windows-8.1-release Saturday Social - Windows 8.1 Release, Blackberry Decline

Windows 8.1 released, LED Li-Fi, Blackberry brand, do dogs have brains?

 Saturday Social - Windows 8.1 Release, Blackberry Decline

At last! Windows 8.1 is upon us and Microsoft will be hoping that it finally gets PC owners, technology forecasters, bloggers and well, just about everyone, off their backs when it comes to the disaster that was Windows 8.

Since I had a techy hiccup a few weeks ago in the shape of my hard drive dropping dead, I recently purchased a new Samsung laptop running W8. Yes, I could have done the simple thing and just bought a new HDD for the old laptop, but my daughter who’s just embarking on her GCSEs needed a new one anyway (yes, that’s my excuse).

Anyway, I’ve found the lacking start button irritating. There are a couple of other things that annoy me now and then but I’ve had it a week and it’s not as unusable as many would have you think. I’m still looking forward to getting 8.1 on it though, not least because it will give me another chance to play around with new features.

What changes have been made?

Well, the tiled start screen is now to be a favourites panel which can be customised and of course the start button is now back. This is a big deal as it’s an annoyance to keep mousing down to it and remembering that it’s not there.

Now it’s more like the Windows Phone UI so that will please owners of that and another feature is that Windows Store apps are organised separately to the main desktop. You also have the ability to boot straight into desktop mode so if you really do detest the tiled start screen, no problem.

Will it be enough to drag Microsoft back into the OS fray? Probably, but in a world where designers often have usability as their main objective, 8.1 still isn’t really good enough to address this as yet.

Li-Fi becoming a reality?

Chinese scientists say that ‘Li-Fi’ is a step closer to becoming a reality, the BBC reports. If you’ve never heard of it, then it’s simply using a light bulb, which contains a computer chip, to transmit data in much the same way as a Wi-Fi router would.

The concept was envisioned by the University of Edinburgh’s Professor Harald Haas and I remember writing a piece about it a year or so ago thinking how great it would be if it was to become a household technology.

In 2011, Haas demonstrated at a TED conference how a simple LED bulb could stream high-def video to a PC. An expert in optical wireless comms, Haas called the technology “light fidelity” (Li-Fi) and set up a private company, PureVLC. However, it was thought at the time that the technology would take some years before it was ready to be used commercially.

“We’re just as surprised as everyone else by this announcement,” PureVLC spokesman Nikola Serafimovski told the BBC. “But how valid this is we don’t know without seeing more evidence. We remain sceptical.”

The idea is that not only will Li-Fi produce speeds of up to 150Mbps, it will also make wireless technology considerably cheaper.

However, the technology is still in its infancy and it’s unlikely we will see it anytime soon. The Chinese scientists behind the latest advancements are due to showcase the technology at the China International Industry Fair in Shanghai on 5 November.

Blackberry’s failing brand

Struggling Blackberry this week released an open letter promising its users that they can continue to count on Blackberry, despite constant headlines surrounding the financial trouble that the company is in.

blackberrys-decline Saturday Social - Windows 8.1 Release, Blackberry Decline

It states: “You’ve no doubt seen the headlines about BlackBerry. You’re probably wondering what they mean for you as one of the tens of millions of users who count on BlackBerry every single day.

“We have one important message for you: you can continue to count on BlackBerry.

“Yes, there is a lot of competition out there and we know that BlackBerry is not for everyone. You have always known that BlackBerry is different, that BlackBerry can set you apart. Countless world-changing decisions have been finalised, deals closed and critical communications made via BlackBerry. And for many of you that created a bond, a connection that goes back more than a decade.

“We believe in BlackBerry – our people, our technology and our ability to adapt. More importantly, we believe in you. We focus every day on what it takes to make sure that you can take care of business.

“You trust your BlackBerry to deliver your most important messages, so trust us when we deliver one of our own: You can count on us.”

Can we? At the end of the day, the company is in this mess due to two fatal errors that will have a detrimental effect on any technology company:

– An arrogant assumption that they had a market winner, whatever the circumstances
– A failure to innovate

Blackberry were far too slow to respond to the smartphone market when it first emerged and they are now paying for that mistake – heavily.

Do dogs have brains?

I’m not one to be lost for words, but this … you may have seen it as it’s spread around the web like wildfire this week. If not, sit back, press play and laugh or cry …