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.

Introduction
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.

Installation
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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iPad 3 Rumors & Thoughts – Part 1: Hardware

With Steve Jobs gone and his legacy not completely publically known or understood, the iPad 3 is almost a complete unknown as well, though the rumor mill has been churning lately. Let’s take a look at some of the rumors and see what’s what.

I’ve been reading the authorized Steve Jobs biography, and quite honestly, I’ve been learning a great deal. Apple very much *IS* Steve Jobs, and vice-versa. It’s been an interesting read. Much of the design and thoughts for the iPad itself came before the iPhone. It was put on hold to address and release the need for the iPhone. However, the magic that is the iPhone will forever be beholden to the iPad. This was probably one of the most interesting revelations I’ve encountered in the book so far. But the iPad… that was Steve’s baby. He really wanted to do a tablet to counter the netbook surge and push, which is pretty much OVER at this point.

Apple has the tablet market pretty much sewn up. At this point, Android can try all it wants, but without the walled garden that Apple has cultivated and nurtured, it’s going to be hard for Google, any of their hardware partners, or ANYONE really, to catch up to them any time soon.

That being the case, rumors of an updated iPad have been circulating for quite some time. Many sites have been saying that the next generation iPad is already in production, and is readying for a March or April release. While I won’t say too much about that just yet, I do want to touch on some of the other rumors related to specific hardware feature sets that many are speculating will differentiate it from the iPad 2.

Better Screen – HD Resolution?
There’s been a great deal of speculation about this particular, potential feature upgrade. A Retina Display from Samsung, a Sharp IGZO display… No one really knows for certain what is going to happen here. However, I think it’s safe to say that Apple’s next generation iPad will have a much better screen than both the iPad 1 and iPad 2. Regardless of what type or which manufacturer really got the contract, Digitimes is reporting some (also unconfirmed) specifics on the screen:

  • A QXGA (1,536×2,048 pixels) display
  • Longer battery life
  • Although its other hardware specs may not be as exciting

The A6 Processor
Apple’s next system on a chip should have nearly twice as much punch as its previous iOS devices. The A5 chip is dual core. The A6 is rumored to be a quad core powerhouse. The tablet should be able to crunch through some major data at that point. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard how fast the chip is rumored to be, though I would assume 1.2-1.5gHz would not be unreasonable.

The Graphics Processor
Given that mobile gaming is on an uptick, and that iOS gaming is in no small part responsible for most of that uptick, it’s almost a certainty that an enhanced graphics processor will be part of Apple’s new iPad. There’s been very little about which processor…but with gaming becoming more important, and iLife apps like GarageBand and iMovie likely to be improved as well, the next edition iPad will need the additional punch of an improved graphics processor. This is probably more important than the implementation of the A6 processor.

HD Camera
The implementation of an HD quality screen begs the implementation of an HD camera. The implementation of a front and rear facing camera in the iPad 2, and the introduction of iMovie for the iPad really kicked this off. I would say that a 720p/8MP rear and 2-3MP front cameras are a safe bet as well.

4G-LTE
Apple clearly stated that it wouldn’t support LTE in the iPhone 4S. While speculation is ripe, no one is willing to make a FIRM say-so on the implementation of LTE. However, it is widely anticipated that Apple will support LTE in both the iPad 3 as well as iPhone 5. So as long as you’re in an LTE equipped market, you should be good to go.

Thunderbolt
This is probably my most favorite and most underused feature in my Early 2011 MacBook Pro. With the implementation of this high speed connectivity solution in its desktops, it seems logical that Apple will move to Thunderbolt and improve the throughput of local synchronization for all its iDevices. However, that would retether the devices it unleashed with the implementation of iCloud in iOS 5.

It would also totally hose about a gazillion iDevice accessories currently on the market today. Apple has been using their 30 pin dock connector forever, and while there have been a few changes to it, generally speaking they’ve stuck with it since the iPod was introduced many years ago.

This would be an interesting development; and one that I actually hope doesn’t come about. However, we’ll have to wait and see.

Come back next time, and I’ll dive into this a bit more with some speculation about iOS 6 and what it’s going to bring to the table.

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Create professional-looking movies and demos from your computer screen with Camtasia Studio

I create training materials all the time. Part of what I do for my day job occasionally requires me to train end users in some kind of computer based process or procedure. It doesn’t happen all that often, but when it does, I’m glad I have tools like Camtasia Studio. It’s a screencast tool for Windows.

Creating a great screencast happens in three simple steps: Record, Edit and Share.

Camtasia Studio’s flexible recording options allow you to capture a full screen or a window or region. You can add in music tracks, a spoken, vocal track, or your computer’s audio.  You can also include picture-in-picture video with your web camera. If you’re using PowerPoint to give a presentation that you want to record for use by invitees who couldn’t attend the initial presentation, Camtasia’s toolbar inside PowerPoint makes it easy to record your presentations, either live or from your desk.  TechSmith’s exclusive SmartFocus technology keeps track of where the action happens on your computer screen during your recording. It then produces a video that zooms in on the parts you need to show.

Once you have your content recorded, Camtasia Studio allows you to spruce it up.  You can easily create callouts by adding a graphic over your video to direct the attention of your viewers. You can also link to an external webpage or jump to a part of the video.  If you’re stuck for the right graphic to use, Camtasia Studio comes stocked with professionally-designed assets you can drag-and-drop into your video. You can also the store your callouts, title slides, and other assets for re-use and sharing later.

After you have your screencast created, the final step is sharing it with your audience.  You can share to YouTube and Screencast.com, TechSmith’s video hosting service.  You can also produce videos in a variety of formats including, MP4, FLV/SWF, M4V, AVI, WMV, MOV, RM, Animated GIF and MP3 (for audio only).

Read full review | Download Camtasia Studio

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Top 5 Digital SLR (DSLR) Cameras

If you’ve got here, you probably know that the decision to buy a digital SLR camera isn’t as easy as it looks like. You probably tried reading reviews and forum discussions to help you make up your mind but still, you’re not sure.

Well, let me tell you something, no-one can tell you exactly which one is “the best” but we’ll try to help you out a little bit by making a short list of the top rated Digital SLR Cameras with a link to Amazon.com so you can take a look at each one and hopefully, find out which one suits you best!

  1. Nikon D7000 16.2MP DX-Format CMOS Digital SLR with 3.0-Inch LCD and 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR ED Nikkor Lens
  2. Pentax K-5 16.3 MP Digital SLR with 18-55mm Lens and 3-Inch LCD (Black)
  3. Canon EOS Rebel T3i 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera and DIGIC 4 Imaging with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens
  4. Sony Alpha A580 16.2MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm Lens with Sony 16GB SDHC Memory Card
  5. Samsung EV-NX100 Digital SLR with 14.6 MP and HD Recording

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VideoPad Video Editor a tool suitable for beginners in terms of concept and basic features

Video editing is a casual task for anyone that owns a video camera. Therefore, the IT market offers a wide variety of video editors more or less comprehensive so that anybody, from beginners to pros, can find the right application suitable for his needs. But what if you can find a single application that can be easy to use, offers all the basic features for editing and is free? VideoPad Video Editor is the one that fits this profile, a tool suitable for beginners in terms of concept and basic features.

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Twenty-Six New Color Cameras Allow Embedded Vision System to Better Solve Challenging Color Image Processing Applications

PPT VISION introduces twenty-six new IMPACT M-Series color cameras with dedicated color IMPACT software tools for sorting, monitoring and identifying color objects. The IMPACT M-Series Embedded Vision System is one of the fastest and most robust factory automation camera systems commercially available, and the addition of numerous new color cameras allows the system to solve an even broader range of challenging machine vision applications. Color M-Series camera models range from economical VGA resolution cameras, to 210 frames-per-second high-speed cameras, to a five megapixel high-precision model.

Grayscale cameras, like the IMPACT A20, solve the majority of machine vision applications. However, sophisticated color cameras and tools are needed to solve numerous critical inspection and guidance operations for industries ranging from food products to transportation equipment. Color IMPACT M-Series cameras can be used to detect food spoilage and determine the fat content in meat. Other applications solved with PPT IMPACT color vision tools include sorting and identifying pharmaceutical tablets, detecting wire placement and components in electronic products, and many additional possibilities.

The IMPACT M-Series Embedded Vision System allows users to perform up to four unique inspections that can be initiated independently–at different times or simultaneously–utilizing a single vision processor. Significant cost savings are achieved by eliminating the need to purchase multiple systems for separate inspection/guidance programs, and the comprehensive system greatly reduces setup and networking time over the traditional use of multiple systems.

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Record from Webcam HD digital video

Records shots up to 30 shots per second from any video device including USB and Analog webcams, TV cards, Camcorders and Network Internet cameras.

The program streams online high-quality MPEG-4 picture from your computer or uploads JPEG images to your FTP server. Streaming can be watched using any Internet browser; no plug-ins or downloads required. You can produce simultaneous recording and streaming from limitless number of cameras.

Your webcam / cameras can be used as security system. When the program senses activity in the watched spot, it sounds siren, emails you captured shots, launches broadcasting, or records video.

Online streaming as well as recording can be password protected that all video and audio are scrambled and cannot be watched without valid secret word.

The program has features to display image overlays and time captions, modify video size / quality, and Pan/Tilt/Zoom control.

download Dynamic Webcam System

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AVerMediA previews new W30 and F50 document cameras at TCEA 2011

AVerMedia Information, Inc., will introduce its first Wireless Document Camera system, a  mobile device that unleashes the learning environment from a teacher’s desk to the classroom and even outside, at TCEA 2011. The sleek new W30 includes a lightweight and portable document camera that communicates seamlessly with its base unit that receives, records, enhances and transmits – all at 30fps. The W30 delivers clear, crisp and consistent content no matter where the document camera is within a 45ft radius of the base unit.

The W30 can operate with or without a MAC/PC. Without a computer, it is the only wireless system that records and sends images to the projector or monitor independently. It even offers presentation tools that help display what’s important and cover-up what’s not. Add a computer and now you have access to software tools that help make the curriculum easier and more enjoyable. Coupled with battery life that lasts an entire school day, one-touch recording to USB/SD cards and all the specially designed software make the W30 a ground-breaking wireless document camera system that transforms an entire classroom into a digital learning playground.

Also debuting at TCEA is the new F50 document camera with on-board annotation! Now all educators need to do is plug-in a mouse or our AVerPen and that’s it. They can add drawings, marks or even write to enhance their image – all without a computer. Add in a 5 MegaPixel camera at 30fps, 80X zoom, 1080p HD output and explaining complex maps, charts, text and more has never been clearer. All this and it comes with one touch audio and video recording to USB/SD cards.

For more information and pricing about the AVerVision W30 and F50 or any of AVerMedia’s other classroom presentation products, please visit at www.averusa.com/presentation

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