The New Exciting Microsoft

Usually the name of Microsoft does not excite people in the same vein as Google or Apple.

However, all that is changing.

The recent events all point towards a positive direction ( marring the privacy issues). The shift started with the Windows 10 release, and is picking up with the Windows Hardware event.

A hardware event from Microsoft - that was something unexpected.

Well, Microsoft has dabbled into hardware before. The very forgettable Zune that Microsoft tried to beat the iPod with - but with Apple already moving towards the iPhone, the Zune was a disaster. Microsoft then tried again with the Surface - unfortunately that too did not do so well when compared to the iPads or even with Android based tablets.

However, the latest 6th October event is going to change that.

Now, there is a lot of stuff written about the surface pro and the surface book etc. However, in this blog post I am going to concentrate only on the phones.

Why ?

Because these phones double up as full fledged PC experience. Yup - plug in the laptop using the adapter - and BAM! You can run full screen apps on the monitor. Just watch the video below.

So, what does that mean ?

Well, it means that you can actually leave your laptop behind. All you need is the phone. For business users, who are mostly just using emails or working on a few documents, this is all you need. Have a dock at home and in office, plug in and you are all set. Microsoft is calling this continuum.

I am becoming a believer.

Apple Pencil

Last week the Apple Event '15 happened. As usual, a plethora of information was released from Apple - a lot of which was already known as Apple seems to have become a leaky bucket post Steve Jobs. But the one that sticks out to me is the Apple Pencil. A few years back, I was very bullish about the camera in the iPhone4s , and now I think this new thing is quite good.

But, the customary rewind first

Well, apparently, Apple thinks it does now :D

The difference though is huge between 2007 stylus and the current stylus. For one, at that time, if you used a Palm or an O2 device, you just had to use a stylus to do anything. Using your fingers rarely got anything done, unless you could tap on it with your fingernail.

Fast forward to today. The iPad pro still uses finger multi touch for its interface. However, Apple has added the pencil for activities that use a lot of detailing. Watch the demo below.

I do a little bit of sketching. And I find using the finger very cumbersome. I tried it on the iPad and also on my Nexus. So, then I got a pen which allows you to sketch. That too is cumbersome cause it has a very broad tip, something like this.

This still does not give me the control that i can get with a pencil or a pen's tip.

That's where I think that the Apple pencil is going to shine. With its thinner tip, and also the ability to sense the angle to broaden the stroke (instead of going to an archaic menu to change the stroke width), is a pure win in my view.

And I think it is going to decimate the competition. In this niche area, the company that has a monopoly as of now is Wacom. Their products are expensive and not so great, but till now, there was not much competing products. I think they are going to die just like Blackberry.

To do a comparison, I checked out Wacom's line of tablets which has a display. The one that closely matches the iPad Pro ( thats the only iPad model as of now that will be able to work with the pencil) , is the Cintiq 13HD .  At the time of the writing, Wacom's online store is offline, so I can't get the price from there, but a quick google search throws up that they start at $999.

$999 for Cintiq 13 HD vs $898 for the iPad Pro and Pencil

And the iPad can also do the other things that an iPad does ( email, browsing, games), while with the Cintiq you are stuck with just sketching.

I rest my case. Bye bye Wacom.

Email TRAI for Net Neutrality in India

You may have heard about net neutrality in the social media, or on news channels in the last few days. It is basically about unconditional access to the internet. Would you like to have to pay packs for accessing whatsapp or facebook over and above the data plan you pay ?

Telco companies think you should. TRAI has put out a consultation paper soliciting responses. Unfortunately, as with most govt papers, it is difficult to understand the questions and provide responses which are pertinent.

That's where the internet is working to save the internet. The folks over at savetheinternet have provided canned responses. All that I ask you to do is to to the website, copy the response in your email, and mail to TRAI ( email id given on the website). That's as simple as it can get.

I also urge you to read the answers to the questions as that will make more clear what is going on and what the save the internet is all about. If you have better knowledge of net-neutrality, I also urge you to edit the responses as you see fit.

#SaveTheInternet #NetNeutrality


Is Google becoming less Geek friendly ?

Google has totally killed GTalk

That is sad on so many fronts.

Gtalk used to be a small app that would sit quietly in the notification part of the computer and when someone chats with you, it would pop up. If you used Yahoo messenger or MSN messenger - you know what I mean.

However, now to get the same functionality - you have to run through a few hoops. Firstly there is no standalone app available anymore. The alternate to GTalk is Hangout. Firstly the name itself has no Googly connotation to it. And to install it first you need to download the Chrome browser and then get the Hangout plugin. If you try it any other way - this is what you get.

Which makes me think - is Google becoming less Geek friendly ? By sacrificing the fun of being able to mix and match, people like me will be turned off. Sure it makes sense to have a nice unified experience by dumbing it down for the masses - but the torch bearers are the Geeks and Nerds who influence the masses. Once these guys start moving away to other platforms, the current platform starts to die bit by bit. The recent movies by Google reminds me of an earlier post Microsoft shooting itself in its foot ?

Its the same feeling I got when I used Inbox - now I am back to using the earlier Gmail interface.

All around in the Google ecosystem I see the same. More and more focus is going into making Chrome the one point of access. At one time Google used to have a lot of apps on Linux - which seemed quite cool as the entire Google platform (including Android) is Linux based. But they have been quitely shelving support on Linux ( Google Officially Drop Picasa For Linux ). Search results are now returned for your geo instead of actually useful links from around the world.

I am sure some of you may be thinking that I am cribbing about things which affect only a few people. But I think that these few people are the influencers for their friends and family when it comes to tech stuff. As people like us start using other platforms ( e..g Search on Duck Duck Go instead of Google ), we start recommending these to our influence circle.

The question that keeps revolving in my mind is - Is Google becoming less Geek friendly ?