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I recently had the chance to play a bit with a Windows 8 computer. That specific Staples store was deserted and I thought it was my best chance to sit and test the new Microsoft OS for a few minutes. Not even in my wildest dreams I could have predicted what happened: I could not use it!

Before proceeding I want to clarify two things: 1) I have not used Windows 8 enough to make a good evaluation of it and I am writing here is just a first impression and 2) I have seen Windows 8 running on a new smart-phone and it is easy and very appealing to use.

Anyhow, Windows 8 running on a PC or laptop is very difficult to use. I could literally not figure out how to do anything. And that was a very bad first impression, specially when the main competition (Apple’s MacOS) is easy and intuitive to use for basic applications. The worst part was to see that Windows’ main flagship, the Start button, was nowhere to be found.

Well, there are already several applications available that fix that problem and attempt to give functionality and an easy user interface back to windows. Some of them are reviewed here.

All in all, Windows 8 is hard to use according to standard Windows users. It does work great and is easy to use for smart phones, though. Check out the Nokia Lumia 920 and you’ll see what I mean!

Windows_8_RTM_1_Start_screen_610x343

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Finally back to write a bit here. I have been out of town for a week attending a conference and, as I often do, I kept myself disconnected from the world while on the road. I plan on writing a post on the conference soon, but for today I just want to say that, included in the (exaggeratedly overpriced) conference registration, we got a Blackberry Playbook “for free”. I have been willing to get a tablet for a while, an iPad most likely, but since I knew I’d get this one “for free”, I waited.

The Playbook, already a commercial failure, reminds me a lot to the Kindle Fire I got for my brother last Christmas. Pretty much the same size, color, weight… the only difference is that the Playbook has cameras, both front and rear facing. However, one CANNOT run Skype on it, which is, in my humble opinion, stupid. Among other reasons, I want my tablet to allow me Skype mama and papa and other important people while I am on the road. I have not run anything too “heavy” on it yet, but I have heard that it has a pretty fast processor that allows running processes in parallel.

I am somehow satisfied and, for a while, I will give it a try. After all, it is smaller than an iPad and I like that. However, I have to say that the options in the Blackberry app market are extremely limited and there is literally no interesting apps to download on it. And, personally, I do not enjoy throwing angry birds against weird constructions or to cut fruits in half ninja style, so I am not sure when can I use it for. I am also a bit disappointed with the on screen keyboard. Either my fingers are very floppy or it just does not like me. It also seems to be even more annoying (if that is even possible) when trying to auto-correct me all the time while typing.

Having said that, I woke up this morning to a nice phone call and some cool news. Microsoft, the traditionally software company, has unveiled a – very cool looking – new tablet, the Microsoft Surface. Not many details are known yet (or at least I could not find much yet), but it looks like a very cool device.

 

Ok, back to work now. I’ll write more another day about the conference I attended.

Bad news for Nokia. Right after its new creation, the Lumia 900, was released, a software glitch has been found. This zero day defect prevents some users from connecting to the Internet, relenting the phone useless. Not exactly the kind of propaganda you would want when you are a struggling cell-phone manufacturer that is trying to go back mainstream and compete against the iPhone and Android devices.

In what looks like a desperate, yet very smart, move, Nokia is offering a 100$ rebate to everyone who purchases the device between its release and April 21st. Therefore, the phone is for free (it’s initial price, with the 2 year contract commitment, is 100$).

Nokia has released an official statement claiming the problem to be originated by a software glitch:

…In short, a memory management issue was discovered that could, in some cases, lead to loss of data connectivity. This issue is purely in the phone software, and is not related to either phone hardware or the network itself…

No more details are given, but perhaps the blame should be for Microsoft, responsible for the OS of the Nokia Lumia 900. It does look like, though, the problem might be in the firmware of the modem, given that it is a connectivity problem. And that would technically not be Nokia’s fault neither would be Microsoft’s. Anyhow, without more information I rather not speculate… It is just very unfortunate, since this is the first Windows phone able to connect to the fast AT&T LTE network.

More about the news from Forbes:

Technology Consultant Matt Ebert says that Nokia is likely willing to eat this cost as it desperately needs the Lumia 900 to succeed to compete against competitors like Apple. As he explains, “WP7 has a very small market share right now. They are barely ahead of Blackberry, but far behind Android and iPhone.” However, he adds that even though “The WP7 operating system is outstanding, until now, they did not have the hardware that could go toe-to-toe with the iPhone. With the Lumia 900, you have a phone with hardware specs pushing high-end,” but with a $99 contract usually found on low-end, entry level phones.

Surely, the failure to assure customers of a successful new generation of Windows phones under these circumstances could have doomed their entire future.

Instead, it appears Microsoft may have actually benefitted from this glitch. Not only will everyone who has already purchased the phone receive the rebate, but the fact the phone is practically now free to anyone who purchases the Lumia 900 (until April 21) may entice unlikely AT&T customers to try the new Lumia 900 at no risk.

A risk that might be worth taking if you happen to be an AT&T customer. Ebert says that even though he is not able to really utilize the LTE yet, he is “getting 4G HSPA+ speeds, which are markedly faster than my iPhone and Focus. In fact, yesterday I did a side by side bandwidth test between my Focus and the Lumia 900. At 4G HSPA+ speeds the Lumia 900 was about 5x faster”. Most other reviews have demonstrated that the Lumia is indeed a superior phone – and now that Microsoft now has one of the best opportunities to place a Windows Phone in as many consumers’ hands as possible, Microsoft could soon no longer be far behind Apple and Android – if at all.

 

I hadn’t posted in a while and I decided to do a quick – and geeky – post on something that just annoyed me quite a bit:

As you probably assumed from some posts in this blog, I often code with Matlab. It is quick, easy and works well. Anything I need to simulate or quickly code and test responds very well to Matlab. Recently I have started coding also in Python and C++ for some specific projects. I installed Visual C++ 2008 and after a couple of hours I noticed something that seemed bizarre to me: the code line numbers were not displayed! How is this even possible? It sounds stupid.

My first reaction was “calm down, calm down”. I am sure that if you click anywhere in the code, somewhere on the screen – usually bottom, right – you will see the line and column number. This was indeed the case but, still, I find it quite annoying that the code line number is not shown by default. It was even more annoying when I spent a few minutes trying to find out how to activate this “option”. And I could not.

I had to Google for the solution and this is what I found:

To display line numbers in the code window (aka. Text Editor) do this …

1. Tools > Options > Text Editor > All Languages > General

2. On the right, under Display section, put tick mark for Line numbers.

3. Press OK.

Unbelievable…

Yesterday I did a long train commute to attend AT&T’s Cyber-security Conference, so I had plenty of time to read the news on my phone. By far, the most interesting news I found was this. Actually, it is not a news, but a rumor. Apparently, a very influential Russian blogger (Eldar Murtazin, English Google Translation) affirms that Microsoft could be about to close a deal to acquire Nokia’s cell-phone division for about 32$ billion.

Everything is just a rumor and pure speculation, but Murtazin discusses how this could be the biggest trojan horse in the history after the one that Achilles and his soldiers used to invade the city of Troy. Nokia’s stock value sank after the announce that its mobile devices would be using Windows Mobile OS. Not only that, but the new Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop, was the president of the Microsoft Office division.

From SeattlePi:

What’s fascinating about this rumor is the numbers. After last week’s $8.5 billion Skype acquisition, Microsoft has about $32 billion left in cash reserves. And, as The Guardian points out, Nokia’s market capitalization is just shy of $32 billion. Coincidence?

Interestingly, Nokia’s market valuation plummeted to that level in recent months. Before the Windows Phone partnership was announced, Nokia’s market cap was about $44 billion. Manipulation?

Nokia’s stock price plummeted on news of the Microsoft partnership. (Yahoo Finance chart with seattlepi.com annotations)

Of course, Microsoft wouldn’t be able to buy Nokia outright for market value – there’d have to be some sort of premium. But remember, Murtazin reported Microsoft is in negotiations to buy Nokia’s phone division, not the whole company (though that is most of the company).

What else does Nokia do? It’s got mobile services such as maps, music and messaging. It’s got Navteq, a major navigation and mapping service. And it operates wireless services in Europe and elsewhere through Nokia Siemens Networks.

Oh, and remember that Microsoft has a good friend at the top of Nokia. Its chief executive, Stephen Elop, was president of the Microsoft Office division before moving to Nokia in September. After the Windows Phone partnership was announced, shareholders pressured Elop to justify the Microsoft deal and wondered whether he was a Trojan horse.

If this acquisition rumor turns out to be true, Elop could be one of the biggest Trojan horses in the history of big business.

Again, I am not saying this is true or offering any personal opinion beyond the fact that this was, by far, the most interesting thing I read on the news… well, if I do not consider the Spanish sports newspapers I read daily. There are always interesting news there…

Update: More news about the rumored Microsoft – Nokia acquisition here.

It seems that, this time for real, everyone – not just Motorola – is trying to get into the tablet battlefield. Motorola already tried to compete with the iPad 2 and, in my opinion, they were badly defeated. Now, when Apple has just released the iPad2, everyone else seems to have decided that it is the right time to come into the game. There might be many strategical and commercial reasons that are out of my engineering-focused and marketing-lacked mind, but I think that one of the main reasons is that Apple’s iPad2 does not offer anything new.

When the iPad 2 comes just as a slightly smaller version that its older brother and with 2 cameras – I will never get tired of wondering why do people want the back-facing camera. Are you really going to carry your iPad around when you travel and use it to take pictures. No, because those memories in the shape of pictures have to be good enough to look good printed on an album. Will you pop out your iPad from your pocket during a concert or when you see something funny on the street to take a quick picture? No, because you already have your phone for that… – it looks “easier” to present “new” things to the market.

A couple of days ago I was presenting the new Asus tablet that, to me, looks really cool and runs on Windows 7 – if I could have my files organized in folders and such in my iPad and install Microsoft Office I would probably buy one… -, and not only that, but one can get that cool keyboard that, attached to the tablet, makes a very portable and light laptop.

Well, today I found out about a new tablet. Lenovo, the Chinese computer manufacturer that, a few years ago, bought IBM’s laptop division, is going to release the LePad in June. It might not be a good tablet, but at least it has an elegant name, huh? Well, let’s see how is this French cousin of the iPad going to be.

From Gotta Be Mobile:

LePad is already currently shipping in China with Lenovo’s customized UI on top of Android 2.2. The company is saying that U.S. availability will come this summer and the tablet will ship Stateside with Android 3.0 Honeycomb on the 10.1-inch 1,280 X 800 display.

One of the unique things about the LePad/Skylight tablet is the optional U1 docking accessory, which is capable of turning the Android tablet into a full Intel Core i5 portable notebook. Once docked into the U1 Hybrid Dock, you get a full Windows 7 notebook complete with keyboard, trackpad, HDD for storage, RAM, and other notebook components–the tablet’s display becomes the notebook’s screen. Unfortunately, though, if docked, the Windows environment will be a notebook-only situation meaning you won’t get inking, touch, or tablet features once docked.

The case of the LePad is a bit odd because, apparently, it is already available in China and, despite it will be released in the US and Europe in June, a new version (LePad 2) will be released next fall. We are lacked of more data about the second model, but Lenovo’s CEO recently announced that it will be slimmer.

This post is becoming a bit strange because I keep learning new things as I write it and I should rewrite it, but I will just leave it this way as a proof of how complicated the LePad situation seems to be. The Lenovo LePad seems to have been renamed for the Western release as Lenovo SkyLight.

Apparently it has officially been already presented at the recent CES 2011:

All in all, a bit confusing, but a new tablet in the market. And this one seems to bet for having a laptop/tablet in the same product…

A friend just sent me the video below and I thought it was so cool. I had never heard about it, but it seems ASUS has recently released a very interesting iPad kind of device. The ASUS Eee Slate EP121 Tablet PC is a 12.1” display tablet that runs Windows 7 on a Intel® Core™ i5-470UM processor. Unlike the iPad, it has a huge amount of ports, such as USB, FireWire, HDMI, memory card reader, etc. It comes equipped with a 2 megapixel front camera – to have video chat; I find this very smart. Well, no, just very obvious. What I find NOT smart is equipping the iPad 2 with 2 cameras. Really, who uses an iPad to take pictures? -.

From ASUS website:

Combining the Best of Tablets and Notebook PCs

The Eee Slate EP121 combines the easy mobility and easy navigation benefits of tablets with the power and functionality of notebook PCs. Weighing a mere 2.56 lbs and featuring a 12.1” LED-backlit (1280 x 800) multi-touch display with AFFS, the device supports a 175 degree viewing angle for effortless sharing of content. Encased in a Corning® Gorilla® Glass panel, the slate PC is also extremely durable. It is powered by an Intel® Core™ i5-470UM processor for superior multi-tasking, but also runs Windows® 7 Home Premium which is compatible with programs users are already familiar with for added convenience. This slate supports input from the included Bluetooth keyboard, Wacom® Digitizer stylus, and touch.

Pretty cool, huh? I can’t wait to try one. I was considering getting an iPad and I need a new laptop, a small and portable one. And I kept thinking why do I need to have both things? Well, I might have found a solution.

I remember when, being 20 or 21 I got my first cellphone – despite being a Telecommunications Engineer to be I was against cellphones and refused to have one for a while -. My first phone was a very cheap and simple Movistar phone. I have no idea who was the manufacturer but, whoever it was, there was no logo on the device, just a Movistar logo. Years later, that phone ended falling apart – literally – after having the battery held with scotch tape – believe it or not, this is true… I was what they call a “chapuzas” or “chapucero” in Spanish -. I remember that, while I had that phone, I started liking cell phones – specially because I started to learn in school what they work, from the wireless link to the RF receiver, the base band hardware, the software, etc… – and I was jealous of my school friends. Why? Because they owned a Nokia.

I don’t remember specific models, but I do remember that each model was known by a number. And they kept getting cooler and cooler: color screen, midi ring-tones, mp3 ring tones, tri-band, etc. Nokia was, by far, the big name in the mobile phone industry.

Things have changed a lot ever since, and now Nokia is not what it used to be. For some reason, they fell behind the race of smart phones and now they are light years away from the big names in the industry: Apple, HTC, Samsung, etc. In order to change things, the first non-Finnish CEO was hired in September. Stephen Elop, former Microsoft executive, has made his first big announcement. Nokia will start using Microsoft software for their new upcoming smart phones.

From NY Times:

Mr. Elop described the relationship with Microsoft as a broad strategic alliance that would extend beyond using Microsoft Phone software on Nokia smartphones. Nokia’s mapping software, Nokia Maps, will also be used in the Microsoft Bing search engine, Mr. Elop said. Nokia’s Ovi software services business, a major effort by the company to match Apple, will disappear and become part of Microsoft’s Marketplace application and services platform.

Just a quick post due to a visit to an AT&T store today.

I do not like the new Windows Phone. I saw it, tried it, played with it and… no, I am sorry. I do not find it intuitive at all. Very nice to access pictures, phone stuff -texts, missed calls, agenda, etc. -, Facebook and the things you want to have on your main screen -maximum 8 things -, but not very user friendly for the rest o to use/install other apps. I do appreciate the fact that I could have 25% of my screen devoted to constant updates, news, pictures, videos and other random and useless – for anyone but me – soccer/football stuff, though.

I like their commercials, though. Very cute.

And, by the way, do people really need a cellphone with Dolby Surround? Every time I hear music coming out of a phone I picture a band of Lemmings – hundreds of childhood hours spent to save those little green guys who have the strange and preoccupying ability to commit mass suicide after shaking their heads – inside the device playing it, but I still do not want and really do not need a phone with Dolby Surround.

Some day I will start writing a series of posts about my favorite videogames ever. I have not played any videogame – aside from sporadic ProEvolution Soccer games – in many many years, though.

As a Super Mario Bros fan – my very first console ever was the Nintendo NES, and I still have it in Barcelona… I should bring it to NYC along with my Super Nintendo and my Nintendo 64… – and a technology geek, I think this video is great and shows progress to a future I can’t wait for.

Controlling Super Mario Bros (1, 2 and 3) with Microsoft’s Kinect:

About me:

Born in Barcelona, moved to Los Angeles at age 24, ended in NYC, where I enjoy life, tweet about music and work as a geek in security for wireless networks.
All the opinions expressed in this blog are my own and are not related to my employer.
About me: http://rogerpiquerasjover.net/

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