Monday, July 21, 2014

Technology - My New Laptop

I have been using my new laptop for about a week now and I am pleasantly pleased. Is it possible to have a fully functioning Windows laptop for $250? Yes is it and my Acer E 11 proves it. I bought the laptop from Amazon for about $250. It has a newer model Celeron Chip in it which does not require a fan, and so it is remarkably quiet as a result. Now it does take much longer to boot up that my Chromebook did, but it is not so long that it bothers me. I have found that once I boot it up, and if I leave it in sleep mode when I am finished, when I come back to it, it gets up and running quickly. I just shut it down at night when I finished with it. So far all my usual programs work well. I use Chrome as a browser so I have all the apps and features I used on my Chromebook at my disposal. What I am most happy about is being able to use my music scoring program (Finale) on it. I thought my new laptop would be under powered to use my music scoring program, but so far I have been able to use it to score just about anything I want to write. I have a trial version of Office 365 that I am using. I am pleased with how it works so I am going to purchase it once the trial period is over.

For $250 this laptop has performed above what I was expecting it to. I think Chromebooks have a problem. If you can have a fully functioning Windows machine for $250, then why buy a Chromebook for about the same price? I think Microsoft decided that they need to own the low end or they will lose a significant portion of market share. So how can Chromebook compete? Unless they figure out how to offer as many features as Windows does for even less, I don't think Chromebooks will make it. In fact, if you go and check on the Amazon web site, Chromebooks are not the number 1 seller any more. Low cost Windows machines are (and the Acer E11 is sold out).

What do you think?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Economy – The Movie Business

I just took a look at how well the movie business is doing and things do not look too good. This year is on track to being one of the worst in 5 years. Is this the canary in the coal mine giving us a clue as to how the economy is doing?? Or is this just reflect that “Hollywood” has lost its ability to get people to buy movie tickets? I think it is a combination of the two. I think people have less and less money to spend because of inflation and the fact that the economy is not recovering. I also think that “Hollywood” is running out of idea that are worth watching. I for one have not been to the movies much this past year. There is nothing that I want to see in the movie theater. I am good with waiting for the movies I want to see to be available as rentals. The time span between movies being in the theater and being available for rental is getting shorter and shorter, so why spend the money when all you need to do is wait a few weeks? Add this bit of data with all that is going on in the world and I think that we are going to see things grow worse. Hold on to your hats, things might start to get interesting.

What do you think?

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Creativity – Being an artist

I spent some time going over Seth Godin’s posts. I like reading his stuff because he is an artist. That is, he creates things and then sells them or gives them away. Is that not what an artist is? We all have the potential to be artists. All we need to do is create stuff and then either sell the stuff we create or give it away. You also do not need to make “artsy” things like paintings, crafts, books, or music, or anything else like that. It can be anything. If you create cars, or homes, or provide a great service, you can be an artist as well. Just create something and provide it to the public. Then you are an artist.

What do you think?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

World News – Israel and Palestine

Israel launched a ground invasion of Gaza tonight. Not that it was unexpected. They have been telegraphing that they would for several days. It was even speculated that it was just show because they were taking so long. It turns out that they took as long as they did because they were training. It is one thing to invade open territory. It is another to invade a highly dense urban area where the entire population is armed and hostile. Gaza has been preparing for this for decades. Let’s see if the Israelis are up for the challenge. My guess is that they are though they will take heavy loses. Who is in the right? Well, I think Israel is only because what sovereign country would allow another to bombard it with hundreds of missiles, motor rounds, and ambush attacks from sea and tunnels. You can make the argument that they took the land from the Palestinians, but that was settled in a couple of wars and Israel won. It is not going to surrender and go away. Maybe the Palestinians should spend more time of building up their territory and not focus so much on killing Israelis. Even if they put half the effort into making Gaza a better place to live than they do in killing Israelis they would not live in the poverty and squalor that they do.

What do you think?

The Economy – Microsoft

Microsoft announced massive layoffs today. 18,000 jobs are being cut at the software giant with many of the layoffs occurring at the recent acquisition Nokia. Still, the layoff amounts to about 17% of employees. Is this part of the “recovery” we are supposed to be experiencing? I think this is just the beginning of another round of layoffs and things could get ugly rather quickly.

What do you think?

World News – Ukraine

It looks as if things are heating up once again in Ukraine. The U.S. has imposed further sanctions on Russia. A military transport plane has been shot down in Eastern Ukraine. There are reports that a commercial airliner has been shot down over Ukraine as well. Financial markets in Russia are down today and so are markets in the U.S. At some point will this all grow into a regional war? It is basically a civil war now. Will things escalate?

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

World News – The Middle East

First Libya erupted into civil war and it is still embroiled in sectarian violence. Next, Syria devolved into civil war and is still a mess. Assad just was sworn in once again as ruler, but the country is a shambles as Sunni radical militias control the eastern part of the country as well as a good chunk of Iraq. Speaking of Iraq, the quasi stable country has been attracted from Syria by Sunni radical militias which now control a large portion of the western part of the country. Iraq has also turned to Iran and Russia for assistance since the U.S. does not seem to want to get involved once again. Then we have the seemingly eternal conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel is preparing to invade the Gaza strip because of incessant rocker attacks. I think the whole region is about to explode into a regional war that will have a negative effect on the economy of the rest of the world. Could this be the spark that brings on the coming economic storm? It could very well be.

What do you think?

Technology – Microsoft

Here is what I think Microsoft should do. They need to find a way to offer a solid laptop with basic Office installed for less than $300. If they did that they would kill off the Chromebook market just like they did the netbook market. Maybe an i3 chip based laptop that had good components and had Word, Excel, and PowerPoint all included for $299. Now that would be a great machine to have. I would think about buying it. It would be even better if they found a way to include Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on a $250 laptop like the one I have. That would also put an end to the Chromebook market. The issue I would think is if there is enough of a profit for Microsoft to make that happen? I think they would be crazy not to because then they would own the market on the low end, which is what Chromebook is doing now.

What do you think?

Observation – The Laptop Market

Chromebooks are in trouble. Why buy one when for a few more dollars you can have the full functionality of a Windows machine and all that you can do on a Chromebook? That’s right. On a cheap Windows machine, if you use the Chrome browser, you have access to just about everything you can do on a Chromebook. But, you also have a functioning Windows laptop (though under powered). I think Chromebooks are going to fade. Microsoft is going to kill them. In the meantime, what about Apple? Now that is going to be interesting. On one side you have a race to the bottom between Microsoft and Google. That will leave Apple with the high end and probably a better profit margin, but with an ever decreasing share of the market (in my opinion). Things just shifted once again in the laptop market.

What do you think?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chromebooks – I Think There Is A Problem

With the new chips from Intel, Chromebooks seemed to be getting a much needed boost to their legitimacy. But, the new chips might be causing a new problem, cheaper and better low end Windows machines. I bought an Acer E 11 Windows laptop for $250 a few days ago and it has one of the new chips. I did not buy it because I was tired of or disappointed in my Chromebook. I bought it because I needed a Windows machine for the classes I am taking at my local community classes. I also bought the least expensive Windows machine I could find expecting it to suck. Now the performance of my new Windows machine is not as good as my Acer C720 Chromebook, but it is not so bad that I hate it. In fact, it is better than I was expecting – disappointingly so. I think Chromebooks now have a problem. If you can get a functioning Windows laptop for about the price of a Chromebook, why switch?

Now I can think of many reasons to still buy a Chromebook, but I think they will fall on deaf ears. What people want to do with a laptop is access the internet and use Office offline. Now Chromebook can do most of that, but the off line aspect is still and issue (one that never really bothered me). The best point for buying a Chromebook was cost. All the other issues were just icing on the cake (so to speak). Again, I think Chromebook has a problem, can they become even cheaper? Maybe, but the difference might not be substantial enough to woo someone away from a Windows machine. Ouch!

What do you think?