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rwandering.net

The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

Archive for Miscellaneous

Release to Merry Christmas (Windows 8.1)

Windows 8.1 was just Released to Manufacturing (RTM).  For the first time in as long as I can remember, developers are not getting access to the RTM before the launch date.

Some developers are upset because they are building Windows 8 applications or at the very least need to ensure their applications work on the new OS before it is released.  This is a fair point.

I think most people are upset because they are forced to wait to upgrade their own systems.  Too bad, so sad.

So why did Microsoft make this change?  Because Windows 8.1 isn’t ready.  According to a TechCrunch post:

We are continuing to put the finishing touches on Windows 8.1 to ensure a quality experience at general availability for (all) customers.

So it isn’t ready, but it has RTMed. So what does RTM even mean?

Maybe “M” doesn’t mean manufacturing this time.  According to a post in the Windows App Builder Blog (italics mine):

Today we announced that Windows 8.1 has hit the RTM milestone. That means our hardware partners are now preparing their devices for the holiday buying season, beginning with the general availability of Windows 8.1 starting at 12:00 A.M. on October 18 . . .

Maybe this time it means manufacturers.  This release is all about getting Windows 8.1 in systems for the holiday buying season. You can be sure the big device manufacturers already have their Windows 8.1 RTM.

I would argue this isn’t really an RTM at all — because it isn’t finished — but if Microsoft had waited until mid October to actually RTM, then no holiday sales.

RTMC: Release to Merry Christmas!

Messenger to Skype Transition?

So, Live/Windows/Microsoft Messenger is shutting down and Microsoft is pushing people to Skype.  I actually haven’t run Messenger for many years.  I suppose it would be mildly interesting to see what a migration process looks like.

But, I keep getting emails from Microsoft to “Upgrade” to Skype and I don’t see where this is a migration path.  So I clicked on the “Upgrade now” link in the email.

While there was nothing obvious on that page, there is  Skype Community help widget.  I quickly decided against it, considering the recent help people have received there.

uncle it moses

 

 

 

Just a test post

I published a post last week about the Tesla S Performance; and now the post is gone and I see no record of it.  Something wrong with my hosting company?  Or with my installation of WordPress?

Anyway, just a test post . . . nothing to see here.

Mid June Thoughts

I’m going to the DR National Town Meeting in DC.  Let me know if you’ll be there and we can meet.

Check out the series on Identity Management as a Service (IdMaaS) on Kim Cameron’s blog here and here.

The Microsoft Surface (no, not the table), looks pretty cool.  Not too surprising that Microsoft decided to do this themselves, let’s just hope it isn’t a Zune.  Maybe that will be my first full tablet.  Probably x86, although that is just asking for trouble, I know.  It will be interesting to see if there is a hardware-vendors backlash.  And then is a Microsoft phone next?  Maybe this is the strongest indication that Microsoft might actual buy Nokia.

.NET 4.5 doesn’t run on Windows Server 2003.  Huh.

An Arduino Satellite project on Kickstarter.  I want one.

Ram, 24-bit audio, etc.

This is one of those times when I have something to say quickly, but just can’t be bothered to try to say it in 140 characters.

@rwandering: Listening to the new 24 x 96 unlimited Ram from @paulmccartney — sounds fantastic.

@cgerrish: So you’ve taken sides in #occupyaudio ? Have you read this?

My response to that:

Yeah, yeah, us mere mortals can’t hear anything.  Sure.  (I haven’t read the article yet).

My own experience says the following:

  • 24 bit mixing is really a big deal.
  • 24 bit (or higher?) transfer from tape is a big deal.
  • 24 bit mastering (i.e. 24 bits as the output ) is also pretty big.
  • 44 kHz is probably just fine.
But if I get something in 24/96 I’m probably going to listen to it that way (not on my iPhone!).
There is no doubt that one of the reasons this new Ram (and all the recent McCartney remasters and the Beatles 24-bit audio) sound so great is because of the newer technology in place today to transfer from tape to digital, and to do it at higher bit rates — there was no 24-bit mixing going on to my knowledge.  There are two fantastic examples backing up 24-bit (or higher?) mixing though:  The Beatles Yellow Submarine Songbook and the Beatles Love (and according to Steve Gillmor), The Beatles Rock Band music (though I’ve never heard it directly).
That is one heck of a lot of parenthetical phrases, but anyway . . . have I taken a side?  It seems so.

Late April Thoughts

Taking a page out of Marc’s book, I’m going to start linking to things I think are interesting (or useful) in digest form.

Microsoft is changing the free storage for SkyDrive from 25GB to 7GB.  If you are an existing user, though, you can get grandfathered in, but you have to logon and tell them you want it.

With Google Drive finally released, Aaron Levie of box posts When Elephants Attack. While I do agree with the sentiment (race to bottom for free storage / clear vision and value of box), I find the basic claim of “Elephant attacking startup” a bit weak.  Both Box and SalesForce (the latter also mentioned in the post) followed the same playbook going after one of the elephants from day 1.  I don’t have a problem with that at all, but the post implies this sort of passive “we became a target” and states explicitly that “Salesforce became the target of Microsoft . . .” without ever mentioning that they were actually hunting for that elephant all along.

I appreciate Mike Arrington’s post on Acqui-hires and the follow up today.   There is no doubt he has a vested interest in the venture capital standard terms — although, who doesn’t in this business? — but, I read his posts as being straight up, honest, and valuable.

McCartney’s RAM is being re-released in deluxe packaging (and better, in 24-bit 96kHz). great album, there is a cool video here.

And it is Windows 8!

Reading the news on an unplanned overnight in Houston, I see that Microsoft is sticking with “Windows 8″ as the name of the next Windows client.

I can only imagine there was some heated debate on whether to give it an evocative name or stick with a sequence of numbers. I’m glad the sequence won out, even if just for now.

I much prefer the “8″ and then, I hope “9″, etc. I don’t really care that these are names and not version numbers, but I do care that there they make sense to customers and partners alike.

Plus all the evocative names start sounding like brands of cars.

I just came back from Costa Rica, and I swear I saw someone driving a Windows Azule. ;)

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OPPO has terrific support!

I had a problem with my OPPO BDP-83 Blu-ray player, so I contacted support at OPPO to see what to do.  They gave me an RMA and instructions for returning the unit for repair.

It took me about a month to get it shipped — the unit was still functional and we use it fairly often.  Anyway, I packaged it up and sent it off.

  • Tuesday morning, I dropped it at UPS.
  • Wednesday morning, they received it and I got an email explaining their process.
  • Wednesday afternoon, I was told it was fixed and would be shipped back to me.
  • Thursday (today) I received it.  All fixed, works great.

Great service, and something like a 6 hour turnaround from their service center!  Amazing!

This is truly an excellent unit, and way beyond a typical consumer player.  Blu-ray too is excellent.  Even my wife — who generally doesn’t care about video/audio fidelity — really prefers watching on Blu-ray.

For those who say they don’t need Blu-ray because of streaming, well, they  must have some pretty incredible bandwidth . . . or (more likely) they don’t actually care about fidelity.  In a world of 128-bit MP3s, I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised.

Anyway, thanks OPPO, keep up the good work!

BTW: When I opened the box, the top piece of cardboard was for the newer model, the OPPO BDP-93.  For a second I got my hopes up, “did OPPO send me a new unit?!??!”.  Of course, not . . .

Use the marginal kWH cost for efficiency savings!

I haven’t done a survey on how green home products present savings to consumers, but my guess is they are generally doing it wrong.  Granted, this might be some mandate from some industry group or governmental body, I don’t know, but it is key that consumers see the difference.

Here is an example, but first some background.

I recently picked up a Kill-a-Watt and have been measuring different devices in the house while on standby.   I want to get a handle on how much vampire power is being wasted.

It turns out that around 60 watts is bleeding from our main home entertainment system when on standby.  That is about 60 watts * 8760 hours = 525 kWH per year.

Aside from a classic power strip with a switch, there are solutions now that supply controlled outlets that only make power available when some master component is on.  One solution is the Zuni Digital smart powerstrip.  Another is the is the Belkin Conserve, though the latter doesn’t have enough outlets (disclosure: those our Amazon links).

So what am I on about?  If you look at the Belkin information, they present a very similar scenario as mine and conclude that the Conserve power strip can save up to $67 / year!  Unfortunately, they are using the wrong price:

Dollar figure based on US Department of Energy average retail price for residential electricity of $0.1132 per killowatt-hour.

Residential electricity rates are often more complex than that, though, and here in the PG&E territory, such a low rate only applies to your baseline usage.  The rates go up based on your usage.  The top rate is actually $0.40352.

If you are a consumer making a decision on saving 525 kWH per year, you should be looking at your top rate — i.e., the top rate you are actually paying to your utilty based on your circumstances.  Because if you shave off kWH, you are saving the money on the top rate, not on the bottom rate.   I’m embarassed to admit it, but our rate is 40-cents.  If I save 526 kWH that saves me $212.    (Of course, if your energy savings drop you to a lower rate, the calculation changs).

The Zuni sells for $39 — that pays for itself in just over two months.  Now, granted, our entertainment system is actually used sometimes, but I estimate it is unused 94% of the year, so that still nets nearly $200.

So, what is the marginal rate you pay?

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Thoughts on Windows 8

Here are various thoughts I have about Windows 8:

On the name:

  • I hope this “codename Windows 8″ stuff is just a joke.  Just call it Windows 8.  Every other OS that I can think of has first and foremost a number associated with it.  In fact, I think this must just be a joke, because Microsoft is more and more coming around to the “Windows” name as the brand.  Calling it Windows Flambe or Windows Azule or Windows Enchilada doesn’t help with the brand.  8.
  • Now, of course, this ignores the fact that Windows 7 is a name, not a version.  So implicit in my plea for Windows 8 is that it actually be version 8, not just named 8.  Sorry if that is confusing, but I’m not the one who decided that Windows version 6.1 would be called Windows 7.

On the new interface:

  • Looks kind of interesting, but I’m concerned about the “one interface to rule them all” approach.  Remind anyone of the original Windows Mobile?  Just a small form-factor Windows machine with Start menu.  That seemed logical, but it turned out that it was nearly unusable.  The Windows Phone 7 Metro UI is pretty cool for a phone.  It would work well for a tablet.  It seems wierd for a desktop/laptop, but maybe not.
  • The bigger problem is that I hope Microsoft gets that standard Windows applications don’t become productive tablet applications with the addition of touch.  I have a convertible laptop.  It would be interesting to have Metro on it, but that will only solve one piece of what makes it nearly unusable in tablet form.

On Silverlight:

  • So, unlike Windows Phone 7, Windows 8 won’t use Silverlight for the Metro UI.  This isn’t surprising.  Microsoft has eschewed .NET for core Windows development from day 1.  OK, from day 2, because on day 1 they said .NET would be the new Windows API.  It never happened.  And this is just another indication that it never will.
  • That said, I think it makes total sense for them to use HTML 5 and not Silverlight for Windows.
  • This begs the question: if HTML 5 and JavaScript are good for Windows 8, then how long until these replace Silverlight for Windows Phone?
  • Which begs another (future) question: what will Silverlight be good for then?

A little snarky, but I’m feeling snarky today.

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