Category Archives: Applications

Hands on With Windows 8 Release Preview on a Tablet

With the Windows 8 release looming for October 26th 2012 and Microsoft Surface pre-orders started I wanted to take some time and play with Windows 8 again and see if it made any more since to run. I had installed an older version of Windows 8 on my tablet a ASUS EP 121 that is running an Intel Core i5 with 4GB RAM and has both Touch and a Wacom pin. So this should be a good system for testing Windows 8 on.

After downloading the disk image of the OS I used the Windows 7 DVD/USB backup tool to put the installer on a 4GB flash drive after to install the files on my Tablet. The installer booted and offered to install Windows 8 I changed some settings and pushed the OS to upgrade Windows 7 and all it did was move all of Windows 7 and the apps installed to Windows.old folder.

When the system rebooted it asked me to connect to my Wi-Fi and then login to a Windows account and set the colors of my Start Screen. At this point you are dumped to the Tile interface that is the only real thing Microsoft is showing in all of the advertising of what Windows 8 is. So now on the Start Screen I was showing it to my Wife who is not a techie person and my Son who is 3 and we started looking through the Photos app because it was smart enough to look for photos that are on my main desktop and somehow it had access to them even though the Tablet had not connected to the HomeGroup or logged into my desktop, this may have to do with me being logged into a Microsoft account on my Windows 7 desktop and by logging in with the same user on the tablet that it lets me not have to use my desktops username and password to access files.

With photos showing up my Wife and Son took over and we’re having fun flipping through photos, at some points the app would crash and leave us back loading the app and then thumbnail images of the folders only showed up a gray boxes and would change to a thumbnail if you went into the folder for enough time that it would load every image. This is the first of many times the Tile apps would crash that night, and yes this is a “Preview” but if you are releasing it things shouldn’t be crashing when loading photos over a home network.

I wanted to try out some of my Windows 7 applications that are installed still under that Windows.old folder, after finding my copy of ArtRage Studio and long tapping to pin the program to Start, it opened up just fine and ran in the Desktop mode. This is when I started finding myself using the good old desktop mode more and more. Now that I see it works I install Google Chrome because I like using Chrome and how it works, so Internet Explorer took me to the desktop even though I used the link on the Start screen but whatever and I went about downloading chrome.

For ArtRage to work right I needed to put in my registration key that I had a screen shot of save in Google Drive so I installed the desktop application and went about opening the file in an Explorer window but it wanted to no preview it but open it in the Photos app, only problem is that takes over my screen and doesn’t let me have more than one window open so I can get the code, another fail for pushing me back to the Start tile interface. After long pressing and going to preview it went back to the Start menu and said that another program can open that file and I told it to use the desktop image preview application and got things done.

Chrome was nice enough to install both a Desktop application version and a different version that worked in the Start menu but they are different apps/applications, this is a restriction Microsoft put in making software makers build two different programs, this is another fail because you may have something open a link on the Start tile interface but then you need it on the Desktop and this can’t be done.

I also at this point found out that the driver for my Wacom pin was not working right from what was pre-installed and I had to find the Windows 7 drivers and after a restart the pin worked great.

So it’s getting more frustrating to use but I went ahead and loaded the Music app, but for this app it didn’t know to look on my desktop for music and couldn’t find anything I had, but sure did want to sell me music thanks for that, not really the preview was ok but not what I wanted. So I went ahead and though good time to setup the tablet on my HomeGroup because mentioned something about joining to show my music, cool so after going through to another interface and back and forth with the onscreen keyboard that you have to change views to get a number I was connected to my HomeGroup and could see my desktops music in the Desktop mode and if I was to load a specific file in the Music app it would play one song not a folder full. So thinking as I do I added my music library from the desktop system to the local music library and then things started showing up in the Music app.

The Music app does not do good with lots of files, I was able to crash it doing almost anything now, if I play all it will shuffle through my songs but crashes because the background to songs with no cover art is a bunch of other cover art so each time you skip songs it reloads this wall of images, and then crashes. Now if you want to look for an artist that will crash with my large collection of music it hangs on switching and doesn’t scroll and finally crash again.

With the Music app crashing when looking for an Artist I looked for them using the Desktop mode and had it play the folder of music I wanted to play and test out, fail again I had to go back to the old way of doing things to get things working fast and easy.

Now I was going to install some apps from the Store, after finding some they seemed to work out just fine SketchBook Express and Wikipedia loaded just fine and I was able to use them, Wikipedia needs some work to use up more white space and make it easier to read because when you are reading most people are used to scrolling down not to the side but it was still usable. The WordPress app had some problems with logging into my site, it kept asking for me to update the Jetpack plugin but there is no update that I can get.

Back to stock apps, I went and tried the Mail app this required me to login to my email account and it had Google as an option, the only problem was it would not connect. So thinking what about updates they may have fixed some problems, well there was 9 updates and I let it update and restarted the Tablet and I was able to login to my Google account and my mail did show up but the Mail app is a little hard to use, like when you switch messages you have to select the text not just the area that is around it making it hard to use with your finger. Also by logging into my Google account my calendar showed up but only the main calendar content not all of my sub-calendars or others I have joined from other people. I hope Google makes some apps for their products that work as if I was on Android or I would have to just use the websites.

New day new problems, so I could get screen shots of things I installed an application called Greenshot and found myself installing VLC Media Player but Windows 8 doesn’t know the publisher so it wanted me to be protected from installing the program. So I tried to do it again by running the installer as Administrator but got the same message, this time I thought well let’s see what the learn more link does, at that point it said nothing other than it was an Unknown Publisher and I could run it any way. Too bad that made no sense or wasn’t obvious to let me install it.

Another thing that seems to be a problem with the Music app, while writing this it is long and taking time, ok so my tablet screen goes blank, that’s ok because its saving power and not burning out my screen, but the Music app is now not signed in and can’t get my music from my local network even though I am still connected to the Wi-Fi. The only way to get my music back was to switch to another app, use the hard and unobvious way of closing a Start tile app by dragging the left edge of the screen and pulling down to the bottom to close it and have it reopen. Only then did it start to find my music again even though I did try the resign-in button on the app. I would have not known that it was even possible to close an app if I didn’t spend some time reading though a list of posts around the Internet of other people as confused on how to close an app.

To close this out, I am trying this new Windows 8 Start tile interface in its intended way on a touch screen tablet and not an a desktop because I already know that it was just a big fail, and found the operating system to be improved for touch but still lacking a full tablet experience and all in all not even close to being ready for a release. Microsoft should have just built a Tablet OS based on Windows Phone and not mess with the Windows Desktop OS but now they have screwed up both experiences once again. I wanted to see Windows 8 work out good on my tablet because Windows 7 is so hard to use on it, but there are so many shortcomings with the Apps and I just had to go back to the old Desktop interface to get things to work or make things easy. People are going to try things and just not upgrade ever to Windows 8, they will look at Android and iPad as the way to have a tablet that works all the time. This is going to be another situation like Windows XP and desktop users will not upgrade. Microsoft is betting big on this new interface, and they are getting pressure from PC makers and PC part makers such as Intel to help drive sales but this will not help, it will further stagnate the market.

All in all I would say Windows 8 is going to be a failure and it’s too late to change things. I will keep Windows 7 on my desktop for a long time, and I will just put this tablet away and not use it for much other than drawing once in a while, and just use my Nexus 7 for everything that I want.

Ubuntu 12.10 now Available

The popular Linux distribution Ubuntu has been updated to version 12.10 today. While most of the update is a roll up of most of the open source applications that are part of the distribution they had added some user interface additions. Users can now create Web Apps for things like Gmail and Facebook that don’t require you to open the web browser then go to the site it just shows up as an item on your launcher or desktop. You can also now search online files and stores for things such as music, photos, and video. This works with Flickr and Google Drive. Finally they have what they call Dash Previews; basically you can play music or apps from Ubuntu One before you buy or install them without having to open any additional applications.

I have the release preview installed on my laptop and all seemed to work good, still have a problem with the Intel graphics drivers not controlling the screen resolution right but that seems to be something that lots of people with different laptops and distributions are having for well over 3 years. But if you run Ubuntu its doesn’t cost anything to update, or if you want to try it out download the DVD image and boot a system without having to change anything and see if you can use it for your computer.

Steam Now Sells Software

Steam is a game distribution and sales platform by Valve Software, that most PC gamers get their games from. Until now they only sold games and updated them, along with providing a community and achievement system, but they announced that you can start buying non-game software. The selection of titles is small but is more focused on creative users. The list includes the following

The titles also integrate with the Steam Cloud to save your files to. Also GameMake Studio lets you upload to the Steam Workshop that let other users on steam play the games you make in the software.

Also from October 2nd to 9th you can get 10% off of all these titles as a promotion of the new Software.

Samsung GALAXY Note 10.1

If you are looking for an Android Tablet with a stylus you may want to check out the Samsung GALAXY Note 10.1 that includes what they call the S Pen that is like a WACOM pen and not the nub that most touch screen devices get. It uses an active digitizer so if you the creative type this can make drawing or writing on the screen easy and accurate. Many people who had the 5″ Samsun GALAXY Note phone liked how good the pen was and how big the screen was.

As for specs it has a 1.4 GHz quad-core processer, Android 4.0 ICS, HSPA+ Quad Band, 5 Megapixel and 1.9 Megapixel cameras, S Pen, and loaded with a bunch of S Pen friendly apps.

  • 1.4 GHz quad-core processor
  • Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • HSPA 21-Mbps (HSDPA 21Mbps / HSUPA 5.76Mbps) Quad Band 850/900/1900/2100 MHz
  • Main(Rear): 5 Megapixel Auto Focus Camera with LED Flash Sub(Front): 1.9 Megapixel VT Camera
  • 16/32/64GB User memory 2GB (RAM) microSD (up to 64GB)
  • Standard battery, Li-ion 7,000mAh
  • Bluetooth v4, WiFi, mHL, IR LED, USB 2.0 Host, 3.5mm Ear Jack

Below is a video put out by Samsung showing off what you can do with the S Pen and some of the extra apps built into the tablet.

Windows Essentials 2012 Update

If you have a Windows 7 computer you most likely had Windows Essentials installed by the maker or would want to get this set of applications that help do more with your Windows system. It was also called Windows Live Essentials but they seem to have dropped the “Live” from the name.

The main pack includes the following programs: Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Messenger, Mail, Writer, Outlook Connector, SkyDrive, and Family Safety. Lots of these applications were part of Windows in the past, but they now get updated more often than when Windows OS gets updated.

The two applications they are showing the biggest updates include Movie Maker and Photo Gallery. Movie Maker is a free video editing package that lets you easily edit home videos and put them up on sites such as YouTube.com or make them into DVDs. Photo Gallery is a photo organization and manipulation tool, it lets you fix problems with your images and do things like panoramas.

The update to Movie Maker includes a new Video Stabilization to reduce the shake that may be in your videos if the camera wasn’t on a tripod or a windy day. There are also more options for adding music from online music sites and how they are added to your video. They also improved adding text overlays to the videos so it will be easier to read. And finally they now by default encode video in H.264 rather than Windows Media Video making sharing easier.

As for the Photo Gallery they only did a few little updates such as making a Auto Collage and updating services you can export to.

For both applications they can now directly export to Vimeo, but most people will probably stick with YouTube because it’s a Gold Standard for sharing videos.

Another note that the other applications get bug fixes if you had them installed and will require you to restart your computer for them to be setup so expect that. But this is a nice set of additional applications that make using Windows better, there are a lot of other applications that do all of this but these integrate with Windows. In most cases you can do all of this Online now using Google or Office Live.

Download the Web Installer

Windows Essentials Web Site

Google Translate for Android Updates Add Image Translation

The Android Translate app made by Google was updated today; the most notable update was the addition of image translation. What that dose is you use the camera in your device to take a temporary photo of some text you want to translate then it will have you mark with your finger what parts have text you want changed, then it will put the original text and the translation to whatever language you want in the main window.

Of the 64 languages that they support most were showing the image option, but some such as the Japanese, Korean, and Chinese don’t let you do this yet and those symbol based languages would be nice to have this for people such as me that don’t speak and can’t write them ether. But they did update the Japanese handwriting to understand more than one character at once.

Other improvements include translate as you type, dialect preference for speech input and checks to see what type of network you are on for better speed.

You can get the update on your phone by opening the Play Store or by going to the Play Website and installing or updating it there.

Also expect more Android News and Tablet info coming soon as I gear up for more articles to build out this site!

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