Microsoft Surface Pro 3 specs, pricing, and details

Microsoft just wrapped up their Surface event, and they announced the Surface Pro 3. Me? I’m a geek. So here is the stuff that matters!

General Surface Pro 3 specs:

What would you pay for a Microsoft Subscription?

Yesterday, Microsoft officially announced Office for iPad. The app will allow anyone who downloads it to view read-only versions of their documents stored in OneDrive. However, to modify your documents, you must be a paying Office 365 subscriber. Also, I have recently been considering signing up for an Xbox Music Pass. Not only that, but I have an ongoing Xbox Live Gold Member subscription.

This got me thinking. Imagine some sort of “Microsoft Subscription” that enabled access to the works? Xbox Live, Office 365, let’s say 50 or 100GB of bonus OneDrive storage, Xbox Music Pass… everything! What would you pay? If the MSRP of Office 365’s base package is $60 for one year. A year of Xbox Live Gold is $59.99, and Xbox Music, if paid up front, is $99.99. You’re looking at $220 worth of products, if you pay in advance. Paying month by month brings both Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Music to $120/year, each. So, what would you pay for a “Microsoft Subscription” to unlock it all? $150? $200? What other products would you want out of your subscription fee? If it were $250 and included a downloadable desktop version of Office to install your PC? A Windows license that always allowed you to upgrade to the latest and greatest version of Windows?

More importantly, do you believe something like this will happen in the future? Feel free to comment below.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Specs (Snapdragon & Exynos)

Android 4.4.2 KitKat
Size: 142 x 72.5 x 8.1
Weight: 145g
2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU*
2GB of RAM
16/32GB storage capacity
microSD support up to 64GB
5.1-inch FHD Super AMOLED display (1920 x 1080)
16-megapixel camera with UHD 4K video recording at 30fps
2.1-megapixel front-facing camera
LTE Cat 4 (150/50Mbps)
USB 3.0
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac HT80 MIMO (2×2) Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 4.0 BLE/ANT
IR Transceiver
2800mAh battery
IP67 Dust and Water Resistant (est. 30 minutes under 3 ft. of water)
Fingerprint scanner
Heart rate sensor

*It has already been suggested the later version of the S5 (“Standard” vs. “Prime” are rumored names I have seen) will be released with an Exynos 2.1 Ghz Octa-Core CPU, allowing even higher on screen resolutions and better game performance, among other performance gains.

Getting to know Microsoft's new CEO, Satya Nadella

Everyone, say hello to Satya Nadella. He has just been named the new CEO of Microsoft. Only the third CEO in company history, Nadella has been with Microsoft for 22 years.

He is well known for his role on the enterprise end of the spectrum. Particularly, over the last quarter-decade, he has been responsible for a lot of what makes Azure a great cloud platform. He is credited with making sure the infrastructure, including the ability to run Windows Server, SQL Server, and Visual Studio within the cloud. His educational background is at The University of Chicago, where he attended the Booth School of Business. While at Microsoft, he was a Senior VP in MBS (focusing on Dynamics and Office Small Business), then the President of the Server & Tools business, which is when he was making his big cloud push.

This should give us a clear idea of what Nadella going to focus on. Does this mean he will jettison other divisions like Windows Phone and Xbox? Doubtful. But we will very likely see more cloud integration and dependence on making the Xbox a “service” rather than simply a gaming or entertainment platform. Software as a Service (SaaS) and the ability to charge monthly fees for products like Windows and Office have been a long time goal for Microsoft, generating a steady stream of revenue. As much as the consumer may not like it, the entire industry has been trying to go this way for years. We can expect to see a push in this direction, as I expect Nadella will dive in more quickly than his predecessors, who were dipping their toes in.

If you really want to get to know Satya Nadella, learn about him from his MSDN blogs of years past.

Tons of classic video games, free and legal, online!

There is an ongoing debate about the legality of emulating video games. Some say it’s like a rental, some say you have to own the game, many vendors would have you believe it’s 100% illegal no matter what. If you want someone else to worry about the legalities while you reap the benefits, look no further than our friends at The Internet Archive.

Recently, Internet Archivists have put together a collection of vintage gaming console information. Continue reading “Tons of classic video games, free and legal, online!”

How to find a lost BitLocker Recovery Key

Some recent glitches in Windows (particularly on some Surface 2 devices) have been prompting users for their BitLocker Security Key. Many people don’t know their key, and if you can’t login to your computer to check it, how do you know what it is!? We’re here to help.

Simply visit and view the list of keys your computers have automatically uploaded to your Microsoft account! If you know the name of the machine, you can easily figure out which BitLocker key you need, and type it in to unlock your computer!

Whether you encrypted your drive and needed to move it to another computer, or some glitch is asking you for your BitLocker Encryption Key, at least now you can figure our what your BitLocker Key is. I had some keys in there for devices I didn’t any more, so I deleted them from my account to keep it clean. It’s nice to know we can get access to these keys as needed!

"New" details surface about the never released 3dfx Rampage

I was recently digging through an archive of old 3dfx files that were sent to me more than a decade ago. I don’t even recall who sent them anymore, but there was a treasure trove of internal documentation from within the walls of 3dfx Interactive, Inc. Among them included planning documents to take advantage of new features in the then upcoming DirectX 8 APIs, an audit-list of who has which test Voodoo 5 5500 card, benchmark results from hours of testing, lists of software used for testing, and much, much more Continue reading “"New" details surface about the never released 3dfx Rampage”

A call for stronger key lengths

I remember when a 128-bit SSL certificate meant that my transaction was secure. Now we’re wondering what gaps in the security there may be, even when looking at 4,096 bit encryption!

When we’re talking “key length” – we’re talking about those number of bits we use to “measure” encryption for every day purposes. A key allows you to then decrypt the encrypted data (a file, a picture, a credit card number, etc…). With good security practices the key is not related to the crytographic method used to obscure the data, it is merely what allows you to then decrypt the file. Kind of like how your car key doesn’t actually start the engine, it just triggers the ignition to do the rest for you. A higher “bit value” means there are more possibilities for each key, the integer multiplied by powers of two.

All of that aside, when we talk about something being “4,096 bit” – currently considered highly sophisticated encryption – we’re still only talking about a comparitively small amount of data. CPUs are getting faster by leaps and bounds. Memory is so widely available that sloppy coding has been “Standard Procedure” for over a decade. Storage drives are getting physically smaller, while storing more data than ever before in human history. You can walk in to a store and buy a 3TB hard drive. In the 1980’s, terabytes were still theoretical measurements. So I ask – why are we “settling” for encryption like 4,096 bit? Shor’s algorithm seems to be on path to crack every password and read every encrypted document that you’ve ever created, so why not lock things down tighter.

Google has stepped up encryption plans in response to the NSA news going public, but that is only half of the battle. It is also nothing more than a PR battle – Google knew what was going on, they were the ones who complied. To make a sudden scramble and speed up their implementation is only for show, it’s not like they were as surprised about the leaks as the rest of us. It just irks me that they’re going for brownie points with this stunt, being so public about it.

I believe that everything should be encrypted, all the time. HTTPS shouldn’t be necessary anymore, HTTP should simply exist as a secure platform. As should all of the data stored on your computer, and on the web. After the revelations that these large companies have been buddy buddy with the NSA, it’s safe to assume that things like Microsoft’s “Bitlocker” encryption isn’t enough. We need something better, something open source and publicly verified by many independent voices. And not only that, but something that is strong. If I used 2:1 encryption on every files on my hard drive at work, I would still have a massive amount of free disk space. Computational limitations of encryption are of no concern to nmost people as memory, storage capacity, processing power, and bandwidth get larger and larger. Take my 60GB of data, wrap it with 120GB of fluff, so now I have a total of 180GB sitting on my disk drive. So what, I still have 820+ free gigs of storage!

As encryption gets better, crytographic keys need to become stronger. Eventually we’ll move beyond passphrases and keys, passwords and PINs… voice encryption, retinal scans, and finger print identification… those are possible, and just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to security. Heartbeats, thoughts, even the way we breathe are all being experimented with as methods of identification. But who knows what it will take to ensure our security and privacy in the future.

Why an iPhone 5C could be a bad idea

photo credit: Sonny Dickson

Today, I expect Apple to make a mistake. Now, I could be wrong, but here is my brief prediction for today’s press conference.

Apple will announce the new iPhone “5S” – faster than the iPhone 5, 128 GB of storage, and available in traditional white, black, and the new Champagne Gold. Distinct from that will be the iPhone “5C” – a phone nearly identical to the current iPhone 5, but available in a variety of new colors, similar to the old iPod lineup. A rainbow of color available, but on an underwhelmingly basic phone.

Why this is a mistake: Apple is simply leaving money on the table. While I have no doubt that people who already own the iPhone 5 would drop everything just to have a green or blue or pink iPhone 5 (and thus Apple is still going to make money) those same people would also love to have the “upgraded” and higher performing “5S” type model. But the 5S, I believe, is going to remain exclusive, and only be available in one new color – so that the elite status of the iPhone 5S owner can be shown off.

Others have made similar predictions, but I seem to be the only one out there who thinks this is a terrible idea on Apple’s part. Microsoft just picked up Nokia and is going to start gaining steam. Google already has the Motorola team and is working on future Nexus devices. Competition is heating up, and the iOS7 announcement didn’t seem to really “do the trick” for a lot of people. Apple’s responsibility to its shareholders is to profit as much as possible. The person who wants a cool color can also be the person who wants a faster phone. Again, my prediction is that the 5C will be more budget priced and the specs will be nearly identical to the existing iPhone 5, but the “5S” that is likely to launch with the new champagne gold color I expect to add a little bit of CPU performance, possibly even 128GB of storage, because, why not? So will Apple actually make this mistake? Or am I off base and all of the speeds, and sizes, and color options will be available to all buyers? We’ll find out. But I’ll tell you one thing: I expect sales of clear iPhone cases to rise!