Chris Roberts

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Posts about Technology

Microsoft Surface: Keyboard Function Lock

The Microsoft Surface is (in my opinion) a great piece of hardware. I was an avid user of the original Surface RT, and now I'm trying out the Pro 2. I'm attempting to use this as a full-time desktop replacement. As such, and as a regular user of keyboard shortcuts, easy access to function keys is really important to me.

Unfortunately, the Type Cover keyboard relegates the function keys (F1-F12) to secondary keys, requiring the 'Fn' key to be pressed simultaneously.

Apple vs Microsoft - The Surface Strategy

It's been a big week for technology with, among others, Apple releasing a new range of iMacs, a new iPad (already) and the 7" iPad Mini. Microsoft also released Windows 8 and their first tablet - the Microsoft Surface.

The technology press were at all of the main events creating lots of content and stimulating lots of debate, much of which was pretty polarized. Those in the Apple camp were hailing the launch of the iPad mini whilst dismissing Surface as a failure before a single unit had sold. Microsoft's camp also had its fair share of supporters claiming that 'Apple is in trouble' and that the iPad's days are numbered.

Combatting Comment Spam

Despite being a blog of modest (low) visitor numbers, the backlinks that I have acquired have had the negative effect of attracting comment spammers. The complete lack of any form of moderation system on the site did nothing to dissuade the spammers, either! Call me naive but I certainly didn't appreciate quite how much of a problem comment spam is.

For context, at the time of writing this blog is receiving around 165 spam comments per day.

The Mythical 72 DPI

I often hear people asking questions about 'screen resolution' in relation to images and design work; Just as many times I hear the universal answer, '72 DPI'.

The actual answer is that you shouldn't usually use a resolution quoted in DPI for artwork which is intended for use on screen.

Apple iPhone Location Debacle - A Quick Guide

There has been a lot of talk in the media over the last couple of days surrounding the Apple iPhone and iPad. Here's a quick guide to the facts of the situation...

What Happens?

Automated E-Mail - A Rogues' Gallery

Getting automated e-mail right can be hard.

On the technical side you have to deal with e-mail clients that have little or no decent HTML support and anti-spam software to get past. Testing can be very difficult, particularly when it comes to personalisation of e-mails and the inclusion of custom content.

Windows Phone 7: The First 24 Hours

Windows Phone 7 officially launched in the UK on Thursday 21st October. Unfortunately nobody at Microsoft seems to have mentioned this to the hardware manufacturers, the networks or the retailers. Unless you lived inside the M25 your chances of getting a handset on launch day were pretty minimal.

The whole thing seemed a bit rushed and nobody I asked seemed to know exactly what was happening. One particular shop assistant, when asked whether they had any Windows Phone 7 devices in stock replied with, “Is that one of those new Android phones?”

What is Microsoft Doing?

There's something very strange going on at Microsoft - and I can't help feeling it's all down to a lack of coherent strategy.

I have already written about the unprecedented steps Microsoft has taken to take the fight to Apple in the Smartphone market. I am eagerly awaiting the launch of their new mobile platform. Will Microsoft be able to create an ecosystem to surround the platform that can compete with Apple? Will the Zune Marketplace be able to take on iTunes? Will the Marketplace be able to take on the App Store?

Was the iPhone the best thing to happen to Windows Mobile?

Microsoft have, to be blunt, squandered their position as market leaders in the smart phone market. Having worked their way to the top of the charts (for at least business users), 2009 saw their popularity drop to just third place.

To my mind, this was largely due to neglect. To all but the trained eye, many parts of the operating system remained largely unchanged between 2001 and 2009. The main 'Today' screen being a good example of this.

The Best Tablet PC

As you're probably already aware, this week saw the launch of Apple's first stab at a tablet form-factor device with the iPad.

From what I can see (without ever actually having seen one), it looks like a pretty neat gadget. I'm not sure it could ever live up to the hype, and I'm not sure Steve Jobs' claims of having invented a whole new platform are entirely justified. But - I can imagine seeing one kicking around my living room as a handy way of browsing the web in front of the television.

Don't give up on the Written Word

I'm always interested to watch how new technologies and media are adopted by the Internet as a whole. The web has quickly progressed from pages of plain text to include support for images, various formats of audio file, video clips and even 3D worlds (remember VRML?).

As the availability of bandwidth has been increasing at an outstanding rate, so has the availability of video on the web. Website providers are practically falling over themselves to pour video content down the throats of their visitors. As I type this post I am catching up on some missed TV programmes courtesy of the BBC iPlayer.

The First Real Browser War

When you look at the major players in the web browser market since the dawn of time (1992), there have been two major periods of change in market share.

The first, between 1995 and 2000, saw Microsoft destroy Netscape's market share with successive versions of Internet Explorer (IE). The second started in 2004 and is, arguably, still going on as Firefox slowly nibbles away at IE's market lead (the last figures I saw showed Firefox's share at 21%).