by Greg Hill, October 23, 2013
The CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation) show is an annual event for Denver and may be the Mile High City’s biggest technology related event of the year. This year’s version held September 26-28, was spectacular. CEDIA does not have the massive popular appeal of the International CES (the Consumer Electronics Show held annually in Las Vegas) because it is targeted toward businesses that sell and install technology in homes and offices. In many ways, this makes CEDIA even more interesting because instead of row upon row of the latest televisions and mobile devices, the show has a mind-numbing collection of equipment that makes life more entertaining, secure, and comfortable. It is the spiritual home of cross-technology convergence, the Internet of Things, and practical uses for Cloud Computing. After visiting CEDIA, I was picturing a world where I could be jogging on a treadmill in the home theater, generating electricity to run a 4K-3D-Ultra HD projector, listening to surround sound through speakers invisibly installed in walls, while monitoring my array of wireless cameras on-screen, and controlling my environment including heating, cooling, lights, appliances, and even cars. You can’t see this level of automation at any other show in the world. Do not miss CEDIA next year: September 10th through the 13th, 2014, at the Colorado Convention Center. But I digress. The following shows are still to come, so don’t miss them:
The majority of vendors at the show this year were selling products pertaining to cloud storage, networking equipment, and security products, which fit into the Expo's theme "Navigating the Cloud". Microsoft was featuring its new Surface 2 tablets and Dell was displaying their point-of-sale server system although the booth staff seemed quite excited about their, as-yet-unannounced tablet line.
There was also a full slate of on-stage lectures and showcases, including an appearance by the Colorado Secretary of State, in support of the Small and Medium Business (SMB) Resource Center, which consisted of several Federal, State, and Local government entities attending the show to help and advise small businesses and start-ups.
The atmosphere was casual and fun without any high-pressure selling, spiced up with cheap food and drink, free swag, frequent $250 value prize drawings, plenty of valuable information, and capped with Happy Hour at closing. All-in-all a worthwhile way to spend a working day.
by Greg Hill, September 23, 2013
The new Surfaces were announced today by Microsoft.
(No pictures from the launch event because Microsoft’s WiFi was too slow!)
Surface Pro 2
· Windows 8.1
· Cooler, quieter, battery lasts 75% longer
· Surface Power Cover available with 2.5 times more battery life
· 2-step kickstand
· 50% faster graphics
· 20% faster CPU (“faster than 95% of laptops in the market now”)
· Docking station available with 3-USB 2.0, 2-USB 3.0, mini HDMI, Ethernet, audio, power, can be used with cover on
· No 3G, 4G, LTE
· Windows RT
· Thinner, faster
· 2 stage kickstand
· New Magnesium color
· 25% more battery life
· USB 3.0
· Comes with full Office Suite
· Back camera improve 5x, front camera even more
· Available 10/22
· No 3G, 4G, LTE
by Greg Hill, September 19, 2013
by Greg Hill, September 13, 2013
|Smartphones are small, portable devices for obvious reasons, and most of the innovation and engineering in them has been developed to overcome those inherent restrictions*. A few years ago, practically no one envisioned all of the things that are now being done on Smartphones.||Televisions are large and usually stationary. Although the current trend is to make the screen as thin as possible, there is still ample room to contain all of the components necessary to make them “smart”.|
|Smartphones have the advantage of standard methods of connection, namely cellular technology, not to mention WiFi and Bluetooth on most models. Their primary reason for existence is, after all communication.||Televisions are made to connect to providers of content, usually through coaxial cable, which does not work well for communication with humans or other devices. Smart TVs will add principally WiFi connectivity, though Bluetooth, wired Ethernet, and other advanced methods will come.|
|In keeping with the communications aspect, Smartphones have very usable user interfaces, in the form of hardware keyboards or the software equivalent appearing on touch-capable screens.||The user interface has usually been the familiar remote control, sending infrared signals to a sensor on the front of the screen. Some remote controls were very sophisticated and could be programmed and even respond to voice commands. In those cases, the remote may have been considered a smart device, in much the same way that a Smartphone can be used to control many televisions and set-top boxes.|
|Smartphone world software platforms are well-known, and in most cases provide a well-defined roadmap for software developers to create application programs (“apps”) that can be validated and distributed to users fairly easily. Smartphone users are familiar with the main platforms: Apple’s iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Microsoft Windows 8, among others.||Until recently, Smart TV manufacturers each had their own proprietary method of injecting intelligence into the television. The same goes for set-top boxes or other attach-able devices. Although this may be a method of encouraging brand loyalty, it puts a huge burden on every company to keep up with the front-runners in providing features and innovations.|
by Greg Hill, August 23, 2013
Bill Gates was a hard act to follow.
Even with his geeky, uncomfortable style, Mr. Gates had a personal magnetism, and that, coupled with his obvious love for technology, made him a compelling figure.
I watched him give several keynote addresses at COMDEX and CES, and even bumped into him on the show floor and at a couple of Microsoft events. Each time, I came a away with a feeling of excitement about Microsoft and their products and felt that being involved with them and investing in the company made me part of a winning team. Then, Gates left, and along came Ballmer.
Steve Ballmer's keynote addresses at CES were dull and uninspired and I got the impression that they reflected his personality and management style, which seemed to be contagious. No matter who appeared with Ballmer, they seemed dull and lifeless as well, as did the products they were pushing. Probably the best decision Ballmer made was to stop doing the keynotes at CES. But like most of his decisions, it was way too late. I sold all but 4 shares of Microsoft stock.
Microsoft reflected its leader’s personality. Under Gates, it was dynamic and decisive, introducing innovative products and aggressively moving forward at full speed. Under Ballmer, Microsoft has become boring, slow, and mean-spirited. Their products seem about as lifeless and unattractive as, well, Mr. Ballmer himself. When Gates was in power, calling product advocates “Evangelists” seemed right. Under Ballmer, it seems like sarcasm.
So, as someone who uses Microsoft products and has supported them almost from the beginning, I say “Why wait, Mr. Ballmer? Why not do something in a reasonable amount of time for a change and get out by the end of 2013 at the latest? We have been ready to move on for years.”
Attending industry conferences can open people's eyes to facts that seem obvious, but are much more significant when fully understood. Such was the case with Storage Visions in Las Vegas this past January and digital storage. Everyone in the computer and electronics businesses realizes on a subliminal level, at least, that the availability of cheap, small (in size, not capacity) and fast electronic storage makes the very existence of the industry possible. But when you listen to speakers at Storage Visions recall the history and evolution of storage, you begin to realize that not only does storage make the a lot of things possible, the progress and innovation of the storage industry is making most of the new and incremental technologies in the computer, communication, transportation, and entertainment industries possible. Ultrabooks, tablets, and MP3 players depend on ever faster, smaller, and higher capacity storage devices, as do Smartphones, automobile enhancements, and the digital recording devices that make HD and 3D cinematography possible.
Wouldn’t it be nice if had the same apps on our smart phones, mp3 players, tablets, televisions, set-top boxes, and in fact, everywhere there are apps? Well, we are not close to that dream yet, but at least one step was taken in that direction at the first press conference for the Smart TV initiative. Major TV players LG and Panasonic are members and hopefully all of the major players will eventually come on board. While the group is named for televisions, their stated objective is to eventually include all platforms, moving toward a single Software Development Kit (SDK) that can be used by developers to build apps that will run on multiple brands and platforms. Obviously, this will make it easier for developers to build apps with a chance of attaining a large market, which will draw more of them into creating these kinds of apps. The cycle completes when the availability of killer apps drives the sales of hardware from the groups sponsoring the SDK.
The first SDK is expected in February with updates to come as more companies and technologies come on board.
by Greg Hill, January 8, 2013
The LG Wall of 3D is a big hit on the Show floor. The main entrance is at a complete standstill because everyone coming into the hall is overwhelmed by the massive wall of 3D displays in the LG booth. Once you put on the passive glasses, all sorts of things come flying out of the screen at your face, causing people to duck and back up. I gave up waiting and walked down to the next door. I could have stood there all day watching the video and marveling at the brightness of the colors and the reality of the images. But, I had to get to the VOXX International booth to check out the Car Connect product they featured at their press conference. More on that later. In the meantime, I was interrupted by the gigantic Able Planet
by Greg Hill, January 8, 2013
The opening speeches and press conferences are over and it is time to get to the meat of the matter - the show floor, which opens at 10:00 AM PST today, January 8, 2013. By far the most impressive presentation yesterday was that of Sony at their amusement park-like booth at the back of the main hall. Once again they presented stupefying achievements in the area of TV, notably 4K and OLED big screens, but unpredictably, they also appear to be a serious player in the computer device arena with their new line of notebooks, tablets, and hybrids which also have spectacular displays.
by Greg Hill, December 14, 2012
Here are the "can't miss" items FreshBaked.com will be covering at the International CES conference in January (order does not imply importance):
by Greg Hill, September 7, 2012
Technophiles have had increasingly fallow years in Denver since the economy began to slide. Denver Civic leaders responded by launching an epic technology austerity program. While it might be a stretch to say that the Mile High City has devolved to the stone age, City government's reluctance to provide incentives or encouragement, coupled with a drastic reduction in their own investment and the noted anti-tech stance of the current administration has had a chilling effect on the production of computer and electronics events in the area. The Technology Capitol of Colorado, now more than ever, is located in Boulder, and those of the geeky persuasion are either migrating there or finding themselves commuting in that direction frequently.
Even so, there are actually a couple of exciting events coming to the Denver area in late September and early October. As you can see in the Upcoming Technology Events box at the right, Microsoft is having a Windows 8 rollout event on a Saturday at their headquarters in the Tech Center, and a brand new event is scheduled for a Friday at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in East Denver. These events are far away from downtown, which used to be ground zero for tech events, but we are thankful for anything we can get. Details follow...
Windows 8 Unleashed is sponsored by the Denver Visual Studio User Group and will take place on Saturday, September 29th, 2012 from 8AM to 6PM at Microsoft's Southwest District Office in the Tech Center at 7595 Technology Way, 4th Floor, Denver, CO 80237. This is a hands-on, hackathon style event, so bring a laptop and be sure to download all of the software from the registration site. Lunch and prizes are provided by PDSA, ComponentArt, and O'Reilly.
The Denver Business Technology Expo is presented by the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, Latisys, and Colorado Technology Partners. Vendors include the Ablaze Group, Microsoft, Cisco, Dell, Comcast, Fortinet, Security Pursuit, Syntes Language Group, and CoBiz Financial. Hours are 9AM to 6PM Friday, October 12th, at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, 7711 East Academy Boulevard, Denver, CO 80230-6929.
By Greg Hill, August 25th, 2012
Even though there have been significant advances in consumer electronics products in the past few years, it doesn’t seem as if they are advancing fast enough. We can only guess at the reasons that consumers can’t buy the products that they yearn for, but aren’t available yet. In fact, there is probably only one reason: profits. The “incremental evolution” business model has proven to be very profitable for electronics manufacturers and marketers in the past, so they appear to be sticking with it. A validation of the assumption that technology in the U.S. is not progressing fast enough is to take a look at other world markets, particularly in Asia. Listening to visitors from Japan and Taiwan, among others, at the CES show last January, the feeling is that if you want to see products that will hit the U.S. market in three to five years, just look at what is available in the Asian marketplace today. While this is true to some extent, there are other forces that affect the U.S. market, so let’s examine them by market segment:
In Japan cell phones have had bar-code readers, digital TV, GPS tracking, credit card functions, video conferencing, near field communication (NFC), and high resolution cameras for years. Some of these features are starting to appear on phones in the U.S., and some will probably never make it due to bandwidth restrictions, legal impediments, or the forces of stifled competition. One item that is widely accepted in Japan will finally achieve critical mass in the U.S., and that is using phones as credit cards, including widespread use of near field communication. Progress has been crippled by the lack of cooperation by retailers and payment providers, but these problems should be resolved sooner rather than later. Strangely, banking and shopping with mobile phones has achieved widespread success in some African nations long before the U.S. Progress may be slow in this country simply because there are so many other well-accepted payment methods available to consumers, resulting in soft demand, coupled with the complexity of creating a system that will work across so many different devices and payment platforms. Early adopters like Starbucks and Target are providing incentives for consumers to pay with their phones, which will ultimately lead to mass adoption by the buying public. You can expect to see combinations of airline frequent flyer points, discounts and other incentive programs that will combine with the convenience of carrying nothing but a mobile device to make this kind of payment a compelling proposition.
As far as technological advancement in cellular technology in the next 5 years, expect it to be incremental rather than generational. If the pattern of the last 30 years stays true, 5GL phones will not be announced until 2020 or so. But the good news is that “real 4GL” and LTE will eventually reach the original goal of Gigabit speeds in the next 5 years. If the vendors start to cooperate, networks will also become more dense and intelligent band seeking technology will combine to provide a more stable and consistent network for all users.
The greatest functional advancement for smart phones will come from improvements in applications. As second and third generation apps become available, they will combine more sophisticated software with more powerful operational frameworks (Android, iOS, etc.) to provide features with and without hardware upgrades. Today’s mobile devices only use a fraction of their capabilities and talented teams of programmers are working around the clock to remedy the situation. As the app market matures and entry becomes more difficult due to the prevailing level of sophistication, expect the prices to increase. The most powerful apps will no longer be free unless they are tied into a sponsor.
The biggest impediment to realizing the dream of having everything needed to function on a personal mobile device is of course, the government. Federal, state and local governments hinder the progress of mobile freedom by requiring citizens to carry documents, like driver’s licenses, while at the same time failing to provide alternate electronic systems due to political considerations, lack of competency, and budget shortfalls. Is there any reason why you should have to carry identification? The technology is available to eliminate such outdated customs, but the government is in no hurry to implement them. With electronic facial, fingerprint, retina recognition, among others, people can be identified to a much greater degree of certainty than a document that can be easily forged. Actually, budget squeezes may serve to accelerate the adoption of electronic systems because they are ultimately much more cost-effective. So, within 5 years, maybe all you will need is a cheap phone to access all of your financial accounts, as well as to identify yourself to the satisfaction of all commercial and governmental entities. At last, you will be able to leave home without your American Express Card, because you will have a virtual version in your mobile device.
For mobile devices without cellular capability, like the iPod for example, Wi-Fi connections will become faster and more available. Advances in technology, if accompanied by vendor cooperation, could make Wi-Fi much more available. 802.11ac/ad, the follow up to 802.11n should be on the downside of its life span in 5 years, being built into all but the leading edge products, which will come equipped with the next generation. For home users, 802.11ac/ad will solve most of the problems associated with the current version, bringing greater dependability, range, and up to 7 gigabit (nominal) speeds. Assuming a faster Internet connection, this could spell the end of buffering and drops during video streaming and downloading. For users of non-cellular devices, it would mean that virtual credit and identification would be available to them with no monthly payment or contract. Beamforming, Passpoint, and Voice-Enterprise Wi-Fi enhancing technologies will make for easier and more stable connections and improve the quality of voice calls.
One more thing – the current Internet will not support the wide scale adaptation of higher speed mobile devices, point-of-purchase electronic payments, HD streaming, and government-sponsored services – it is too slow and unstable. Two things may solve these problems in the next 5 years – the next generation Internet and Cloud services. The next generation internet is largely in place already – faster speeds will become available as soon as there is a way to adequately monetize them (get someone to pay for them – that’s you). Cloud services are nearly the same as a super-fast Internet – they consist of massive storage tied together by communications that are many times faster than the current Internet. So, if you put a database or movie on the cloud from your home, it is instantly available anywhere else in the world. Even if the “last mile” connection is still the current slow Internet, the performance is greatly enhanced.
Summary: Faster, more stable connections, more features standardized across vendors, and greater capabilities through better apps.
If you can only attend one computer-electronics show for the year, or for the rest of your life, for that matter, CES is the one.
Last Minute Fail-Proof Gifts
Your giftee needs these items, whether he or she knows it or not. Watch the wave of instant recognition pass over their face when they are presented with these indispensible items.
Sonos Breaks Sound and Price Barriers
ZonePlayer S5 - The first affordable (sort of) wireless iPod room speaker systems are now available.
Adding to the tradition of economy and high performance.
VoiceCon in San Francisco and InterOp in New York, by Greg Hill great conferences, Christmas shopping opportunities.
Where are the HD Radios?
They keep talking about them, but where are they?
by Greg Hill
We heard these were coming at last year’s CES, and now
they are available, with Best Buy advertising not only the Sony at
$349.99, but a Panasonic at $249.99. Both come with BD-Live™1, which is
an industry standard and rigidly controlled standard for access to the
internet via either Wi-Fi or wired connections. BD-Live offers additional
features tied to the program being watched, and may be used eventually
for firmware upgrades to the player itself. This is nowhere near what
most techies would like, of course, but probably the best avenue for
access to the Internet is through the monitor or receiver anyway, so
delivery by the Blu-ray player of additional content tied to the program
material should be a pleasant bonus. LG’s player not only contains
BD-Live, but has the ability to stream up to 1 GB of content from
CinemaNow, NetFlix, and YouTube.
Blu-ray and BD-Live are trademarks of the Blu-ray Disc Association.
Recharge devices wirelessly
Sony Vaio Lifestyle 8" PC weighs 1.5 lb. with battery
Is the Palm Pre phone the hit of the show?
Samsung LED TV: networked/uses widgets to view Web Content
Open the garage with your Blackberry
"Fusion Render Cloud" helps AMD deliver super games
Updated July 25, 2009. Orig. August 12, 2008. By Greg Hill.
Everyone wants a networked home. Distributing audio, video, and data to every room is a right, not a privilege. But what if the abode only has Cat 5, or even worse? There are alternatives, and some of them are ready for prime time.
Most Tech-Savvy Convention in History
The Democrats said it. Maybe the most "tech-savvy" POLITICAL convention in history, and that is not saying much. Really, nothing to see here, folks, go about your business.
Some of the Keys To the IT Collapse
August 10, 2008. The IT Industry has been on the decline for the entire 21st century and there is no end in sight without some drastic changes...
Some People Think It Will Be The Hottest Thing In 2008
Check out the title link for more than you ever wanted to know about Twitter. If you don't have the patience, Twitter is just the thing for you, because it is super small (140 character), super fast "Micro Blogging".
Vista Security Updated
First Test Indicates Vista Service Pack 1 Worth Loading
March 31, 2008. While mostly a collection of previous fixes and updates, SP1 also delivers performance and stability enhancements...
Why Wikipedia Cannot Be Trusted
November 24, 2007. For weeks we battled to expose the truth, against determined opposition from anonymous enemies ...
Half of the people who live in the United States have nothing to do but surf the web all day and all night long....Read the rest of the story...
Wondering about the meaning of such strange words as "Avalon", "WiMedia", "UWB", "ZigBee", "WiMax", "SOA", "Itanium®", "Vista®>", "Big Water/BTX", "Indigo", "Centrino®", "Wi-Fi", "IPv6", "UPnP", or "Sparkle"? Click here and we will tell you.
In the Tradition of SCO...
Hey, Windows Notepad works exactly like a piece of software we wrote in 1982, so everyone who is using Windows send us $1,000 for a run-time license or we're going to sue you. Just kidding! (It's actually $699, check or cash).
"You are a great computer journalist!" Craig Wood, West Region Practice Leader, Avanade, Inc., to Editor-In-Chief of FreshBaked.com®, Greg Hill.