Windows 8.1 Versus iOS 7 – Which is more annoying?

There’s a balance — not always delicate — between “what we’re used to” and “new and improved.” Cases in point: Microsoft’s Windows 8.1, and Apple’s iOS 7, which went to a lot of trouble to break some of the basics.

Windows 8 and 8.1, for example, have been rightly slammed for doing away with or hiding the START button. On Windows 8.1, that seems to extend to POWER OFF… on my new desktop, which I optimistically got with Win 8, after pushing it to Win 8.1, turning the machine OFF from the Metro screen is often challenging enough that I end up reaching for the power button on the computer.

Installing the free ClassicShell (, which provides a configurable START menu in Windows 8′s desktop view, solves this, for the desktop view. Trying to power down from the Metro view remains a PITA (pain in the fundament).

Similarly aggrevating: iOS 7′s default breaking of messaging — one of the uses that phone users rely on, to say the least.

Apparently, in giving (or foisting on) us iMessage, the ability to text to/from non-iOS users when pushing an iOS device (e.g., my iPhone 4) to 7 is silently disabled. The fix does, thankfully, turn out to be simple: in SETTINGS/GENERAL/RESET, do Reset Network Settings.

Discovering that people thought you were getting their texts when you weren’t — annoying at best. Guessing that it’s Apple’s fault — more annoying. Having to hunt down the fix by lucky keyword guessing — Level 3 PITA. (I ended up driving to the local Apple store, where one of the “support Geniuses” sorted things out in a minute or two.

It continues to be a sad, sorry statement on the computer/technology industry, and its biggest players, that these fails are considered par for the course.


Buying Media for Digital Cameras – A Class-y Act?

As I move up from $100-$200 pocket point-and-shoot cameras to bigger, better ones (more about this in another post), I’m up against the question: what are the right (minimum, good, best) SD (‘Secure Digital”) media cards. Somewhat like (analog) film of yore, SD cards come in various speeds (here, read and write, rather than light-sensitivity), capacities, and vendor/brand names.

Capacity is relatively easy. SD cards, like USB flash drives, keep getting higher in maximum size. At the last CES (back in January 2013) Kingston, for example,  was showing its then-coming 1TB USB flash drive, currently MSRP around $2,300 and available for about $1,300.  SD cards aren’t that capacious yet — but 64GB and 128GB are available. And realistically, for photos, 8 or 16GB is likely to be more than enough for a few busy days, and a pair of 32GB cards should be more than enough even for a show like CES. (Unless possibly you’re also shooting video.)

Note: SD card nomenclature is defined by the SD Card Association. E.g., according to the Wikipedia entry for Secure Digital (SD), the SDHC (High Capacity) refers to SD cards up through 32GB, SDXC (eXtended Capacity) format will support up to 2TB — although currently, “only” up to 128GB SDXC cards are available.

Brandname, harder call. I’ve been happy with 32GB “house brand” SD cards from Micro Center, typically slightly under $20 each. One camera store I stop at recommends either SanDisk or Delkin. SanDisk SD cards are typically the most expensive, all other details being equal. Less likely to fail? Dunno. The price delta is enough to think about — but since SD cards are re-usable, paying more like a buck a gigabyte than 40-to-50 cents isn’t a big deal.

Speed, that’s the question — how fast a card can be written to (in particular, by your camera), and how fast it can be read/downloaded. SD cards are categorized by speed. Most are labelled “Class n” — Class 1, Class 4, Class 10. The bigger the number, the faster.

There’s also UHS (Ultra High Speed), referring to the speed of the bus introduced in version 3.0 of the SD spec. UHS so far comes in Class 1 and Class 3 speed ratings. If your device (e.g., digital camera) doesn’t have UHS, it’s not clear (yet) (to me) whether UHS SD cards will work better — or worse — than plain old Class 10 SD cards.

And I’ve seen some SD cards marked Ultra, Extreme, and Extreme Pro.

My head hurts.

Welcome (back) to Trying Technology, relaunched January 3, 2014

Welcome (back) to Trying Technology, my blog about the technologies and products I’m trying, or otherwise pondering and brooding about… and how, cough, trying they can often be. Trying Technology was the first blog I created.

One reason was to get familiar with basic blogging tools (and be able to show it).

Another reason, of course, was to blog. Given that I write for a living, primarily about technology, this blog was/is intended for the stuff I hadn’t found a paid home for. (I also do things occasionally for non-paying places, for various reasons.) Also, for some articles, to expand/expound on paid…and in some cases, to prime the topic pump with the hopes of getting paid assignments on said topics.

Trying Technology round 1 was done using Movable Type, which, at the time, was one of the popular blogging platforms. I also, elsewhere, tried WordPress, both through my account and through

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that life would be simpler using only a single blog engine, and that should be WordPress.

Redoing Trying Technology using WordPress (which is what’s happened here) is the first step — with the goal (achieved!) of being up and running before I head out to this year’s (2014) International CES (or, as I call it, the “Consume Electronics! Show”).

Next steps include adding more features, adding back the posts from the previous Movable Type instantiation (by hand, since the migration tools proved, well, trying). Also, tweak/migrate my other blogs to this platform and host — and then wrangle/aggregate them together so them what wants to can see all posts from all blogs from one view.

Thanks again to friends and tech support for advice and kibbitzing. Things done correctly reflect their sage advice; all the errors and bad choices are my fault alone.

- Daniel Dern