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The Emperor Is Naked and We're All Idiots
July 20, 2015
An old fable keeps running through my mind about the scam artist who convinced an emperor that he had created clothing only smart people could see. Everyone says they see the clothing because they don't want to look stupid. Walking around in clothing stupid people can't see doesn't sound enticing anyway, but lately it has seemed clear to me that the folks reporting the news think we are idiots.
Apple Gives Fans a Taste of New OSes
July 10, 2015
Apple on Thursday released to consumers a preview of the latest versions of its mobile and desktop operating systems -- iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan -- which contain a number of new features, including a revamped two-factor authentication scheme. The latest release of iOS also contains two new smart folders. One collects selfies, and the other aggregates screen shots.
Samsung Jams Up Windows Security Updates
June 25, 2015
Samsung has been disabling Windows updates by means of an executable file, Disable_Winduwsupdate.exe, that is part of its SW Update software. The issue came to light on Tuesday, when Microsoft MVP Patrick Barker published a blog post about his discovery when helping a user who was having problems. It seemed that Windows Update kept getting disabled.
Synaptics Gives Spacebar Some New Touches
June 12, 2015
Touchpad pioneer Synaptics has touched up an unlikely area on a keyboard: the spacebar. The company last week announced the availability of its SmartBar technology, which adds gesture features to the bar. For example, text can be selected by swiping it. A double-thumb gesture can be used to zoom in and out on a document or image. SmartBar also includes gesture support for vertical scrolling.
Microsoft Starts Taking Windows 10 Reservations
June 1, 2015
Windows 10 will be available for free to users running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 on their PCs or tablets. However, it's likely that once they've been exposed to the full range of possibilities, many of those users will opt to buy a new device that can take full advantage of the operating system. Using the biometric authentication in Windows Hello, for example, likely will require a new PC.
Apple vs. Lenovo: Lenovo's Coming-Out Party
May 25, 2015
If there is one vendor on the planet that has the capability to fight Apple -- on paper, it is Lenovo. Lenovo this week will hold its annual Lenovo Tech World event in China, showcasing the company's new breadth. While it would be easy to position this as the U.S. against China, Lenovo is actually far more of a multinational company, with executives balanced between the U.S. and China.
Apple Fiddles With MacBook Pro, iMac Features and Pricing
May 21, 2015
Apple on Tuesday announced performance enhancements for the MacBook Pro and a new configuration and price changes for the iMac. The new 15-inch MacBook Pro with its Force Touch trackpad and improved flash storage, battery and graphics performance is available immediately online, starting at $1,999. The Force Touch trackpad first appeared in the latest 13-inch MacBook.
$9 Debian-Based C.H.I.P. Computer Is a Kickstarter Smash
May 11, 2015
C.H.I.P., a Linux-based mini-PC priced at just $9, is receiving an overwhelming response on Kickstarter. Launched last Thursday with a funding goal of $50,000, it has chalked up more than 16,000 backers who have shelled out upwards of $815,000. The project still has 25 days to go. The tiny open source device, made by Next Thing Co., has been dubbed the "Raspberry Pi killer."
Shiny Apple Has a Few Soft Spots
April 29, 2015
Apple on Monday reported another quarter of stellar earnings, detailing its drive to 27 percent revenue growth on the backs of its iPhone, Mac and App Store sales. The company generated $58 billion in revenue in the second quarter -- about a $12 billion increase year over year -- and posted a net profit of $13.6 billion, roughly $3 billion more than the year-ago quarter.
Reactions to New MacBook Run From Tepid to Cold
April 13, 2015
Early reviewers last week weighed in on Apple's new MacBook, and for the most part, they were underwhelmed. The new MacBook is 13.1mm thick, weighs 2 pounds, and has a 12-inch Retina display. Apple has touted it as the future of the notebook, pointing out that it had to reimagine every element to make the device lighter, thinner and better. Critics called it an overpriced netbook.
Apple's Storm Clouds
April 13, 2015
An Apple shop recently dumped Apple for Dell following a surprising revelation. Over most of the last two decades, the only time I've seen a move like this was when some change in IT forced it, and a lot of staffers subsequently would quit. This move was largely user-driven. Then, last week, one of Apple's biggest fans actually panned an Apple product, effectively calling it pretty but stupid.
Gadget Ogling: Dashing Buttons, a Plug-In PC and a Smart Teakettle
April 7, 2015
Amazon Dash is a series of WiFi connected buttons you dot around your home for various products. Once you run out, hit the button, and Amazon will ship out more of what you need. Run out of things like trash bags, razors, detergent, diapers, paper towels, dog food or toilet paper, and Amazon can ship you more at the touch of a button. It's wonderfully simple.
Google Goes Crazy for Chromebooks
April 1, 2015
Google has announced two new budget-busting Chromebook computers, a tablet/notebook convertible with a full swivel screen, and a Chrome computer-on-a-stick. The Haier Chromebook 11 and the Hisense Chromebook both are available for preorder for $149. The Asus Chromebook Flip will hit the market this spring with a $249 price tag. The Asus Chromebit will be available this summer for less than $100.
The Micro Bit's Mega Promise
March 17, 2015
The BBC last week announced that it would give programming PCs to 1 million students through its Make It Digital initiative, an effort to spark greater interest in technology. The 11- and 12-year-old UK school children will receive Micro Bit, a stripped-down computer that can be worn on a lanyard. The Micro Bit is designed to serve as an entry point for individuals interested in coding.
Apple Drifts Away From Jobs
March 16, 2015
Steve Jobs' Apple displayed a rather fascinating balance between design and utility. Granted, it often shifted more toward the design side, which resulted in problems like Antennagate, but that tended to happen when Jobs wasn't around. He made sure the products worked well and looked good -- he understood the need to do both. By any financial measure, Tim Cook has been doing a great job.
Asus to Sport Powerful New Nvidia GPU
March 13, 2015
Nvidia on Thursday launched the latest in its GTX 900s series of mobile GPUs -- GTX 960m and 950m -- designed to make a gaming laptop as future-proof as possible. Asus' recently unveiled GX501 is one of the machines that already has incorporated the latest Nvidia tech. The new GPUs include such gaming-enhancing features as BatteryBoost, ShadowPlay and Optimus.
New MacBook: Computing Rethought
March 12, 2015
The Apple Watch may have dominated Apple's Spring Forward event earlier this week, but an unexpected new MacBook could herald the future of mobile computing. It will be available April 10. Thinness, lightness and tomorrow's technology are its salient features. Its 12-inch Retina display is 0.88 mm thick, and the MacBook itself is 24 percent thinner than the 11-inch MacBook Air.
Apple Springs Bevy of New Products at Watch Event
March 9, 2015
The Apple Watch wasn't the only new product to take the stage at Apple's Monday media event -- Apple also introduced an all-new sleek MacBook. In addition, Apple nabbed the chance to be the exclusive launch partner for HBO's new streaming subscription service. Among the event highlights: Apple Watch will be available for preorder April 10, sale April 24; and Apple Watch Edition starts at $10,000.
Lenovo Rapped for Preinstalling Spyware
February 19, 2015
Lenovo has come under fire for preinstalling spyware on some of its laptops. The software, Superfish, uses the same techniques cybercriminals often employ to crack encrypted traffic. "Superfish is purposely designed to bypass the security of HTTPS websites in a manner that would allow malware and attackers to also bypass the security provided by HTTPS," said Bluebox cofounder Adam Ely.
$35 Raspberry Pi 2 Faster, Runs Windows 10
February 2, 2015
The Pi Foundation on Monday announced that it has released the latest version of its "entry-level PC." The Raspberry Pi 2 is now available for US$35, the same price as the previous Model B+. This build-it-yourself computer features an 800MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU, which will offer six times the performance of the previous system. It also includes double the memory with 1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM.
The Brave New World of Windows 10
January 23, 2015
Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled a slew of new features and capabilities coming in Windows 10: the convergence of the desktop and mobile; the advent of the killer universal app; more power and features for personal digital assistant Cortana, which will be on mobile as well as desktops and laptops; improvements to maps; a new browser; a strong emphasis on gaming; and holographic computing.
Acer Designs Chromebooks for Students' Rough Handling
January 22, 2015
Acer on Wednesday announced two new ruggedized Chromebooks geared for classroom use. Both will go on sale in February. The Acer Chromebook C910 and C740 have a durable design built around reinforced covers and hinges. The new models support multiple user sign-ons and offline file access. Security features include a Kensington lock to secure the laptop to a wireless cart or lab station.
HP Goes Pro With Mobile Business Strategy
January 21, 2015
HP has unveiled eight new business-focused mobile products: six specialized tablets, a 2-in-1 device and a tablet case. The company also announced new relationships with partners and independent software vendors, and a slew of accessories. HP is "very cautious these days about the types of products they release," said Susan Schreiner, senior editor and analyst at C4 Trends.
What If IBM's Rommetty and Apple's Cook Were to Swing for the Fences?
January 19, 2015
I was at IBM's z13 mainframe launch last week, and it brought back a lot of memories, because I was at IBM when the era of the mainframe collapsed. I also happened to be covering Apple when the era of the Mac collapsed, following the launch of Windows 95, and I have watched both companies recover -- largely by rediscovering what made them great in the first place.

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