multiple tabs, get search suggestions as you type, and share a web link in just a couple of taps. Plus SmartScreen Filter helps protect you from dicey websites.

Me Tile (Microsoft) Your one-stop shop for posting to social networks and taking a quick peek at who’s writing on your Facebook Wall, tweeting about you, and liking your posts.

Settings Tile (Microsoft) This isn’t an actual app, but it is a central location for ALL of the settings for your Windows Phone. Separated into two separate swipeable menus for System Settings and Application Settings.

Here is where you can give or deny access to accessing the internet, changing system colors, backups, location detection, and much, much more.

Some unique features of the deep settings integration on Windows Phone 8 and are not found on other phone platforms or are not as deep rooted are, Kid’s Corner, Cloud based Child Settings and rules, Do Not Track, as well as the usual.

Music + Videos (Microsoft) essentially this is Xbox Music and is only one of the many music and video players available for Windows Phone 8. The Music + Videos Hub is where you can play and manage your media. It’s also home to Xbox Music, where you’ll find millions of songs to stream or download.

It’s even where you can tune into your favorite FM radio stations – provided you have corded headphones connected to you phone which acts as the FM antenna.

Microsoft Office Hub (Microsoft): The Office Hub on your phone is the place to go to work on your Microsoft Office documents. Go there to find documents, open them, and make last-minute changes to them, or even start new documents. In the App list, tap Office icon to get started. In there, you’ll see a couple of different ways to find and open your documents.

Windows Phone Central app: The official app of wpcentral.com, your guide to everything your Windows Phone can offer. Read news, tips, comments, app & game reviews wherever you go.

With live tile support, you can be up to date on the latest Windows Phone news when pinned to your start screen.

Wikipedia app (Rudy Huyn): All Wikipedia on your windows phone.

 

 

 

OneNote (Microsoft): Keep on top of things at home, work, or school using text, pictures, or audio in Microsoft OneNote Mobile. Whether you need to pick up a few things from the grocery store on the way home, review notes from a meeting or class, or plan something, you can stay organized and get things done from your phone using OneNote.

ABC News (ABC) See The Whole Picture with the new ABC NEWS App for Windows Phone

 

 

Engadget
(AOL) news reader

 

 

 

My Media Center (Ceton Corp): If you love Windows Media Center you’ll REALLY love My Media Center (formerly Ceton Companion). Manage and control your Media Center experience from your Windows Phone, whether you’re inside or outside the house. Works with ANY tuner!

 

WordPress (Automattic): WordPress for Windows Phone is an Open Source app that empowers you to write new posts, edit content, view stats, and manage comments for your WordPress site.

 

 


Facebook
(Microsoft): Facebook for Windows Phone makes it easy to stay connected and share information with friends. You can post status updates, receive Live Tile updates, check your news feed, review upcoming events, check in to places, manage your inbox, upload photos, publish notes, accept friend requests, pin Places and Messages as Tiles, and look at your friends’ photos, walls and info.

***And don’t forget about Facebook Chat – it’s built into the Messaging app on your Windows Phone.

Photos Hub (Microsoft) The Photos Hub houses your collection, including online albums, and even shows a feed of your friends’ latest pics.

 

Wallet (Microsoft) Keep your reward cards, coupons, credit cards, local deals, and memberships in one convenient place on your phone. I have my MS Wallet linked to my Walgreens Rewards and Rx app, AMC Stubs rewards and app as well as others including PayPal.

SBUX Card (Denham Software Solutions): Starbux Card (unofficial Starbucks App) allows you to make payments at Starbucks and check your rewards status, find the closest Starbucks location, enter multiple cards with custom names, check card balances, check Starbucks reward information including how many free drinks are available, pay for purchases

 

HERE City Lens (Nokia): Nokia City Lens is now HERE City Lens giving you an entirely new way to reveal what’s around you. Simply hold up your phone as though taking a photo, and HERE City Lens overlays the best shops, restaurants and points of interest right on your display. Tap a place icon to call ahead or get more information such as hours, reviews and directions. You can even save a place for later or share it with friends. Tilt your phone and HERE City Lens brings up additional view options like list and map views. No more wandering around for a café. No more looking for street signs. With HERE City Lens, you see what’s around you from your point of view, so finding something great has never felt more natural.

Windows Phone Store: name says it all

Hipstamatic Oggl Pro
(Hipstamatic): A Community For Creative People To Capture & Curate Their Lives Through Photography. ** the Pro version adds support for the Lumia 1020 41 megapixel sensor as well as Nokia Lumia exclusive features such as their award winning 3-way optical image stabilization.

Oggle Pro also allows me to post to

 

Flashlight (Tony Sakariya): NO ADVERTISEMENTS (no network data used, no tracking) FREE

 

 

 

So while these are the apps I have pinned to my Start Screen, they are only a small sample of the apps I have installed on my Lumia 1020. J

tech-nokia-lumia-1020-with-nokia-pro-camera

At the end of the month, Nokia will introduce a new smartphone that can replace your point and shoot camera – No, really!

The Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone has a 41 megapixel camera element along with a six lens design – all of which were designed with ZEISS as well as a true shutter for blur free motion/action shots.

This new flagship smartphone from Nokia isn’t just a bigger sensor on your phone, no, it’s a new way to take photos.

Zoom Later

With Nokia’s Pro Camera softbeware which is also being made available to current Lumia smartphones running Windows Phone 8, takes the time consuming task of setting up the shot before you shoot.

Take a photo with the 1020’s huge sensor and it takes a wide area shot of what ever is in front of you. After you have taken all the shots you want, you re-open the ultra large photos, zoom, rotate, and crop your image ‘just so’ and it saves a more sharable 5 megapixel of your edited photo that is suitable for sharing immediately on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Videos that you record with the Lumia 1020 are shot in either 720p or 1080p at 30 frames per second. With these two camera modes and the 41 megapixel sensor in the smartphone, you can zoom between 6 and 4 times respectively without compromising the videos quality. A nice side effect of this very unique zoom capability is that your microphone does not pick up the sound of your lens zooming in and out, making for a more finalized product.

To really cement this smartphone as more than a phone, Nokia also is shipping a camera grip which gives your Lumia 1020 a larger form factor with a grip for one handed use, attaching to a tripod and additional battery for the all the extra use you will be getting from your smartphone and camera.

Even if you don’t buy the optional camera grip accessory, the smartphone comes with a wrist strap so you don’t accidentally drop your camera over the side of your boat or into the sandy beach.

So, if you want to always have a great camera or video camera with you for all those moments you want to share, this is the only device many people will ever need or want.

Also, check out videos on youtube from Nokia showing their uniqie and simple camera settings that pros, semi pros and novices will use with ease.

microsoft-surface-rt-review-tablet-news-com_01

Microsoft Window RT is more than just a version of Windows for tablets running ARM processors, RT is a platform rich in user experience, simplicity and highly functional platform.

First let’s look at some of the reasons why ARM tablets and laptops running operating systems from Google and Apple are so popular. When you purchase these products, they work out of the box, they are light to hold and carry, they can operate about twice as long between charges as laptops built upon the Intel/AMD x64 architecture, but that’s not the “killer feature” of these devices, it’s that they are nearly maintenance free.

Maintenance Free

Three words, System on Chip, or SoC. You see, unlike desktop computers based around ALL Intel or AMD computers, ARM based products are built around a single chip that has everything you need to build a computer. A SoC includes the CPU, video chip, the I/O and nearly everything needed to build a light and efficient computer, networking etc. Designs from Intel and AMD (more on AMD later) currently rely on many chips to build one computer or tablet and since every computer is designed slightly different or very different with thousands of possible configurations, you are always playing a game of updating each component and inevitably, updating one component will break another component and will not only require another update, but likely will cause the user a lot of grief until they figure out what is making their system operate wonky.

A system based around the ARM architecture is built around one design, one chip with all the basics as well as many advanced features. No more driver updates from multiple vendors, because now EVERY driver and update is designed and certified by the Tablet and computer manufacture.

IPad popularity

I don’t think Apple’s iPads are popular because they are thin and light although I do think that is the initial attraction, but the reason why people love their iPad and why they recommend them to others is because unlike a Windows PC, which many people already own, there are no complicated drivers, or updates. Nothing breaks down and every app works as expected.

Does the iPad have a USB port? Expandable storage? Or can it print to your existing printer or scan in a photo or document from a scanner? No, you can’t connect your digital camera to your ipad to upload yor photos, you can’t connect an external hard drive or USB thumb drive to back up, restore or transfer files. Do people want these features? Yes, they do and many people turn to the many cheap and bountiful Android tablets so they can have these features.

Android isn’t an iPad

Android on the other hand does give users the ability to attach external hard drives and thumb drives and there are many choices to choose from. Small and light, big and powerful and everything in-between.

The problem is that with such broad proliferation of devices and newer models arriving every 4 to 6 months, vendors tend not to support the models beyond their ship state – the Android tablet you purchase on 2012 or 2013 will never be upgraded to newer versions of Android, no security fixes will be released to protect your investment or your data.

There is another aspect of Android tablets which is different from iPads, it’s that every Android tablet manufacture can and usually does add their own propriety features and user interface, making each product different from every other one. This may seem to be a benefit, but when every time you switch between operating system to Android app from the Play Store has a different look, different feel and more often than not they cannot share information between each other, you start to see how this open and “free” platform isn’t all its promised to be.

Windows RT and Surface RT

Windows RT takes the very best of Apple’s iPad and adds in the very best of Windows for an easy to use platform, feature rich, standards and best of all, most printers and scanners you already own can be used directly without downloading drivers. Connect a printer or scanner to your full sized USB port or connect directly via your wifi connection, print and scan just as you would with a laptop from Apple or Hewlett Packard, Acer, etc.

Traveling and want to back up your photos from your camera or smartphone? No problem, Windows RT will make this transfer of data easy and even help you to organize and upload these images to Facebook, Twitter or other social network, just like a PC.

Again, like Apple and like Windows, you have one user interface across all Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets. Unlike Apple’s iPad, your tablet PC also operates just like your desktop PC running Windows 8. One interface to learn, settings on your RT device will be automatically be carried over to you desktop PC. Traveling and need to install another language on your computer or need additional keyboard layouts? Install these or other Windows features on your RT tablet an for consistency they install on your home PC.

With the release of RT 8.1 and Windows 8,1, there are many more features that are synchronized between devices and all your settings can be changed all without ever going to the Desktop or Control Panel. Of course there are many options which allow these changes to be carried over to your other Windows 8.1 or be saved locally.

It’s all about the apps

But what about apps? Exactly, its all about the apps and the apps on Windows RT are for the most part top notch and follow a consistent and predictable design philosophy. These are good things because it means that you can jump from app to app or operating system to app and never feel jarred and disconnected. As a matter of fact, the new interface brought to Windows 8 brings all programs together and operate cosistantly and just as users the world over have adapted from a disconnected PC experience to a more connected online experience where we are encouraged to share our thoughts and opinions in short sound bites, Windows 8 makes this easy to do with a Share Charm accessible to every Windows 8 app.

I’m using Windows RT 8.1 Preview on my Surface RT and can tell you that not only has Microsoft expanded on the functionality of their new Charms Bar and the fast and easy access to sharing, printing, scanning, streaming video to your smart television, ect, but it now is available to more devices and has been refined to easier for the newbie as well as advanced user.

Running multiple apps at a time

Windows RT and Windows 8 allow users to split their screens in two so that they may run one app in a large window pane and a second app on the side. While this does make it easier to use one app and monitor a 2nd, it really didn’t enhance the user experience.

What might be the “killer feature” of Windows 8.1 is its ability to dynamically share the screen between apps and logically and intuitively divide the screen into sections side by side by side. For example. You are reading an email and it has photo, pdf or document attachment or web link. Once you choose to open it, the email app snaps to the left 50% of the screen and the app which you have set to open these file types opens instantly in the right 50% of your screen. The actual app opens, not a viewer as other platforms use, but real apps so for example, you open a photo in an email and once open, you can save, edit, print, share or tag it as you would any other photo you have stored on your computer.

Microsoft’s laser focus

For all of Microsoft’s faults, both perceived, fabricated and deserved, one thing Microsoft knows how to do better than any other company in the world is their ability to support many thousands of developers and hardware original equipment manufacturers, third party hardware vendors etc with consistent and well architected standards for all to follow.

This laser focus on design and third party support is the sole reason why the computer industry has grown so rapidly and why we have so many choices of printer, scanners, monitors, video cards, network cards, keyboards, etc to choose from. The very reason why so many developers develop their apps for the Windows platform.

You can design for Windows and know that what you have developed will for years if not decades to come. This is also why so many people choose to use Microsoft Windows and Microsoft products at home as well as in their offices. You can safely invest in costly software and hardware peripherals and know you can use them for years to come – even if you purchase a new computer running a version on Windows developed 10 years after you made that costly investment and know with confidence that it will “just work.”

This is the same expertise Microsoft is bringing to Windows RT and to Windows 8. A platform designed for the future; a platform that will continue to grow and develop for years to come, a platform that brings along with it much of Windows compatibility with hardware peripherals out of the box and a platform to build upon.

Googles lack of focus

Google does not appear to have ever developed a short or long term goal for their Android platform. The Android kernel isn’t optimized to work with any one, two or three ARM SoC products, their user interface for Android changes every four to six months, they continuously develop for future products without taking the time, effort or desire to support the millions of products released into the free market.

Every time Google releases a new version of Android, it almost always necessitates app developers to rewrite their apps to work on or support the newest revision. Each time an Android vendor releases a new device with a new SoC from a new vendor, a new screen size, resolution or combination of the two not only is that version of Android highly customized to support the new device, but apps need to be changed and updated.

Customizing Android for each and every tablet is not an easy task and consumes a lot of corporate resources, for both the hardware, but also the drivers and everything that allows Android to work on the device.

Once a company has released a product the design team is onto developing and customizing Android for their next product.

So when Google releases a newer improved version of Android that adds features or fixes problems, they do not have the manpower or resources to bring that new version of Android with all the advancements to their existing products.

That leaves Android users with a tablet that is stuck in time and will not advance or improve over time.

Apple’s iPad platform

Apple has complete control over their iPads and such and unlike Google, they do want the users of their iPads to gain new features as they are released and they have designed their iOS operating system that powers the iPhone and iPad for developers to develop apps that work on all of their products. Sure, some newer features are only available on the newest products, but from a user standpoint, their apps still work, their operating systems is secure from most malicious threats and their investment in their iPad is trouble free for the life of the product.

Windows RT gains more than it loses

For these reasons Windows RT will not only succeed, but will thrive and the more people who switch to a tablet running Windows RT the more people will hear about how wonderful their experience is and how they don’t lose features found on desktop and laptop computers, but they will tell people of all the things they have gained too.

In fact, AMD is about to release an x64 based SoC and I hope that Microsoft chooses to release a Windows RT PC using this chip and not a Window 8.1 PC, because I love how my Surface RT “just works” and is trouble and hassle free.