Ask Juan: Should I Upgrade my Desktop (non-touchscreen) to Windows 8.1?

Screenshot (1)From one of our readers using our contact page:

Hey,I have an older quad core AMD desktop running Windows 7 and was going to put in a SSD. While I was doing that I thought maybe I should upgrade to Windows 8. I don’t have a touchscreen though, so I was curious if you thought that would be a good idea? Thanks, Alex

First of all, I run an older quad core in my workstation, and installing a solid state drive (specifically a Kingston HyperX) made my system feel brand new. I think you’ll really dig it.

The upgrade to Windows 8.1 is a slightly trickier question. It’s pretty obvious that Microsoft is using this new interface as their first attack on tablets and touchscreens. Microsoft’s job moving forward isn’t to “save” the PC market, but redefine the what a PC is. If you’ve read much on this site, you would know that I’ve been fairly positive on their progress so far.

Stepping outside the tablet-y stuff however, I think Windows 8 can offer up some benefits to non-touchscreen users as well.

First of all, boot times are seriously improved. The combo of Windows 8.1 and an SSD will feel like an absolute screamer compared to Windows 7 and a spinning disc hard drive. My low power Windows 8.1 ultrabook with an SSD cache boots in about half the time as my desktop did with Windows 7 and a proper SSD. My Lenovo absolutely destroys my Nexus 7 in a cold boot race.

windows 8_1 file transfer dialog boxSecond, I think Microsoft has made some solid improvements to file management. It’s not the sexiest aspect of an OS upgrade, but you get substantially more info when moving files, better estimates for completion, and the entire file browsing experience has been more stable. I would run into issues on Windows 7 with folders that had tons of files. As my computer would scan through creating thumbnails it would occasionally just get stuck on a file and never finish the scan. What ever file it would lag on would just become completely inaccessible, and I’d have to jump through CMD prompt nonsense to fix it. I haven’t had any issues like that with Win8.1 so far (knocks on wood). Continue reading “Ask Juan: Should I Upgrade my Desktop (non-touchscreen) to Windows 8.1?”

When Technology Evolves Faster than our Laws – Google Glass and Driving

google glass sunglassesCecilia Abadie has been in the news a lot this week. She was pulled over for speeding in California, and she was issued an additional citation for operating a motor vehicle with a video screen visible to the driver. That screen was the eye piece on her Explorer Edition Google Glass.

Following the letter of the law, this citation is valid, though Google Glass is a product which could help reduce driver distraction.

And now we stand at a legal crossroad. Laws can be handled with some flexibility, and many situations like this can be chalked up to “officer discretion”, but it’s not an institution known for rapid evolution. Changes to cultural perspectives in legal matters sometimes require generational time frames.

When positioned against the visceral pace of technological improvement,  it can often feel as if new laws are obsolete before they’re even implemented. Previous generations enjoyed more staged evolution to the tools they used. A person might go most of their adult life without radical changes to how work got done. Now we can expect a near fluid progression, sometimes software and hardware updates delivering near daily minor alterations to how our technology functions.

And now Glass is caught in the crossfire.  Continue reading “When Technology Evolves Faster than our Laws – Google Glass and Driving”

My Fave Halloween Freebie: A Legal Blu-Ray Quality download of ‘Night of the Living Dead’!

Night_of_the_Living_DeadI’ve been peddling this one for years now folks, and I’m always amazed by people who don’t know about it.

George Romero redefined the zombie genre with his 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead, but it wasn’t originally titled that. It was originally called Night of the Flesh Eaters, but when the distribution company changed the name, they accidentally deleted the copyright from the titles. Romero’s greatest work fell instantly into the public domain.

You can own, share, and edit the film any way you want. All totally legally.

The movie is still remarkably effective. It’s claustrophobic and paranoid. Plus there’s just something fun about old black and white horror flicks. There are several ways to watch the movie today. Several versions have been uploaded to Youtube, there’s a version on Netflix, but by far my favorite is the one hosted on Archive.org.

On the site is a high definition rip of the film which clocks in at over 16GB. It’s one of the best looking copies of the film I’ve ever seen, and looks incredible on HD TV’s and monitors. Give yourself plenty of time for the download though. That’s a pretty big file for Archive’s servers to dole out.

Enjoy and Happy Halloween!

Night of the Living Dead in HD on Archive.org (FREE!)

Continue reading “My Fave Halloween Freebie: A Legal Blu-Ray Quality download of ‘Night of the Living Dead’!”

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Samsung Fined for HTC Smear Campaign

galaxy s4 real person review somegadgetguy comparison long term (5)Dammit Sammy. You should know better than this.

I know you’re the top dog right now, and the idea of slipping even a little can be terrifying considering how fast our current tech darlings become yesterday’s old news. I get it. Combined with the fact that the smartphone market is cooling off a little, I can totally see why you might want to shake things up a bit.

But not like this Samsung.

See I write about tech online. I have relationships with PR and with vendors and agencies. I have a small but loyal following of similarly-minded tech enthusiasts, and over years of producing in this space I’ve built up a little credibility. What you’ve done here Samsung is undermine all of that.

The internet is a skeptical place. I can’t praise or criticize anything without being accused of being a “fanboi” or being on a company’s payroll. The fact that you paid and organized writers to post negative commentary on your competitor’s products hurts our entire industry. The fact that you got caught is as unsurprising as it is tragic.

ATT HTC One Mini software update jelly bean 4_3This story just takes a somewhat insidious turn knowing that you’re picking on a MUCH smaller company. HTC is fighting to stay out of the red. Remember a time not long ago when Apple was the Big Bad, and you were fighting to get Galaxies into consumer hands. You were the underdog. It was charming when you were plucky. You aren’t anymore. You’re the new Big Bad. This just makes you look like a jerk, a bully.

I don’t even know if the FTC’s fine of $340,000 even registers on your bank sheet. That’s a blip in a market where you proudly announce 40 MILLION Galaxy S4 sales. All I know is that this makes me skeptical of anything nice written about your products. It makes me skeptical of negative reviews against your competitors.

If it makes me skeptical, I can only imagine how my readers must feel…

TAIWAN BODY FINES SAMSUNG FOR BLASTING LOCAL RIVAL (Associated Press)

I Ask You: Does Carrier Branding On Your Phone Bother You?

htc one max evleaks carrier branded ATTQuick show of hands, who here knows what carrier their smartphone is on? Pretty much as I figured. If you’re savvy enough to use a web browser to find my site, chances are pretty good you know what carrier you send money to each month for your phone. Good.

Welp, new press images have surfaced courtesy of @EVLeaks, showing the HTC One Max not only for Verizon, but also for AT&T. It looks like there might not be CDMA exclusivity for HTC’s up coming phablet. Neat. Of course, this wouldn’t be internet news without something to complain about, and many HTC faithful checking the renders out are somewhat upset by the fact that on both the Verizon and AT&T shots, HTC’s branding between the home and back buttons has been shoved out of the way for AT&T’s globe and Verizon’s awkward off center check mark thing. I’m serious, for a mutli-billion dollar company, that logo never looks like it’s on straight, but I digress…

This got me wondering, why does this bother people? Is it aesthetics? Brand loyalty? Are you ashamed to be doing business with your carrier? I’d be curious to hear people’s thoughts on the matter. Living in an age where everything is branded, clothes, cars, technology, what is it about the carrier logo which might upset folks?

The Perils of Monetizing Free Sites – Reddit Convinces Users to Go Gold

reddit goldWhen a service starts out free, then tries to monetize, you can pretty much count on a negative reaction from the user base. It’s an incredibly delicate tightrope to walk. A company needs to make money, but it can’t push to fast lest it turn off its fans. Companies like Facebook and Twitter have been dealing with their evolving markets for years now, but neither has entirely locked their solutions for making money. Traditionally, the first steps towards monetization usually involve serving ads off to the side, and then incorporating ads into the content people interact with. Recently Instagram announced it too would start serving ads into users photo timelines. Responses for the most part were less than positive.

This makes Reddit’s latest turn really interesting. Sure Reddit serves ads in a sidebar, and the top position post is usually a sponsored post, but according to a recent Q&A session, Reddit still found itself often in the red. This galvanized the Reddit faithful, and the site saw an explosion in its premium service subscriptions.

Dubbed ‘Reddit Gold’, it’s a monthly or yearly subscription which unlocks premium content filtering, and provides discounts and extras at a number of partner sites including iFixIt, UPS, and car service Uber. To encourage community participation, users can also gift Gold to other members to reward interactions on the site. It’s an interesting way to push more money through a service without resorting to more aggressive advertising or trafficking in user data.

Well Reddit noticed the increased Gold sales, and now they’re communicating more with their users. Now on their sidebar is a daily Gold goal. Reddit is already somewhat addictive, as there’s a gamification element to submitting news stories. People vote on good stories and users get points to show how effective their participation has been. Now, users can see daily if there are enough Gold sales to help keep Reddit in the black. As the program is fairly new, and a direct response to the Reddit community’s activity, users have been extremely active in buying and gifting gold, easily besting the daily goal.

And that’s all cash in Reddit’s coffers.

(via Reddit Blog)

Quick Tip: Boot Directly to the Traditional Desktop in Windows 8.1 – Super Easy!

Screenshot (91)I’ve been a fan of Windows 8 from the first release. I think it’s elegant, and it’s very interesting that Microsoft (of all companies) will be the first to offer up a unified UI across all of their various products.

However, I also totally get that for people on non-touch screen devices, the traditional desktop might be a better fit for getting work done. With the Windows 8.1 update, Microsoft has now included an option to boot directly to the traditional desktop, so let’s walk you through setting that option up!

Our Reluctance to Embrace Change In a World of Constant Change…

We could be looking at the beginnings of an internet-wide burnout and backlash…

Ok, maybe that first sentence is a touch dramatic, but something’s in the air. Consumers tend to be fairly conservative with technology in general. They don’t like taking risks, especially on priority services like communication. Lately however, thanks to internet-echo-chambering, nearly every new update, product, announcement, or release has been met with a viscerally negative reaction.

yahoo emailWe can look at the response to Microsoft changing the UI of Windows 8. iOS users seem to be a little cranky with iOS7 when I talk to them face to face. Most recently, petitions and forums are buzzing about Yahoo changing the interface for YMail. At some core, fundamental level consumers don’t like actual “New” things.

To a degree this makes sense. We count on products like email or our operating system to get things done. However, we’re also witnessing the immediacy of internet communications coloring the perception of a change before anyone has a chance to try out that new thing. That cycle happens far faster than any developer or manufacturer’s PR can handle the discussion. People who have never handled a Windows 8 product for example, still love to tell me how much it sucks and why I’m wrong for liking it, because “so-n-so at such-n-such blog eight months ago said it was confusing to blah blah blah…

Continue reading “Our Reluctance to Embrace Change In a World of Constant Change…”