My Experience at AT&T This Morning

•September 23, 2012 • Leave a Comment

So, I walked into AT&T, and found a free associate. I walked up to him. He put his hand up and said, “Sign in. I will be with you in a moment.” I then watched as he stared into space for another couple minutes, then walked over to me. “What can I help you with?” he asked. “My phone is broken,” I replied. I then went on to explain what was wrong with my phone. That basically the hardware thought that I was pressing the off button, when I very clearly was not, and that My phone would not stay on for longer than about two minutes. When I told him I was not available for an upgrade until April, he gave me a phone number to call. When I was with Verizon Wireless, all phone claims were taken care of in store. If they could not fix it, they would give me a new phone. I do not expect free things to be handed to me, however, I first had this issue two months ago, and the store in the Dallas, Texas airport was not willing to help either. When he gave me the number, I asked how I was supposed to call them  without a phone, to which he replied, “Every phone on the wall works.” What frustrates me so much is not the fact that he could do nothing for me, it was the he was rude about it. After explaining that I use my phone not only for my personal life, but also for work and school, he said, “Yeah, that’s everybody.” I purchased this phone for the full price of $599.99 because I was not eligible for an upgrade at the time the phone came out, the associate at the store told me that the deductible would be $125. I told him I would not pay that price for outdated technology that I purchased almost two years ago. He then said, “Well, then there’s nothing we can do for you,” and walked away. When I called the number for insurance, they directed me to their website, which I used later to file my claim. My phone should be on its way here Monday morning. After this and all of the other problems I’ve had with AT&T over the past few years (for example, my voicemail not working for the first year and a half owning this phone) there is no way I am renewing my contract when it ends next April. Until then, I will use this outdated technology that I just spent $125 for, because they kind of have me cornered. I really need my phone.

Metro Google Chrome

•September 19, 2012 • Leave a Comment

When I first installed Windows 8, I was a bit bummed at the fact that I had to use Internet Explorer if I did not want to transition over to the Desktop. Google has, once again, solved all of my problems. When you download Google Chrome onto a Windows 8 PC, not only do you get a desktop version, you also get a Metro version. This was a very welcome surprise, as I did notice quite a few issues in the Internet Explorer 1o release preview, primarily in how objects were presented on web pages. For example, when I clicked on a photo on Facebook, the photo would come up in the background, behind all of the other objects on the page.There were a couple other issues with Internet Explorer, but this was the most prominent.

I also just prefer the general layout of Google Chrome Metro over IE 10 Metro. You do not have to right-click to view your tabs and address bar. They are always on the screen unless you have two windows up, in which case they disappear to preserve screen real estate. 

Overall, this is a great move by Google. The best (by my opinion) web browser has been built for Windows 8 before it is even released. The next step would be adding it to the Microsoft app store. This will ensure that the masses have access to it. While most people know to go to websites to get software now, in the future, most will simply be expecting to just click on the app store for new software.

 

Update: Just to clarify things. If you go to chrome.google.com, and download the latest version of Google Chrome, it will give you a metro version and an Aero Desktop version. You can only use the metro version, however, if it is set as your default web browser. That works the same for Internet Explorer. When you remove it as your default web browser, it will automatically switch you over to desktop mode to use it.

Windows 8 Installation

•September 16, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Well, I bit the bullet. I have officially adopted the Windows 8 Consumer preview as my temporary default operating system until Windows 8 ships on October 26. My initial impression is that it is a HUGE change, but a good one. I don’t have the best specs on the market (2.3ghz i5 processor, 6gb RAM, general Intel HD Graphics) but this is probably the fastest operating system I’ve ever used. There are useless animations built into the operating system, but even with those, switching and launching applications is incredibly fast. I am incredibly impressed with the work that Microsoft has done. There is just one problem: it will only appeal to one audience–People 40 and younger.

Though I now find the operating system easy to use, it took me a few minutes to figure out a few of its quirks. Microsoft clearly had the younger generation in mind. What takes us 5 minutes to figure out, takes the middle-aged to elderly hours to figure out. You have to know to move your curser to the bottom left corner and slide up to view all open applications because there is no indication on the screen to show you that. The only thing you see on your screen is the application you’re using. Microsoft has also gotten rid of the traditional three buttons in the top right corner to resize, minimize, and close a program. You must now know to go to the top of your screen, click, and swipe down. There is no way someone in their 50′s would figure that out without first reading a manual, especially if they are used to a previous version of Windows. There are a few other things I’ve noticed, but must explore more before reporting on them.

I am very happy about a few things they’ve done. They have finally gotten rid of Windows Media Player. That was probably the most outdated aspect of previous versions of Windows. They’ve now adopted “Music,” a new application which comes with the operating system that works very similarly to the Zune computer software, which I’ve always found to be very well designed and easy to use. I also absolutely adore the new Start screen. I have long been a fan of Windows Phone, and purchased one just as soon as I could (a couple months after they came out). I now have a seamless interface between my phone and my computer, and I love it.

It took me a bit of time to understand why Microsoft decided to include Metro and the traditional Aero interface on the same device, but I think I may have figured it out. Metro is designed to get you the information you want as quickly as possible. Aero, on the other hand, is when you need to get down to business. If you need more access to all of your files, you will go to Aero, and if you want to see what your friends are up to on Facebook, or just surf the web, Metro is the way to go. Theoretically, you can live your entire life on Metro using applications that allow you to access your files (Music, a yet-to-be-released version of Office, etc.) but for those of us who need more access to files, and we want to see them physically, Aero will play a huge role in our computing lives.

I am still just starting with this new operating system and I will post more as I discover more.

What I Discovered during CES

•January 10, 2012 • Leave a Comment

So, I was a bit late to the show, but was happy to see they were running a bit late with the start time. It wasn’t the content that was presented, however, that interested me. It was the browser that I used. When I was running Internet Explorer 9 (my default browser) the stream was choppy, and froze often. I then decided that I would see how Google Chrome fared. It was amazing! It didn’t freeze once, and I had nearly no choppy images. I was quite disappointed with the Windows 8 portion of the symposium, because it didn’t show any new features that hadn’t been previously released to the public. I am considering switching to Google Chrome, though, but I really like the idea of pinning websites to the taskbar, and would definitely like to see that in the next update.

A Couple Gripes about Amazon Cloud Services

•December 13, 2011 • Leave a Comment

So, I’m testing out the Amazon Cloud services in an effort to find more effective ways to store my files, and it turns out that their cloud player does not support WMA files. They must be MP3s, which is rather annoying. It will upload these files, but it will not play them. It has to open Windows Media Player (or any other default media player). Another thing I noticed is that it does not upload metadata. The file has to be named the title of the song, rather than having 01Track01, then just updating the metadata to include a name, artist, etc. I found this rather annoying when uploading the sound recordings from the Wind Ensemble I perform with, as they were WMA, so I had to convert them to WMA, then change the file names of the songs. This took a rather long amount of time. Another thing to note is that all of this will apply to Kindle Fire. If you look at the supported file types, WMA is not on the list. In fact the only music file type is MP3. There are a number of document and video file types, however, they are rather limited with music. Also, much of your music will come straight from Amazon’s Cloud Drive, so the metadata will not be on your Fire either.

Spotify vs. Zune Pass

•November 19, 2011 • 3 Comments

Well, I’ve finally come across a product that I may decide to purchase instead of a Microsoft product. Spotify has spread across the virtual world like a wild fire with shared songs on Facebook and a mobile app for iOS, Android, and even Windows Phone. It offers basically the same thing Zune Pass offers, except with less expensive versions. For free, you can listen to 20 hours of music per month on your computer. For $4.99, you can listen to unlimited music on your computer with no visual ads along the sides of the program. For $9.99, they offer the option of “offline mode” (called “downloading” in Zune Pass). It saves the song to your computer or mobile device for listening while not connected to the Internet. The song selection is also quite impressive. I’ve thus far found every song from the Spotify store that’s available on the Zune Marketplace. The only thing that makes this a more desirable service to me is that if I decide I want an iOS device (not likely) or a Mac (extremely unlikely) I can transfer all of my music, where as right now, I must have a Microsoft device to transfer all of my music. Purchasing this service instead of the Zune Pass would render my Zune HD useless, but I could go for an iPod Touch if I can get unlimited downloads like I can with my Zune.

The one downfall is that I would have to use a third-party application, while the Zune software is built into Windows Phone, but with multitasking enabled on Windows Phone, it is no big problem.

Why I Prefer Microsoft Mobile Devices

•July 31, 2011 • 1 Comment

As a tech enthusiast, I try to own as many devices as possible. I have a Samsung Focus (Windows Phone), a Zune HD, a couple old computers, I will be getting a tablet soon, and I’m looking to get a Zune 120. So, why are so many of the devices I own branded by Microsoft? Well, I like how they specialize.

I love my Zune HD, and that’s because it focuses on one thing: Music. There are approximately 30 apps for Zune HD in the Marketplace, but I don’t buy an MP3 Player for Apps. I like the fact that it is truly a music discovery machine. If I want to listen to what’s new from an artist, all I have to do is type in the artist’s name in the Marketplace, and without even purchasing, I can listen to all the music I want. I also get an artist bio and any related music to that, as well as a slideshow of the band’s pictures to watch while I’m listening to their music.I’m trading the hundreds of thousands of apps for an excellent musical experience. I’d be willing to bet that the majority of people who have tried both the iPod Touch and the Zune HD just to listen to music would prefer the Zune HD.

I love Windows Phone, because it focuses on the original reason for a phone: Keeping in touch. Right from the start there was immediate Facebook integration that allowed me to write on anyone’s wall, send them a message, or view their Facebook status without even going to an App. This Fall, the social media integration will go even further, when you can use the Messaging hub in the phone to chat with all of your Facebook friends or check in at a location and tag a friend with you. The Fall update (Called Mango) will also allow me to view every way I’ve been in contact with someone. For example, I got a piece of information from a friend, but I can’t remember if he sent me a text, sent it to me on Facebook, twitter, or email. So, I would look at my history with that friend through the phone which shows me every way I’ve been in contact with that friend since I got the phone, allowing me to find the information I need.
Windows Phone also incorporates Zune HD software, and an excellent App Store, which has added 25,000 apps since its start last year. So, I no longer have to choose between having a phone centered around people or apps, because Windows Phone includes both.

Next Year, Microsoft will truly revolutionize the market for tablets by releasing Windows 8. It can be any size the manufacturer wants, have excellent touch technology, and have the option to be productive, something that Apple and Google alike have had a hard time capturing. There will be a touch version of Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, and a brand new start menu, which will be the center of attention rather than the desktop.

By adding an excellent Music experience to the MP3 player, a great social experience to a phone, and an awesome productive experience to a tablet, Microsoft has made these devices exactly what I look for. Even if the masses want to use their iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads, I will always choose a Microsoft device, because I want something that’s excellent at what I buy it for, rather than pretty good at everything else.

 
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