A Discussion of Windows 10

By now, many know that Windows 10 is coming sooner than later. More than that, responding to the intense dissatisfaction with 8 and 8.1, Microsoft is offering 10 as a free upgrade to users of 7 and 8.1 for a year from its release date. Many expected to see a free upgrade path for users of 8.1, but not necessarily for 7. Analysts tend to think this is a good idea and that Microsoft might finally be on the right road with this. I write more about this at my technology blog and expect to offer even more has 10 approaches its release. Please join in at davebyte.blogspot.com.

Windows 8

Things in the PC world are rapidly changing. While you might think that’s not exactly news, I mean they are changing even faster than they normally do. Windows 8 is a radical departure from the typical desktop Windows we have come to know and largely embrace these past many years. Geared perhaps more for touchscreens, the user is presented with large tiles on a start screen that often have changing information displayed on them. I found this [at first] to be somewhat annoying, but have actually come to like them, as they present information to me that I might otherwise miss. I’ve been running 8 on this desktop PC for a couple of weeks now and like it enough that I have installed it on my laptop, as well. It is faster than 7, which is also a fine OS. I also have developed a fondness for some of the apps that run exclusively on 8. More as I use it. I may not blog much in the next few days with a busy schedule looming — especially with the rapid approach of Thanksgiving. With that being written, I shall take this opportunity to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Big News Day!

A great deal of the news today has dealt with either the upcoming healthcare ruling by the Supreme Court, the recent ruling on Arizona’s controversial legislation, various developments with the Attorney General or the campaign trail.  But what about that company we all know and love called Google? Did you happen to catch their big announcement of a new tablet running Android 4.1?  I checked it out at their Web site and it looks pretty cool! The Nexus 7 is priced at about $200 and looks like it’s well worth it.

Although I have not “rooted” my Kindle Fire, I have installed a few apps not generally available to it with a minor amount of tweaking.  For example,  I’m a big Opera fan (for Android in particular) and use it on my Fire,  although it is not available in Amazon’s App store.  I find it much quicker than Amazon’s Silk browser at delivering Web pages.  That said,  there are other apps in different categories that I prefer to offerings from Amazon.  Many install and work without issue, but some do not.  It would be nice to have access to the bigger Google Play Store.  Plus,  the new quad core processor sounds nice.

Thus,  being a big Android fan,  this truly has been a big news day.  Recently,  Microsoft made news with its upcoming tablet offerings.  To that I can only say “ho hum.”  Ipad?  Out of my budget range and would chain me to Apple’s offerings.

Tomorrow: Big news day.  The Supreme Court is expected to render
its Obamacare constitutionality decision and the House votes whether or not to hold our Attorney General in contempt of Congress.  Perhaps the public should hold a national vote regarding Congress and whether to hold them in “Contempt of the American People” or not?

Look to thoughtdiet.blogspot.com for commentary on tomorrow’s events.  It promises to be a BIG news day!

More on the Kindle Fire

I bought a Kindle Fire back in late January and have to say that I do like it and use it quite a lot – in fact,  every day.  That being said, I also have a B&N Nook Simple Touch e-reader, as well.  It was a recent acquisition that came free of charge with a 1 year subscription commitment to the New York Times.  Since I already had a subscription to the NY Times (being an avid news junkie, editorial reader and self-proclaimed devoted progressive thinker), it made sense to transfer it over to the Nook.  The cost per month is the same and I get a free e-ink (suitable for outdoor use) e-reader that is not much different than my original Kindle (which Karen currently has).  Since I read more of the paper on the Web site (access to their site is included in the deal) than I do on the reader, it is hardly missed on my Fire.  Besides, I have plenty of news to read on there.  The Day (a local paper I am fond of) is delivered to me daily on the Fire in a very good app called “PressReader.”

Back to the Fire:  I like it.  Over all, I have few complaints about it.  Yes, the battery runs down far more often than the original Kindle – kind of a “no-brainer” — considering it has a back-lit screen and makes far more use of Wi-Fi than the e-ink style of Kindle which merely uses juice when turning pages or downloading data.  Some times I find the app store a bit limited -in terms of things which likely would run fine on the Fire but are discouraged for purely commercial reasons.  There are also moments when the device seems to stall and not want to open apps in a timely manner.  And yes, there has been the occasional error or crash.  Over all, nothing to seriously deter me from using it or regretting its purchase.

I cannot do a true comparison between the Nook and the Fire, since the Nook I have is an e-ink model and not at all a tablet by design or functionality.  It would be an “apples and oranges’ sort of thing, if I did.  I will say that the visual appeal and style of the Nook Color and now the Nook Tablet  are better than the Fire and specs show an improvement over Amazon’s offering, as well.  What stopped me from buying a Nook color and making the subsequent Kindle break at the time was simply a matter of fear.  The fear was (and is) that Barnes & Noble will not survive the downturn it has had in business and cease to exist like its competition Borders did.  The condition of the Warwick, RI store that Karen and I recently visited made us think it could suffer the same terrible fate.  Believe me when we say that we both hope not, since we love browsing in book stores and find it to be a totally different and much more enjoyable experience than browsing Web pages at Amazon.  On the other hand, a recent visit to their location in Manchester CT at the Buckland Hills Mall revealed what seemed to be a thriving, very much alive store with a decent inventory and customers to match.  I may, in time, make the move to the Barnes & Noble Nook color version.  But, for now, the Fire is up to the task and is a cheap, viable alternative for me to an iPad.  (Confession:  I have subscribed to two magazines and one other paper (the NY Daily News) on the Nook).

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Warner Bros. GREED

I just read an article this evening that indicated that Warner bros. will start delaying release of DVDs to both Netflix and Blockbuster (I assume services like Red Box, as well) until approximately two months after the release date of the DVD.  This is an obvious attempt to prop up lagging DVD sales.  Well, good luck.  I fear this one could backfire on them, as consumers will simply forget about the movie and move onto something else – possibly a current release from another studio.  My understanding is that you won’t even be able to reserve it in Netflix until 28 days after its release on DVD.  Thus revenue lost from both sales and rentals.  I don’t know about you, but unless the movie is a classic like The Sound of Music or The Godfather or something of similar fame, the appeal to own a copy has diminished greatly over the years.  I look at two huge racks with hundreds of DVDs that I occasionally look at but dust more than anything.   Perhaps one day, several discs from my collection will be parted with in a yard sale as I did with an extensive VHS collection a few years ago.  Renting is the way to go – and sometimes I don’t even bother with that if I have recently seen the flick in the theater.  With the advent of digital cable, Netflix, Hulu and the Internet in general, finding something to watch is not hard to do; besides, my leisure time has become split between news outlets, books, magazines, music and television these days.    I even have considered dumping Netflix altogether as I am Hulu.  And, oh yeah, did I forget to mention blogging?

Good luck, Warner Bros.  This could be another of your really “smart” business moves.  Time will tell.

Revisiting the Kindle fire

It’s been about 11 days or do that I have had the Fire and I can say that I really do like it a lot.  This is especially true since they added the WordPress blogging app (which I installed today and am using to write this post).  Admittedly, I could do with a conventional keyboard for typing out posts (this touchscreen method is painfully slow, but also a cool piece of technology).  There are some occasional quirks, but they may be more the app’s fault than the device.  All in all, I am not sorry I chose to stay with the Kindle platform.  I think I would rate it 3.5 stars out of 5.  There are a lot of free Android apps for it that are functionally decent.

Google and Privacy

I read a brief article last night about Google having some new privacy policy taking effect in March that users cannot opt out of and that will allow Google to use your private data across their range of products, such as Google+, etc..  I have long considered privacy an ideal long lost in the modern age of technology  and subsequent paranoia.

The Washington Post actually has an article today that explains how to cancel all of your Google accounts if you do not wish to be used in this manner by the search giant.

I have used Gmail for quite some time as my principle email and have had excellent results with it.  In fact, I love Google Chrome and Picasa, too.  I really could care less about Google+, which I consider too little too late (but that’s my personal opinion).What are your thoughts?

Browser Battles

I suspect that most of us don’t really care what the name of the software is that we use to accomplish our daily tasks, as long as it is functional, cheap or free and perhaps attractive in some regard.  This is why Internet Explorer has kept its place of dominance for so many years in the PC world; Microsoft Windows has been the dominant operating system on computers for many years and IE comes pre-installed — so people stick to that, with little reason to go look elsewhere for a suitable replacement.  The fact is, in the pre-Vista/7 world of Windows, there is nothing beyond version 8 which is, in my opinion, not very good.  For those people, I suggest either Firefox or Chrome.

I have wanted to maintain my love affair with Firefox as a browser over the years because of its open source origin and cross-platform uniformity.  However, as Chrome progresses from one version to another with more extensions, speed and stability, it’s increasingly harder to ignore its rightful place in the browser market and embrace it as a tool for everyday computing.  In fact, I am using its nearly-identical open source parent Chromium to write this blog post.  Chromium will make use of the same extensions and has the same syncing capability as Chrome, which is one of the best features I can see in Chrome – the sync works WELL.  As somebody who uses several different computers all the time, Chrome’s syncing capability is very important to me and much appreciated.

All I can say is, give one of them a whirl.  I keep going back to Chrome because is suits my needs the best.  Perhaps you will prefer Firefox, Safari, Opera or some other lesser-known browser.  The point is, there are choices.  Free ones.  Choices that work well.

More on Firefox

Although I see Firefox 4.0 as a viable alternative on operating systems like Windows XP and Mac OS, it does have its quirks.  At first, I thought it might be the machine I was using it on (an HP box with an AMD 4 core processor and Windows 7 SP1 64-bit), but discovered that it seems to be an inherent flaw with the browser itself: bookmark management.  Bookmarks or “favorites” (call them what you will) are an important tool for me in daily browsing for both work and leisure, and I need them to be easy to organize.  I find Firefox’s bookmark management to be more than a little quirky.  I have to give the proverbial ‘nod’ to Internet Explorer once again for its management of bookmarks in comparison to the two.

More to follow.  The jury’s still out and I could return to Chrome by the end of the week…

Update Trying to sort bookmarks is not easy. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  While it’s not a deal-breaker per se, it’s certainly aggravating and will keep me from using it as much as I would like to.

So far, Chrome’s syncing feature, speed, “sand-boxing” of browser tabs and slick minimalistic browser interface are hard not to love.

Internet Explorer 9 vs. Firefox 4.0

As many of you probably already know, Internet Explorer 9 was just released a couple of days ago and Firefox 4, already a release candidate, is rumored to be making its official appearance next week.  Having tried both and used them extensively in their beta and release candidate forms, I have reached some conclusions and decisions as to how I’ll use them both in my daily computing life.

Internet Explorer has one feature in particular that I love and have already come to use heavily – site pinning with jump list availability (if the site supports it).  For example, logging into my wordpress.com account, I go to the dashboard.  Once on that page, I grab the tab and drag it to either the start button or taskbar and pin the site.  This creates a handy icon from which I can right-click and obtain several menu options, including going directly to my last few posts, creating a new post, moderating comments or uploading new media.  Handy, direct and quick.  Graphics acceleration that takes advantage of modern hardware is available in both Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Where Firefox wins out is that it is not only fast with an equally slick interface, it is available for Windows XP (IE 9 is not), Macs and Linux systems.  I have also become fond of extensions like Mozilla’s recent F1 social networking extension and the Samfind toolbar, which I have used for some time.  Other neat features include the ability to pin tabs to the browser toolbar for quick access and I’ve always loved “live bookmarks.”  I don’t really know who’s faster, although I think Firefox might be (feels so) – but it isn’t all that important to me– as the difference is minimal, at best, to the average user.

My conclusion is this:  When using Windows 7 (my favorite Windows OS to date), I will undoubtedly use Internet Explorer.  If using my Mac or a Windows XP or Linux system, then Firefox is the obvious choice for me over Safari, Chrome or Opera.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Chrome is an excellent browser and it has been my principal choice for over a year now as I waited to see something from the Firefox camp, but I’ll take a decent open source product any day and there are a multitude of extensions for Firefox that make it a true winner.  I’m glad to see they’re back in the game.