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Microsoft Singapore, together with local device distributor E-Huge Technology hosted a launch event at Hungry Heroes café Singapore tonight to release 3 new Windows 10 devices with licensed Marvel Avengers paint jobs. The choice of venue is rather fitting for the event and product line, comprising of three low-priced devices comprising of two 2-in-1 tablets of different screen sizes and one touch-enabled 14” notebook.
All devices are made by Hong Kong based WMP, and comes specified with last-generation (2015 release) Intel Atom x5 series processors, which till today, have a good track record of power efficiency and price-point. It however, has very limited horsepower use as a daily driver compared to other more capable processor options such as the Intel Core-M or i3/i5 U series commonly found in Ultrabooks. Here is what in-store:
The AVR10T 2-in-1 10.1” Windows 10 Tablet
The smallest device of the trio with a 10.1” screen, this model takes off the detachable keyboard tablet series we first saw in the Asus (Android/Windows) transformer line- where the device can be used as a traditional slate tablet and input enhanced with the attachment of an additional accessory docking keyboard with “converts” it into a clamshell laptop. The tablet itself is pretty well built and feels solid for a budget Chinese tablet and sits smaller than an A4 writing pad at 258x 172.6x 10.3mm and weighing in a 581g (add about 150g extra for the add-on keyboard). The footprint makes it ideal for students who only demand only light word-processing and internet-surfing on a budget and pretty much nothing else.
The tablet is clad in sliver painted plastic with an arc-reactor paint job and electro-luminescent backlight lighting which gives the arc reactor cut out at a back a rather good neatly cool glow. Even the keyboard accents have fine detailing. But don’t expect to be blasting any baddies with this tablet’s rather weak Atom processor coupled with 4GB of un-expandable soldered-on DDR3 RAM.
Alienware was at Club Millian this evening to celebrate 20 years in providing high-performance PC gaming to the masses. The club grounds were decked out with food and a variety of tech booths offering VR (virtual reality) tryouts and activity areas to demonstrate their VR-capable product line. Regional and product managers from Dell and Intel were present onstage too to give introductory welcome and presentation of their new product line, including 2 new notebooks and 1 desktop from the Alienware range.
The main partners in crime here will be the new Alienware 15 and 17 notebooks, both VR-ready notebooks not only spotting the new Intel Kaby Lake (7th gen) processor refresh in a new chassis, but boasting too the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10- Series family of GPUs, with claimed 85% improved performance over previous generation Alienware notebooks. There is no word on the Alienware 13 model as of yet as current models still can only be equipped with Skylake CPUs and a GTX 960M.
The $3,999 SGD Alienware 17 is the flagship model of the Alienware laptop range, with an emphasis on screen size, gaming performance and overall immersion. Powering this large desktop-replacement laptop is an overclocked Intel Core i7 k-series CPU coupled with DDR4 memory (overclocked to 2667Mhz). The introduction of an optional IR Tobii eye-tracker was the 17” laptop main selling point- which adds an IR and camera tracker bar at the bottom of the screen, just above the hinge which constantly scans your eye movements.
Alienware has put together a few nice tech demo software included with the Alienware 17 to showcase its eye tracking capabilities. We had seen this technology a couple of years back, but never had it been integrated into a laptop chassis to enhance efficiency in gameplay, power use and security. When looking at the screen, it first detects your gaze, and if you software/game supports it, allow you to record and export your gaze pattern as an improvement tool to help improve your productivity. It can also sense your presence and attention to lock your system when you are away. You can technically use the eye tracking to command hands-free use of the computer with your eyes, but it will definitely give you eye fatigue after 10 minutes of continued use, as such I can see it primarily being useful for apps requiring user presence for eye tracking and accommodating for better user-accessibility (e.g enhancing areas of the screen the user is looking).
Hystou PCs is not really a brand most people are familiar with. They are an original equipment manufacturer and international distributor based in Shenzhen, China offering really good value-for-money barebone (no ram and disks) mini-PCs selling their products through Alibaba, Ebay and their website. I had never bought from them before, but Chinese electronics, especially those from Shenzhen have an increasing reputation of delivering quality electronics. So I figured I gave them a try, also considering they are offering proper full genuine Intel-based Mini-PCs at half the price of branded barebone PC equivalents. Hystou direct competitor includes the Intel NUC line of mini PCs, Zotac, Gigabyte Brix, Asus VivoPC, MSI Cubi and Acer Revo series.
Hystou prides themselves into offering Ultrabook-level desktop computing performance through a fanless all-aluminium chassis design. Their line-up usually feature Intel U-type low-voltage processors typically found on Ultrabooks with a TDU of 15-25W. If you don’t mind buying into last year’s intel processors as a bargain, the company has an extensive line-up of Haswell and Broadwell mini-PCs in i3, i5 and i7 flavours, with the i7 with Iris-Pro graphics being the highest performing, but most costly in the segment. They also do mini-PCs in form-factors for digital signage and ruggedized bodies for industrial use. There are no Skylake models at this point of writing.
A bargain Mini PC
The OEM retails through Alibaba, as well as on their main website offering cheaper prices (where I bought mine). I got myself a barebone Broadwell i3-5010U unit which costs me $160 USD (~ $224 SGD) including tracked EMS shipping to Singapore. A similar speced same generation i3 Intel NUC PC will set you back about twice as much $290 USD (~$400 SGD) from Amazon with free-ship or a rip-off $500 SGD from stores in Rochor Sim Lim square. Both Intel and Hystou offers a manufacturer-direct 3 year warranty on their Mini-PCs.
First impressions are pretty good, I am a big fan of mini PCs, particularly the Intel NUC. Despite the bland packaging, the mini PC comes in a solid machine-milled aluminium body, which is solid and feels really well finished. It is rather heavy too, weighing in at just under 2kg without RAM and Disks installed, which make it feel a little bit over-engineered for a PC case. You get an auto-sensing power brick with a removable plug cable to suit your region, a bag of screws, dual wi-fi antennas and a driver CD. The mini PC is square shaped with a flat top and bottom, besides looking great, the top fins are functional and acts as a large heatsink to dissipate processor heat and can get rather hot in operation, I feel could do better with a fan added. You also get a white plastic stand if you wish to have your PC mounted in a vertical standing position.
The Huawei watch will be sold in Singapore, that is the latest release I was informed by Huawei Singapore last month. The watch is possibly the best-looking Android wear watch you can buy today, even surpassing the likes of the LG Urbane and Moto 360 2nd Gen. Huawei has invited me to have a try out of their watches, following a rather excited call from their staff on the launch of their much-anticipated Huawei watch in Singapore- A tad late as the Americas already have the watch on sale for the past 2 months. Better late than never nonetheless.
If you want to have a go at trying out the watch, do check out their flagship store at Plaza Singapura level 3. The watches are not ready for sale yet, but in the likes of Apple store style exclusivity, there are sample watches in store for try outs and fitting where you can pre-order your watch configuration of choice.
The Huawei watch will come in 3 main flavors, you essentially get the same watch unit with the gorgeous 1.4-inch, 400 x 400 full circle screen (286ppi) and compatible with iOS 8.2 or Android 4.3. It is differentiated in an array of body colours and interchangeable watch bands.
Retail prices are in Singapore dollars.
- Silver face in leather strap- $549 (There is a rose gold in brown strap variant too)
- Silver face stainless steel link strap- $649 (Fine bracelet links and traditional chunky links)
- Black in black leather strap- $649
- Black in black stainless steel link strap- $749
- Rose gold body and leather strap- $899
- Rose gold body and metal gold-link strap- $999
You do pay a premium for the watches and it comes in a pretty box as well which seems to hold it’s age with time. Huawei is marketing the watch as a premium product, contrary to their array of low-priced/affordable phones synonymous to the Chinese OEM. Only the Rose gold option is unique in terms of it’s body and strap colour combination. The first two variants are just mix-and-match variants of the same silver or matte black body paired with permutations of different watch straps material and colour.
One of the frustrating things about Window server backup is the inflexibility and inability to specify a backup frequency other than daily backups and nothing less than once a day. Especially if you are coming from a Linux cron-job background, it simply just frustrates power users on the inability to even customise even basic backup frequency to your needs.
This opens up only two options- use third party automated backup software (which in-turn too, opens up a whole market of opportunities for overpriced third party backup software), or manually create a scheduled backup yourself using available Windows tools like command prompt/powershell. I tend to prefer the latter, as I am not a fan of third party software clogging up my servers, and I feel that Microsoft has let down Windows Server Backup, which is actually a rather powerful backup software, particularly for Hyper-V with the inclusion of Volume Snapshot Service, Volume Shadow Copy at your disposal.
Having said that, you could easily enter a new scheduled task through the command prompt by invoking the SCHTASKS command, (e.g. “SCHTASKS /create /SC /WEEKLY…”) or you can do it using my “Lazy man” method using a GUI by following the screenshots below.
Available Singapore virtualised server space for rent!
I’ve improving my virtualisation techniques lately and I am glad to say that I’ve created much free capacities on my servers from these optimisations. As such I will be opening up a few limited virtualised and dedicated slots on my cluster.
If you are looking for dedicated developmental server space in Singapore, or simply looking to run your own web/email or cloud server, feel free to drop me a note via email or on my contact form for more details. As a supporter of developers as a developer myself, I generally maintain a happy laid back developmental background, and not getting bogged down by restrictions. So if you need a VPS or a dedicated setup, just let me know! My setup is optimised for web-services, let be databases or serving webpages. Here are the rates I am offering with the rough specs:
- $39 SGD/month: 60GB disk space, 2GB RAM
- $59 SGD/month: 120GB disk space, 4GB RAM
- $89 SGD/month: 250GB disk space, 8GB RAM
All plans come with Quad core Xeon (4 cores), 1x Static IP on unmetered 100Mbps connection, with fully-managed hardware firewall. You are free to run any Linux distro or closed-sourced operating system of choice, as long you have a valid license. All your data stored on my servers belongs to you and will not be used for any other purposes. If you have any customised needs other than the plans above, feel free to drop me a note via email or on my contact form indicating your needs.
Cheers and start developing!
Going in addition to my previous blog post of installing and running Android 4.0 (Ice cream sandwich) on your x86 based system. I encountered an interesting infinite boot loader loop problem evident only if you install your Linux distribution (and GRUB) on top of a Windows 8 system using the new Windows 8 radical boot loader. This problem could be a nagging issue for users due to the annoyances caused by the Windows8 UEFI-ready new double-boot boot menu, and could be more prevalent when Windows 8 become mainstream, especially if you are setup to tri-boot Windows 8, Windows 7 and Linux on the same machine.
The cool but rather annoying thing about Windows 8 the Microsoft new boot menu which appears to act like a new boot loader interface, but is actually in-fact a mini operating system itself sitting in the MBR (root) partition which functions like a gatekeeper to boot into Windows 8, it even has it’s own optimized video and touch-friendly mouse drivers pre-loaded. I previously had Windows 8 and 7 installed on my machine. If multiple instances of Windows are detected on your partitions, it will invoke the boot menu and list all the available compatible Windows OS and reboots the PC again after your selection.
This has major issues with pre-existent boot loaders, especially if you are looking to boot into an Linux environment or similar ext3 partition using GRUB for instance. The problem here is that you will get infinite restart loops. GRUB will catch the reboot again, terminating the Windows boot cycle, bringing you back to square one into the irritating Windows 8 boot menu. It simply just makes you wonder what Microsoft is intending to get out of this, by implementing this together with their notorious Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI).
Though boot loader signing and certification for UEFI is not evident here, we could see this being a major problem given the controversy Microsoft new UEFI BIOS will have against Linux platforms (or other platforms not signed by the manufacturers to work with the UEFI BIOS), especially in securing the BIOS and making the boot procedure largely closed-source.
The idea of Windows 8 running on ARM based tablets is unreal, but the idea of running Android on x86 based PCs is even cooler. Knowing the crazed Android platform developer and supporter I am, what’s the least I can do than to get it running on my x86-based tablet PC?
You can start off by grabbing the Android x86 sourcecode and building the image yourself. You have a choice of Honeycomb or Ice cream sandwich (ICS) flavors. This is courtesy of the guys on the Android x86 project who made everyone’s job easier by porting much of the needed original source code for runtime in the unconventional PC-based architecture. So do check out the Android x86 project, go ahead and give the guys a visit and drop them a tip or two if you appreciate the work the team had been putting in developing Android for PC. If you are new to this, the main development site has specific .iso files for Asus netbooks (Eee PCs), Viewsonic viewpads and few MSI netbooks which is convenient if you have those devices. Otherwise, you are quite out of luck if you are intending to get ICS running properly on your own system, let be on any system like my ultra-old-and-dated 8 year old Intel 915GM-based Fujitsu tablet which nobody supports at all.
So that pretty much kept me busy over the last few days, working on the x86 instance of Android 4.0 for my laptop and streamlining various old drivers and re-building the installer with many trail and errors. It gets really rewarding eventually when you finally manage to get the build to work, bringing a whole new life to my stoneage tablet PC.
In a matter of no time, I was zipping through the app tray and testing out various functionalities of ICS. I have the default market installed which was promptly updated to Google Play through my intel a/b/g card via my compatible wireless drivers. I’ve got touch support using my wacom-penabled touchscreen and the hardware keyboard working. Strangely, the laptop trackpad was automatically recognized as an optical trackpad (similarly found on the Desire range of HTC phones), which allows swipe based navigations and scrolling, but no hardware mouse pointer like those you get by plugging in a human interface device via USB Host. Hardware limitations on my digitizer and synaptics trackpad prevents any form of multi-touch interactions, so I am pretty much out of luck for pinch-to-zoom on the browser/maps or any form of on-screen gamepad interactions where 2 or more multi-touch points are required.
When the Metro interface was first announced for Windows 8, I had the humorous impression of it being Windows Phone for PC. We’ve seen the Metro interface already being implemented on the Xbox and the Windows Phone platform, knowing Microsoft’s enthusiasm on this rather unique interface, it will be only a matter of time before it finds it’s way into their flagship product.
Metro for Windows acts as in intermediary gateway for users to launch apps. In Windows, it serves as the new start menu between the desktop and “Apps”, positioning itself as a launching UI, allowing an out-of-the-box style of navigation via window boxes. Gone is the familiar start button on the task bar, invoking “Start” now means hovering your mouse on various “hotspots” on your screen or using the Windows button (which you will intuitively find yourself using more often now). With Metro comes with it’s own set of special shortcut keys allowing you to transition to various App listing via an Aero-like interface of sidebars, charms (window-C) and the start menu (windows button) itself.
Windows 8 still has the speed and capabilities to run on older machines. I had Windows 8 dual booting on a 7-year old single core Centrino-based Tablet PC, which was previously running Windows 7 Ultimate. Windows 8 is still largely based off Windows 7, so they should behave similarly performance-wise. Going with Metro has alway been thought to doubled edged decision for Microsoft, one which will usually make or break an OS, the change here is in-fact more drastic than the one we saw with Windows XP and the transition then to the more stable and “secure” NT file system.
The radical new interface runs like a charm. It’s both fresh, zippy and pleasant to the eye, and will definitely catch the attention of anyone. Microsoft has a strange obsession with buzzwords on their new OS, particularly the over used of the word “Apps” and “Charms” which I find hard to stick as names not representative in any of the elements on the UI. Microsoft claims that Metro is as intuitive to use on a tablet as well as trackpad based laptops, but I beg to differ even with tablet capabilities on my machine. I found the touch and swipe movements not as intuitive as that on Android or even iOS, the OS still retains much of the fixed, segmented tablet input structure we see in the previous version of windows, with weird scrollbars popping out of nowhere and Windows swipe gestures conflicting with the current touch interfaces. But I can attribute that now for the lack of refinement in the alpha release, as well as the lack of touch support drivers for my machine, which will be rectified on future releases.
I came across this problem when doing some word processing on my new installation of Office 2007 on Windows 7. If you are running the final release build of Windows 7 (build 7600) and Office 2007, you may have this problem of being unable to use your mouse to click on text or click-drag the right scroll bar. Closing your Word window will result in an App crash. Even after many restarts, running the Office diagnostics (no problems) and having the latest Office updates do not seem to work either. My add-ons do not seem to affect the situation enable or not, so the problem will lie mainly on word’s core.
A quick fix which worked for me till Microsoft releases an official fix is to revert the office registry settings back to the default value, (well despite my Office install being still largely set on default). That means renaming the current registry values to an alternative backup value so that word can re-create the registry values again.
Click start and under run, type “regedit” (start -> Run-> enter “regedit”). The registry editor will pop up and navigate to: CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Office. From there, do the following:
Rename the folder Addins -> oldAddins
Rename the folder Data -> oldData
and rename Options -> oldOptions
Rename the folder Addins -> oldAddins
Make sure that word is closed when doing this. After that start word and you should be able to click on text and drag the scroll bar using your mouse. Unless if you are really sure of what you are doing, do create a registry backup before altering any values on the editor, do this at your own risk. But if anything crops out, you can always rename your registry values back to the original values.
With my university term starting in October, it’s very much shopping time to get the gears and stuffs in preparations for my departure. Shopping is good therapy, well, not until you see the bill!
The choice of my desired system was much of a personal debated topic as well. The story started with this quad core desktop which I currently use as my primary computer, but it won’t be something I would see lugging all the way, let be shipping with my books to UK for use in the dorms. It will be too much to handle, let be to move around if I have to switch rooms between semesters. So the logical choice will be a laptop, which brings us to another problem- There is currently no laptop I have which has as much computing power as my desktop, the solution? Get a new laptop? What laptop? well!
After much searching and re-searching, I finally come to choose few desktop replacement laptops which I will using for my whole university term of 4 years till I graduate- namely the Alienware M17x (which gave me mixed feelings about it’s exclusivity when it was made available in Singapore now, though I planned to get it while in UK), the Clevo/Sager NP9850 (or the Core i7-940 based NP9280) and IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad W700. These babies are not so much your average laptop, with 17″ screens and weighing about 5kg- not much the proper definition of “portable” but beats lugging 20kg of steel and monitor around as well. Anyway this laptop will be based in my room as a personal system where it will be permanently mated to the wall socket. I will be using my current lighter Fujitsu tablet for lectures and tutorials.
The IBM Thinkpad is cool because it has a tablet built-in which is cool for illustrations or a quick doddle, but is not compared to a dedicated tablet which I already have. Though you can the bells and whistles such as Quad core processors, workstation graphics and DDR3, the W700 is expensive, let be overpriced- about $9000 fully loaded with not much graphic options as well. And yes, there is no Macbook pro which can satisfy my computing requirements, so I am leaving that completely out.
The Alienware however, appeals to me through 5 main points- Price, performance (it’s claimed to be the fastest laptop in the world at the moment), gamer orientation, X-factor and support is backed by Dell, which I say is superb. What’s more it has freaking cool lighting and doesn’t look like a laptop my dad would use. So for a laptop which is as or even exceedingly powerful than my desktop, I feel there is a need to turn to the “all-powerful”:
- Intel(R) Core2 Quad Processor Q9000 (2GHz/ 1066 FSB/ 6MB Cache)
- SLI(TM) Dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280M (2GB GDDR3 total)
- NVIDIA Geforce 9400M G Low power stealth mode secondary GPU
- 4GB Dual-channel 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM (2 x 2GB)
- 1TB 7200RPM SATA RAID 0 HD (2 x 500GB)
- Slot Load Blu-ray BD-R, BD-RE / DVD + /-RW Drive with DVD + R double layer write
- Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit SP1 Edition (English)
- 17.0 ” Beyond HD 1200p WUXGA (1920×1200) CCFL Display with TrueLife
- Dell Wireless 1510 802.11n Half Mini-Card
- Dell Wireless 370 Bluetooth Internal mini-card
- AlienFX Illuminated Keyboard (English)
- 2MP webcam with VGA video at 30fps
- Metallic Space Black Base
- 9-cell Primary Battery
I am only having gripes to forgo the Sager NP9280 with the i7 processor, as that is truely proper desktop processor but it’s just a shame that laptop do not offer SLI or a blu-ray writer, what’s more it looks ugly.
Mmmm it seems that once you put your foot in quad cores and 1200p HD screens, you will never own a system lower than that. The laptop specified at the following costs about $5500 including GST. I have yet confirm prices through phone with Dell but it can be roughly $300-$500 cheaper by ordering through phone than online.
Frankly speaking $5500 is a considerable sum at a go. But after some consideration of this being my primary system for daily use with school, projects and maybe work, it’s quite a bargain for what I can possibility achieve with it. So do I consider this much of an investment rather than a purchase?
Can’t wait to get my hands on this.
Following the upgrade of the site, I’ve successfully integrated gallery2 with wordpress 2.8, able to call wordpress functions within gallery itself and maintain your wordpress sidebar. This was not previously achievable with gallery1 considering that some wordpress and gallery share some variables which needs to be redefined to avoid conflict, with this new setup I am glad to say that problem do not exist now.
True there are other plugins for wordpress such as WPG2. WPG2 looked promising, as it allows you to call and display photos in your posts as well, but it’s too evasive for just the simple need to integrate gallery into your wordpress theme. What’s more WPG2 requires users to disable URL rewrite which messed up my permalinks and my old gallery URL structure, too much of a hassle.
All what needs to be done is just the ability to call any wordpress function within gallery and maintain the same layout as your blog through all gallery’s pages. Though this is a simple mod, surprisingly, there had not been any well documentation on the internet integrating them together, so I will just write one here for anyone looking to do the same.
Step 1- Including the wordpress header
For starters, we need to include the wordpress header in all of gallery’s pages, we do so by including it in main.php found in your gallery’s root folder. You can include it anywhere by lets do it at the top of the file.
In main.php find:
include(dirname(__FILE__) . ‘/bootstrap.inc’);
Then add at the bottom add the path to your blog header file, you can omit “wordpress/” or otherwise in the require path if your blog is on your site’s root:
include(dirname(__FILE__) . ‘/bootstrap.inc’);
Step 2- Including your wordpress template
Next with your chosen gallery template to modify, (I will recommend one which you can choose from the gallery’s website which reassembles closely your current theme, then you might only need minimal tweaks to suit the stylesheet your site’s layout) open the theme.tpl file and you will notice that the file follows the typical layout of a html file with html, body and their respective closing tags as well.