Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Windows 8 Refresh and Reset Your PC Feature

Windows 8 Refresh and Reset Your PC Feature

The reset feature will take you back to your original factory settings, refresh allows you to reset the operating system while maintaining your apps, data, etc.  What are the key features of reset or refresh and what can you expect.  The Windows 8 refresh and reset features streamline the process of getting a PC back to a good state and providing a way for less of a chance of data loss.  Simplifying the process to save time and making it a one button operation.     The features in Windows 8 are:

Reset your PC: remove all personal data, apps and settings from the PC and reinstall Windows.

Refresh your PC:  keep all personal data, apps and important settings from the PC and reinstall Windows.

In some cases, you may want to remove all personal data, apps and setting, restoring it to the original out of the box state.   Either to recycle or decommission or the necessity to clear all data and start over.

If you choose the reset option:
   Step 1:  The PC boots into the Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE).
   Step 2:  Windows RE erases and formats the hard drive partitions on which Windows                                             and personal data reside.
   Step 3:  Windows RE installs a fresh copy of Windows.
   Step 4:  The PC restarts into the newly installed copy of Windows.

If you are worried about data that can still be recovered, Windows has a option after the standard reset.  This is especially key for sensitive personal data.  Windows 8 provides additional steps for a thorough erasure of data.  The “Thorough” option will write random patterns to every sector of the drive, overwriting any existing data visible to the operating system.  According to Microsoft, if someone removes the drive from your PC, your data will still not be easily recoverable without special expensive equipment.  This eliminates hours or days of erasing data with multiple pass scrubbing operations which may be required for regulatory compliance with highly confidential business and government data.

Try refresh to fix your PC problems.

Could trying refresh first be a solution?  Yes.  Resetting is the heavyweight solution, refresh could resolve the problem.  Refresh reinstalls Windows but your data, settings and apps are preserved.  Microsoft has a solution to help desktop apps also.

With refresh Microsoft says there is no need to backup your data on an external hard drive to restore afterwards.

If you choose the refresh option:
   Step 1:  The PC boots into Windows RE.
   Step 2:  Windows RE scans the hard drive for your data, setting and apps then puts
                 them aside (on the same drive).
   Step 3:   Windows RE installs a fresh copy of Windows.
   Step 4:  Windows RE restores the data, settings and apps it has set aside into the newly
                 installed copy of Windows.
   Step 5:   The PC restarts into the newly installed copy of Windows.

The refresh eliminates the need of manually reinstalling Windows, no need to go through the Windows Welcome screens again and no need to reconfigure all the initial settings.  Same account and password sign in and all documents and data are in their same locations. 

Misconfigured settings could be a cause of problems leading to refresh their PCs.  The following settings are preserved in the Windows 8 Beta:

Wireless network connections
Mobile broadband connections
Bitlocker and Bitlocker to Go settings
Drive letter assignments
Personalization settings such as lock screen background and desktop wallpaper

In Windows 8, Microsoft has decided not to preserve the following settings, as they can cause problems if misconfigured:

File type associations
Display settings
Windows Firewall settings

Changes to enhance or fine tune both lists over time could occur in the Developer preview and Beta.  More on restoring apps in a future blog.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What is new about Microsoft Windows 8?

What is new about Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system? The new touch optimized interface is one. A public beta version of Microsoft Windows 8 will roll out in February 2012, the official release for the operating system could arrive in Q4 or as early as Q3 of this year. Microsoft has a developer version of the pre-beta for developers software on their website at  Microsoft announced that Windows 8 would be adding support for ARM microprocessors in addition to the x86 microprocessors from Intel and AMD. ARM microprocessors are used in mobile devices. This next version of windows is designed to build on Windows 7, with enhanced security features, faster startup and longer battery life for running on a wide choice of devices and chipsets. Windows 8 is designed to run on screens smaller than 10” or big screens mounted on the wall.

Here is a glance at what’s new with Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system:

Windows To Go: IT professionals and users will be able to store a bootable operating system on a USB thumb drive along with their business apps, data, and settings.  
When users are finished and log off, they simply remove the USB device, leaving no data or information behind.  Take your personalized PC with you on the go in your pocket, briefcase or purse to use on a tablet, desktop or laptop whatever is available.

Ribbon Interface: Microsoft has replaced the traditional drop down menus and toolbars with a ribbon interface. Ribbons allow for a large amount of information in a small amount of space.

Tile Interface & Smart Screen: Microsoft has a metro-style tile interface which consists of rectangular boxes on the screen. The new Start Screen puts all of your applications in front of you for immediate access. Whether you type, click or swipe, it is optimized for easier navigation. The Windows Store will be your app store for metro-style apps and Microsoft said these apps have improved quality and reduces the risks of malware and bugs.

Internet Explorer 10: IE9 Microsoft's latest browser is only compatible with Windows Vista and 7. IE10 requires Windows 7 or later. When using IE10, swipe from the bottom or top bezels for the address bar and tabs. Bookmarks and frequently visited pages appear when you create a new tab. On the desktop IE9 has some tablet optimizations as well responding smoothly to scrolling and pinch to zoom gestures.

Tablets: Microsoft’s new tablet OS is on it’s way. With Windows 8, Microsoft desktop operating system will also work on ARM based hardware and will be able to run on tablets as well as desktops and laptops. Windows 8 has been designed for touchscreen devices, especially with the Metro Interface design.

More of what’s new to come on Windows 8 soon. Check back for further updates.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hard Disk Drive Shortages Effecting Intel's Fourth Quarter 2011

Intel announced today that it expects fourth quarter revenue to be below expectations due to hard disk drive shortages due to the Thailand floods this past fall.  Intel also stated world PC supply chain is reducing inventories and microprocessor purchases as a result of HDD shortages.  Inventories for HDD's are expected to recover in the first half of 2012.  The HDD shortages has effected the prices of drives, computers, workstations and servers because of the strained inventories.  Approximately forty-five percent or more of the HDD's are manufactured in Thailand.  Analysts predict that hard drive shortages could pull PC production down as much as 10 percent through the first quarter of 2012.  Ordering a computer or server with a 2TB drive could add 2-4 weeks for delivery.  All this news may be great news for the solid state drives.  This may have those considering a solid state drive, to buy one.  See my previous post for more information on SSD versus HDD.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

SSD versus HDD

Solid State Drives Versus Hard Disk Drives

If you are considering whether to buy a solid state or hard disk drive and deciding whether the solid state drive is worth the money.  SSD drives are faster in reading and in writing, in most cases.  Solid-state drive technology also known as Flash technology, eliminates the rotational delay of a spinning platter and of waiting for an arm to move to the correct position.  In essence, SSD drives have no moving parts, unlike the HDD drives. 

At present day prices, a standard 3 ½” HDD drive costs about .20 - .30 cents per gigabyte, standard 2 ½” HDD is about .26 - .35 cents per gigabyte, SSD drive will run you 1.50 and up per gigabyte.  Prices and availability on drives and some other computer components have been fluctuating and have caused strained inventories due to the floods in Thailand where approximately 45% of the drives are manufactured. 

You may choose capacity over speed but a lot depends on how you expect to use your computer.  As processors and memory continue to increase in speed, the gap between memory and HDD speed incessantly widens. With an irresistible cost per GB, HDD will continue to be a key storage technology for years to come.  You may consider a higher end HDD with 10,000 RPM performance.   If the computer’s main purpose is for office type functions such as word or excel, etc. or will you be downloading videos, using multiple applications at the same time or are a serious gamer.  Why have a multi-core processor, with a drive that struggles to do more than one task at a time?  It’s a conundrum.  Then you may want or need the performance of a SSD drive.  Tests show the SSD drives 100X better data read and write, 5 to 50X better in shock resistance and rugged, long-life endurance plus most have a 5 year warranty.  Solid-state drives boast a cost/performance that can’t be beat. SSD can slash I/O-bound batch windows by up to 50%, while also improving response time and throughput. Specializing in high I/O performance, SSD has the upper hand in cost/IOPS.

It’s expected that SSD and HDD drive prices will decrease over the next few years but at the same rate.  So the price difference between these drives will remain roughly as it is today according to most experts.  Your choice boils down to performance and long-life endurance needs versus capacity and price. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Amazon's Kindle Fire & Acer's Iconia A100 Tablets

Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Acer’s Iconia A100 Tablets, two very fine Android tablets at a third to half the price of other tablets.  Consider the comparisons below.
Amazon Kindle Fire with  a customized user friendly version of Android OS a first rate tablet for half the price.  What’s not to love about the Amazon Kindle. Two distinct features not included are the bluetooth and camera features.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire 7” color Android tablet Suggested Retail: $199.
Amazon’s first color tablet
7k + apps available
At the start-up of the Kindle Fire, tips on how to navigate the interface, tap on categories for different content.  Categories: Newsstand, Books, Music, Video, Docs, Apps, Web. Your favorites bar at the bottom of screen.  (No camera or bluetooth features.)   

Technical Details

7" multi-touch display with IPS (in-plane switching) technology and anti-reflective treatment, 1024 x 600 pixel resolution at 169 ppi, 16 million colors.
Size (in inches)
7.5" x 4.7" x 0.45" (190 mm x 120 mm x 11.4 mm).
14.6 ounces (413 grams).
System Requirements
None, because it's wireless and doesn't require a computer.
On-device Storage
8GB internal (approximately 6GB available for user content). That's enough for 80 apps, plus 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books.
Cloud Storage
Free cloud storage for all Amazon content
Battery Life
Up to 8 hours of continuous reading or 7.5 hours of video playback, with wireless off. Battery life will vary based on wireless usage, such as web browsing and downloading content.
Charge Time
Fully charges in approximately 4 hours via included U.S. power adapter. Also supports charging from your computer via USB.
Wi-Fi Connectivity
Supports public and private Wi-Fi networks or hotspots that use 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, or enterprise networks with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication; does not support connecting to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks.
USB Port
USB 2.0 (micro-B connector)
3.5 mm stereo audio jack, top-mounted stereo speakers.
Content Formats Supported
Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV, MP4, VP8.
Quick Start Guide (included in box); Kindle Fire User's Guide (pre-installed on device). Additional information available online.
Warranty and Service
1-year limited warranty and service included. Optional 2-year Extended Warranty available for U.S. customers sold separately. Use of Kindle is subject to the terms found here.
Included in the Box
Kindle Fire device, U.S. power adapter (supports 100-240V), and Quick Start Guide.

Acer Iconia Tab A100 Tablet is also a very fine highly recommended Tablet.  It works well with Android apps and has great multimedia features.  Iconia Tab A100 Tablet is very reasonably priced.  MSRP $329.  The short battery life is a drawback. 

Detailed Features
Android 3.2 Honeycomb
The Acer Iconia Tab A100 is equipped with Android 3.2 Honeycomb, the latest Android operating system with a super-smart screen scaling compatibility mode. You can access thousands of apps from the Android Market, and enjoy them in perfect resolution on the tablet’s 7" screen.
Plan out your day
Just a quick glance at Acer Day Planner, it’s all you need to check what’s next in your agenda, your mails, the latest news and what’s the weather like. Now you can review that presentation that just arrived by email. With Documents to go® viewing and editing Office documents it’s a breeze. With everything under control, you can just relax with a book or a magazine. On the Acer Iconia Tab A100 Tablet you can download and carry all the books and magazines you want and flip pages like on real ones!
Entertainment champion
Gaming, social networks or multimedia? The Acer Iconia Tab A100 Tablet is up for anything. The combination of NVIDIA® Tegra™ 2 dual-core CPU, multi-touch screen, Micro HDMI port, ultra-sensitive gyro meter control and a simply stunning Dolby Mobile sound guarantees an entertainment experience like no other!
Stay in Touch
The ultra-compact Acer Iconia Tab A100, combining long battery life and instant access to the web, provides an amazing on-the-go experience that lasts all day. So you’ll have all the time you need for on-the-spot video conferences or chats with your friends or business partners with the 2MP front camera. What’s more you can take photos and record 720p videos with the 5MP auto-focus camera, and share your best shots and videos instantly with your friends online through your social networks.

Side by side comparison

Technical Details
Amazon Kindle Fire
Acer Iconia A100
7" multi-touch 1024X600 display
7" multi-touch 1024X600 display
Size (in inches)
7.5" x 4.7" x 0.45"
9.2" x 5.8" x 2.8"
14.6 ounces
14.46 ounces
On-device Storage
8GB internal
8GB internal
Battery Life
Up to 8 hrs.
almost 4 hrs.
Yes 802.11b/g/n/No
Yes 802.11b/g/n/Yes
USB Port
Micro USB
Micro USB
3.5 mm stereo audio jack,
Audio jack and speakers

top-mnted stereo speakers

Memory Card Reader
Yes, micro
5MP Back, 2MP Front
Android 3.2 Honeycomb

Both the Amazon and Acer tablets are very fine contenders in the tablet market.  There are sure to be Black Friday Specials.  Check back here for updates.

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