So… Now Net Neutrality is In??

All of a sudden President Obama is jumping on the Net Neutrality band wagon?

I don’t get politics.

I really don’t. Perhaps it’s because at the core of everything in me, I think that (most) people are generally good and don’t want or have any desire to screw over the person sitting next to them. Maybe I’m naïve… or just stupid. Who knows.

A few years ago when SOPA had the internet up in arms, everyone was screaming about the internet, content rights, and net neutrality. Its counterpart, PIPA was just as bad; and thankfully, both of them died in committee. Through all of this, though, lobbyists for AT&T, Comcast, Cox, Verizon, Time Warner and every other cable provider have been spending big… and I mean BIG… dollars in Washington trying to keep the FCC from applying Title II telecommunications reclassifications to ISP’s.

Effectively, Title II classification would make all ISP’s a broadcast service and therefore, a utility, falling directly under the governments regulations. However, there’s a catch..

The problem is that the internet is both a telecommunications service and an information service. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 covers both, but there’s a huge loop hole. While the act does make provisions for the offering of a capability for generating, acquiring, storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, utilizing, or making available information via telecommunication – and includes electronic publishing – it does not include any use of any such capability for the management, control, or operation of a telecommunications system or the management of a telecommunications service. The distinction comes into play when a carrier provides information services. A carrier providing information services is not a ‘telecommunications carrier’ under the act.

Over the past few years lobbyists have been throwing money at law makers, trying to get them to allow for HOV lanes on the internet. For example, a few years ago, Comcast wanted Netflix to pay a premium to have their content streamed over the internet or Comcast would throttle Netflix content.

Netflix said, “no.”

It didn’t want to pay for a virtual HOV lane on the internet. So, Comcast followed through and throttled their traffic, making the service pretty much unusable. This caused a huge problem for Netflix. Their stock tanked as users complained and left. In the end, Netflix relented, and paid for their HOV lane, and Comcast stopped throttling their traffic. The stock recovered and all was right with the world.

Net Neutrality would make this type of extortion illegal; and would require ISP’s like Comcast, Cox and Time Warner to treat all traffic like the 1’s and 0’s that they are.

President Obama appointed the most recent FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler. Wheeler hasn’t had a great deal of success in addressing Net Neutrality. A federal appeals court struck down the previously proposed rules for net neutrality in January of 2014. The FCC has been trying to play politics since then and really hasn’t wanted to touch the hot potato that this has become.

In the end, both sides of this issue – the lobbyists opposing net neutrality and the content providers and the public who laud it – are pushing the FCC to make a decision. As Sean Connery said, “in the end, there can be only one.” At the end of the day, someone has to make up their minds – is everything just ones and zeros – or is some internet traffic more expensive to transmit?

At the end of the day, it’s really all about money.

The ISP’s want to be paid for the kind of traffic that flows more often over the internet – streaming audio and streaming video – from services like Spotify, Beats Music, iTunes Radio, Hulu, and Netflix. They see users moving all of their entertainment needs and wants to the internet as hard wires have a much farther reach than signals broadcast over the air. In other words, the change in infrastructure, equipment, type of traffic and the supply and demand for it… the entertainment and telecommunications lobbies want to be compensated for all of that. They want to tax the users and make them pay for their habits.

I recently saw an article that showed a Tweet by Senator Ted Cruz. He called Net Neutrality “ObamaCare for the Internet.”

I disagreed and tweeted back that Net Neutrality is really the internet’s Declaration of Independence.

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“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [internet traffic is] created equal, that they are endowed by their [content] creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are [equality], [perpetuity] and the pursuit of [unmetered Bandwidth].

I’m willing to give a bit on the “unalienable rights,” part. If you have better suggestions, I’d love to hear them. I really did that off the top of my head, but the point is clear – all internet traffic should be treated the same, and none of it should be throttled or metered based on what kind of content it comprises.

Now, what Tom Wheeler decides to do… no one knows yet. I think I see him sitting on the sidelines watching which way the wind is blowing. He is clearly either a professional politician or is just afraid of standing up and making a decision.

The country – no… the WORLD – is watching Mr. Wheeler. What you decide will likely shape the next century or two. I know you want to get it right and you don’t want to create issues or problems for yourself, but it’s time to do the right thing. Put your big boy pants on and take a stand for Net Neutrality.

Do the right thing.

While I tend to be a conservative politically, I am not rich. I don’t want to pay MORE of a premium for the content I am already consuming. As entertainment – music and video – moves from broadcast and cable TV to the internet via Netflix, Hulu, iTunes and other on-demand services, I don’t want to have to pay more than I already am (which, by the way, is as much of a premium as it really needs to be for all of the movie channels, on demand channels and pay-per-view channels that are available and are used) for the stuff I ALREADY HAVE. In the end… the content providers are going to pass the cost of the HOV lane on to the consumer…

I work for a living! Cut me and my checking account a break and say yes to Net Neutrality!

What do YOU think? Am I too invested in this? Am I right about content being all ones and zeros and all ones and zeros are created a like? Is your internet bill really a UTILITY bill as defined by Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1996? Why don’t you chime in, in the Discussion area below and let me know what you think? Anyone who surfs the internet likely has some kind of opinion about this. I’d love to hear yours…

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What’s the Big Deal Around Streaming Services?

For artists, labels, and the service itself it’s about monetization. For consumer’s it’s about something else entirely…

Recently Taylor Swift announced that she was taking ALL of her music off of Spotify. To put it bluntly, she wasn’t happy about how she was getting paid for people listening to her music. With a new album coming out, I don’t blame her. She’s got a lot of work put into her music – a lot of feeling, blood, sweat, TEARS – and she’s not getting compensated for much of it. The labels usually take most of the money when it comes to album sales, and artists like Taylor, really only make pennies per play from a streaming service.

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I was listening to MacBreak Weekly and they started talking about Beats Music and Apple, and of course, the whole issue with Taylor got brought up and NOBODY, ABSOLUTELY NO ONE on the show understands why streaming services are having such a hard time getting off the ground.

First they thought it was pricing… they chewed on that for a while and then touched on ownership of the actual songs or downloaded music… when that didn’t produce a definitive answer, well, unfortunately, I arrived at my appointment and had to turn the car radio off and didn’t get to finish the show, but no one gets why consumers are jumping all over this, and to me, it’s the easiest thing in the world.

Hello…?! Mobile broadband consumption.

The issue on the consumer side has nothing to do with the labels, has nothing to do with the artists and has absolutely nothing to do with the streaming service. Honestly, they’re just like any other content store. You can pretty much get the digital music you want and like there like you can on iTunes, Google Play or Amazon. In the end, it really doesn’t matter WHERE you get it.

The big problem isn’t even ubiquitous connectivity. No one cares if the Cloud evaporates or not in this case. When you combine mobile broadband and Wi-Fi together, you’re pretty much gonna have an internet connection, especially in urban areas like New York, Chicago, L.A., or any other big city. The problem is mobile bandwidth… It’s not free like (most) Wi-Fi is.

Yes, an OK, free Wi-Fi connection is likely available on nearly every street corner in a big city or other urban area. And you may be able to survive on free Wi-Fi between Starbucks, AT&T, Xfintiy free Wi-Fi access points; or any other store, or retail POS location that offers unsecured (or known, connectable) Wi-Fi access points. The problem is that THEY aren’t ubiquitous.

Which brings us back to the whole mobile broadband thing… Streaming services rely on an internet connection to provide you with music. It used to be, back in the day, that your place of work didn’t mind you playing a WinAmp station on your PC as long as you had a set of headphones. You could listen to music at your desk at work all day long. It was great! That is, until the IT department caught wind of how much bandwidth everyone was using up while listening to music all day; and then they blocked the service… No more music for you!

…and that pretty much killed it for every other music service you might want to listen to at the office since then, too. As soon as packet sniffers at the office alerted the network admin that someone was listening to streaming music or audio, it got cut off; but again, mobile broadband fixed that…and it was ok until the Cloud Computing trend started to get real popular and mobile carriers did the same thing that the office did – started sniffing packets to see what was eating up all of the bandwidth on their network.

Once they figured out that people were streaming audio, video and other consumer content through their networks, they didn’t cut us off like the office network admins did… No, no, no… Please! This is America…

No, they did what any good and greedy company would do – they decided to kill all of the unlimited data plans and started charging users based on bandwidth limits. Then when you reached that limit, they’d either cut you off, charged you overage fees or shuttled you to a different network that throttled your service speed and you couldn’t stream content as well.

See… the problem with streaming services isn’t that consumers don’t like the content, or that they don’t like paying for it. The problem is that mobile bandwidth is expensive and your monthly allotment is extremely limited.

For example, I have 15GB of mobile bandwidth; but that allotment is shared between three different numbers on my mobile, AT&T account. Mobile streaming services use a LOT of bandwidth and pump a great deal of data over the network. Any time someone starts pushing a lot of audio or video through their handset, I can tell. I usually get a text message that I’m running low; and then, I usually call my daughter and tell her to find a Wi-Fi network to connect to or to stop listening to iTunes Radio or to Spotify or whatever else she might be doing.

My wife usually doesn’t bother with streaming content, and neither do I… I’d rather use the bandwidth or FaceTime calls or for data intensive applications like Facebook (uploading and downloading pictures and videos of my granddaughter, for example…) or something else; and then, I’m going to do my best to find a usable Wi-Fi network with some decent through-put.

So, let’s get this into some real perspective – the reason why music streaming services are having problems – at the heart of it all… the lack of customers – isn’t an issue with the artist, labels, content or even the price of the service. It has everything to do with the fact that mobile broadband is expensive and that the mobile carriers are screwing the day lights out of their customers when it comes to paying for it.

If the RIAA, MPAA and any other annoying lobbying organization wants to do the consumer a favor (so that in the end, THEY (the lobbying orgs) make some real money), have them go after the mobile carriers. They could use some pressure to either lower the price of their data plans, or perhaps they can cut deals that would make streaming audio and video free on a mobile network… I can guarantee the American consumer won’t complain about that…

That is, until they realize that the amount of money flowing back and forth between the mobile carriers, the RIAA, the MPAA, etc. could resolve the National Debt inside of a couple of weeks…

So what do you think? Are music streaming services like iTunes Radio, Spotify, Beats Music, Tidal, or Google Play Music something that you’re interested in? Do you think they are the future of the music industry? Will the music industry be able to find a consumer pricing friendly model that allows labels, artists and the streaming service to make money without pissing off the consumer because of the amount of mobile data it uses? Will they be able to find a way to make the mobile carriers cooperate, or will everything revert back to playing music from a local copy on either a PC, Mac or mobile device?

Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area below, and give me your thoughts. I know that there are a LOT of differing opinions out there, and I’d love to hear them. If you have a compelling question or point, I’d love to develop another article around it, so speak up and let me know what you have to say!

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Microsoft Surface Pro vs. the MacBook Air

The commercials just aggravate me to no end…

Microsoft has been televising a very interesting commercial comparing the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 against the MacBook Air. It shows the differences between the two computers features – touch screen, active stylus, detachable keyboard, etc. – and tells you in so many ways that you get the best of both worlds with the Surface Pro 3: an awesome ultrabook when you need it and a tablet when you want it.

However, the commercial – and by extension, Microsoft – just don’t seem to get it. The Surface Pro 3 is NOT a tablet and is in fact, a poor, POOR excuse for a tablet. There are two very large reasons for this; and unfortunately for Microsoft, they just don’t seem to get it. Lets review them in the hope that someone will pass on the information and get it to someone in Redmond so they can stop the craziness…

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There’s no doubt in my mind that the Surface Pro (1, 2 or) 3 is a great computer. My Surface Pro 1 is great. I use it mainly as a digital notepad, taking meeting minute notes. I also use it as an ultrabook PC to do work with MS Office when other PC’s are not available or don’t have all of the tools that I need. Its small, powerful, easy to carry and it does what it does very well. However, it is NOT a tablet or any kind of consumer consumption device. Here’s the specific why’s…

Microsoft Ecosystem – There Isn’t Any
Back in the days of Windows Mobile, Microsoft had the beginnings of an ecosystem – a way and method to sell and deliver consumer content. That content consists of music, videos (movies and TV shows) and apps.

Microsoft USED to have a store via Windows Media Player that allowed you to buy music. It had partner stores that also interfaced with WMP that allowed you to buy music. You used to buy apps from Handango.com or a few other online app stores. All of those stores no longer exist. They effectively died when Windows Mobile died and became Windows Phone.

Since then, Microsoft has been trying to get their mobile developers to embrace Windows Phone and selling apps through the Windows Store. Unfortunately, they haven’t been very successful. Windows 10 is supposed to provide a centralized store and app development experience, but I don’t know how well accepted it will actually be. Windows Phone and Windows Store apps are few and far between and with so much chaos coming from the Microsoft camp in the past few years, I don’t know many mobile app developers who are eager to jump into that swirling bowl of chaos. I know I would have serious misgivings about expending the resources and development costs for what has been until recently little to no return and at best is currently an unknown return.

On the Apple side of the fence, apps written for either iPhone or iPad will run on either device. That’s part of what the new Windows Phone and Windows 10 experience is supposed to provide, but I haven’t heard a lot of feedback from developers on that experience just yet. So far, developers have to code the same app for both platforms separately, and that double work is part of what is causing them to hold back. They also aren’t happy with Windows Phone 3rd party app sales or the mobile OS’ world-wide market share, either.

Microsoft Windows – A Full Blown OS on a Tablet Doesn’t Work
About 12 years ago, Microsoft introduce the TabletPC. TabletPC’s came in two different form factors – Slates and Convertibles. Convertibles are laptops with touch screens that swivel around so they fold back over the keyboard, covering it. Slates usually came with some kind of base station or other way to at least hold them in place while a keyboard and other peripherals were connected to it.

Unfortunately, for both, TabletPC’s were short lived. Convertibles were the form factor that lasted the longest, but at the end, they were really just too heavy and too bulky to be as portable and usable as Microsoft’s vision hoped they would be. Interestingly enough, Slate TabletPC’s were a TOTAL non-starter.

I find that kinda funny, because the Surface Pro line is not only the true evolution of Microsoft’s TabletPC; but it’s a slate. As in the form factor that failed. Interestingly enough, the Surface Pro has the same issues and problems that the previous TabletPC’s had; but it’s a little different…

If you can get past the fact that the Surface Pro is NOT a consumer consumption device due in large part to the lack of any ecosystem or content management app (like the iPad has in iTunes, for example), the Surface Pro line has another problem – its really NOT a tablet, or a slate PC. Its an ultrabook.

Microsoft’s commercials pitting the MacBook Air against the Surface Pro 3 infuriate me at the point when Microsoft starts (or implies) that the Surface Pro 3 is also a tablet.

A tablet is a computer, yes; but it’s a content consumption device that can be used to play games, play music, watch video and take pictures. Yes…the Surface Pro can do all of these things, but Android and Apple based tablets do all of that with an OS that caters to that functionality. Windows simply does and cannot.

Windows is all about computing and productivity, not about mobile gaming or content (music and video) consumption. This is a huge problem for Microsoft in a world that is all about tablets. Windows is still too heavy. Its slow, power hungry and totally decentralized when it comes to content. There are too many ways to play games, play audio, play video on the device. There are too many ways to obtain content and no simplified way to manage it on the device.

Because its more computer than tablet, its also not well utilized without its physical keyboard. While touch enabled, the UI (still) isn’t touch friendly; and the UI Microsoft tried to introduce to satisfy this need(MetroUI or ModernUI) was totally rejected by the public.

Microsoft still hasn’t cracked this nut. They still don’t have a tablet, a mobile OS OR a content delivery and management solution. If Microsoft wants to take a piece of this market away from Apple or Android, they will need to figure it out. Their time is almost up.

The Surface Pro is a good if not GREAT ultrabook. Unfortunately, Microsoft isn’t doing itself any kind of favors by trying to convince everyone else – as well as themselves – that the Surface Pro is a tablet. Just like the Slate based TabletPC, if they don’t get this right, they’re gonna screw it up.

Conclusion

Microsoft still has a lot of work to do. They need to figure out a mobile interface that works on a device with a display larger than 4.7 inches. They need to figure out a method of delivering controlled content – apps, music video and books (and please…do everyone a favor and make it MS Reader compatible. I had a lot of books in that library…) – that allows them and their content providers to make money. They also need to figure out a way to manage that content on those devices. It used to be Windows Media Player, but it isn’t any more. That’s sort of evaporated and unfortunately, the Windows Store doesn’t handle media, only apps.

Until then, that commercial I mentioned when I started this whole thing… yeah, its just gonna continue to piss me off. Microsoft can’t have it both ways. The Surface Pro isn’t a hybrid of any kind. Its just a very portable ultrabook. Period.

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Keep your Mac running at peak performance with MacKeeper

Keep your Mac running at peak performance with this must have all in one utility.

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If there’s one thing I know, its that actually using your computer causes it to be cluttered with junk that can really bog down its performance. Junk files, duplicate files, internet cache and expanding log files can really cause problems over time. Unfortunately, all of this garbage is usually flung all over your Mac, making it very difficult to get rid of. This is where MacKeeper comes in. It’s a really great all in one utility that not only cleans your Mac, but makes certain that it runs as well as it can, all the time.

MacKeeper is an essential Mac utility that provides an easy way to manage routine tasks and keep your Mac secured, clean and running fast. It’s a bundled utility, meaning that it has modules that clean, secure, optimize and control your data; and it does it all in one, single utility.

Identity fraud is one of the worst crimes in the world. When someone steals your identity, its hard to buy things or to keep your credit clean (so you can buy something later, like a car, house, or other big purchase. With MacKeeper, real time, safe browsing allows you to surf the internet and make online purchases without worrying about malicious websites. They’re blocked automatically. The app also provides built in anti-virus protection. This protection also extends to VM emulators running Windows through Parallels or VMWare. You’re Mac is kept safe regardless of what OS you happen to be using on it, which is pretty cool.

Further security protection is provided by MacKeeper’s Anti-Theft module. If your Mac is ever stolen, Anti-Theft can track its geographical location based on Wi-Fi and IP address; and then report its location back to you. It can also then use the iSight camera to take a picture of the thief. This is some of the most thorough computer security available for your Mac.

MacKeeper’s data control features also provide you with protection features to help keep your information private. If you like, you can use its Data Encryptor module to hide your files using a password so that the data can’t be found using either Finder OR Terminal. Its going to require some major hacking to get past that level of security, without the password, that is.

For data that gets accidentally deleted, you can use MacKeeper’s File Recovery module to scan your hard drive for deleted files that can sill be recovered (provided the disc space they were using hasn’t been overwritten with other data, that is). For when you need to truly erase data and make certain that it can’t be recovered, MacKeeper’s File Shredder can make certain that the files and folders you delete can’t be recovered. The one thing that you need to be aware of here is that shredding files with a military style wipe can take a lot of time. Be ready to commit to that; but if you need the files securely wiped, MacKeeper can do a really great job of insuring that they are truly erased.

MacKeeper can also help you optimize your Mac. Update Tracker analyzes all of the apps you have installed on your Mac and then checks to see if an updated version is available. If found, MacKeeper can download and install the new version for you. In order to help you keep your Mac working at peak performance, MacKeeper can analyze which apps run as login items and then allow you to control which apps do and do not start up with the system when it boots.

However, I think the best part of MacKeeper is its Geek on Demand Service and its new, Human Assistance. With Geek on Demand, you get expert technical assistance and answers to your computing questions within 48 hours. Human Assistance gives you instant access to a live tech. I wish I had more information on it, but all that is currently available is a teaser on their current website. There should be more information available as soon as their new site hits the ‘net.

MacKeeper really sets the bar for Mac cleaning and all in one utilities. It pretty much handles everything that you’d need an all in one utility to handle and it does it fairly well. The one thing that is both good and bad about the app is that the only module(s) that come activated are the cleaning apps, and then only the basic ones. If you want to use some of the other utilities – Internet Security or Backup – for example, , you’re going to have to install the utility. I guess this is a good thing, as you may already have an internet security product installed, and installing another by default with MacKeeper may really make a mess of your Mac.

Initially, I had almost 7.0GB of junk files on my Mac. While this gave me 7.0GB more space, the deletion of all of the cache files slowed some browsing functions down, as Safari and Chrome had to redownload some things again to speed the browsing experience back up. Its give and take with some of this stuff, and cache files, while potentially space hogs can really make your computer run faster.

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Windows 10 – What You Need to Know

Here’s what’s important about Windows 10

Introduction

I’ve been in Windows a long time. I actually missed Windows 1 and Windows 2. I took a look and thought they were a total waste of time; and back in the day, they were. Flat, 8bit graphic interfaces were a dime a dozen. Quarterdeck Office Systems (the makers of QEMM Memory Manager, and DESQView and DESQViewX) had a product that put a text based, windowing system on top of DOS (much like Windows 1 and Windows 2) and then had a GUI based environment also running on top of DOS (DESQView/X) much like Windows 3.x; and while BYTE – my old and much revived online version of the venerable paper publication – praised it, in the end, the organization tanked and was eventually acquired by Symantec.

The point in bringing this all up is that the flat state of the UI in both DESQView and DESQView/X is very similar to what has been labeled as “new” over at Microsoft. In fact, its not new, but a return to the more simple and perhaps more resource efficient. It seems as though Windows Vista cured many of us of the need for eye candy.

With Windows 10, everything old is new again, with Microsoft taking its customers back to the beginning… well sort of. The graphics are much better today than they were back in the 1990’s, and thankfully, they aren’t nearly as heavy as they were back with Windows Vista.

So, what’s new and fun about Windows 10? There are some new features. There are some returning features. So, what’s new and fun about Windows 10? Lets take a look and find out.

The Start Button and the Start Menu

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The Windows Start Button came back for a return engagement in Windows 8.1. The button brought back a familiar UI element; but many – me included – felt that the return of the button, and only the button, wasn’t enough. Back then, the button took you right to the Start Screen.

In Windows 10, by default, it still does.

However, it can be configured to use the Start MENU; and many of the members of the Tech Preview – me included – are relieved that its back. I can’t tell you enough how much having the functionality back is really appreciated.

Of the changes that were made in Windows 8.x, the Start Screen was the most obvious, and perhaps one of the most disliked changes to the OS. Microsoft has taken a lot of heat over that particular change. It hasn’t been received well.

Microsoft decided to try to make Windows into a universal OS at a time when the public wasn’t ready to see the platforms combined. They still aren’t, though Microsoft is still trying to approach that line of business. However, they’re taking a different approach – through the Windows Store. All apps are supposed to be universal apps, working on Windows Phone, Windows RT and Windows 10.

Here’s a cool tip about the new Start Menu. It’s a mish-mash between the Start Menu and the Start Screen, meaning you can pin Live Tiles to the new Start Menu…or not. The Start Menu can be modified to look like its old self. While its possible to pin as many Live Tiles as you need or want to the Start Menu, you can also remove all the ones that are pinned to it by default, making it as Windows 7 like as possible, which should make a great many people, very happy.

The Desktop is Back

ModernUI – or as its often called, Metro – was and is a huge sore spot for Windows and for Microsoft. While the Start Screen may work well for a mobile device, regardless of size (meaning a smartphone OR a tablet), it doesn’t work well on a laptop or a desktop machine. The way the UI works is counter-intuitive to the way users interact with a desktop or laptop computer. Users voted with their feet…or their hard drives. Many either downgraded their new computers to Windows 7, bought add-on software that allowed users to replace the Start Screen with Start Menu functionality (like that found in Start8), or moved to a different OS entirely.

Microsoft heard the outcry during the life cycle of Windows 8.x, and gave users the ability to boot directly to the Desktop and brought back the Start Button. Now with Windows 10, the Desktop is back to a more prominent state.

In fact, its back to a point where the Start Screen and the rest of Modern UI is (nearly) completely hidden. This is important, especially for desktop computers and for desktop replacement class laptops without touch screens. This return to the Desktop will make it easier for enterprise customers to make the transition. If that happens and the adoption rate for Windows 10 is respectable, then it will have been worth it for Microsoft to back track on Metro and the Desktop.

Continuum Mode

For those of us stuck in the middle, or for those that have a hybrid PC – one that has a detachable keyboard, like the Surface Pro 1-3 – Microsoft has created something called Continuum Mode.

Continuum Mode kicks in when a keyboard is separated from the tablet based CPU. When you separate the two, tablet mode kicks in, and you get the Live Tiles and ModernUI. When you reattach the keyboard, you get the Desktop. This auto transitioning is Continuum Mode; and unique not only to Windows 10 but to transitory devices that can be both laptops/ultrabooks and tablets.

ModernUI Apps in a Window

ModernUI – or Metro – Apps are those full screen, non-Windowed monstrosities that have been the bane of user’s existences since the initial release of Windows 8. Not many liked the full screened, non-Windowed, Windows apps that contained little to no familiar UI elements that everyone is used to. Prior to Windows 10, once opened the only thing that could close them was the computer after a set period of time of non-use.

If you wanted, you could use a third party application, like ModernMix from Stardock Software to put them in a window. That gave you the chance to make them more Windows like at least.
Now, with Windows 10, ModernUI apps appear in a window by default. This means that they behave like any other Windows app. Now, you can size them, minimize them, and close them very easily.

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ModernUI has received a make over and now, it seems a lot more palatable than it was before being windowed.

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Windows 10 – If you Love it, Set it Free

Some thing that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade

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Over the past 20 plus years, Microsoft has made a great deal of money with both Windows and Office. In fact, those two products alone have given the company a great deal of freedom to pursue other products and technologies. Without either Windows or Office, Microsoft wouldn’t exist… Period.

When it comes to consumers, keeping everyone on the same page, has been a huge problem for Apple as well as Microsoft. Apple addressed their OS based issues and now has a plan to get their users on the latest version at all times.

Microsoft doesn’t have such a plan, and really needs a strategy. They may be doing that with Windows 10. Some think that they are planning on giving Windows 10 away to consumers for free.

If they do, it makes a great deal of sense. Many consumers NEVER upgrade their computer’s operating system. Their PC came with operating system N. It should always have operating system N, and they don’t want to change it. They purchased it because it has specific features and functions provided by hardware integrated with features in that OS. They may not have those features if they change their operating systems, and therefore, don’t want to lose them. They may also not be a big fan of change; or feel they are technically competent enough to upgrade or change the OS on their computer. Whatever the reason, many people don’t change their OS, which creates support issues for the PC manufacturer and (in this case) Microsoft.

While changing a computer’s operating system may not be at the top of every computer user’s list, keeping it current can make a user’s life a lot easier. Keeping current makes your PC more secure as well as better performing. So, its good for consumers.

Making updates and upgrades available to consumers free of charge can create a lot of difficulty, however, especially for hardware manufacturers who have historically relied on new OS versions to jumpstart consumer PC sales.

However, a free Windows is an idea whose time has come. The problem that they have is the frequency of updates. Most everyone is used to getting a new version of Windows on an annual basis. We’re also used to getting new updates or fixes from Microsoft every month on Patch Tuesday. For this to work, the frequency of updates has to be one that is palatable to the people receiving those updates.

Businesses don’t like monthly updates. Updates to business PC’s at that frequency create too much disruption. However, consumer PC’s represent a less disruptive path, and updates at that frequency are far less worrisome, if not desired. Consumers get everything that Microsoft releases every Patch Tuesday.

The enterprise, however, will have a bit of a different cadence. Enterprise customers will get all of the updates at the same time as consumer customers. They’ll have the ability to package all of the updates together and then release them at their convenience as a stake in the ground with a shelf life of 10 years. They’ll be able to use that stake in the ground for as long as they need or want. If they lock themselves in (to that stake in the ground), they’ll continue to get security updates, but their feature set won’t get updated unless and until they remove the stake in the ground.

In the end, though, support and the updates for corporate customers will cost them. In the end, support and updates for consumers – those that are using the most up to date versions of Windows – should be free.

What do you think? Should Windows be free for consumers? Should they be able to get all security updates as well as new features and functionality free of charge? Should corporate customers have to pay for everything? Why don’t you chime in the comments section below, and let me know what you think.

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Convert movies and videos for use on just about any of your devices with Ashampoo Movie Shrink & Burn 4

I love movies and videos. I’ve got a huge iTunes library and a huge 27″ Thunderbolt Display to play them on. However, when I’m out and about, I obviously can’t take that huge display with me. An iPad or other portable tablet is handy for viewing video on the go, but sometimes, the video isn’t in the right format or is too big for the display you have. This is where apps like Ashampoo’s Movie Shrink and Burn come in handy. It’s a cool Windows-based, video management tool for your mobile devices.

AMSB-06

Ashampoo Movie Shrink & Burn 4 tailors your videos to your device, whether it be smartphone, tablet, gaming console or PC. Supported devices include all the latest consoles and gadgets such as Sony PlayStation 4, iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5. The app has an intuitive step-by-step user approach that guides you from start to finish. Its so easy, anyone can do it. The latest version provides a fresh, modern design with state of the art handling. The app employs the latest software technology with multi-core support for blazingly fast results.

The app also includes burning technology. With it you can burn your movies to DVD and Blu-ray from within the app. The app supports HD; and you can use the app’s burning features to archive your video collection on Blu-ray and navigate it easily using the intuitive on screen menus.

Ashampoo makes some of the best software titles on the internet today. Movie Shrink and Burn hasn’t been updated in a while, and Ashampoo is not only bringing back a great app, but its providing support for all the latest handhelds, tablets and gaming consoles where you would want to view converted and compressed titles. It takes advantage of some of the more advanced processor types, so the app is fast and quickly converts videos and will burn them to DVD or Blu-ray if you want.

The app’s price is fair; and if you’re an Ashampoo member, then you’re likely going to get a discount on the title as well.

download Ashampoo Movie Shrink & Burn 4

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Microsoft Launches Windows 10 Technical Preview

“But this one goes up to [10]..!”

Microsoft-windows10

Introduction

I’ve been working with Windows for quite some time. I was one of Microsoft’s first technical beta testers, WAY back in the day. In fact, I still have a Microsoft Account with one of the ORIGINAL @.msn.com addresses. It goes back to the Windows 95 and MSN Online betas from 1994-1995. MSN Online was Microsoft’s answer to AOL. The address is still active and used today.

I’ve been interested in Windows based tablets and TabletPC since the early 2000’s. TabletPC showed a lot of promise, but like so many things in technology, it was a bit before its time. Convertible TabletPC’s took off, but slate styled TabletPC’s (the form factor that was the precursor to the iPad and ever version of Surface and Surface Pro Windows based tablets), did not.

In fact, slate styled TabletPC’s were a total failure. The idea would eventually take root after Apple came a long with the iPad and showed us what a tablet could really do, but slate styled TabletPC’s are yet another example of technology introduced way before its time.

Microsoft Introduced Windows 8 in 2012 and like Windows Vista, the public – as well as the enterprise – completely rejected it. I think that the public and the corporate world disliked Vista because it was a performance dud. I think the public and corporate world HATED Windows 8 because the user interface changes were so drastically different from Windows XP and Windows 7 that they just couldn’t get used to it and be productive with it.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be looking at Windows 10 Technical Preview. I’ll be taking a look at both the Consumer and Enterprise versions, though in all honestly, without a AD server set up and running, I’m not going to be able to do too much evaluating on the enterprise side. The situation that I thought I might be in didn’t come through, and my look at some of the more corporate tools may not materialize as I’d hoped. However, I’m going to try…

I’ll be looking at the Consumer version on my Dell Latitude 10 ST2 tablet and the Enterprise version on my Surface Pro 1. Today, I’m going to talk about Setup.

Setting up Windows 10

There are a few different versions of the Windows 10 family available. Most people who get involved, will have the Windows 10 Technical Preview. IT Professionals will have access to the Windows 10 Technical Preview for Enterprise as well as the Windows Server Technical Preview, the windows Server Technical Preview (VHD), the Microsoft Hyper-V Server Technical Preview and the System Center Technical Preview.

Now, just for everyone’s information, here are the descriptions for the last few items:

• Microsoft System Center solutions help IT pros manage the physical and virtual information technology (IT) environments across datacenters, client computers, and devices. Using these integrated and automated management solutions, organizations can be more productive service providers to their businesses.
• Microsoft Hyper-V, formerly known as Windows Server Virtualization, is a native hypervisor; it can create virtual machines on x86-64 systems. Starting with Windows 8, Hyper-V supersedes Windows Virtual PC as the hardware virtualization component of the client editions of Windows NT.
• Windows Server (VHD) is simply the Windows 10 Server, but running from a Virtual Hard Disk.

With all of that said, Let’s get into the specifics of installing Windows 10 Technical Preview.

Microsoft Surface 1

Setting up Windows 10 Technical Preview up on my Surface Pro 1 was easy. I chose the 64bit version, downloaded the ISO file, burned it to a DVD and ran the setup file. After that, installing Office Professional Plus 2013 was super easy. Everything seems to be running correctly and working as intended. While I know there are some touch enabled features that aren’t quite there at this point, what I’m seeing so far looks solid.

What’s going to be key here is the balance of Windows 7 and Windows 8 styled interfaces that create what is supposed to be Windows 10. Specifically, what we’re looking to see here is how well MetroUI or ModernUI is hidden, removed or modified to provide a more user acceptable UI.

This is a wait and see development that I will be examining over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more on this, as well as Microsoft Windows 10.

Dell Latitude 10 ST2 Windows 8 Pro Tablet

Wow.

This is clearly an example of all computers/ tablets are NOT created equally. I’ve been trying to install Windows 10 on this tablet now for about 3 days. It hasn’t gone well at all. I have no idea what is wrong, or what is going on.

First of all, I tried to install the 64bit version. Huge mistake, as the ST2 tablet is a 32bit device. Seeing as setup wouldn’t even start, I had asked my good friend, Larry Seltzer how he got it installed on his ST2 and he reminded me that the Dell as a 32bit machine. So, back to downloading I went.

After I got the right version installed, I decided that I wanted the Enterprise version installed, so I grabbed it, burned it to a DVD and then installed it, completely wiping the tablet in the process. Big mistake…

I’m not sure what the issue is with the Enterprise version on this tablet, but it wasn’t very well liked by this unit. I wasn’t able to install any software on it, including Office Professional Plus 2013. The install routine would get about 35-40% through and simply stall. I let the app sit there “running” for more than 16 hours, and it never budged. In total, I’ve tried to get Office installed on this tablet for about 2.5 days. Its not been fun or encouraging.

I think I’m running into some hardware issues. I’m not sure if the processor isn’t completely supported, if there’s a graphics problem or WHAT else might be causing the install routine to go out to lunch, but this is really ticking me off. I have no idea why things are stalling in the middle of the install routine.

The only way I’ve been able to kill the stalled install routine is to turn off the device. That however, preserves the install state of the Office install, and when you try to restart it, it must first remove the changes made by the PREVIOUS install before it can continue, giving the unit yet another chance to have the install stall

I checked the Dell Support Page for this model and I do have a BIOS update available for it. There is also a relatively new chipset driver update that is available. I’m going to try the BIOS update first and then see if the chipset drivers will install or help if the BIOS update doesn’t resolve the issue. I was five BIOS versions behind…

This could also be an issue where the support files for the ST2 just aren’t really there yet. Honestly, I have no idea why I’m having issues and Larry Seltzer didn’t. We have the same device. I’ll keep everyone posted on this.

In the mean time, do you have any questions or concerns about Windows 10 that you’d like me to look into for you, please let me know and I’ll be happy to get the info and then report back to everyone. In the mean time, I’m going to go grab a crowbar and see if I can’t get everything installed on the Dell that I want and need to get installed. This is getting to be a bit on the silly side…

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