Monthly Archives: October 2012

Back in early September of this year, I wrote a short series of posts about the danger one faces if they are not careful about downloading; one of which was called Online “Bait and Switch. The Malwarebytes.org blog posted an article called Pick a Download, Any Download on Oct 19th. This article goes into additional detail and covers some ground that I didn’t. It is well worth your time to read it.

Lost in all the  frantic preparations for Hurricane Sandy was Google’s product announcements on Monday, October 29th. In fact, the event itself was cancelled; it was in New York City after all. It’s an ill wind indeed that doesn’t blow someone some good and Apple seems to be the main beneficiary by having its upstart competitor’s announcement quashed.

Since there are no speeches to analyse and no live demonstrations to recount, here’s what we do know:

  • The Nexus 7 is gaining additional storage. The 8 GB tablet is history. Now, there is a 16 GB tablet for $199 and a 32 GB tablet for $249. Doubling your storage capacity for an extra $50.00 seems like a good idea to Dr. Data.
  • The version of the 32 GB tablet costing $299 can support HSPA+on T-Mobile and AT&T. Google gave 4G LTE a miss as it would drain the battery and increase the cost of the device.
  • Samsung is manufacturing the Nexus 10 for Google. This tablet supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC and offers up to 9 hours of video playback and 500 hours of standby time. This last bit is great if you’re like Dr. Data and hate booting your tablet every hour or two to check your e-mail. The Nexus 10 will be available on November 13th at a price of $399 for 16 GB of storage and $499 for 32 GB or storage.
  • A 4″  smartphone manufactured for Google by LG. T-Mobile will be offering the device for $199 with a two-year contract.

For more details, see the article on PC Magazine.

Hurricane Sandy was almost a non-event here at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There was a so-so breeze and a good bit of rain but not quite the disaster that the forecasters had predicted. Things were a bit different in the higher elevations and Crozet – which sits at the very base of the mountains did experience some outages because of the wind but on the whole, Albemarle County just had some spot outages here & there; about what you might expect following a rain storm. On the whole, Sandy was a non-event here.

Storm action at Virginia Beach

Just so I can show you a wee bit of storm action, here’s the view at the Neptune statue on the Virginia Beach boardwalk.

It has been over 72 hours since Windows 8 officially went on sale and Dr. Data has yet to get a copy for his test machine. While that should come later this week, he is nonetheless enjoying the post launch buzz – both pro and con. For example Dan Costa from PC Magazine claims that Windows 8 Is Too Big to Fail.  Dr. Data remembers that being said about Wall St. and Banks as recently as 5 years ago and we all know what happened after that, don’t we. Dan reasons that Microsoft still dominates the market despite Apple’s growth to 13% and – as much as I hate to say it – the minuscule 1.5% that Linux owns. Since Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, stated that there were 670,000,000 Windows PCs just a-waiting to be upgraded, Dan  claims that Windows 8 has become the new standard – apparently by default – overnight. OK, but Dr. Data remembers when Vista was the next big thing and  . . . well . . . you know the rest.

Meanwhile, Matthew Murray – also writing in PC Magazine – argues that Windows 8 is a Desktop Disaster and bewails loading it on his PC over the weekend. Like Dr. Data, he feels that Redmond gas given short shrift to traditional desktop and laptop users. Though Matthew and Dr. Data are no longer in the Windows target market – in the same way that hiring managers believe that people over 50 no longer exist – there are still a whole heck of a lot of us out there. Windows Vista was little more than a damp squib until Service Pack 2 came along and the same fate may befall Windows 8. By the time that Microsoft released that service pack, Vista  had gained such a bad reputation that the damage was almost irreparable.  When Windows 7 came out, there was much rejoicing and history may indeed repeat itself with the majority of those millions and millions of PCs that Steve Ballmer mentioned holding out for Windows 9. Until then, Windows 7 is most likely the new standard.

With hurricane Sandy off the coast and VEPCO’s – sorry, just can’t say “Dominion Power” –  track record of responding to outages here on Carrsbrook Drive, it is:

  1. Conceivable
  2. Likely
  3. Probable
  4. Inevitable

(choose one) that will be in the dark for a few

  1. Hours
  2. Days
  3. Weeks
  4. Months

(choose one).

No power means no PC and no internet service and therefore no blog entries. Q.E.D.

Therefore, do not be alarmed or disappointed – not that anyone would be – over the absence of posts. We’re just here, sitting in the dark, eating Vienna Sausages.

Now that copies of Windows 8 are flying off the shelves – both physical and virtual – let’s turn our attention to Apple. If you can remember that far back, the boys from Cupertino introduced the iPad mini – among other things – on Tues., Oct. 23rd. Here’s a few articles about the mini and the Company.

  • For some tablets, iPad Mini is a big threat in a little package –  Now that Apple is kinda sorta in the 7″ tablet business, what does that mean for makers of Android tablets? Some have more to worry about than others. Read the full story on c|net.
  • Fact-checking Apple on iPad Mini vs. Nexus 7 – Is apple worried by the success of Android tablets? Apple executive, Phil Schiller, seemed to embody that concern as he devoted more than the usual amount of time bashing the competition. C|net’s Scott Webster did a bit of fact-checking on Phil’s claims. Read the full story on c|net.
  • Is Apple A Religion or A Cult? –  An anthropologist seems to think so. ZDNet’s Charlie Osborne disagrees but Dr. Data is leaning towards the cult theory. Read the full story on ZDNet. Note to Apple Fanboys: Stay away from the grape Kool Aide!
  • Why did Apple Change its Mind? – Saint Steven of Jobs once gave a sermon on why Apple would not launch a smaller iPad. On Tuesday, Oct 23rd, all that changed. Rupert Goodwins gives us a bit of insight. Read all about it on ZDNet.
  • Is Microsoft’s Surface tablet like a flying car? –  Apple CEO, Tim Cook, sure seems to think so. Read what he had to say on c|net.

Microsoft strutted its stuff today beginning at 11:15 AM EDT. On the whole, it was not a bad presentation. There was a healthy dose of self-congratulation but without the competitor bashing that has come to be a hallmark of Apple announcements/launches. Apple’s leadership may know everything – or at least think they do – but, realistically, they know nothing of sportsmanship. Of course, the announcements/launches are meant to rally the faithful and Microsoft does that as much as Apple or Google. The difference is that Apple events have all the religious fervor of a tent revival. But I digress.

Both outside the auditorium and on stage as well, there was a veritable plethora of Windows 8 devices indicating:

  1. That manufacturers have decided that it’s time to start innovating again
  2. That manufacturers really don’t have a clue as to which devices and form factors are going to be a hit with consumers.

PC makers will be doing a lot of experimenting – and holding their collective breath – over the next 15 months because not all of these Windows 8 devices are going to sell well enough to see two holiday seasons. Dr. Data suggests that if you’re just itching to buy a Windows 8 Device, it would probably best to take a conservative approach and buy something in a traditional form factor – like a basic tablet or notebook – rather than bet the farm on some eye-catching device that will be discontinued before you can say “Bob’s your uncle”. Manufacturers may swear on the proverbial stack of bibles that they will offer first class support for this or that discontinued device for the next three to five years but the reality is that often support of orphaned devices winds up at the back of the bus.

Today’s presentation was more about Windows 8 and less about the Surface RT. While Microsoft has suddenly become a competitor in the tablet arena, Steve Ballmer and Steven Sinofsky were nonetheless quite cordial and complimentary to their Windows 8 partners and manufacturers. Microsoft simply wants to sell Windows 8 rather than create a race of zombies.

A lot was said about Windows 8 on tablets and notebooks and rather less about Windows 8 on the traditional desktop PC. There is no getting away from the fact that Windows 8 was made for touch and while it will work just fine on a desktop, it will simply not be the same experience. What tweaks, adjustments and add-on’s – in both software and hardware – are made available over the coming months remain to be seen.

It’s Digest Time!

Here’s a compilation of articles – mostly from c|net – about Windows 8 and the Surface RT:

  • Don’t Hate Windows 8 – The UK’s Matt Baxter-Reynolds explains that Windows 8 may take some getting used to but it may well be the  best OS ever made by anyone.
  • Windows 8 Forces A Steep Learning Curve c|net’s full review of Windows 8.
  • Innovative tablet stranded in an app desert Eric Franklin believes that in addition to the RT having sluggish performance, Windows App Store is a ghost town with tumbleweed rolling down the middle of main street. It has been claimed for weeks now that there are relatively few apps for the RT and most of them are rubbish. While that may be so, Dr. Data has had experience with Apples App Store and he can attest to the fact that a goodly number of those apps are rubbish as well.
  • Dueling bloggers –Ed Bott and Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols square off over the success of the Surface RT.
  • More Microsoft hardware on the way Steve Ballmer has confirmed that Microsoft plans to introduce additional hardware offerings. Do the include a 7″ Surface RT?
  • And finally . . . – Apple’s CEO weighs in on the Surface RT.

I’m sitting here, basking in the glow of a well-received book review, and for some reason I hear the voice of launch control in the back of my mind. Microsoft’s launch of Windows 8 and the Surface RT tablet kicks off at 11:15 EDT and while I’m trying to take an impartial, objective view of Win 8 & the RT, it will nonetheless be a bit exciting to see and hear what Steve Ballmer will have to say at the event. Apple has already shown its hand and Google’s hastily arranged event is next week. Microsoft has had dibs on this week for months and now it is their turn in the spotlight.

I plan to have some analysis of all this for you bright and early tomorrow morning.

Cheers!

Although we all try to prevent the latest bit of nastiness from taking up residence on our systems, sometimes the bad guys win and we’re faced with the task of cleaning up Dodge. Some of these infections are quite clever and not only prevent you from executing detection and removal tools, but also prevent you from downloading them in the first place. There is, however, a way around that last bit.

Tech Republic has an article listing 5 portable tools for cleaning up malware and virus infections. All of them are free though some may be donation-ware or a way of advertising a more robust paid version. Nonetheless, they will help get you out of a jam and in that case, who cares if there’s an ad or two for the paid-up version of the tool.

The tools are:

  1. ClamWin Portable
  2. Sophos Anti Rootkit Portable
  3. Emsisoft Free Emergency Toolkit
  4. Vipre Rescue
  5. Spybot Search and Destroy Portable

Dr. Data is most familiar with the Emsisoft Emergency Toolkit and Spybot Search & Destroy. There are a number of people who argue that the Emsisoft product is even better than Dr. Data’s favourite tool, MalwareBytes, and he is not going to argue their relative merits here. He will say, however, that the Emsisoft tool does seem to take longer to perform a scan than MalwareBytes. Whether that is because the former is more meticulous than the latter is a topic for another day.

As for Spybot Search and Destroy, Dr. Data has used it to bat clean-up for a number of years now. Spybot will flag and remove spyware, tracking cookies, etc. but it is also excellent for cleaning up the bits of debris left after an infection is removed and can give clues as to how the infection made its way on to your system in the first place.

All five tools require the user to be proactive. In other words, you need to:

  1. Find a clean USB thumb drive
  2. Install the tools on the thumb drive
  3. Keep those tools up to date
  4. Remember where you put the thumb drive

If the infection blocks the execution of one or more of these tools, then you will have to either use a rescue CD/DVD to boot your system or remove the hard drive and attach it to another system using any one of a number of fine USB SATA/IDE bridge devices on the market and disinfect the drive that way.

Read the full article on TechRepublic.

If you happen to live anywhere on planet earth, you will probably know by now that Apple finally announced the iPad mini – the worst kept secret in tech for many moons – on Tuesday, October 23rd. If you were paying attention, you will also know that the iPad mini has what is, for all intents and purposes, essentially an eight inch screen. Yes, it is a smaller iPad but is it as pocket-able as a 7 inch Google Nexus? Apple also announced a $329 price-point for the low-end model; a mere $170 cheaper than the low-end iPad. $329 is awfully close to a $499 iPad and quite possibly not the price-point that the consumer market was hoping for.

Yes, the iPad mini  is incredibly light and incredibly thin but Dr. Data remembers what happened with the first MacBook Air. Upon the day of annunciation, Saint Steven of Jobs demonstrated the thinness and lightness of the laptop by inserting it into a standard inter-office envelope. A fair number of consumers did similar things with their latest toy and more than one of these laptops were thrown away by mistake. Sometimes thinness and lightness can work against you.

As for a price-point, consumers were hoping for something along the lines of that for the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7; $199. With the iPad mini, you do get a larger screen and a tablet that you can hold in one had – provided you have a fair-sized mitt – but is that really worth the extra $130? The current economic climate have made consumers quite price conscious and they may very well eschew the cachet of owning an iPad for the price practicality of the Kindle Fire or Google Nexus. Women are looking for something that they can easily slide into a purse or handbag while Guys are looking for something that will easily slide into a shirt/coat pocket or shoulder bag. It remains to be seen if that will be as easy to do as with the Nexus 7.

In the run-up to this long-awaited announcement, some market research indicated that the iPad mini might elicit more ho-hums than huzzahs from consumers. The Apple faithful may sing hosannas as they queue  up for the iPad mini but the rest of the market; no so much. The $329 price point seems to help  ensure this prediction coming to fruition.

For a comparison of the iPad mini, the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7,  see the article about this on c|net.

Whilst we are on the subject of the 6,000,00o ton gorilla from Cupertino, here are two other items submitted for your consideration:

  • Some Russian Orthodox Christians view Apple’s logo as a symbol of sin that they would like to see outlawed. Read all about it on c|net.
  • Venture capitalist, Robert MacNamee wonders if Apple has become a “dumb monopolist”. Those of you extant and old enough to stay up late and watch Super Bowl commercials in 1984 will surely remember Apples landmark “1984” commercial that ran once and only once. Back in the day, Apple was the iconoclastic rebel striking a blow against Big Brother – read Microsoft. Dr. Data has wondered for quite a while  if Apple is now more like the characters in that other novel by George Orwell; Animal Farm. For those of you who may have forgotten your Civics and Government classes in high school or college, by the end of the story, the Pigs had become indistinguishable from the human masters they once sought to overthrow. Read the full story in the Upstart Business Journal.

This Month’s Rants

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Pipe Count

Dr. Data's Pipe Count

480 (+/-)

Dr. Data has PAD - Pipe Acquisition Disorder

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