Tech, Tech News

Start from Scratch?

“Knowing that Uber would use unlicensed vehicles, competitors did so too, lest they be left behind. In normalizing violations, therefore, Uber has shifted the entire urban transport business and set an example for other sectors.”

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Losing Charge


Tesla Motors should stand and defend its products against any sort of attacks of reliability. Unfortunately, when all of the evidence and data comes from them, a sense of bias can’t be fully removed. It simply isn’t a valid argument, since Tesla would lose so many sales if it criticized without action.

All in all, it’s a bunch of He Said, She Said at this point.



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In The Air Tonight


The Kindle Fire HD – Photo courtesy of The Verge

For Christmas of 2011, I bought my girlfriend a Kindle Fire. She’s a dedicated Amazon Prime member, using their two-day shipping whenever possible and abusing the Prime Instant video catalog. I was tempted to get her an Android tablet to accompany her phone at the time, a T-Mobile G2, but the Amazon App Store, MP3 Store, and Kindle services sealed the deal. On Christmas morning, I saw her face light up with surprised delight as she revealed the Kindle Fire box. She began playing with it immediately.

As she settled down with it, problems began to surface. She absolutely hated the Carousel interface. She couldn’t stand how dreadful the default browser was. She calmed the urge to throw the device across the room every time the display didn’t refresh quickly, leaving a ghost of the previous screen. She found a limited selection in the Amazon App Store. Overall, she kept coming back to one niggling problem she had with the Kindle Fire: it’s so slow.

She didn’t want to risk a device tied with her sacred Amazon account to be experimented on, so rooting the Fire and applying a different interface was right out of the question. She liked being able to borrow books from the Kindle Lending Library, as well as the Prime Video options. Whenever she wanted to use the Kindle Fire as an actual tablet, however, she kept asking to borrow my iPad for a bit.

She’s not the only one complaining about the sluggish behavior of the first-gen Kindle Fire. Tim Stevens of Engadget says in his review, “…the Fire never delivers smooth, seamless performance.” Jon Philips of Wired agress with Mr. Stevens’ assessment, adding, “The Fire isn’t a dud, but its real-world performance and utility match neither the benchmarks of public expectation, nor the standards set by the world’s best tablets.” Casey Johnston of Ars Techinca summarizes my concerns with, “…the Kindle Fire is pretty pokey, and the browsing experience is not (yet) what was promised.”

So, with the new $299 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD shipping in November, I can’t get excited over it. I can only regard their new devices with doubt. Amazon may have the services to compete in the big leagues, but the real answer reveals itself when actually using their devices. The original Kindle Fire sold out during the holiday season of 2011, despite the lackluster reviews, but sales of the device plummeted in the first quarter of 2012. Only until very recently did the Kindle Fire sell out once again.

Amazon can become a big force in the tablet market. They have the huge Kindle library. They keep improving their Prime Video library. They have tons of discount sales in their MP3 store. Amazon can compete with the vast tracts of content they wield, but they need a top-league device to show that content off. The Kindle Fire was a marketing gale of wind that dissipated into a slight breeze. That leaves a cloud of doubt in the wake of the Kindle Fire HD’s announcement, while we wait to see if Amazon made a device worthy of those services.


What’s next, a subsidized car with LTE?


I should be thanking Samsung for incensing me straight to the keyboard, like an insulted MMO player whose main character has been nerfed into mediocrity. Pushing the metaphor along, I do feel like a sort-of sacred ground has been tarnished by Samsung, and not over another Apple ripoff.

No, this anger stems from the above abomination, called the Galaxy Camera. As if to bounce back from the latest court loss, Samsung introduced this device at this year’s IFA, touting “the magic of professional digital photography” with “the powerful intelligence of the Android Jelly Bean OS.” Featuring 3G/4G connectivity and Android apps to edit your photos right from the device, Samsung is trying justify putting a smartphone into a camera, instead of being like everyone else who’s putting a camera into a smartphone.

Aside from putting Instagram and “professional digital photography” into the same breath, the one major flaw I see with this device is it’s trying to be the jack of all trades, master of none, when the people buying such a product are looking for a master of one.

The Galaxy Camera is a point-and-shoot camera in the style of an Android smartphone, with the same radio, technical innards, and apps. While certain fanatics of the robotic OS will cope with the shortcomings of the territory, wasting battery life on irrelevant apps, like the aforementioned Instagram, and not living up to expectations of a point-and-shoot camera will quickly kill this monstrosity.

People looking for a point-and-shoot in these modern days of eight megapixel cameras in our pockets are looking for one thing: to take lots of photos. They want that camera to keep snapping during whatever celebration is going on, and they give less than a rat’s tail about 3G/4G or being able to access whatever app store. Those activities waste battery life that would’ve gone to little Timmy taking his first steps, and the first time the Galaxy Camera dies at the most critical moment, that camera’s breaking the sound barrier into the closest brick wall.

The only possible reason for the existence of a 4G-enabled point-and-shoot is Samsung trying to hook those people still using a feature phone into buying into the Galaxy smartphone line. Like Apple using the Mac to hook people into the iPhone and using the iPhone to hook people into the iPad, Samsung must be thinking once people are used to using the Galaxy Camera, they’ll go for their latest offering into the high-end smartphone arena.

Unfortunately, unless this camera outperforms every other point-and-shoot in performance and battery life, the only people buying this gadget will be the people who already bought into the Galaxy line, which will sink this mutation back to the depths from whence it came.


Microsoft’s Reimagining

Being an Apple supporter is a tough gig. So much misguided hatred from the vast majority gets exasperating after a while, like that Gates/Jobs/Ballmer image that was floating around yesterday.

For those of you who believe in that image, I’d like you to look up the Tablet PC sales from 2002 to 2009, then look up iPad sales from 2009 until now. No, Apple didn’t invent the tablet, but it has made the best.

Execution is just as important as invention. Just ask Nicola Tesla, who died alone and broke despite the fact he basically invented the 20th century.

Microsoft knows the iPad is the one to beat. They’re bringing out their big guns, and it’ll be an interesting fight. This video is just for some giggles.


Should You Buy the MacBook Pro with Retina Display?


Apple brought out their next generation MacBook Pro, the first OS X system to go Retina. Between all the pro-Apple love and anti-Apple hate, it gets confusing as to whether or not you should actually purchase one, especially if you’re in the market for a new laptop. You could call this laptop a genius stroke of engineering or simply a pretty face, but ultimately, why should you buy this laptop?

Look at the graphic above. If you can decipher it, you should buy it. If you’re interested in doing high-level video editing/production or high-level photography, it’s a no brainer. Once all the professional apps are updated, and they will be, very little other systems will offer the real estate needed to see exactly what you’re outputting while having access to all the information needed to tweak it endlessly.

What if you’re a gamer? Apple showcased Diablo 3 in their announcement, so obviously, this laptop must be a gaming juggernaut, right? Normally, Macs are good, not great, with gaming. As long as you’re willing to either run Windows under Boot Camp or deal with your laptop’s screen, you can get decent gaming performance out of it. All reviews of the new MacBook Pro point to these same conclusions, so if you want to game, you’re better off waiting for the later Macs to be upgraded to Retina.

For everyone else, from programmers to writers, waiting would be the best thing. Regardless of this wonderful laptop, it is a first generation product, and from now on, they can only improve on it. I’m writing this post on an early-2011 MacBook Pro, and it’s still performing wonderfully for all my tasks. As a budding video editor, I’d love that Retina display, but I’ve got a good two years left out of this baby. In two years, all the Macs will not only be updated to Retina display, but their innards will be just as jaw-dropping as the visible screen.

Should you buy the MacBook Pro? If you’re a Pro, get it now. If not, patience will only help.

Tech News

Microsoft’s Only Move

Microsoft’s Big Tablet Gun[/caption]

Everyone’s in an uproar over Microsoft’s new Surface, as if the dashing hero just burst through the window as the evil king’s plans near fruition. All this talk makes it seem like Microsoft is finally bringing its big gun to take out the bad guy, when in actuality, they’re making the only move they can to stay in the fight.

Apple’s dominating the tablet market, because of their iron grip on their own system and their dedication to the tablet form. The iPad’s UI and ecosystem favors very heavily to those technically challenged people, and they make sure to keep any unstable elements out of their way. Microsoft’s dedication to the tablet is more than evident in the Metro interface of Windows 8, and now they complete the imitation with their own manufactured tablet.

Microsoft’s not going to make friends with their own tablet, but they’re out of options. Google’s reliance on third-party OEMs for their tablets isn’t doing anything, so they have to compete with Apple using their own techniques. At least the Surface has unique features like the pen and keyboard case, and they’ve got time before the next iteration of the iPad to get some market share.

Right now, nothing is known about the Metro UI’s acceptance or the Surface’s performance. Microsoft is playing to their strengths though, so the next year will be interesting.