The Apple & Samsung Trial Results – My Take Now that the Jury is In

The verdict is in and Samsung’s got a lot of work to do.  They need to do some hardware  and software work as well as write a big check.  Here’s my take on the trial results…

I really expected the trial deliberations to go a lot longer than they did.  The fact that the verdict came back so quickly speaks volumes about design, perception, and what the public believes when it comes to computing and the patent system. I’ve got a quick summary of the results and a couple of opinions on where the trial went south for Samsung.

The trial, in my humble opinion, was over once the following graphic was shown.

I’ve owned a number of Samsung smartphones – the Blackjack, the Blackjack 2, the i700 and the Vibrant (a Galaxy S phone).  Prior to 2007 and the introduction of the iPhone, all Samsung phones had a distinctive look. They were sharp edged, angular, and ran a version of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile.  The Blackjack devices were “smartphones,” or the version of Windows Mobile that didn’t have a touch screen and they had 320×240 (landscape) resolution screens. These devices were Blackberry modeled devices and were rather successful, though they were different enough to not be considered infringing on RIM’s designs and patents. The i700 was Samsung’s very first PDA phone. It ran PocketPC 2002 and eventually got an upgrade to WM2003, but it was well into 2004 before that hit.  The other two devices in the infographic below, were modeled after it.  THAT design, was wholly original and all Samsung.  The i700 was a little bit before its time. It was a decent device, but really would have been much better without the stub antenna and definitely WITH UMTS/HSPA+.

Post iPhone, Samsung made two big changes – First: out with Windows Mobile and in with Android. Windows Mobile had unfortunately reached a point of non-growth and innovation and Microsoft never really stood behind it anyway.  Ballmer doesn’t understand mobility and the mobile operating system’s history clearly shows that.  Google’s Android is very Windows Mobile-like and went places that Microsoft clearly couldn’t go with their mobile OS. It was a much better choice for them.

Second: their phone designs took a drastic and radical shift. Despite Samsung’s claims that Apple doesn’t own a patent on a rectangle with rounded corners (and Samsung is right…they DON’T), its clear that AFTER the iPhone hit and was successful, Samsung’s phone designs changed. Those designs also look a great deal like the design of the iPhone.  Their UI, while built on top of Android, a drastically different looking and functioning OS, looks as much like the iOS home screens as they can.

Come back next time and I’ll give you the specifics on the damages as well as what I’d like to see Samsung do, post-verdict.

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Get in control!

Aaaah! Your favourite country didn’t won the Euro-Cup this year? No Problem! You can avenge them in Pro-Evolution Soccer 2013!

The Official Demo was released and as it was promised, it brings a lot of new features and licensed competitions and teams! They’ve done it again! PES2013 has the full UEFA Champions League License for the game and it looks awesome! They managed to extend their license from the PES 2012 with UEFA in PES 2013 too.

The demo doesn’t impress much by graphic or features, and the options are quite limited. The only improved changes in graphics can be seen, for now, only in the replay mode and in slow-motion. As they mentioned while starting the game: the demo is taken from a product that is still under development and it doesn’t represent the quality and appearance of the final release. You can play with 4 national teams in “Match” mode (Germany, Portugal, England and Italy), and other 4 in Copa Santander Libertadores (Santos FC, Fluminese FC, SC Internacional, CR Flamengo.)

About gameplay, yes, it’s different. It’s changed. It feels like you are trying Ice skating for the first time after you walked all your life in normal shoes. I didn’t really got to control the players as I used to do in the previous versions, but I know that perfection is achieved with practice. The ball runs very naturally, and respects the physics quite in a very high detail. Anyway, the game gets really annoying sometimes, because the referee gives the fouls with so much ease and it’s stopping the game quite often!

So, Konami doesn’t let the PES fans down this year at all. The official release of the game is expected to be in the middle of September 2012, and it will bring into the sports scene the greatest soccer simulator, making you feel like you belong on the field! I can’t wait to play a full UEFA Champions League Season with my favorite team! Good luck scoring goals!

Download Pro Evolution Soccer 2013

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What starts with War, ends with Death

The long awaited apocalyptic game of the year 2012 Darksiders II was finally released, bringing into scene as the main character, the second horseman of the Apocalypse, Death, who wants to spare his brother from oblivion, War, and restore humanity.

The game continues the story of the first Darksiders, in a post-apocalyptic scenario of this world, and like in the previous chapter the hero is caught in the middle of the fight between heaven and hell, being forced to fight both sides, angels and demons.

While the original Darksiders was an action/adventure game, Darksiders II comes with some sort of role-playing elements, making the gameplay a bit different. In addition, your enemies drop coins, armors, and weapons. You can take the equipment, sell it to a merchant, or sacrifice it to level up rare possessed weapons, which you can customize at certain thresholds.

Some might say that Darksiders II is a combination of ideas and concepts borrowed from many other popular games like The Legend of Zelda, God of War, Prince of Persia, Legacy of Kain series, etc. But the think is that the game is still enjoyable to play, even if you find a mixture of common action elements in it.

Each level requires you to resolve a puzzle and to make you figure out how to get from one point to the next. You’ll have to scale walls, throw naturally occurring bombs you stumble upon, pull some levers, etc. You also get a phantom grapple hook that allows you to swing and you can extend your wall runs and jumps. Later, Death splits in three, petrifying your main form and using two doppelgangers to stand on switches and move platforms. Ultimately, you fire portals to travel across great ravines and even through time itself–and these are hardly the extent of the tools you use to make progress through Darksiders II’s clever self-contained puzzles.

Comparing with the original Darksiders, this one’s puzzles are more expertly created and you’ll have to really think harder and harder to unlock them (if you don’t see the youtube walkthroughs). But as much as you advance into the game you’ll find the controls more handy and you’ll learn how to resolve even the most complicated puzzles.

The combat movements and animations are looking quite similar to what the original Darksiders had to offer, but never mind, they are still looking gorgeous.

As a conclusion, I really hope that there will be one game for each Horseman of the Apocalypse as it’s now for War and Death!

 

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View and play all of your media with AK Player

Playing media where and when you want it isn’t always easy, especially with today’s complex ecosystems and new compression algorithms. Playing Flash content while disconnected is also a problem. Adobe doesn’t make an offline player. This is why I like AK Player. It’s a cool media Player for Windows.

AK Player allows you to watch videos from your favorite internet sites, even when you aren’t connected.  This free media player can download content from your favorite media website, like YouTube, and then play it while you’re offline.  One of the reasons why it does this and does this so well is due to its dual media player engines. It plays just about everything.

The app is almost compatible with any and every file format out there.  This is important since there are so many different audio and video formats.  With AK Player all you really need is its one, dual engine player.  However, I did have trouble getting it to play iTunes compatible media, as well as DRM’ed files, although that last one wasn’t surprising.

AK-Player can play multiple files at the same time, something which really sets it apart from virtually every other media player out there. Even better is the fact that you can control the volume or mute or unmute the audio in each individual window that you have open. It has a global volume control, too. When you double click on a new media file, it will automatically open in a new window without closing down the currently open file. It plays multiple files simultaneously and organize it in a smart playlist.

AK Player is a cool app. There’s a lot to like here, especially if you like playing Flash based movies, and aren’t always connected to the internet.  The app allows you to play, as well as organize and search your hard drive for files you’ve got stored. The one thing that annoyed me a little was the fact that it wouldn’t play *.m4a files, DRM’ed or not.  However, despite that, AK Player is a decent Windows media player and is a lot of fun to use.

download AK Player

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Mumble – the open-source group voice chat software designed mainly for online gaming

Mumble is a VOIP (Voice over IP) application which allows users to speak on a chat channel, as in a telephone conference call. It was designed for gamers, who use the software to communicate with other players in the same multiplayer game.

Mumble is a relatively new arrival on the VOIP scene; it has been around in a stable form for about a year, at the time of writing. It takes advantage of newer technologies, such as sound quality and low latency, removing the noise from the audio input.

It is a cross-platform product which is free and open source. It is integrated with the game software in a customisable game overlay so that as well as hearing the other players, you can identify which is speaking. It supports advanced voice activity detection and will record conversations if set up.

To start you must set up the Mumble Server, called murmur, which features secure communication and full extensibility.

We think this is a product with a bright future. It looks easy to work with on the face of it, but running into difficulties is unnerving. It has live support team contact available. There is some technical support from community forums, and there looks to be a wish list for future development. It looks and feels like a product that is on its way up and it will be interesting to see if it develops for usage outside the game arena, but first it needs to grow new functionality, to include things like a user database.

Download Mumble for WindowsDownload Mumble for Mac

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iTunes and iOS6: A Wish List… of Sorts – Part 2

There are changes coming to iOS6, and as a result iTunes, that may or may not make everyone happy. Here’s what I’d like to see

Everyone is talking about iPhone 5 and what it is and isn’t going to look like. While the hardware drives a lot of features, it’s the software that makes the device what it is. The OS, iOS6 and iTunes, are really going to drive what happens to the latest version of the phone that most everyone loves to hate. Here’s what I think (and would like to see) will happen with the latest version of both.

In the first part of this article, I finished up with what Apple was doing with iOS 6. This time, I’m going to opine about what they need to do with iTunes… and its extensive.

iTunes
iTunes does a lot…a LOT, A LOT. It manages music and video, it rips and burns audio CD’s, it’s a podcast catcher, it manages ringtones, it manages applications, and it’s a music, video and application store. Its also a social network allowing users to connect, discuss, rate and review all the content it manages and sells.

It syncs all the content is sells and manages to any and all iDevices you own, so it’s a mobile device manager and sync hub. With it, iTunes allows you to specify what content, and how much of it to sync to your mobile devices.

It’s also a freakin’ mess.

Now, with iOS 6, Apple is going to add additional content to the mix – credit cards, discount cards, coupons, redemption codes, boarding passes, etc. What you’re going to manage it all with on the desktop side is still up in the air. Passbook for iOS doesn’t have a desktop counterpart – yet. However, one thing in my mind is VERY clear – Apple needs to do something with iTunes, quickly, or its going to wind up with a bunch of spaghetti code sooner rather than later.

In short, I think Apple needs to break up its iTunes monopoly into a few different applets. Here are my thoughts.

Content Library Management
iTunes’ roots are in content management, namely music. The app started out as a way for users to rip the CD’s they own and then manage their electronic music collection on their computer. It also synchronized the content you chose to your iPod.

Library Management
Content is no longer limited to just audio. In today’s world, it also includes video – movies as well as TV shows. Currently, iTunes does a decent job of managing the content on your PC, as well as on your iDevice; but it needs to do a better job.

I’ve got HUNDREDS of movies and TV show episodes, most that I’ve purchased through iTunes, representing hundreds of gigabytes of space. Some I’ve ripped from DVD’s that I have legally purchased a license for. Unfortunately, I can’t fit all of this content on my MacBook Pro. It’s just not realistic to think that I’m going to be able to fit my ENTIRE media library on a notebook hard drive; but it is reasonable to assume that I would want to have access to all of it, in different locations, all at once.

I’ve got about 12TB (yes, 12 TERABYTES) of NAS, or network attached storage, on my home network. It’s all hooked together through my Apple Time Capsule. Apple needs to find a way of allowing content stored on a NAS device to be actively loaded into an iTunes Library, without having to load and unload library files. Currently, I either have to create and load a specific library file located on an external drive; or I have to delete unwanted content, reload/copy wanted content from the external drive into an iTunes library over and over.

This requires me to burn internal, home network bandwidth (which isn’t so much of an issue as long as I’m not streaming content internally) and to copy large files on and off my hard drive, which creates data and disk errors requiring me to restart the PC in Recovery Mode and repair the disk.

Break Out Podcasts
Having a built in podcast catcher is great, but may be muddying the water. On the device side, Apple broke podcasts out into its own app. I’m recommending they do the same thing here. In the long run, it’s going to make the management of content a lot easier. It may make you look in more than one place for stuff, but if done right, it should make a lot of sense.

Break Out Mobile Apps
This is a no-brainer. Mobile Apps should be a subset of the Mac App Store. Apple already has a way to manage desktop apps. It would be simplicity to break that out of iTunes and extend it to the App Store. One App Store to rule it all. Period.

Content Store – Extend the App Store
The buying experience needs to come out of iTunes. They have an electronic store on every Mac desktop in the App Store. It would be very easy to take not only mobile apps, which is a logical first step, but music, movies, TV shows, etc., and place the entire buying experience in a single electronic store front.

This is going to accomplish two things: 1) It centralizes all Apple content purchases. Software and multimedia content for your iDevice or your Mac can be found in a single place, and changes to the store or store front can be accomplished without having to tweak the entire iTunes/iTunes Store experience. 2) It unclutters iTunes. iTunes was originally supposed to be a way to organize and sync music. Now it’s a mobile app store, a content store, and a social network and ratings portal as well as a content management tool. It’s gotta be a little ugly in there.

The best thing that can happen to iTunes is that it gets an optimization overhaul. It could be a much better application if it got broken up.

Enhance Sync Services
Apple Sync services sync data in Address Book and iCal to a number of different online services, including iCloud. Sync Services *MAY* manage the sync with your iDevice, but honestly, I’m not entirely certain. However, if it doesn’t, it most definitely should. Getting the sync out of iTunes and bolted onto Apple Sync Services here would be a much better idea. That way, all synchronization is handled by the same component(s) and can be managed at the OS level and not at an app level.

Create Digital Wallet Applet to support Passbook
With the introduction of Passbook, and the rumored NFC functionality in iPhone 5, we’re going to need an Apple developed app to handle the management of this information. I know that I’m going to be able to enter the info on my device, but having a password protected desktop app that allows me to better see and handle this kind of information is much preferred to doing this totally on the iDevice side. The data, of course would be encrypted and synchronized to the iDevice via the new, revised Sync Services, as noted above.

There’s a lot that needs to happen here. iTunes isn’t a total train wreck, but it’s definitely a mess. I would really like to see a bit more than a bit of work done on this ecosystem level app with the introduction of iPhone 5. If it can’t be released in conjunction with iPhone 5, then it should happen as soon after as possible. I know this would require a huge update not only it iTunes, but to OS X as well, as some of my recommendations would require enhancements at the OS level (the App Store and Sync Services)

On the Windows side, things get a bit trickier, as system services would likely have to be created from scratch. The App Store would obviously NOT handle PC apps, but could and should handle mobile apps, as well as multimedia content. Both would be new to the Windows world.

What exactly will happen with iTunes is just as much speculation as what will happen on 12-Sep-12…IF that IS in fact, iPhone 5 Day. We’ll have to wait and see, as with every “box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get…”

Read Part 1 Of This Article

 

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Tweak and test your computer with AIDA 64

Troubleshooting today’s complex computers isn’t always an easy task. With multicore processors and GPU’s along with clock speeds that are easily approaching 4.0 GHz, figuring out exactly what is causing your PC’s performance to tank can be a big task. This is why I like tools like AIDA64. It’s a benchmarking tool for Windows.

AIDA64 is a streamlined Windows diagnostic and benchmarking tool. AIDA64 Extreme Edition provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of your PC’s processor, system memory, and disk drives. AIDA64 is compatible with all current 32-bit and 64-bit version of Microsoft Windows, including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

For 64bit machines, AIDA64 implements a set of benchmarks to measure how fast the computer performs various data processing tasks and mathematical calculations. Memory and cache benchmarks are available to analyze system RAM bandwidth and latency. Processor benchmarks utilize MMX, 3DNow!, SSE, XOP, FMA, and AVX instructions, and can scale up to 32 different processor cores. For legacy machines, all benchmarks are available in 32-bits. AIDA64 Disk Benchmarks determine the data transfer speeds of hard disk drives, SSD’s, optical drives, and flash memory drives.

AIDA64 provides over 50 pages of information on installed programs, software licenses, security applications, and Windows settings. A list of started processes, services, DLL files, startup programs, and visited web pages is also available.

AIDA64 has one of the most accurate hardware detection engines in its class.  It provides detailed information on your computer’s components without the need to open it up. The hardware detection module is powered by an exhaustive hardware database of over 120,000 entries. Additional modules are available to overview processor frequencies, check CRT and LCD display status, and to stress the system to reveal potential hardware failures and thermal issues.

The app is very good at what it does, but its use is limited to diagnostic and troubleshooting activities. Unless you plan to do a lot of tweaking or have a problematic system, you’re likely not going to get a lot of use from the software, so be aware of this if your needs go beyond the basic edition.

download AIDA 64

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Get organized quickly with Swift To-Do List

Getting organized isn’t easy for everyone. Some people have trouble getting started. Some, don’t even have a clue WHERE to start. This is one of the reasons why I like applications like Swift To-Do List. It’s an organization application for Windows.

With Swift To-Do List, you can manage both tasks and notes. Each task can have its own notes; and you can create separate full note pages, or memos, with rich text support, right in the to-do list tree.  The To-Do List Tree has icons that help you organize and print your to-do lists and memos.  You can choose from more than 140 icons in up to 4 sizes.  You can also easily reorder your to-do lists using drag and drop.

Swift To-Do List includes recurring tasks support. Setting it up is extremely easy and is very flexible. It has many different recurrence patterns to choose from including, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, monthly on day of week, yearly, yearly on day of week, and X days after completion. With these varied options, it’s possible to setup recurrences like, the last Friday of every month, or the first Monday in January, or every Tuesday and Thursday, or 5 days after the task is completed. Unique feature: Swift To-Do List also lets you preview the next 10 times the task is going to recur.

Reminders can be easily set for any of your tasks with just a few clicks. Swift To-Do List has great reminder support. The snoozing of reminders is really easy and flexible. You can even receive email reminders and task recurrence notifications sent to you directly from the program.

Swift To-Do List has extended support for rich formatting in its notes section of your task or reminder.  You can import notes and memos from MS Word DOC and DOCX files, HTML files, web-archive MHT files, OpenOffice ODT files, text TXT files, rich text RTF files, and e-book ePUB files. You can also export notes and memos to PDF files as well as all the formats noted above.

There’s a lot to like from Swift To-Do List; but the appearance of the app is a bit on the campy side.  The icons are a bit too detailed and the animations it employs by default aren’t really needed and take away from the awesome functionality of this program.  If you don’t use the to-do list in your mail client (like Outlook), or in Yahoo! Gmail or Outlook.com; or if that’s just too much pomp for the circumstance, you might want to give this app a look.

download Swift To-Do List

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