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Apr 102014
 




In an undisguised bribe, one of America’s most loathed companies a.k.a. Comcast doubled Internet speed yesterday for me and millions of other customers (Xfinity Internet Blast tier) in the Northeast from 50Mbps to 105Mbps at no extra cost.

Comcast Internet Download Speed Before Upgrade to 105MbpsSI’s Internet Speed Before Doubling

Comcast Internet Download Speed After Upgrade to 105MbpsSI’s Internet Speed After Doubling

Comcast’s decision to boost Internet speeds is aimed at minimizing opposition from consumers and consumer advocacy groups who are deeply opposed, and rightly so, to the company’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable.

The speed increase came on the same day as Congressional hearings in the U.S. Senate to determine whether Comcast should be allowed to buy Time Warner Cable.

Comcast also boosted speeds for its Extreme 105 tier customers to 150 Mbps (formerly 105 Mbps).

Abusive Monopoly

America’s largest Internet service provider, Comcast is already a monopoly in many parts of the country and if it’s allowed to buy Time Warner Cable its power will only increase further.

While Comcast has previously enjoyed a vice-like grip with broadband consumers despite rotten service and high prices, the acquisition will no allow the company to squeeze content providers if the acquisition goes through.

It’s safe to assume that if the Time Warner deal goes through, Comcast’s profitability will increase significantly because it will have the content providers (like ABC, ESPN, HBO and countless other programming outfits) by the cojones. If content providers refuse to yield to Comcast’s hardball tactics and drop out, it will have the effect of reducing consumer choice.

Because of monopolies like Comcast, America has one of the lowest average Internet speeds for a developed country, way below countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark, Iceland and Japan.

U.S. consumers also pay some of the highest rates for broadband Internet service.

While PC costs, microprocessors prices, computer storage costs, smartphone and tablet cost etc keep going down or remain steady, Comcast has repeatedly increased Internet access rates and forces consumers to buy bundles (Internet, TV and phone) through pricing gimmicks.

Comcast has already made it clear it will not cut prices for consumers even if the Time Warner acquisition goes through.

Comcast also has a terrible record of customer service and tremendous hostility toward American workers. The company has outsourced troubleshooting customer problems to countries like Philippines and Mexico (if you think Indians have a ‘bad English accent’ try listening to a Mexican or Filipino attempting to speak English).

In a recent survey by Consumer Reports on Internet service, both Comcast and Time Warner Cable were graded ‘mediocre‘ on overall satisfaction.

I desperately hope Comcast will not be allowed to purchase Time Warner Cable but since our politicians are in bed with large corporations I’m not that optimistic.

Speed Increase

To get the speed boost from Comcast, just unpower your modem for a minute and then plug the electric cord back in.

I did a speed test before and after the speed boost (see images above).

Before the speed boost, my download speed was 57.71Mbps and upload was 11.80Mbps.

After the speed host, the download speed jumped to 120.92Mbps while the upload speed remained constant at 11.80Mbps.

One reason I got such high speeds was because I did the tests at 1:34AM in the morning when my neighbors were sleeping. Were my neighbors awake and watching Salman Khan videos (ha ha ha) on the Internet, then my speed would have been a little lower.

Does the higher speed make a difference?

Yes!

It took just a few seconds to download the 569-page The Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014 PDF report to my computer.

Related Comcast Stories:
400,000 People Protest Against Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger
Comcast Stealthy Promotion Doubles Internet Speed to 50Mbps at Same Cost
Sneaky Comcast Sells Customers’ Internet Connection To Make Money Off WiFi
Apr 092014
 

Macaw We Design Tool Debuts

The Good News for Macaw Fans – Web site design tool Macaw is ready for download and use.

The Bad News for Macaw Fans – Macaw is ready for download and use.

Sweetie, there’s no contradiction there.

Macaw is a much anticipated product thanks to a phenomenal response on the crowd funding platform Kickstarter in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Its release must surely have been welcome news to its backers and many others who were keen on using the product.

But response to the recent official release of the much anticipated Macaw software has been less a thunderous ovation than vocal criticism over bugs and missing features with some irate customers even demanding a refund.

So while Macaw fans were at first eagerly looking forward to the release of the software, now they’re angry over the release of a very buggy product.

Macaw, which appears to be a tiny startup (four developers??), was a big hit on Kickstarter last year and received a commitment of $275,929 from 2,752 backers against a target of $75,000.

I’m not completely surprised the two early commercial releases (not beta) of Macaw are buggy.

Like it or not, that’s the way much of software development works. Unless developers slip and fall off the software development cliff into some deep crevasse, applications usually get better with each update. I do agree the typical application development cycle is little consolation for stressed out users encountering crashes and a variety of bugs.

Complaints Galore

Macaw’s problem is that when they launched with a slick presentation on Kickstarter, they went overboard on the promise:

The next generation web design tool. Powered by the world’s most intelligent design-to-code engine.

With Macaw, there was no need to wade into the slush of writing HTML or CSS.

Its ease of use and drag-and-drop capabilities were sold as big pluses on Kickstarter last year:

The canvas is fluid; the grids are fluid; even the elements you draw are fluid. So, designing percentage-based layouts is made dead simple. Drag and drop elements where you want them and Macaw will take care of the calculations for you.

Macaw was touted as “the first web design tool to blend the fluid and intuitive interface of an image editor with a powerful design-to-code engine.”

The tiny outfit boldly promised it was “striving to make life easier for designers and developers.”

With such a feverish pitch to potential investors and users, not surprisingly expectations among Macaw’s Kickstarter backers and other web designers and developers about the software’s capabilities ran sky-high.

When Macaw version 1.0 for both Mac and Windows debuted March 31, 2014 and the product failed to live up to the hype, some users erupted in anger over the unacceptable quality of the product while others littered the Macaw forums with reports of bugs galore. Users were livid that even “basic features” were missing in the software.

Responding to a fury of protests, Macaw quickly put out Version 1.0.1 on April 4 but that didn’t calm the mob because  new bugs cropped up.

One user (MJWBOISE) complained:

I have new problems with v1.01 that I didn’t have before. Program locks up which didn’t happen before. Color picker locks up now.

Issues with the initial two releases Macaw are far too many to reproduce here in their entirety but some of the problem areas include login, process of updating to 1.0.1, missing stuff like hover, click states and the ability to share common elements among multiple pages, missing fonts (on the Windows version) etc.

Macaw also goofed by not putting up some How-tos and videos.

The bottom line is that Macaw does not seem to be ready for prime time yet.

For instance, see this complaint from user zeebaf on April 8, 2014:

It has been a week you have released an incomplete software to public which is useless at this point of time which always ends up crash and breaks down. It’s unfair for me as I paid for it and sent few emails to support and never get replied, what kind of support you are giving to your customers here? I feel I have been robbed in day light.

Another user Jaem01 was no less blunt:

Another very disappointed customer here! Promises was huge, demo was outstanding, first impression was very good, I like cool UI, but…

After few hour of playing (yes, in this time it is nothing else, but game) I’ve figured, that I waste too much money for nothing…

Frustrated over absence of properly functioning basic tools for lists and tables user Jaysylvester vowed not to buy any software in future before using it, in other words not to fall for the hype of tall promises:

I know, it’s new software. But they should have extended the beta and opened it up to more users at a deeper discount. I think this is the last time I pay for any software before I can use it, discount or not. It just doesn’t do what I expected it to do, and I watched the video before buying. Continue reading »

Apr 032014
 

Nadella Takes Free Road to Boost Windows Phone & TabletsTelugu bidda Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s new CEO, is clearly a desperate man as he struggles to reverse the company’s pathetic performance in two hot sectors – smartphones and tablets.

Unless you’re a blithering idiot hiding under some rock in hooker paradise Chilakaluripet, you know Microsoft’s smartphone and tablet forays have failed to excite consumers and triggered huge losses for the company.

Late to the market, Microsoft’s Windows software has just not been able to make headway against the two entrenched mobile platforms – Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.

Last we checked, Windows had a tiny 2% market-share in tablets and 3.2% in smartphones (Source: Gartner). Android and iOS combined had over 94% marketshare in both tablet and smartphone categories.

Microsoft was not even among the top five smartphone or tablet vendors in 2013.

Since there’s little doubt that Nadella’s survival as CEO depends on his turning around Microsoft’s limping mobile devices business, the Telugu bidda has no choice but to roll the dice on desperate measures.

Microsoft Free Windows – Satya Nadella’s Desperate Gamble
(Image: Verge)

Desperate Move

Besides being late to the party, Microsoft smartphone and tablet forays have also suffered owing to lack of support from hardware players.

Traditionally, Microsoft has preferred to work through partners who install Windows software on top of their hardware like PCs and notebooks and pay a few dollars to the company for each device.

Android has dozens of hardware vendors (Samsung, Lenovo, HTC, Karbonn etc) who peddle smartphones and tablets running its software because it’s free.

While Microsoft has a few hardware partners for its smartphones (Samsung, HTC, Huawei and Nokia) and tablets (Dell, Acer, Asus, Lenovo), none of them with the exception of Nokia (soon to be part of Microsoft) are putting much effort into pushing their Windows gadgetry. Au contraire, some of them (Samsung, HTC, Huawei) are aggressively pushing their Android devices be they smartphones or tablets.

Apple has no hardware partners but to compensate has a strong fanboy following.

Microsoft’s tablets and smartphones have neither the breadth of Android’s partners nor Apple’s cult, slavish following.

So in a desperate bid to gain marketshare and better compete with its rivals, Microsoft’s new boss Nadella has made its Windows Phone OS and Windows 8.1 software free for smartphone and tablets with screen size less than 9-inches hoping that hardware vendors will make a beeline for the two platforms.

Since Microsoft is selling few smartphones or tablets, it’s not losing much by making Windows free to mobile hardware device vendors.

But Nadella’s “free” strategy is unlikely to work because Microsoft is not offering anything special over Android.

In terms of the underlying software and the app store, both Google and Apple are far ahead of Microsoft with a robust OS and a solid ecosystem of developers and accessories providers who extend the capabilities of the mobile device.

Bribes – Better Strategy

Microsoft would be better advised to pay money (bribes) to hardware vendors to support its mobile software platform.

Since Chinese manufacturers often work on slim margins, they’d be receptive to financial overtures that go beyond free.

In the past, Microsoft has worked with hosting companies providing them various incentives to push back against Linux.

Let’s not forget Microsoft has also been paying developers to write apps for its mobile platform.

So a combination of financial and support incentives for Chinese, South Korean and Indian hardware vendors and to app developers everywhere is more likely to yield results than just offering Windows Phone OS or Windows 8.1 free to smartphone and tablet vendors.

I’d be extremely surprised if Satya Nadella’s gamble to “free” up Windows Phone and Windows 8.1 to smartphone and tablet vendors will move the needle in boosting Microsoft’s share of these mobile devices significantly.

Truth be told, I’m shocked the Telugu bidda Satya Nadella has not considered going down the bribe road because if Indians are good at anything it’s giving and  taking bribes. ;)

Mar 212014
 

Dash Kickstarter Campaign a Mega Hit

There’s no stopping the Dash juggernaut on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter.

Against a fund raising target of $260,000, the wireless smart headphone startup from Germany is nearing the $3 million commitment mark.

As of 1:45PM ET on Friday, March 21, 2014, Dash had secured commitments to the tune of $2.99 million.

That’s 1,052% of its goal.

And there’s still another nine days to go before the startup’s fundraising pitch ends.

I wonder if Dash is the biggest success ever on Kickstarter.

Dash – Smart Wireless Headphone

Dash is developing a wireless in ear smart headphone (with microphone) that also functions as MP 3 music player, heartrate monitor and a fitness tracker.

Dash expects to release its first 1,000 pieces to Kickstarter backers in October 2014.

Expect full scale production of the Dash headsets to start in November 2014.

Dash says its wireless headphones will support both Apple iOS and Google Android smartphones.

Related Dash Posts:
Dash Headphones Explode @ Kickstarter
Dash Wireless In-Ear Headphone Page on Kickstarter
Mar 172014
 

With OneNote, you can capture the flash of genius, that moment of inspiration, or that list of errands that’s too important to forget.
- Source: Microsoft’s description of OneNote for Mac inside the AppStore

“Flash of genius,” “Moment of inspiration?”

Ha ha ha.

Even in the twilight of my life, the nonsense that humans spew day in and day out never ceases to surprise me.

Let’s face the truth.

Most of you dickheads wouldn’t be able to find your ‘pendulums’ even with two hands and a flashlight.

And a note-taking application ain’t going to unleash the “flash of genius” or “moment of inspiration” in a torrent.

Microsoft OneNote Debuts for Mac

Like millions of Mac enthusiasts, I got all excited this snowy morning when I saw the news about Microsoft finally releasing its OneNote note-taking app for the Mac.

And that too for free. ;)

And like any freeloading desi, I went off into a drooling fit at the thought of adding to the clutter on my iMac desktop with one more app I’d never use.

So imagine my surprise when I headed to the Apple AppStore and tried to download the free OneNote app.

In vain!

Ho ho ho, I got an error message stating that OneNote for Mac required the system to be running OS X 9 (Maverick) or later.

OneNote Won't Work on Mountain Lion or Earlier Mac Operating Systems

And I’m still running OS X 10.8.5, a version of Mountain Lion (predecessor to Maverick).

Since countless users have complained how the Maverick upgrade has ruined their lives, I’ve wisely refrained from upgrading and stuck to my reliable Mountain Lion operating system. Even folks with 28GB of RAM complain that the Maverick upgrade has buggered up their systems so badly that even opening a simple application like TextEdit takes eons.

Although I was initially disappointed with not being able to add more app I’d never open after today, truth be said my inner self is actually happy because there’s one less app to clutter my iMac desktop and a few less minutes wasted on another app.

Einstein – Never Used Apps

If you ask me, 100% of PC/Mac apps are not going to make geniuses out of you schmucks and 99% of the apps will not improve your productivity in any big way if you’re already not productive. Continue reading »

Mar 112014
 

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Google’s Android platform will see a huge leap in its smartphone user base in India in 2014 and drive Apple into an insignificant status.

Kinda like what South Indian superstar Rajinikanth does to his foes in movie after movie.

As Tamil movie fans know well, by the time Rajinikanth leaves the battle field his enemies have lost the use of all their limbs. ;)

For Apple, already irrelevant in the Indian smartphone sector, Android’s huge growth in 2014 and 2015 will crush its aspirations for the iPhone in a key emerging market and make it extremely hard if not impossible to gain ground.

2014 – Android Celebration

In 2014, market researchers expect 225 million smartphones to be sold in India (versus 89 million units projected for the U.S.).

The Indian mobile phone market is still dominated by feature phones which account for 78% of all cell phones.

Of the 225 million smartphones projected to be sold in India this year, I expect over 80% will run Google’s Android software.

The bulk of Android’s growth in India will come from cheap Chinese smartphones without a big brand image. Not from high-end Android players like Samsung or HTC whose phones have the latest bells and whistles.

Smartphones, often running older versions of the Android software like Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean, can be had for as low as $100 in India. And they will rule the roost for the foreseeable future in India.

Apple’s iPhones (even the older models like the iPhone 4) are several times more expensive, putting them out of reach of majority of Indians.

Apple’s current share of the Indian smartphone market is insignificant, likely in the 1%-2% range.

Don’t be surprised if Apple’s share of the Indian smartphone market slips below 1% over the next 18-months.

By the way, Apple’s reported moves to push the three-generation-old iPhone 4 (8GB) in India is silly. Indians may be poor but they’re not dumb to pay a premium for old junk.

Although sinking elsewhere, Blackberry still has a large base in India with several medium and large businesses and financial institutions offering it to their employees.