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

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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%

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source – Statcounter.com

Everything coming to Netflix in April – with trailers

April 1

Gremlins

Schindler’s List

Richard Pryor – Live &Smokin’

Tropic Thunder

April 4

Louis C.K. 2017

Chewing Gum – Season 2

April 6

BFG

April 7

Dawn of the Croods – Season 3

The Get Down – Part Two

Win it All

April 8

Kubo and the Two Strings

April 10

Documentary Now! – Season 2

April 11

Kevin Hart – What Now?

April 12

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – Season 2

April 14

Sandy Wexler

Chelsea – back for season 2

Mystery Science Theater 3000 – The Return

April 15

Homeward Bound – The Incredible Journey

April 21

The Prestige

The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show – Season 4

Girlboss – Season 1

Bill Nye Saves the World – Season 21

Tramps

Sand Castle

April 22

The Great British Baking Show – Masterclass Season 1-3

The Secret Life of Pets

April 25

Disney’s Queen of Katwe

April 27

Las Chicas Del Cable – Season 1

April 28

Casting Jonbenet

Dear White People – Season 1

Small Crimes

 

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

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.

Basics – Chomebook – Making the most of your touchpad

Move the pointer Move your finger across the touchpad.
Click Press or tap the lower half of the touchpad.
Right-click Press or tap the touchpad with two fingers. You can also press Alt, then click with one finger.
Scroll Place two fingers on the touchpad and move them up and down to scroll vertically, or left and right to scroll horizontally.
Move between pages To go back to a page you were just on, swipe left with two fingers. To go forward to a page you were just on, swipe right with two fingers.
See all open windows Swipe up or down with three fingers. (If you have Australian scrolling turned on, swipe up; if you have traditional scrolling turned on, swipe down.)
Switch between tabs If you have multiple browser tabs open, you can swipe left and right with three fingers to quickly move between tabs.
Drag and drop Click and hold the item you want to move. While holding, move the item. Release your finger to drop the item at its new location.

Change touchpad settings

To set how fast or slow your mouse pointer moves and how your touchpad works:

  1. Click the status area , which is the bottom right corner.
  2. Click Settings Settings.screenshot-2017-02-16-at-9-19-58-pm
  3. In the “Device” section, adjust the sliders to set your touchpad or mouse speed (how quickly your pointer moves).screenshot-2017-02-16-at-9-18-01-pm
  4. Click Touchpad settings (or Touchpad and mouse settings) to:
    • Turn tap-to-click on or off
    • Swap your primary mouse button
    • Choose traditional scrolling or Australian scrolling
      Note: With traditional scrolling, you can swipe up on the touchpad to move up the page, and swipe down to move down. Australian scrolling works in the opposite way.screenshot-2017-02-16-at-9-18-17-pm
  5. Click OK to confirm the desired setting

source – google

Deal – 4 Months Free of Groove Music and 3 months of Google Play Music

Both Google and Microsoft are running deals on their music services.

 Google Music/YouTube Red is currently offering 3 months of free of both services.

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Google Play Music

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 Microsoft Groove Music is currently offering 4 months of free Premium service.
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Microsoft Groove Music