Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Netbooks and TV's

Click to enlarge
A small 7 inch Netbook is connected to a 26 inch TV as shown in the picture. The Netbook has its screen set to external monitor mode and the internet accessed by wireless. The system is controlled by a USB wireless mouse from across the room and makes use of a virtual keyboard as shown in the picture. For most activities the keyboard is hidden and the mouse is the main navigating device. Printing can be achieved through the wireless network to a printer in the house. This method makes use of a cheap computer to view movies, show pictures, and surf the internet to a group of people. The screen resolution is much better on the external monitor than the Netbooks screen. A USB hard drive can be used to store the movies or pictures for showing. Note: Windows 7 starter edition will not allow the external port to be opened. Unfortunately this is what most netbooks come with but an easy solution is to utilise the card reader slot and use a minimal operating system on a SD card.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chrome Browser Update

The Google-Chrome browser has been changing dramatically this year. Now boasting a Web Store similar to a phone for adding applications that are installed inside the browser rather than the operating system. All that is needed is a G-Mail account to access these Apps. There is a variety of free, trial and paid Apps which can be installed and uninstalled with the click of a mouse. Googles idea is that the operating system is to become irrelevant and everything can be run inside the browser from games to word processing. Printing can be achieved by simply sending the document to Google telling them what type of printer you are using and they will automatically send a print file directly to your printer.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Kindle Tablet

Amazon are extending the Kindle e-Reader to become a 7" Tablet. The price will be US$199 and is being released for sale in mid November. These will be Android based and can be used for surfing the Internet, E-Mail, and reading Digital books. Music and Movies can be bought and used on this Tablet.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

windows 8

Windows 8 will be run as two different systems using a common interface. The first released will be the Intel type which appears to be Windows 7 with a new Touchscreen and can run legacy applications. The units demonstrated that these are clearly not designed to compete against iPads and Androids as they are very heavy and require a fast CPU with a large amount of RAM. The other Windows 8 will be a new system running on ARM phone chips and will not run Windows 7 Applications. This one will be designed to compete against Apple and Google. Interestingly Apple said in court when suing Android manufacturers that they should dump Android for Windows Tablets because they don't look like iPads and iPhones. Obviously Apple are more worried about Android than Windows. Android phones now have over 40% of the new market compared to iPhones 25%.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Google, Android and Intel

Intel, the makers of the Pentium, Celron and Atom chipsets for personal computers are going to optimize their computer processors to run Googles Android operating system. Although this has been done by amateurs they would never be as successful as the full commercial model. The ported version should be ready by the end of the year, allowing it to be run on older computers, along with a new generation of Tablets running low power Atom CPU's. New Android registrations are now running at more that 500,000 per day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Android 2.3

 Android 2.3 is used as a phone Operating system. Although it's designed for a small touch screen many manufacturers of TV's,Tablets and Settop Boxes are using it to browse the Internet and check e-Mail. PC's are also able to run it but it is still work in progress. Newspapers are now starting to distribute sub $200 Tablets free, with subscription to their paper for digital reading.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Lifetime Membership

Congratulations Bill
Bill McDermott Has been awarded a lifetime membership of the Upper Hutt Seniornet. The award is for his outstanding performance during the time he was responsible for Fund raising. This is always a difficult position to fulfill, especially in recession times.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

HP is the first casualty of post PC era

HP are pulling out of the PC market and concentrating on 'Cloud Services'. As the end of the home PC nears and Mobile devices take over HP tried to come in to a market dominated by Apple and Android with their WebOS system. These did not sell well so moving out of PC building was the best option. This takes out the Compaq computers as well as they are owned by HP. The shift to mobile (Tablets & Smart TV's) sees many companies that traditionally did not make PC's move into this field. Apple is leading with 60% tablet market but is slowly losing to Android with currently 30%. Android is used by many companies including Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola, Hurawei and many cheap unnamed Chinese Tablets. Although they are small they can plug into a large monitor and make use of keyboard and mouse through USB or Wireless. This system gives a mobile and Desktop in one. These devices will meet most average computer users needs, without having to worry about Viruses and Updates.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Google Chromebooks


Samsung and Acer are selling Google Chromebooks with some success in the US. This is a little surprising as they are just a 12 inch Netbook that does everything through a Browser. It only has a few Offline Applications although Google has promised that Google Docs can be used Offline before the year's out. The Touchpad is large and supports Multitouch points similar to a Tablet. The price is around the same as a small Laptop but as it boots in around 8 Seconds and has no Virus or Updates to consider, this could be the draw card. Could be useful for Business or Schoolwork.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tablets for July 2011.

July will see a huge jump in the available number of Tablets. A large choice of Operating Systems and hardware layout will be in the retail outlets. These are primarily designed for internet use and documents are edited on-line, although Google have announced that an off-line version of Google Docs is about to be released. This is the last part that is required for the Tablet to replace the Home computer.

Samsung, Vizio, Acer, Dell, Toshiba, Sony and Motorola are opting for Andoid Honeycomb. Googles Chromebook will run ChromeOs. HP Touchpad will use WebOs. Acer will also use Meego as well as Android. Blackberry's Playbook will run on QNX. All these systems are derived from UNIX. Asus are making Android and Windows 7 Tablets. The Windows 7 Tablets will need a Hard drive instead of the normal Solid State Drive (SSD) and will alone require Virus checking. It was hoped by many that they would use their Phone 7 or CE operating systems.

The Tablets will come in sizes from 5" to 12" , and could have cameras, card readers, USB ports, wireless keyboards and External Monitors or TV connections. Normal input is via the Touchscreen.

Apples iPad2 has also been recently released after excellent sales on the original iPad which it deserves from being the innovator of making these devices user friendly. It is also has its roots in UNIX.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Open Office Tutorial

This magazine is a 160 page tutorial on how to use Open Office efficiently. It is put out by Taylor Made publishing Ltd. I bought my copy from Silverstream bookshop at around $30. All basic parts of Open office are covered in glossy coloured pages.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Windows 8

Windows 8 has now been previewed at a consumer trade fair. Apparently this is not a new Operating System but a modified Win 7 with an overlaid desktop similar to the Phone 7. It will be used on everything from tablets to TVs. As it's based on win 7 virus checking is still required, unlike the iPad and Android. The launch date has not been determined but early 2012 is mostly forecast. This is the same time HP will be debuting their new WebOs. The hardware requirement for the tablets is very specific which is upsetting some manufacturers including Acer, who are releasing three Ubuntu Netbooks in July. They are using their own modified version of last years Ubuntu which points to them having thought about this for a while, as Win 7 is very slow on a low powered Netbook.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Computer in a pocket


Raspberry Pi (UK) have announced that they are building a computer for school children to learn more about programming for a price of around $40 NZ. The computer is shown on the right hand picture, and uses a 700 MHz ARM Processor with 256 Mb RAM. A SD Memory Card slides in from the bottom to hold the Operating system and Data. The Screen is a HDMI Television set and the single USB port goes to a HUB to provide Mouse and Keyboard Input. The provided Operating System is a stripped down Ubuntu, but other Operating Systems that use the Phone type ARM chip could be used. Maybe Windows 8 which is being developed for ARM chips could also be a possibility. The Specifications look minimal, but the first iPads ran on something similar.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Easy to use Computers


Ubuntu has just released their 11.04 operating system. The desktop has been designed with the user in mind. There is no Control Panel, Menu or Start Buttons. Everything is started using the Quick Launch (left of the screen) or the Dashboard (centre of the screen). The Dashboard comprises of three sections (most used, installed and can be installed). There are a number of dashboards that are split into various sections (Internet, Multimedia, office, etc). If the programs name is known, typing into the search box will find it. When an application is running the Quick launch slides away out of sight but can be brought back at any time by pushing the mouse to the left of the screen. There are four desktops that can be run simultaneously with an easy desktop switcher application that determines which is the current screen in use. The complete system resembles a cross between a phone or tablet, and has touch screen functionality built in as well as normal keyboard and mouse use.  I am running this system happily on an eight year old computer with 1 Gb of slow RAM. Like the iPhone, Android, and modern tablets, the traditional computer manufactures may be too slow to see these new devices coming. System 76, ZaReason, Kogan and Jolibook computers are already just starting to appear on the market.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

TV's as home computers

With the next generation of TV's being internet capable the home
computer is slowly becoming redundant. The latest TV's can
browse the web, check e-mail, view photos, stream movies and
play music. Documents can be created by online office programs.
The remote can be used in the same way as texting on a phone to
place words on the screen. Alternatively a wireless keyboard
can be used. Printing is attained by using a network or e-printer.
Files can be saved to a SD card or thumb drive. This is all achieved
by adding less than $100 to the price of the tv. Android is the most
popular operating system that allows this to happen, as it is small,
secure and requires no maintainance.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Open Office Draw

Click to Enlarge
Open Office suite has a particularly powerful and easy to use drawing component built in. Once the drawing is complete it can be integrated into the word processing or presentation section of the suite. Open Office is free so does not have to change formats and layouts to sell the next version, but keeps on improving on the last update. As it's free and backward compatible there is no reason not to use the latest version 3.3.
As the suite has a common base and all the other sections are added on, it means it will run quite happily on a pentium 3 with 256mB RAM.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Process Controller for home use

Further to Clive's discussion on Process control there is a small $40 device that is an educational tool but is quite capable of serious work, on the market. It is the "Arduino Diecimila' and is shown in the picture. A USB port on the left is connected to a computer for programming. By the thumb is a terminal strip that is used for the inputs (switches, sensors etc) outputs (leds, relays, actuators etc) communication (RS232, PWM etc). Once the device has been programmed using a simple instruction set it can then be put in 'Run Mode' and  disconnected from the computer.  The program should keep running for  up to 40 years. As the output signals are tiny a simple amplifier circuit may be required for useful applications. If all inputs and outputs are rated at less than 48 volts there are no safety issues.
More information at Arduino Homepage

Sales of Tablets are gaining on PC's

As Apple's iPad-2 has just gone onto the market they are clearly trying to stay ahead of the competition. It is faster, lighter and has camera's, which is partly to hold off the Android invasion. Apple's iPhone held the lead for two years but Google's Android has recently overtaken it. Apple are trying to keep ahead of the game with their Tablets.

The competition includes Google's Android, HP's WebOs, RIM's Playbook and Fujitsu's Meego. Microsoft has Tablets based on Win 7 but heavy hardware requirements and prone to viruses put it out of the race. Maybe Win 8 which will run on different hardware will help but could be too late. Competition has meant technological  advances are swift and large pondering companies can fall quickly, like Nokia.

As newer Tablets can use external monitors (TV's) and wireless keyboards (remotes) the PC's future for households is looking bleak. Games are played on Game Consoles. Office suites and Picture Editors are run from the 'Cloud'. Files can be saved on Flash drives or External USB drives. There is no need for a large unreliable desktop computer anymore.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nokia and Windows Phone 7

Windows Phone 7
Android Phone
Nokia announced that Windows Phone 7 will be their main product. This is a last ditch effort to stop Android and iPhones from being the only relevant platforms. This announcement stripped Nokia's value by 18% in two days. How this is going to work with Nokia's Engineers that no nothing about Windows phone's software trying to fit it on a device that was  designed for the Symbian Operating System, is anybody's guess. After the Symbian System has been declared obsolete and development is to be stopped most buyers will look at the two main alternatives as Windows phone 7 will be at least a year away. By then iPhone and Android will be fourth generation devices. HP's WebOs will be a better contender for third place as it is ready now for production as a Phone, Tablet and Consumer PC.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Phones, Tablets and Touchscreen PC's.

As Mobile devices are now selling faster than traditional PC's the major manufactures have announced which Operating Systems they will support for the home users.

Apple and Android devices are presently taking up most of the new market, but there are a number of new contenders coming on line in the next few months.

Blackberry are producing the 'Playbook' which will also run Android Applications.
Nokia is going to use Windows Phone 7 as they are rapidly losing ground with Symbian.
HP, the biggest computer manufacturer, is swapping Windows for their own WebOs.
Fujitsu will use Meego for Tablets that Nokia  developed.
Google are releasing ChromeOs for Netbooks.
Most Korean and Chinese manufactures are building on Android 2 (phones) or Android 3 (tablets).
Apple will produce iPad2 to stay in front.

Consumers will be spoiled for choice over the next six months for mobile devices that will use software on remote servers ( ie on the cloud ) to search the Internet, do E-mail, Skype, Edit Documents and retouch photo's. This will also apply to Internet ready TV's.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Save your documents from a PC that won't boot.


When a PC refuses to boot the usual procedure is to reinstall the Operating System. This will mean that all files will be lost that were on the 'C' drive. This could be where your family photo's had been stored. Fortunately these can usually be saved with the help of a 'Live CD'. I use Puppy 5.20 for this job. Simply boot from the CD and then click on the 'SDA1' icon in the bottom left hand corner. This should display the 'C' drive in a file manager. Place a 'Thumb drive' in the USB port and it will appear as an icon in the bottom left corner. Click on it and it will open another file manager. Find the files to transfer from the first file manager and pull them across to the second file manager. This process will copy the 'C' drive files to the 'Thumb drive'. This live CD also has a program for removing 'Viruses' from the Windows partition and can often restore a Windows Operating System thereby saving a repair bill.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Android on a PC

Home Screen

Android was designed for a touch screen phone, but as it was an open sourced program this allowed it to be used on any suitable device. This covered phones, TV's, tablets and PC's. I had it running on a PC at Seniornet on the 25 January meeting. Those that saw it running were impressed with the speed and simplicity of usage. Although this system was only a 'proof of concept' it demonstrated what is about to be released by every major electronics manufacturer this year.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Microsoft finally roadmaps Windows 8

Click on me to see me waiting
Microsoft announced that Windows 8 will run on 'ARM' phone chips to be possibly released by next year. This means that all current software will need to be recompiled, if possible,  or  completely rewritten.  If rewriting is needed then this will be done on the latest  software only. Most analysts are predicting Microsoft will base it on Windows CE. Windows CE does not run normal desktop applications but is used as a secure embedded operating system as used in EFTPOS terminals. Networking and a modern browser is already in use for this OS.

Android 3 unveiled at CES

Desktop using Tablet Dock
Android 3.0 was showcased at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) on the 6th January. The Image shows the tablet docked into a Touchscreen and Keyboard. This is clearly the way Personal computing is headed. Android is now being used by most major electronic companies for phones, tablets and TV,s. This is the only serious rival to Apple's iPad. Google was making ChromeOs for this function but this may never happen as the success of Android took them by suprise. As most of these devices run on 'ARM' Technology used in Phones it will be interesting what 'Intel' will do.