Connectify

Easily create and connect all of your wireless devices with this handy networking utility

connectify-hotspotI can remember back in the 1990’s when computing was just in its infancy. Back then, no one hardly ever got online. If you did, it was with a dialup connection, and then you likely had AOL, CompuServe, MSN or some other online service. Normally, what you did was dial up, get in, get what you needed and then IMMEDIATELY get off. If you didn’t, you likely ended up using (nearly) all of your monthly connect time, and after that, it got really expensive.

Computing today is TOTALLY different. People are connected all the time. Quite honestly now-a-days, NOT getting online often seems to be a waste of time unless you have specific computing tasks to do – writing a report, tweaking a presentation you already have on your hard drive, or working on a spreadsheet. Most other modern computing activities require some kind of internet connectivity. It’s simply a given.

When it comes to finding an available, trusted internet connection in today’s malware ridden, maze of untrusted networks isn’t easy. This is why apps like Connectify are so important. It’s a networking and hotspot tool for Windows.

connectify

With Connectify, you can easily create a Wi-Fi hotspot that will allow you to connect all of your wireless devices to the internet, while on the go. Connectify isn’t just the world’s most powerful hotspot app, it’s the easiest, to use. All you have to do is give your Hotspot a name and password. After that, you’re ready to go.

You can share any internet connection as a Wi-Fi hotspot. It doesn’t matter if that’s an existing Wi-Fi connection, a wired Ethernet connection, or even a 4G LTE network. However, doing THAT will require you to upgrade to Connectify’s Pro or Max version.

Some of the coolest parts of the app, however, don’t have much to do with actually creating a network signal. Some of the cool stuff comes from some of the ancillary functionality that’s included in the app. Connectify will monitory your network usage, by device. You can track down that friend who’s using all your bandwidth. Connectify’s newest feature gives you real-time graphs of your data usage at a glance.

Get access to the internet is a necessity for many people today. Much of what we use computers for today involves some kind of network functionality or connectivity from sharing files across devices to checking email, or sharing photos. Insuring you have the connectivity you need WHEN and WHERE you need it can sometimes be problematic, especially when you don’t have a data plan for every device you own. With Connectify, those troubles are greatly lessened.

The app is a huge boon to those that need internet on devices that for some reason don’t or won’t connect to some Wi-Fi networks but will connect to others. Keeping track of how much bandwidth you’ve burned and who’s the bandwidth hog on your network used to be mysteries, but now, with included utilities, you can easily figure out both of those things.

Connectify comes in four different flavors – free/ 30 day trial version, Hotspot Pro, Hotspot Max and Hotspot Max Bundle. Each version is subscription based, however, and unless you buy the lifetime version, you’re going to be renewing your license next year. If you like Connectify and feel that its bringing value to your online experience, do yourself a favor and buy the lifetime version of whatever flavor you’re interested in. The lifetime license isn’t all that much more expensive, and once you start your fourth year of use, you break even on the purchase.

download Connectify

 

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BullGuard Internet Security

Keep your PC safe with this must have internet security suite.

ThankYouDogIf there’s one thing that I know and know WELL, it’s that anyone and everyone can get a computer virus or piece of malware. It’s becoming too easy not to pick up a bug, no matter how computer savvy or experienced you are. If you use a Windows PC, as nearly everyone in the universe does, it becomes even more difficult, as most of the viruses in the wild are targeted and attack Windows PC’s specifically. This is the number one reason why I really like apps like BullGuard Internet Security. It’s a suite of security apps that can keep your Windows PC clean as well as protect it from a number of different threats.

BullGuard Internet Security is an all-in-one security suite that guards you, your kids and your PC against ever-evolving malware and cybercrime. The app protects you, your computer and your family from all online threats – identity theft, credit card fraud, hackers, viruses, spyware and much more – thanks to its broad range of features covering nearly every possibility. With BullGuard Internet Security and it’s at-a-glance update system, you will never worry about your digital safety again.

bullguard internet security

BullGuard Internet Security provides the following, holistic, protection:

Total Protection – its real time scanner can stop intruding malware in its tracks, including viruses, worms, Trojan horses and adware so you can compute without worry. The latest enhancements include better protection against advanced rootkits that can steal control of your computer as well as from ransomware so you’ll never have control of your life stolen from you.

Unwanted Apps – Adware sucks. BullGuard Internet Security stops adware cold in its tracks, protecting your data, your browser settings and search engine preferences.

Advanced Backup – BullGuard Internet Security includes 5GB of free online storage so you can keep all of your data, photos, music and home video off site and safe. You can backup data directly from folders with one click. If you want, you can view data on your computer or even your smartphone. If you have a Dropbox account, you can back up your data directly to it.

Firewall – stop unwanted intrusions from accessing your computer and other resources connected to it.

Spamfilter – stop unwanted junk email and email scams, phishing attempts, viruses and foreign language email from flooding your inbox.

Keeping your computer safe is important. Finding the right application or suite of applications to do it isn’t always easy. To be very honest, there’s a lot of crap out there. However, BullGuard Internet Security is one of the best security suites available on the internet today.

Other suites are often overpriced, bloated or difficult to work with. BullGuard Internet Security is fast, easy to use and provides protection for up to three computers in your home. It can protect your PC from adware, viruses, spam and malware. It can protect your PC from unwanted intrusions.

While its licensing is subscription based, that business model is the industry standard, and for three computers, that breaks down to just $20 per PC per year…and honestly, that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

download Bullguard Internet Security

 

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Popular MP3 Music Players

Time to get your groove on with these popular MP3 player downloads!

Introduction
Music is a huge motivator for me. If there’s one thing that I know I need on a daily basis, it’s a healthy injection of my tunes. In many cases, this is most easily remedied by firing up Music on my iPhone, and I’m good to go. However, this doesn’t always work, especially when you’re in an interior room or office in a Chicago high rise and you can’t get a cell signal when you don’t have any music stored on your phone.

That’s when you need a different music player download to save the day.

mp3 music players

MP3 music players on your PC or Mac can come in a few different forms and types; and it’s important that we outline the differences.

 

  • Streaming Apps – the type of player that will play music only via an active internet connection. Music is not stored or cataloged locally
  • Local Music Players – the type of player that will play only local copies of music files. Music is stored and cataloged locally

Why are they so important? That’s simple – Music downloads and sales. Streaming music player apps make it very easy for listeners to discover new music, as it functions very much like traditional radio. Listeners can find music and listen to it in a “try before you buy” environment. Some services offer purchase links to artists and songs directly within the app, the idea behind all of this, however, is sales. Both streaming services and record labels are hoping that after you find new music, you’ll either purchase a subscription to the service, or you go and buy and download the album or tracks you’re interested in.

Apple’s Steve Jobs once said that people don’t want to rent music (the streaming app model), they want to own it (the local music player model). There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Streaming services make music discovery very easy, but require an active internet connection to play content. No internet, no tunes. With a streaming service, content isn’t stored, locally, saving on local device storage. You have rights to play and listen to songs as long as you subscribe to the service. You cannot burn any music to CD’s. All music is protected by DRM (digital rights management).

With a local music player, you can play what you have, anytime, anywhere; but finding new music by new artists is risky and expensive, as you only get approximately 30 seconds or less of preview time for each song you may be interested in. If you want more, you have to buy the song; and by then, (if you don’t like it) it’s too late. You can only carry as much music with you as you have available space. You can (usually) burn any music you own to as many CD’s as you like. All music is normally DRM free.

We’ve pulled some of the best MP3 music player app downloads for your consideration. I think you’ll find these mobile app downloads to your liking; but let’s take a look and see what they are…

Spotify
spotify_logoSpotify will tell you that music is social. This is perhaps one of the most popular, streaming mp3 music downloads available on the internet today. With Spotify, you have access to literally, millions of music tracks. All you have to do is search and then play.

Music discovery is made easy with Spotify. Your music library literally spans millions of tracks, and Spotify is available on your smartphone, your PC or your Mac. Because music is social, once you’ve discovered the music, Spotify makes it easy to share what you’ve found with friends and family right over Facebook, so you’re more than likely going to be able to see and hear with others are listening to, too.

Think of Spotify as an internet radio; but with a couple of cool features. You can share what you’re listening to, and if you don’t like something, you can always skip the track and move forward in the play list. There are , however a few limitations:

  • You get unlimited serial streaming on a free account, but only for the first 6 months.
  • Spotify Free is ad supported
  • Starting on month 7, you get 2.5 hours of streaming per week (up to 10 hours a month)
  • Starting on month 7, you can only play any one track 5 times with a free account. Remaining plays can be seen by right clicking the track.

Spotify Premium ($10 per month) provides the following benefits:

  • You get the ability to shuffle through any playlist or to shuffle play ANY available track
  • Spotify Premium doesn’t display or pause music play with ads
  • If you bump into a track you don’t care for, you get the ability to skip through them all
  • Spotify Premium no longer requires an internet connection to play music. You can download any and all tracks you like and can listen to them offline, in HD audio.

DJ Mix Lite
This next MP3 music download is going to be very popular with college students and to aspiring and professional DJ’s who like to mix their own playlists for parties and such. DJ Mix Lite helps you enjoy the music you already have by synchronizing the beats of one song to another and then reducing the playback gap between them.

The app supports WAV, MP3 and Ogg Vorbis (*.ogg) files. You can line up a number of different files between dual play windows, match the beats and then string your songs together on the fly. Music mixing is automatic, but users do have some control over how things mix.

The app and interface are rather simple, and thankfully, doesn’t require any professional mixing experience as other DJ tools might. The app does come with a graphic equalizer, so you can at least control the fidelity of the music you’re mixing.

Users wishing to have a finer control of the mixing, with perhaps custom effects and fades will find DJ Mix Lite a bit too simple for their tastes, but the app is free and it’s a decent, fun app…for what it does.


Wimpy MP3 Player
There’s not a lot of call for this anymore – it’s no longer 1990-blah-blah-blah; but should you need it, it’s here. If you need to embed an MP3 file into a webpage, Wimpy MP3 Player is a decent tool.

Wimpy MP3 Player can stream an entire folder full of MP3 files from your web site. This is especially helpful if you’re a musician or DJ and are trying to sell an album or feature an artist, or a custom mix of tracks. The app now supports JavaScript and HTML5 and will play video as well as audio.

The app works on any and all devices, has custom skins and is built on pure JavaScript, CSS and HTML5 to insure compatibility with any and all web browsers, from every desktop and mobile platform. While the app is free, it does display a watermark in the player. If you wish to remove the watermark, a quick $25 payment will get you the license file you need to remove it.


Media Monkey
MM3-LogoIf you’re like me, you’ve got music files everywhere. When you have the music in you, it’s a song-a-palooza all day, every day. This is why applications like Media Monkey are so important. Media Monkey is a “complete” audio file manager. It allows you to collect all of your music, playlists, podcasts and audio files in one place.

Media Monkey will scan your computer and all connected external devices for audio files. If needed, the app will let users choose which drives to scan for content, allowing them to fully manage the scanning experience. Catalogued content can be categorized and grouped in play lists, sorted, tagged, dated, etc. and viewed in any order the user wishes.

Unlike other apps which require drives to be connected to the host all the time, files may be stored on portable devices, CD’s, on local or remote network drives, or even another computer. Media Monkey will manage the content regardless of its location. Media Monkey can rip content on CD’s and can synch it to your iDevice of choice or any other portable, audio device.

Media Monkey for Windows will also allow you to play back your MP3 files; but only has basic VCR and audio controls, including volume and equalizer. If you’ve got an Android device, you can get its companion Android player via Google Play.

Media Monkey is free, but if you’re looking for enhanced features, including on the fly audio/ video conversions for sync, DLNA sharing and burns or up to 48x on the CD/ DVD/ DB burner, or bit perfect rips, then you may want to pop for Media Monkey Gold at $24.95.


AL Song
alsong-1-9Back in the early days of Windows, if you wanted to play any kind of audio file and you wanted to play it with a really GOOD player, you used WinAmp. Today, WinAmp belongs to Radionomy, after they acquired it from AOL. It’s gone through the wringer a bit, and while it still has sparks of greatness, its looking a little long in the tooth (or llama lips…).

If you’re looking for something off the beaten path and want something with a familiar look and feel, but with more current code, then you might want to take a look at AL Song. AL Song has all the basic features of WinAmp, but it can also be used as a karaoke machine, natively.

AL Song has its own content database and can synch song lyrics directly with the song. Should you not be able to synch lyrics to your song of choice, due to the song being too new, AL Song also includes a lyric editor and a language learner. While listening to lyrics, if you bump into a section of the song that you can’t understand very well, the language learner will help you listen and carefully pull the right words from the song by creating a song loop and going back through it over and over again. It even includes a pitch meter and a speed dial so that you can slow things down to a point where you can understand what’s being said. You can even play the loop backwards, if it will help.

AL Song has a full album editor, allowing you to pull content in from different sources, edit the album metadata and artwork. The songs will be saved in SAB format. This will allow you to listen to any song by just clicking on it like on a hyperlink from a website. This means that the interface of the album that you had created is active and works like a player.

AL Song also includes an internet radio player. As long as you know the URL of the stream and have enough bandwidth to handle the broadcast as well as your other online needs, you should be ready to go. You can even broadcast your own radio stations, bandwidth permitting.


Conclusion
Music is one of the biggest motivators I’ve ever bumped into. Its primal. Its tribal. People begin and end relationships because of music likes, dislikes, shared tastes, etc. It can change and alter moods and can do so without you even knowing your listening to it. Music moves the entire planet and can define an entire historical age…

Most people that I know, not only have a great deal to say about their music, but also about their choice of MP3 player app download as well. There are some good choices here. Some of them are all about synchronization. Some are about music discovery and streaming. Others are about playing on your mobile device or on your Mac or PC. Regardless of where you stand on type of device or even type of mobile app download, you need to be able to take your music with you and then listen to it how, where and when you want.

Do you use one of these MP3 music player apps? Do you use another not covered here? I’d love to hear from you regarding what works best for you. Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area and tell me about the ways you enjoy YOUR favorite music?

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Advanced Password Manager

Keep your PII (personally identifying information) safe and private with this important Windows utility.

image-01-100x100In an age where nearly EVERYONE is getting hacked, it’s important to keep all of your sensitive information, private. This is increasingly difficult, as most nearly every privacy utility out on the market concentrates on nearly the same things – web browsing history, passwords, advertisement blocking and cookie management. However, nearly none of them cover PII or personally identifying information. That is, until Advanced Password Manager. It’s a must have utility for your Windows PC.

There’s a reason why you have data on your PC. You need it for work, shop, surf, etc. However, a lot – or most of it – is at risk for loss. Advanced Password Manager identifies, saves and deletes traces of your identity from your computer system after saving them to an encrypted vault secured by one master password. After your information is saved, Advanced Password Manager enables you to fill web forms, including personal and financial information, automatically using your saved credentials.

Advanced Password Manager securely locks your personal and financial information with a master key. You generally have to remember multiple passwords for your accounts and unfortunately, using the same password for all your accounts is unsecure and unsafe. If someone obtains that one password, all your accounts will likely be hacked without your notice. The best way to remain safe, is to have a different, secure password for each online resource you use.

The application allows you to do all of the following:

  1. Protect all your passwords,
  2. Auto-fill login credentials using Advanced Password Manager’s add-on,
  3. Securely save your online accounts,
  4. Sync passwords, credit card details and more, over browsers and
  5. Generate strong passwords.

Advanced Password Manager lets you remember only one password to unlock all your accounts.

Advanced_Password_Manager_Review

Advanced Password Manager can scan your PC for PII and then can clean it in three (3) steps

  1. Scan: Scan your PC for existing identity traces that can be stolen from your PC.
  2. Vault: Save these scanned traces to your vault and lock it using your master key.
  3. Clean: Remove scanned identity traces from your PC to stay safe & secure.

 

Advanced Password Manager is a fine addition to any PC owner’s utility box. This app should be part of everyone’s security arsenal, along with a top rated antivirus app and a good ad blocker. While the app pulls all of your PII off your machine, it secures all of your data on its own secure web servers. Your best bet here is to insure that your master password contains not only upper and lower case letters, but numbers and special characters as well.

The app stays resident on your PC and installs plug-ins to the most popular browsers – IE, Chrome and Firefox – so that it can prefill credential fields and manage other secure data while you surf the internet.

I like the app a great deal, if only because it scans for and removes data that no other privacy app that I’ve ever come across does. Aside from an odd help-related fly out that won’t stop flying out no matter how many times you put it away, this app is a great addition to your security toolbox.

Donwload Advanced Password Manager

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What’s with the Sleep of Death Thing..?!

Really..!? Surface Book users are still dealing with driver issues??

I’ve been testing Windows for Microsoft since Windows 95 – that goes back to 1995, so more than 20 years – and if there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that Microsoft Windows has ALWAYS had issues with power management. It doesn’t matter if its sleep, hibernation, or simply creating profiles to manage power use… battery life management on any kind of portable computer has been a freakin’ train wreck for Microsoft since someone put Windows on a laptop for the first time.

sleep of death

…and 20 years later, things haven’t changed much.

Based on what I learned late last night, Microsoft is STILL having driver and power related issues on its new Surface Book convertible notebook/ tablet.

Now, between us, if this was just any Windows laptop, I wouldn’t be so surprised or very concerned, for that matter; but Surface Book is a PREMIUM computing product, with some configurations costing well over $4000 USD after tax (when configured with Surface Dock, Microsoft Complete Accident Protection for Surface Book, Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition and Surface Ethernet Adapter). Configurations of Surface Book start at $1499 USD. And that, kids is really the bottom line – this common problem that goes back well over 20 years, is happening with a $4000, Microsoft branded laptop.

You may recall my rant, published the other day, about Microsoft purchasing LinkedIn. I had a reader comment to me that I really must be upset with Microsoft as I spent at least two paragraphs ranting about Surface Pro and Surface Book in THAT article.

Yeah… I think you can say that I am…

Allow me to be blunt here, folks – I’m very bearish on Microsoft over the Surface Pro 3/ Pro 4 and Surface Book for my issues and concerns around OneNote. The bottom line there is a video driver issue. So it’s clear to me, that Microsoft is having a very serious driver development issue that it just can’t see to get around. When I said earlier that this problem goes back to the days of Windows 95 and the first laptops running Windows 95 and Windows 98, I wasn’t kidding. In nearly 21 years of covering Windows and mobile computing, I have never had Microsoft power management features work as designed on all of the hardware I’ve used it on. And nearly every time there’s a problem with Windows, it nearly is always related to some sort of driver conflict (and then nearly always a battery or power management related driver).

I don’t know if this is because Windows runs on just about any and every type of computer hardware in the world (heck, even a Mac can run Windows and do it WELL), meaning that the hardware options are just too diverse to manage, or if it’s because the developers that write this stuff don’t know what they’re doing (the INDIVIDUAL drivers don’t work right) or if it’s just a matter of too many developers writing code that just can’t work and play well with others.

I don’t know; but when entry level buy in for a Surface Book is well over $1500 after taxes, shipping and any necessary/ wanted accessories and warranty, this level of performance is completely unacceptable. At this point, Microsoft doesn’t necessarily have a fix or resolution yet for any of these power/ hibernation/ sleep problems.

Reddit users are having field day with this. Many of them are using traditional support channels to try to address the problem with varying levels of success, but never final resolution. When they finally get fed up and try to return the device to Microsoft, most are being met with the, “Microsoft doesn’t accept any returns after 30 days,” excuse… which is sending some users through the roof.

However, Microsoft is standing firm on its 30 day return policy. If you’ve had it for more than 30 days, it’s yours. Period.

As of two weeks ago (as of this writing), the Sleep of Death issue is still plaguing the Surface Book and many Surface Pro 4’s. How and when Microsoft will resolve this issue is anyone’s guess, however. They haven’t been able to resolve this issue, EVER.

The only work around that I know for it is to NOT use any sleep or hibernation features. While this will require you to shut down the night before and restart your Surface Book cold every morning (or every time you want or need to use it). There are to my knowledge, no known whole or even partial resolutions for this issue, regardless of hardware.

If you sleep your machine and then try to wake it from sleep hours later, be prepared to be forced to pull all power cables/ batteries from it so that it fully shuts down. If you failed to save any work prior to finding your computer in this condition, you’ll lose any unsaved work. Unfortunately, the only thing that I, or anyone, for that matter, knows to do to resolve this particular condition is to power the device completely off and to do a cold restart.

Do you own or use a Surface Book or Surface Pro 4 that is experiencing the Sleep of Death? Do you use any other Windows powered computer that bumps into the problem? Have you found any way to resolve the problem? Have you tried to return your Surface Book to Microsoft after owning it for more than 30 days only to be told that you can’t?

If any of these things have happened to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can either meet me in the Discussion area below or send me email to chris (at) oneitechgear (dot) org.

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No New Windows 10 Builds until it Works…

Apparently, there’s a nasty bug that Microsoft is chasing…

No New Windows 10 Builds until it Works...

During a beta period, a tester or test manager should always expect to find bugs and, more importantly to expect run with buggy software. It’s never really end user ready, despite the fact that you’re opening your user base up to a wider audience.

Case in point – Microsoft has opened up Windows 10 to its Windows Insiders.  You can get prerelease builds of Windows on the Fast, Slow and Release Preview rings.

  • Fast Ring – You get (nearly) every build that Microsoft releases to its Insider program.  While there’s a lot of churn here, you get the most builds, and you’ll also likely see the most bugs. Builds are released almost every other week.
  • Slow Ring – Slow Ring is more stable than Fast Ring, but you don’t see as much churn. Things are still buggy; but there’s a bit more polish than with Fast Ring. While there’s still risk with Slow Ring, but with the right hardware combinations, it can still be very usable.
  • Release Preview – You can think of builds released in this ring being of Release Candidate quality.  This gets you things early, but nearly everything here is production ready, or can be considered Production Ready. Builds hit here a week or two before this hits Windows Update for everyone else.

So, with this model in mind, last week (as of this writing), Windows Insider guru Gabe Aul stated that there wouldn’t be any new builds of Windows 10 to the Fast Ring due to a bug that needed additional development time and attention.

According to Aul, there’s a bug in both Mobile and PC versions of Windows 10 that causes system crashes (what we used to call the Blue Screen of Death). Thankfully, the defect was caught before it hit Fast Ring (so, by Microsoft’s internal testing team), and as such, the details on the bug are sketchy at best. All we know is that it causes PC’s and phones to crash.

UPDATE – While writing this article, Microsoft released Insider Preview Build 14342 on 2016-05-10.  The updated build includes the following:

  • Updated Extensions in Microsoft Edge
  • Real-Time Web Notifications in Edge
  • Swipe navigation in Edge
  • Bash on Ubuntu on Windows Improvements
  • Skype Universal Windows Platform (UWP) Update
  • Updated Windows Ink Workspace Icon
  • Updated Visuals for UAC (User Account Control) dialog
  • Middle click to dismiss Action Center
  • Apps for Websites
  • Feedback Hub Improvements

The crashing bug noted above, has been resolved.

Are you installing preview builds of Windows 10?  How do you find the latest builds?  Are they worth the time and effort? Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion Area, below, and give me your thoughts on them?

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Get Your Free Windows 10 While You Can

Apparently, Microsoft was serious about Windows 10 only being free for a year…

windows10-ad

Sometimes I really have to wonder if the senior leadership team at Microsoft is asleep at the wheel or not; because this just seems stupid.

When Windows 10 was released last year on 2015-07-29, Microsoft said the upgrade would be free to all Windows PC’s running Windows XP and higher for a year. Well, a year will be up on 2016-07-29, and Microsoft is holding firm to that statement.

On 2015-05-05, Microsoft made the following announcement:

“The free upgrade offer to Windows 10 was a first for Microsoft, helping people upgrade faster than ever before. And time is running out. The free upgrade offer will end on July 29 and we want to make sure you don’t miss out.”

This caused a flurry of speculation on whether Microsoft was really serious about this and if they were, what Microsoft might charge for the upgrade.

Microsoft answered that with an additional statement:

“After July 29th, you’ll be able to continue to get Windows 10 on a new device, or purchase a full version of Windows 10 Home for $119.”

This is concerning to me, and to a number of other Windows pundits for one big reason – there doesn’t seem to be an upgrade SKU or price point for Windows 10 after 2016-07-29. If you miss the upgrade window, it appears that you’re going to have to pay full price for Windows 10.

The only good thing about this whole situation is that it appears that after 2016-07-29, all of the nagware that is (now) natively part of previous versions of Windows , will be removed. According to Microsoft,

[…the free Windows 10 upgrade offer ends 2016-07-29.] “Details are still being finalized, but on [that day] the Get Windows app that facilitates the easy upgrade to Windows 10 will be disabled and eventually removed from PCs worldwide. Just as it took time to ramp up and roll out the Get Windows 10 app, it will take time to ramp it down.”

All this means is that the Windows Update that turns the nag off, may arrive on YOUR PC sometime AFTER 2016-07-29; but it will happen if you decide to remain on a Windows version that is not Windows 10.

So the upgrade nagging that Microsoft has been doing for nearly a year is going to stop; but the upgrade to Windows 10 is going to cost you more than $120 bucks if you decide to make the jump after 2016-07-29.

There are a few things here that bother me…

  1. It costs $120 bucks
    Really?!? One hundred and twenty dollars?!I can see this back in, like, 2004; but today? The price point is WAY too high. In all honestly, Windows 10 should be FREE, period. OS X 10 is free. Most – if not all – Linux distributions are free. Microsoft is the only major OS maker out there that is still charging for their operating system. At some point, this is going to come back and bite Microsoft in the butt. Windows 10 should be a free upgrade to anyone and everyone forever.I can see a charge for a new, FULL license (the kind you would use to install on a PC you built from scratch); but only at about half of what is currently being advertised ($119). In my eyes, the target price for this should be under $50, after taxes.
  2. Installing Post 2016-07-29
    I’ve been using Windows 10 since the very early Insider Preview Builds in late 2014. Nothing related to installation has gone well with this at all. I’m wondering how much of a problem installing Windows 10 will be post 2016-07-29? In other words, if you download the free update, but wait to install, what happens? It’s it still free? If you need to restore or rebuild after 2016-07-29 and have to start at with the ORIGINAL version of Windows that shipped you’re your legacy hardware, will Setup ask you for money? (It shouldn’t, by the way; but I’m just sayin’…) Speaking of which…
  3. Restore/ Rebuilds
    This process has NEVER worked right for me.Refreshing your PC is simply supposed to put all of the core Windows 8.x/10 system files back on your PC, in case a poorly behaved app or (ultimately removed piece of) malware changed or modified any of them; and you wanted to put everything back to the way those core system files should be. This wouldn’t/ shouldn’t affect any installed apps or (mostly) the way you have Windows configured. This has never worked right for me and always ended up with me Restoring my PC.Restoring (often called rebuilding) your PC is supposed to erase everything and will put the version of Windows 8.x/10 back on your PC that it came with. This is the same thing as wiping the drive, reformatting and starting from scratch… without the reformatting part.You’re going to be stuck redownloading all of the Windows Updates you previously installed all over again, and this is supposed to be the easiest way to repair something in Windows that is just buried too deeply, or is too difficult to fix. Unfortunately, this has never worked right for me either; and nearly almost always requires me to download and create (or in the case of my Dell Latitude 10 STE – buy) the appropriate USB flash drive that would boot the PC and then run it through the setup process.

    This process works well for me on the Apple side of the world, but I’ve never had a Restore on the Windows side work from the device’s recovery partition. Any time I have tried this from the PC’s recovery partition, setup always ends up crashing or in some other error loop that is unrecoverable. I’ve always had to boot from a USB drive to get it to work.

My friend and former coworker, Paul Thurrott has an interesting article regarding whether or not the 2016-07-29 date is a hard and fast date or not. He seems to think that Microsoft will keep offering the free upgrade as long as it’s helping Microsoft migrate legacy PC’s to Windows 10, in pursuit of their 1 billion Windows 10 devices goal and not a day longer. By his reasoning, if Microsoft can get there within two to three years, they will have achieved that goal. Right now, that “last day” is 2016-07-29.

I think that Microsoft should extend that date indefinitely, even if they hit 1 billion Win10 devices within two to three years. Keep it free.

What do you think? Have you upgraded to Windows 10? If not, why not? Will you download the upgrade and install it before 2016-07-29? Do you foresee any issues with this offer ending on 2016-07-29? Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion Area below, and give me your thoughts on the matter?

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Slow (and Boring) News Week..?

I mean… Is it just me, or am I the only one that doesn’t see a lot happening right now..?

I look at the news often.

In fact, I look at specific sites throughout the day to insure that I don’t miss anything. Unfortunately, we seem to have entered a period where absolutely NOTHING fun and interesting seems to be hitting the wire. I mean, I could be totally wrong on this one, but I really don’t think I am.

There really isn’t much of ANYTHING of note or interest going on… Anywhere… At all… and I’m bored out of my mind.

Yes, yes, yes… There are somethings that are going on; but nothing that would make at least what I would consider to be a good news and analysis article on its own. Instead, I’ve decided to combine a few of them here as I have a few things to say; but I won’t have too much to say on them, as honestly, I’ve either partially covered the issue, or I personally don’t think they’re all that news worthy OR all that interesting… However, here’s some of the more interesting of the lot:

Microsoft Ain’t Giving up on Windows 10 Mobile
Really..?

I find this one a little hard to believe. I told everyone what I think of Windows 10 Mobile (it’s a waste of time, money and resources); but for some reason, Microsoft’s Terry Myerson seems hell bent on beating this dead horse, claiming he saw it twitch. Or, just claiming that he’s not giving up.

I have no idea why. It doesn’t make a lick of sense…

I’ve already predicted the death of Windows 10 Mobile (and the Windows Phone platform) and I know I’m not alone in this belief.

I mean, even Mary Jo Foley agrees with me…

MJF-Tweets

It’s hard to believe that Microsoft is apparently ignoring the obvious and that they won’t exit the market. I’d rather see them spend the time, money and resources on something that may actually add value to the market. Any strides they make in mobile will likely get swept under the rug and/ or forgotten before it really has a chance to make any kind of genuine impact.

I also don’t agree at all with Satya Nadella. I don’t think that “business phones are a segment where Windows Phone devices were catching on.”

Nadella’s further statements that, “…the fact your latest soccer app is not available or some social networking app is not available is not much of an issue (in business scenarios)…” is also grossly short sighted, in my opinion. There are little to no third party apps available for Windows Phone on the consumer side. There are even less enterprise focused apps available for the device platform. While, Nadella goes on to say that, “…what matters… is identity management, security [and] protection,” is dead on, even in an enterprise setting, its (device-based) apps that sell a specific platform. Unfortunately, Windows Phone has little to none.

This appears to be a huge mistake on Microsoft’s part. The fact that they don’t have a real tablet-tablet (most Windows based tablets are really nothing more than tablets that run full-blown Windows 8.x or Windows 10… there aren’t any Windows 10 Mobile tablets…) is a huge hole that Microsoft and their hardware partners don’t seem to be interested in filling; and even if they did at this point, it would still be too little, too late.

The platform is dead, Satya and Terry… Get over it and move on.

Reports of Apple’s Demise are Greatly Exaggerated
One… One. That’s it. Just one.

Apple has had one (and only one) quarter in 8 years (or over 32 quarters…) where shipped iPhones dropped from the previous quarter; and the entire financial and tech world is saying that Apple’s growth period is over.

Really…?? Y’all can dope that out after just ONE bad quarter?

Wow.

I bow to your superior analytical skills…

But let’s look at the facts

“Apple shipped 51.1 million units, which isn’t as bad as was expected (the figure to beat was 50.7 million units).” While the figure represents a 32% drop over the previous quarter and a 16% drop over the same quarter last year, Apple still beat the advice it sent to the Street by about 400,000 units. And while sales of the iPhone SE haven’t made up the difference (causing some to think that it’s not a big a hit with consumers – which it may not be… ) it still represents Apple’s 4th best iPhone quarter to date.

iPhone Sales

Sooooo… lemme get this straight – this is the first “bad” quarter in 8 years, because sales are down (and perhaps, down significantly…), but it’s the 4th best iPhone sales quarter EVER… so “repent for the end is near…?”

Really??

Articles like the one(s) I’ve sited in this section really piss me off… They spout and spew all kinds of “statistical” information, but ultimately only reflect a single data point. When you can show a steady, revenue bleeding, cash drop, like the one at Blackberry (click the “ALL” link under the graph), then, yeah… you may have a point.

BB Shares

One quarter, however, where you don’t sell through the roof, doesn’t mean that the party’s over.

Apple Seeds New Betas to Developers and to the Public
Third betas of both OS X 10.11.5 and iOS 9.3.2 have been sent out to both Apple’s developer community and to those consumers who’ve signed up for the Apple Beta program.

Both updates seem to be concentrating on security and performance improvements as well as bug fixes.

Apple vs. FBI
Oy!

Sometimes I really people would just grow up.

Yes, I’m getting a bit salty about all of this. This is another one where I think my 4 year old granddaughter has more maturity than some of the players in this mess…

Feinstein-Burr: Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016
In the wake of all of this, “unlock this phone – no, you can’t make me” hullaballoo, perhaps the biggest reason why non-technical people shouldn’t draft or sponsor legislation rooted in technical issues has come to light.

Now, quite honestly, this is (probably) the biggest piece of crap that I’ve ever really seen come out of Capitol Hill. Senators Diane Feinstein and Richard Burr have drafted the Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016. The bill, in short basically states that if properly ordered to, people must comply with any court order for data; and if that data is “unintelligible” – i.e. encrypted – then it must be decrypted by the party ordered to provide it.

This bill would make consumer controlled encryption, like the kind in the iPhone or in WhatsApp, illegal. It outlaws end-to-end encryption.

This type of logic is the same type of logic used to justify gun control laws in the US – if you’re not doing anything illegal then you don’t need [guns, encryption].

That type of logic is the first step to tyranny, as the language in the draft legislation indicates that the obligation of persons cited in the order must provide “assistance as is necessary.” This language indicates that “the bill goes beyond the current laws that the government has used to try to compel tech firms to help with data access such as the All Writs Act.

Even more disturbing and concerning, the draft bill also includes the requirement that any licensed distributors must also ensure that all “products, services, applications or software” they distribute must provide the same easy access for law enforcement, which means that Apple is responsible for unlocking encrypted data from encrypted apps when the author cannot, will not, or the US has no jurisdiction to compel them to do so. This means that Apple has to vet every app and make sure it has been backdoored or has weak enough security so it can comply with the request.

The bill is so badly written and steeped in privacy and technology issues that the White House has officially declined to publicly support it. At least the current administration is savvy enough to identify a stinker when they see it…

FBI Can’t and Won’t Share iPhone 5c Exploit
This is just sad…

The FBI has officially stated that it can’t and won’t share the method it used to hack into Farook’s iPhone 5c. While they paid over $1.3M for the method, apparently, they didn’t purchase the RIGHTS to the method, and therefore, they can’t disclose it.

AND per their own admission, they also aren’t smart enough to figure it out on their own, either.

And don’t get me started on the usefulness of what they found, either… because they didn’t find a bloody thing.

While some people will say this is also a good thing – they didn’t get instructions or information from any domestic or international terrorist network while planning or committing their crimes – I don’t know if THAT tidbit was enough to justify not only the price, but the whole $**t storm as well. In the end, this seems to be a huge cluster bump. I’m not saying that the FBI did the wrong thing in this issue, but I do think they picked a very poor test case to press this issue with.

Apple Issues Statement on Body Found in Conference Room
Yesterday, a body was found in an Apple conference room at 1 Infinite Loop, and unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of information on the discovery made available to the public.

The Santa Clara Sheriff’s office has confirmed that the body found was male and that no foul play was involved. The cause of death has not been released; and the name of the deceased has not been revealed.

There was a lot of confusion wrapped around this issue with a number of different reports about more than one person involved, some kind of crime or foul play, blood on more than one person and a 911 call. Thankfully, that appears to all have been either refuted or corrected. Unfortunately, everyone is being very tight lipped about the entire situation. It isn’t often that someone passes away at work. The only reason why this is getting any press, is, unfortunately because it happened on an Apple campus.

Apple released the following statement on the issue. While it doesn’t go into any kind of detail on what happened, it does show their support for the victim and his loved ones:

“We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of a young and talented coworker. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends, including the many people he worked with here at Apple. We are working to support them however we can in this difficult time.”

What do you think of all of this? Is the news slow, or is it me? Do you have any comments on any of the items I covered here? Why don’t you join me in the Discussion Area, below, and give me your thoughts on it all.

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