Sunday, 29 October 2017

Mature Mobile


The iPhone X is almost here. We are just days away from the event that comes 10 years after the original iPhone. We have the iPhone 8 on sale and the iPhone doing clever stuff with face recognition.

In the last few days Apple has been forced to deny it has reduced it's high manufacturing standards for facial recognition on the iPhone.

The "revolutionary" aspect of this phone is it unlocks just by looking at it. By unlock I mean that you have to be the owner of the phone!
Underlying this technology is the Israeli company that created the tech behind the Microsoft Kinect sensor. This week saw Microsoft end the production of the Kinect sensor that was, at one point, the fastest selling games peripheral. Apple bought the company that created the technology behind Kinect and had them work on using the idea for facial recognition. However even then Apple are a little late in the game because Microsoft already created "Windows Hello". Windows Hello logs you in just using your face or other biometric on Windows PCs and Phones.


Microsoft was there first. Despite the "death" of Windowsphone devices it's a little bit strange that 2 years after Microsoft had a facial login it's Apple that claims the technology as new.

On the iPhone 8 bulging battery photos have shown that even this phone, largely little changed from it's predecessor, has also been reported as having issues.

Google has also launched the Pixel 2. Made by Google is the slogan. This device has also been hit by some criticism. Screen burn on two-week old devices has hit the press.

The problem with all mobile makers is that the smartphone market is mature. Changes now are incremental not revolutionary. Most manufacturers are now finding it hard to add the killer feature that is sufficiently different from last year's model. You would be hard pushed to find much change from 2 or 3 year old phones!

This years' update season of new devices seems to prove there is not much reason to upgrade devices at all and pay premium prices. The only real reason is fashion. Being seen with the latest device.

The market is now mature. People are keeping their old devices much longer because there are few technical reasons to upgrade.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The death of Windowsphone


Windowsphone actually “died” a couple of years ago. After Steve Ballmer, the previous CEO of Microsoft, bought Nokia for $7.2 billion you might have assumed that Microsoft was serious about mobile. However Microsoft had little choice. Nokia had made Windowsphone it’s primary operating system and now had 98% of the Windowsphone market. If Nokia’s phone division had just gone bankrupt or made Android handsets then Windowsphone would have ended in 2014.

Nokia had done a pretty good job for Microsoft. Good industrial design, striking colours, double digit market share in places like Europe, South America and Asia where Nokia was a known brand and Microsoft had neglected. Nokia’s handsets had great cameras and additional apps that added value to the device. Nokia had teams of designers and specialists that knew how to make mobile hardware. Microsoft, on the other hand, struggled to sell Windowsphone in their US home market, contantly re-booted the operating system making older handsets incompatible, re-branded services, failed to create a mobile payments system and undermined developers with a poor quality app store and changing developer tools frequently. It seems astonishing that the weaker partner in Windowsphone, in terms of product development and innovation, was Microsoft.

Spending $7.2 billion dollars was not universally popular in the Microsoft board room. The current CEO, Sataya Nadella, in his book Hit Refresh”, says he did not support the decision to buy Nokia. However after becoming CEO he said that Microsoft would continue to support phone, even when the evidence was not showing Microsoft had confidence in their own phone business. In 2015 Microsoft did launch the Lumia 950/950 XL flagship phones on a very iffy Windows 10 Mobile OS. This was the 3rd reboot of the OS itself and reviewers found the speed of the device as great but it showed none of the flare of the Nokia designs and the OS frequently crashed or froze. Developers had not embraced the UWP (Universal Windows Platform) to develop apps and most store apps were compatible with previous generations of Windowsphone.  Microsoft watchers pointed out a shift in language. Microsoft talked about mobile experiences, applications on any device and not just Windowsphone, they wound down their efforts to get developers specifically on board with mobile and Terry Myerson, the chief of the Windows division, said that Microsoft was not “focused” on phone in 2016.


Saturday, 7 October 2017

Simple anti-ransomware tip

The most recent ransomware attacks on PC networks have been amplified by SMB 1.x. SMB is the original file sharing protocol on Windows. It actually came from MS-DOS, the previous operating system from Microsoft, and has a long history. It eventually became called CIFS (Common Internet File System) as a rebrand to dominate internet file sharing in the same way as Windows dominated the PC world.

In the recent ransomware attacks where computers are controlled by malware the old version 1 of SMB has been used to spread the malware over networks. Very few systems, except the odd printer/scanner, use SMB 1 any more. Mostly you see version 2 or version 3 on networks today. So unless you know you need version 1 it’s best to switch it off in the Windows control panel.

If you select switching on/off Windows features you see something like this.

smb-off

Basically you just switch off SMB 1 by unticking the box. Probably a good thing to do on all your PCs to make them a little safer.

For more detailed information click here.