Category Archives: Reviews

Tech Tuesday #4: What do you think of Windows 8?

Tech Tuesdays. It’s your chance to send in your tech questions, and we’ll answer one per week for everyone. To ask a question, just message us. They can be on any topic from security to cloud computing, or anything in between. And we’re featuring Media Mondays over on the CT Media sister page. Be sure to fan us over there, too!

TechTuesdays from Charland Technology

Today’s question, from Jim in Gardner: “What do you think about Windows 8?”

Windows 8 is a mixed bag.I’ll be writing in-depth coverage later this month.

Of course the newest version of Windows always has the most up-to-date security features. The Win-X menu is great, the expanded Start menu isn’t my cup of tea but seems useful. The new Task Manager provides loads of useful information for us techies, and the Win 8 systems I’ve used are very, very fast to boot and sleep.

On the other hand, there’s a lot of redundancy…you’ll see two completely separate Internet Explorer items, one of which is an “app” and runs full-screen. Many tasks have changed from clicking things to “hovering” your mouse in a certain corner of the screen, or keyboard combinations. Win-I, Win-E, Win-X are very useful but it’s my opinion that good user interfaces don’t leave the users guessing like Win 8 does. I’m also concerned about patching and updating the multiple Internet Explorers, Flash, Java, etc for each part.

And don’t get me started on Microsoft Office 2013. The previews make it significantly less usable than Office 2010 (which contained a few minor but appreciated improvements over Office 2007)

Bottom line: If you have a convertible system, tablet, or other touch-screen then Windows 8 can work nicely. For instance on a Lenovo ThinkPad Edge Twist it makes perfect sense…Use the tile-y block-y tablet-y “apps” when you’re folded over in Tablet mode, then use the Windows Desktop to run “programs” like a real computer. When properly assembled this Frankenstein makes sense…but on a conventional computer it’s just schizophrenia.

In general, though, Windows 8/Office 2013 are just bad interface design. I’m supposed to say, what? “Move your mouse to the bottom-left corner of the screen and wait for something to happen…now go to the upper-right corner, wait for the icons to slide in from the right, and click the gear.”

To say nothing about running this system remotely…on an unstable internet connection.

Got questions? Send them to CharlandTech via Facebook, post as a comment on this article, Tweet ‘em to @gregc00 or @CharlandTech, or find another creative way to get them to us.

aNew MacBook Pro most expensive disposable computer ever

The MacBook Pro Retina akes me want a Mac less. Highlights:

  • A beautiful display with more than 200 dots per inch (resolution of 2880 x 1800) on a 15.6″ screen. Seriously gorgeous display.
  • HDMI video port
  • Standard SSD/flash storage for higher speed
  • Thinner and lighter than most other 15″ notebooks

Lowlights:

  • memory is permanently soldered onto the system board, cannot be replaced, upgraded, or diagnosed
  • storage is a custom flash/SSD, I’d expect Other World Computing and other specialty outlets to have compatible upgrades in a few months but don’t count on it being cheap. The low-end with a NON upradeable 256GB drive is too small. The high-end system with 500GB is about right.
  • Battery is permanently sealed into the unit. Delicate cables are placed in the glue so that you’ll trash the system if you try to replace a battery cell.
  • To crack the system open you’ll need a Pentalobe screwdriver (which unless you’re in the business you won’t have) and a lot more patience than upgrading something like a Dell Latitude or Lenovo T-series.

Our advice

  1. Think twice. You’re buying a $3000 disposable computer. Your average computer shop will not be able to so much as open the case on these. Apple’s track record on new technology rollouts has been worrisome
  2. Don’t consider buying one of these without AppleCare (Apple’s $349 extended/enhanced warranty). Apple’s standard warranty is far below industry norm at 90-days. I don’t expect Apple Stores to do much in the way of on-site diagnosis and repair on these. They’ll hand you a new one and send you on your way.
  3. Avoid the low-end 2.3 unit. The 256G drive is too small and you’ll regret it later.
  4. Buy it with 16GB FOR SURE (which in my opinion is still not enough long-term) and the bigger SSD drive if you think there’s any chance you’ll use it.

Geek out and see the teardown at iFixit’s site here.

If you’re able to wait a few months, Lenovo, Dell, and HP all have interesting new products coming soon. Otherwise the 14″ to 15″ market is filled with good choices in the Lenovo Edge and T series, the Dell Latitude, and HP EliteBook.

If you’re a Mac enthusiast I think the old-style Macbook Pro/NON Retina is a much better value and will be a more reliable and serviceable system in the future.

Quick Review: Object File Zip

During a recent server migration, a big, .ZIP’d backup file wouldn’t open in Windows Explorer. After some searching I found Object File Zip, a freeware program from Essential Data Tools, that claims to recover damaged zip files.

I downloaded it, malware tested it, and everything looked clean.

I installed it on one of my test systems, copied the 5GB corrupt ZIP file, and ran a repair/extract. The program gives the option to copy to a new .ZIP file or just extract the contents.

All went well, and the program was able to extract the files from my corrupted ZIP file.

As always your results may vary and I always recommend you do your own testing and scanning of any new tools, but Object File Zip worked as advertised for my application.

The home page is http://www.essentialdatatools.com/products/objectfixzip/ which has a direct download… and it is also available from  Download.com (which I no longer recommend).