Tag Archives: Microsoft

Tuesday Talk ~ Microsoft


Did you know Microsoft is expanding its presence on Apple’s iOS 10 messaging platform with a new iMessage App designed to allow groups to search for movies, food, events and other entertainment options and vote on what to do? Does this surprise you?
It shouldn’t. Despite public posturing to the contrary, which hit its apogee under the madly gesticulating Steve Ballmer (thank goodness for his great replacement, CEO Satya Nadella), Apple and Microsoft have had a long and very rewarding relationship, with engineering teams collaborating on each other’s campuses for decades.
Apple uses Microsoft networking protocols; Microsoft embraces Apple video and audio standards. Microsoft Office works beautifully on Mac and iOS, and in fact, to my eyes, benefits from Apple’s superior (-looking) OS and monitor tech. And even Apple’s macOS has only had little updates over the last couple of years – meanwhile Microsoft is developing a future OS that will combine standard 2D display tech with 3D/holographics, VR and AR. This is called Fluent Design.

I guess we will see if Apple has any vision in this area … one day.
Meanwhile, Microsoft recently released its dev platform Visual Studio for macOS. Chipping, chipping, chipping away …

This is reasonable, sensible and productive. It’s how adults should behave, right? I think so.  However, lately Microsoft has been making hardware, something it has almost never done, barring Xbox. In fact, Windows fans used to laugh at Apple because Apple made hardware as well as software. Then Microsoft made some awful products like that cack-coloured music player and the Windows Phone. Yuk.

But now, Microsoft is making the hardware that even Apple fans can be impressed by, while Apple fiddles while watching its hardware house burn down. Apple’s products are still beautiful, sexy, slim, minimalist … and obsolete, lagging generations behind other computers. Pro Mac users want and need their Macs to be grunty, and nothin’ else! They’ve got to the point where looks are secondary because Apple needs so desperately to up the computational power of its pro machines.
Some, unfortunately, have given up already – will they come back? We used to run stories about ‘switchers’ who had dumped Windows for macOS and couldn’t be happier.
Now there are even rumours that Apple is planning a new ‘pro’ iMac “designed to compete with Microsoft’s Surface Studio all-in-one PC“…

WHAT? That’s pure heresy right there! Also, Apple isn’t in the Virtual Reality space yet. There’s supposedly an Apple lab in wellington pursuing this, and Apple has made various VR acquisitions, but Apple’s hardware isn’t up to VR – Oculus dropped support for the Mac in 2016 because it wasn’t powerful enough. The only thing Apple seems to excel at now is 4K display support, but Windows is catching up fast.
Once we looked cool and progressive with our Apple gear.
Now we look like sad holdouts.

Anyway, it’s WWDC soon (New Zealand’s June 6th). Apple, will announce stuff. But I remember saying that last year … and the year before …

Microsoft makes great iOS keyboard, Twitter makes messaging easier


Microsoft has made a great free keyboard for iOS – and you can't get it in New Zealand!
Microsoft has made a great free keyboard for iOS – and you can’t get it in New Zealand!

Microsoft Word Flow software keyboard makes iPhone typing fun again — For a company that mostly relies on other hardware manufacturers, Microsoft sure knows its way around a keyboard. Many Mac users are more than happy to swap out Apple’s for one of Microsoft’s hardware keyboards. [Microsoft has long preferred ergonomics over looks for its hardware – completely the opposite approach to Apple.]
But with the release of its Windows Phone keyboard for iOS, a whole lot of iPhone users might be dumping Apple’s keyboard, too. A modern rethinking of mobile typing that takes advantage of the flexibility and elasticity of the soft keyboard, Word Flow (free on the iTunes Store) takes Microsoft’s expertise with hardware and applies it to the virtual space, creating what might be the first keyboard that’s downright pleasurable to use. [Except – and this really sucks – it’s only available in the US iTunes Store!]

Twitter introduces 4 big changes that will make tweets much easier to send and read — Twitter isn’t abolishing its defining 140-character limit for tweets, but it’s making some big changes so you can do more within those confines. Other tweaks to the way replies work will remove some of the “inside-baseball” Twitter tricks that act as a barrier to entry for new users.
In the future, any media you attach to a tweet—be it an image, video, Periscope stream, poll, whatever—will no longer eat into your precious limit. Twitter’s post doesn’t mention links to websites being regarded as media, so those seem likely to still consume a blanket 23 characters regardless of length. That’s a bit of a bummer, but hey, baby steps.

Best display ever, graphics editor, 16GB iPhone brickbats, Met iPads, Adobe Post, Drake, AirPlay on Android, Microsoft, new Watch ads


Best disp

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro has the best iPad screen so far — In DisplayMate’s analysis of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, Dr Raymond Soneira, president of the company, says the smaller pro tablet sports the best iPad display to date. “The iPad Pro 9.7 display is a Truly Impressive major enhancement on the iPad Air 2… and even on the recent iPad Pro 12.9 and iPad mini 4… and even every other mobile LCD display that we have ever tested… and note that I hand out compliments on displays very carefully.”

Juicy Bits delivers Bez, a powerful vector graphics editor for iPad and iPad Pro — It’s great when a developer creates a new product that provides yet another reason for people to do more work on the iPad and especially the iPad Pro. That’s the case with a new vector graphics editor released today. Bez (free, US$7.99 in-app purchase to unlock all features) is designed to create and export vector graphics on Apple’s tablets, and it looks like a winner.

Why getting a 16GB iPhone is just not worth it — Here’s why you shouldn’t buy a 16GB iPhone and why Apple should definitely stop making them.

London Met Police says it has deployed just 641 iPads out of planned 15,000-20,000 — In spite of one-time plans to adopt between 15,000 and 20,000 iPads, London’s Metropolitan Police has so far deployed just 641 units, and doesn’t have any immediate plans to deploy more, a report revealed on Tuesday.

Adobe updates Post with Live Photos support, Airmail comes to iPad with Split View — Adobe on Tuesday updated its Post graphics design tool for iOS with several new features. The new version of Post, 2.5.0, lets users apply designs to Live Photos and then export them as standalone videos or new Live Photos. Shooting Live Photos is currently supported only by the iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, and SE, though Macs and other iOS devices can view them.

New Drake album to be exclusive (initially) to Apple Music — Drake, the rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer and ‘actor’, is releasing his new album, Views from the 6, exclusively on Apple Music when it arrives April 29, notes Pitchfork. The exclusivity will be for a limited time, but there’s no indication of how long that will be.

Apple’s AirPlay comes to Android in new flagship HTC 10 — HTC has unveiled the HTC 10, its latest flagship smartphone, with an unusual feature in the form of native support for Apple’s AirPlay wireless streaming protocol.

Microsoft adds contextual edit commands to Office for iPhone — Microsoft on Monday updated its Office apps for iOS with new contextual functions on the iPhone, while Google updated its iOS search app to better sort Now information cards on the iPad.

Apple premieres seven new Apple Watch ads with strong fitness & celebrity focus — Apple on Monday debuted several new Apple Watch TV ads, highlighting features and apps while also leveraging celebrities to gain some marketing clout.

FBI debacle, Microsoft’s ‘free’ Windows has ads


CookABC

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Interview on ABC on the FBI, security etc — ABC has published its interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook on the topic of the government ordering Apple to create a backdoor into iOS. In the interview, ABC reporter David Muir asks asks a series of questions that seem quite slanted (against Apple’s stance), but Cook lays out one of his most passionate arguments in defense of protecting privacy and security. He also explains (repeatedly) how Apple worked with the FBI on the device to get as much information from it and from iCloud data as possible. Various polls say more support Apple than the FBI (but others say the opposite), a report says Apple is reacting by making iPhones even more secure, and Obama says the administration and FBI must act to restore US government credibility in Apple’s encryption debate.

Users of Microsoft’s ‘free’ Windows 10 find unexpected ads on lock screen — Microsoft recently began running advertisements directly on the lock screens of Windows 10 devices, catching users by surprise with marketing on their PCs and tablets. Microsoft’s “free” Windows 10 operating system is configured by default to display such ads on the lock screen whenever the Redmond, Wash., software company decides to do so.

Office gets iCloud support, tips


Office for iOS now has iCloud support
Office for iOS now has iCloud support

Microsoft Office integrates more cloud storage services, starting with iCloud and Box — Microsoft is continuing its open approach to cloud storage by hooking more third-party services into Office. The integration is only available in Office for iOS today, but Microsoft is working on bringing the expanded cloud storage support to its Android- and Windows-based Office apps. And Macworld offers seven time-saving Office for iOS tips.

Apple Watch was supposed to be a Health Tracker, not a Fitness Tracker — Apple’s original plans for its Apple Watch were apparently far more ambitious than the final product, due to ship in April. Instead of the fitness tracker with iPhone-linked communication features, Apple had planned on giving consumers a device that tracked overall health, but had to scale back its designs because many sensors failed to perform as expected. Meanwhile, Apple is helping developers polish Apple Watch apps.

Apple target raised, Lego iMac, Microsoft, MacBook Air, Facebook changes


Build a Lego iMac
Build a Lego iMac

Susquehanna raises AAPL target to $135 on strong iPhone 6 demand — Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Chris Caso raised his 12 month target price for Apple’s stock from US$120 up to $135 on Tuesday in response to continued high demand for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. According to his research, demand for the iPhone 6 Plus is so high that Apple simply can’t make phones as fast as consumers buy them.

How to build a Lego Apple Mac Computer — Lego is for children of all ages: YouTube user Isaac Ray specialises in making Lego animation videos and his latest shows you how to build an Apple Mac Computer (looks like an iMac) out of spare Lego parts. It’s adorable and well shot.

Microsoft ramping up its anti-Apple ad blitz — With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, Microsoft’s anti-Apple ad blitz is slowly but surely picking up steam. Over the past two-and-a-half weeks, the folks up in Redmond have released three commercials which poke fun at the iPhone and, somewhat curiously, the MacBook Air.

Facebook details upcoming privacy changes with notifications to users on mobile & desktop — Facebook pushed a rare service notification to users on Tuesday, reminding millions of the social network’s members of updates to its terms, data and cookies policies, advertising systems, and new privacy controls.

iPad Air 2 so fast, Google ads beat Apple’s, Microsoft, Adobe


iPad Air 2 is faster, slimmer, better (image courtesy Apple Inc)
iPad Air 2 is faster, slimmer, better (image courtesy Apple Inc)

iPad Air 2 reviewed by the Mac Observer — It’s thinner, lighter, and faster the first iPad Air, but it’s so much lighter, thinner, and faster than Bob LeVitus’  4th generation iPad now seems a “fat, sluggish beast”.

Google has been killing Apple on the advertising front lately — Yoni Heisler writes “I’ll be blunt: Apple’s new iPhone commercials featuring Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake absolutely suck. If they’re not some of the worst commercials Apple has ever put out, they’re certainly in the running.”

Microsoft shows it can think differently, adds Dropbox to Office for iOS — Microsoft demonstrated that under CEO Satya Nadella, the company can think differently than it has in the past. Not only has Big Redmond released Office for iOS, on Tuesday the company announced it was adding support for Dropbox to those iOS apps because that’s what customers wanted.

Hiding Your Location with Siri — One of the nifty and kind of surprising things that you can now control through Siri in iOS 8 is whether or not Find My Friends is sharing your location.

Adobe updates Voice for iPad with new features and themes — Adobe Voice appeared in May and has been used by companies, small teams and individuals wanting to create audio and video presentations that look good with minimal effort.
The app is free but requires an Adobe ID. Today the iPad app added the ability to colour-customise backgrounds, icons, text and more,  within themes.

Apple shares high, 5k iMac, Microsoft, slow wifi, AfterShot, Reznor, Droplr


The Retina 5k iMac (image from Apple Inc).
The Retina 5k iMac (image from Apple Inc).

Apple shares reach new peak as company gears up to pay investors $2.8 billion in dividends — Apple shares reached a new all time high of $108 for the end of October, less than two weeks prior prior to the company’s quarterly dividend distribution date.

Why iMac is 5k, not 4k — The  new iMac with a 5K Retina display, boasts of an impressive 14.7 million pixels packed into the 5120×2880 matrix. Why did Apple choose this novel 5K resolution over a myriad of standard 4K? Dr. Ray Soneira of DisplayMate, who provided a simple explanation: video editing. The resolution is geared towards the videographer who can take advantage of the extra screen real estate when working with 4K video streams.

Microsoft says new Office for Mac due in 2015, unveils new Outlook app — It’s been four long years since Microsoft released the last version of Office for the Mac, in 2010. And it will be one more before the next version arrives, Microsoft said Friday. But at least there’s a new version of Outlook.

Users report slow Wi-Fi, dropped connections after upgrading to Apple’s OS X Yosemite — Apple’s new Mac operating system, OS X Yosemite, appears to have bugs related to Wi-Fi connections, with users reporting slow transfer speeds and dropped signals after upgrading.

AfterShot Pro 2 from Corel is a competitive Mac photo manager — Corel’s latest Mac OS release, AfterShot Pro 2 (currently on sale for US$69.00) is hard to quickly characterise. It combines elements of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard hands-on: Solid, but not quite universal — Microsoft’s US$80 Universal Mobile Keyboard continues its tradition of excellence with a well-thought-out design incorporating a hardware switch to reconfigure the keyboard for Android, iOS, and Windows devices. Look closer, though, and what Microsoft bills as a “universal” keyboard simply doesn’t deliver, because it doesn’t support Windows Phone.

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails ‘flattered’ to be working for Apple — In an interview with Billboard magazine, Reznor said that working for Apple was, “unfamiliar and it’s kind of everything I asked for.” He added, “and the bad thing is it’s everything I asked for.”

Droplr is back with new features and Yosemite support — The Mac application is back with a spanking new interface and new features that are likely to appeal to people who share screen shots, screen videos and files.

Apple now 5th largest PC maker, Icahn’s money gripes, Skype 7 adds features, App passwords


Sk7

Apple now 5th — Apple’s MacBooks had a strong back-to-school showing last quarter, as the company hit fifth place in IDC’s global PC shipment charts.
Mac sales rose from 4.58 million in the third quarter of last year to 4.98 million this year, IDC estimated, allowing Apple to edge out Asus for the number five slot. (But rival research firm Gartner still puts Asus in fifth place, with 5.77 million shipments last quarter – these are estimates.)

Carl Icahn’s open letter to Tim Cook — Activist shareholder and investor Carl Icahn is back at work poking at Apple, this time in a letter to Tim Cook published on the Shareholders’ Square Table website. The short version? “Dear Tim, Remember all of those shares of Apple stock I bought? Speed up your stock repurchase plan by buying them back from me.”
[Poor man, he obviously desperately needs a buck or two. Maybe we should start a kick-starter or charity for him.]

Skype for Mac 7.0 launches with new mobile-inspired look, 64-bit support, improved chat & file sharing — Microsoft has launched a redesigned version 7.0 of its popular Skype chat application for Mac OS X, making it a 64-bit application, introducing a new file transfer presentation with inline images, and much more. [Launch Skype, choose Check for Updates in the Skype menu.]

Apple’s iCloud App-specific Password Requirement starts today — If you enabled two-step verification for your iCloud account and you’re using your Apple ID to sign in to third-party apps, it’s time to start using app-specific passwords. Apple set the requirement to use app-specific passwords starting on October 9, which (for NZ)  is today.

Futurology 06 ~ Mars, microbes, Microsoft & Peak Meat


Researchers discovered a microscopic oval object within the Nakhla Mars meteorite, which fell to Earth in Egypt in 1911
Researchers discovered a microscopic oval object within the Nakhla Mars meteorite, which fell to Earth in Egypt in 1911

Astronomers discover a planetary impact outside our own Solar System — In a study published in the latest issue of Science, astronomers led by graduate student Huan Meng, of the University of Arizona in Tucson, announced the discovery of remains of a mammoth planetary collision.
~ Space likes safe drivers too.

Weird microscopic structure found In martian meteorite — Scientists have found a strange structure resembling a microbial cell inside a Martian meteorite, but they’re not claiming that it’s evidence of Red Planet life (pictured above).
~ Interplanetary coincidence is all?

NASA sets a 2018 launch date for the rocket that will take us to mars — Three years after its unveiling, NASA managers have approved the development of the rocket that will carry astronauts into deep space. Called the Space Launch System (SLS), the heavy-lift rocket will be the most powerful ever built, and is designed to launch the next generation of space explorers to deep-space worlds well beyond Earth’s moon.
~ I’ve told you before, I’m not going!

NASA will reformat Mars rover from 200 million kilometres away — NASA’s Opportunity rover is still trundling across the surface of Mars, more than 11 years after its 90-day mission began. But its software is getting bogged down, so NASA’s doing a full system backup, memory wipe and reboot. It’s just like your routine computer clean-up, just from the next planet over.
~ Security Update.

Every internet-connected device on a map — This map was made on August 2 by John Matherly, the founder of Shodan, a search engine for internet-connected devices. Matherly, who calls himself an internet cartographer, collected the data to put it together by sending ping requests to every IP address on the internet, and storing the positive responses. A ping is a network utility that sends an echo-request message (known as a packet) to an IP address — the internet’s version of “hey, are you there?”
~ I can see your device from here.

Microsoft defies court order, will not give emails to US government — Despite a federal court order directing Microsoft to turn overseas-held email data to federal authorities, the software giant said Friday it will continue to withhold that information as it waits for the case to wind through the appeals process. The judge has now ordered both Microsoft and federal prosecutors to advise her how to proceed by next Friday, September 5.
~ Every now and again Microsoft does good things. 

Ebola’s initial outbreak pinpointed — One of the big mysteries in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is where the virus came from in the first place — and whether it’s changed in any significant ways. … Researchers have revealed they have sequenced the genomes of Ebola from 78 patients in Sierra Leone who contracted the disease in May and June. Those sequences revealed some 300 mutations specific to this outbreak. Among their findings, the researchers discovered the current viral strains come from a related strain that left Central Africa within the past ten years.
Using genetic sequences from current and previous outbreaks, the researchers mapped out a family tree that puts a common ancestor of the recent West African outbreak some place in Central Africa roughly around 2004.
~ Awesome work. The world salutes you. 

Peak meat — We may be about to hit ‘peak meat’? Globally, meat production has skyrocketed since the ’60s. But though our appetite for meat shows no signs of slowing, our ability to devote huge swaths of land, water, and feed to its production may be hitting its limits.
~ Don’t look at me, I haven’t touched the stuff in 25 years.