iOS 8 – What it Needs to Be

The iPhone 6 will more than likely accompany iOS 8. Here’s my annual list of requirements for the latest version of Apple’s mobile OS and its associated hardware.

ios8

As you all know, I’ve been involved in consumer computing since the dawn of the PC. As far as mobile computing is concerned, I feel I’ve been involved with it since the dawn of time as well. Heck, I owned every Compaq iPAQ from the 3100 to the 5000 series, including the 6300-6400 series Pocket PC phones.  Yes.  It’s true…

Hello, my name is Christopher and I’m a mobile device-aholic.

Truth be told, I’m simply a gadget and button junkie who likes to take it with him.  All the time. Everyday. Out loud.  Most of you also know that the iPhone holds a special place in my mobile kit. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that lately, especially in light of the HTC One (M8) review that I wrote for Soft32.  There’s more that’s out there than just the same sized iPhone with relatively the same hardware specs and capabilities that have been in use since the iPhone 4/4S (with a few minor hardware upgrade bumps).

Now, truth be told – I’m very invested in the Apple’s iDevice ecosystem.  From a hardware perspective, I have an iPad, an iPhone and a MacBook Pro. I’ve purchased apps for all of them. More importantly, I have content that I’ve purchased from the iTunes Store in the form of movies and TV shows, music and apps that work with all of them.  I have some stuff in the Google Play and Amazon content stores, but in truth, they are eclipsed by the amount of content I’ve purchased in iTunes. As such, I’ve realized that I’m likely never leaving the Apple ecosystem. It doesn’t make sense to. I have too much content to move or convert; and then I have no idea how to remove DRM from iTunes-based video… I don’t think I even want to try… I’ve simply spent too much time and money on acquiring and organizing the content to worry about trying to get it into another ecosystem.  In the end, I realize that I’ve gotten tangled in the vines of Apple’s walled garden…

If you find yourself in the same boat, don’t despair.  It doesn’t mean that we must simply settle for anything and everything that Apple gives us. We don’t. As a member of Apple’s desktop AND mobile development programs, I file bugs on issues that I see in both iOS and OS X all the time.  Apple regularly looks at that information and at the topics in their support forums before they start planning any release or update to either operating system. In fact, there are several examples of Apple putting out both mobile and desktop releases to specifically address bugs or issues that have been identified in both types of forums.  Apple also (occasionally) looks to the tech press for suggestions and/or escalation of issues that they may have overlooked.

With the iPhone 6 and iOS 8 anticipated to be introduced in about a month at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, nearly everyone is all abuzz about what the changes or improvements are or should be.  As I’ve had this on my mind lately, I thought I’d chime in and give everyone MY two cents worth…

1. iCloud – More at a Lower Price
A few weeks ago, Google made drastic changes to its Google Drive pricing and storage plans.  Previously, I was paying $20/month for 400GB of space. It was more than I needed.  Google grandfathered that storage and pricing plan and upgraded me. Now, for literally half the price ($10/month), Google is providing 1.0TB of space. The only reason why I haven’t put most of my digital photos into Drive is because my internet provider has a monthly bandwidth watchdog; and even though I have the highest tiered data plan they offer (I have Internet only, as you may remember) Cox still sends hate mail when that cap is exceeded every month, suggesting I purchase a larger plan. I would if I could, but I can’t.

Anyway, iCloud… Apple’s free plan only provides 5GB of space.  If you have a full, 8GB iDevice, you won’t be able to back it up to iCloud without purchasing additional space.  Apple still only provides 50GB max space in iCloud, and for that, they want $100 a year (roughly $8.33/ month).  However, for about that much, Google provides 20 times more space.  The time has come for Apple to provide more space at a comparable price, and WWDC would be a decent time to announce that. While they could do it at any time – because you shouldn’t need an OS update to take advantage of the additional space – if they do make a comparable change, they will likely wait until June to announce it.

2. At the end of the day, though, Apple could jump ahead of the curve.  While Google’s storage and plan offerings are insanely large for insanely little, both Amazon and Microsoft are way more expensive.  Microsoft currently doesn’t offer 1TB of space, though they are planning on providing it to their business customers only at $2.50 per user, per month.  Amazon provides 1TB of space for $500/ year, or about $42/ month.  Dropbox Pro provides 100GB for $10/ month (or 1/10th of what Google provides, at the same price).

3. Better Data Management – iCloud/iDevice File Management
Currently, the only way to get non-media related content (documents and such) into iCloud is to save them in an iCloud enabled app.  You can’t copy content directly into iCloud. There’s no synchronized folder like there is with Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.  Apple needs to get it together and provide this kind of file synchronization.

It would also be nice if Apple gave us some control over the data in the file store on an iOS device. I don’t think we need access to the entire file system, but for those files that you have synchronized to accessible on a device, it would be nice if you could organize them within that folder structure with the device. That’s just me…but I’m pretty certain many users would also appreciate having some level of file management capabilities for iCloud on the device.

4. Change Default Apps
Some people prefer Google Maps to Apple Maps (even though the latter is getting much better with each iOS iteration and release). Some people use 3rd party calendar or contact apps.  Some people use Chrome instead of Safari on their iDevice. It would be nice if Apple gave us a way to change which apps handled which data types so we could use the apps we prefer instead of Apple’s default apps. While Apple’s apps aren’t bad, there are better apps available in the App Store, and it would be nice to be able to use those instead of Apple’s standard apps.

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Take command of your hard drives with GParted

gpartedI’ve been working with computers since 1982-1983.  I’ve been through floppy discs (8″, 5.25″ and 3.5″) and the early, EARLY hard discs that were absolutely immense at 5MB (yes, MEGAbytes) and totally ginormous at 10MB.  We never thought we’d ever, EVER use all that space. Today, any internal hard drive under 1TB (terabyte) is considered small. I was looking at 3TB and 4TB drives the other day while shopping. We’ve come a long way…

If you aren’t looking at SSD’s (solid state drives) on your computer, then you’re likely looking at your current hard drive and either wondering how you can squeeze more performance out of it, or you’re looking at upgrading a hard drive and wondering how to get the most performance out it. This is where utilities like GParted come in. This Windows-based, hard drive utility can help you figure out the best way to construct your drive’s partitions so you get the best performance from it.

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Hard drives today contain more sectors (places to store data) at the outer edge of their physical platters than at the inner edge. All disc based hard drives spin at a constant rate of either 5400 RPM, 7200 RPM, or 10,000 RPM (rotations per minute). Obviously, the higher the rating, the faster the drive can access data. This physical configuration means that more data can be accessed at the outer edge where the drive “starts” in a single spin than at the inner edge where the drive “ends.”

To take advantage of these physical hard disk drive characteristics, you should place frequently accessed files near the beginning of the disc. For example to shorten your PC’s boot time, you should place the OS in a partition at the physical “start” of the drive. Less frequently accessed information, such as your data files, should be placed in a partition after the OS.

GParted is a hard drive partitioning tool that helps you do just that on your Windows-based PC.  With GParted, you can resize, copy, and move partitions without data loss, enabling you to change the size of your C: drive, create multiple, logical drives on a single, physical disc drive, enable and disable partition flags, (for example, mark a partition as either your boot partition or to mark it hidden).  You can also use it to try to recover data from lost partitions.

The app works with the SATA, IDE, and SCSI hard disk drives , flash memory drives, such as USB memory sticks and SSD’s, RAID Devices (hardware RAID, motherboard BIOS RAID, and Linux software RAID), and supports all sector sizes including drives with 512, 1024, 2048, 4096 byte sectors.

GParted and apps like it are very powerful programs.  Working with drive partitions used to be very difficult and time consuming. Now, with GParted, you get the data that you need, placed on the drive where it will be the most useful, and that configuration can be changed on the fly.  Everything is displayed graphically, so you know exactly where and what you are doing, taking the guess work out of a lot of the process.

However, please note that GParted is a serious system tool.  You need to understand what it does and how it does what it does before you start changing the configuration of your physical hard drive into a lot of smaller, logical drives.  You could lose data if you’re not careful.  Make certain you have a backup of your data before you make physical changes to the configuration of your drive.

download GParted

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…Now with less suckage…

I have it on good authority that Windows 8.1 Update doesn’t suck…

Windows8.1

About 18 months ago, I wrote a column for InformationWeek’s BYTE on the state of Windows 8 and its UI at the time. Unfortunately, BYTE is no more. You can’t even find any REAL reference to the project on InformationWeek at this point, though if you know the right search criteria, you can still find many of the articles from most, if not all of its contributors (see the example above…); and in many cases, they may still be relevant today.

Recently, my good friend and former BYTE Editorial Director, Larry Seltzer wrote a piece on how Windows 8.1 doesn’t suck, and it was recently published on ZDNet. He made a couple big points in the article. You can read it if you want to, (it’s a good read and well worth the time) but I’ve summarized them here and added some of my own commentary.

1. Windows 8.1 with Update, is now usable
I’ve got a lot of experience with Windows 8. I’ve been using it since it’s very early days in 2011 when the Developer Preview came out. I had it installed on a touch netbook at the time; and it was a damned mess with both interfaces conflicting with one another, making use of your Windows 8.x device very difficult. It got better with 8.1. It’s gotten better still with Windows 8.1 Update. In fact, you can now use Windows 8.1 on a desktop machine without wanting to rip your hair out. The experience is nearly tolerable. By the time Threshold gets here (Windows 8.2, Windows 9, or whatever they brand it as), it should be just as desktop friendly as Windows 7, in my opinion. (Which I think is the best version of Windows ever, but that’s a discussion for another day).

2. Start Menu Replacements have a limited shelf life with Threshold on the way
This is where Larry and I [may] disagree. I say may, because there’s still one huge wild card left to be played – Windows Threshold. No one knows what it’s going to look like. No one knows exactly when it’s supposed to be released. Microsoft is playing with its release schedule, and while we know there’s supposed to be a release in Q1/Early Q2 of calendar 2015, we don’t know if that’s going to be Threshold or just another “incremental” update. The full Start Menu is supposed to appear in Windows Threshold; and until it’s revealed, it’s impossible to say if it will be positively or negatively reviewed.

Start button/menu apps like Start8 offer as true a Windows 7-like experience as you can get on Windows 8. It’s more about the Start Menu than the button with Start8; and while Windows 8.x may now allow for a more desktop friendly (or Windows 7-like) experience, depending on how the new/revived Start Menu in the NEXT version of Windows is implemented, some users may still want apps like Start8. So I don’t agree with him when he says that Start Menu/button apps are living on borrowed time.

While I think they may not be as popular as they were before Threshold, some users may still prefer them (or at least the one they’ve been using). It all depends on the great unknown – the next version of Windows. Currently, no one knows what that looks like…

3. Windows 8.x is a branding Nightmare
Larry is dead on here. I think just about everyone in the Windows community, outside of Microsoft, that is, will agree. Windows 8.x branding is a worse leper than Windows Vista was. Microsoft needs to get themselves off of Windows 8.x as soon as they can and get to the next version of Windows.

If Microsoft wants to keep the MetroUI/ModernUI look and feel, they will need to draw the line in the sand and make Mobile Windows only for Windows Phone and for their tablets (don’t’ you really want to say Windows Tablet..? I know I do). That will leave MetroUI/ModernUI for the Windows RT/ Windows Surface/2, non-legacy-desktop capable tablets, and leave Windows #.x for their compatible tablets/ultrabooks, laptops and desktops (which, quite honestly, is what they should have done in the first place…)

Anyway you cut it, Microsoft needs to leave the Windows 8.x brand in the past and move on to something – nearly anything – else. If they don’t, they’re going to continue to have sales and revenue issues, going forward.

So, all things being equal at this point, it’s true – Windows 8.1 Update really doesn’t suck. I got it the first day that it was made available to everyone and I’ve been very pleased with what it’s been able to provide.

It seems that Microsoft is listening to the feedback of its customers. It seems as though, under its new leadership from Satya Nadella, Microsoft is getting its act together and is beginning to find its way back to the beaten path. Though many will say that “taking the road less travelled” provides you with a more robust journey, I think that journey has proved to be nothing more than a “bust” for Microsoft up to this point. Getting themselves back to a more traditional version of Windows for their legacy desktop users now insures that their enterprise business is no longer in as risky a position as it used to be.

What do you think? Do you use Windows 8? Have you upgraded to Windows 8.1? Have you upgraded to Microsoft Windows 8.1 Update? Do you use a Start Menu replacement app on top of Windows 8? Is Microsoft getting back on track with its recent releases? Are you more satisfied with Windows 8.1 Update than with previous versions of Windows?

The comments section is just below, and I really would appreciate your thoughts. I know that others would appreciate them as well, as there’s a great deal of opinion on this; and I’d really like to know what you have to say on the whole subject. Please join me in the discussion below and tell me what you think.

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Take control of your PC’s networking needs with HostsMan

Computing today is getting complicated. Having a secure, unhackable machine is something that everyone wants and needs; but isn’t likely realistic. However, you can take control of your computer and its networking needs with the right utilities and a little bit of knowledge. Since most PC’s are connected to some kind of LAN or WAN, it’s important to have some idea of where your PC goes for policy and naming directions. Utilities like HostsMan for Windows can be a help in areas like this.

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Most laptop or desktop computers using a “modern” operating system have a hosts file.  In most cases, end users won’t know what this is, or why it’s important to control.  The hosts file is one of several system objects that assist the user in addressing network nodes on a computer network. When things are working the way they should, most users won’t even think about their computer’s hosts file, though it is a common part of your PC’s operating system Internet Protocol (IP) implementation.  A hosts file translates human-friendly hostnames into IP addresses that identify and locate a host in an IP network. Simply put, it tells your computer where to go and what to do when it comes to networking.

In many cases, users that are aware of this type of need are often used to Domain Name System (DNS) protocols handling this need.  However, many systems customize this provision and implement name service switches. What’s important here is that unlike remote DNS servers that resolve names into IP numbers, the hosts file is located on the PC you’re using, and under your direct control, provided you have administrator rights to it.  This is where HostsMan comes in.

HostsMan is a freeware application that lets you manage your PC’s hosts file with ease. With it, you can update your hosts file.  You can enable/disable usage of the hosts file, or open it for editing with one click.  In many cases, it’s possible to have more than one hosts file on a single computer.  HostsMan allows you to merge two hosts files with its built-in hosts editor.

You can prevent other programs of writing to the file, scan it for errors, duplicates and possible hijacks; determine what host names you’re using and how many there are.  Before making modifications, you can easily create encrypted backups of your hosts file, resolve host names before they’re implemented, keep a log of the latest blocked sites, create an exclusions list and more.

Working with your computer’s hosts file isn’t always easy, and it’s not recommended unless you REALLY know what you’re doing and what your changes will do to your computer’s ability to connect to another computer, server or even to the internet.  The best rule here is that if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do it. PERIOD.

HOWEVER, provided you have some basic networking knowledge and have a real need to find, and update the hosts file that your computer is actually using (and not just the one you found in a directory you were running through, looking for your hosts file…), HostsMan is probably one of the best utilities you can use to make proper and appropriate edits to the file. Its error checking functions are probably something that you’ll make a lot of use of if you run the app.  Having an encrypted backup that you can fall back on just in case you make a mistake and cut your PC off the internet is also something that you’ll find valuable.

download HostsMan

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Kingsoft Office Suite Free

Reverse your dependence on Microsoft Office with this free alternative suite for Windows

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I’ve been a huge productivity software fan most of my computing career. PFS Write for the IBM PC and Apple II got me into computers, so it’s no surprise to me that productivity suites – word processors, spreadsheets, presentation tools, etc. are a long time favorite. With Microsoft Office cheaper, but still (somewhat) expensive, having free, compatible alternatives is a huge win for everyone on a budget. It’s for this reason that apps like Kingsoft Office Suite Free are among my favorite Windows apps. I’m certain that after a short introduction, the two of you will get along famously as well.

Kingsoft Office Suite Free 2013 goes a long way to simplifying its interface, making it easier than even easier to navigate through all of its applications. Most everything is where you would expect it to be, and the suite includes not only your favorite features, but some new ones as well. The redesigned UI makes working with your more complex documents easier than you thought it would be.

The suite includes three powerful applications – Writer, Spreadsheets and Presentation. The suite has the basic functionality that you’ve come to expect from an MS compatible office suite and has many outstanding features other suites doesn’t include. For example, Writer, includes a professional PDF converter, an advanced paragraph adjustment tool and intuitive table operation by default. MS Word either doesn’t have these, or requires a 3rd party add-in.

What’s new in the latest update?

Having an alternative to Microsoft Office is important in today’s much weaker economy. Microsoft Office may be the bomb, and you may not WANT to accept any substitutes, sometimes you just have to. If you’re a college student, out on your own, and you don’t have access to Microsoft Office, yet need something to write reports or create class presentations with, then apps like Kingsoft Office Suite not only save your bacon (and your money), but they do it while giving you access to everything you need, plus nearly everything you want.

The free version of the suite is a total winner. Hands down… The only thing it’s really missing is a database app or Access clone, an Outlook clone (or something to manage your schedule, contacts and email with) and a Publisher clone (or something to make fliers, stationary and other printed goods with). Aside from that and the lack of any VBA or macro editing support, the free version has all that you’ll likely need. If you do need the ability to write active content into your spreadsheets or other documents, you’ll have to spend about $70 bucks USD in order to get it from Kingsoft.

Download Kingsoft Office Suite Free

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HTC One (M8) – Wrapping it all Up

My time with the HTC One (M8) is almost up. Here are my parting thoughts on the device.

Introduction

My time with the HTC One (M8) is nearly over; and I’ve had one heck of a time with the device. There are some things I really liked; and there are some things that I really didn’t care for at all.

I’ve published a number of blogs here on Soft32. You can search for all of them if you like, or you can simply click through and check out the links below:
HTC One (M8) Unboxing
HTC One (M8) – Initial Impressions
HTC One (M8) – Performance at a Premium
HTC One (M8) – Duo Camera
HTC One (M8) – Is Retro Good Enough?: The Dot View Case

I wanted to take a few moments and give the device the proper treatment before I box it up and send it back, so here are the core essentials of a proper review.

The Specs
The device has some really nice hardware specs from a device perspective. The camera, as you can see in my review of it, leaves a great deal to be desired. It does OK, but if you’re used to 8MP or better on your phone, I think you’re going to be greatly disappointed. However, I also have a decent DSLR and take some (semi-professional quality) pictures. Honestly, I don’t want to be a camera snob at all, but I would definitely NOT buy the HTC One (M8) for its camera. I’m not even certain I would rely on it as a smartphone camera. My iPhone 5 takes much better pictures, and by today’s standards, its 8MP sensor with f2.2 lens is about average. There are smartphones (some Android, some not…) out there with much, MUCH better lenses. If you’re wanting to double up smartphone and camera needs, this is not the phone to look at, in my opinion.

However, as I said, the rest of the specs are quite respectable, and I think, worth the premium price. The camera would have made this a home run, and instead, it unfortunately makes the HTC One (M8) just a mediocre phone.

Quad-core 2.3gHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor
32GB Solid State Storage
2GB DDR3 RAM
microSD Card Slot supporting up to 128GB cards
5″ HD Display
HTC BoomSound
HTC Duo Camera – 4MP, dual LCD Flash
5MP Front facing camera
Bluetooth 4.0

The device does not appear to have BT LE as part of its Bluetooth stack. I’m not certain why. My iPhone 5 does, and its 2 years older than the HTC One (M8). Very disappointing, and somewhat confusing…

The device has enough onboard storage to hold a movie or two as well as most of your music collection. I’ve got a HUGE music library and have about 2300 songs on my iPhone 5. I’ve got maybe 500MB of space left over after that and all my tech podcasts (apps, etc.) are on it. With only 16GB, I don’t bother with video. There just isn’t enough space.

However, the HTC One (M8) has twice that space, and as I said, you can hold 1-3 HD movies, PLUS a large music collection, PLUS other audio (like podcasts) and still have space left over. You can also stick in up to a 128GB microSD card in the device for a max total space of 156GB. The HTC One (M8) gives you enough storage capacity to take everything with you, without having to compromise.

Its 2GB of DDR3 RAM insures that nearly everything you run – games, video player, music player, productivity apps, etc., run smoothly. In the month or so that I’ve had the device, I haven’t had any performance issues with it. It’s been running smoothly and quickly. I really couldn’t have asked for a better performing device.
The Hardware
Despite the camera issue (which for me, is HUGE, due to my photography bent), the HTC One (M8) has a lot to offer. From a hardware only perspective, the (M8) hits a home run.
The Device Itself
The HTC One (M8) is a great looking, great feeling device. Its aluminum body is solid, and it doesn’t look or feel cheap by a long shot. The device is thin and sleek. As you can see from the pictures below, it makes the larger iPhone 5 (with a 4″ 16×9 screen) seem dinky by comparison. I’ve tried to give you a decent look at the device. You have the full 360, plus the device’s front and back.

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The HTC One (M8)

However, I did find that with a 5″ screen, the HTC One (M8) REQUIRES two hands to operate. I am huge (and have been for well over 10 years) on one-handed operability. I live in my device, and often have a notebook, pen and cup of coffee in one hand and my smartphone in another, checking mail, messages and the location of my next meeting. I can do this with my 4″ iPhone 5 quite easily. The device is skinny enough that I can hold the device and work the screen with my thumb.

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The HTC One (M8) and the iPhone 5 – front view

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I Think Apple found the Smoking Bazooka

Oh snap..!   Google did in fact agree to indemnify Samsung in the original trial against Apple.

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On any given [Sun]day, this might not be a big deal.   However, there are two big problems with this development that had me nearly reeling this morning as I read first the headline and then the article on Apple Insider. Samsung is in a boat load of trouble; and it may be taking Google down with it. BOTH companies may burn on this one.   This is a huge deal for two specific reasons
1.    Samsung KNEW it was Infringing on Apple Patents – Despite anything that it has said over the course of the past few years while the Apple v. Samsung patent trials were under way, based on Samsung’s request for Google to indemnify them (read – foot the bill for the legal fees and direct the path of their legal defense) Samsung ACTIVELY knew that it had been steeling Apple’s intellectual property. If it hadn’t, then it wouldn’t have asked Google to indemnify them.
2.    Samsung Lied…BIG Time – In short (because Apple’s attorney Harold McElhinny really hit this one out of the park, presenting four (4) different exhibits outlining Samsung’s activities to actively hide its request …REQUEST… to Google to indemnify them) – during active testimony in open court, Samsung denied seeking indemnification from any third party (including Google). Here’s where McElhinny hit the grand slam – he presented four examples that clearly shows that Samsung did in fact ACTIVELY pursue indemnification from Google.
That’s not a smoking gun, kids…that’s a smoking bazooka.   There’s not much left of Samsung’s foot.

The final exhibit that McElhinny presented in his examination was,

“…a letter ‘from Allen Lo of Google, Deputy General Counsel Patents and Patent Litigation,’ to Samsung’s JaeHyoung Kim, dated May 21, 2012. The email, titled, ‘Apple litigation alleged patent infringement,’ was described by James Maccoun, [Google’s counsel], as ‘Google’s essentially offering to defend Samsung to the MADA (Mobile Applications Development Agreement) and does offer to defend some — some claims.’ ”

While this may seem a bit “open and shut,” it actually isn’t. There’s a great deal of, “he said, she said” going on with all of this. After the last trial, which Apple won and was ultimately (after reductions and retrials) awarded a judgment of about $890M USD (and not the original $1B+ USD), Samsung outlined what was described as “minor damages” related to two patents it purchased in 2011, after initially being sued by Apple; and doesn’t appear to amount to much.

For example, one patent related to a FaceTime-like video system which could send video over a low bandwidth line, has expired. Apple Insider calls this “start contrast to Apple’s patent offense, which focuses on four feature patents that Samsung meticulously detailed as features it needed in its own products in order to compete against Apple, including Slide to Unlock and Apple Data Detectors.” At this time, Samsung refuses to license the patents on Apple’s terms, hence the latest law suit from Apple seeking $2.0B in damages, royalties and lost profits.   However, that doesn’t clear Apple of anything.   How – and even IF – it’s relevant to these proceedings remains to be seen.

However, being able to produce these four exhibits that clearly contradict Samsung’s earlier testimony, is – in a word – damning. The fact that Samsung knew it had IP issues and then actively sought protection against them from Google in Samsung’s first patent trial against Apple is telling. They knew they were (at least potentially) in trouble.

One big question from all of this is, “how does this effect Google, if at all?”   Will they be drawn into this because of their own desire to indemnify Samsung; or because of the conspiracy to hide the truth from both the Court and from Apple during the last trial? Will they be fined, or be held partially responsible for the damages and judgment that Apple won?   At any rate, that, and if and how this development effects the current trial, remains to be seen.

The biggest question I have after all this is – how will Judge Koh take all of this?   Since Samsung has been caught in a blatant lie, will Judge Koh penalize Samsung in any way?   Will she hold them in Contempt of Court?   She’s shown herself to be intolerant of the shenanigans going on between the two companies in and out of the courtroom. Given that this is pretty “in your face,” I wonder if she will retaliate.   I know many that would want to, at least initially.

At the end of the day, it’s clear that the legal issues between Apple and Samsung – and potentially Google now – are far from over.   If there’s one thing that this particular revelation has shown me, it’s that the trial still has a lot of legs and still has a great many more skeletons buried deep within both company’s respective closets that may yet be revealed.

What do you make of all of this? Did this surprise you as much as it did me? If so, were you more surprised by the actual facts of the situation or by the fact that Samsung got caught in a lie? How do you think it will affect the current trial, if at all?   Will Judge Lucy Koh act on this particular issue, holding Samsung and/ or Google in contempt of court, will she let it slide; or will she penalize one or both of them in a different way?

I’d really like to hear from everyone.   This could create a really cool conversation, with a great deal of speculation and interesting content.   Why don’t you log in and give me your thoughts in the comments section and tell me what you think?   I’d really like hearing your thoughts on all of this.

The roller coaster ride isn’t over yet, but you’re going to have to watch out for pot holes and other bazooka-like remnants as you make your way through it all. This one has the potential to get a bit messier still…

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Did Nike’s FuelBand Run out of Gas?

Numerous reports have been seen on the internet recently indicating that Nike recently decided to exit the wearables market and has released or reassigned the members of its FuelBand Team.

If there’s one thing that I know, it’s that wearables are a hot market. Jawbone has one. Fitbit has several; and now Nike has none; or at least that’s what most of us have been lead to believe, if you lend credibility to some reports that have surfaced over the past couple of days. It was reported by a source close to C|Net that Nike has recently announced that it will be exiting the wearables market, leaving its FuelBand and FuelBand SE wrist bands behind to concentrate, it says, on health related software.

Nike-FuelBand-SE

Nike’s wearables division was 70 people big. It was originally reported that as many as 55 of those 70 had been released or reassigned.   That’s 78%+ of the members on the team. It was thought that some of those 55 people may take roles in other parts of the organization, though the specifics of those details were unknown.

Last week, Nike announced a new R&D entity called Fuel Lab. The group is said to concentrate its work on building out products that leverage the Nike Fuel workout metric.   Now, Nike has confirmed to Re/code that a “small number” of its people were let go. They have denied C|Net’s reports that it is closing its hardware division stating that the FuelBand and the FuelBand SE remain “an important part of [their] business.”   They have committed to continuing updating the FuelBand app as well as supporting it for the foreseeable future.

I bought a Nike FuelBand in December 2013 and have worn it every day since it arrived. I now have over 1.1M Nike Fuel in my Nike+ account. The band is comfortable to wear and does a good job of recording MOST movements.   It does a great job of recognizing arm sway while walking. It’s not that great about recognizing running arm sway. I spent most of November, December and January on an elliptical jogger. It did a horrible job of recording and measuring the activity. I’m told that it was the angle of the movement as read by its accelerometer that causes the problem.   For some reason, the Nike FuelBand/SE just doesn’t read the movement correctly. It’s very frustrating.   I run on an elliptical because I have knee problems (and therefore can’t jog…). Running is one of the best ways to lose weight and exercise. However, if my activity tracker can’t measure the activity correctly, then I may need a new tracker…

The iWatch is supposed to address this, if and when Apple releases it, and IF its even called that.   To an extent, the Pebble Steel may address this via Run Keeper (or other connected, compatible app). Either way, I need to eat less and move more; and measuring my progress isn’t as clear-cut as it was about 8 months ago.

Do you use an activity tracker?   If so, which one? Does it have a companion app on your smartphone of choice? Why don’t you join me in the discussion area and tell me about your setup and what you feel the best configuration is?

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