Thursday, August 13, 2015

From Ubuntu to Windows 10

Ubuntu has been my main operating system since 2004.  I've been a big fan and a long time user.  Of course, I had to work with Windows at work, but at home, I've always preferred Ubuntu over Windows.

My laptop came pre-installed with Windows 7 and it didn't take time for me to format everything and put my good old pal, Ubuntu.  It's not that I hate Microsoft, but I always felt that something was missing and I was more into figuring out what was going wrong than simply using the operating system.

Windows 7 was good even if over time, more and more issues were rising on my computer.  Drivers were hard to find for some devices and often, apps would not work or would crash unexpectedly.  Ubuntu was more convenient, had more power tools integrated and gave me access to some amazing apps to develop.

When Windows 8 came out, I didn't even bother trying it.  The new interface was confusing and made me look the other way.

Out of curiosity and because it is free, Windows 10 got my attention.  Since I had a genuine Windows 7 licence on my laptop, I decided to give it a try.  I wiped Ubuntu and reinstalled Windows 7 on my laptop.  Once completed, I downloaded the upgrade for Windows 10 and waited... and waited... and waited...

The upgrade process took several hours and I was getting prepared to wipe everything again to put back Ubuntu.  But everything worked as expected and Windows 10 was ready to run on my old laptop, 12 hours later.

I've been playing with my new toy for the last hours, discovering the Windows Store, the new apps that are now integrated into Windows 10 (Mail, Calendar, etc.).  I've installed Twitter, Facebook and played Candy Crush for a few minutes.

I must say:  Microsoft got it right this time!

It's a bit early to say that everything is perfect.  Sometimes, it feels a bit slow but that could be related to the age of my laptop (a Samsung RV515 with 4 Gigs of ram).  Not the most powerful beast but it does the job.

I am so impressed as I am writing this that I will give it a try for a few weeks.  The new look is gorgeous, apps do feel more integrated and there is surely a lot more to discover.

Even if I am currently quite happy about Windows 10, the infamous keyboard switching that has been plaguing me for ages is still present in Windows 10:  I do set my keyboard to support French Canadian and English (USA) as french is my native tongue.

For some reason that I cannot understand, I eventually end up with a French (France) keyboard appearing out of nowhere from time to time.  This has annoyed me since Windows XP, and I had to reconfigure my keyboard settings, again, just after a few minutes of usage.  

Let's assume that this was just a reminder that this is a Microsoft product and hope that the next few days will worth the upgrade... 

Yes, Windows 10 is a real upgrade this time.  I would not go back to Windows 7...  Maybe Ubuntu... Time will tell.



Saturday, August 1, 2015

Chromecast versus Apple TV

I've been a long time Apple  user.  I do own the iPhone, the iPad and of course, the Apple TV 2.  My girlfriend bought the Apple TV 3 a while ago before we started living together.  In our home, we have mostly Apple products and a few PC with Ubuntu installed.

Even if I do prefer Apple products, I do also have an Android Tablet for development purpose, the Asus Memo FHD 10.  It's a neat device that I like to thinker with.

As I wanted to be able to stream movies on our TV's bedroom, this was a great opportunity to get a new toy: the Google's Chromecast.  One Apple TV is hooked in the living room and the other one is the kid's bedroom.  As my main usage for another streaming device was only to watch a few movies one in a while, the Chromecast was a good choice, considering the low price of 40$.

How does it compare with the Apple TV?  It does the job at streaming movies on the TV and that's about it.

I wasn't expecting much more than that for this price.  The Apple TV is around 100$ and the Roku 3 is selling at 120$ (Canadian).

So how does the Chromecast compare with the Apple TV?

Pros:

  1. It's small, really small
  2. It's can be hooked directly in the USB TV port, thus no need for an external power outlet
  3. It's easy to use
  4. Image quality is good, at least on my bedroom TV
Cons:

  1. There is no remote.  You need your phone/tablet to interact with it
  2. There are not apps.  The device is driven by the apps on your phone/tablet
  3. Not all apps are supporting Chromecast
  4. You cannot play your favorite games like on iOS/AppleTV.  
  5. You need specific apps to stream photos/videos on your TV
  6. Initial setup can take more than 5 minutes... 

Overall, the Chromecast is a great little device.  Having to search for compatible apps is a bit annoying.  Major apps do support it like Youtube, Netflix or Google Movie.  But if you want to show a photo from your Facebook profile on the TV set or mirror a game on the big screen, you'll be facing some issues.

The thing is that iOS/AppleTV are meant to work together.  The support for Airplay and AirPlay Mirroring is native in iOS, making the streaming process so easy, you take it for granted.

On Android, it's not as easy.  It kind of me reming the first days of the Apple TV.  It took a few trials and errors to find the proper app to stream movies from my NAS to the Chromecast.  Sometimes, movies in MP4 format will not work with the Chromecast even if they are compatible with the Apple TV.

If you are on a limited budget, the Chromecast is great.  But if you can manage for a more expensive device, you should get the Apple TV or the Roku 3 as you will get more for your money.

You get what you pay for: 40$, a remote display...

Friday, July 17, 2015

iOS 9 Public beta glitches

I've been testing iOS 9 public beta for the last few days on my iPhone an iPad.  Overall, the latest and greatest from Apple is doing great but some glitches are showing up from time to time.

YouTube 
In the YouTube app, when an ad is displayed, the countdown is showing "ad.skip_in_seconds" instead of the actual time for skipping the ad.

Blogger/Keyboard
Switching keyboard language leads to a strange resided keyboard in the Blogger app.

Mail
In the Mail app, the top of an email is not showing up occasionally.  

Others
Other glitches that cannot be shown visually are:
- keyboard is a bit slow and unresponsive when writing a long text (like this post)
- opening apps is a bit slower 
- wallpaper orientation does not follow the device orientation once in a while
- keyboard sound feedback is dropping randomly

Most issues are happening on the iPad 4th generation.  If you plan to upgrade to iOS 9 public beta on your iPad 4, you wait a bit for next release.  It's not that bad, but annoying nevertheless.

The iPhone 6 is working like charm for now.