Guess what I’m building today!

I’ve been excited to build an AMD Ryzen machine ever since a leak announced them in the fall of last year.  Well today is the day that I will be able to test it out and see how it compares to the Intel machines I have recently built. Check back to see how it handles.

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Android passes Windows

StatCounter-os_combined-ww-monthly-201603-201703

Albeit by just a small amount, for the first time ever, Android has passed windows in market share.  According to Statcounter.com, Android passed windows in March and is now 37.93% to Windows’ 37.91%.  This is a tiny percentage and therefore a small victory for Android, but is the first time any OS has surpassed Windows in Market Share, making it quite significant.

Android 37.93%

Windows 37.91%

iOS 13.09%

OS X 5.17%

Unknown 2.85%

Linux 0.75%

StatCounter-os_combined-ww-monthly-201001-201703

source – Statcounter.com

Setting Windows active hours – so your computer doesn’t reboot while you are working (or gaming)

Windows updates can be annoying if they try to reboot your computer in the middle of work or gaming.  Take a minuet to set the active hours for your computer so that updates happen at an appropriate time.

How to set up active hours:

  • Select the Start button
  • Select Settings (or use Windows key + I)
  • Update & security
  • Select “Change active hours.”

DIdYouKnow_ActiveHours1_blog

Choose the start time and end time, then click Save.

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Making Microsoft great again

It seems as though Microsoft is waking up

Over the past decade, Microsoft has seemed to be asleep at the wheel.  They are constantly late to the game on just about every technology advancement.  The features that they had which separated them, seem to have fallen on the back burner or have been killed off completely, (windows media center, cough cough).  They have been able to generate excitement around certain hit products like the Xbox, but that customer hype doesn’t seem to be present by users of the Windows operating system. Confronted with major competition, Microsoft is facing the reality that they need to either get with the game or watch their empire become slowly eroded by others who seem to be innovating faster.

Bogged down and bloated

In my opinion, Microsoft OS’s biggest downfalls are a poorly maintained OS and the inability to take control over applications that tend to take over most system resources. Windows XP was a light, well loved operating system. It ran even on the most minimal of hardware…but then came Vista, the big bloated mess that started people’s disenchantment with the windows operating system. Vista was an attempt at beautifying the Operating system, but instead of lean code that enabled the computer to shine they did just the opposite, resulting in a bloated OS that only ran decently on the most powerful PC of the time.  Since then, with each iteration of Windows they have fought to streamline the OS and have finally gotten back to a good place with windows 10.

The Competition

Once upon a time, a machine with Microsoft OS was the very best in computer processing. Now it seems as though a PC is just something to buy in order to get the job done. Where Windows lacks in customer enthusiasm, their competition has been happy to excite their disenfranchised users. Apple came out swinging with commercials painting Windows as a lame business machine. This has translated to Apple taking most of the high-end Windows PC market.  This didn’t seem to affect Microsoft too much. Most of its sales consisted of sub-$1000 PCs so it didn’t effect their bottom line to a great degree.  Just as Microsoft settled in to their low to middle of the range market, a newcomer started making waves.  Out of the blue, Google’s new OS started to catch on and was rapidly taking the low end of the market.  Googles Chrome OS is now evolving and targeting Microsoft’s main users with the introduction of application support and a more robust and advanced operating system.

Expelled from the smart phone market

The smart phone market is another example of a competitive space in which Microsoft failed to see and follow the trends until it was too late. Once a leader in the smart phone world along side blackberry, Microsoft didn’t see the future coming.  When the first iPhone was released in 2007, Windows mobile market share was at an all time high achieving 42% of all smartphone sales. Fast forward to the present day where they account for less than 1% of the market. Time and time again Microsoft has found that their efforts were too little too late.

Manufacturers just don’t innovate

To be fair, Microsoft isn’t the only one to blame for the stagnation of Windows.  It seems to me that with very few exceptions, the manufacturers of PCs have dropped the ball by producing uninspired, half baked, cheap, plasticy, junk. Every year the same old machines are spit out and quality doesn’t often seem to be a focus. Finally in 2012, Microsoft showed the world what a modern PC should be with the introduction of the Surface.  Unfortunately, at that point they had a bigger problem on their hands in the form of Windows 8.  They showed that quality hardware mattered but the next step was to fix the problems with the operating system.

Firing on all cylinders

The surface line has become a force to be reckoned with. This, in combination with windows 10, is helping Microsoft to take back some of their high end market share. The surface line shows the full potential of a Windows computer, combining high quality hardware with a clean a simple aesthetic. These PCs are just the beginning of Microsoft making strides to return to the spotlight and get people excited about their Operating System again.

Announced in the fall of last year along with the introduction of their new ultra high end Surface Studio all in one PC (which is aimed squarely at Apple’s user base), was the announcement of the new update coming to Windows 10, called the creators update.  This update is massive and adds much needed and useful features which have been long since neglected in Windows.  A full feature list is available on Microsoft’s web site, but the two main features that are greatly anticipated are the upgrade to Microsoft Paint and an overhaul of gaming in Windows.

Currently, Paint is severely lacking in features, being used mostly for cropping and the most basic editing. With the update, we are told it will be a full featured 3D art studio, giving the user the basic tools needed to create in 2D and 3D.  The second exciting part of this update is the overhaul of gaming in windows. This will brings PC gaming back to the forefront by combining PC gaming with their immensely popular Xbox.  Using the Xbox live back end, you will be able to converse with fellow gamers and seamlessly share content.  In addition to this, Microsoft will also be improving the gaming experience by allowing the computer to more fully use the resources available for each game and by minimizing other programs so that they don’t impede performance.

Conclusion

No longer is Microsoft the sleeping giant. They have woken up and are ready to do battle,hoping to breathe excitement into the souls of all of their users. Excitement is key for the turn around to succeed. In order for this to work for Microsoft, they need people yelling with enthusiasm when they see new cool innovation being released. They need people queuing up to purchase the next greatest thing.  If they can turn this corner and battle the invaders, they just might keep their crown as the dominant Operating System. Who knows…if this works, they might have the clout to reenter the arena of the mobile phone market.

 

Android is close to passing Windows for internet dominance

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In February of this year, Android came close to Windows for internet traffic. Over the past few years, Android has slowly eroded Windows market share showing that more and more people are using their mobile devices to access the Internet.  It will be interesting to see if this trend continues as it has for last few years or whether Android will find a point in which market saturation causes its numbers to flatten off.

If you take only desktop devices into account, windows is by far the dominant operating system.

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This hasn’t changed much over the past few years. It will be interesting to see how the evolving Chrome operating system will change these statistics for the next few years.

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source – statcounter.com 

Chevy offering unlimited Data for only $20

If you spend a lot of time in your car, this might be the feature for you! Starting tomorrow, (3/3/2017) you will be able to get the new, unlimited, data mobile WiFi OnStar service for compatible Chevys.  The internet will be provided by At&t and will allow any person in the car to connect to WiFi.  If you road trip a lot as a family or have a mobile office this might be a feature you will want to add to your new Chevy vehicle.

 

After using more than 4 million gigabytes of data in 2016, Chevrolet owners in the U.S. with an in-vehicle OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot[1] will now have access to an unlimited prepaid data plan for only $20 per month[2]. It will be available starting March 3, and Chevrolet will offer this groundbreaking plan enabled by AT&T across its entire retail lineup.

Chevrolet data usage has increased exponentially as owners have come to appreciate the ability to stream video on a tablet, send email on a laptop or play online using a gaming console in their vehicles[3], and now customers can utilize the full potential of their OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot without worrying about running out of data.

“We have contractors bidding jobs in their Silverados, families streaming movies in their Suburbans and Malibus and everyone tapping into the cloud for music,” said Alan Batey, president of GM North America and global head of Chevrolet. “With the most affordable unlimited 4G LTE data plan in the auto industry, the widest availability of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and new connected services like OnStar AtYourService, our momentum can only grow.”

Last year alone, Chevrolet customers used nearly 200 percent more OnStar 4G LTE data in their vehicles compared to 2015. In the second half of 2016, Chevy owners used almost as much data as they had the previous 24 months since OnStar 4G LTE launched.

To put this data usage in perspective, Chevrolet owners and their passengers streamed the equivalent of more than 17.5 million hours of video in 2016.

“We’re pleased to deliver this special unlimited data plan to Chevy owners,” said Chris Penrose, president, IoT Solutions, AT&T. “Accessing the internet through AT&T’s 4G LTE Wi-Fi, passengers now can access all of their content and enjoy endless entertainment on the go.”

As the first automaker to offer 4G LTE connectivity across its entire retail portfolio, Chevrolet has sold more than 3.1 million OnStar 4G LTE-connected vehicles since June 2014 and has more vehicles on the road equipped with 4G LTE than any other automaker.

Today, along with the 4G LTE connection enabled by AT&T, the OnStar Basic Plan comes standard on all new Chevrolet retail models. The Basic Plan includes select remote vehicle services and the OnStar AtYourService marketplace via the myChevrolet mobile app[4] among other features.

For more information on plans and pricing, please visit OnStar.com.

source – chevy

Whats coming to Netflix in March

Here is what is coming to Netflix in March

March 1

Angry Birds Season 2

Blazing Saddles

Chicago

Deep Run

Dirt Every Day Season 1

Epic Drives Season 2

Friday After Next

Head 2 Head Season 2

Hot Rod Unlimited Season 1

Ignition Season 1

Impossible Dreamers

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park III

Kate and Mim-Mim Season 2

Know Your Enemy – Japan

Kung Fu Panda

Let There Be Light

Memento

Midnight in Paris

Nacho Libre

Nazi Concentration Camps

Roadkill Season 2

Rolling Stones: Crossfire Hurricane

Singing with Angels

Sustainable

Slumbs of Beverly Hills

The Craft

This Is Spinal Tap

Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress*

The Negro Soldier

Thunderbolt

Tunisian Victory

March 3

Greenleaf Season 1

March 4

Safe Haven

March 7

Amy Schumer: The Leather Special

March 8

Hands of Stone

The Waterboy

March 9

Thithi

March 10

Buddy Thunderstruck Season 1

Burning Sands

Love Season 2

One More Time Season 1

The Boss’ Daughter

March 13

Must Love Dogs

Million Dollar Baby

March 15

Disney’s The BFG

Notes on Blindness

March 16

Beau Sejour Season 1

Coraline

March 17

Diedra & Laney Rob a Train

Julie’s Greenroom Season 1

Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 1

Naledi: A Baby Elephant’s Tale

Pandora

Samurai Gourmet Season 1

March 18

Come and Find Me

The Vampire Diaries Season 8

March 21

Ali & Nino

Another Forever

Evolution

Fire at Sea (Fuocommare)

March 23

How to Get Away with Murder Season 3

Welcome to New York*

March 24

Déjà Vu

Felipe Neto: My Life Makes No Sense

Grace and Frankie Season 3

Spider

The Square

The Most Hated Woman in America

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

March 25

The Student Body

USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage

March 26

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

March 27

Better Call Saul Season 2

March 28

Archer Season 7

Jo Koy: Live from Seattle

March 30

Life in Pieces Season 1

March 31

13 Reasons Why Season 1

Bordertown Season 1

Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life Season 1

Dinotrux Season 4

FirstBorn

Five Came Back

GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

Rosewood Season 1

The Carmichael Show Seasons 1-2

The Discover

Trailer Park Boys Season 11

Don’t get fooled by your carrier

Having control over your data seems like it should be simple process, but because of the amount of options available it can be tricky to know which service to use. Android is a great operating system, but sometimes knowing how to properly configure its services in order to maximize the benefit to you can be overwhelming. My hope is to address some of these problems in an effort to make your smart devices serve you better.

The first problem lies with the carriers. Any carrier’s main goal is for you to stay with them so they make if difficult for you to leave. By default, your data will be set to back up to their servers. You may think, “That’s great! Verizon is backing up my data for me. Thanks Verizon!”  There are two problems with having the carrier do this for you.  First of all, your storage is limited and they will often charge you for backups over a certain amount. In contrast, Google will back up almost everything on your phone through their services for free, with very few exceptions. Another issue with running your backups through the carriers is that it’s more difficult to access your data, especially if you want to switch phone companies. Just try it. Tell AT&T you are switching to Tmobile and see how happy they are to transfer your data to the other carrier. With google, it’s simple since everything is attached to your gmail account. Just sign in to your account on your new phone and all of your pictures, contacts, settings, and much more will automatically transfer to your new device.

The second problem is with the manufacturers.  They, like the carriers, want you to stay with them and continue purchasing their devices. Because of this, most of them will provide themselves as a primary or secondary option to store your data. As I stated before, don’t fall into this trap. You may like LG now, but your next phone could be a Samsung. If that’s the case, good luck contacting them to transfer your data!

The final problem also has to do with the manufacturers. Continuity between devices can be difficult when dealing with each manufacturer’s unique user interface.  It is likely that you and your family have multiple devices. If each device has a different manufacturer then you will find that even though they all run Android, they can look very different.  In this case, you can solve the problem by using one of Androids many custom launchers.  Doing this will allow you to have more control over the way that your phone looks. You can set everyone in the house to have a similar look and feel to each other or change and customize your user experience to something more uniquely suited to you.

Android is the most widely used operating system in part because it allows huge freedom of choice in all aspects of its design. However, this great strength can also present a problem.  Keeping control of your data is one of the best ways to keep yourself free and not let a company lock you into staying with them.  If you are not able to access and move your data easily, you will feel stuck and be unlikely to change (even if you want to).  Don’t get tricked. Take control of your device! Know how to easily access your data, and make it look and feel the way you want.

Services referred to in the article

Photo backup – Google Photos

Contacts – Gmail

Files – Google Drive 

These apps are already on most Android devices they just need to be updated and activated/opened

Android Launchers – phandroid.com has a good article about diffrent launchers

Should Chrome OS evolve?

A common disagreement among Chrome OS users is whether or not Chrome OS should evolve and become more feature rich like other operating systems such as Mac, Windows, and Linux.  I recently wrote a post about 5 things I want from future Chromebooks. In this article, I pointed out that Chrome OS needs to expand its feature set in order to expand its user base. For people like me who already use Chrome OS for most computing needs, I still find that I return to a PC for more advanced tasks such as photoshop, video editing and gaming.

Battle the bloat but increase the features!

With Chrome OS, one of the many features that people enjoy is the ability to have a fast, streamlined experience even when running on low powered and cheaper hardware. This is due in part to the Linux OS, which Google has used and modified as the base of Chrome OS. The other reason Chromebooks run so smoothly is due to its restrictive resource management. For the most part, when you are using a Chromebook, there is almost nothing running in the background. As I am writing this article, I’m only using about 1 GB of RAM and just about no load to the CPU besides the occasional blip from Chrome. The worry is that as more programs and features are introduced, Google will not be able to keep system resources under control. One of the main keys to keeping the resources to a minimum is by only allowing apps to update through the play store. Not having applications constantly running updates individually will decrease the load on the machine’s resources.

Historically, resource management has been a big problem for Mac and Windows.  They are currently, actively trying to improve on it by encouraging their developers to utilize their respective app stores. When applications need to run in the background, the resource demands on the machine should be more easily accessible to the user via a more advanced and intuitive task manager.  This would allow the user to more fully control and limit programs that are either unnecessarily running in the background or are just poorly written and hogging more than their fair share.

Higher end Machines

As higher end machines make their way into the Chrome OS world, users will demand more out of them.  The Chromebook pixel and the Samsung Chromebook Pro have started this new trend. It seems to be continuing as rumors spin over new form factors like the rumored tablet style Chromebook code named “Rowan” and new features coming down the pipe like fingerprint scanner support.  It seems that there is a new market emerging for higher-end Chromebooks.  With more powerful machines out now and coming soon, Google laptops will grow out of the niche that they are currently in.  The next people that might switch over and expand the user base are ones that will ask “Can that Chromebook do everything my PC or Mac can?” If the answer to this question is no, then they will continue to purchase what they are used to. In general, people would rather not have to buy multiple devices in order to accomplish 100% of their computing needs.

Why not just use Linux

Linux users might say that there is a simple solution right in front of me which is to use Linux as it can do everything I’m asking of Chrome OS. Technically, this is true. I can make Linux do just about anything I want, up to and including running most windows programs. In fact, before I got my first Chromebook, I did just that. Linux was my desktop of choice and I would bounce between two main distributions, Ubuntu and SuSE, both of which worked.  The problem wasn’t that I couldn’t make Linux do what I wanted it to do, it was that I had to MAKE Linux do what I wanted it to do. Nothing was easy and straight forward. Making sure you installed the right dependencies for each program you were trying to run, managing repositories, and making that one vital component of your machine work because it didn’t configure correctly…these are probably the main reasons mainstream Linux distros are not as popular as their Windows and Mac rivals.

Tech savvy users often have the ability to deal with these issues. In fact, in many cases they enjoy the puzzle of figuring out each problem and get satisfaction when a good result was achieved (yes that was me, and the constant switching/configuring of distros drove my wife crazy).  However, this is not the case for everyone. The average user just wants their machine to work, with little to no advanced effort.

Staying relevant

Every year since the CR-48 (the first Chromebook) was released, sales of Chromebooks have increased. In fact, in Q1 of last year, Chromebooks outsold Macs. This has caused Microsoft and Apple to take notice and adjust their strategies to fend off a rapidly growing competitor.  Microsoft has gone as far as announcing a slimmed down version of Windows that would run more efficiently on less expensive hardware.  If google sticks to the mentality that Chrome OS needs no more functionality, it’s my belief that they will stagnate, the appeal will wear off and the more established two will take back their market share.

Conclusion

Google’s Chrome OS is at a crossroads right now. In order to grow and stay relevant, they must become a computer operating system that can handle all of their users’ demands. That being said, this must be done with caution. If they alienate their current user base, those who love Chromebooks because they enjoy their simplicity and speed,  they will end up losing what made them unique and become just another bloated mess. I have faith that they can handle the transition.

Time to upgrade my machine

Today, AMD gave us the full details about Ryzen and it looks groundbreaking.

Summary of video

  1. AMD = High Performance Computing
  2. 10 percent smaller chip size
  3. Ryzen is completely new hardware, not just a change in design
  4. AMD beats its own goal of 40% boost in IPC – achiving 52%!ryzen-1
  5. Ryzen 7 = models 1700, 1700x and 1800x
  6. The 1700x beats the intel i76900k currently selling for $1049.ryzen-2
  7. Ryzen 7 1800x ($499) beats the i7 6900k($1049) by 9 percent on Cinebench.ryzen-3
  8. Worlds lowest powered 8 core processor and 46% better performance.ryzen-4
  9. 82+ AM4 motherboards will be available at launch.
  10. AMDs goal was to disrupt the industry.ryzen5ryzen6ryzen7
  11. AMD blows away the competition – available March 2nd.  Pre-orders start today.