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Windows 10: a step back to go forward

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Windows 10

Windows 10 has been announced, and Microsoft has given us a few details about how the new OS will work to hold us over until next year. Understandably, following the mess that was Windows 8, people had their knives at the ready, and criticism has already begun. But really there’s only one thing Microsoft did wrong with Windows 8: it stopped listening to users and started acting like Apple.

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Windows Easy Transfer – not so “easy” in Windows 8.1

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Windows 8.1 Start

I’ve just had a run-in with the Windows Easy Transfer wizard, following which I’m tempted to fly to Redmond and run a seminar on the definition of the words “easy”, “transfer” and “wizard”.

It appears the tool that I’ve used to shunt files and settings from one PC to the next for God Knows How Long has been utterly emasculated in Windows 8.1, without any explanation from Microsoft whatsoever. So, let me attempt to shed some daylight on the situation.

We bought the father-in-law a new Windows 8.1 laptop for his 70th, and thus not wanting to spend the next six weeks in family tech-support purgatory, I told him to bring both old and new laptop round and let me transfer the files, settings and everything else.

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Adobe Voice: a simple, free iPad app for making explainer videos

Friday, May 9th, 2014

photo

With no fanfare at all, Adobe has released a curious little iPad app called Voice – a very simple presentational tool for putting together “explainer videos”. You might not be familiar with that term (I wasn’t), but the style is instantly recognisable: we’re talking about those jaunty little shorts in which a disembodied voice, dripping with warmth and earnestness, talks the listener through the basics of a project or proposition, normally over a bed of plinky-plonky ukulele music.

The software itself works similarly to PowerPoint; your video comprises a series of pages, onto each of which you place a graphic, or some text, or a combination of the two. Then, you hold down the record button to lay down a voiceover for each page using the iPad’s built-in microphone – and you’re done. As workflows go, it doesn’t get much simpler than this.

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Windows 8.1 Update: an abject surrender

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Windows 8.1 Update

Microsoft has become the Manchester United of the technology industry. After dominating for much of the 1990s and 2000s, it’s now suffering a crisis of confidence, crippled with uncertainty when it steps out on to the pitch. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the Windows 8.1 Update, or Windows Compromise Edition – Wince for short.

In an effort to appease the Windows 8 haters, Microsoft is backpedalling furiously. You don’t like the Start screen? We’ll just hide that out of the way and pretend it never existed (on laptops and desktops, at least). You want the Start button back? You can have that next time. At this rate, we’re going to have rolling hills in the desktop background, IE6 set as the default browser, and a free trial of AOL waiting on the desktop of Windows 8.2.

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No such thing as a free app… so pay up if you want quality

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Adobe Lightroom for iPadTwo weeks after Microsoft unveiled Office for iPad, Adobe has today launched Lightroom for iOS 7. While the two releases do quite different things, they follow the same “gotcha” business model: unless you subscribe to the companies’ premium services (Office 365 for Microsoft, Creative Cloud for Adobe), they’re limited to viewing rather than editing.

Indeed, Adobe goes one step further, explicitly saying that Lightroom for iPad is purely for subscribers to its services. (more…)

Time to outlaw crapware-laden installers

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Windows UI

Years ago, various regulators tore strips and billions of pounds from Microsoft for bundling applications with its operating system. Today, Windows software is plagued with a far more serious bundling problem that nobody seems to want to do anything about: bundling crapware.

Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to download any kind of free software without the installer trying to sneak some other piece of junk on to your system. Installers have become almost a puzzle game within themselves, in which the user tries to figure out the consequences of pressing a button.

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Windows XP end of life: key information

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Windows Updates will be ending soon

Windows XP support will end on 8 April. After that date, Microsoft won’t provide any more updates. Yet many millions of people are still using the veteran OS: recent figures suggest that it’s still running on around 30% of PCs worldwide, many of them in businesses.

Understandably, there’s a lot of doubt and concern over what’s going to happen next. If you’re still running XP, here are the straightforward answers to the key questions.

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AmIRunningXP.com: not as daft as it sounds

Friday, March 14th, 2014

AMIrunningXP

A cap doffed in the direction of The Register for spotting this website: AmIRunningXP.com.

The reporter used a WHOIS lookup to discover that the website was actually registered by Kristina Libby, a member of Microsoft’s PR team.

Although The Reg concludes that the website is “a little tongue-in-cheek humour”, I wouldn’t be so sure.

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Hour of Code: five steps to learn how to code

Friday, February 28th, 2014

ClassroomNext week sees the Hour of Code concept arrive in British schools. Imported from across the Atlantic, the Hour of Code aims to show children “how fun coding is in just one hour”, so that Britain has a future generation capable of programming more than the timer on a microwave oven.

Whilst the ukcode.org website claims that more than a million students in the UK have already tried the Hour of Code, some (perhaps, most) schools will inevitably be unprepared, so here’s how parents, teachers or indeed anyone can get started in programming.

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Apple’s OSes set to surpass Windows

Friday, February 14th, 2014

If anyone doubts how substantially Apple and the mobile revolution (or whatever you want to call it) have changed technology, here’s a chart for you, nicked from analyst Benedict Evans:

BenedictChart

This shows sales of all Apple iOS and OS X devices — iPads, iPods, iPhones and Macs — versus sales of PCs running Windows (the orange line), and versus Windows PCs and Windows Phone handsets combined (the blue line).

(more…)

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