10 Tech News Roundup #8

Here are 10 tech news that I found interesting.

Facebook quietly launches Mac and PC Workplace Chat apps with screen share – TechCrunch has discovered that Facebook has stealthily launched official desktop PC and Mac chat apps with screen sharing — two features users have been begging for. Techcrunch

Apple is looking into reports of iPhone 8 batteries swelling – Reports from a few iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus buyers have suggested there could be an issue with the battery inside some of the devices swelling, causing the case of Apple’s new iPhone to split open and expose the smartphone’s internals. Techcrunch

Apple gave Uber the keys to your iPhone screen, and it was all super shady – Stop us if you’ve heard this one: Uber is a shady company. Mashable

The Pixel’s missing headphone jack proves Apple was right – When it launched the iPhone 7 a year ago, Apple confidently declared the headphone jack obsolete technology that we could learn to live without. The Verge

HP is ditching the last serious Windows phone – HP has canceled plans to build out a line of Windows phones due to Microsoft’s general disinterest in continuing to battle Google and Apple on mobile. The Verge

Analyst and execs say Microsoft might kill off the Surface line by 2019 – With its new Pixelbook 2-in-1, it appears as if Google is trying to take on Microsoft and its laptop-tablet hybrid, the Surface Pro. But several big names within the industry think the Windows maker will drop its Surface lineup by 2019, if not sooner. Techspot

Microsoft has an Edge on iOS and Android handsets – Do you use Microsoft Edge? While I haven’t spent a huge amount of time with Microsoft’s newest browser, I have to admit it’s fast and slick. Techreport

The rise of female e-gamers in Singapore – SINGAPORE: A marketing executive by day, female gamer Calyn Koh heads straight for her home computer after work. Channel Newsasia

Outside criticism forced YouTube to change its search results after Las Vegas shooting conspiracy theories spread – YouTube is revamping the way its search algorithm picks videos to display on the site, after a spate of clips promoting false conspiracy theories about Sunday’s Las Vegas shooting were prominently featured on its site. Business Insider

Google Compute Engine goes a little crazy with up to 96 CPU cores and 624 GB of memory – If you’ve got a resource-hungry app, Google Compute Engine’s latest offering has you covered. Techcrunch

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Journal #183 – Time Flies and Minimalism Is Now Part and Parcel Of My Life

Before I knew it, the first week of October is almost over. This also mark the second month since my adoption of the minimalism lifestyle.

I think I can call myself a minimalist now.

During these two months, I have seen myself stopping myself from purchasing items outright without thinking twice. I kept asking myself whether I need the item and if I do need the item, how long do I need it or for what purpose.

Take iPhone for example. I wanted iPhone X because it’s shiny and it has brand new features that my iPhone 7 Plus don’t have. But I knew that I don’t even need it. Those shiny new features serve no purpose and doesn’t add any value to my life. The money that I will be spending on it could be saved up for future use or be part of my retirement funds.

As I mentioned previously in my journals, I even applied minimalism to my clothes. I have my own personal uniform that I wear everyday to work. My colleagues have of course commented on it but once I mentioned that I am a minimalist, they understood. Everything that I do or own is intentional and the bare essentials. The only few people that have yet to comment are my bosses. If they do ask, maybe I will use this chance to tell them that I also apply minimalism to work. I will only do the bare essentials and we shall see how they react.

I have also cleared out my wardrobes, gave away my graduation gown, got rid of old video games that I no longer play, and even certain old boxes that don’t really serve any purpose. I cleared out some old letters by sending them to the shredders too.

Now I finally realized that those things that I did threw or gave away was really there because I’m sentimental, or that I felt insecure, or just feel inferior. I buy stuff to make me feel good or reward myself for handwork. Now, I don’t want stuff. Instead, I need to focus on relationships, my health, calming my neurotic mind, and have enough money to feel safe and stable.

So what’s next for my minimalism journey?

I will probably replace my current wardrobe and remove cabinets until I only have three furniture in my room: A smaller (twice as small), new wardrobe, a bed, and finally a small computer desk for my MacBook Pro, a 27 inch monitor, and the essential hardwares that I need to go online and play certain kind of games.

I will get rid of my existing Windows-based desktop too, except for the GTX1080 graphics card which I will keep for e-GPU purpose. I don’t need two machines when I do majority of my work on my MacBook instead of my desktop. I will get a new 15inch MacBook Pro because it has to have sufficient power for me to do the occasional programming work for my client, light-medium gaming, and support the e-GPU. In general, the 15inch will serve as a desktop replacement. My current 13inch just doesn’t cut it, except maybe for lightweight programming, watching videos, listening to music, and writing. Gaming is a no go, well…more like it’s not at an acceptable standard or level for me anyway.

So what about you guys? For those who just adopted minimalism, how has your journey been like? Let me know down in the comments below.

And a final update about my day today…

The integration work has been going fine. I managed to resolve an issue with data binding of a User Control defined in the ControlTemplate with a data source in the data context. But of course, my whole morning was to deal with the fact that my company didn’t give me the license key for Visual Studio Professional 2017 edition and the software expired today. I had to uninstall it and install a community edition as a temporary solution because development work still has to continue.

Anyway, Visual Studio, Windows, and the whole development ecosystem has not been a great experience.

This is the first problem.

It took 1.5 hours just to reach 49% and I started installing at around 9.50 am. By the time it reached 79%, it was already lunch time.

Then, every edit, every key press or something, visual studio will hang or being doing some god-knows what processing.

And if I add a new file or something, I get this dialog which stays on for up to 3 minutes.

Maybe it’s my development environment or the machine itself or maybe the network. But because everything in my office runs on Windows, it just simply made me hate the platform even more.

And that’s why I switched to Mac and bought into the Apple ecosystem. Yes, Apple has its own problems but nothing as bad as the craps I have to deal with ever since Windows 8.1 came out until Windows 10.

Ok, I’m done with my ranting.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Latest Technology Tidbits 2

LaterPay enters the US market with its media payment technology

Dated: 11 August 2017

Read More: LaterPay brings its media payment technology to the US

Summary:

Media companies will now gain access through LaterPay to a new form of business model that will allow them to monetize various pieces of content or getting users to buy a pass to their sites for a limited period of time.

It does sounds a lot like micropayment. When it comes to the internet, micropayment as a model tends to fall flat. Cosmin Ene, LaterPay’s founder and CEO, said that their technology is suppose to make the payment process as frictionless as possible. No payment information is needed when readers buy their first piece of content. It’s only when the bill reaches $5 that the users would need to pay up.

LaterPay raised an additional 5 million euros, bringing the total funds to 20 million euros, in as part of their United States expansion.

Author’s Take:

I personally never quite liked ads because they ruin the experience of a site and it’s can be full of malware. Thus I use a ad-blocker. I also don’t subscribe to news sites because there are free sources. I know that authors and journalists need to make money too. Hmm…I think this might change my stance.

Microsoft Surface products no longer recommended by Consumer Report due to reliability issues

Dated: 10 August 2017

Read More: Don’t buy these 4 Windows laptops if you care about reliability, says Consumer Reports

Additional Reference (if any): Microsoft Surface Laptops and Tablets Not Recommended by Consumer Reports

Summary:

Consumer Reports, a nonprofit organization that tests and rates products across multiple categories has officially removed the “recommended” designation from four Microsoft laptops. They are also not recommending other products in the Surface lineup because of the poor predicted reliability.

Reliability of a given product was determined by survey of Consumer Reports subscribers and other recent studies, according to the press release. From the data collection, the organization estimated that 25% of Microsoft laptops and tablets will encounter some problem within two years of ownership.

The press release stated, this is not to say that other brands do not have issues but the difference in how unreliable Microsoft devices were was “statistically significant”.

Microsoft offered their counter statement in an email to COnsumer Reports, “Microsoft’s real-world return and support rates for past models differ significantly from Consumer Reports’ breakage predictability. We don’t believe these findings accurately reflect Surface owners’ true experiences or capture the performance and reliability improvements made with every Surface generation.”

Author’s Take:

I did own a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 once and I didn’t use it long enough to experience any significant problem. I personally like the experience provided by the product but I do see people commenting on forums about how their devices were not working properly.

Now is a good time to upgrade that iPad of yours

Dated: 7 August 2017

Read More: Finally, there’s a good reason to upgrade your iPad

Summary:

It’s challenging for Apple to convince users who already own an iPad to buy a newer version. The existing iPads can already do many things users wanted to do such as watching videos, surfing the web, reading news, etc.

The new iPads are just not compelling enough for these kind of users. However, with iOS 11, that situation may just change.

For photographers, they will now be able to edit photos much easier on iOS 11 for iPad with the new updated Photos app. They will now be able to edit a photo with just a few sliders. The app now also allows trimming of Live Photos so that you get to keep parts that you want, and allow you to special effects to the Live Photos.

Advanced photographers who wants more power can look into using the recently updated Adobe Lightroom for iOS, which comes with support for Apple Pencil, 3D Touch Support, and nearly all the features from the desktop version.

Author’s Take:

So with iOS 11, the “Pro” moniker of the iPad finally starts to make some sense. I personally own a iPad Pro 9.7 and I find that I use it from time to time to do creative work like drawing, or writing. With the Logitech Create keyboard for iPad, the overall footprint is small enough for me to bring it with me anywhere to do my journals and various writing projects. All the apps that I need are there and I didn’t need to bringing my MacBook out. The Apple Pencil is intuitive to use and I take notes with it.

Thoughts about Microsoft Build 2017

Well, I’m late to the party. Other news sites, bloggers, and vloggers have all covered it. They have their own thoughts about it. I’m going to do my own take on it, on only features that I’m interested in

For those who don’t already know, Microsoft held an event in Seattle between May 10 to 12, 2017 that introduced to the world a whole bunch of new things for Windows 10 that we all should be excited about — by that I mean techies.

To summarize, during the event, Microsoft pointed out several trends that’s going on that most of us already know: the rise of IOT devices, Artificial Intelligence, Serverless Architecture. They also talked about what they are doing regarding those trends. They are digging in deeper, delivering better solutions or services that customers need.

I’m more interested in their new Fluent Design. User experience and graphics is important to me (though I can’t really draw very well). Microsoft has attempted over the past decade to deliver a nice interface. They introduced Aero with Windows Vista, which was a massive flop. It was slow and sluggish. I’ve personally used it and don’t really like it. Then came Windows 7 and they improved Aero. It was much snappier and still look great.

Then came Windows 8 where they introduced what was known then as Metro design, subsequently known as Modern UI and then Microsoft Design Language. I personally liked it more than the pseudo-3D of Aero in Windows 7 because it is simplistic and minimalistic. It was improved Windows 8.1 and then in Windows 10.

However, the biggest gripe about Microsoft’s Windows was that the user interface isn’t consistent. There are some glaring defects that any good user interface designer should pick up on and fix it. Then, there is the fact that there are thousands if not millions of applications that runs on it. Many of which are legacy application and their user interface hasn’t been updated in ages. On the other hand, the web user interfaces have gotten so much better though every webpage is starting to look like each other due to the extensive use of common frameworks like bootstrap.

With Fluent Design, Microsoft aim to make Windows look great. As a design language, there are five main features:
1. Light
2. Depth
3. Motion
4. Material
5. Scale

You can read more about the Fluent Design System here.

When you combine all five of them properly in your application, the experience the user get will be so much better, richer and immerse them. This design language is in part, I believe due to the increase use and popularity of mixed-reality devices.

As someone who has been using Apple for more than year and already buy into the ecosystem, I’m somewhat excited to see how future applications made for Microsoft Windows will look like and how it will affect the way we as users interact with our devices. My concern was that, there is always the issue where the third-party developers do not ensure their app is consistent with the overall look and feel of the Windows running on the user’s computer.

Right now, the Fluent Design System is implemented in a somewhat beta form with the insiders build of Windows 10. If you are interested, you can download that and try it. Until it is released fully and used by many of the applications in Windows, I will stick with the experience I’m getting from Apple’s ecosystem.