Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 51 seconds

question markIf you didn't get around to technology in preparing for the holidays, there are still some good questions to ask to guide your purchasing decisions.
• Have you committed to Windows 8 as the OS for all devices?
• Have you decided to buy a new computer with Win8 already installed?
• Have you committed to iPhone 5, knowing cradles, cases and chargers need upgrading?
• Are you looking for some more accessories, gifts, things to make life interesting?

Here are a few thoughts on the above

The Microsoft Sleigh Ride
The choice on MS Windows 8 is whether to buy a new computer or upgrade from the Win7 you are currently using. Buying a Win7 computer at any retail store is near impossible. Thus, when purchasing the laptop or desktop or all-in-one, you need to accept that Win8 is your new OS.

Most of what I read indicates that you cannot uninstall Win8 to install Win7. You can have a dual boot when older applications cannot run under Win8. Whichever way you choose, your first decision after you've successfully fired up Windows 8 is to decide if you want to fight it whole-hog by putting back as much of Windows 7 as you can. You can debate if you want to discard old gadgets, keep them with the dual boot or some hybrid approach. One of the issues surrounds versions of QuickBooks that are used by many. If this impacts you read Doug Sleeter's post -

http://www.sleeter.com/blog/2012/11/windows-8-and-quickbooks-2013-and-more/

You should also check here to gather info for your installations: http://support.quickbooks.intuit.com/support/articles/INF21789
Microsoft Win8 interface delivers the same look and feel everywhere from phones to PCs to Tablets to Xbox. Unfortunately what works great on small screens and Tablets does not always translate to desktop devices. With constant use of the laptop/desktop, even experienced Windows users will spend substantial learning the new. This can be even more complicated when switching between two or more devices.

The new Metro interface replaces the windows, icons, menus, and pointers (WIMP) user interface (UI) we've known for decades with tiles. In Metro, you can only work with applications in tiles or in full-screen format. Working on a larger screen, full-sized applications, such as Mail, can leave blank gaps on the screen. This is akin to some kind of photo app that blanks out portions of the image.
Windows 8 also provides Internet Explorer 10 which can be downloaded for Win7 but will never be available for XP or Vista. And then there is the new way to uninstall desktop apps. Standard programs are removed through the Control Panel. However, for Metro-based apps you right-click their tile and choose Uninstall.

Windows 8's Desktop looks much more like "Windows," but the interface still has only a fraction of Windows 7 Aero's functionality. Windows 8 has surprisingly few applications. However, that has not stopped OEMs delivering several hundred megabytes of useless-ware. Getting rid of this bloat can be done through the charms menu.

There are apps that you can synch such contacts now called "People." The apps are usable and often have fewer features than what you had been using for Mail, Messaging, Calendar, News, et al. Simpler can be a benefit. For example, Mail has less features than either Outlook Express or Windows Mail. You can install the more feature rich apps and ignore the simple stuff.

For some reason, such as revenue generation, Windows 8 Pro comes without Media Center or many essential codecs for playing DVDs. Please note that you can obtain the Windows 8 Media Center Pack for FREE until January 31, 2013 to claim up to five licenses so grab a key even if you haven't upgraded yet: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/feature-packs

It appears that Metro changes are a force feeding to adopt the complete MS line of hardware for business to personal to gaming. While it makes a few things better, the desktop interface is a major step back in functionality and requires relearning the MS ways of doing the same old things we already knew.

When you download free apps on your smartphone, seeing ads is not a surprise. Software developers need to find revenue opportunities. In these Metro apps, ads are incorporated into Microsoft's own software, even when you paid for Windows 8.
But, wait there's more!

Win 8 Mail does not support Post Office Protocol 3 (POP 3). The built-in mail app not only doesn't support POP connections, it actively rejects them.The first time you open Windows Mail, if the program doesn't recognize your login email address as Outlook or Hotmail.com, it asks you if that address is POP, IMAP or Exchange. If you select POP, the MS message is that Mail not only does not support POP3, you should get an IMAP or Exchange account instead.The workaround, of course, is to use Outlook Gmail or Hotmail and ignore Windows Mail that you paid for.

The bottom line - Windows 8 offers less functionality and, adding insult to injury, it insists on learning a new way of using what functionality there is. Downgrading from the Windows 8 to Windows 7 is limited to the pricier Pro PCs. There is one more ‘gotcha' to remember, if you buy gift a Windows 8 PC, chances are they will need your help in learning how to use it and be their tech. support.

Some Holiday Extras: Value is for both giver and receiver


The LEGO Adventure Book
Lego art
Got Legos and need new ideas for all ages - check out The LEGO Adventure Book. This inspiring tour is filled with bright visuals, step-by-step breakdowns of 25 models, and nearly 200 example models from the world's best builders. Learn to build robots, trains, medieval villages, spaceships, airplanes, and much more. Whether you're brand-new to LEGO or have been building for years, this book is sure to spark your imagination and motivate you to keep creating! http://nostarch.com/legoadventure $25.

 

 

iPiciPic
Want to make touch screens a little easier? Woodees iPic, is a small touchscreen stylus with a unique design that closely resembles a guitar pick. It was created by mobile product and earbuds manufacturer, Woodees. This easy to hold design can be used by gamers, techies, executives, and ladies with long nails. www.woodees.com $9.99.


 

Thinking PuttyThinking Putty
This 21st century version of silly putty is better, more fun and a lot more colorful. Thinking Putty can bounce, shatter, and stretch. While this is great for science and learning at home or school for kids, it can be a valuable addition to the home or office for stress relief or during creative brainstorming. With over 30 colors, this can shaped and reshaped into a ball of fun. www.puttyworld.com $10  to $15.

 

Desk Pets

 

Desk Pets
A Desk Pet, such as the CarBot is the world's first micro-robotic toy that is controllable via an iOS or Android App. It navigates mazes, avoids obstacles, battles and races. CarBot is able to start, stop, race, battle and drift with efficient motion. Through the App interface, you can maneuver turns and obstacles and have races. Other "bots" are similar in size and functionality $30 http://www.mydeskpets.com/

 

 

 

 

Last modified on Sunday, 02 June 2013
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