Archive for December 2012

Microsoft Surface Review

Today I finally managed to get my hands on Microsoft’s newest device, the Microsoft Surface. My wife and I were wandering around our local Best Buy with no intention of buying anything, and there they were, sitting on display next to the Samsung tablets. Given the environment, there were obviously problems, but I won’t hold those against the Surface (despite the fact that the other tablets were all working fine). Here are my impressions of Microsoft’s device.

The Device Itself

Holding the device, I didn’t notice much difference in weight compared to other tablets it’s size. This isn’t a scientific measurement, I just held it. I’m sure there’s a difference, but it wasn’t really noticeable in the few minutes I played around with it. The texture of the device was nice. The design? Not so much. Microsoft decided to go the in the opposite direction from every other tablet maker on the market, and make the device kind of, well, sharp. There are unrounded edges on the device which are apparent as soon as you pick up the device. Personally, I didn’t like it as much as the rounded corners of pretty much every other tablet. I didn’t experience any physical discomfort in holding the Surface, but I only held it for 10 minutes or so. The screen was nice, and the resolution was good.

The OS

2012-12-27 14.31.34Wow, this is opening up a can of worms, but the OS is pretty much everything I expected it to be. Horrible. I’ve only had the chance to try it on a phone before, and I thought it was functional but ugly. On a tablet, it’s even less functional, but still ugly. I opened up several different applications, but the one that jarred me the most was the Office 13 Preview. Opening that app kicked me into Desktop mode immediately. To me, it was akin to reading something and having it ripped out of your hand mid-sentence and having to change your point of view to something different. I didn’t like it at all. One of the other things I noticed when I was trying it out was the picture at left. This is a minor thing, but it popped out at me. When I tried out the login, I realized that I didn’t have the password to get back in. I thought that maybe they left it blank for demonstration purposes, so I tried that. I was wrong in my guess, but when it came back to let me know that, the text didn’t even line up correctly in the box.

Dead Horse

I’m not going to keep going. I didn’t get a lot of time with the device, but in the time I did have with it, I wasn’t impressed. Not everything about the Surface was bad, and if there were no other tablets on the market anywhere (say in some alternate reality where iOS and Android didn’t exist), I’d consider it mostly functional. What I did see was that there was absolutely nothing about this device that would ever make me consider it over more well established players in the market. I mean seriously, I’d even choose an iPad over this thing and that’s saying something.

Samsung Should Withhold Technology from Apple

Samsung Should Withhold Technology from AppleIn recent days, Samsung has been showing off some pretty cool new stuff. One of these new technologies is the flexible display that they actually showed us last year (at right), but which this year will be new and improved. Of course the question came up, given the current situation between Apple and Samsung, will Samsung withhold these new technologies from Apple? My personal opinion? Samsung should withhold technology from Apple.

To Big for their Britches

Apple has spent the last couple years strutting around like they’re the cool kid on campus, suing anybody and everybody from the most minimal slight, justified or not. They’ve gone after Samsung more than any other company. The biggest irony in that is that Samsung has manufactured a great number of the components that make the iPhone/iPad work. Processors, displays, memory. Recently, Apple has attempted to get those parts from other companies, with mixed success. As it stands currently, Apple needs Samsung. Apple can’t even make their devices without Samsung.

Apple has Withheld from Samsung

It’s impossible to not note that the cases we’re currently seeing in the courts are a result of Apple pulling fairly ridiculous patents out of their bag of tricks, refusing to license those patents to 3rd parties, and then suing if there’s even a hint that those patents might be violated. Those patents include multi-touch and their rubber band patent.

Samsung has got the Goods

Samsung Should Withhold Technology from AppleThe thing about Apple suing Samsung is that it provides Samsung with very little motivation to continue to provide their technology to Apple. And why should they? I don’t think they should. I think that Samsung should withhold their technology from Apple, because quite frankly, despite the fact that Apple has somehow managed to get a reputation for being innovators, they’re not. Samsung is on the other hand. Let Apple continue to use what they’ve got, but anything that Samsung comes up with in the future is strictly off limits. Before long, the iPhone will look like this little gem to the right.

A Taste of their own Medicine

I’m anxious to see Samsung give Apple a taste of their own medicine. Some of these new technologies that Samsung is coming up with are extremely cool, and like nothing Apple has ever dreamed of. If Apple is happy to withhold technology like a rubber banding effect, then I’m all for Samsung keeping flexible displays from Apple. Give them a taste of their own medicine and watch them fade into obscurity just as relevant as Betamax.

Why I’m Grateful for Android Malware

Hardly a couple days can go by without some horror story about the latest Android malware. The one I think I saw most recently was a story about how Android faces more malware attacks than PCs in the United States. Now, besides sounding like click bate and total fiction, I find that I don’t really care about Android malware. Quite the contrary, I’m grateful for it.

Grateful for malware?!? Yep, and here’s why.

The Trojan Horse

Pretty much all malware on the Android platform is a Trojan Horse. For those unfamiliar with the Trojan Horse, it’s really just software that fools the person using the device into installing it. It doesn’t use any kind of software or security vulnerabilities. It attacks the person. All this boils down to is that any platform that has someone using it is vulnerable to a Trojan Horse.

Those Other Platforms

Are there platforms out there that have less malware than Android does?

Yep.

Would I use those platforms over Android?

Nope.

Why? Isn’t less malware good?

That depends on what you’re giving up to rid yourself of this malware. See, Android is very secure. Google goes to great lengths to protect their users from malware, and in cases where infection does occur through the Play Store, they can remotely repair your device. They’ve even implemented checks for apps that are sideloaded onto your device, which is where most malware infections come from.

Don’t other devices do this too?

Well, not really. Microsoft and Apple have more stringent restrictions on the apps that make it into their store, it’s true. There’s no real protection from side loaded applications because to even get an app sideloaded on to the device, it has to be jailbroken. The user doesn’t have permissions to install applications that aren’t approved by Microsoft or Apple respectively.

And that’s the gotcha for me. This is my device. I paid for it, but I need someone else’s permission to install software on it? I call BS on that.

Conclusion

Sure, Apple and Microsoft limiting what the user can install theoretically makes the platform less vulnerable to malware, but it does it by restricting what the user can do. It’s taking away your capabilities on the device. It’s making it more of a toaster oven than a smart phone. I guess that’s why I find myself grateful for Android malware, and every time I see some news article regarding Android malware, I’m more grateful for it. It means that I continue to have rights on my device that users of other platforms can’t claim. To me, that makes malware something to be grateful for.