Archive for September, 2008

The week that was

September 27, 2008


I was in Toronto last week, checking out Santa’s helpers at the Microsoft hardware workshop. I must admit, some of the designs and functionality impressed me and I am not very forgiving on Microsoft mice of the past. Well now they have some fancy blue light models coming out that work on just about any surface the traditional red laser mouse starts losing itself on. I saw cool tiny web cams and an eye-catching portable mouse that folds over for storage. Honest, I thought I had a flip phone. So I put first dibs on the next model that comes with a Skype enabled Bluetooth speaker and microphone. You read it here first.

I got to see the new larger capacity Zunes too and discuss new features on the recent Zune 3 upgrade, for both the player and the PC software. Zunes now have games to play! One neat feature is being able to tag a song you listen to on your Zune player radio. When you synch it later at home, wirelessly through WiFi or with USB cable, the software directs you to where you can buy the audio CD that contains the song. Hmmm…buy audio CD, there’s a blast from the past! Microsoft Canada says Canadians buy more audio CDs than online music. Let me get this right. Use cutting edge digital audio players to buy audio CDs. I am sure the Zune Canada folks will change their “tune” when the longwaited  Zune Canada Marketplace finnaly get’s going.  

Geez, you guys. You have a sharp looking and working media player going and unless you deliver the full experience in Canada soon, you are encouraging users to fend for their own digital music, and most of it btw, illegally gotten and shared. Not to mention slowly eroding allegiance from your fan base. When Zune Marketplace opens here, Zuners might keep away sticking to their audio CDs instead!


Lenovo just announced its new line of ultra small and light ThinkPads, one of them an irresistible Tablet PC, using the new Intel Centrino 2 chip family. But if you want a great deal on the slightly older but still excellent line of ThinPads and Tablets check out some hot hot hot prices on  with phenomenal discounts. These deals are so hot, more than a third off, for still very decent and current quality performing laptops, that even I ordered one system (as a reviewer, I live from one loaner PC to another or build my own). I have not done that since the first 386 I bought back in the late early 90s for “only” $4,000!


Calgary just got its first genuine Apple store, with crazy overenthusiastic staff, following Edmonton’s recent Apple store at WEM. I must say the service is most excellent, making shoppers feel like a winners with well-trained and knowledgeable staff. I think Microsoft would have been better received from consumers too if it had  a bunch of Windows Stores in North America. Instead we are being bombarded by touchy good feelie ads featuring cameos from BillG and regular folks who are, you guessed it, PC users. Too late guys, Vista is still not appreciated. BTW, I checked out the most recent lapbooks or NetPCs from Acer, Asus, Dell and HP and they all run on Windows XP, or Linux.

Linux store openings…now there is an idea!



September 4, 2008


The new Google web Chrome browser released this week has a few dirty secrets. The Auto-Suggest feature, on by default, is helpful to users who like the dynamic pointers a Chrome browsing session offers, but at a price.

With this feature on, Google’s Big Brother is watching your every move. Even if you just type, it records your every keystroke before your press “enter” in the Omnibox.  It also records your computer’s address, so now you can become a permanent stat on Google servers.

You can avoid this data-snooping by turning the auto-suggest feature off or use a different search engine while using Chrome as your browser. Or switch to Chrome’s incognito mode.

That’s nice for Google to build up its data base, to help cement itself s as the super search engine and browser of all time.

This becomes another obstacle for Microsoft’s Live search and a scene stealer for the recently released IE 8 beta browser.

Lesson learned? Google is great, but there is a price for its free stuff some users may not want to pay in the future.


Motorola Canada showed off dozens or phones from its current and new product line to invited journalists in Toronto this week. Most impressive was the MOTOROKR E8, now the flagship phone for Motorola’s music-playing cellphones, available at  Rogers. It uses touch technology that vibrates back when you press on lighted buttons. But its ability to seemingly morph its onscreen buttons to suit the application it runs just rocks. For example, when you switch from phone mode to music playing mode, the phone pad disappears, replaced by music playing buttons like play, pause, next song etc. Or if you switch to digital camera mode, only the shooting controls show onscreen.

To see a demo of the phone in action, kindly shown by Stephen Orr, VP, strategy and Business Development with Motorola Canada go to:

Surprisingly, Motorola also showed the almost ready for Canada MOTOZINE ZN5 5 megapixel digital camera phone using Kodak chip and software technology including KODAK PERFECT TOUCH for improving photos, on-camera. Originally slated for sale in China, this product caught the attention of other countries, including Canada. Expect to see it under Rogers or Fido soon. One ultra cool ZN5 feature is the panorama mode, which automatically tells you when the second and third frames are lined up for the next shot. A recent showing of high quality poster prints from the ZN5 at Kodak’s Holiday show in New York this summer blew me away in sharpness, clarity and colour detail.

We were also treated to some of clever and amusing movie shorts created by the Motorola sponsored Talent Lab whose selected works is showing as Motorola trailers preceding film screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival this week. Aspiring Canadian film makers were given a Motorola movie-capable cellphone and two weeks to complete a short movie project. Motorola also sponsors the For the Reel program, with MTV showings, which encourages amateur film makers across the country to create Vanguard Progamme-themed short films on Motorola movie-capable handsets.

Some of the previous shorts we saw like Mathew Swanson’s Tic Tac Toe and Pam Mills’ Pat’s First Kiss, showed it’s not the equipment that matters, but what you can do with it.