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PadlockAt the end of January it became illegal to unlock your smartphone for use on a different provider network. The expiration of exemption to part of the Digital Media Copyright Act (DMCA) by the Librarian of Congress meant people who purchased a smartphone could not circumvent the software locks on a phone to take the device with them if they decided to change providers. The ire of the internet was stirred and a petition on the White House’s website was initiated. After receiving over 100,000 signatures in less than a month, it elicited a response from the White House stating their agreement on this interpretation of the anti-circumvention clauses in the DMCA. So, hopefully soon we will see this overturned.

UPDATE: The Library of Congress issued a clarifying statement in response to the White House response. They had put in a 3 year exemption in the DMCA for cell phone unlocking, but decided to remove it as it would, effectively, change the legislator’s intent; it is the Library of Congress’s job to execute laws, not necessarily to alter them as they see fit.  Read more...

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Just want to keep you all up to date on our progress with Server 2012 testing: We’ve acquired some more hardware to continue our evaluation of Server 2012. Our lab environment includes two servers connected to a shared external SAS drive array, which allows for expansion of disk storage and server failover.  Each server runs Windows Server 2012 Datacenter edition, and shares the disks in a pool between the servers.

One of the most exciting features promised by Server 2012 is automatic server failover of virtual machine (Hyper-V) servers.  We’ll get to that in a future edition, but for now our evaluation has focused on the storage layer.

One of the most exciting things about Server 2012 is Storage Spaces. This new feature adds a lot of function to how the operating system can interact with and manipulate storage. It adds a virtual layer to provide high availability and clustering features with fewer hardware requirements.  Read more...

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There was a major dust-up at the world’s most valuable company, Apple, at the end of October. Two top company executives, mobile software head Scott Forstall and retail chief John Browett, were forced to step down from their position. They were both removed for different reasons, but ultimately they are part of a perceived problem at Apple – the company’s growth isn’t matching expectations.

The release of iOS 6 was marred by software glitches whose development was overseen by Forstall. In the aftermath, he refused to sign a public apology at the request of CEO, Tom Cook, who ended up signing it himself. What has come to be known as the “iOS 6 Maps Debacle” overshadowed the iPhone 5 release in the media. Apple’s attempt to improve their Maps app with updated features and better directions ended in Tom Cook recommending customers rely on Google, a direct competitor of Apple, until their internal problems could be resolved.  Read more...

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Microsoft Surface

The release of Microsoft’s tablet, Surface, has been causing a lot of ripples in the tech community. The first version is available now, but not many people have got their hands on it yet.  There have been more questions asked  about the different versions, RT and PRO. I’ll try and fill in some of the blanks to give you a better idea of what the differences are and what might work best for you.

Surface RT

The Surface RT is the first Surface (available now) from Microsoft. The major difference is utilizes the ARM CPU architecture, rather than an Intel CPU. This is great for battery life, size and weight, as ARM chips are smaller and require less power. On the other hand, they are not as powerful and cannot be used to run x86 applications. Applications must be designed with the processor architecture in mind, and x86 is the predominant architecture that is in use today, so you cannot install your existing software on a Surface RT.  Read more...

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More rumors emerge from the internet about Microsoft’s Surface tablet. At Microsoft’s TechReady15 conference, they stated all of the retail prices were laid out – the new tablet will become available on October 26th and start at $199. This comes as a pleasant surprise for consumers who were expecting something more in the $600 range. This has ruffled a lot of feathers as it also happens to be well below the likely cost to manufacture it. This mimics the approach seen with Microsoft’s gaming console, XBox, that is also sold below manufacturing costs. The difference is expected to be made up in software and media sales. Three partners (Acer, HP and Toshiba) have already dropped plans to produce competing tablets using Windows RT, the Windows 8 version built specifically for mobile ARM chips. Asus, Dell, Lenovo and Samsung are still on board.

Numerous complaints from manufacturers about the situation boil down to – not only would they would be in direct competition with Microsoft, but they would also still need to purchase licenses from Microsoft to produce the tablets.  Read more...

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After my first two weeks being the owner of the Google Nexus 7, my impressions are positive. As a worker in the tech industry, I need access to a computer pretty regularly, and access to e-mail is an important part of my job. The appeal of getting a tablet was to have a easily mobile method to get to the web, if need be. Previously, I had been using netbook for mobile computing, and the Nexus tablet has grown on me quickly. The first thing that struck me is that I don’t need a separate bag to carry it around. With laptops, and the netbook, I tend to want a bag to carry the machine, along with a power adaptor. The tablet is small enough that carrying it in hand isn’t tiresome, and the battery life is quite good, so it isn’t necessary to carry the USB charging cable.

The Nexus 7 is smaller than the iPad, closer to the size of a Kindle.  Read more...

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The release of the Microsoft operating system, Windows 8, and tablet, Surface, has been announced. October 26th is the date that will set Microsoft’s fate, for better or worse. The backlash from the direction the industry giant is taking has already begun. Most of the flack comes from partner manufacturers that feel slighted by the Surface tablet and secondly by software developers that say Windows 8 is a ‘catastrophe’.

The ire over Surface comes from Partners that had previously enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with Microsoft; providing a hardware platform that allowed both Microsoft and hardware manufacturers to benefit from success. Now Microsoft will be competing directly with these manufacturers in the market place – similar to the model Apple has. This removes a lot of incentive to bend over backward to support the Windows platform.

Developers are also voicing their frustrations about Windows 8 and how difficult it is to provide a consistent user experience.  Read more...

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Both Microsoft and Google presented a new tablet in the last few weeks of June. Over the coming months we’ll explore the features and flaws of these devices as more detail is exposed.

There will be time to explore the differences as we highlight each of these devices but there is a large similarity to be seen so far – Cloud Storage. Both companies have seen the release of their own cloud storage networks for access to documents, pictures, and music on all your devices; these tablets are no exception. Both integrate their respective cloud storage to improve reliability and mobility.

Both will be struggling against the juggernaut, Apple, for user’s attention. There is no question that the iPad is the leader of the pack in the tablet arena. The question is – will Google and Microsoft been able to set themselves apart from Apple with their features. This is more of a larger surprise from Microsoft than Google as Microsoft has mainly stood square in the realm of producing software rather than physical appliances.  Read more...

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A relatively new startup in the bay, Leap Motion, has been causing a stir as they have unveiled the fruits of this last year’s labor – an affordable, fast, motion detection system for the PC and Mac. It has already been hailed as the final blow to the mouse. Since the release of Minority Report there has been a fascination with motion detection user input. Developers instantly saw it’s ability to change the way we interact with and control electronics. Nintendo struck the first blow with the Wii gaming console which detects the motion of a remote. Then, Microsoft released the Kinect for XBox, their gaming console, which can detect the motion of an arm or a leg. Leap Motion is 100 times more accurate, seeing details down to the movement of a single finger. They claim it will be the most accurate sensor available on the market.

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 LaCie has a large market share in Europe and Japan, markets Seagate is interested to get their brand into. More of note is LaCie had enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Apple, being the primary pioneer in the use of a new external storage technology, Thunderbolt, developed by Intel and Apple. Seagate has yet to deliver devices with native support of Thunderbolt, only adaptors. So, this is a huge leap for Seagate’s ability to deliver devices incorporating this new technology.  Lacie’s US headquarters are in Hillsboro.

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