Computer Insider: Show #2018-25

Today on Computer Insider, we look at a technology that changed the world we live in, but ultimately was a nice try, but no cigar.  A now dead gadget that redefined technology was the Commodore C64. The 8-bit brown and taupe lo-fi 1982 masterpiece was, actually is, the best-selling single computer in history. Why? Well, the chunky, relatively affordable keyboard-housed system which cut corners by using a TV with an RF box for a monitor did more to popularize the idea of the personal home computer than any device since. The C-64 marked a significant shift in the computer industry as well. Up to that point, Commodore was a close competitor with Apple producing business-focused machines like the 8032 which popularized apps like word-processing and spreadsheeting. The C64 put great games onto a viable platform and really opened up the gaming market. While all this was going on, a company called IBM had just hooked up with a guy named Bill Gates and Microsoft and had just launched a machine called the IBM PC, a product that completely redefined the computer market forever.

Commodore’s early primary competitor, Apple, was also forced to change. They had been primarily reliant on the Apple II, but when the C-64 launched, Apple rethought things and went after that home market with a product called the IIe which came out in 1983, and was later replaced by a number of not quite so spiffy machines like the LISA which would ultimately evolve into the Apple Mackintosh.

You know, as much as we talk about best Smartphones today best computers, tablets, watches and so on, the reality is that all of these technology battles are mere duplications of the early wars that defined the personal computer market and led us to today’s incredible toys.

Computer Insider: Show #2018-24

Today on Computer Insider, we look at a technology that changed the world we live in. Today we look at a gadget that redefined video, TiVo. When launched way back in 1999 it was called a “Personal Video Recorder”, but in reality was the forerunner to today’s DVRs. Essentially TiVo combined the functionality of a traditional VCR and combined it with a digital menu so you could record shows easily as well as pause or rewind live television.

Oops, the beginning of fast-forwarding through commercials. What a great idea. It also launched the concept of “time-shifting,” or the phenomenon of viewers watching content when it fits their schedule, rather than when the broadcaster thought that you should watch it.

The reality of TiVo is that the brand was so successful that it became a verb. TiVo continues to this day puts manufacturing some of the best set-top boxes on the planet.

But alas, like many technologies, they made a few mistakes that cost them big. They played nice when they should have dominated. For instance, instead of suing when cable companies rolled out their own DVRs, TiVo waited to see if they could work out a deal because it was reliant on the TV providers. Then, rather than marketing how much better TiVo boxes were than cable DVRs, the company tamed its revolutionary commercial-skipping features. And finally, when TiVo did sue, it was too late… cable company DVRs were everywhere. TiVo won all its patent infringement cases, bringing home $1.6 billion that has sustained the company to this day. But considering that many consumers think TiVo went out of business, in the end, did it really win? Maybe, because we can at least thank it for popularizing DVRs.

Computer Insider: Show #2018-23

Today on Computer Insider, we’re talking Smartphones, specifically, Apple and what to expect this year. Well, all the talk is about the iPhone 11, which is expected to hit consumer’s the market in September. Apple is talking about an upgraded operating system, iOS 11.3, which is the upgrade to, yes you guessed it iOS 11.2. Computer companies are so predictable. If you are a keener and love a challenge, you can download a beta version of the new OS. It offers four new Animoji masks, which combines emoji with animations, and it takes advantage of the iPhone X’s 3D face-scanning TrueDepth camera array. The result is Animoji, which tracks the muscles in your face to animate the emoji. All of your Messages texts will benefit or suffer, depending on your view of expressive emoji. The new OS will introduce, for the iPhone X including lion, dragon, skull and bear. Be warned, you still can’t use Animoji outside of the iMessages app.

Another new feature lets you store messages on iCloud, freeing up space on your phone. This is especially handy if you text photos and videos to your friends. Also, when you delete a message, it vanishes on your other devices (like a Mac or iPad). Just a word of caution, all of this will require more bandwidth which could lead to higher operating costs.

Another big feature is the launch of AirPlay 2 with multi-room audio, just in time for the Apple HomePod launch on February 9.

And the big hit, Apple’s iOS 11.3 will feature a switch so you can toggle to unlock the performance potential of your iPhones. After being under fire for secretly downclocking performance on older iPhones, like the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S, Apple is now letting users decide which is more important to them: performance or battery life.

Computer Insider: Show #2018-22

Today on Computer Insider, we’re talking Smartphones, specifically, Apple and what to expect this year. Well, all the talk is about the iPhone 11, which is expected to hit consumer’s the market in September. Apple is talking about an upgraded operating system, iOS 11.3, which is the upgrade to, yes you guessed it iOS 11.2. Computer companies are so predictable. If you are a keener and love a challenge, you can download a beta version of the new OS. It offers four new Animoji masks, which combines emoji with animations, and it takes advantage of the iPhone X’s 3D face-scanning TrueDepth camera array. The result is Animoji, which tracks the muscles in your face to animate the emoji. All of your Messages texts will benefit or suffer, depending on your view of expressive emoji. The new OS will introduce, for the iPhone X including lion, dragon, skull and bear. Be warned, you still can’t use Animoji outside of the iMessages app.

Another new feature lets you store messages on iCloud, freeing up space on your phone. This is especially handy if you text photos and videos to your friends. Also, when you delete a message, it vanishes on your other devices (like a Mac or iPad). Just a word of caution, all of this will require more bandwidth which could lead to higher operating costs.

Another big feature is the launch of AirPlay 2 with multi-room audio, just in time for the Apple HomePod launch on February 9.

And the big hit, Apple’s iOS 11.3 will feature a switch so you can toggle to unlock the performance potential of your iPhones. After being under fire for secretly downclocking performance on older iPhones, like the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S, Apple is now letting users decide which is more important to them: performance or battery life.

Computer insider Show #2018-20

Today on Computer Insider, everybody’s favourite topic, cars. The Detroit Motor Show is running through to the end of the month showing a wide array of concept cars, vision of how the future of motoring may look, and seducing many with technology that will have your head spinning especially if driverless cars become more of a reality.

Jumping past the digital dashboards, the big hype is for more green, like the third generation Honda Insight, where the engine often only acts as a generator, recharging the battery to run the electric motor.

Nissan has revealed the XMotion concept showing what the future of SUVs could look like, which combines Japanese culture and design with American convenience. It features seven digital screens inside, just in case you can’t make up your mind about what to watch.

Chinese manufacturer GAC unveiled The Enverge which is built on an all-new electric vehicle platform and is powered by a 71kWh battery that gives the small crossover a range of more than 370 miles. It comes with gull-wing doors and “floating” digital dash-screen. Among its more outlandish features are the headlights, which slide out and detach to be used as floodlights.

Lexus unveiled a full-sized luxury SUV concept, the LF-1 Limitless, which is designed to accept a range of engines from fuel cell, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric. Lexus calls it a “four-dimensional navigation system”, with the fourth dimension – time – meaning the vehicle has an intelligent assistant on-board that anticipates destinations based on the driver’s schedule and other information.

Computer insider Show #2018-19

Today on Computer Insider, the background on Amazon’s search for a location to open its second headquarters. Late last week the world’s largest online retailer announced the final 20 selections for its HQ2. Amazon whittled down the list of proposals submitted by 238 communities.

The carrot is that whichever city is selected will get a huge injection of new investment and jobs from Amazon, plus the notoriety of housing one of the world’s leading tech companies. All those benefits are why so many cities pulled together lavish proposals to woo Amazon. For instance, Newark, NJ — one of the 20 finalists — is offering $7 billion US in incentives. Chicago, another finalist, is offering $2 billion.

There are a few concerns, like that Amazon’s new headquarters will push up housing costs, increase congestion and change the character of its new host city.  Seattle, Amazon’s original home, has also worried that the company will invest less there in future years.

Last week a list of 20 finalist cities was announced, and the only one outside of the US was Toronto. Good for us I think. Lots of jobs, lots of construction and lots of taxes for all, maybe. The question really is, what did we offer to Amazon to make the list? Even though we’re not in Toronto, you can bet that any tax incentives, discounted utilities, deferments, whatever are going to be shared with both the province and the feds. In other words, you and I are going to be on the hook.

Computer insider Show #2018-18

Today on Computer Insider, a look at a stupidly expensive tech toy that has little or no value, but is fun anyway. It’s called a “Smart Mirror”. The concept behind the mirror is that, well, every one of us, at some point in the day, looks into a mirror to brush our teeth, do our hair, make sure that everything is on straight, in other words, we all use one multiple times per day, so why not add some smarts to the process.

So what does it do to justify the 15-hundred dollar price tag? Well, a smart mirror can display the weather, time, date, news and other data. It can even show video clips for informational and entertainment purposes. Some high-end smart mirrors are interactive and feature touchscreen displays and let you know when your coffee and toast are done, presuming you have a smart toaster and Krieg. My toaster is dumb, it can’t even figure out how to properly make toast.

Some Smart Mirrors have an element of beauty tech that let you use technology to look after your skin care, hair treatment, and what lies beneath, kind of like a dermatologist in a smartphone, only more reflective.

And if all of that isn’t enough to get you part with a big chunk of cash, Smart mirrors add a futuristic touch to any setting. Mirror Mirror on the on the web, whose’s the dumbest of them all.

Computer insider Show #2018-17

Are you a dedicated Apple user? The one fact about Apple fans is that they are fanatical. Way back in the 80’s when I started this show, Apple here in Canada was very reluctant to support media that weren’t totally dedicated to focusing on Apple product, but that didn’t last after computers became a part of pretty much everyone’s daily lives. Anyway, to point of today’s story. Late last year it was revealed that Apple was secretly slowing older iPhones to protect their batteries from excessive degradation. When the story broke, corporate head office apologized and instituted a battery replacement program. They cut the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacements for any iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced by $64 — from $99 to $35US.

So all is good in paradise? No, not really. Late last week, Tim Cook, chief honcho at Apple stumbled when asked whether Apple might have failed to properly inform customers about what was going on. Cook that a lot of people may have missed the announcement.

And why do you think this may be? It’s only speculation, but most consumers I know look to upgrade their equipment when they feel that it’s fallen off the technology mark, so possibly, it was a subtle nudge to Apple customers to purchase new iPhones rather than holding on to older models.

It may not be worth rushing out for a replacement battery as new iPhone 6 Plus batteries, for example, reportedly won’t be available until March.

Computer insider Show #2018-16

Today on Computer Insider, Have you been able to adapt to the ever-changing world of technology? Most of us haven’t, or at the very least are very slow at adapting to new concepts. Let me give you an example. Last week we decided that we needed to replace the brush head on our drag around a vacuum cleaner. We phoned the manufacturer, gave them the model number, paid by credit card, and received the replacement part a few days late. It looked like a complete no-brainer, till we opened the box and discovered that there were no instructions. Well, now what? Being handy with a screwdriver, we decided to start dismantling the head unit, and then we hit a roadblock, decided that we needed a better plan of attack, and reached for a tablet. We typed in the make and model of the vacuum, youtube and hit enter. At the speed of light there it was a full detailed video showing exactly how to replace the brush head. 40-seconds later, the new brush was installed and then ½ an hour putting all the screws back in, and the job was done. The moral of the story, pretty much anything you want to fix, adjust or rebuild probably has a comprehensive how-to video on YouTube. Hit the easy button, and watch before you destroy.

Computer Insider Show #2018-15

Today on Computer Insider, a few tips on how to set up your computer for maxim performance. I recently had an issue with a virus attack on my computer. What saved my system was how I had initially set things up for both performance and recovery. When I bought my desktop computer, I used it for about a month without making any hardware changes that would impact the overall warranty on the machine. Once I was sure that all was running properly out of the box, a made a number of changes. First of all, I added a Solid State drive, then cloned my original boot drive to the SSD, so it would take on the bulk of the computers storage responsivities. An SSD is much much faster than a traditional drive, so booting up your system more like a tablet than a desktop. It also speeds up tasks like temporary swap files, which can remarkably improve overall responsiveness for many software packages.  At the same time, I changed the location of all my data storage so that it would always be stored on my original hard disk, which would henceforth be a data drive. The reason for this is twofold. First of all, I will always have a fully configured, bootable drive that is not being used for executable programs in the computer, and secondly, I will always have my data concentrated on a storage drive which generally is isolated from rogue programs, so you’re really important information is easily accessible after a disaster.