Zune HD release date and PRE news

According to Paul Thurrot, who revealed this on the Windows Weekly podcast, the Zune HD is to be released on September 5.  No confirmation from Microsoft, other than ‘in a few months.’  At the ‘All Things D’ conference this week, Steve Ballmer actually said ‘next month’, but Microsoft very quickly retracted that and said ‘in a few months.’

Engadget and Gizmodo have video demos of the device.

The new device will be flash based, but no details about how big the flash drive will be.  No pricing information has been released either.

In another interesting bit of news, Palm confirmed, at the same conference, that the PRE will sync with iTunes 8.  iTunes, apparently, will see the PRE as an iPhone.  I am wondering how long it will be before Apple closes that hole.  It will be interesting to see Apple’s response to the PRE, over all.  The PRE is due to be released on Saturday, June 6.

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Mac OS Ken

I realize that countless stories and postings about the cult of Apple get tiresome, and I am guilty of it as well, but it has to be one of the most fascinating subjects in the tech world.  I know some really devoted Microsoft fans-I’ve been accused of being one myself-but the Apple fans I know are even more devoted, though not to the point of such people as Key Ray, Alex Lindsay and Scott Bourne.  The latter two are at least entertaining and likable people and it is easier to over look the Apple fandom.  Key Ray, however, is a different story.

Mr. Ray is the host of Mac OS Ken, a daily podcast devoted to all things related to the company of fruit.  His podcast is one that I listen to, all at once, once a week.  Listening to it daily would be pushing it.  Actually, his podcast is OK.  Technically speaking, he does a fine job.  The quality of the audio is really good and consistent, his presentation is fine and the music is not all that bad.  It it the content that is questionable.  Now, the information-the Apple oriented stuff, anyway-is usually very accurate.  It is when he begins talking about anything that is remotely competitive with Apple and its products or anything related to Microsoft where he goes astray.  He cannot report any of that type of news in a straightforward manner or even give the most recent version of the facts.  Sometimes he will present ‘facts’ that may not be correct as if they were, even if later it was proven they were wrong.  I have never heard him retract something, unless it makes Apple look good.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he is dishonest, because from what I can tell, he’s an honest guy.  But he just does not report any corrections to the non-Apple stories he relays.

While I’ve learned to get used to the anti-Microsoft slant from him and other Apple fankids, it’s the attacks on other companies that just really puzzle me.  Take, for instance, the Palm Pre.  The Pre is, no doubt, going to be competition for the iPhone.  Already, before the device is even released, he is right there crapping on the product.  He is, in effect, doing exactly what he and the other fankids were complaining about prior to iPhone being released.  It is as if he and other fruities are scared crapless that the Pre will steal thunder from the fruit company phone.  I will wager that had Pre met with less enthusiasm than it has, he and the others would fret far less-if at all-than they are now.

Given that the iPhone is such a nice and elegant device (did I just type that?) and ‘just works’, why are these people so bent out of shape over the Pre? I can’t wait to see the anti Zune HD dribble these people will, no doubt, put out.  The HD is getting very good early reviews.  I can’t wait for Mr. Ray’s take on it.  No doubt, he will crap all over it with out even seeing it.  Yep, this will be very entertaining indeed.

You can subscribe to his podcast in the ZUNE Marketplace.

Web site link.

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Another Zune rumor confirmed: Zune HD

Well, one Zune rumor that has come true:  the Zune HD was confirmed today by Microsoft.  The new Zune will be a flash based Zune with a nice 3.3 inch, 480 x 272 OLED touch screen.  It will also include an HD radio, HD video output via a dock and will run a flavor of Windows CE.  It will also include WIFI and an real browser.  Not much else has been released by the company.  Since the E3 conference is around the corner, I am guessing they are holding off on more details until then.

ZuneHD The new Zune HD looks very nice.  Its design cues are similar to the iPod Touch-its main competitor-but with a bit of retro flair using lots of silver and black.

Microsoft also confirmed new Zune and XBOX Live integration…of sorts.  This will be shown off at E3.

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Randall Kennedy says Microsoft is guilty of collusion over Windows 7 and netbooks

In the ‘ya gotta be kidding’ arena today, another stupendous post by the notoriously anti-Microsoft ‘journalist’ Randall C Kennedy posits that Microsoft and hardware makers are engaged in ‘price fixing’ because Microsoft has a set of guidelines that determine the types of machines that are eligible for lower cost versions of Windows 7. 

According to Kennedy, Microsoft’s ‘archaic, multilevel pricing strategy’ is what will cause the hardware makers to go with the low end version of the operating system so they will, naturally, ‘fall in line.’  He goes on to say ‘On the surface, the situation reeks of the worst kind of collusion’.  Huh?  So, according to him, if these hardware makers choose the Starter edition of Windows, that is the same as collusion. BUT…if they were to put Ubuntu on them, since there is no one company involved, then that is OK.  Never  mind that it is pretty much the same thing.  By his logic, these companies will go low end to keep the price down. Well, yeah, I’d buy that.  I would also point out that, at the very low end, there really are only two choices:  Ubuntu, which is FREE or XP/Windows 7 Starter which are low cost.  I have no doubt that most of the low end ‘netbooks’ (I really dislike that name) will be offered in both Windows and Ubuntu offerings. 

He scoffs at the maximum hardware configurations for Windows Starter Edition.  Newsflash…LOW COST means minimal hardware.  Once you go beyond a certain point, then it is a NOTEBOOK and, thus, should demand a higher price.  If I were Asus and stuck a fast processor, larger screen and two or three gigs of RAM in a portable, clam shell case, I would call it a NOTEBOOK, put a better version of Windows in it and charge a lot more money for the thing.  If I am trying to sell something with a weak processor, little memory and tiny screen-a NETBOOK-then I would put Ubuntu and/or Windows Starter on the damn thing. 

This is but one more of Kennedy’s diatribes against Microsoft and it is, yet again, sad and just poor writing.  But, I suppose, it did get him more attention.

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A Remarkable lady

Mom1948b The past six days have been a bit rough for me, personally.  I have, essentially, been waiting for my Mother to die.  Her health has been on the decline for about eight years now.  Since she had a pretty significant stroke back in 2001, her health had been steadily going down hill.  In fact, she was so bad off in 2003, the doctors did not expect her to live much past the end of that year.  She did, however, get a bit better.  However, other health issues came to the surface and the stroke had left her paralyzed on her right side.  She has been in a nursing home since then.  The facility that she has been in has taken pretty good care of her, much better than what I could have done.  It has not been easy on any of us and, in some ways, I feel that we let her down by not keeping her out of such a facility.  Realistically, though, there is no way we could have given her the attention or care she required. 

Back in January, she ended up in a local hospital where they discovered that her kidneys were in the final stages of shutting down.  Her prognosis did not look good.  I remember spending inauguration day in a hospital waiting room waiting for them to finish some rather invasive tests. 

Last Monday evening, she took a turn for the worse.  Her kidneys have pretty much shut down now.  The toxins are building up in her blood.  She is eating very little now and is not able to swallow much, if anything.  The hospice people tell us that it is just a matter of hours or days.  They told us that last Tuesday as well. 

So, we wait.  We wait for her leave us.  We knew these days would come, and I thought I was prepared.  I realize, however, that you are never really prepared for this. 

My Mother was quite a remarkable woman.  I know, we all think that.  But, how many women would welcome children into their homes, not knowing who they were before they came in?  See, Mom was a foster parent.  That is how I came into her life.  I was born into foster care.  She got me when I just days old.  I was pretty fortunate, compared to other children who were in foster care.  I was with Mom for about twelve years when she adopted me.  I was lucky.  Other children who came into her care were not as fortunate.  Some were there just for months, others for a few years.  They would be transferred out for various reasons, some because they reunited with their parents, others simply outgrew the system and a few ended up in institutions because they had medical problems or were just ‘bad’ and the state felt they would be better off in some kind of facility.  That was mostly hogwash, though.  I don’t remember any of them being that bad.  No matter what, tough, Mom never turned them down.  At one point, we must have had seven foster children.  At times it was fun having all of those ‘brothers and sisters’ and, at other times, it was not so much fun.  No matter what, Mom took care of us.  We had little money, but always managed to make ends meet.  At that is what made her such a remarkable woman.

I will miss her tremendously.

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Helio wins, no app sharing, Atlantis back and Sarah has been terminated

  • Congratulations to Helio Castroneves for winning the Indianapolis 500.  This was, perhaps, the most exciting 500 in recent memory.  I’m not sure that is saying allot for this particular race or that the previous few years have been kind of lackluster. Not sure.  Other notable finishes were: Danica Patrick came in third and John Andretti finished 19th in Richard Petty’s #43.
  • Microsoft has reversed course on the app sharing feature of the Windows Mobile app store.  Yep, you will only be able to ‘share’ with your own devices.  Upto five of them.
  • The space shuttle Atlantis returned to Earth.  After a successful mission to repair and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope, Atlantis touched down Sunday.  The landing had already been postponed several times due to bad weather.
  • Apple rejects books and then…you get it, they changed their minds.  Too much heat, I suppose.  Whatever.
  • The US Army does the unthinkable:  to deploy Vista AND Office 2007.  Yes, that lowly and god awful operating system-at least, that is what some would have you think-known as Vista will deployed by end of year by the US Army.  They also will be deploying Office 2007.  Good for them.  See, I told you…it isn’t SO bad.  If it is good enough for government work…
  • Sun is getting into app store craze.  Yes, you read that right:  a JAVA app store.  Wow.  I am truly speechless.  That is what we need, another app store to dole out more crappy apps ‘cause we can’t find them on our own.
  • Sarah Connor has been terminated.  Fox television has managed to do what Skynet has failed to do:  terminate Sarah Connor.  Low ratings and high production costs spelled doom for the show.  SyFy, you could be mankind’s salvation…or, at least, Sarah’s.
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Windows 7 News: specs for netbooks, Starter edition limitation removed and ship date

Microsoft is making the Windows 7 picture a bit more clear.  Two rather significant bits of news about the operating system became known today:  the max specs for ‘netbooks’ and the three app limit on the Starter edition is being removed. 

In order to qualify for, presumably, the lower priced Starter and Home Basic editions of Windows 7, the machine:

  • have more than 1gb of RAM
  • screen cannot be larger than 10.2”
  • hard disk of 250gb or smaller (64gb for SDD’s)
  • single core processors, 2GHz or slower

Also, Paul Thurrot says that the release date for the operating system is October 15.  I hope he is correct.

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Palm Pre launch date and Windows Marketplace for Mobile to allow app sharing

pre_05 There were a couple of noteworthy announcements today in the world of Smartphones.  First, and more important, Palm finally announced the launch date and price of the much anticipated Palm Pre.  The phone will launch June 6 for $299.  There will be a $100 rebate bringing the price to $199.  The phone will be available from Best Buy, Radio Shack and, of course, Sprint stores.  Several accessories will be available, including the charging station and car adaptor. 

The timing of the launch is a bit odd given that Apple has its day a few days later.  Apple is expected to announce a new version of the iPhone.  I will leave it to the Apple fan sites to speculate on what Apple will announce.

The other announcement was interesting.  Microsoft’s new Windows Marketplace for Mobile will, like the iPhone store, allow you to purchase and download apps directly to the phone.  The difference, however, is that the Windows Marketplace for Mobile will allow you to install the application on up to five devices.  So, if you have a personal phone and work phone, you will be able to install the application on both.  The twist here, is that you can also SHARE the application with friends as long as you authorize their phone.  This is an interesting and compelling feature and one that definitely sets this app store apart from the rest. On the surface, though, this does not look all that great for developers.  However, I think if an application is compelling enough that you would want it on multiple phones, you would probably be more inclined to buy another application from that same developer.  Likewise, if you did share the app with a friend, that friend is more apt to purchase apps from the same developer.  I think this is a win-win for both the consumer and the developer.

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Hubble gets upgrades, Intel fined, Mac OS X upgrade goes bad and Google is sorry

  • The Hubble Space Telescope got a major upgrade of its systems.  The crew from the shuttle Atlantis repaired failed systems and upgraded others.  The fourth space walk was conducted on Sunday and the last will be Monday.  The Hubble launched in 1990 and was quickly deemed a failure because of an imperfection in the mirror:  Hubble was near sighted.  A repair mission in 1993 installed a corrective lens-glasses, essentially-and we’ve been getting stunning pictures ever since.  The Hubble is named after Astronomer Edwin Hubble.
  • Intel found to be in violation of EU antitrust and fined 1.06 billion Euros (about 1.45 billion US dollars.) The Commission found that between October of 2002 and December of 2007, Intel gave partial or whole hidden rebates to computer makers that purchased all or almost of their x86 CPUs from Intel.
  • Latest Mac OS X update results in blue screens for some.  Apple pushed out Mac OS X 10.5.7 to its users, but things have not been very smooth for some.  Among the issues users have experienced are the dreaded blue screen of death upon reboot; some external drives are no longer mounting; some video cards are not outputting the native resolutions of the display.  What happened to ‘just works?’
  • Node 3 of the International Space Station is complete.  Known as ‘Tranquility’, the node is the last module from Europe.  It was built by Thales Alenia Space in Turin, Italy.  When attached to the station, it will house life support gear and will also house a large bay window called the Cupola.  Shuttle Endeavour will launch the module in February of 2010.
  • Google says it is ‘sorry.’  Google experienced yet more network slowdowns or service disruptions last week.  They say ‘An error in one of our systems caused us to direct some of our traffic through Asia.’  Whatever.  I think I will continue using my desktop-based productivity suite and mail clients, thank you.
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TiltShiftMaker application

Lifehacker did it again…they introduced me to another really cool little application to make things a little easier.  In this case, the application called TiltShiftGenerator.  The application automates the creation of tiltshift photos. 

Tiltshifting is the art of making a photo of a real life setting look like it is fake or a model.  I explained how to do it using some tools like Adobe Photoshop Elements.  This application makes it really easy.

You can download it here.  The application is an Adobe Air application, so you will need to download and install the Air runtime if you do not already have it.TiltShiftMaker

Once installed, creating your fake reality is simple and fast.  Start the application and click the OPEN button.  Select a photo (one of a city, town, amusement park, racetrack, etc. is best) and then adjust the focal point by clicking the area on the photo.  the blur tool will then move to the cursor location.   The effect using the default settings is pretty good.  You can tweak the results by sliding the appropriate sliders left or right.  The sliders I tend to adjust are the Strength under Vignetting and the Center Radius and Strength under Blur.  Once you have the photo the way you want, click Save.  NOTE:  the application will not put the extension on the file if you delete the default filename and put your own.  You must put the complete filename in the box.

The application is free.

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