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Showing posts from November, 2016

Samsung Disposing Of PC Manufacturing Makes Sense, For Samsung Anyway

The reduction in size of the PC market over the last three years has been startling, but given the way that hardware development has slowed and the longer usable lifecycles current PCs support it hasn't been a surprise.
Inevitably that will lead to a shake out of PC manufacturers.
With a recent attempt to merge the operations of several Japanese OEMs failing to get off the ground, it looks like the first evidence of this happening will come from Samsung, where a sale of its PC division to Lenovo is currently being discussed if rumours are to be believed.
Having seen nothing of the success of its smartphone division and with the PC market becoming even more cut throat, the opportunity to offload PC manufacturing would probably be very attractive to Samsung. Even with the very nice Galaxy TabPro S on the books, the PC division has struggled to garner sales.
I'm not entirely sure why Lenovo would want to buy up additional manufacturing capability just at the moment though. Unle…

Jolla's Sailfish Becomes Russian Government's Mobile Platform Of Choice

The Russian Government's registration body has certified Finnish company Jolla's Sailfish platform as suitable for use in official devices, beginning the process of moving the country's technology away from US developed Android, iOS and Windows.
Jolla is effectively the former Nokia team responsible for the development of the Maemo and then Meego platforms. The Linux-based OS featured in just a handful of mini-tablets and one smartphone before Nokia canned the project in favour of Windows Phone.
Meego had real potential though, so whilst Jolla has failed to make any headway in the consumer market with its new devices, this certification is bound to raise some interest.
As yet Sailfish has no support for paid apps or in-app purchases, whether this new lease of life for the platform will support the development of one remains to be seen. After the failure of its crowdfunded tablet last year, this is certainly the sort of boost that Jolla needed.

Samsung Restructuring Could See Electronics Division Stand Alone

Ownership of the big South Korean Chaebols is a tangled web of loosely aligned companies and single family ownership, Samsung is no exception. However, under pressure from investors, the company is now investigating the possibility of separating its Electronics business out from the rest of the business in order to promote greater visibility of the division's performance.
In the aftermath of the Note 7 debacle there were always likely to be changes to the way the Electronics division was run. Whilst this review doesn't guarantee anything will change it may well prove to be an opportunity for the Lee family to exert greater control over the division.
Nothing should be taken for granted though. The Chaebols have survived many attempts at reform from many different sources over the last four decades. Ownership and secrecy have remained constant over that period of time and its likely that any changes implemented as a part of this review will ensure that anything given up on one …

iOS 10.1.1 Another Botched Apple Upgrade

If you have an iPhone 6 and haven’t already accepted the iOS 10.1.1 update you might be well advised to skip it and wait for the next patch release. That’s because Apple appears to have introduced a number of battery life problems, with users reporting extreme battery drain and power offs on partially drained batteries.It isn’t as if the iPhone 6 had enough battery life to start with, now affected users are finding they aren’t able to stray too far away from their chargers.Undoubtedly a fix won’t be long in coming, but you have to question the level of care that Apple is taking with these updates, given the frequency which they introduce catastrophic issues or brick customer’s iPhones.Now if this was Google having problems with Android you could be more sympathetic, after all there are around twelve million different Android models it has to work with, the odd glitch is probably to be expected.Apple however has to cater for just a handful of devices. From 4S to 7 there are only ten iP…

Stopping Drivers From Using Their Phones Is Difficult With Technology

The NHTSA has asked for phone manufacturers to embed technology into their products in order to prevent drivers from using their phones whilst driving. Whilst I agree whole heartedly with the concept I can see no. way of implementing this in a way that doesn't cause all sorts of problems.
Technology isn't always the answer - and in this case it is definitely not a good answer. Any technical solution can either be easily defeated or around. At best technology can be used to provide supporting evidence to allow prosecution.
The cure here is probably punitive legislation and extra enforcement.
Making the punishment so severe as to be a true deterrent is a particularly appropriate option here. A significant driving ban and confiscation of phone and / or car should be enough to persuade drivers to pull over before handling that phone.
With Bluetooth technology all but ubiquitous in new cars and Apple and Android car options becoming more popular there is no reason why anybody need…

San Francisco Hack Another Warning For Businesses To Get Their Houses In Order

San Francisco's Light Rail system is the latest high profile example of a business falling victim to ransomware. Over the weekend the city owned transport company apparently lost control of its billing system, resulting in free rides for passengers.
How deep into the organisation the hack goes isn't known, with the Municipal Railway not commenting on the incident as yet. However the person responsible told The Verge that the company's network was "very open". That would suggest that everything from the staff payroll to routing systems and signal controls could be exposed. A far more scary prospect than the loss of a few fares.
Whilst San Francisco works to retrieve the situation it finds itself in, other companies who have failed to need the warnings of dozens of other high profile hacks need to get their heads down and address the weaknesses in their systems.
For some that will mean verifying that their existing controls are still robust and the assumptions ar…

F1: So Ends The Most Ridiculous Phase In Grand Prix History

Nico Rosberg took the 2016 F1 Driver's World Championship crown in Abu Dhabi last night, adding his name to the list of greats whose names already adorn this trophy. Unfortunately, it's a purely academic crown, given that the last three seasons have shaken out to be a two class championship, with the two Mercedes drivers battling for the title and the rest of the field racing in Class B.
It has been the most tedious, uninteresting and least compelling era of F1 and the titles won by Hamilton and Rosberg are worthless in comparison to the majority of hard won titles achieved over the previous sixty-plus years of the sport. What kind of World Championship only has two protagonists?
Yes, we have had years when one team has dominated in the past - but when free development and testing were allowed, things became more competitive as seasons wore on, or a season of domination has been followed by a competitive season of racing as rivals caught up.
The current set of rules have prev…

Dongle Life Isn't Unique To The MacBook Pro, Isn't Terrible For Everyone

The dongle life. It's what you should be expecting to live if you switch to the MacBook Pro. If you are moving from any previous MacBook Pro nothing that you used to plug in will work anymore. Dongles feature heavily in your future.
But the MBP isn't the first laptop to go all in on the new USB Type c connection. It isn't even the first Apple laptop to do so. So why the big commotion?
For users who work primarily from one desk dongles shouldn't be off putting. Plug in a USB-C dock, plug in your peripherals and you're good to go. Better even than the previous MBP, because now you need only connect one cable to provide your laptop with power, external screens, keyboard, mouse and other peripheral access.
For those who live a more mobile life things just got more complicated.
If you have a bunch of USB peripherals which you previously plugged into an older MBP then you'll need one or more USB-B to USB-C adapters. If you need video you can pick a multiport adapte…

Hey HTC, Now Would Be A Good Time To Revisit Windows Mobile

HTC made a bit of a pig's ear of its last foray into Windows smartphones. Not that there was anything wrong with the phone itself. The HTC One M8 for Windows was every bit as good as its Android toting twin sister.
Unfortunately HTC fluffed the product's whole lifecycle, from launch, through failure to provide a timely Windows 10 upgrade.
With Windows phones making great strides in many markets - European and South American ones especially - HTC failed to sell or market to any of them. The net result were sales figures that served only to make HTC's Android sales look marginally better.
Failing to jump on the Windows 10 upgrade was a brutal failure which demonstrated a total lack of care for loyal customers.
Move forward a couple of years and things aren't going well for HTC. Mounting losses, falling sales and a gig as the uncredited artisan responsible for the Google Pixel hardly bodes well for the future.
So what better time to refresh its Windows phone offering an…

Kiwis Can Grab A Cheap Surface Pro 4 Today

Microsoft recently introduced a new SKU for the Surface Pro 4 line in New Zealand - the Core M3 version, but without the Surface Pen. At a $200 saving over the standard M3 version it's a good offer.

Just for today it's even better, with both JBHifi and Noel Leeming offering the SP4 at under $100. The former is bundling the Microsoft Designer Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, whilst the latter has a year's Office 365 subscription included.

Given the $1,500 asking price for the standard SP4 Core M3 that's a hefty saving, in effect allowing you to pick one up with the Surface Ppen and Type Cover for less than the usual entry level price.

It's not often that New Zealand gets included in the better Microsoft offers - but just for once we seem to have picked up a pretty good deal.

Microsoft Black Friday Sale: Lumia 950XL Buyers Bag Free 950 And Dock

In what is proving an ever more desperate bid to clear stocks of its high end Lumia handsets, Microsoft will now give you a a free Lumia 950 and a Display Dock if you buy a 950XL from the Microsoft Store. As ever, this deal is available for US customers only.
The deal is available for a limited time - although it doesn't specifically say that it is Black Friday only - so you may find the deal available through the weekend as well.
However don't hold off too long, as Microsoft generally sells these offers out quite quickly when they have been available in the past.
As to the motivation for this sale, my view is that this isn't in itself a desperate bid to clear unsold stock, as has been previously suspected when this offer appeared before. The Lumia 950 has been in and out of stock in various regional stores before, suggesting that Microsoft is continuing to receive handsets from its manufacturing partner.
Could it be that Microsoft is using the Lumia 950 offers to keep in…

Still No Family Plan For Microsoft Groove Users

I suppose the fact that Microsoft has still not added a Family plan to Groove music speaks volumes for the service and Microsoft's ambitions for it.
When Amazon can come out of the gates as new kid on the block and offer family plans right from the get go, you have to question why Microsoft is still lagging on this option, even as it continues to add features to the service.
As of today everyone worth mentioning has a family option for their music service bar Microsoft.
Microsoft has never published user numbers for its Groove service either. With 400 million Windows 10 users converted in just over a year you would think that it would take  very little to convert some of them to the Groove service too. Just 1% of those users would put Microsoft into the top three music streaming services.
In reality though I suspect that there are rather fewer than the four million users that conversion rate would suggest.
Is music streaming so lacking in a profit stream that Microsoft has comple…

Windows 10 Mobile x86 Emulation On ARM - Microsoft Still Playing The Long Game

Reports that Microsoft will release a future version of Windows 10 supporting x86 emulation on ARM processors suggests that Microsoft does have a future mobile plan and that plan will be an enhanced vision of devices like the HP Elite x3 able to run a much wider selection of Windows 10 software.
The idea that a mobile first CPU could provide full access to desktop software and performance seems a bit far fetched today, but the Redstone 3 update isn't likely to be released until mid-2018, which allows the hardware a chance to evolve further and deliver the raw performance necessary to make this feasible.
That's an interesting change of focus for Microsoft. The old Wayne Gretzky quote applies here - ' I skate to where the puck is going to be'. Building software to take advantage of hardware that wasn't available yet was something Steve Wozniak made a virtue of in the early days of Apple.
Further signs that Microsoft is the new Apple?
What does this mean for Windows …

What's Samsung's Plan For The Galaxy S8?

The Galaxy Note 7 debacle is just about beginning to fade from the public perception, replaced by other more important issues. That's good news for Samsung, as are polls that show that it has retained a high level of customer loyalty, even amongst former Note 7 owners.
So what is Samsung's next step? The Galaxy S8 is due within the next four months and, as yet, the company has not been able to say definitively what the cause of the Note 7 fires was.
That's going to make any S8 announcement a particularly awkward thing for Samsung.
Which is a shame, because my gut feel is that the S8 is going to take the smartphone concept to a whole new level, building upon both the S7 and Note 7 to create something which is stunning and game changing in a way that will erase the remaining bad memories of the Note 7 fires.

Continuum Could Drive Adoption Of Smaller Phones

Windows Mobile's Continuum functionality offers an interesting possibility for future smartphone buyers - the ability to have the smaller phone in their pocket that they demand whilst still being able to connect a larger screen for 'big picture' functionality.
Whilst only Microsoft does this right now there's no reason why Android or iOS users shouldn't gain the same functionality - in fact at least some of this capability is available on both the major mobile platforms.
The key to Continuum is that it allows the use of a larger screen and input device than the phone itself can handle. That's been exploited solely for the mobile to desktop category so far, but why stop there.
Imagine instead an iPhone SE sized device performing your day to day mobile needs, but also being able to attach to a larger iPad-like screen to become a tablet too. Add in a lap dock style accessory and the desktop dock functionality already demonstrated by HP and you really have one dev…

Apple 'Bulbs' Ad - Is That The Sound Of Scraping Barrels?

Remember how Apple's adverts used to tell you how a new product would change the world, the way you feel or the way you work or more usually all three? Even the ones that stretched credibility somewhat?
Well here's the ad for the new MacBook Pro. When even Apple's famous advertising can't make a product seem desirable you have to at least consider that you have a prize turkey all trussed up for Christmas.

Did Satya Nadella Just Kybosh The Surface Phone

Whilst in Australia to meet developers and start-ups, Satya Nadella granted an interview to the local Financial Review newspaper. Covering subjects from AI to LinkedIn, Nadella had more than a little to say about the smartphone platform. Parsing the language he used carefully he effectively killed any hope of a Surface Phone for at least the foreseeable future.
Presenting the HP Elite x3 as an example of Microsoft's presence in 'structural innovation' he claimed that Microsoft's smartphone presence would be defined by what 'we can uniquely do in what is the ultimate mobile device'.
In other words, the current strategy of supporting vendors with Windows 10 Mobile will continue, but Microsoft's focus will be around pushing its services onto iOS and Android devices to an even greater degree than today.
Nadella tied Microsoft's Windows smartphone efforts to 'a specific set of customer, who need a specific set of capabilities'. Enterprises.
Phones l…

Slow Wired Charging And Limited Battery Life - The iPhone's Oft Ignored Weak Points

I currently use three phones on a daily basis: a Lumia 950, Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6. Two of these phones have excellent battery life, wireless charging and wired fast charging. The third manages to be a perfect flop, with limited battery endurance and relatively slow charging, despite its smaller battery size.
The biggest sin for me though is the absence of wireless charging. The technology just seems like a no-brainer for Apple. This is the company that pushed Wifi into the mainstream with the original iBook and Airport. Wireless charging seems just as desirable and useful to the end user. So why no love from Apple?
Wired fast charging is brilliant too. In a low battery situation it's possible to get sufficient charge into either the Galaxy or Lumia to last out the rest of the day in as little as ten minutes.
The thing is that I rarely get to a point where I have to make use of the facility. I have wireless chargers dotted around my home and office - by my bedside, on my desks, e…

HMD To Launch New Nokia Phones At MWC '17

HMD Global will be attending the 2017 Mobile World Congress in February next year to launch its first phones sporting N okie branding. This will be a landmark moment, both for Nokia and HMD, as this marks a real opportunity and risk for both companies.For Nokia the risk is to its reputation. The smartphone market hasn't been kind to the company that ruled the mobile phone market. It failed with Symbian, failed again with Windows Phone and then ended up selling off its mobile division to Microsoft, who promptly wrote a the thing off. That is a lot of damage for one reputation to bear, no matter how good it has been. After a decade of failure the Nokia name can ill afford to be linked to any more average phones.For HMD there is significant financial risk to contend with. It paid upfront for a ten year license to the Nokia name. It has allegedly invested another $500m building the necessary infrastructure to shift and support Nokia phones once they exist. It too cannot afford to laun…

The Apple Coffee Table Book Might Seem Ridiculous But...

Yes, Apple published a book. a coffee table heavyweight, covering twenty years of design. It is high quality both in its presentation and its materials. People who spend silly money on coffee table books will be rushing to grab one of these.However the idea of a book published by a designer to celebrate his own work seems rather pompous and narcissistic. Especially one who seems to have wildly lost the plot over the last few years.So, if you're tempted to go out and grab this one let me present you with a mental image: Jonny lve locked in a padded cell, masturbating furiously to his own reflection in a mirror. That's what you're getting when you purchase this book. So, the ideal thing to put on your coffee table?

Does HP Have A Consumer Windows 10 Mobile Incoming?

At least one German website is convinced that HP has a consumer focused Windows 10 Mobile ready for launch in early 2017 as a partner for the enterprise Elite x3. How likely is that to be the case?Pretty good actually. Having invested in getting one Windows phone to market, there's a logic to extending involvement. After all, HP is heavily involved in the consumer PC market, so why not go for phone sales too?HP appears to have favoured status with Microsoft at the moment and the rumour mill suggests that the new phone will leverage technology previously reserved for Lumias. With Alcatel having launched a high-end consumer Windows phone and HP expected to have this one on the market as early as February, there's a fair chance that Windows phone owners will have an interesting choice of replacements, should they decide to stick with Microsoft. That might be too little, too late but it does also represent the strongest sign of life from Windows 10 Mobile in more than a year.Not e…

2016 MacBook Pro Hands-On

The new MacBook Pro has landed in New Zealand and I had an opportunity to get hands on with the entry-level 13" model this weekend.
Here's a laptop that manages to disappoint in so many ways that it's hard to believe that Apple really launched it on loyal customers.
Worst thing about this machine? The keyboard. I mean seriously, side by side with its predecessor, it isn't pleasant to use at all. Apparently its an improvement over the MacBook's original version, but it felt just as nasty to type on to me. I gave the machine to a colleague who is an existing MacBook Pro owner and his response was that the keyboard was a deal breaker all on its own.
Then there are the ports. On this model two Type-C USB ports, guaranteeing the need to purchase a whole heap of adapters. For me personally it wouldn't be a deal breaker, but my colleague felt otherwise.
The new MacBook Pro is smaller than the outgoing model, but the reduction in mass and volume is just not enough to…

This Looks Like A Fine Reason To Walk Away From Google

A number of sites are reporting that upwards of 200 users have had their Google accounts suspended after buying and selling-on Pixel phones from the company's Project Fi carrier.The reason for doing so was to take advantage of the New Hampshire State sales tax - it doesn't have one. Customers bought their phones and then had them delivered to a New Hampshire reseller who sold them on and split the profit with the original customer.So let's examine this whole process from a consumer's point of view.First, Google sells you a phone that it prohibits you from reselling. However this isn't a piece of software or artwork, you aren't buying a license to the phone. This is a physical product whose title transfers to you at the point of sale. Google has no interest in the product at the point where the purchase has completed and has no legal right to dictate what you do with your phone from then on.Next the response. Banning access to a person's Google account poten…

Alfa Romeo Stelvio: Critical SUV Unveiled

This is the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio, unveiled at the 2016 Las Angeles Motor Show this week, the most important car in the storied manufacturers history.
Alfa's move back towards viability has finally started to gather pace, with the launch of the 4C reviving the brand's identity and re-introducing Alfa Romeo to the US; the new Giulia giving Alfa Romeo its first BMW / Mercedes competitor since the launch of the 164, way back in the 1990s; and now we have the Stelvio, the car whose sales will, if all goes well, fund the future growth of the marque.
Alfa Romeo may mean sports cars and performance and championship winning track antics to most car buyers, but the company was responsible for commercial vehicles, including 4WD off roaders for the Italian military in the past.
The Stelvio moves into a hot market sector, with premium SUVs arriving from every corner. It needs to sell well and based on looks alone I doubt that will prove to be a problem.
Availability is slated for early-…

MacBook Pro, Echo Chambers And Apple's PC Strategy

An echo chamber is a space where sound echoes back to you. The results of the US Election and the Brexit Referendum are demonstrations of the echo chamber effect that have nothing to do with sounds. 
In the run up to the US Election both sides were convinced of their victory. One of them was very wrong.

In the media, traditional and social, Trump supporters were demonised as misogynists, racists, right-wing extremists. Maybe true for a minority, but what about those to whom Trump presented an alternative option on real issues? Hillary Clinton lumped them all together as deplorables. No wonder their concerns weren't heard by the Democrats.
By dismissing and ignoring these voters, the Democrats missed the opportunity to address issues that might have won them the election.
The MacBook Pro is an example of technology companies doing exactly the same thing.

Apple gets feedback  on its products from Apple users, pro-Apple bloggers, pro-Apple websites and pro-Apple journalists. It eve…

Tesla's Worst Nightmare: Jaguar Unveils I-Pace

Tesla has been the beginning and end of the premium EV market since creating the segment with its Model S. That is no longer the case and with more and more premium brands arriving to challenge the company's dominance its position in the market is slowly getting eroded.
This is the Jaguar I-Pace, the Big Cat's entry into the all-electric market. 
It's an SUV, but with the gait and shape of one of Jaguar's more sporting models. Given the way that Jaguar's fortunes have blossomed over the last few years, it's difficult to see this as being anything but a big hit when it reaches the market. That's not too far away either, with first deliveries expected in 2018.
For Tesla the problem remains its ability to scale to build EVs in numbers on a consistent basis and without damaging it premium brand value. That's already proving to be a struggle.
Whilst car manufacturers have been doing this for decades, it's very new for Tesla. The company has overcome mor…

Premium Smartphones: Is It The Hardware Or The Software?

I had the opportunity to try out two relatively new phones yesterday and it was interesting contrasting their build, features, capability and price.
The two phones were the Google Pixel XL, a phone that retails for NZ$1649 in the 128GB version; and  the Asus Zenfone 3, exactly $1000 cheaper in its 64GB, $649 version.
Both phones sport a premium build, rear mounted fingerprint sensors and 5.5" screens. The Pixel has a higher resolution QuadHD AMOLED screen, whilst the Zenfone has a 1080p IPS+ display. Side by side there's little between them. The Pixel has the usual AMOLED saturation advantages, but the Zenfone's display is as good as an IPS panel gets.
In other areas the hardware swings in the Zenfone's favour - it's metal and glass body is an awful lot cleaner than the Pixel, with its silly half glass window on the rear panel. You also benefit from expandable memory or a second SIM slot on the Asus.
The Pixel obviously wins in software - it has the latest and gr…

Kiwis Can Bag A Lumia 550 For $88 This Week

Windows 10 Mobile fans in New Zealand looking to upgrade an older handset or those looking for a first smartphone can pick up a Microsoft Lumia 550 for NZ$88 this week.

The Lumia 550 isn't going to set anybody's world alight, but it is a competent entry-level smartphone and sure to outperform an Android phone at this price level.

The deal is for a handset locked to Vodafone's network and can be found on Noel Leeming's website here.

Windows Mobile: Looking Forward, Looking Back

Two items of interest to Windows Mobile fans surfaced over the weekend, one a blast from the past - with a hint of what might have been if Nokia has remained independent of Microsoft - whilst the other provided a glimpse into a possible future for Windows Mobile.

Above  you'll find a video of the Nokia Moonraker smartwatch. You know my reservations about smartwatches by now and nothing in the video suggests the Moonraker would have changed it. (Well except for the ultra-cool name, that probably wouldn't have survived into production anyaway).

The most notable thing about the video is that Nokia were going in the same wrong direction as Apple with their smartwatch, missing almost entirely, key fitness features.

Secondly we learned of this screenshot, posted on Twitter by Nawzil, claiming to show early testing of Xbox streaming functionality for Windows Mobile. Real or fake? Presumably such a thing is achievable, however would Microsoft bring it to market?


The prospect of Xbox …

Lego Ceases Daily Mail Advertising

A Twitter campaign attempting to cut off funding for British 'newspaper' The Daily Mail, appears to have had a major success, with Lego announcing that it is to cease all promotional activity with the organisation.
The hashtag #StopFundingHate and the associated Twitter account have been petitioning major brands to end their relationship with newspapers which spread FUD as part of their hate message. The Daily Mail has been one of the worst offenders.
The Mail isn't the only rag being targeted though - Gary Lineker is currently in talks with Walkers Crisps, aimed at bringing that company's relationship with The Sun to an end. The Sun has been on an all out offensive against Lineker, after he tweeted his disdain for the lies being published about migrants.
Hopefully the campaign will persuade other companies to withdraw advertising from these papers, although I suspect that the multi-billionaire status of those paper's owners, as well as there well declared politic…

Grubhub: Whoops Apocalypse - Food Delivery Service Gets Political

Making sure what you publish is interpreted the way you intended it to be is important whatever the communication you're sending out. When you're the CEO of an internet company, like Grubhub for example, you need to be doubly sure.
Matt Maloney, the aforementioned CEO of the Grubhub may want to rethink his quick fingers on the send trigger, after sending a post-election message to employees that appeared to tell employees who voted for Donald Trump to resign immediately.
The intention was to warn employees that hate speech - of the sort Maloney characterised Trump's pre-election messages - would not be tolerated in the company and anybody who disagreed with that  should resign.
Needless to say the backlash has been immediate and directed at the company through review of the app in the Store.
Even clarification emails, intended to demonstrate the company's inclusivism stretched to Trump voters too, failed to quiet the storm.
Whether there'll actually be  a detrimen…

Is Microsoft Missing A Trick By Not Allowing Surface Book Upgrades?

Microsoft introduced a new high end Surface Book alongside the Surface Studio last month, bringing with it a new upgraded base. This is the Surface Book component that sets it apart from other two in one machines, with a dedicated GPU and memory, as well as the larger part of the Surface Book battery pack.
The new Surface Book came with a "Performance Base", packing a new Graphics card and more battery into the same sized shell. The Performance Base has been shown to be compatible with older Surface Books and as a result some Surface Book owners are clamouring to buy one to upgrade their existing machines.
Seems like a logical thing to do - a performance hike halfway through a machines lifecycle is exactly what used to happen to machines in days gone buy - a hard disk upgrade, more memory, new graphics cards (on desktops anyway). It would be a good way of keeping existing Surface Book owners happy.
It would also be a useful revenue stream for Microsoft.
However, as yet, Mic…

Which App's Loss Would Finally Kill Windows Mobile For You?

With the loss of Air New Zealand's Windows Mobile app today - an app of which I was apparently one of a vanishingly small number of users - I was left wondering: at what point does the loss of apps for the platform start to impact usability for even hardened users?
After all, Windows Mobile users today have come to terms with absence of apps like Snapchat or Pokemon Go, but there must be a small number of staple third party apps that must exist to keep the platform alive.
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are obvious choices, as are those messaging apps that are available - WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger for example. Most other requirements are filled by the first-party apps Microsoft ships with the platform or can be handled in the browser.
The remaining killer apps will be very much down to personal preference and how the phone is used. For me the one app that would finally kill Windows Mobile by its disappearance is the libraries eBook app Overdrive.
Yes losing Kindle or Audibl…

Bernie Sanders Expresses The New Reality

The man who should be America's next President, Bernie Sanders - who was effectively robbed of the Democratic nomination by party big-wigs with an altogether different agenda (the one that Americans rejected last night) - has made probably the most balanced statement on the election result thus far:
"Donald Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media.
"People are tired of working longer hours for lower wages, of seeing decent paying jobs go to China and other low-wage countries, of billionaires not paying any federal income taxes and of not being able to afford a college education for their kids – all while the rich become very much richer.
"To the degree that Mr Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him.
"To the degree that he pursues …

Air New Zealand Latest App To Disappear From Windows Mobile

Air New Zealand is the latest company to shutter its Windows Mobile app, citing lack of use. The world's best airline's app supported its Mpass check-in system and Airpoints reward programme.
Or at least it used to.
Now, while the app still starts it just looks pretty, with no updates happening within the app or Live Tile.
An inevitable result of Microsoft's retrenchment from mobile and the collapse in Lumia sales in New Zealand and Australia. At least here in NZ the last non-Lumia Windows phone on the retail market was the Samsung Ativ S – about three generations ago. The incoming HP Elite x3 is unlikely to find much corporate support in New Zealand.
So whilst there are few New Zealand companies with Windows Mobile apps, I imagine that number will be reduced as usage continues to fall away.

Apple’s USB-C Adapters Might Be Cheap, But They Aren’t Reliable

Apple’s customers are a pretty loyal bunch, so when they start complaining about something you know it’s probably an actual problem rather than user error.Apple’s USB-C multiport AV adapter has been coming in for hefty criticism on Apple’s support forums – with the major complaint being that HDMI output is very flaky indeed.Might be worth checking out something from a third-party if this dongle was on your MacBook or MacBook Pro shopping list.

President Trump: Michael Moore Warned You And You Didn't Listen

Nearly six months ago American filmmaker Michael Moore told the world that Donald Trump would be the next President in this article on his blog. Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) has also been vocal in his support and reasoning behind a Trump victory on his blog. Controversial PayPal founder and Gawker slayer Peter Thiel went beyond telling you Trump would win and helped fund his campaign.
I've been following Scott Adams thoughts on his blog for a while now and his description of Trump as the smart Master Persuader seems to be at odds with what gets reported in the media. However if you follow Adams logic and arguments you can at least see why there has been a strong swell of support behind Trump.

Then came Trump's final campaign message, above, and Adams breakdown of its impact convinced me that Trump was going to win. Because he was the best candidate? No, almost certainly not. But because Clinton and her campaign hadn't made any effort to address the concerns of those w…

Huawei Was Biggest Benefactor Of Note 7 Problems

Samsung’s Note 7 problems were always going to impact its performance in the last quarter’s sales figures – and so it has proved, with the Korean companies share of markets worldwide significantly down.Surprisingly though the benefactor hasn’t proved to be Apple, as many had predicted. Outside of the US, Apple’s market share was only marginally affected. Chinese and Japanese iPhone sales were down, whilst in Europe and Australia they were slightly up.It seems that most disaffected Note 7 buyers – and others who were put off Samsung by the problems – stayed with Android and, mainly, chose Huawei as their replacement device. The Chinese OEM taking top spot in Italy and Spain.With the next quarter including the holiday season in the Western World the balance of sales traditionally swings towards Apple. Although I can’t help but wonder what yesterday’s election result will mean for consumer confidence. By the time December rolls around we might find that the typical smartphone buyer is su…

HP Elite Slice Ad Brings Life To The Desktop PC

Microsoft’s Surface Studio launch proved that the desktop PC isn’t entirely done yet and HP’s Elite Slice, whilst a very different device in concept, also demonstrates that there is room for different solutions to the desktop for those who need more than a laptop offers.The Slice gets shown off very well in the ad above, although it doesn’t really prepare you for the sticker shock. There’s no NZ pricing yet, but for the UK the basic Slice is 30-50% more than the equivalent Mac Mini.For that you’re getting a much more capable device, with plenty of upgradeability.and significantly newer chipsets. Much as I prefer Windows 10 to MacOS, I’d have to say that the mid-range Mac Mini looks a much more sensible buy in comparison, unless you’re desperate for the Slice add-ons.Still, good to see that HP is rethinking its offerings in ways that were beyond it pre-split.

This Isn’t The Future Of Surface, This Is The Future Enabled By Hololens

Look at everything happening in the vision of the future published by the Microsoft Office team. A Pretty radical take on what computers, phones and even magazines might be like in the distant future, right?Wrong. Pretty much everything you see here is feasible today with Hololens – even if the AR headset doesn’t appear in the video anywhere.Yes, all of the screens that you see in the video aren’t physical screens, just surfaces (not Surfaces!) to display the image from your Hololens. That phone? A piece of card of the size you’d like your phone screen to be. The magazine, the desktop, just flat surfaces where your pen. keyboard. mouse or fingertips allow you to interact with Hololens projected image. Even the image on the car window is just a Hololens projection.Now there’s going to be a significant amount of work required to bring Hololens down to the size of a regular pair of glasses, much less something able to be worn on the  eye as a lens. But once this happens this is what out …

Why Was A Trump Win So Surprising?

I'm really not going to debate the merits of the US Presidential Election here, but I am going to question the complete, utter and worldwide shock that has greeted Donald Trump's election as 45th President of the United States.
Pollsters, journalists, politicians, they all said that Trump couldn't win. 
Yet they completely missed the global trend that saw Bernie Sanders, Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn happen. The voter disaffection with the political establishment and desire for change, a refusal to be dictated to by the Fourth Estate and the 'do as I say, don't do as I do' political classes, the professional politicians and their 'teams'.
I'd be interested to see what the voter turnout was like in the US for this election. I suspect it will be high. Very high. 
What happens now is anyone's guess. Trump's promise to drain the swamp was perhaps his biggest pledge. If it was made in earnest then it might be that whatever the pains of the next four …

Microsoft Teams Isn't A Shot At Slack - For Now

Microsoft announced Teams this week, immediately bringing comparisons with current chat-based workspace tool Slack. The latter even took out a newspaper ad in the US to welcome Microsoft to the market.
There have been two canned responses to Microsoft's new product: the bug guy hasn't got a chance against the hip, lightweight and agile encumbent; or Slack is done for and Microsoft will eat its breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Neither of those are especially prophetic responses and both are true in different ways.
For starters Microsoft has set out a particularly specific stall for Teams: its an add-on product to Office 365. Which means that any organisation that currently has an Office 365 deployment got a chat-based workspace for free. Whether they need it or know how to make best use of it, it's available to try, learn and embed into organisation workflows and practices at no risk to the customer.
For Microsoft this is about making Office 365 a more attractive proposition t…

Tesla Ends Free Top-ups For All New Customers

One of the benefits of being a Tesla customer has been the free access to the company's Supercharger network of fast charging stations. When Tesla announced the Model 3 it removed that benefit from its new entry level EV. Today it also announced that from January none of its new EVs will benefit from free top-ups.The cost to Tesla of expanding the network to cope with the increasing numbers of vehicles wanting to use them was clearly going to become prohibitive and one of the things that could derail its expansion plans would be a poor level of service at Supercharger sites and more incidents of road rage caused by charger blocking at sites with limited charge points.For those users buying a high end Tesla the loss of a couple of thousand dollars of free charging isn't likely to prove a problem, especially as it's likely to result in an improved Supercharger experience.

Microsoft Celebrating Two Years Of Garage – Why?

Microsoft Garage, the company’s project for rapidly bringing experimental apps and services to life without the rigour usually associated with getting a Microsoft product to market, is two years old and the company is celebrating the achievements of the group with this blog post.I don’t necessarily believe that Microsoft has anything to celebrate. The Garage nay have brought some interesting products to life, but in failing to deliver them as cross platform mobile applications it has at the same time given the lie to Microsoft’s message that building for Windows and Windows Mobile UWP could be a low impact addition to building for iOS and Android.As I’ve said before, if Microsoft’s own initiatives can’t or won’t expend the effort to deliver apps cross platform how can the company legitimately ask third-party developers to do so?Right now Windows Mobile is dead, a victim of the app gap, Microsoft’s post-Ballmer indifference and the inability to get developers interested in the platform…

Microsoft Shows Off Different Surface Studio Use Cases

Microsoft’s YouTube channel has some new videos demonstrating the different capabilities enabled by the Surface Studio and the Surface Dial.I particularly like the ‘stamp’ facility for moving parts of the score around in the StaffPad video above, which introduces some new capability that hasn’t been shown off before.However, having been an engineering draughtsman, back in the days when a drawing board and French curves were the height of technology, its the Bluebeam video which I find most interesting, showing how it does the way that the Surface Studio and Dial can really change the way that technical drawings are created.