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

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!

Windows is 27 years old today

It’s Tech Tip Tuesday. It’s November 20th, 2012. 27 years ago today, Windows 1.0 was shipped. For just a geek trip down memory lane, here is the official version log / change log for versions 1-3 (essentially, anything before Windows 95). It’s too bad that the official Microsoft “history of Windows” page hasn’t even been updated with relevant Windows 7 or Windows 8 information, yet. Still, I thought it would be fun to read through the official “change log” of the earliest versions of Windows that only some of us even remember!


Version Date Requirements
------- ---- ------------

1.01 11/85 - MS-DOS version 2.0
- Two double-sided disk drives or a hard disk
- 256K of memory or greater
- Graphics-adapter card

1.03 8/86 Requirements

- MS-DOS version 2.0
- Two double-sided disk drives or a hard disk
- 320K of memory or greater
- Graphics-adapter card

Changes:

- MS-DOS version 3.2 support
- Enhanced keyboard support
- AT&T 6300 and AT&T 6300 Plus support
- 14-, 18-, and 24-point sizes added to
TimesRoman and Helvetica fonts
- Generic/Text Only printer driver added
- PostScript printer driver added
- .WRI extension used for Windows Write files
(version 1.01 used .DOC extension)
- Support for all features of the international
version

DDL 1/87 Windows Device Driver Library Volume 1

Additional support for display devices,
printers, and pointing devices added

1.04 4/87 Requirements

- MS-DOS version 2.0
- Two double-sided disk drives or a hard disk
320K of memory or greater
- Graphics-adapter card

Changes

- IBM Personal System/2 support
- COMM.DRV revised to support ept port for IBM
3812 Pageprinter
- HP downloadable soft font support

2.03 11/87 Requirements

- MS-DOS version 3.0
- Two double-sided disk drives or a hard disk
- 512K of memory or greater
- Graphics-adapter card

Changes

- Overlapping windows instead of tiled windows
- LIM Version 4.0 expanded memory support
- Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) support
- SMARTDrive disk-cache program included
- Revised .FON format for screen fonts
- NEWFON.EXE included to convert 1.x font
format to 2.x font format
- Revised Paint file format
- CVTPAINT.EXE included to convert 2.x
Paint file format to 1.x format
- About command moved to File menu from System
menu
- Printer Timeouts option added to Control
Panel
- Mouse Acceleration option added to Control
Panel
- Warning Beep toggle added to Control Panel
- Notepad About command reports
- Remaining Free Space
- 3812 Pageprinter no longer supported

2.10 5/27/88 Requirements

- 512K Memory
- MS-DOS version 3.0 or later
- One floppy-disk drive AND one hard disk (note
that a hard disk is now required)
- Graphics adapter card (the box notes: IBM
EGA, IBM VGA, IBM 8514, IBM CGA, Hercules
Graphics Card, or compatibles)
- Use of the Microsoft Mouse is optional
- Packaged with 5.25-inch 1.2 megabyte
disks OR 3.5-inch 720K disks, plus an
order form for free 360K 5.25-inch disks

Changes

- New HIMEM.SYS driver allowing the use of the first
64K of extended memory to store part of Windows,
giving approximately 50K additional conventional
memory inside Windows
- Support for approximately 65 more printers than
version 2.03, bringing the total supported
printers to approximately 127
- Support for additional computers
- Support for additional display devices

2.11 3/13/89 Requirements

Same as Version 2.1

Changes

- Accounts for memory freed by XMS when computing
the maximum swap size allowed
- Increased minimum bankable memory required for
large frame EMS
- Setup program no longer terminates when
incompatible driver is encountered
- Setup corrected to permit set up on 512K machine
with MS-DOS version 3.3
- Updated COMM.DRV to solve handshaking problems at
9600 bits per second (BPS)
- Updated HPPCL.DRV driver that supports LaserJet
series IID, Olivetti LP 5000, Toshiba
- PageLaser 12, and Intel Visual Edge
- Updated PSCRIPT.DRV driver that supports
Olivetti LP 5000 in PostScript mode
- Printing speed increased
- Windows/386 WINOLDAP.MOD modified to support high-
resolution displays

Additions

- AppleTalk library (must accompany the new
PostScript driver)
- Toshiba 24-pin printer driver
- 8514/a driver for Windows/386
- /E switch to adjust large frame EMS threshold

3.0 5/22/90 Requirements

2.11 requirements plus the following:

- MS-DOS 3.1 or higher
- 640K Conventional Memory
- 256K Extended Memory

Changes

- Windows runs in protected mode -- direct extended
memory access
- 386 enhanced mode virtual memory provides more
memory than physically in RAM by swapping blocks
of RAM to the hard drive.
- Color palette managed by Windows 3.0
- Device-independent color bitmap support
- Improved network support
- New dialog boxes, system fonts, and menus
- Graphical environment
- New HIMEM.SYS XMS (spec. 2.0) driver. 16 MB
support
- EMM386.SYS expanded memory manager
- 32 printer drivers supporting 170 different
printers -- including HP LaserJet III series
- MS-DOS programs run in a window
- Three mode operation (real, standard, 386
enhanced).
- Icon-based Program Manager
- Tree-structured File Manager
- Asymetrix Daybook 1.0a bundled

3.00a 10/31/90 Requirements

Same as Windows 3.0

Changes

- Maintenance release of 3.0 focusing on very
specific problems with:

Networking
Dynamic Data Exchange
Low-memory conditions
Setup
Extended character support for printers

- Retail package shipped with Windows Q&A booklet

3.00a
Multimedia Fall
Extensions 1991 Requirements

Multimedia PC (MPC) Specifications:

- 80386 sx or dx IBM compatible
- 2 megabytes RAM
- VGA or higher (16 color minimum)
- 30 Megabyte hard drive
- CD-ROM (with audio output support)
- 2-button mouse
- Audio hardware

Changes

- Available only through hardware OEM
- New device drivers to connect with specific MPC
hardware.
- Introduced Media Control Interface (MCI)
- Enhanced Control Panel includes screen saver,
video driver icon (Drivers), joystick control,
driver installer, event based sound control,
and MIDI mapping control
- New Accessories: MPC Alarm Clock, Media Player,
- Sound Recorder

3.10 4/6/92 Requirements

- MS-DOS 3.1 or later
- IBM compatible 80286 or higher (386 recommended)
- 640K Conventional memory
- 256K extended memory (XMS v 2.0 or higher)
- 1024K extended memory recommended on 80286
- 2048K extended memory recommended on 80386
- 5.25-inch (high density) or 3.5-inch floppy
drive
- Fixed drive with 6 megabytes free (10 megabytes
recommended)
- EGA, VGA, SVGA, XGA, 8514/A, or Hercules video
card or 100% compatible card, and monitor
- Mouse recommended

Changes

- Available in upgrade or full package (upgrade
does not require earlier version)
- Improved Setup program offers express, custom,
network, and troubleshooting setup
- Computer-based Windows 3.1 tutorial
- Consistent dialog boxes
- Improved online Help
- OLE Drag and drop, OLE support in many applications
- Improved File Manager
- Improved printer support through use of
UNIdriver
- New video drivers support MS-DOS graphics in a
window
- WD1003 virtual hard drive controller
- Virtual memory changeable in Control Panel
- Standard and enhanced mode operation only
- TrueType scalable font support
- Includes multimedia extensions (inclusions)
- Includes new SMARTDrive version 4.0, HIMEM XMS
manager 3.0, new EMM386.EXE
- Standard mode can now run with EMM386.EXE running
- Documentation includes "Getting Started" manual
- 266 different types of printers supported

3.11 12/31/93 Requirements

- Same as version 3.1

Changes

- Certificate of Authenticity
- More sophisticated hologram and an MS (3M) sticker
on box
- An 800 number to call (in the United States &
Canada) and check for product legitimacy
- Updated drivers
- Five updated core files
- NetWare support files (from Novell)

2008 – Rehab – Graffiti the World

No, we’re not talking about physical therapy with the Wii, we’re talking about Rehab, the band. Many people know the band from their single, Sittin’’ At A Bar, but if you want music that’ll put you in a good mood, you need to listen to Graffiti The World.

Tracks like Bump literally paint a beautiful picture of “black trees / silhouetted against an orange sky” as you drive down the road with your music blasting. Every time I hear it in the car I go a little bit faster. Other songs like Bottles and Cans tell an interesting story about the cost of being the life of the party. Other songs like Red Water and Walk Away slow the album down and make you take a deeper look at your life, whether it’s from the perspective of someone who appears to have it all, or someone about to lose their marriage. There are several more good songs on the album, and this is one of those rare few I really enjoy beginning to end. This Town is a fantastic song about life in a small town, which always reminds me of where I grew up in Pennsylvania. I would, without a second of hesitation, tell anybody to listen to Graffiti The World.

Even if you’re opposed to the language on the album, you can’t come away from it without understanding that these guys have been there – or they know someone who has. Dealing with everything from suicide, to drug addiction, to struggling with their career in music, and even religion, on an alternate pressing of this album (a song was cut from this release, entiled “This I Know” which puts a modern spin on the children’s Sunday School song “Jesus Loves Me, this I know…”). I’m really a big fan of Rehab and enjoy most of their stuff, but this album finds its way in to my rotation over and over again!

Xbox 360: No picture on TV and controller not syncing? Try this…

Recently, a friend turned to me with a problem with his Xbox 360. When we started talking, he said that the lights on the console weren’t doing anything strange, but there was no picture on his TV. So I walked him through resetting his display settings by starting the console and pressing a certain combo of buttons on his controller. No luck – it turned out his controller wasn’t syncing. So, then, I told him how to sync his controller to his Xbox 360. No luck. He then plugged in a USB controller – still no change, the light on the controller never came on to show it was connected.

In the end, it turned out that he had recently rearranged his living room and the HDMI cable wasn’t snug in the back of the Xbox 360. He had gotten to the point that he had worked with Microsoft’s phone support and they weren’t able to help him, he was about to send the console off for repair – until he decided he could try another HDMI cable. When reaching to unplug his current cable, he realized it was loose.

I would suggest that you check both ends of your HDMI cable (Xbox 360 console and TV), and even use the HDMI cable of another working device such as a DVD player or a PS3, just for testing purposes. Even though the controller issue seems strangely unrelated, it seems that the Xbox 360 must detect that it is connected to a display source before it starts the controller up. Now, even if you have the incorrect display resolution selected, it will at least finish booting up. Not having a video out cable of any kind connected must stop the boot sequence. We learned something new today! And I hope it helps you!

It's Wii U Weekend!

The Wii U launches on Sunday. The Deluxe Model includes Nintendo Land. Of course, I’ll be buying New Super Mario Bros. U, and feeling like a kid on launch day (and then remembering exactly how much I hated having to turn my game off so my dad could have the TV to watch football, as I have a “prior engagement” for Sunday Night Football). And although I don’t have stars in my eyes and I’m not excited for this console as a gaming console, I’m excited to see it as someone who has owned every console Nintendo has ever released – I’m excited to see it Nintendo mature, to see what is going to come next. I’m excited to see if, this generation, firmware updates will be for more than combating piracy (and failing miserably at even that).

I’m almost anxious, but the feeling, with a little more than 48 hours to go, is nothing like 1996 when I knew there was a Nintendo 64 in the house, but I couldn’t have it until Santa delivered it. It’s certainly not like 1992, when I DIDN’T know there was a Super Nintendo in the house and was blown away to open my Super Mario World / Mario Paint Super NES Super Set. It seems like a life time ago.

To prep myself, mentally, I read up on the latest offering from Nintendo: Iwata Asks: Wii U: The Console. I have to say I’m not floored – we’ve already seen how the hardware barely holds up against the Xbox 360 and the PS3 – it basicall brings the Wii in to the HD era, but it is still sweating itself to be that much more than the Gamecube. Perhaps there is hidden potential to unlock, and I think I’ll have more to say on that next week – but I still have that “new console” buzz going through my mind. I wonder if I’ll get any sleep Saturday night?