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Showing posts from August 23, 2015

Windows 10 On 90,000 Different Hardware Combinations

The news that Windows 10 is on 75 million PCs within a month of launch is pretty impressive, but as well as sharing this Yusuf Mehdi also shared some other interesting facts.
Most impressively Windows 10 has been installed on 90,000 different PC or tablet variations. In that context the number of problems that have been reported pale into insignificance.
Windows 10 users seem to be a bit keener to use Microsoft's Store too, with six times as many downloads per user as Windows 8.x users. No doubt some of this is down to Windows 7 upgraders getting their first taste of the experience.
There was also some worrying news for hardware OEMs - machines manufactured in 2007 have been happily taking the upgrade, suggesting there might not be the hoped for hardware sales bonanza.
Overall though the news coming out of Microsoft looks very positive for the company. Which should make the next set of financial results intriguing...

Wearables Market Grew 230% Year On Year

IDC reported its estimates for wearable sales in last quarter and they show an enormous growth in the sales of technology that we attach to ourselves and, most surprisingly, only a small proportion of the growth coming from sales of the Apple Watch.
IDC estimates that Apple sold 3.6m Watches in the quarter, which is the top end of estimates derived from deep diving into Apple's financial results but they are credible. Those sales propelled Apple to second place in the wearables market behind Fitbit and ahead of Xiaomi. The top three sold 4.4m, 3.6m and  3.1m respectively
Nobody else moved the needle. Garmin and Samsung were fourth and fifth best sellers and they only managed 0.7m and 0.6m respectively.
However it does seem like there are a large number of vendors doing smaller numbers of sales - 5.7m devices were lumped in the 'other' category, accounting for nearly a third of all sales.
I think it would be fair to assume that the majority of the wearables sold were fitn…

How DuPont Poisoned The World

This story at the Huffington Post is a beautifully written piece that details the way in which DuPont put its profits above public health and in doing so poisoned the world. If you truly believe that the world is safe in the hands of corporations then this should be all the evidence you need to disabuse this theory. The effects of this outrage are global and ubiquitous. Our children will be dealing with the after effects for generations to come. My only question is why isn't this the leading news story everywhere?

The World Really Is On Facebook

When it was announced that Facebook had one billion active users that was a milestone. The Social Network was now so big that it defied belief. Another milestone was breached this week, after Mark Zuckerberg took to his own account to announce that one billion users had accessed Facebook within one 24 hour period. I guess the next milestone will be when we hit one billion simultaneous users. What strikes me is that Facebook has transcended the idea of an internet service and become a part of life in the frictionless sort of way that mobile phones and landlines became a part of our lives twenty and sixty years ago.

Why Europe Hates Google

I'm sure you've read the news today that Google will be fighting the EU on antitrust charges. In fact if you look back at the last few years Google in particular, and the big internet services in general, seem to have been waging a litigation war with the European Community. Why is that? If you want an answer you only need to look at Alexa's page ranking results. European sites have virtually no penetration at all and as a result a whole generation is growing up under the patronage of US web properties like Google, Bing, Facebook and Yahoo. This failure to create a voice on the internet is baffling. The EU is not a small place - half a billion people live there, a population that's not far short of the double that of the US, which dominates the internet's voice. If you look at Alexa's ranking, the first site that is European (as opposed to a US subsidiary like Google UK) is the BBC, which is the 86th most popular website. The only other website of European ori…

Apple Can't Do Cloud - Part 257

Apple Music may be relatively popular amongst Apple device owners, but its reliance on the company's cloud services is doing it a lot of damage too. At ReadWrite Matt Asay writes of the complete mess that Apple has made of his carefully curated music collection. Tim Cook is sitting on an enormous pile of cash and having splashed an indecent amount to acquire Beats and the Beats Music service he is damaging the investment by continuing to leverage Apple's cloud for the service. He is doing the technical equivalent of balancing an elephant on a traffic cone. I haven't tried Apple Music yet, the promise of three months free service isn't enough to tempt me to use anything Apple in the cloud, having been burned before. Especially when Microsoft's music service (Xbox Music on my Lumia 930, Groove everywhere else) works so well in the areas where Apple falls down. My music follows me across phone, tablet, web browser and Xbox One. That's true whether I'm using A…

Fix Windows 10 Sign-in Problems

One issue I have come across on several Windows 10 installs is the incorrect handling of security when signing in after sleep. Despite the modern UI accounts control panel being set to 'Every Time' or 'Never' some machines will ignore the setting completely. This happens because the power management classic control panel has a separate setting for deciding what happens when your PC wakes from sleep and for some reason sometimes changes made in the modern UI control panel aren't pushed through to here. So if your PC isn't doing what you want the fix is simple, even if the problem can be frustrating. Open the settings control panel and type 'power' into the search box. The first result should be 'Power and Sleep settings' open it and scroll to the bottom to select 'Additional Power Settings' which will open a classic control panel window. On the left hand side select 'Require a password on wakeup' which will eventually get you to …

Wunderlist Updated For Windows 10

Wunderlist is a magnificent task manager which you should really try if you haven't already. It's available on all platforms that matter, synchronises across devices and you can send it emails to create tasks. After upgrading to Windows 10 you may be a little disappointed to find niceties like the Live Tile no longer work. However the recently-acquired Microsoft company has been quick to get a Windows 10 ready version sorted and has released a beta for users willing to accept some bugs. Although thus far I have found that it has no obvious problems. You can access the beta from the Microsoft Store here.

What Happened To The Promise Of Covers For The Microsoft Surface?

Over the last few days Microsoft has been showing off a prototype cover for its Surface devices which contains an embedded touchscreen. The DisplayCover embeds a second screen in the space between the keyboard and hinge of a Type Cover add-on. Its good to see that Microsoft has been thinking about how it can make use of the technology which it has pioneered. The concept of a proprietary port on the Surface which offers the opportunity to do all sorts of clever things hasn't really been expended upon by Microsoft, other that the half-hearted discussion around a keyboard for music mixing and the 'now you see it, now you don't' appearance of the battery cover for the original Surface form factor. Microsoft needs to look at the potential it has for the use of this port and either create a 'Designed for Surface' approval program that allows third parties to build add-ons that use it, or take a risk on putting together some accessories itself. For example we know th…

Once Again Tesla Hypermiling Feat Sends Wrong EV Message

Norwegian Tesla fanatic Bjorn Nyland just set a new distance record for driving his Tesla 452 miles across Scandinavia. Its a feat that is being lauded in EV circles and especially in Tesla ones, but it significantly damages the image of EVs in the marketplace by sending out very negative messages. First of all the range. 452 miles? That's a journey that no conventionally fueled vehicle owner would even think twice about. Seriously, if you had to get into your car and drive from London to Liverpool and back again the range of your car wouldn't even cross your mind. Maybe if you have something sporty you may have to consider a fuel stop on the way, but otherwise it wouldn't even warrant a mention in your social circles, never mind the wider internet. By making a big noise and drawing attention to the fact that a Tesla had achieved this otherwise unremarkable thing, Nyland brings attention to the limitations that its motive force brought to the journey. To whit, a journey t…

75 Million Windows 10 Installs Completed

It's four weeks since Windows 10 became available to end users and in that time it has achieved a phenomenal number of installs - from fourteen million on day one through to seventy-five million today. The number comes from Microsoft VP Yusef Mehdi and is backed up by Statcounter's usage statistics which show the new OS responsible for 6.25% of all internet traffic as of the 25th of August. The next big headline number will be 100 million users, at the current rate of take-up that threshold should be crossed before the end of September. Which would be a nice number for Microsoft to be able to drop into its Windows 10 Mobile launch when that happens.

Ads On free Public WiFi Hotspots

Free public Wifi hotspots have to be paid for somehow and anyone who thinks that they are getting a free lunch is seriously deluding themselves. However there are rules to be followed and it looks like AT&T have been caught playing fast and loose with those rules on its US hotspots.
In this case the company has been injecting adverts as overlays or replacement ads on sites browsed from its free hotspots without asking permission or explaining to users that they will be doing this when they sign up for the free services. Pretty sure that's prohibited by US law.
I should say that if AT&T were transparent about what they were doing and didn't interfere with site's own ad service, I'd see little to complain about here. If someone were to offer free Wifi in exchange for showing me ads on the pages y view I'd probably accept. At least I'd be making an informed choice.
On the other hand its a good advert for HTTPS which prevents this kind of man in the middle…

Virgin Media To Share Customers Wifi, Bandwidth For The Greater Good

It seems like forever ago that Virgin Media announced it was creating a Wifi network to compete with BT's. Now it has started to slip more details about how the network will be built and it offers some challenging premises that should not be the subject of a knee-jerk rejection. Virgin will be deploying its own network hardware up and down the country, but by far the largest part of its new network will be created by sharing access to its customer's wireless networks. The connection will be provided via a separate SSID which bypasses the customer's own network and uses segregated bandwidth on the customer's fibre connection. In return for allowing their connection to be used in this way Virgin Media customers will get access to a 10Mb/s wireless connection whenever they are in range of another user's access point. Other users will only get access to a 500Mb/s connection. For Virgin Media customers the trade off is excellent, especially if the work is done to provi…

Dear Internet: Microsoft's Family Accounts Are A Good Thing

When you install Windows 10 onto a child's computer, or add a child account to your own PC, Microsoft turns on its Family Accounts feature by default. This safety feature monitors the accounts of your children and reports on their activity. Previously in Windows 8.x it was an opt-in feature, now it is opt out. Stupid people are complaining about this. And certain websites are trying to make an issue of it. With the dangers of cyber bullying, websites promoting extremism, violence, self-harm and stalking of children online by dangerous individuals no parent should be allowing their children to access the web completely unsupervised. For all the trust you put in your children there is no 100% safe path and without any intention on their behalf trouble can come looking for them.. By enabling this feature as a  default Microsoft is ensuring that all families gain some measure of protection, even those lacking even the most basic technical knowledge. For those who don't wish to t…

Galaxy Note 5: Broken Stylus Silos Are Your Own Stupid Fault

I really can't believe that Samsung is receiving any kind of negative publicity over the issue of the Galaxy Note 5's S-Pen silo. If you haven't heard, some users are finding out that if you shove the stylus into its slot upside down you break the sensor that detects its presence, robbing the Note of some seriously useful functionality. There is no logical reason why you would put the S-pen into its slot the wrong way around, even if Samsung didn't quite clearly tell you that if you did so you would damage the device. Which it does, even though common sense should tell you this. For pity's sake people, this is an expensive piece of finely crafted technology, if you aren't going to treat it with respect then you deserve everything you get. So, if you have a Note 5 and feel that you are unable to ascertain whether you have the S-pen the right way up before putting it back in the phone I suggest you return it to the retailer forthwith. And if anyone asks you why…

Tim Cook Forced To Respond To Apple Stock Slide

The current turmoil ripping apart China's financial sector has had a serious knock-on effect on Apple's share price in the US, presumably as investors see China as Apple's biggest growth market, and consequently are wary of anything that may affect sales there. The slide in Apple's stock price has been so pronounced - a third has been wiped off Apple's market cap since its last financial call and as a result Tim Cook has had to take the unusual step of making sales information available to the market outside of Apple's normal reporting schedule. In a note to Jim Cramer Cook reported that Apple had seen "strong growth for our business in China through July and August" and that "growth in iPhone activations has actually accelerated"  which suggests that whatever the problems China is experiencing they aren't affecting the appetite for Apple's products. Whether the general malaise that China's problems are spreading through the wor…

Open Source Advocates Rolling Over To Microsoft

There has always been a small and vocal community advocating the adoption of open source software and standards over Microsoft's proprietary offerings. For individuals and small businesses this is an option which could lead to lower costs. In the enterprise it's an entirely different matter. Having been asked on a number of occasions to look at the feasibility of moving large organisations to an open source software solution I have always found that the promise of lower upfront costs falls down once the total cost of ownership is considered. Then there are the technical, compatibility and training considerations to address. That doesn't stop me running Ubuntu and Libre Office on several machines at home, however I have yet to see a well made argument for doing the same in the enterprise. So you can imagine my surprise when government organisations announce they are going the open source route for their IT solutions. Once such was Munich City Council, which took Linux and …

F1: Justin Wilson's Accident Prompts Closed Cockpit Discussions

The horrible accident which befell ex-F1racer Justin Wilson yesterday has called into question the continued use of open cockpit cars.
Wilson was critically injured and remains in a coma after a freak Indycar accident where his helmet was struck by debris from Sage Karem's accident. The piece Wilson hit, whilst travelling at around 200 mph, was either the ballast or crash structure from Karem's nosecone, a heavy part which caused the injuries that have hospitalised the British racer.
Calling it a freak accident is a cop out though. Felipe Massa's accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009 was very similar, whilst Henry Surtees died after he was struck on the head by an untethered wheel which had detached in another car's accident.
And whilst neither incident involved striking debris, both Jules Bianchi and Maria de Villota died as a result of brain trauma received in helmet strikes.
It really is time to decide whether some form of cockpit canopy should be deployed…

If You Want To Beat Apple, First You Have To Be Apple-like

Every company on the technology sector wants to be like Apple. To sell electronic devices at premium prices,  with exorbitant profit margins and religion-like customer loyalty. The things is that none of these companies have actually tried to understand why Apple has achieved its success or how it has managed to maintain it despite the tragic loss of a high-profile leader. Apple has built its empire by making compelling products that do things which persuade buyers to change their way of thinking. The iPod was a better way of consuming music. Once people experienced the flexibility of the music player and the ease of use of the iTunes Music Store they stampeded to abandon record stores and CDs. The iPhone took mobile web browsing and made it a joy, at a time when WAP and mobile websites were common the iPhone offered a far superior portal to the joys of the internet. It wasn't a great phone when it launched, but Apple delivered update after update to both hardware and software, …

I'm Not Working Around The Windows Phone App Gap Any More

It may not be the most popular opinion, but I like Windows Phone. It has the cleverest UI and the best user experience of current platforms. There's a great Windows Phone available at every price point and the things which make a smartphone more usable are all done well on the platform - battery life, screens, call quality and durability. The problem remains, as ever, the app gap. Those apps that don't appear on the platform because of an unwillingness by the provider to support anything Microsoft or a perception that the platform has no users. Well I'm not prepared to keep working around the problem any more. No, I'm not ditching my Lumia 930, which is a truly outstanding phone. Instead I'm kicking those services that don't support Windows Phone into touch. So, goodbye Belkin Wemo. I will switch to the more inclusive Insteon platform and as well as gaining a native Windows Phone client I'll also be able to control my smart devices using my voice and Corta…

Get OneNote Metro On Windows 10

If, like me, you've found the new Windows 10 implementation of OneNote to be a complete disaster then Sean Ong has got your back. The video above explains how you can replace the abomination that shipped with Windows 10 with the infinitely superior and more capable Windows 8Metro version of the app.
I haven't yet installed it on my Surface 3, however I can confirm that it works as promised on my Asus Vivotab Note. The only downside is that you can no longer use the Edge browser's 'write on a web page' functionality, which doesn't strike me as a big price to pay. I can't tell you whether the removal of the Windows 10 version of the app releases the pen top button command for the OneNote desktop app to take command.
The pessimistic side of me suspects not. Which is a shame as that would allow me to restore Windows 10 onto my Surface 3. Having installed and then downgraded twice now I'm waiting until this issue has been completely resolved before trying …