First impressions and a mini review of the Wii U (and a few games)

I picked up a pair of Wii U’s on launch day. I ordered a few more when I thought I would be able to cash in and make a quick buck. As it stands right now, I’ll barely break even – auctions on eBay for Wii U consoles aren’t going much higher than retail, and by the time you throw in a game and offer free shipping to make your auction enticing, you’re not doing so well. Prices may go up as we approach the holiday, but this isn’t about whether or not I make a dollar, this is really about what Nintendo has to offer with their early lead in to the “next generation” of consoles.

Because I have a lot of positive things to say, more than most people, I think, I want to get the negative out of the way, first. Continue reading

Windows Phone 7.8 – still months away according to Microsoft

I was going to join the fray, today, and post an article about Windows Phone 7.8. I was going to ask where it was, why it hadn’t been mentioned lately, and talk about how some people disagree with Paul Thurrott’s recent public shaming of Windows Phone team (for the record, I’m on Paul’s side on this one!). Microsoft is focused, as they should be, on their new products. But for a company who has made monthly updates to Windows since 1998, and made their monthly updates work across a metrically infinite number of possible hardware combinations, Microsoft sure has had a hard time getting Windows Phones updated. I’m starting to wonder if it’s a one man “team.”

I was going to write about all of that, but in the last 24 hours, Microsoft finally spoke up. Probably due to rumors starting on Mashable that Windows Phone 7.8 could arrive as early as yesterday, and a bit in response to Thurrott’s post, Microsoft’s Official Windows Phone Blog had something to say. Word is that new phones could ship as early as the end of the year, preloaded with Windows Phone 7.8. These phones will be designed to hit a budget minded audience, but Microsoft’s Terry Myerson didn’t want people to worry, because Microsoft is pushing to have popular apps, like this Spring’s crazy popular “Draw Something,” and last Winter’s “Words with Friends.” Okay, they also mentioned Angry Birds space and the newest Angry Birds Star Wars, but no dates.

As far as pre-existing phones getting the update? Well, Myerson was a bit more guarded when it came to that, saying: “we want you to know that we’re working closely with our hardware and carrier partners to get it tested, approved, and rolled out to as many devices as possible in early 2013. As we work to quickly get this in the hands of our loyal users, we’re also striving to deliver a high-quality release and ensure a smooth transition for our widely expanded services.

The reaction wasn’t very positive. Scanning the comments below the post, feedback compared Windows Phone 7.8 to the WebOS, and more than a few remarking that they were disappointed or annoyed. I even joined in the comments! The post has a 1/5 star rating, too. People are unhappy. Not millions of people, more like dozens… but we still feel the pain, and I hope at least someone at Microsoft is learning a lesson. I know I did: being an early adopter has its risks. I already knew that, but I seem to be reminded of that lesson in spades this year. More on that tomorrow.

How to add your GMail or other mail account to Windows 8's Mail App

If you bought a Surface for Windows RT, or a new tablet or laptop, you’ve no doubt seen the new mail app. The question is, can you add things like your Hotmail account or a work email address to it – and if so, how? It’s not too painful. The best and easiest method is to use IMAP for your GMail account, and if you’re using Hotmail, Outlook.com, or Exchange in your office, you can add your email as an Exchange account and it will work just fine. There are some basic steps to follow to be well on your way to adding mail to the app.

With a recent update, Microsoft has made it easier and the mail application now prompts you what type of account you want to add. But, if for any reason it doesn’t, the easiest thing to do is as follows:
For GMail:

  1. Open the mail app.
  2. Swipe in from the right / place the mouse pointer in the upper or lower right corner.
  3. Click Settings (I’ll bet you didn’t know it was contextual – you do now!).

  4. Choose Accounts.
  5. Choose Add Account.
  6. If you have the option, choose GMail, and enter your email address / password. If not, choose Exchange and continue:
  7. For the username, enter your email address. For the domain, leave it blank. Enter your password, of course, and then for server, enter m.google.com – the app will handle the rest!

Yes, whether adding Exchange or Gmail, the basic step is just getting to that “Settings” menu, and adding a new account. That was the moment I learned that the “Settings” button on the charm bar was contextual – depending on the program you’re in at the time, some of the “settings” will be different. Lesson learned, and carried forward!

Let us know if you have any more questions about the mail app – need another screen shot? Some more advice? Let me know! I usually respond pretty quickly!

Windows 8 apps can be downloaded on multiple computers (VIDEO)

Hey everyone – sorry for the lack of news lately, I’ve been enjoying a brief holiday vacation. But I wanted to get back to the grind and give a word of advice to new Windows 8 users. I’ve already seen interest in the App Store on Windows 8, but people are asking “if I buy a game or app on one computer, do I have to buy it on another?” You’ll be thankful to know that, no, you don’t have to spend your money over and over for apps you’ve already purchased in Windows 8. This holds true as long as you use the same Windows Live ID / Microsoft Account on each of the computers. If, for some reason, you have used different Microsoft Accounts, then the Store cannot see your purchases and synchronize them. Buy once, download many!

It should be noted that apps of the same title that have been purchased on other platforms, such as Windows Phone 7 or Xbox 360, do not transfer. This was a bit of a let down, as my quest to have this question answered began with the game I show in the video, Hydro Thunder Hurricane, which I already own on Xbox 360 (along with Hydro Thunder Go on WP7). Here’s hoping that, eventually, this will all be a thing of the past, and I will finally begin to grow a catalog of applications – but at least you can rest easy knowing that you won’t have to spend a fortune getting apps on both your “work” and “play” computers!

Weave is a beautiful WP7 substitute for Flipboard

This week’s app is the Windows Phone 7 competitor to apps like Flipboard and Pulse. Weave News Reader is a feed reader app that seems built from the ground up for Windows Phone 7 users. It grabs lots of feeds like US news and Entertainment, but also takes in to consideration the fact that many Windows Phone 7 users are fans of Microsoft products, it also has built in feeds for things like Microsoft news, or Windows Phone 7 news.

Weave gives you the ability to customize the 30+ categories from 180+ sources, and share the articles you find on several social networks, including Facebook, Instapaper, and Twitter. It loads impressively fast and really does its best to give you an immersive experience. It might not reach the bar set by Flipboard, but it comes impressively close for something that isn’t busy trying to maintain its exclusive appearance. Go ahead and download it for free, Weave News Reader is worth a shot!