Apple’s Disposable MacBooks

I have seen the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display, and I’m not buying one.

I really like Apple’s products. I do. Really; but I don’t like the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Believe me when I say, it’s not the display that’s the problem.

I made a recent trip to the Apple Store and was able to look at, handle, pick it up, etc. It’s very thin for a 15″ laptop. I was impressed with the build quality and the form factor. The display…was STUNNING. However, nothing is physically wrong with the PC…other than “once you buy the prize, it’s yours to keep.” In other words, you can’t upgrade it, in any way… EVER.

Due to a number of different tear downs that were performed on the device, it’s clear that the new notebook contains:

  • RAM soldered to a logic board
  • A Proprietary SSD
  • A unified display assembly
  • A battery that’s glued to the case

There are no user serviceable components. You can’t upgrade ANYTHING in this notebook. If you can’t afford to buy the max configured unit, which costs a max amount of $3857.00 USD, before tax and shipping, if you max out all components, including the processor as well as purchase a USB SuperDrive and Thunderbolt Gigabit Ethernet Adapter. If you add AppleCare to the package, which I would HIGHLY recommend based on how the PC is manufactured and the fact that nothing is upgradable, the price tops $4206.00 USD.

My Early 2011 15″ MBP is the top of the line 15″ MBP. It was $2799. The new MBP is $1058 USD ($1407 USD with AppleCare) MORE than the previous generation top of the line MBP.

Paying that is pure insanity unless you’re part of the so called 1%, here in the US.

The biggest problem with the device is not the price. It’s not the lack of end-user upgradable components, per se. It’s the fact that the devices really aren’t recyclable, despite what Apple says.

None of the internal components can be recycled, according to some articles I’ve seen. It may be possible to “shred” the device once it reaches end of life and won’t work any longer; but it’s unclear whether the refuse can be recycled. It depends on the resins and glues used.

When you combine the price point of the unit with the non-upgradeability and current recycling status, you get a disposable PC.

That’s sad.

A neighbor of mine is looking for a new MacBook and is interested in the high end 13″ MBP; but those units are currently only available in 4GB or 8GB RAM configurations. I called the Apple Store to ask them about this and while the PC’s (any of the new non-retina MBP’s) MAY be able to support more than 8GB of RAM or 1TB HDD/512GB proprietary SSD, Apple doesn’t support it, and may not honor warranties IF your PC comes in for repair with greater than 8GB of ram or the any other HDD/SSD configuration other than their configurator contains.

Apple simply doesn’t want to support non-standard configurations; and it appears that most users won’t care, as most just turn the switch on and use what they purchased. They don’t tweak or play with the hardware.

However, this is problematic due to the high price point of the laptops. You want to be able to grow the laptop a bit and at least upgrade the RAM and hard drive so you can store and do more over a longer period of time. The PC is too expensive NOT to do, or want to do, that.

I’m not going to purchase a new laptop for a while yet. The one I purchased last year should do me for at LEAST another couple of years. However, what to purchase after that isn’t as clear cut a choice as it used to be.

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Microsoft unveils its own tablets running Windows 8

Yesterday at an event in Hollywood, Microsoft unveiled Surface – its own-brand family of tablets – “an unique expression of entertainment and creativity. As presented, there will be two models of the tablet available: one running an ARM processor featuring Windows RT, and one with a third-generation Intel Core processor featuring Windows 8 Pro.

Tablet highlights:

  • Software takes center stage: Surface sports a full-sized USB port and a 16:9 aspect ratio – the industry standard for HD. It has edges angled at 22 degrees, a natural position for the PC at rest or in active use, letting the hardware fade into the background and the software stand out.
  • VaporMg: The casing of Surface is created using a unique approach called VaporMg (pronounced Vapor-Mag), a combination of material selection and process to mold metal and deposit particles that creates a finish akin to a luxury watch. Starting with magnesium, parts can be molded as thin as .65 mm, thinner than the typical credit card, to create a product that is thin, light and rigid/strong.
  • Integrated Kickstand: The unique VaporMg approach also enables a built-in kickstand that lets you transition Surface from active use to passive consumption – watching a movie or even using the HD front- or rear-facing video cameras. The kickstand is there when needed, and disappears when not in use, with no extra weight or thickness.
  • Touch Cover: The 3 mm Touch Cover represents a step forward in human-computer interface. Using a unique pressure-sensitive technology, Touch Cover senses keystrokes as gestures, enabling you to touch type significantly faster than with an on-screen keyboard. It will be available in a selection of vibrant colors. Touch Cover clicks into Surface via a built-in magnetic connector, forming a natural spine like you find on a book, and works as a protective cover. You can also click in a 5 mm-thin Type Cover that adds moving keys for a more traditional typing feel.

Surface for Windows RT will release with the general availability of Windows 8, and the Windows 8 Pro model will be available about 90 days later. Both will be sold in the Microsoft Store locations in the U.S. and available through select online Microsoft Stores.

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Microsoft Mobility – I Don’t Think They Get It…STILL: Part 2

I’ve quipped on leadership before, but fer cryin’ out loud – I’m DYIN’ over here

There’s a lot happening over here at Soft32.  I’ve been doing deep dives on both Apple and Microsoft operating systems and you should be able to see them on Soft32 shortly.  2012 is definitely the year of the new OS; and Soft32 is committed to keeping you up to date on all of the developments.

Last time I was talking about how Microsoft needs to severely clarify the differences between Windows 8 and Windows RT.  Let’s get back into it and I’ll let you in on what I’m seeing out of Redmond with both Windows 8 and RT.

Microsoft is currently marketing Windows 8 and Windows RT as a tablet-based OS.  Windows 8 will run on Intel based machines and will include desktops, laptops (including TabletPC’s) and (slate based) tablets, similar to the iPad in form factor. Windows RT will run on ARM based tablets, and ARM based tablets ONLY.

Do you see the common element?  Tablets.  Both will run on slate based tablets.  An Intel based tablet will run the full blown version of Windows 8, which will include a desktop mode.  An ARM base tablet will run Windows RT and will NOT include a desktop mode.  ARM based tablets will support Microsoft’s new UI –  Metro – only.

The problem comes in from an end user perspective. Both Windows 8 tablets run, well…Windows 8; and I don’t think the average user is going to understand the difference between the two tablets.

What’s the difference?  Simple…Windows RT is a direct iOS, and therefore, iPad competitor. The two share the Windows 8 app store; and I don’t think users are going to be able to correctly distinguish between the two different tablets, OS’ and app versions.  It’s very likely that users will have a Windows RT tablet at, say, work…and a Windows 8 desktop/laptop at home.  The Windows 8  app store will sell both legacy desktop Windows software that will run on Windows 8 and Metro apps.

I’m certain that a Windows RT user is going to buy a Windows 8 app in the app store and then get frustrated when they can’t install it on a Windows RT tablet. The similarity between the two operating systems is going to create a huge amount of user confusion. Microsoft is pushing the perception that they are the same OS. Users will see this, and want to install apps from their Windows 8 machine to their Windows 8 tablet.

Windows RT is also not available for purchase or install, anywhere. The only way you get it is if you buy a device that has it on it. This will also confuse consumers, as some head to their local big-box retailer meaning to purchase it.

Windows 8 is great for mobile devices as touch is its focus, and that’s how users interact with those devices. The desktop experience hasn’t responded well to touch. If it did, PC’s like the HP TouchSmart, the Dell Studio One or Inspiron One or Lenovo Idea Center would be everywhere, and they clearly aren’t.

Microsoft needs leadership. It needs vision. It needs direction. It needs Windows 8 not to suck…and I am truly afraid that they are going to lose out on all counts…

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Microsoft Mobility – I Don’t Think They Get It…STILL: Part I

I’ve quipped on leadership before, but fer cryin’ out loud – I’m DYIN’ over here.

There’s a lot happening over here at Soft32. I’ve been doing deep dives on both Apple and Microsoft operating systems and you should be able to see them on Soft32 shortly. 2012 is definitely the year of the new OS; and Soft32 is committed to keeping you up to date on all of the developments.

As both major personal computing platform players are upgrading their operating systems this year, I’ve had an opportunity to do EXHAUSTIVE deep dives in both the Windows and OS X worlds and what I’m seeing on BOTH sides is both praise worthy and, at times, has me scratching my head.

I’ll tackle Apple later. I want to talk about Microsoft first, as this one is really bothering me.

Over the years, I’ve been a HUGE pro-Microsoft advocate, especially in the world of mobility. I was a huge Windows Mobile pundit, and I know I was NOMINATED at least twice for MS MVP for Windows Mobile. I never got it; but the people who nominated me told me of the nominations after the awards were announced. My point (without all the resume building) is that I was serious about promoting and contributing to the success of the MS mobile platform, so I’m not MS bashing; but after looking at Windows 8 so extensively over the past eight or so months, one thing has become crystal clear to me:

Microsoft USED to have an idea of where they wanted to go with mobility; but currently, don’t have the SLIGHTEST CLUE.

I’m sitting here, writing this and shaking my head. I can’t tell you how disappointed I really am with publically vocalizing that; but it became clear to me when speaking to my colleagues at WUGNET after finishing my deep dive of Windows 8 Release Preview. Microsoft has completely lost its direction, its understanding and its hold on the mobile computing community.

When Microsoft was competing against Palm for control of the PDA space, it had vision and direction. When it was competing against RIM for control of the Push email space, it had vision and direction. Somewhere between 2005 and today, it lost sight of where it was going in mobility and became stagnant…which is one of the reasons why it took them almost 2 years to release the first version of Windows Phone 7 in October of 2010.

I also believe it’s the main reason why Windows 8 is such a freakin’ train wreck. There’s no captain on the mobility train. They better get one quick before the train sinks or the ship derails… Yes, I know I just mixed my metaphors. That’s kinda the point…

Come back next time, and I’ll finish up the analysis.

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Windows 8 Release Preview Review

Microsoft has released the final peak at Windows 8, with its Release Preview. Let’s take a quick look at what’s been updated and see if Windows 8 is any better now than it was in the Consumer Preview.

Microsoft released Windows 8 Release Preview on 31-May-12.  The sooner than expected release of the new software is supposed to add on to the stability, usability, etc., of the new operating system.  Based on my interaction with the software, I have a great deal of doubt that the new release of Windows 8 Release Preview, is in fact, a step forward.

From what I’ve seen so far since installing it over Windows 7 Ultimate on my Asus Eee PC T101MT convertible, touch netbook, the software has taken a huge step backwards in quality. After the initial install, which required not only the removal of Microsoft Security Essentials, most of the Asus T101MT bundled software and specific T101MT utilities that didn’t have Windows 8 upgrades yet, had to be removed in order to get the software to install.

Even after that, I still had to force the display to push 1024×768 resolution by default with the handy registry hack I mentioned last time. Without that hack, none of the Metro apps but Control Panel would run. Even after that; I bumped into a few interesting problems that are worth mentioning.

I’m going to mention this more than once, as it’s important to note – after installing Windows 8 Release Preview as an upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate, I blew the machine and rebuilt it with a clean, vanilla install of Windows 8.  Here’s why…

Windows 8’s PIM Metro Apps, specifically, Mail, People and Calendar, wouldn’t run.  However, it seemed that their Live Tiles still updated themselves and cycled through data, which I found confusing.  It’s clear; however, that the services that Windows 8 makes use of to feed its Live Tiles is separate from the Metro App’s ability to run, regardless of the minimum screen resolution requirements.

What I found the most frustrating about this, and I’m sorry I didn’t capture screen shots of it, was that the Metro Apps failed without any real reason. The error message they generated did contain a More Info link that directed me  to Microsoft Answers (Microsoft’s Windows 8 support site); but once you sign in with your soon-to-be-rebranded Windows Live ID, you got an error message from Microsoft Answers indicating that you weren’t authorized to view the noted data.

Really?!?  I’m not authorized??  Thank you. That’s just too awesome…

I also found that the Camera Metro App also still generated the BSoD it had in the Consumer Preview.

I got fed up.  I decided to blow the machine back to factory fresh and then reinstall Windows 8 from scratch, replacing Windows 7 Starter Edition with a clean, vanilla install of Windows 8. This would effectively nuke the PC (leaving the Windows 7-based recovery image) and make my T101MT a native Windows 8 PC.

With the PC in an upgraded condition, it was clearly unusable. The PC had wouldn’t run  Mail, People and Calendar. It was impossible to trouble shoot due to my not-authorized status with Microsoft Answers, and the camera still would not work.

With a clean Windows 8 install, the PC is usable, but it feels very unfinished, especially when compared to Windows 8 Consumer Preview.  The upgrade experience with it was much better than with Windows 8 Release Preview.

Continue reading…

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RIM’s Impending Collapse – Sometimes I Hate it When I’m Right – Part 2

With its stock at an all-time low, the Ontario-based company has retained JP Morgan-Chase to help it evaluate its options

Sometimes I really hate it when I’m right. I really do…

Last time, I outlined how and why RIM retained JP Morgan-Chase to help it find a buyer for its corporate assets.  We spoke specifically about who would be good and likely candidates – Google, Microsoft and Apple topped the list.

I covered why both Google and Microsoft wouldn’t be the best candidates for the acquisition.  Let’s take a look at Apple as a viable candidate. It’s a pretty compelling scenario, even if I do say so myself, though it wouldn’t be without its own regulatory challenges…

If you think about it, a marriage between Apple and RIM brings up some very interesting opportunities. It is, in my mind the best possible outcome of RIM retaining JP Morgan-Chase. Apple is one of the biggest leaders in the mobile computing space at this time.  They currently set the height of the bar that most everyone, RIM included, has been trying to top since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. The iPhone is the sole reason why RIM introduced the Blackberry Storm and Storm 2.  Those devices failed miserably because they didn’t know what they wanted to be – members of a serious enterprise tool kit, or poorly constructed, me too imitation of the consumer-based iPhone.

As Apple currently licenses Exchange ActiveSync to insure that its corral of iDevices can sync with Exchange Servers around the world, the acquisition of RIM’s push email patents could give Apple the opportunity to immediately acquire up to 78M additional iPhone customers.  I don’t know a Blackberry user ANYWHERE that wouldn’t immediately drop kick their Blackberry for an iPhone if it instantly and immediately hooked into an existing BIS/BES infrastructure.

Apple has been chomping at the bit to make serious headway in the enterprise space.  Building RIM’s push mail system into iOS would immediately…IMMEDIATELY…do that for iPad and iPhone. It would give them more than a serious hand hold on the enterprise market, and open up sales of Apple desktop hardware as BIS/BES are reenvisioned, reinnovated and optimized for OS X Lion/Mountain Lion Server.

With RIM’s patents, Apple’s iOS could become the new enterprise standard for mobile computing, clearly the hottest, most growth potential sector of the computing market and industry for, perhaps, the rest of the decade.  The iPad is already the biggest selling tablet in the world, with Google’s Android playing a distant second.  The integration of RIM’s push into iOS could negate Apple’s need for an Exchange ActiveSync license, as BIS/BES already work and integrate with Exchange.  Changes to Apple’s desktop Mail client to further support the new patents would insure that they could become a clear choice at work.  Apple servers could become the clear choice for mobile implementations as they drive mail servers for the enterprise.

If this isn’t THE no-brainer of the century, I’m clearly missing something…and I’d love to have someone tell me what that might be.

Now… would someone do me a HUGE favor and forward me Tim Cook’s phone number?  I’d really like to give him a call and encourage him to run after this…

Anyone..?  Anyone..?

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Windows 8 still a bit glitchy

Microsoft released the Windows 8 Release Preview on, 31-May-12. I’ve pulled down the preview, with all of the Metro Apps and installed it…and then I promptly nuked my Asus Eee T101MT Touch netbook and restored Windows 7 to it.

Why?  Well, that’s pretty simple…

The OS couldn’t turn on the Wi-Fi Radio.

I have Comcast cable internet coming into the house providing me with a speedy 50Mbps down/20Mbps up pipe.  I’ve got 802.11g/n Wi-Fi in the house as well, and I know that when things are humming right and cooking with gas, I can push 22-25MB/s of data across my home network (That’s equivalent to 176-200Mpbs, kids…).  Oh yes… It’s a beautiful thing.

Soft32 will continue to provide in depth, thought provoking analysis on all major platform upgrades and advances, and the summer of 2012 looks to be a very active season.  There’s a lot happening in the desktop operating system world right now. So after downloading the 2.65GB ISO image of the 32bit version of Windows 8 Release Preview, with Apps last night, I set out to install the revised OS on my T101MT so that I could begin evaluating the delta (or change) between it and the Consumer Preview.

I plugged the Eee PC into one of the five wired Ethernet ports of the network switch I have in my home office and turned off the Wi-Fi radio. Over the years, I’ve learned that having more than one active network adapter running at the same time on a single PC (like having the Wi-Fi radio on and connected to your wireless router or access point while having a network cable plugged into your wired Ethernet port) can cause network performance issues on Windows PC’s.  After many conversations with Microsoft technicians and technical beta team leads, I’ve learned that a Windows PC can become confused when trying to determine which network adapter to send and receive IP traffic through if more than one networking adapter is active in the same PC at once.  So, I turned the Wi-Fi radio in the Eee PC off after plugging in the Ethernet cable. It seemed reasonable, logical, and it’s what my experience has taught me to do over the years.

Yeah…someone please remind me not to do that again…Big mistake.

After Windows 8 Release Preview installed and I unplugged the Ethernet cable from the netbooks LAN port, I couldn’t get the wireless radio to turn on to save my life.  I fiddled with every setting and registry nugget I could find. I pulled the driver out, deleted the files and let the PC find everything again to no avail.

After a couple hours, I threw in the towel and activated the recovery partition on the netbook. I blew the entire contents of the PC and will start over from scratch this weekend…this time, leaving the wireless network adapter on after plugging in the Ethernet cable.

Come back next time, and I’ll give you the run down on what actually happened, why it happened and what this means to the Windows computing public in general.

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Create your own stunning logo with Logo Design Studio

Brand identity is one of the cornerstones of good business, which is why a great logo is essential. For those who don’t want to cough up big money for a design firm, Logo Design Studio provides all of the easy-to-use tools that you’ll need to make your own unique logo.

Whatever medium you’re designing for, from letterheads to banners, Logo Design Studio has hundreds of industry-based templates to inspire you. The simply laid out workspace provides you with thousands of graphic objects and artwork, creative textures, slogans and special effects to help you make a striking and unique logo for your brand – be it a business, sports team or even just an event. Within minutes you’ll have a professional-standard logo made to your exact standards and specifications.

For those without the design expertise to create their own logo from scratch, Logo Design Studio is a great, easy-to-use alternative, with bags of creative potential. With thousands of examples and assets to work with, you’re almost guaranteed to find something that catches your eye. With a comprehensive set of editing tools you’ll be able to tweak and alter your logo as much as you want.

One note though, the demo version of this software might contain all of the functionality of the paid offering, but it’s also been packaged with lower quality images to keep the size of the download down. Our advice is to give the demo a try, and if you’re getting results that you’re happy with, upgrade to the full software for a high-quality end result.

Download Logo Design Studio

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