Monday, July 30, 2012

Fresh out the labs !

I am always interested in the new prototypes tech companies develop every years. Each of these business present their new products and advancements in press conferences or big events they host annually. Apple has WWDC, Asus has Computex, Google has IO but those huge events don't necessarily need to be tied to a certain company, the MWC is a good example. The thing they all have in common is that they always showcase crazy new products just like the two I will talk about here. 

Asus Taichi

Asus did it again ! Once again, they were able to invent a new kind of device by combining the power of a laptop and the portability of a tablet but this time, no need to transform. Basically, it is kind of like a MacBook Air with a double-sided IPS display and a touch-screen on the outside of the lid. Both displays will offer a 1920x1080 pixels resolution, also known as full hd or 1080p. Two versions will be available, a 11.6" and a 13.3" one and they will come packed with killer specs : Intel Ivy Bridge i7 Core processor, 4 GB of RAM, a Solid State hard-drive, dual cameras and of course, all of the usual connectivity stuff. If you want to know more about the Asus Taichi and see it in action, check out what the guys over at Engadget have to say about it. 

Google Glass

The folks at Google are known to have creative and ingenious minds and this new project is a direct product of their willingness to push technology forward. The Project Glass, as they call it, is one of Google's most recent endeavour to develop an augmented reality head-mounted display. Sounds like something they pulled out of Star Wars or something. In fact, it kinda is. Essentially, it would be a smart-phone like device that would run a custom version of Android that you can control with your voice or pupils. It lets you to pictures, share them on Google+, get directions and display them on the street, and all kind of other crazy stuff. See for yourself what it would be like to wear one of these in this video Google released :

Don't be too excited just yet, because Google does not plan to make them available to customers any time soon. According to the rumours on the Internet, they could come out in time for Christmas of 2013 but I am not that hopeful. Even if they are probably going to make me look like a total dork, I am still eager to get a pair. 


Friday, July 27, 2012

Product Review : Tenqa Remxd

About 5 years ago, I bought a pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones made by Insignia which is a Best Buy operated brand. As you can imagine, they were the cheapest on the shelf and this is why I bought them. They were 40 bucks, I almost felt obligated to purchase them. They finally lasted a little more than 4 years and what is even more impressive is that I slept with them playing in my ears for two of those years. Lets call this a miracle. Four years later, my Insignia crap broke and I was already used to the joy of rocking to my beats cordless so I was not going buy anything that had a wire attached to it. I started looking around and I found these bad boys for the exact same price ! The Tenqa Remxd headphones are way better the piece of doodoo I use to have. First, the comfort of the Remxd headphones is amazing. The only thing that I could complain about would be the size but in fact I am kind of glad they are that small because they are not bulky at all. The DJ headphones look they have is very what caught my eye first because my old model had the headband was in the back and it was not really good-looking. The controls are great too, unlike my previous pair the Remxd has buttons that are easily accessible. This is a really important point because most of the time, you are not looking at the buttons when you press them. Another awesome thing that I did not have before is the option to use them with a wire. So if my battery is dead, I just pull out my cable a keep listening to my music. I never had to do it so far so that means the battery must be pretty decent. The sound quality is actually not that bad for a 40$ pair of wireless headphones. On the flip side, I found that the quality of the Bluetooth signal is a bit weak and that is the last bad thing I have to say about it. So to sum it up, great price, comfort, good look, easy acess buttons, wired option and decent sound. One last thing, they make a great gift !


Check them out here, and buy them on eBay.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What tablet should you buy ?

Since back-to-school sales are going to start soon, I thought I would give you my input on what tablet you should buy and maybe instead of replacing your old laptop, you might end up buying a tablet. In this post, I will tell you about my three favorite models and also I will give you the reasons not to buy an iPad. Apple lovers don't take it the wrong way, it is a great device but I think there are better ones out there, especially for the price but lets wait until we get into that.

Microsoft Surface

So Microsoft decided to launch a brand new set of devices they call Surface. Honestly, it looks gorgeous ! It is actually a Tablet PC running Windows 8. It comes with a smart-cover that is also a keyboard and only 3 mm thin. Another great feature is the kick-stand in the back which was engineered to emulate the sound of a luxury car door when you pop it open or close it. If you need a new device to bring to school, this baby will surely do you good. The Surface is the ultimate mix between a tablet and a laptop because it will run the Microsoft Office Suite so you can create and edit all of your school homework on the fly. I have not tried the Windows 8 Metro user interface, the scientific name for what the new Windows looks like, but I am pretty sure it will serve customers well. Microsoft will produce two different versions of the device, a Windows 8 RT version and a Windows  8 Pro version. The different model storage room will vary from 32 to 128 GB. If you are considering buying a tablet to replace your laptop you use for school, the Microsoft Surface is the option you should go with. It is not out yet but I will be sure to inform you the day it is available in Canada. 

Nexus 7

I have been waiting for that device for such long time ! Google started the Nexus brand with the Google HTC Nexus One in 2010. They thought that if they developed the physical part of their devices in direct collaboration with the biggest hardware manufacturers in the world, they could come up with a device that would be able to face Apple's competition. They were so right ! The Google Nexus 7, built by Asus, is the latest addition to the Nexus family and is the world's first Android Nexus tablet. When it came out, I impulsively wanted to buy two. Why two ? Because it is only 200$ ! And for that price, you get a device with ass-kicking specs : Nvidia Tegra 3 Quad-Core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8/16 GB of storage space and of course, the latest version of Android, JellyBean. If you are looking for a tablet for home entertainment purposes, the Nexus 7 is definately the product for your needs.

Transformer family

If you need a device for school, but you are not interested in Microsoft's products, the sure bet is to go with one of the Asus Transformer's device. I personally own the first of the family, the Eee Pad Transformer, which is now more than a year old and it still holds up to some of the newest tablets out there. It is now confirmed that it will run the latest version of Android, and it is packed with a Tegra 2 Dual-Core processor and 1 GB of RAM. The main advantage over Microsoft's product is the keyboard since this one includes its own battery so instead of spending battery power, it will actually recharge your tablet. They come at a very reasonable price and trust me on this, it will be worth your money. Asus is one of the biggest electronics business in the world and almost any device you will buy will have an Asus component in it. They are also one of the best Android manufacturers, especially when it comes to updating their devices to the latest OS version.


If Android and Microsoft tablets are so good, why is everyone selling their grandma to buy iPads ? Well that is a mystery of the world because when you compare Apple's products to other manufacturer's, it's not like they have a big advantage or something. In fact, you can do less with an iPad than with an Android device. Here's a perfect example : you would like to play an old game you played on your Super Nintendo, but on your tablet. With an iPad, this is not even conceivable. On an Android tablet like mine, you can play your Super Nintendo game on your device with an emulator, use a PS3 controller to play and even display it on your HD TV. At the risk of sounding redundant, Im going to say that Android gives you choices and that Apple locks you down. The other thing is that they are selling it for 520$. Yes it has a stunning retina display with a resolution of 2048x1536 pixel but the lack of content created in this precise resolution makes it useless. Bottom line : buy something else or maybe wait for Apple's next tablet.


Monday, July 23, 2012

What the hell are clouds ?

When you think of clouds, you probably think about the white things that float above your head. I don't. I think about the data centers that host the storage for my files online. Google, Microsoft, Apple and many others like DropBox all own massive server farms to provide customers like you and me, a private and safe locker to backup all of your data so it is safe for ever. That means that you will never have to worry about your girlfriend scratching your favorite CD, or worry about your computer crashing while you were typing your final thesis. It is also very useful to transfer files to your phone without having to use any wire.

Microsoft SkyDrive

Once again I will be honest, before this, I did not know anything about SkyDrive. I knew it existed but I was not interested since I do not own a Windows Live ID and I do plan to get one any time soon. But I have to be objective, it kinda looks nice. It's all integrated with the Hotmail interface we are all use to, you can access it from anywhere just like the others and it lets you share and collaborate on documents with other users like Google Drive. That means that you can have more than one person editing the document at once. Very cool feature. Also, you get 7 GB of free storage when you sign up.

Google Drive

No surprise, I use this one and it is my favorite. Just like Microsoft's, you can share documents and access it from anywhere. The main difference is that with Drive, all your files are categorized. Your files, pictures and documents will be in Google Drive while your videos will be uploaded to your YouTube account and your music will be in Google Music. In summary, Google gives you virtually unlimited space to store your videos, room for 20,000 songs, 5 GB for random files and documents and that's without counting their old picture service, Picasa. At last, I thing the biggest point in Google cloud's favor is that Google Music is available over the Web, so you always have your music library, wherever you are.


Ob-to-the-viously, you can't use Apple's cloud service if you don't own an Apple device and still, even if you own an iDevice, it needs to run iOS5 or the latest version of their OS for Macs. They give you 5 GB of storage for your files but anything you buy on iTunes will be available in the clouds. The iApplications data is unlimited and you can upload up to 1000 pictures every months. My friend who's an Apple fan-boy told me he thinks iCloud is good for contacts, calendar, email and app data but he does not really use it as storage space.


For me, DropBox was the first cloud. It is also my favorite of the small ones. DropBox is an online storage service that will offer you 2 GB to start with and 500 extra megabytes each time you invite someone and they join DropBox - very nice business model. I use it all the time to transfer files to my phone but it can be used for many things. For example,  my friend has to do work for school and he was teamed up with random people. Since everyone uses a different cloud service, they created a new DropBox account and shared the password with the group so they can all use it for their assignment. Brilliant !

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Computer Pimpin' 101

At least once every two weeks, one of my friend calls me and asks me to fix his computer. I understand that it is not everyone that is a geek like me so I put together a little guide that I think anyone could follow to speed up their PC. 

1. System file checker
The system file checker is  a command-line program that will scan all of your Windows associated files to verify if they are still in their original state and if not, it will fix them.

- Click on Start Button
- Click on Run
- type in : "sfc /scannow" (without quotes)
- A black screen will appear, let the command execute

2. Error checking
This will check for errors and correct them on your hard drive.

- Right click on C:
- Click on Propreties
- Click on Tools
- Click on Check for errors
- Check the 2 checkboxes
- Click on the Start button
- A dialog will appear saying that you can't do it now, plan it for next restart
- Restart your computer and dont turn it off until you actually get to Windows

3. CCleaner
CCleaner, also known as Crap Cleaner, is a very good program that will fix errors in your Windows registry.

- Go to and type in download ccleaner
- Download latest version from file hippo
- Install but be carefull and don't let the installer install yahoo toolbar
or any other crap
- Run the registry cleaner and fix errors until you dont get more errors

4. msconfig
MSConfig is a Windows console that lets you select the services and programs that start when you turn your computer on.

- Click on Start Button
- Click on Run
- Type in : "msconfig" (without the quotes)
- Click on the Start up tab
- Uncheck any application you dont want to start when windows starts

5. Defrag
When you save files on your computer, all the data is not saved in one big block on your hard disk. Instead, the data is split in small bits everywhere on your disk. The Disk Defragmenter will group the data altogether so it will be faster to read it.

- Click on Start button
- Click on Programs > Accessories > System tools
- Click on Disk Defragmenter
- Defrag until you do not see a change in the fragmentation graphic.

6. Increasing page file
Your computer's short-term memory is called RAM. Windows also uses your hard disk for extra RAM and you can boost the amount to get better performances.

- Right-click on My Computer
- Click on Propreties
- Click on Advanced
- Click on Advanced Tab (if you on a version later than XP)
- Click on the Settings button in Performances
- Click on Advanced Tab
- Modify the pagefile or virtual memory
- Your pagefile should be 1.5 times more than your amount of RAM
- You can add pagefile on any harddisk just make it the same amount of your RAM

7. Chrome
Chrome is the best Web Browser out there. Firefox and Opera are not that bad either but Chrome beats them all.

8. Use the right programs (those are all free programs)

- Burning CD/DVD/ISO files : DeepBurner
- Videos : VLC and also download k-lite codec pack
- MP3 : NOT iTunes IF YOU DONT OWN AN IPOD !!! Winamp instead
- Zip : 7zip
- Text files and other office files : OpenOffice 
- Antivirus : AVG Free Edition

9. Remove UAC (only for Windows versions later than XP)

- Go in Control Panel
- Click on Classic View
- Click on User Account
- Click on Activate or deactivate user account control
- Deactivate it
- Restart windows

10. Language Bar
Remove language bar and any other languages than Canadian multilingual
standard, to remove it just right click on it and figure it out, its pretty

11. Do ALL your windows updates !
It is very important that you keep your Windows updated if you want your computer to run smoothly. Don't bother with not important updates.

12. Use this on short-cuts you use a lot, NOT ANY SHORT-CUTS !

- Right click on short-cut
- Click on Propreties

For XP and under :
- In the target box add "/prefetch:1", it should look something like this
"C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe" /prefetch:1

For later versions : 
- In the target box add "/superfetch:1", it should look something like this
"C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe" /superfetch:1
- Click apply

13. Remove unnecessary stuff

- Remove all unnecessary icons on your desktop, put them in folder at least
- If you dont use the quick launch short-cut bar, remove, else remove
unnecessary icons
- Remove items from your start menu by right clicking on your start button bar,
you can also hide unnecessary icons beside the clock in the menu
- If your computer is reeeeeeeeeeallly slow, remove the background image if you
have one

14. Tell Windows not to show the welcome screen
Do this only if your only have one user account on the computer

- Click on Start button
- Click on Run
- Type in : "control userpasswords2" (without quotes)
- Highlight the user you want to log into automatically, then 
uncheck the box for : "Users must enter a username and password to use this

15. Make sure all your drivers are up to date

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Nexus Q - From TV to Q

On October 10th 2010, Google in partnership with Sony, Intel and Logitech, launched their Smart TV platform named Google TV. To be honest, it kinda failed badly. Partially because they did not have enough media partners to provide content for the platform, partially because the hardware partners were not fully engaged in adopting Android as their primary Smart TV operating system. In June of 2012, Google showed this new great looking device, which is not a Google TV. The Nexus Q is what they call a social streaming media player. I bet that no one gets what the hell is it and what it does. Let me lay it out for you: it is a device that lets you enjoy the internet on your TV while controlling it with an Android smart-phone or tablet. Here are the answers to the questions you should ask yourself :

What does it really do ?

It plays videos from YouTube, plays movies from your Google Play account and plays music directly from your Google Music library. It is also aware of other Nexus Q devices that are in your house so you can choose where the music plays. All of the interactions with the Q are done through the Nexus Q app that will be available in Google Play when they start selling it. The awesome thing about that is that all of your friends with Android devices will be able to control the Q when you set it into Party Mode. Hackers and modders over at CyanogenMod already started development on the device so pretty soon we should be able to use the Q as a full blown Android device.

What are the specs ?

The Nexus Q packs a 1.2 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM, 16 GB Flash memory, NFC, WiFi, Bluetooth, HDMI port for your TV, Banana and Optical out for speakers, an Ethernet port to connect to the Net and a USB port so hackers can try to do stuff we have not thought of yet.

How much does it cost ?

This is the main downside, that little bad boy sure is pricy. You can pre-order it 299$ US but I am pretty sure its price should drop a lot around Christmas time. This leads us to the next point.

Why should I get one ?

Do you want a really cool living room ? Do you want a TV with Internet on it ? Do you want to throw nerdy-techy-geeky parties ? Do you live in the US and have full acccess to all of Google Play's content ? If you said yes to one of these questions, the Q is for you. If not, wait a couple of years until it does 1247 new things and has 2910 new features. This is a really awesome device but if I am not getting one, it probably means that you don't need one either. 


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Android vs iOS vs Windows Phone or Why Android is better

Preferences in mobile OS is definitely a personal thing. Nevertheless, I think it is possible to objectively evaluate the most popular platforms and compare them to each other. In this post, I will explain in 10 points why I think Android is the OS to beat :

1. Widgets, Home Screen and App Drawer

On Android, your home screen is totally customisable. You have the choice on the number of desktop pages to be displayed, the choice to organize app icons however you like, add app widgets, choose how many and what app icons you have in your bottom dock, change their color, etc. Your home screen can be different than any other Android users if you really want to. If we compare that to iOS, you will realize soon enough that you have way more liberty because on iOS, all your apps will be displayed on your home screen no matter how many you have. Moving an app to the main home screen can be a pain, especially if it was all the way the end.  Another thing that bothers me on Apple's OS is that you have no app drawer. You cannot see your application in a simple list and this is where Windows Phone gains a point because on this platform, you have a beautiful app drawer. There is also a home screen that you can customize with tiles - which look a lot like Android widgets - but you cannot have app icons displayed on it. It is a different way of thinking, I would not say better or worse than Android's, just different.

2. Freedom

Android let's you be free ! Yes, unlike iOS and WinPhone, you can use your device the way you intend to use it. No need for useless programs like iTunes to transfer files to your phone. Your phone does not have to look exactly like your friend's. The same goes for developers. They can choose to develop their app using native code, using HTML5 or Air for Android. You probably think that this information is not that relevant to you but in fact, it attracts more programmers to the platform so they can offer a wider variety of applications.

3. Price

The price is often a big factor when considering buying a new device. Once again, unlike Apple's devices, Android's and Windows Phone's come in different categories of pricing. Apple only sells "high-end" devices that come with high-end prices even if the specifications of their machines are not always the best available. The other two platforms offer price ranges that are more realistic from my point of view. The fact that Apple has a huge portion of the market makes the other manufacturers to lower their prices so buying Android or Windows Phone is almost always way cheaper.

4.  Form Factors

Apple have one form factor for phone and one for tablet. That's it (for now). So if you would like your phone to have a physical keyboard, you can't. Wanna have a tablet that comes with a kickstand, you have to wait for the next iPad. On the other hand, Android is everywhere ! On phones that have gamepads, on multi-media centers, on watches and soon it will even be in glasses. Whatever you like, Android's got it !

5. Openness

iOS and Windows phone are closed systems. That means that they do not release the source code of the OS to the public. Android does that and it creates communities of developers around the world that join their efforts to push forward the evolution of the platform. So it is not only a specially selected team that works on the advancement of the OS but anyone who would like to participate. No wonder new features are coming that fast.

6. Multi-tasking

Android is the only platform that offers real multi-tasking. You even have a dedicated button that allows users to switch between apps or kill them in a really neat menu. On iOS, I found that switching apps is a pain, unless you turn on the gesture that lets you swipe the screen to display the multi-tasking menu but most people don't even use it or know about it.

7. Buttons

No wonder Windows Phone devices have a back button just like Android. The one and only button on iOS devices has proven to be not enough to provide full usability. This is why Android phone and tablets all also have a Home button and the multi-tasking button I was talking about in the previous point. A menu button also appears when needed. Whenever I use an app I never used before on iOS, I always get confused because I have to figure out where the developer decided to put the back button this time even if Apple provides guidelines on how to develop user interfaces for their platform.

8. Default Apps

The Android platforms lets you define which application to use when opening a certain type of file, on iOS, you can't. Pretty sure you get where I am going with this. This is only another mean for Apple to control the way you use your device. I just hate that.

9. Google Now and Voice Search

Google Now is a new feature in Android JellyBean. It is a location-based app that gives you relevant information regarding where you are, what time it is, what you usually do at that time or location and what you recently search for using Google. It is just awesome. You can also use the Voice Search within the app by just saying : "Google". You phone will search the web or your phone or even do actions like text someone for you or set a reminder.

10. NFC

NFC is a way of communication that lets you share files and connect to other devices to perform actions like mobile payment. Since Android Ice Cream Sandwich, a lot of new devices include that technology that will soon change the way we use our phones and wallets. Imagine using your phone as an id or passport, leaving your home with your phone and nothing else in your pockets. Another 5 years and this delightful dream will come true.

So in conclusion, Android offers more than the others, iOS is ok but not up to speed when it comes to features and liberty and it is too early to say anything about Windows Phone. People have to stop being blinded by the perfect marketing schemes of Apple and realize there are other options that are less pricy and even more interesting.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Best of the best !

When I was about 5, I was really into ninjas and karate and so my dad always rented martial arts movies. I remember one called The best of the best, and this is not relevant at all. I put together a compilation of what I think are the best mobile manufacturers - Apple, Android's top (Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LG and Sony Ericsson) and Nokia because of their partnership with Microsoft's Windows Phone - best devices. Here is what it looks like :

And here are the results : 

The big winner would be the Samsung Galaxy S3 but from my point of view, the Galaxy Nexus is the real champ. The math behind this is very simple : the Gnex is Google's flagship device and it comes with a vanilla OS and no bloatware. I see you thinking wtf does that mean ? well it means that this is the device that will work the best with it's physical components because the software was developed in partnership with the hardware manufacturer. It also means that your device will be the first to get updated when a new version of Android comes out. Since stats can tell us a lot but they can also blind us from what's real, even if the iPhone seems to be behind all the others, I can tell you that it is definately not the worse phone of the list. The same goes for the Nokia Lumia. They are both great phones and since they run on different OS's we can't juge them only one their specs, we'll have to look at the software and for this purpose, I will compare it with the Galaxy Nexus running Android's latest version : JellyBean. Let's start with the iPhone which runs on iOS. The pros : Apple provides their consumers with more than a simple device, it's a whole environment, so if you have more than one device, everything will play nice together. The security on iOS is also a plus because unlike Android, not anyone's application will be allowed on the app store. The last big point for Apple is the user compatibility. A lot of people seem to think iOS devices are easier and simpler to use than Android devices and in a way they are not wrong. The real difference is when Apple adds a feature, they only give you one way to use it. On Android, anybody could create an application that would use the same feature but in a different way. So the consistency in the whole device is never compromised and all the users become robots that all do the same things the same way. I like the fact that you have the choice on Android. Enough about iOS, let's skip to Windows Phone.  The Nokia Lumia is a gorgeous device but it's main issue is not the fact that it lacks specs to compare to the others, it's the fact that the OS it is running is in an embryonic stage. The Windows Phone menace is not yet looming. I would say give it a couple of years and it will become a real rival to the others, just like Firefox OS but that's for another post. No HDMI out, no expansion possibilities and the limited number of available apps really shows how much Windows Phone only needs maturity to gain momentum and market shares because most of the features that are missing aren't that hard to implement. 

In closing, I guess my biggest advice when buying a new phone would be : buy a flagship device, buy a device which not only consumers but also manufacturers will care about. In my next post, I'll explain better why I think Android trumps all the other mobile operating systems and why it should be your running on your next phone. 


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

First post


This is my first entry, not sure yet if this is going to work out. Let's get into the real stuff right over, I'll be posting about computer stuff and I'll try to dumb it down for you guys. This will include Android and mobile stuff in general for sure but maybe later on I will get into some more scientific stuff like particle physics and astronomy. 

Here's what you need to know about me : I'm a Flash and Android programmer, I worked as  a help desk technician and also sold computers. I have been programming since I was 12 and I had a computer when I was 5. These machines are the interest of my life and since we live in an era where everybody has to use computers, I am just trying to give my perspective so everybody can start making the right choices when it comes to buying them. Oh and another thing, I kinda hate Apple but that doesnt mean I can't be objective or excited about their products.