My new PC setup (Surface Pro 3)

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My desktop PC is playing funny buggers, so I’ve had to switch it out. I’m now using my Surface Pro 3 which I’ve had for a few years and used it on and off. My wife was very reluctant for the switch, because of the Pro 3 having such a small screen. After reassuring her that we can still use our two monitors, I went and purchased the correct cables. Two mini display-ports to HDMI that are purchased on Amazon by Rankie.

The cables arrived today and I quickly set it up and showed my wife. She is now happy with the setup and we probably won’t be looking to fix my desktop PC. My reason for this, is because it was originally built for gaming, but I always go back to my Xbox. Personal web development has kind of taken a backseat in favour of blogging. The Surface Pro 3 can handle web development, but I’m not interested at current due to work commitments.

What was wrong with my desktop PC you ask. I believe the USB sockets are losing power some how, my machine still works, but when I move my USB connections around, nothing happens. After a reset, the usb devices will work, then a few minutes later will stop. This seems like a motherboard issue to me, and I could replace it, but I don’t feel the need for it.

For now, I’m going to remove my hard drives, purchase a caddy so I can use them externally, and sell my desktop for spares. This way, I can gain a bit of money back and put it into my credit card debt. I feel my Pro 3 will serve me for years to come, and when the time comes, I can always upgrade.

Xbox One Elite Controller

Xbox One Elite Controller Review

I recently had the Xbox One Elite Controller gifted to me as a Christmas present and I think it’s time to give it a review. This controller is a beast and I doubt I have yet to use this controller to it’s full potential. It has so many knobs and triggers that you feel a bit lost when using it for the first time.

However, after a few rounds and a bit of customisation, you really begin to love it and find that it can work to your advantage really well. I have played a lot of Gears of War 4 using this controller and feel like my aiming has improved quite a bit (I won’t say dramatically as it’s been a short amount of time). My deaths, however, probably hasn’t improved much, but I’m sure this will change as time goes on.

The grip is really nice, and you can also be replace it with third-party grips on Amazon. The paddles are a little strange, but it definitely adds to the customisation. It also comes with a braided charging cable cable. It’s really long and enables you to play without worries of having the cable yanked at any point.

The controller has removable joy-sticks, d-pad and panels. This means you have more custom options, and the package also comes with a few interchangeable pieces to complete the package.

If you are looking for a professional-grade gaming controller, then I highly recommend this one. I doubt any other company can come close to the comfort and quality of this device. You will be glad you spent your money well when you can see a clear improvement on your gaming.

Click here to see the whole range of elite controllers

Have this controller? Then let us know what you think in the comments below. Like what you have read so far? Then please subscribe through RSS, or email using the form to the right.

Windows 10

Windows 10 Creative Update Event Overview

Thursday night, I sat watching the Windows 10 event, and I have to say, they blew everyone away…

Surface Studio

Let’s start with the biggest announcement, the surface studio. This product is purely beautiful and should be every creator’s dream. The zero-gravity hinge, which enables you to angle the screen where you want with just the press of a single finger means you can get the correct angle anytime. When you push it all the way down, you can lean against it and put quite a bit of your body weight onto the screen.

It’s a 4.5k screen and looks incredibly beautiful and detailed, and you even have the option of changing colour profile so you can get the most accurate range of colours. I would never need a computer like this, but damn would I want one anyway which goes to show how sought after this device is going to be.

Surface Book

The surface book has a huge overhaul with a better-dedicated GPU with 2GB of dedicated GPU RAM which is built for gamers. However, they didn’t quite go into detail on how well it will perform for most modern gamers. This is something I kind of wish they went into more detail about.

However, it just looks insane, and I think it could make a lot of people happy, especially if they were on the lookout for an upgraded SKU. They have managed to push a lot more inside, yet the form factor is still pretty much unchanged, which is spectacular.

VR AND AR Devices

Last year we saw the Hololens, a great augmented reality device which really pulled all the punches. Virtual objects scattered across your room look really fun. This year, they showed it in even more detail alongside the new Paint3D (more on this soon).

They showed that you could view an online community of 3D created models which you can pull into reality and place wherever you like, they also showed a proof of concept where you can go shopping in Edge and pull out the products into reality and check if it works within your room.

This is truly the future and is something we will all be keeping a close eye on. They then showed their new VR headsets starting at $299, which is cheaper than what’s currently out now. You could picture yourself in other countries without even having to travel, and this means you could easily plan your holiday before even flying over.

Windows 10 Creative Update

Now for the actual software updates, there has been so much packed into this update, and I believe it’s enough to excite any creative user from 3D paint which allows the user to create any 3D model and even import models scanned from real-life objects.

They showcased a sandcastle on a plinth which was scanned in from the HP x3 and then imported into the Paint application. Then a little holiday memento was created including a little 3D emoji with sunglasses. This looked spectacular; they then took this 3D object and placed it into real-life using the hololens.

New broadcasting options are using Microsoft’s newly purchased Beam, which will be competing against Twitch. Beam offers zero-latency streaming between the broadcaster and the viewers, which seems like a great win. I have noticed that Twitch can have a good couple of seconds latency between the broadcast and users.

There are even rumours that the Paint3D app will be UWP. Which means it will work with Windows mobile, but we will have to wait and see how this actually works.

Full video of the event

Windows Phone 8.1

Windows Phone, Why did I pick it?

Windows Phone, Forever alone…

In my office, I’m the only one who fully supports Windows Phone as an operating system. My fellow colleagues disagree with me and would rather have either an Android phone or iPhone. I would like to make a quick post on why I chose Windows over Android and Apple and why I think Windows phones are the winners.

Like Android, Windows has been able to get it’s OS into many phones, which I think is fantastic because it gives the user more choice and is why I would choose it over Apple any time. Apple, however, does have a very solid OS and phone, but the fact you can only get 2 variations limits it, I mean surely the more phones you have your OS in, the better. Why? Because it gives people more choice and choice is great.

Android, although it’s implemented in a lot of phones, lacks being able to be kept up to date for each phone manufacturer. And each company implements the Android OS in different ways because of how open source it is.

Windows has managed to make it open, but not too open that it contains loads of bugs and makes the experience different on every device. It has rules which each manufacturer has to abide by. Which means, no matter what phone you choose, you always have the same or a similar experience, and any bugs which get found are updated across all platforms. I like the fact that Windows says to each company “You can add whatever you like onto your phone as long as it doesn’t change the experience too much”. This is perfect, it means more choices on hardware and no matter what phone you use, you will always be up to date.

The choice between open and non-fragmented

I would also like to add that I do like Android and the iPhone, but you have one which is way too open and doesn’t give you the same experience across the board, then you have the other one which gives you a nice experience, but absolutely no choice.

Windows has managed to overcome this by controlling what happens, but not too much that it closes it down too much. And this my friends is why I choose a Windows phone over any other phone.

Let me know what you think in the comments below, whether you agree or not.

Goodbye Microsoft Band 2, hello Fitbit Surge

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Please be aware that the links in this article are affiliate links. If you click on them, I will gain some sort of commission. All money gained will help future blog posts.

6 months ago, I had been given a Microsoft band 2 as a loving birthday present. I thought it was a great device which had so many great features. But unfortunately the wear and tear of the device eventually let it down.

The microsoft band 2 is definitely a sought after device with lots of great features such as… GPS, UV sensor, a multitude of reminders and a fantastic alarm clock. After setting the device up, I would go for so many walks. And speak to others around me about how fantastic this device was. One of my friends had a fitbit and we would always compare our sleep and steps which was just great.

I could control my music straight from my wrist, and rarely would I have to pull out my phone from my pocket. The first device I had lasted around 3 months. And thereafter, it would die on my, the only way to wake it up would be to charge it.

I recorded all my workouts at my Crossfit gym, sleep, steps and even when I went for a run. The GPS was great. I was happy with the results from my workouts and at this point. And I thought there was no other device quite like it.

Two months later, the band started tearing at a very noticeable point. Luckily, I had it insured so I walked down to Argos and got yet another. My large version started getting loose on my wrist at the tightest setting anyway so it was a good chance to go to a medium. I could fit this one all the way too, but it was more comfortable to use.

At this point, Summer had arrived and I started using the UV reminder. Every 30 minutes it would remind me to cover up with Sun cream and would recommend the UV protection of my Sun cream. This device could literally do everything you needed it to and no other device can quite compare.

A month or two down the line, the band starts tearing yet again. I replaced it with another medium thinking nothing of it. Carrying on with recording my workouts, steps and sleep. This one then only lasted a month and a bit, until it started to tear.

I read online that if you have it on the tightest lock, then it’s more likely to tear which was happening to mine. I then thought that if my band goes to the tightest setting, then I could probably happily switch to a small.

This was my next and final band, it lasted longer than my previous one, and I was hopeful until just a couple of weeks ago I could see a tear. This time, it was on the opposite side of the band (near the Windows logo). I kept a close eye on it and could see that it wasn’t tearing any more. I was happy to keep it going until come Friday (14/10/2016), it stopped reading my pulse.

This was the last straw for me, and I just couldn’t find myself to carry on using it. If I knew there was another band device coming (such as the 3), then I would have probably replaced it for another band and then upon release of the new version, I would the replace it for that one.

I had read that Microsoft reinforced parts of the band which were most likely to tear, but I didn’t want to risk it any more. So, that weekend, I replaced it for the Fitbit Surge. I could have gone with the Garmin, but I think the Fitbit ecosystem is the next best ecosystem to get in to.

The fact that you can earn badges and challenge friends is a bonus (I can even challenge my fiancé 😁).

Let me know what you think in the comments, what has your experience been? Have you replaced it? If so, what did you replace it with?

The power of AI and bots

I have started seeing the sudden increase in AI and bots. And I am so excited to see where this is heading. First, we had Microsoft introduce Tay the Twitter AI. Which unfortunately saw it’s demise when it got turned into a racist drug dealer. Tay displayed just how powerful their AI could be. Even if it turned against the rules set to keep it at bay.

The rise of bots

Next, we saw Microsoft give a centralised API for Microsoft apps which is pretty neat. Then Facebook decided we need to chat with robots in order to find what we need and when we want it. This is another API which businesses can tap into and again, it could go far once the AI is trained and giving out results.

One showcase which Microsoft has recently shown us is their bot which can take better pictures than the everyday photographer on the iPhone. If I had an iPhone, I would be downloading this right now just to see how well it performs, but unfortunately, they can’t really showcase it on Windows Phone where there is a lack of market (keeping my fingers crossed mind).

Google even thinks that bots are something which needs to be tapped in to and they have in fact brought out their own chatbot which looks to perform just as well as the Google search engine and maybe even better than Facebook’s Messenger bots.

Thinking about the future of AI

Windows Central even believes that one day, bots could replace apps. You could end up asking the bot to order you food. Or even order your groceries or anything you could wish for. Maybe one day, these bots could predict what you need and when. And even order all of it for you without the need to lift a finger.

This is especially true when you think about the plethora of smart devices coming out. Washing machines, fridge freezers, televisions (even my TV is starting to suggest what I switch over to at certain times). All of these smart devices could one day connect to each other. Communicate with a shopping list which could then be ordered and delivered on a day you’re in.

What do you guys think about this and are you excited for the future of AI?

Windows 10

Windows 10 UWP Web Wrapper App Release

At the beginning of this week, I had decided to give myself a little project of creating an app for the Windows 10 ecosystem. I wanted to my website to be a Windows 10 app and I wanted to create this with as little effort as possible.

After a little searching around, I managed to find Project Westminster. You can use Visual Studio to create a web app which is a wrapper for your site, but I remember reading that you can use a web-based version and have something created for you with 0 code.

This is where I found Windows App Studio a free tool which gets you creating Windows 10 apps without the need to know any code. It was as simple as adding my site URL, uploading a few icons and screenshots and then generating the code to publish it to the store.

I then downloaded my generated my code, submitted it to the app store and just two days later, I had a lovely Windows 10 UWP app. This app can be used on mobile, tablets, desktop and even the Xbox One and Hololens. That is some crazy platforms with minimal effort.

If you would like to see my work, you can check it out with this link. I would love to create a proper native app somewhere down the road, but I will need to invest my time in learning C# and hopefully, in time I can create some amazing Windows 10 apps.

I’m already excited for the Hololens and Xbox One development tools and am keeping an eye with the Windows Insider builds. Now is a pretty exciting time for Windows 10.