Saturday, October 20, 2012

Windows 8 Misses the Mark

Windows 8 is a compelling proposition for tablets, but not for desktops and laptops, where the new interface is more confusing than compelling, leaving no good reason to upgrade from Windows 7. Some of the things Microsoft could and should have done to address that issue:
  1. Overhaul Windows display tech to compete with Apple Retina
  2. Build virtualization into Windows core
  3. Build cloud services into Windows core, with (say)
    1. 100 GB free SkyDrive storage for 2 years
    2. automatic cloud photo sync
    3. automatic cloud backup (like Carbonite)
  4. Integrate Skype into Windows core, with unlimited free calling for 2 years
  5. Integrate speech recognition, both command and dictation
  6. Include "personal assistant" capability (like Apple Siri/Google Now)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Surface Misses the Mark

Microsoft still doesn't get it. The new Surface tablet has some nice capabilities (Windows 8, Office, cover keyboard, Xbox controllers), but it also has some serious issues:
  • Price: Microsoft is making the same mistake Android tablets made when they first came out, pricing Surface ($500 without cover keyboard, $600 with) at least $100 too high. Surface is too new and insufficiently compelling on capabilities to gain traction against the Apple iPad without a more compelling price.
  • Display: 1366×768 resolution is crude, especially compared to iPad at 2048×1536. All Surface models should have been Full HD 1920x1080 (not just the "coming soon" Surface with Windows Pro, which will probably be even more expensive).
  • USB: The lack of USB 3.0 is inexcusable, a serious limitation.
  • Immaturity: Windows 8 is half-baked, much like Windows Vista, and time will be needed to flesh it out and smooth it out. Never buy version 1 of anything (Apple excepted).
Bottom line: Wait for version 2.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Relieving Adobe Installer Pain

When Adobe Photoshop Elements is installed on Microsoft Windows, the Adobe installer first installs the Editor, then the Organizer (whether you want it or not), and lastly Shared Technologies, with each of the three steps taking a good deal of time to complete.

So when I set out to install Photoshop Elements 11, I expected it to take some time. What I didn't expect was a fatal error at the end of the lengthy install process, followed by a lengthy rollback of the entire install. The error message ("The installation process has encountered an error while installing Shared Technologies.") was uninformative and unhelpful, just suggesting the computer be restarted before trying again. And of course it then failed again, wasting a good deal of additional time.

So I was left with searching the Web for more helpful information on the issue, discovering it to be a not uncommon problem, eventually finding an Adobe help page on troubleshooting Photoshop Elements installation problems, with a Note pertaining to my specific situation. I was trying to install from a downloaded install file on a USB flash drive. When I followed the advice in the Note to first copy the install file to the root of the system drive, the long installation finally succeeded. From start to finish the install took more than an hour (and might well have taken longer) for something that shouldn't take more than a few minutes.

The install hack is beyond the skill of less experienced users and shouldn't be necessary. The Adobe help page indicates this issue has existed since at least Photoshop Elements 9, a period of at least two years as of this writing, raising the question of why it hasn't long since been corrected, or at least more helpful information provided with the installer. Customers deserve better.

Moral: The safest way to use a downloaded Adobe installer is to place it in the root directory of the system drive (usually C:\) before installing. Don't try to install from a USB flash drive.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Navas' Rules of Mobile

For Developers and Content Providers
(Parts shamelessly adapted from Google's Android Design)
  1. The essence of mobile is movement, not a small screen.
  2. Minimize use of resources (data, battery, memory, etc).
  3. Make it easy to access either mobile or standard version of content.
  4. Optimize standard version of content so it works as well as possible on mobile.
  5. Don't presume to know what I want; instead, make it easy for me to get what I actually want.
  6. Make me amazing. Do the heavy lifting for me.
  7. Only show what I need when I need it, and make important things fast.
  8. Simplify my life, get to know me, but let me make it mine.
  9. Don't abuse our relationship in any way. Always ask me for permission.
  10. Either do it right, or don't do it at all
Note: I plan to expand each rule with a paragraph of explanation, so please do check back.