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Monday, July 14, 2014

Catch Me If You Can!

Microsoft launches a price assault on Chromebooks

This came out today which happens to be the next business day after it was announced that Chromebooks were going to become cheaper with a less expensive processor. Unfortunately for Intel and AMD, the basic computer will be enough for most people who are not heavy PC gamers and won't require an expensive processor. This can only be good for society as it creates deflationary pressure that will drive the tablet prices down also. By driving tablet prices lower, the everyday business will have more technology where they might not have been able to afford it in the past. Schools will be able to completely replace books with tablets or laptops. And 4k televisions price will come down to $1000 for 100 inches of entertainment.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Make Your Computer Scream!

It is frustrating that it appears your cell phone and tablet open apps faster than your desktop computer running Windows.

Is Windows so bad that it should take 5 minutes to be able to do anything on your computer after you turn it on with the power button?

Why do apps load in seconds with your mobile device and it appears to take forever sometimes getting Microsoft Office to load?

It appears there are far more mobile devices that do not use Windows than do, so maybe you have had these same questions. Google certainly hopes you do and is why they offer the Chromebook. The Chromebook is an excellent device that can replace your home computer completely as long as you don't ever scan with your printer. You can scan with your printer with your phone, so that is not that big of an issue.

I was considering switching over to an iMac because I was sick of the way my computer was
performing. A Samsung AIO with an Intel i7 processor and 8GB of RAM should not ever be slow, but mine was as I was considering getting a similar iMac. One representative with a Windows shirt on at Best Buy suggested that I get a registry cleaner that they sold on the shelf. That would be a huge mistake as registry cleaners infect your computer with a virus that lays dormant until the maker decides they need to get some money out of you. I will NEVER install a registry cleaner.

As I inspected the iMac over the past month, I found that it appears to be faster than a Windows computer. I was not sure that this was a fair comparison since it was using knock off versions of the Microsoft programs that I was accustom to win Windows like their office programs. One of the times I was in Best Buy, Safari had an error and closed. I would not expect to see that from a demo computer with limited programs on it. I love Windows split screen functionality and would miss it greatly if I switched to an iMac even though I am sure there is an app for that... that cost more than FREE.

I wasn't sure switching to an Apple computer would be the answer for me especially since there are utra-thin laptops that boot in seconds and they are running Windows 8.1 like my computer. Many of them have a similar Intel processor too. Then a relative bought a Asus Transformer 2 in 1 with Windows 8 on it. It is super fast and doesn't have an expensive Intel processor on it. It uses the same technology as do Chromebooks and all mobile devices and that is a Solid State Drive.

A SSD is like a USB drive in that there are no moving discs inside it. The access to the date
is instant like your phone, like a Chromebook, like a Windows Surface tablets. I do not keep my documents, music and other miscellaneous files on my computer's hard drive as I utilize 2 external hard drives for that data. So a smaller sized SSD is not a problem coming from a 1TB hard drive that I only was using 64GB.

I had been considering switching my computer over to a SSD in the past, but was afraid of complications in reinstalling Windows and starting over. That Asus Transformer made me investigate it further and found some programs online that will help you transfer your system and files over. Yesterday I went to Best Buy to pull the trigger and purchase a SSD. The representative in the computer department actually did the same thing for his laptop and put me at ease as he showed me that each SSD comes with software that will move everything from the old hard drive to the new SSD before you install it.

The only thing missing is an external hard drive enclosure to connect to your computer with a USB cable to complete the transfer. I got home and ran into one problem where the hard drive kept disconnecting at the beginning of the transfer. I was questioning if it were a problem with the new external enclosure that I purchased. After doing a couple of searches, I found that the process does not work well when plugged into a USB 3.0 port and to use an open USB 2.0 port instead. I am very familiar with my computer and knew that I had both so I quickly switched the new hard drive to the USB 2.0 port and it worked! Everything was transferred in less than an hour and a half.

I put took my old hard drive out, put my new one in, put the cover back on my computer, plugged it in and it was instantly faster! There was nothing to reinstall, it just works great. Finally, my computer is faster than my phone and tablet! This was greater than the feeling when we would upgrade the RAM and it would speed up the computer. I am no longer considering an iMac, Chrome or any Linux system as my computer is here to stay.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Samsung Note 4 Excellent News!

Droid Life: Samsung Announces New Quad-Core Exynos ModAP Processor that Features a Built-In LTE Modem.

This is a big deal because Samsung has produced quad-core processors for mobile devices for a few years, but have been unable to share them with phones inside the United States due to LTE. Customers inside the United States have had great phones, but not quite as good as overseas.

That will change as finally the United States customers will be able to experience the fastest processors available that will match the fastest Internet speed. This will be true for tablet owners with modems built in as well. That means that I will be very appreciative that I have a Samsung Note Pro on Verizon that is not on contract as I may desire to swap it out in leas than a year.

What is funny about this is the recent news about Samsung's slumping profits due to low demand. Samsung has positioned themselves to be in excellent way to becoming a supplier to all other manufacturers from phones to tablets to mobile computers with any operating system. This was evident as one of HP's most recent Chromebooks has a Samsung processor in it.

I can't wait to see this Fall's new Samsung tablets and the Samsung Note 4!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Google I/O 2014 - Keynote

I am happy to watch the Google I/O 2014 event live on YouTube via CNET through my Chromecast on my
television. My notes (I will update as I watch, just found the link at 1:45pm EST, I wish I turned it on at noon when available):

  • Chromecast will be able to mirror your Android device. It will roll out to Nexus, Samsung and LG models first.
  • Recently, Chromebooks are able to be unlocked by your phone. Chromebooks will be able to have the exact same applications as the Android applications. Flipboard is going to look great!
  • With the next version of Android, business and personal data may be separated on the same device. 
  • Native Google Docs editor within Google Drive so it may continue to be saved as a Word, Excel or Powerpoint files without having to convert.
  • Google Drive has unlimited storage for $10/month.
  • App developers:
    • Duolingo to help learn a new language.
    • Hello Navi to help the blind walk with voice guidance.
  • Google Cloud Platform to build and scale your projects.
    • Cloud Save - share information to utilize a number of ways.
    • Google Debugger - allows cloud debugging for HTML
      • can share with others to recommend changes to code.
    • Cloud Tracing - shows how changes affect the application speed
    • Cloud Monitoring - (going a little over my head at this point with HTML code, but I know it is helpful if I ever get to that point) - no setup including a variety of open source packages
    • Cloud Dataflow - create data pipelines
  • Google Play
    • Appurify - allows demonstration of how apps perform on different platforms and is included FREE.
    • Google Fit Platform - available in a few weeks with one set of APIs
    • Google Play Games - fastest growing game network of all time. Many new capabilities.
  • LG watch or Samsung Gear Live, and Motorola 360 given to guest as soon as it is available.

Surface 3 is a Joke!

Microsoft continues making mistakes introducing their new tablet as a laptop replacement. That is not the
mistake as it would be a great option, but not at the price of $999 which is more than comparable laptops with similar specifications. Typically computers with Intel i3, i5 and i7 processors drive the price up, but Microsoft priced their Surface 3 to compete with the MacBook Air and not other Windows based laptops.

For example, today Best Buy has an HP - Split 2-in-1 13.3" Touch-Screen Laptop with an Intel Core i3
processor, 4GB Memory and a 128GB Solid State Drive all for $449.99 today only. This laptop comes with a detachable keyboard, where you have to purchase the keyboard dock with the Surface 3 after spending more than twice as much for the Surface 3.

But wait... the Surface 3 comes with a pen, which can not be attached to the tablet, and it has an adjustable stand attached to it. It is also slightly lighter and thinner than the HP laptop. However the screen is slightly smaller on the Surface 3 than this particular HP laptop. The Surface 3 has a front facing and back 5MP camera where the HP only has the front facing camera that I have yet to find the megapixels, so it is probably 2MP or less. This really doesn't matter unless you need to take pictures on a regular basis.

Overall, the Surface 3 is a great tablet, but I feel it is too expensive to be considered a laptop replacement.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Mac Test Drive

I have refused to look at a Mac forever, but my recent issues with Chrome on my Windows 8 all in one

computer have me questioning my choice in computers for the past couple of months. After a failed try with a Chromebox, I was curious about trying a Mac computer. I have heard good things but the best came from a kid who is a programmer, who uses a Nexus 5, but programs with an Mac book Air. He said he had a Windows based server, but prefers with Mac Book because it runs with less background processes.

This evening I wanted to stop by my local Best Buy to see the new Surface 3. It is advertised to be thinner and with all of the processing power of the top of the
line ultra thin laptops. I am not impressed as the price is about the same as the ultra thin laptops that have touchscreen and keyboards attached. The Surface 3 doesn't come with the keyboard as you have to buy that accessory separately. I prefer my Samsung Note Pro and would prefer not to have a Windows based laptop or Surface tablet.

While I was in the store with my daughter, we walked over to the Apple section. There was nobody there, so it was a great opportunity to test what Mac has to offer. I was very impressed with how quickly apps open in the Mac. Safari is OK, but I would prefer to have the choice to use Chrome, so I downloaded it. It installed, then it was requesting the administrator to login and allow the installation. I thought I was stuck and wasn't going to see how it worked, so I clicked cancel. It installed anyway!

I don't believe that it is a good thing that I was able to install Chrome without entering a administrator id and
password because what would have happened if that was a virus? Regardless, I am tired of waiting for Microsoft Word to boot up, tired of Windows having to load everything before it can work, tired of Chrome freezing up after periods of inactivity... Chrome OS has some kinks that may never get worked out, but I believe they can through changes in Google Cloud Print to allow printing on different media and scanner capabilities. Windows is still to clunky and slow unless you get a laptop with a solid state drive. Unfortunately they do not sell an AIO with a solid state drive or it would be the one to get. An iMac maybe in my future if my Samsung AIO sells on Amazon without me dropping the price. lol

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Chromebox is Not a Good CPU Replacement Yet

I have been so frustrated with Chrome in Windows 8.1 since the update to the most recent 8.1. Chrome has frozen and crashed multiple times. And when it crashes Internet Explorer and Windows File Explorer stop working too. Windows just freezes up. Since I like Android so much, I thought I would like Chrome OS as my computer.

After failed attempts to put Chrome on a USB drive to boot on my computer, I decided to try a Chromebox and not a Chromebook. I gave my computer multiple chances to act right until I was pushed to try Chrome OS so I bought an Asus Chromebox through Best Buy online.

Before I received the new computer, I tried to complete different tasks through my Chrome browser on my desktop. I found the first problem that Chrome could not use my scanner on my printer. There are two go around ways of getting it done. The first is scanning from the AIO HP app from my phone. The second is using an USB drive to scan to from the printer. Using the IP address for my HP 8600 printer is not an option as the firmware needs to be updated to allow to save the scan.

The next failure of Chrome OS is actually a failure of Google Cloud Print as it doesn't allow you to print envelopes. I found this out before I received my Chromebox also. There is an app in the Chrome Store for creating envelopes, but it doesn't solve the paper handling of the printer. My HP 8600 would not print out the envelopes as it gave a message of wrong paper in the tray. I could print from Chrome through Google Drive on my computer if I did not use Google Cloud Print and used the driver installed on the computer. Chrome OS doesn't have drivers, so this is another fail from Google OS.

Those are just 2 functions that did not work that would not be important to most users. I am a small home based business user, so it is important to me. There were other issues too.

I used my Samsung AIO computer as the monitor for the Chromebox. It looked cool and I was able to access my computer through Chrome Remote Desktop at the same time which was cool. The problem came when using the browser, an additional microphone is needed to use Google Voice Search as there is no output for touch, microphone or webcam from my Samsung AIO computer. I found that there are other touchscreen monitors, but none within a reasonable price range included a microphone and webcam.

The Chromebox started very fast and had an update that required to restart the computer. It didn't show the annoying message like on Windows computer that it must be restarted. It restarted instantly though and was ready to go.

What was also very fast was the connection with my Chromcast. According to the Google representative in Best Buy, most Chromebooks are not able to use Chromcast. I thought this is messed up since it was all Google products. The Chromebox has the same processor and memory as most Chromebooks, and it ran a faster smother connection to Chromecast as my Samsung AIO. Myth busted. Lol

The last area of despair was with the interface with my Logitech mouse and keyboard. I turned up the speed to the max in Chrome OS, but it still appeared to be a bit laggy. The keyboard was equally laggy and was a huge disappointment. I wonder if it would have been better using the Asus Chromebox mouse and keyboard that is sold separately.

In conclusion, to make a Chromebox to be close to as useful as an AIO Windows based computer, it will cost about as much as the Windows based AIO. Chromebooks are perfect for those who need a laptop, but unfortunately are not as good as many Samsung tablets. I do feel Chrome OS has a place for those who want to avoid virus infection to their computer and don't care for touchscreen interface. It is a lower cost computer that has restrictions, but would be a better alternative to purchasing a new lower end Windows based computer.