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August, 2013

The two-year lifespan of an iPad

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

iPad 2 and covers

How long should an iPad last? When you’re paying up to £740 for a tablet, how long can you expect the device to remain in active service?

Judging by my experience – and that of several of my Twitter followers – it’s starting to look like the useful lifespan of an iPad is little more than a couple of years.

I bought my iPad 2 in August 2011, a few months after the device was launched. Only two years later, it’s already creaking. The operating system is continually juddering, apps regularly stutter and crash, and the Home button often fails (although I’ve found an odd, short-term workaround for the failing Home button).

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My manifesto for Microsoft

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Windows 8.1

Since the board hasn’t yet seen fit to call me, I thought I’d just put out my manifesto for what I’d do with Microsoft if the company was sensible enough to offer me the job.

Microsoft keeps burning money on things that don’t make money, and can only get away with doing so because a few cash cows make all the profit. The core truth is that Microsoft is an enterprise software and services company, and it has never succeeded in really engaging with the home market. Of course, it had huge success with early versions of Windows in the home, if only by making the assumption that a home computer is a workstation without a domain controller.

It has built up a huge management structure at enormous cost. Name the wackiest thing you can imagine, and Microsoft probably has a department for it. So the first thing I’d do is reduce the headcount by 30%. I know that will make people gasp, but it has to be done.

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Why is Google going backwards?

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

I'mBringingGoogleBackwardsYeah

A few months ago I wrote a column in the magazine arguing that we shouldn’t feel too aggrieved when Google tinkers with or discontinues free web services. But I have to admit I’m finding it hard to remain sanguine when so much about the company’s free offerings has changed for the worse lately.

For a start, January saw the unveiling of the new Google Image Search – an ugly step backwards, in my view, that wastes space while concealing useful information and functions. One site operator reported  an 80% drop in traffic from Google Image searches in the month following the redesign, indicating that users have been switching off in droves.

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Dot-matrix printers: the tech that won’t die

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Dot Matrix printout

My column in last month’s PC Pro magazine praised a seven-year-old internet radio for being the longest serving piece of technology in my home. This morning, I came across a piece of tech that I suspect was in its awkward teens before my internet radio was even born: a dot-matrix printer.

Said printer was located in a branch of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which already looked like a 1980s tribute act, with its drab grey décor and greased-back salesmen wearing last season’s C&A suits. The whining sound of the dot-matrix printer taking five minutes to fill out the details on one of the company’s carbon-copy forms, makes Enterprise not so much the first port of call for car rentals, but for remakes of Juliet Bravo.

It led me to speculate idly on Twitter that Enterprise must be the last bastion of the dot-matrix, clinging to perforated printouts long after everyone else had upgraded to lasers and inkjets. It seems I couldn’t have been more wrong, with my phone chirping away with replies telling me that they were still in widespread use for printing payslips, receipts and all manner of other business forms.

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Google Nexus 7 (2013) review: first look

Friday, August 9th, 2013

DSC05389We’ve been itching to get our hands on the new, improved Google Nexus 7, and last night’s Asus event gave us our first hands-on time with Google’s updated 7in tablet. But if you’re expecting just another budget compact, you may be surprised: the new Nexus 7 is slimmer, lighter, sexier and equipped with a Retina-beating 323ppi display. Google clearly has its sights set on the more luxurious end of the market.

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Dear Ofcom: tablets are televisions

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Photo 01-08-2013 10 00 01

I have no idea what they’re drinking down at Ofcom towers, but I’ll have a pint.

Today, our fearless regulator of all things digital has produced its regular Communications Market Report, an enormous piece of research spanning internet, television and radio.

It surmises that Britain is turning back the clock to the 1950s, with the living room television once again becoming the hub of family entertainment. “People are still coming together to watch TV in the living room – 91% of UK adults view TV on the main set each week, up from 88% in 2002,” Ofcom reports.

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