Monday, July 28, 2014

The Tablet Winds Are Changing For Everyone, Including Apple And Microsoft

Tablets are the way of the future... right? Well that would be the case if you asked just about anyone who uses them. Some experts would say otherwise unfortunately. Tablets have come a long way since Apple came along and introduced the iPad back in 2010. Ever since that point, an entirely new category was opened up for other tech companies to come along and develop new products in. Over time that have been a few changes though. Certain companies can only stay on top for so long. We've known that Microsoft was the top dog tech company for years and years. The PC was good to go but again, times have changed. PC's aren't as sought after as they used to be. The tablet sales are also going downhill a little bit, even for Apple. So Microsoft and Apple have something to worry about now... don't they?

Well, yes and no.

Microsoft
Microsoft hasn't had the best luck lately. With the recent deal between IBM and Apple, the funeral for PC's has been set. Think about this. Just with the way that technology has gone more mobile, the days of stationary computing are gone. That's just the facts. Microsoft recently killed off it's attempts at a mini tablet with the death of the Surface Mini. This is a big deal for Microsoft. The small screen tablet market has been filled up with other companies' products, such as Apple's iPad Mini or Google's Nexus 7. Since these tablets are already well established on the market, Microsoft wouldn't be making the best investment should they've decided to release it. No one would've taken notice since they're 2 years late and the fact that their operating system's staple office programs don't work very well on small screen tablets.

Apple
Recently there have been reports of Apple's iPad sales going down. This has led experts to think that the iPad is on its way out. They couldn't be more wrong. The way that we deal with tablets is oddly reminiscent of the way that we deal with most other computing technology. Yes, I feel that tablets are basically smartphones without the phone part, but they aren't dealt with in the same manner. What I mean by this is that we deal with our tablets the same way we deal with our laptops and computers. We don't normally replace our laptops or computers every 2 years like we do with our phones. Because of this, this is going to cause a lull in sales over a particular amount of time. Not to mention the fact that people don't just trash their tablets after their done with them. They typically pass them down in order to save money. So the sales have slowed but people are still buying tablets, just not as much as they used to.

What Does This Mean For Both Of These Companies?
Apple doesn't really have much to worry about. Mainly because they are Apple and until another company one ups them, they will always be a fashion statement in terms of the most advanced tech. They will continue to make more tablet iterations of the iPad. I'm sure we can expect to see the iPad Air 2 some time soon. The only thing is that the sales might still fade unless they are in the holiday season to boost sales. Microsoft is a different story. People don't resort to Microsoft for their mobile technology needs like they do for Apple and Samsung. Microsoft has the Surface Pro 3 out and even though it's been getting good reviews, it's still not everyone's first choice. The Windows phones don't seem to be doing well either. Naturally, Microsoft is just a PC company and unless they are able to create something game changing for the mobile technology world, they're going to be out of luck in terms of sales.

The tablet market is going through a change right now, and only the top companies will remain in the game. Apple will be fine until someone knocks them off of their throne, but Microsoft looks to be on the ropes in comparison. Time will only tell how long Microsoft will last, and what will become of the current tablet market and it's future.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

The Surface Pro 3 Is A Nightmare For DIY Users

The Surface Pro 3 is officially available from Microsoft with the company touting the hybrid device as a true notebook replacement. However, a lot of do-it-yourself tech junkies out there are singing a different tune. DIYers in no way see the Surface Pro 3 as a notebook replacement, instead viewing the hybrid as a tablet only through and through, according to iFixit.

iFixit, which is based out of San Luis Obispo, California, is one of the most well-known electronics repair companies in the country and recently acquired the Surface Pro 3. Once in hand, iFixit decided to tear the thing apart (in a professional way) to see what Microsoft had stuffed inside it and to determine how easy or difficult it was to reach the internal components. On iFixit's repair score spectrum, which rates how easy or how difficult it is for a DIYer to get inside and replace things, iFixit rated the Surface Pro 3 the lowest possible score of 1.

Several characteristics of the hybrid were to blame for the incredibly low score, including what iFixit called a "paper-thin display glass" that actually cracked when the team tried to pry apart the device. According to an email about the device from iFixit, "The Surface Pro 3 traded the 2's 90+ screws for some seriously hideous adhesive, and consolidated even more components."

The cracked screen wasn't the only thing that went wrong with iFixit's teardown. In addition to the screen, the battery in the hybrid also became warped thanks to the thick adhesive spread throughout the device. This adhesive technique is a common thing among ultra-thin tablet makers these days. Though we shouldn't be too surprised by this as iFixit also gave the Surface Pro 2 a repair score of 1 and the original Surface Pro a 1 as well.

"We think the 3 is pretty much the same insane difficulty to repair as the 2," according to Co-Founder and CEO of iFixit Kyle Wiens. "You're more likely to break the screen than on the 2, but things are more a bit more straightforward once you get inside, it's not very modular."

It isn't just Microsoft devices that are receiving these low scores. Other popular tablets have also earned 1 point repair scores, including Apple's iPad Air. The thing for Microsoft is that it has been touting the Surface Pro 3 as a notebook replacement, not a tablet. When you compare the Surface Pro 3 to other notebooks, accessibility is simply a nightmare. Talking about repairability Wiens added, "Notebooks are usually pretty darn good. Dell, HP and Lenovo post service manuals for their laptops and believe that they are reasonably serviceable."

Some notebooks are just as impossible to get inside of as the Surface Pro 3. iFixit tried to break into a Retina Display MacBook Pro in 2012 it titled the device the "least-repairable laptop we've even taken apart", giving it a score of 1 also. However, the MacBook Air, which Microsoft has used as a direct comparison for the Surface Pro 3, earned a repair score of 4 out of 10 from iFixit last year.

"Part of the reason we emphasize repairability on tablets is that it's such a huge departure from the designs of the past," Wiens added. "People assume their electronics are repairable, and then are surprised when they learn that things have changed for the worse."

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Apple's WWDC 2014 Is Tomorrow, And It Looks To Be The Biggest And Best One Yet!

Tomorrow is the day. Finally, the Apple WWDC for 2014 is here! This particular convention is one that you will be talked about for a while after it finishes. We all know Apple to be the top dog in terms of consumer electronics and tech devices, so we know for sure that this year's event will be a big one. You have to figure that there have already been quite a lot of rumors surrounding Apple recently. With the iWatch consistently talked about around the internet, the recent deal they made with the one and only Dr. Dre for his Beats, and the talk of a new iOS, this should be quite the conference. Since the deal isn't finalized with Dr. Dre yet, we probably shouldn't expect to see much, if anything at all, about the incorporation of the Beats into Apple's technology.

While we might not get to see anything with the Beats take the stage yet, there is still quite a bit to look forward to.

Arguably the biggest part of the conference will be the new iOS and OS X. Whenever there is a new update to be had regarding software, you can expect Apple to give it everything they've got and then some. You can also expect a slew of critics and tech experts standing by to find any and all flaws in the software that they can. All obviousness aside, the iOS 8 software is sure to get many people excited. This is the biggest update since iOS 7, and we all know how the design overhaul for that update went. Needless to say, I don't foresee Apple making the iOS 8 software changes as crazy as the iOS 7 were, but I'm sure that there will be a few different key features accompanying it. OS X 10.10 will be undergoing the same type of design overhaul that iOS saw with the iOS7 update. The new OS X update will also be seeing a name change as well. It's still not specified yet, but we will be looking at the new OS X Yosemite or OS X El Cap in the near future.

Naturally, we can all look forward to some new hardware being announced to go along with the new software. There are some out there who believe that we won't be seeing any type of hardware coming out during the event. I tend to believe otherwise, simply due to the fact that Apple always has SOME sort of new hardware being announced at the WWDC events. Whether it be an upgraded version of the Mac Pro or a new Macbook of sorts, I'm sure there will be something.

There is also disbelief that Apple will show the new iWatch at the event. I disagree here as well. The rumors have spread around enough, and Apple is already quite late to the wearable fray as it is. If they plan on keeping up with the other companies that are already pushing the wearable trend to further their respective businesses, then they need to get in the game now. Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S5, along with a few wearables, at the Upacked event this past February. It would seem unwise of Apple to NOT show the iWatch.

Whether there will be a showing of the new product, or new hardware at all, has yet to be determined, but we will all find out tomorrow at 10 AM. No matter what, this event is sure to not disappoint!

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Monday, May 5, 2014

It Seems Microsoft Still Supports Windows XP... For Now


As we all know, Microsoft officially retired Windows XP in April, and it was a really big deal to a lot of people. After the huge zero-day bug that affected every version of Internet Explorer from Windows XP to Windows 8, Microsoft actually decided to put out a patch for XP users when they put out a patch for everything else. Although this is ultimately a good thing, it may not have been the smartest move that Microsoft ever made. The whole reason they decided to abandon Windows XP was to get more people to upgrade to the newer versions of Windows. It is now very apparent that Microsoft will still continue to fix major issues with XP as long as it still has a lot of users.

The bug was found by a security firm called FireEye on April 26th, and Microsoft confirmed it the next day. It was one of the most dangerous bugs ever, and even the U.S. government was telling everyone not to use Internet Explorer. Although it was dangerous, it may have been one of the best things that could have happened to Microsoft. Companies couldn't keep using Windows XP if there was an insane, crippling security issue with it. Thousands of people would have been forced to upgrade if Microsoft would have stuck to what they said and not put out a patch for XP.

Microsoft says that the reason they put out the patch is because this incident happened so close to the end of the support for Windows XP. That makes sense, but are they going to do the same thing if something else happens next week? Don't get me wrong, I'm not one to complain about a company being nice and doing good things for its customers, I'm just talking here. But it still doesn't seem like the smartest thing ever. Now everyone is just going to assume that Microsoft will always cave in, and there is no reason to give up on Windows XP.

The worst part about all of this is that it may give some people false hope. Yes, you are safe for now as an XP user, your company might be safe, and whatever else. But the thing that everyone should realize is that this is not going to be the last time something like this happens. This isn't the last security breach of all time. Not only that, but Windows XP is going to be the biggest target of all now because Microsoft absolutely can not keep supporting such an outdated operating system. Either way, the time has come to go ahead and upgrade if you haven't already done so yet.

Tonight, you can use Windows XP and sleep well knowing that you are safe. Tomorrow, however, is another day where anything in the world could happen. It's best to look at this as a warning or just a close call. But it is actually time to upgrade now. Seriously this time.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What To Do If Your Computer Becomes Infected

If you have a desktop or laptop computer that has recently been infected by a virus, spyware, or any other kind of malicious bug, getting it removed as quickly as possible is something that you should make a priority. If you do a lot of work on your computer, having such an infection can put you at risk to lose everything that you have stored on there. Even if you do not work on your computer, losing saved files is never a good thing. Thus, taking your computer to a shop offering computer repair in Simi Valley is something you should do as quickly as possible.

A computer repair shop can help you remove the offending items from your computer before they can do any more damage. Like a physical virus, computer viruses spread throughout the system and attack everything on their way through. While it is not likely that you will escape any and all damage, you can minimize the damage you experience by acting quickly.

Another reason to check out a shop for computer repair in Simi Valley is so you can have preventative programs installed, thus decreasing the risk of contracting another infection. Having safety protocols in place to help you avoid problems such as these can save you time and frustration, as well as money in the long run. Rather than paying for computer repairs every so often due to these types of issues, you can avoid them down the road by having anti-virus and other types of software installed. While it is still recommended that you exercise caution when you use your computer, having protection can give you peace-of-mind.

Having issues with your computer can be frustrating and extremely damaging. Having a reliable source for computer repair in Simi Valley can be a huge source of relief when you eventually need to take advantage of their services. If you have no such place, look into your options today.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Future Of Technology Could Change As Silicon Goes Down, And Graphene Goes Up!

Here's something that we never normally think about. Whenever you are surfing the web on your laptop, playing Angry Birds on your tablet, or playing Black Ops II on your Playstation 3, do you ever stop and think what is making all of that technology work? 9 times out of 10 the answer is going to be a no. We don't ever really think about how something works as long as it works. However, inside your favorite devices are multitudes of different transistors and microchips that make it possible for your tech to do what it does. Almost everything it mad out of something called silicon. A readily available resource that is conductive enough to have everything work properly, but not conductive enough to fry all of the electronic inner workings. While silicon is definitely the "go to" resource for any real tech company, our friends over at Samsung may have found something that could knock silicon off of the map

Is anyone familiar with something called graphene? No? Not shocking as it isn't something that tech companies use very often.

Graphene is a pretty amazing little material. We are talking about something that is actually HARDER than diamond and with only the thickness of an atom. It's conductivity levels are through the roof and has the potential to, ultimately replace silicon. The only limitation that has been found with this amazing little metal is it's size. Because of it's small size, the qualities that it possesses can't really be replicated and mass produced to benefit electronic products for consumers. Samsung however may have cracked the code to the whole "miniscule" problem.

Researchers at some of Samsung's facilities have found a way to grow the crystal on a "large area, single crystal wafer scale". What does this mean exactly? One word: Synthesize. Simply by finding a way to "grow" and copy, or synthesize, the graphene crystal, Samsung has effectively created a way to properly utilize the material despite its small stature. Now, while synthesizing most materials tends to deteriorate some of the materials natural properties, that hasn't been the case for Samsung's graphene endeavors. By synthesizing the material upon a semiconductor, it has been able to retain all of it's properties without deteriorating later.

Samsung isn't new to graphene either. It's in almost every display to date. That iPad or iPhone that you're reading this article on? Yup. Graphene in it. There is one drawback to the material though, aside from the small size. The fact that it is SO conductive that it's almost TOO conductive. There is no real "energy gap" like with silicon. Since this material is so super conductive, it almost can't really be turned "off", even with the help of transistors. The transistors are what is used to help maintain power within the materials so that they don't fry the inner workings of the devices. Remember, there can be a thing as too much power.

Some scientists within the Samsung research facilities might be onto something when they say that they could "dope" the material. By "doping" it, they'll add chemicals to the material in order to tone down it's conductive nature, however testing is still going on as they aren't sure how the "doping" will affect the other properties.

Silicon is slowly becoming more and more scarce, and graphene is starting to looking really inviting. Should Samsung be able to work graphene into their products and start becoming more reliant on that instead of silicon, we might be in for a very different future in terms of our technology.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Magnetic Materials Could Make Computers 1,000 Times More Powerful

If you have ever had to actually use your laptop on your lap, you know all too well that they can produce a ton of heat, especially when the processor is working hard. No matter how advanced computer technology gets, the amount of heat that a computer produces is something we can't seem to get away from. If you think about it, all of the extra heat given off is just wasted energy that could be used for something else. A team of engineers at UCLA have found a way to make integrated circuits more efficient using a class of magnetic materials that are called multiferroics.

Basically, everything you use daily, like your computer, phone, TV, and many other things, relies on tons of transistors packed together making an integrated circuit. When chained together, transistors act as logic gates. The energy passing through these transistors results in large amounts of heat and loss of electrons. There really shouldn't be a way around it, but multiferroic materials have found a way to bypass this.

By simply applying an alternate voltage, a multiferroic material can be switched on or off. Doing this allows it to carry power to different parts through spinning electrons instead of actually moving them. This effect is call a "spin wave bus". The energy of the wave moves in, but the actual molecules don't have to move at all. It is a little bit hard to understand, but trust me... that's how it works.

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There was actually an experiment that the team did to test the ability of the materials to keep a stable spin wave bus. The device that they used in this experiment was made of nickel-based film on a piezoelectric substrate. The initial voltage is applied here to generate the spin wave. In the middle of the chip they used for the experiment was a 5-micrometer-wide ferromagnetic strip, which is where everything happens. The strip is the waveguide for the spin wave bus and directs power from one section to another without moving any electrons at all.

The experiment worked and successfully generated a voltage-driven spin wave. It is still a super long way away from replacing a regular charge current, but the team thinks that the improved efficiency of this method could make processors 1,000 times more efficient at very least. This would mean that there could be a whole new generation of computers that could work so much harder with a lot less power. The possibilities are endless.