Category Archives: Windows

Verizon Nokia Lumia 822 – Mini Review + Verizon 4G

The first stop on my Field Trip was the Verizon store and I was also glad to find out yesterday that I can now get 4G data, and speed tests show that I get 4-6MBs so not bad for wireless data, I did give it a try that first hour or two of it being on and did get a test of 25MBs but not now that people know about it doh!

There weren’t that many new devices to play with and there were a lot of people at this store so I kind of wanted to look at something I haven’t had much time with and that was a Windows Phone 8 device. So I saw the Nokia Lumia 822, its one of the flagship Windows Phone 8 devices and I wanted to see if there was anything special. Turns out there weren’t.

The screen and apps loaded smooth and looked nice, things like navigating messages and people worked well, but I kept feeling like a lot was missing. All of the core apps such as messages, email, contacts, and the like were showing up, but I didn’t see much in the way of other things the phone does. I didn’t spend a lot of time with it almost as much as most people would right before they ask someone “where is the iPhone or Galaxy SIII”, and nothing jumped out. It felt more like one of those “Smartphone Features like MySpace” phones with a good touch screen.

I may need to spend some more time with one of these devices to “Get how cool Windows is” but I don’t think it would change what I think of the OS, it also could be one of those things where the hardware could have been better with a different OS too.

Also the Windows 8 Tablet built into the display was interesting and even though they want you to stay in the Tile interface my son who was with me got it back to the normal desktop and he is only 3. Kind of shows how Microsoft is missing the game one what things are moving to and what people really want their devices to do.

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.

Microsoft Surface Pre-Order Available

With the upcoming release of the Windows 8 and Windows RT Microsoft has been developing what they think is the ideal tablet experience for Windows RT. They call their tablet Surface and will be coming out in both a Windows RT version and Windows 8 Pro version. The announcement of the Surface with Windows RT came out today and will start at $499, shipping on October 26 2012. There are three different packages to order, the lowest priced one is just a 32GB Surface with no cover and the highest is 64GB with a Cover. You can also order extra covers in different colors or buy a cover with a built-in keyboard that comes in 5 different colors.

While I don’t see mass adoption of Windows 8 or Windows RT it looks to be an acquit tablet interface but lacks in apps and functionality that most users will expect from a tablet such as an iPad or Android device. As for running Windows 8 on a laptop or desktop is a complete failure on the part of Microsoft, and they have only shown how the start menu takes over the system and that is all they expect you to do with your computer is have the start menu up all the time. This tablet seems like a response to the iPad but done with out thinking through the entire experience along with the experience of how Windows 8 will work as a desktop interface.

While the Surface looks to be a decent tablet it will also come with Microsoft Office 2013 RT installed, while it will be a pre-release of Office Home and Student it should get updated to the full release when it comes out. They also include Internet Explorer 10, Xbox Music store and other Xbox branded games. Check out the specs and gallery below for more about the details of the device.

Software Windows RT and Office Home and Student 2013 RT
Storage 32 and 64 GB
CPU / Memory NVIDIA T30 / 2 GB RAM
Display 10.6 inch 5-point multi-touch
Cameras Both front and back 720p HD
Wireless 2×2 MIMO WIFI, Bluetooth 4.0
Ports USB 2.0, mircoSDXC, HD Video Out
Sound 3.5mm headphone, 2 microphones, stereo speakers
Sensors Ambient Light, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass
Price $499-699 + $119-129 for covers + HD Adaptor

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13, 11, Lynx, Twist

Lenovo announced the pre-order of four new Windows 8 mobile systems, the IdeaPad Yoga 13, Yoga 11, Lynx, and Twist. The Yoga is a convertible laptop tablet that hinges to fold the keyboard flat with the display going backward, this gives it the ability to be used as a tablet or stand up in interesting ways. This was first seen at CES 2012 and got lots of attention. It will come two sizes at 11.6 inch and 13.3 inches. The big difference between the two is the 13 has an Intel 3rd Generation i7 processor running Windows 8 Pro and it earns being a Ultrabook. Where the 11 runs on a NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor with Windows RT with less battery life and won’t run any old Windows applications because it runs the ARM processor. Full tech specs of the four systems below.

As for the Lynx, it is a low powered Dual Core Intel Atom powered 11.6 inch tablet that runs Windows 8 but has a keyboard that can be attached to transform it into a laptop type computer. They claim that with the 16 hours of batter you can use it all day and also use it for applications like the included Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

The Twist is the only one specifically built for business users, it has an Intel Core i7 processor and is also a Ultrabook running Windows 8 Pro with the option to have 3G data and more storage options. They also make note that it will have a normal ThinkPad keyboard that so many people like to type on if they have a laptop. The display is also a high-definition IPS with multi-touch that twists around so you can use it like a tablet. This would be a good power user laptop if you are looking to get a Windows 8 Pro device.

IdeaPad: Yoga 13 Yoga 11 Lynx Twist
Screen 13.3″ 11.6″ 11.6″ 12.5″
Processor Intel Core i7 NVIDIA Tegra 3 Intel Dual Core Atom Intel Core i7
OS Windows 8 Pro Windows 8 RT Windows 8 Windows 8 Pro
Battery 8 Hours 13 Hours 16 Hours w/ Dock 7 Hours
Storage 256GB SSD 64GB eMMC 64GB eMMC 500GB HDD / 128GB SSD
Ultra Book YES NO NO YES
Price MSRP Starts At $1,099 $799 $649 $849

These specs are if you max out things such as getting the fastest processor or largest SSD, and they only gave prices for the lowest of the spec base systems so the prices will be way different. You can pre-order the Yoga 13 at Best Buy October 12 2012.

Samsung ATIV S Windows Phone 8

If Android is not your style the new Windows Phone 8 phones (wow that is repetitive) are coming out and Samsung has their new Samsung ATIV S is not a bad looking device. One thing about Windows Phone is that the makers have to have a preset of specifications that each phone should have, this is to help make better devices. The phone that Samsung released at IFA is said to look like a Galaxy S III but running Windows Phone 8. Below are some specs…

  • Windows Phone 8
  • 4.8″ HD Super AMOLED
  • 1.5 GHz dual-core processer
  • 8 MP rear / 1.9 MP front camera
  • HSPA+ / GSM
  • 16/32GB storage with 1GB RAM and microSD (SDXC) card slot
  • Bluetooth 3.0, NFC, GPS

Some people really like there Windows Phone phones, I think it’s an interesting interface but I like others are already invested in other systems like Android or iOS. Also Windows Phone has lots of apps but may not have as many of the big ones that you will find on other systems.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Trailer

If you have ever followed any competitive game play two games come to mind Star-Craft and Counter-Strike, and the new updated version of Counter-Strike called Global Offensive comes out August 21st 2012. This is an update and addition to the Counter-Strike: Source that includes new maps, characters and weapons but also updates the classic maps and weapons that are from the original game.

If you pre-order the game you can play the beta and you get a special weapon for Team-Fortress 2. Also right now it is 10% off, making it only cost $13.49. It will be available on both PC and MAC though Steam, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

As far as me playing I wasn’t all that into it I like to run and gun in most games and these require more sneaking and head shots, but I’ll give it a try. Check out the Trailer below it was made with the new Source Filmmaker tool Valve has made to make videos using the Source Engine and game art.

SimCity Beta Open for Registration

If you are a SimCity fan or someone that has enjoyed the game in the past you can sign up for the beta of the new SimCity Closed Beta. From what I have seen it looks like the game is going to be fun and have lots of great updates that make it exciting along with more detail to the worlds and the game also includes Multiplayer mode so you can build a City with your friends. This beta is Windows only, but they will have a MAC version out on release.

The defining city simulation is back! Create the city you desire and make the choices that shape your city and power the Sims within it. Every decision, big or small, has real consequences.

To sign up for the beta check out the link below and login with an EA user and agree to the long long long agreement and fill out your gaming experience. The one problem you may have problems with is getting a “DxDiag” but it’s not hard, just go to C:\Windows\System32\dxdiag.exe and get a DirectX Diagnostics report by running that program and clicking “Save all information” then upload that file “DxDiag.txt” when asked.

Beta Link: http://www.simcity.com/en_US/beta/info

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

CES 2012 Wrap Up

Now that CES 2012 is over lets look over what came from the show. There were a lot of new products introduced over the week, but it wasn’t anything all that new.

Some of the most innovative things out were the OLED TV’s that were 55″ from LG and [OTHER NAME]. These were very thin screens with great colors, and they were looking as if they were going to be put into production not just showing that they could make it but will be selling it soon. But I would have to say hold off on getting one of these screens when they first come out and give it one to two years from when they come out so that the price will drop, sizes will increase, and more options on who makes them will increase.

Another big deal at this CES was the Ultrabooks being introduced. These were thin and light laptops that are built to exceed the Ultrabook spec by Intel in most cases. What makes these different from normal laptops is that they are thin, light, long battery, and fast. Most of the laptops that were thin and light were slow and didn’t get much in the way of battery, but most of the ones shown looked very nice. If you were looking at a nice portable system then these would be one to get, and the prices weren’t all that much more than a normal laptop with the same specs.

There were a lot of Android phone announcements most having big screens, LTE, and having fast processers. One thing to look past on these when hearing the hype matchean is that they will be running Android 2.3, while this sounds bad because Android 4 just came out, it has to do with the fact that Android 4 is only a few months old and these were developed when Android 3 was a tablet only version and Android 2.3 was all there was. I’m sure by the end of the year a new set of phones will come out in the summer and will be all build running Android 4 and also be faster. But for now these phones will be running faster processers, have more storage, and be able to run on LTE 4G networks for the carrers who are working on setting them up. But one thing to know about LTE is that it is only avalible in a select set of Major Cities and you would want to see if your city is on their list.

Android tablets were also a big item, but not as much as last year, most of these will run Android 3.2 and be able to update to Android 4 at some point. There are a few good looking ones, and also a bunch of cheep tablets that are also lacking in a lot of specs. The less expensive, but better tablets are contract locked with phone companies.

Windows 8 was a big thing for some of the tablet makers and PC makers, they were showing it running and talking about products that will have it when it is out, but Microsoft talked only a little on it and how it is part of their phone stratigy coming up. But from what I see it may be good on a tablet but not so good on a desktop.

Windows Phone 7 had some press and also a few new phones including Nokia making a comeback, but we will have to see if anyone will every buy these phones. I think all the hype seems a lot like the Palm Pree [FIX NAME]. Most people only know the iPhone and they want an Android Smartphone, but that may change because Microsoft will be paying the people at stores commissions to sell the phones so who knows marketing is what sells products, that’s why the iPhone is doing good.

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