20 Years Ago, AT&T Predicted the Future and Here's How They Did
Published by Toronto Mike on September 1, 2014 @ 11:01 in Technology
Back in '93 and '94, AT&T released a series of "You Will" ads touting the future. For fun, watch them all in this compilation and see how accurate they were.
Some of this they nailed. I attend meetings all week long in my bare feet with people on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Some of this we've long surpassed. We're not video talking at a phone booth or buying concert tickets and renewing our driver's license at a kiosk, we're doing it all from our computers and smartphones from just about anywhere in the world.
We're not quite there with a few of these predictions. I can't buy groceries that way, although I can scan my own items. I also believe Canada is lagging behind on that whole "medical history in your pocket" concept. And opening your door with the sound of your voice? That just sounds dangerous.
ASUS Transformer Book T100 Review
Published by Toronto Mike on July 16, 2014 @ 21:11 in Reviews, Tablet Talent Show, Technology
I'll spend a little time on a desktop running Ubuntu and a tablet running Android, but otherwise it's always my work-issued MacBook Pro or my LG G2 phone. It's been a while since I played with Windows on a laptop and I've never used Windows on a tablet.
That's why I was intrigued by the ASUS Transformer tablet. It's a 10" tablet that comes with a keyboard dock, so you can convert it into a laptop. It also runs Windows 8.1 and includes Microsoft Office.
I feel sorry for folks using Windows 8.1 without a touchscreen. It really seems designed for touch and counterintuitive if you're just using a keyboard and mouse. But if you want Windows because it's what you know and / or need, the ASUS Transformer Book might just be the tablet for you. And it is a touchscreen, making Windows 8.1 actually bearable.
Pros: Switching from tablet to laptop is super easy, and the battery life seems pretty good. It's light and has a USB and HDMI port, which you rarely see with tablets.
Cons: Coming from a MacBook Pro, it feels awfully plastic, but then again it is a great deal less expensive. And the Windows apps suck, especially if you're used to Android or iOS, but you can run full Windows programs to adequately compensate.
In terms of value, I recommend this device, especially if you're a fan of Windows. For a 10" inch tablet / laptop hybrid, the price is right.
This ASUS Transformer Book T100 was provided by Intel Canada as part of the #IntelCanada Insiders Experience program.
Why VHS Succeeded and Beta Failed
Published by Toronto Mike on June 17, 2014 @ 18:23 in Technology
The first time I ever saw a VCR it was rented for a friend's birthday party and we watched Star Wars. A couple of years later, we bought our first VCR. We went with VHS, even though the local video store guy carried titles in VHS and Beta.
Soon thereafter, VHS won the format war and Beta went bye-bye. Here's a little video that helps explain why VHS succeeded and Beta failed.
Who out there owned a Betamax VCR?
The Apple Store
Published by Toronto Mike on May 12, 2014 @ 14:30 in Technology
I have a work-issued MacBook Pro I've been using since 2011. It's the machine I use when I need to do heavy lifting, and lately it's become rather sluggish.
I'm not an Apple guy, so I didn't really know the process. Silly little me hopped on his bike during lunch on Friday and pedalled with his MacBook Pro to the Apple Store at Sherway Gardens to talk to someone there about buying more RAM to improve performance. Apparently, you can't do that.
I was nicely told I had to make an appointment before I could talk to an Apple rep about buying more RAM. This is the Apple way.
I made an appointment for today, and biked back to Sherway Gardens to learn if I could salvage this MacBook Pro. They ran diagnostics and everything came back A-OK. Here's photographic evidence my hard drive passed the test.
So now I've been asked to see if the performance is better. I'm not sure they did anything, so I don't know why I'd see an improvement, but I biked home agreeing to come back if things are still shitty.
Of course, I have to make an appointment first. The appointment is mandatory.
Hardware Salvation: What Would You Do?
Published by Toronto Mike on April 1, 2014 @ 15:29 in Technology
When cleaning out my old office recently, I came across a dusty old desktop I hadn't used in some time. This week, I decided to set it up in my daughter's room.
The first thing I did was install all the updates to the operating system, Ubuntu 13.10. Then, I gave her a whirl. Everything is great, but once in a while, the screen will freeze in a trippy psychedelic state. That's no good...
I bought this desktop about six years ago for $250. I'd like it to put it back in service without graphic card crashes. Here's the specs:
If this was your hardware you wanted to breathe new life into, what would you do?
Desktop vs. Mobile vs. Tablet in 2013
Published by Toronto Mike on December 30, 2013 @ 14:06 in Technology
While I'm knee-deep in Google Analytics for this site in 2013, I thought it would be interesting to see how people are visiting Toronto Mike these days.
This site is 11-years old, so there was a time when 100% of visitors came from a desktop / laptop. Today, that's definitely not the case.
Here are the stats for desktop, mobile and tablet visitors to this site in 2013:
- Desktop - 60.72%
- Mobile - 30.49%
- Tablet - 8.79%
Top Browsers in 2013
Published by Toronto Mike on December 30, 2013 @ 13:37 in Technology
2013 was the year of the Mac with a big change in the browser rankings.
Here are the browsers used by visitors to this site in 2013:
- Safari - 27.83%
- Chrome - 25.10%
- Internet Explorer - 18.08%
- Firefox - 13.14%
- Android Browser - 7.04%
There was a time when Internet Explorer absolutely dominated these rankings...
All This Technology is Making Us Antisocial
Published by Toronto Mike on November 28, 2013 @ 10:01 in Technology
7 Tips for Online Shopping
Published by Toronto Mike on November 20, 2013 @ 20:41 in Technology
I never buy anything unless I really, really need it. Most recently that's meant biking gloves and a rake. But my wife was recently in need of maternity pants, and hit the web in search of a deal.
Here are her 7 tips for online shopping, which originally appeared on her wonderful new blog.
- Make sure you’re on a legit site. This is an obvious one. If you’ve never heard of that company before, do some looking around first. Also, keep in mind that some vendors have different US and Canadian sites. This could change some of the inventory and shipping costs.
- Find out the shipping options and costs. If the vendor is local, you might even be able to pick it up yourself to save on shipping costs. Also, consider the shipping couriers they use, e.g., Canada Post, UPS, FedEx, USPS, etc. If duty and handling charges are involved, these prices may vary depending on the courier.
- Find out the exchange/return policy and costs. There are some sites that offer free exchanges and returns, i.e., you don’t have to pay for shipping costs. There are also some that allow these transactions at stores so you don’t have to go through mail. Just make sure you don’t get stuck paying to return something. Most of the time, the initial shipping costs aren’t refundable so why would want to pay twice?
- Look for coupon/promo codes. RetailMeNot is a good site to check. Retailers also use social media to push promo codes, so check their Twitter feeds or Facebook pages.
- For clothing or shoes, try it on in a store first before purchasing online if possible. If you can’t, look for reviews. They will tell you if things fit small/large, the quality of the item, etc.
- Pay with a PayPal account. It’s free and it offers a good purchase protection for buyers.
- Check your payment account regularly, e.g. credit card statements or PayPal. Thankfully, my account has not been compromised with all the online shopping I’ve done, but it’s always good to check. Also, it’s good to verify the purchase charges.
Happy and safe shopping!
Winamp, it really whips the llama's ass! (But no longer)
Published by Toronto Mike on November 20, 2013 @ 17:20 in Technology
After 15 years, Winamp is shutting down. I actually wrote the obituary for Winamp back in 2004 when it was widely beleived AOL was abandoning the player, but it seems I was 9-years early.
Winamp was my preferred player for MP3 files for years because it was so light on its feet. Before the bloat set in, there was nothing faster. I miss the old Winamp.
If you're running Windows, you can still download the old bloat-free versions of Winamp here.