Review: First 8-inch Windows tablet is a device that shouldn’t exist

Review: First 8-inch Windows tablet is a device that shouldn’t exist

My dissatisfaction with PC OEMs is something I have documented in the past. They offer a confusing array of products and tend to cut corners in the worst ways imaginable. The OEM response to Windows 8 has been to produce a wide range of machines sporting novel form factors to fit all sorts of niches, both real and imagined.

One niche that the OEMs haven’t tried to fill, however, has been sub-10-inch tablets. That’s not altogether surprising. Microsoft designed Windows 8 for screens of 10 inches or more, and initially the operating system’s hardware requirements had a similar constraint.

That decision looked a little short-sighted after the success of tablets such as the Google Nexus 7 and the iPad mini. Accordingly, Microsoft changed the rules in March, opening the door to a range of smaller Windows tablets.

The Acer Iconia W3 is the first—and currently the only—8-inch Windows tablet. That attribute alone makes it in some sense noteworthy. Sadly, it’s about the only thing that does.

Spec-wise, this is another Intel Clover Trail tablet, and its internals are basically the same as the devices that launched last year (such as its bigger brother, the Acer Iconia W510). This means 1.8 GHz, dual core, four thread Intel Atom Z2760 CPU, 2 GB RAM, 64 GB flash storage (which with Acer’s default partitioning leaves a little over 29 GB usable), front and rear cameras, Bluetooth 4.0, and 802.11b/g/n (no 5 GHz support). There’s a micro-HDMI and micro-USB port for external connectivity (a separate cable converts the micro USB port into a full-size one), along with an SD card slot. The tablet has a speaker adequate for notification sounds but little more.

As a result, performance and battery life are similar to what we’ve seen before. The Iconia W3 comes equipped with full-blown Windows 8, unlike ARM tablets, so it can run any 32-bit Windows application—should you really want to. Clover Trail’s GPU performance is such that games and other graphics-intensive programs won’t run well, however.

Eight inches of horror

The new bits on this tablet are really the screen and the size.

Screens are important. We spend essentially all our time interacting with devices looking at screens. Cost-cutting on screens is unforgivable, as a bad screen will damage every single interaction you have with the device. This goes doubly so for tablets, where the screen works not only as an output device but also as the primary input device.

The Acer Iconia W3’s screen is a standout—because it is worst-in-class. I hated every moment I used the Iconia W3, and I hated it because I hated the screen. Its color accuracy and viewing angles are both miserable (whites aren’t white—they’re weirdly colorful and speckled). The screen has a peculiar grainy appearance that makes it look permanently greasy. You can polish as much as you like; it will never go away. The whole effect is reminiscent in some ways of old resistive screens.

It’s hard to overstate just how poor this screen is. At any reasonable tablet viewing distance, the color of the screen is uneven. The viewing angle is so narrow that at typical hand-held distances, the colors change across the width of the screen. At full arm’s length the screen does finally look even, but the device is obviously unusable that way.

Acer has clearly skimped on the screen. I’m sure the panel in the W3 was quite cheap,

Seven signs of dysfunctional engineering teams

Seven signs of dysfunctional engineering teams

I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Heart of Darkness this week, read by Kenneth Branagh. It’s fantastic. It also reminds me of some jobs I’ve had in the past.

There’s a great passage in which Marlow requires rivets to repair a ship, but finds that none are available. This, in spite of the fact that the camp he left further upriver is drowning in them. That felt familiar. There’s also a famous passage involving a French warship that’s blindly firing its cannons into the jungles of Africa in hopes of hitting a native camp situated within. I’ve had that job as well. Hopefully I can help you avoid getting yourself into those situations.

There are several really good lists of common traits seen in well-functioning engineering organizations. Most recently, there’s Pamela Fox’s list of What to look for in a software engineering culture. More famous, but somewhat dated at this point, is Joel Spolsky’s Joel Test. I want to talk about signs of teams that you should avoid.

This list is partially inspired by Ralph Peters’ Spotting the Losers: Seven Signs of Non-Competitive States. Of course, such a list is useless if you can’t apply it at the crucial point, when you’re interviewing. I’ve tried to include questions to ask and clues to look for that reveal dysfunction that is deeply baked into an engineering culture.

Preference for process over tools. As engineering teams grow, there are many approaches to coordinating people’s work. Most of them are some combination of process and tools. Git is a tool that enables multiple people to work on the same code base efficiently (most of the time). A team may also design a process around Git — avoiding the use of remote branches, only pushing code that’s ready to deploy to the master branch, or requiring people to use local branches for all of their development. Healthy teams generally try to address their scaling problems with tools, not additional process. Processes are hard to turn into habits, hard to teach to new team members, and often evolve too slowly to keep pace with changing circumstances. Ask your interviewers what their release cycle is like. Ask them how many standing meetings they attend. Look at the company’s job listings, are they hiring a scrum master?

Excessive deference to the leader or worse, founder. Does the group rely on one person to make all of the decisions? Are people afraid to change code the founder wrote? Has the company seen a lot of turnover among the engineering leader’s direct reports? Ask your interviewers how often the company’s coding conventions change. Ask them how much code in the code base has never been rewritten. Ask them what the process is for proposing a change to the technology stack. I have a friend who worked at a growing company where nobody was allowed to introduce coding conventions or libraries that the founding VP of Engineering didn’t understand, even though he hardly wrote any code any more.

Unwillingness to confront technical debt. Do you want to walk into a situation where the team struggles to make progress because they’re coding around all of the hacks they haven’t had time to address? Worse, does the team see you as the person who’s going to clean up all of the messes they’ve been leaving behind? You need to find out whether the team cares

The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache(tm) Mesos(tm) as a Top-Level Project

The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache(tm) Mesos(tm) as a Top-Level Project

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the all-volunteer developers, stewards, and incubators of nearly 150 Open Source projects and initiatives, announced today that Apache Mesos has graduated from the Apache Incubator to become a Top-Level Project (TLP), signifying that the project’s community and products have been well-governed under the ASF’s meritocratic process and principles.

Apache Mesos is a cluster manager that provides efficient resource isolation and sharing across distributed applications, or frameworks. It can run multiple frameworks, including Apache Hadoop, MPI, Hypertable, Jenkins, Storm, and Spark, as well as other applications and custom frameworks.

“It was our goal all along to see Mesos become a kernel of the infrastructure stack of the future,” said Benjamin Hindman, Vice President of Apache Mesos. “The project’s graduation from the Apache Incubator is recognition that the software is mature and has brought together a diverse community to sustain it in the future.”

Initially created at the University of California at Berkeley’s AMPLab (the research center also responsible for the original development of Apache Spark) to manage resource sharing and isolation in data centers, Mesos acts as a layer of abstraction between applications and pools of servers. Mesos helps avoid the necessity of creating separate clusters to run individual frameworks and instead making it possible to optimize how jobs are executed across shared machines.

Whilst in the Apache Incubator, Mesos had four releases, and established an Open Source community according to The Apache Way of governance. Additional improvements to the project includes its flexibility to support several application framework languages, and scalability that has been production tested to thousands of nodes and simulated to tens of thousands of nodes and hundreds of frameworks.

Apache Mesos has proven to be reliable for use in production, and has already been adopted by several organizations for cluster management.

“Mesos is the cornerstone of our elastic compute infrastructure,” explained Chris Fry, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Twitter. “It’s how we build all our new services and is critical for Twitter’s continued success at scale … one of the primary keys to our data infrastructure efficiency.”

“We’re using Mesos to manage cluster resources for most of our data infrastructure,” said Brenden Matthews, Engineer at Airbnb and Apache Mesos Committer. “We run Chronos, Storm, and Hadoop on top of Mesos in order to process petabytes of data.” (Chronos is an Airbnb-developed Mesos framework as a replacement for cron, and an example of how custom frameworks can be developed on Mesos to leverage its resource sharing).

“Community support for Apache Mesos is encouraging, particularly as more companies assess how they manage their clusters and look for more efficiency,” added Hindman. “Now that we’ve graduated, we look forward to continuing to grow the number of Mesos adopters and fostering an ecosystem around the project.”

Availability and Oversight
As with all Apache products, Apache Mesos software is released under the Apache License v2.0, and is overseen by a self-selected team of active contributors to the project. A Project Management Committee (PMC) guides the Project’s day-to-day operations, including community development and product releases.

Adobe Foundation Announces 2013-2014 Creativity Scholarship Recipients

Adobe Foundation Announces 2013-2014 Creativity Scholarship Recipients

The Adobe Foundation today announced the recipients of its first annual Creativity Scholarships, available to teens who participate in the Adobe Youth Voices (AYV) program. For the 2013-2014 academic year, scholarships have been awarded to 25 students from 13 countries, including Argentina, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka and the United States. Recipients demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, a strong creative portfolio and commitment to pursuing a career in a creative field.

Designed to ignite creative confidence in youth, AYV is helping support the next generation of creative thinkers and equipping them with resources to help advance their education. AYV follows a creativity curriculum and provides the digital tools, training and professional mentorship students need to develop essential skills such as self-expression, ideation, collaboration, flexibility and persistence. All AYV students produce original projects in animation, video, photography and other digital media categories, spotlighting issues important to them including poverty, bullying and climate change.

“The youth receiving our Creativity Scholarships demonstrate tremendous creative potential,” said Michelle Crozier Yates, director of corporate responsibility, Adobe and Adobe Foundation executive director. “We’re thrilled to see outstanding young people from our AYV community pursuing education that will continue building their creative skills and give them an edge in our rapidly evolving, highly competitive global economy.”

Adobe’s recent State of Create global benchmark study, published in April 2012, surfaced concerns about a “creativity gap” in five of the world’s largest economies. The research revealed that four in 10 people believed they do not have access to the tools needed to support creativity in the classroom.

“I believe creativity-focused programs are an important part of education because they allow students to express themselves and build confidence,” said Eva Miller, an AYV participant and 2013 Creativity Scholarship recipient. “Through AYV, I’ve gained invaluable skills and discovered that I want to become a filmmaker. The Creativity Scholarship is giving me the opportunity to pursue my dreams and make a positive impact through my films.”

About the Creativity Scholarships

The Creativity Scholarship program provides financial support to students who are in their final year of high school, upper secondary school or the first year of post-secondary education. Applicants must have participated in the AYV program through Adobe’s network of more than 800 strategic partners in 52 countries. The Creativity Scholarship program is administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE), an independent not-for-profit founded in 1919. IIE is among the world’s largest and most experienced international education and training organizations.

About Adobe Youth Voices

Adobe Youth Voices (AYV) is the Adobe Foundation’s global initiative to ignite Creative Confidence in youth by empowering them to find their voice and make it heard. The youth involved in AYV spotlight the issues they care about by creating original media – a process that fosters their passion to make a difference while providing them with the creative skills essential to success in the world today. Through programs like AYV, and by increasing creativity in education, Adobe believes we will better equip young people to be the problem solvers, critical thinkers and leaders of tomorrow.

About the Adobe Foundation

The Adobe Foundation is a 501(c)(3) private foundation created and funded by Adobe Systems Incorporated to leverage human, technological and financial resources to drive social change and community improvements.

Software Equity Group’s Client, Cougar Software, Receives Growth Equity Investment From dmg information

Software Equity Group’s Client, Cougar Software, Receives Growth Equity Investment From dmg information

Software Equity Group, LLC (SEG) announced today its client, Cougar Software, the leading provider of budgeting, planning and forecasting solutions for the real estate industry, has received a growth equity investment from dmg information (dmgi), a business division of Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) that manages and develops a portfolio of high-growth, innovative companies that provide business-to-business information to the property, education, energy and commodity and structured finance markets.

dmgi’s investment in Cougar Software represents SEG’s seventh transaction in the real estate software segment. SEG’s prior real estate transactions include the sale of clients providing application software for commercial facilities/property management, facilities design, integrated workplace management, multi-family property vendor compliance management, commercial building construction, public sector housing and long-term care facilities. Acquirers of SEG’s real estate software clients include RealPage, Yardi, Accruent and Bentley Systems.

Cougar is well known in the property sector as a leading provider of budgeting, planning and forecasting solutions exclusive to the Real Estate Industry, and enables its users to easily make strategic decisions using sophisticated financial modeling.

“The timing of this investment couldn’t be better,” said Oren Rosen, CEO, Cougar. “Over the last five years we have been building a foundation for growth by steadily increasing market penetration in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. With the strategic and financial backing of dmgi, we can continue our demonstrated track record of customer-driven product innovation and put our foot on the accelerator to increase penetration in these markets.”

About Software Equity Group

Software Equity Group is an investment bank and M&A advisory serving the software and technology sectors. Founded in 1992, the firm has guided and advised companies on five continents, including privately-held software and technology companies in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa and Israel. SEG has represented public companies listed on the NASDAQ, NYSE, American, Toronto, London and Euronext exchanges, and also advises several of the world’s leading private equity firms.

MetaTrader 4 Mobile Now Available for iPhone 5 and All iPad Models

MetaTrader 4 Mobile Now Available for iPhone 5 and All iPad Models

MetaQuotes Software Corp. has released a new version of MetaTrader 4 for iOS devices. The popular mobile application for online trading has received a number of important changes becoming even more user-friendly. The key feature that has been added is native support for all iPad models (including the ones with Retina display) and iPhone 5.

In addition to compatibility with mobile devices, the new version of the application features an enhanced graphical system. It provides a better performance and improved functionality when working with charts. The new version also includes financial news and internal mailbox that allows traders to communicate with broker’s representatives over a secure channel.

“When working on the new version, we were committed to providing compatibility with the new iPhone 5, – said Renat Fatkhullin, CEO of MetaQuotes Software Corp. – But what is most important is support for all iPad models anticipated by many traders. Moreover, the terminal for iPad has greater features than that for iPhone. New MetaTrader 4 iPad is now surely closer to the desktop version in terms of functionality. It features multi-function data window displaying open orders, trading history, email correspondence with a broker and news.

Only desktop version users could enjoy this feature up to now. The application now also features one click trading from a chart, as well as trading history and journal search. All this has been done to facilitate the work of traders. Another important feature of the iPad application is ability to display up to four charts simultaneously. This allows traders to monitor several symbols at a time on a single iPad screen! Thus, the new iPad terminal update tolerates no compromises!”

In general, the mobile terminal for iPhone has become even more convenient due to the improved graphical system. At the same time, apart from native support for devices with all resolutions,MetaTrader 4 iPad offers more opportunities for Forex trading.

According to MetaQuotes Software Corp. developers, similar major changes will soon be also implemented into MetaTrader 5 mobile applications. The new version is already under development.

About the Company

MetaQuotes Software Corp. is a professional developer of software applications for financial markets. With more than a decade of experience, the company is a market leader in the field of forex trading software packages. The MetaTrader 4 trading platform developed by the company is the most popular Forex trading application all over the world.

Company’s website: http://www.metaquotes.net

Heat Sink Design “Gahar” from Cooler Master

Heat Sink Design “Gahar” from Cooler Master

TAIWAN – For fans of PC assembling, hardware component selection would be kept. One important component to keep the processor temperature is kept cool by using a CPU fan.

Cooler Master, a Taiwanese hardware manufacturer announced a new CPU fan with a futuristic design. Reported Hardware.info, Sunday (07/21/2013), the cooling fan by the name GTS V8 comes with more impressive design.

This cooling technology based on the Horizontal Vapor Chamber (HVC), who appeared with eight heatpipes measuring 6 mm. The device is capable of transferring up to 250 watts of heat to three separate aluminum heatsink.

Heatsink will keep cool thanks to the two measuring 140 mm PWM fan in a configuration called ‘push-pull’ (push-pull). Cooler Master claims to parts of the fan case will be able to last longer.

By reducing friction, must endure V8 GTS 160 thousand hours at speeds between 600 and 1600 rpm. GTS V8 has a dimension of 154 x 149.8 x 166.5 mm and weighs 1140 grams.

Cooler Master V8 GTS is scheduled to launch in September this year. Company offers its flagship CPU fan with a price tag of 80 euros or approximately Rp1 million.