Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Smart Watch Conundrum

I like watches and was quite excited when the Moto X came out because it looked like a beautiful watch. With that said watches are something that I find myself wearing for years to come, some in my collection nearly 10 years old. People buy and sometimes even pass them down as heirlooms. That is just something I cannot see happening with smart watches which are designed to be like phones where you change them every 1 - 2 years. I cannot imagine how slow and painful the current batch of watches will be 2 years down the line with aging hardware, software and batteries. With phones this is behavior is something we are used to because of 2 year contracts and subsidies but not with watches, that just becomes an expensive habit.

 It should be rather interesting to see how this market comes to be in the coming years and if people are wanting to change their watches as quickly as their phones.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Windows 8.1 : Task Host is Stopping Background Tasks

For the past couple of days when I would shut down my windows 8.1 machine I would notice that the process would pause because "task host is busy stopping background processes". I'm would then have to kill it before it would go on to shut down .

Checking around the start up lists didn't bring anything and my av scanners had nothing to report. Searching was also not that helpful and now I couldn't even update the machine to the next version.

Having tried everything I figured why not turn off the last thing that was turned on which was sky drive sync and with that the problem went away . Turns out the sync was doing something even blocking the windows update manager .

Hopefully this helps others facing the same problem

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Telegram Messaging Protocol

This morning I saw a number of tweets mentioning Telegram (a messaging service, like WhatsApp) and their sudden success post Facebook acquiring WhatsApp

They are doing some interesting things here which are different than WhatsApp
  1. They are building out a protocol for encrypted messaging and are making it open source. They offer self destructing messages and multi device access.
  2. Clients are available for major platforms and developers are being encouraged to develop alternate clients that can use the protocol
  3. They are non-commercial
At the same time there are some things that make me concerned
  1. Right now they are a non-profit and are being financed by a grant. They plan to never charge or have ads and if the need for money arises then they will set up donations or have premium features
  2. They have no limits ( or near no limit) file transfers, which Im sure costs quite a bit. So unless the grant is huge need for money will approach faster with rising popularity
  3. There are some concerns around the encryption method chosen by Telegram 

It should be interesting to see how they progress their stated goals and maintain their new found success. At the very least its getting people to start talking and thinking about encryption of their communications.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

View Source on Android

I use my Android tablet a lot especially for web browsing and often find myself wanting to view the source of a web site. A little searching around I found that adding "view-source" in front of the URL will bring up the source like so in Chrome for Android and Mozilla complete with syntax highlights. It did not work in Opera or Dolphin.

Now why this isn't part of a long press option or under settings so far is beyond me ?

Sunday, February 09, 2014

The Case Against Smart TVs

I absolutely agree with the Marco Arment that I am fine with my old Sony Bravia, a 50" 1080p LCD TV that has been running fine for close to 7 years.  As it is the case for a lot of people, buying a TV is not a yearly event since they last a long time.

Smart TVs are the trend in the recent years and you will be hard pressed to find a manufacturer that sells one without the "bells and whistles" built in. In fact after browsing some of the top names it seems that you can still buy a dumb TV only from Sony and Panasonic or Runco . The rest like LG, Samsung, Vizio etc all focus on the new smart software that is on the TV , all the content available and you see them front and center with more or less a familiar design

I would rather the manufacturers focus on what they are good at, making damn good displays that make the content you are viewing more enjoyable. TV models are refreshed so frequently that supporting and upgrading software for your current hardware would be quite cumbersome and it wouldnt be surprising to see an end of life quite quickly. So if an API for your favorite video service changes a bit, you could very easily be left hanging with out of date software. 

Leave the smartness to the Rokus, Chromecasts, Apple TVs and XBMCs of the world whose main focus is to manage your media and being it to life on the screen of your choice. They do a far better job of what the TV guys can come up with in terms of UI , the software is updated in a timely manner for the respective hardware and its much cheaper to replace a Chromecast or Roku box than my TV if for some reason the built in Youtube or Netflix app stopped working because the manufacturer wont push new updates for your model.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Hulu Desktop Sunset

Saw this message today when I opened Hulu Desktop on my HTPC. Not surprising considering they had stopped updating this a long time back and also hidden the download link from their website. This still had one of the best TV UIs for media software and worked well with MCE remotes, something that is glaringly missing from the Windows 8 app reincarnation.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Guess Who's Back, Back Again

People  can put a positive spin on the ad below all they want but its clear that HP feels that by advertising machines with Windows 7 they can sell some PCs out there. Windows 8 is turning out to be to the new Vista and Microsoft really needs to figure out how they can move forward quickly to get people warmed up for the next 7 or XP.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Windows "Threshold" Desktop Mode

The most interesting bit from this post by Paul Thurrott about the future version of Windows is this :-

Metro apps running in windows on the desktop. As you can today with third-party utilities such as ModernMix, the next version of Windows will let users optionally run Metro apps in floating windows on the desktop.

 As a Windows 8.1 user I spend very little of my time in the Metro world which means I have very little incentive to download and use the apps that have been specifically written for that mode. I am also willing to speculate that is the case for a majority of the users on the desktop side, which make up a bulk of the install base for Microsoft. With this users are reminded of and are able to use those apps in the mode they are working on and Microsoft can use this as an added incentive for developers to continue building "desktop" based Metro apps.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Android in 2014

Android has had a pretty important year in terms of Google starting to gain control of their OS, improving the developer environment with Android Studio and integration of Google's services deep into the OS that takes it up a notch from "stock" Android. Independent of the thoughts of whether this is good or bad for Android I want to take a stab at what the current year might hold for Android and what features I think Google should be focusing on the next version.

Camera software/hardware 
Its high time Google focuses on the camera software that comes on android. Its really hard for a beginner to see where the options are and what they are meant to do. With that said the hardware especially on the nexus devices has to improve. If you have to compete with the iPhone that is your biggest Achilles heel . while the current nexus isn't bad its no where as good. I do hope both off these are being looked at within GooglePlex . I mean Google+ is geared to share photos and videos and having damn good quality will really help in tipping the balance.

After using Windows 8 Modern UI on my desktop I find the "snap" application feature quite handy where you have two applications sitting side by side. Samsung I think is the only manufacturer that supports this on their line of devices but isn't available out of the box. This problem is surfaced (no pun intended) especially when I am using my tablet and want to look at two documents at the same time, or have a browser open while I'm watching a video etc. Now something along these lines is implemented in the YouTube app, where the video continues to play while you can do other things in the application so I'm guessing its only a matter of time where the capability is extended to anywhere in the OS. The other problem this can help address is where an app can "reboot" itself when not in context as you use the switcher and you lose everything you had written in the previous window. Its extremely frustrating how many times that has happened when doing such a simple task.

We asked for it and we go it - in bits and pieces though. It started with Google Play Services in 2012 and extended further in 2013 with Google Experience Launcher . While the launcher is currently a Nexus 5 exclusive I'm quite confident it will be available in the Play Store very shortly (how they avoid pissing off Samsung, HTC etc in the process I don't know). With these two alone Google can add APIs services, changes to the look and feel while overstepping the phone manufacturers and the bigger speed bumps the carriers. The piece of the puzzle that's left to be addressed is updating the OS itself. This bit is easier said that done but can involve adding another layer between the skins and OS which make it easier to update. It is absolutely important they get this right so Google can reign in Android and prevent Samsung, LG from kicking them out of the picture completely.