Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Finally Building a Gaming Rig

I've shied away from PC gaming for the past 8-10 years mainly because of the surge in console gaming and the ease and accessibility of it. Xbox has probably been the single biggest killer to the PC gaming industry, because it is essentially a decent speced computer at the time of build, and can last for years under minor updates to the software, hardware refreshes, and the ability for developers to get the most out of the system.

I've been wanting a home theater PC for quite some time, and I have since settled for a Roku 2. But, I still have the desire to have a PC that is capable of 1080p output, 5.1 (or higher) sound output, and the ability to store a lot of full movies/TV shows, stream content, and also play some new FPS games (because they are much better on PC), as well as the library of Steam games I have acquired over the past few years.

So, I ventured out to and looked for parts.


Price + Shipping

AMD Phenom II X4 955 3.2GHz Quad core processor


ECS A885GM-A2 AM3 AMD 880G SATA 6Gb/s ATX Motherboard


G.SKILL Value Series 8GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 Memory


COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 ATX Mid-tower




ASUS VH232H Glossy Black 23" LCD Monitor


VisionTek 900357 Radeon HD 5670 2GB PCI Express 2.0 x16 Video Card


Microsoft SIDEWINDER X4 Keyboard + Dell Laser Mouse


Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit




Just a few caveats: I wasn't looking to surpass $700 (all-inclusive) so I missed that mark by about $80. I am aiming for a middle-of-the-road rig, so the best $700 can buy. A few of the parts (GPU, memory) are budget-cutting choices, but I am hoping all the components will work together well. If you have any recommendations on my gaming PC venture, please comment below or hit me on Twitter (@kenosando) or Google+ ( or if you are old school, email me (

Monday, August 15, 2011

Grid 10 - The New Tablet from fusionGarage A.K.A. TabCo

So, TabCo appeared a few months back as a company aiming to change the tablet landscape. It appeared, as the writing in the sky suggested, that they were aiming to tackle Apple's iPad. Several other lucid videos appeared to take shots at Apple, so a lot of big talk needed to be backed up by a big product release.

The name fusionGarage has been outed now as the brand behind the pseudo-brand (TabCo was not a real company, and even had a fake CEO). Their first venture, the JooJoo (I laughed too) was not necessarily a tablet with a big splash, but given the fact fusionGarage was a small outfit in that day, we can overlook that into the tablet they unveiled today: the Grid10.

The Grid10 sports a 10.1", 4-way capacitive, TFT LCD screen with a 1366x768 display, driven by the Nvidia Tegra II and 512MB of RAM. The front-facing 1.3 MP camera is the only one on the device, and comes with WiFi and WiFi+3G models, and only storage option is 16 GB. HDMI out is supported with what appears to be a proprietary docking port for charging, USB, and HDMI. Bluetooth 2.1 and a microSD slot are also included. The device weighs in at just over 1.5 pounds (690g) and is powered by a 5,800 mAh battery, and included GPS, 3-axis gyroscope, accelerometer, and light sensor.

Based on "an android kernel", the Grid OS does away with "homescreens" and gives you one big span of a grid. Naturally, application shortcuts are arranged in the grid, and can be clustered together to form "folders" that are collapsible. There is also a grid map at the top-right corner (think of a SimCity-type overview) that allows you to quickly jump to the outer-reaches of your grid (and I now am convinced Tron had some influence, considering Tron: Legacy was a movie demoed).
The web browser is pretty nice; it essentially keeps your status bar (at the top) intact, and the browser consumes the rest of the screen. Gestures then bring up controls such as opening a new tab, switching to another tab (via a "wheel") and other wonderful browser things. One thing that stood out was the ability to split-screen browse, which looked to pop-up when you highlight text and choose an option from yet another wheel. The demonstration did show-off pinch-to-zoom in each split-screen, but no indication of Flash support (unless I missed it in a buffer).

Media looked so-so. Pictures were your basic photo gallery, swipe to your next picture, albums arranged like a rough stack of photos. Video player possessed the ability to show in-depth details and transitioning stills from the movie (in this case Tron: Legacy), and music was able to be controlled from a status bar tap (playback, volume).

A few weeks ago, when the N9 was announced from Nokia, TabCo "liked" via Facebook a post from Nokia about swiping, and it all made sense after we saw that the Grid10 is completely gesture-driven. Your basic swipe from this corner to do this, swipe with three fingers to do that is in play, and another thing that I saw missing (again, unless I missed it) was a multi-tasking option to show open applications. Music was playing in the background of one desktop call, but that was all I saw.

Bing search is the choice engine in the Grid10 because, according to fusionGarage CEO and founder Chandrasekar Rathakrishnan, "it is the best search technology out there", which is highly subjective, but their stance to go away from the Google approach with Android and make it truly their own. 

Calendar and contacts are also built-in, and a notifications application called "Heartbeat", activated by two-finger swipe from the right. Also, it displays local deals ongoing in your area, as well as Facebook and Twitter, which are tightly woven throughout the OS.

Also featured was the Grid4, the smaller version of the Grid10, except it is a mobile phone. Not much attention was paid to that in comparison to the Grid10, but one feature shown off was the ability for the Grid OS to sync information (bookmarks, resume playback of videos, and more) between the two devices (be it through a cloud or locally, I am not sure). The Grid4 is a 4" display using the same technology as the Grid10, sporting a 800x480 resolution, driven by a Qualcomm MSM8255 and 512MB RAM. A 5MP autofocus camera with LED flash, capable of 720p video paired with a 0.3MP front facing supports the Grid OS built-in video calling feature. Bluetooth 2.1, WiFi, and microSD are also present on the Grid4, and only has ports for micro USB, so no HDMI out for the Grid4.

If you live in the US, you can order the Grid10 today for $499 (WiFi-only) or $599 (WiFi+3G) with free shipping direct from fusionGarage.Accessories also available for purchase are a case, HDMI adapter, USB adapter, travel charger, and headphones, all maintaining the TabCo color scheme of black and red, and showing off a grid-shaped design.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

cuteBox - Symbian^3 Dropbox Client

I just stumbled across an article from about a Dropbox client for Symbian^3 devices developed in Qt. Yes, your dreams have come true. cuteBox, which is available in the Ovi Store, is a must-have for Symbian^3 users, as it is able to upload to and download from Dropbox, view photos on your Dropbox in full screen with Symbian's built-in photo viewer, open HTML documents, PDFs, spreadsheets and documents in their native applications.

Also, just like all the other Dropbox clients, you are able to copy the public links of files in your Public folder for sharing (sharing inside the application is limited to email and SMS). Also, bulk operations are available, such as copy, move, and delete, just in case you need something in a public folder, or to take it out of the public eye. Adding files does not take long at all. I was able to upload a high-res image from my N8 and copy the public link in less than 15 seconds.

The user interface is very fluid, all the buttons and menus are easy to use as well as easy to press. Transitions are very snappy and smooth, and scrolling through long lists of files is very easy. The upload menu is straight-forward, and none of the notifications that pop-up are intrusive of the main view. The application uses a mock-up of a status bar (with time, battery, and data connection indicator) but is not an interactive status bar.

One small quirk was backing out of a file info page. By selecting a file, it automatically retrieves it (which can be changed in the settings) and gives you a few options: open the file in an application, share the file via email or SMS, and copy the public link (if it is in the Public folder). There is no option to delete the file when viewing info on it. You have to back out by swiping left to right, and then selecting the bulk operation icon, selecting the file you want to delete, pressing delete, and confirming your delete. I like the ability to check multiple files, but when I want to copy, move, delete one file, that process takes just as long. Backing out a file view, again, is a swipe, so there is no "Back" button to get back to your file list view. You do have a home button to take you back to the top directory, but that only shows up in the file list view, not the file info view.

All in all, this was a much needed application for Symbian, and although I have only used it a few minutes, I find it very easy to use, functional, and from what I can tell, Genera Software spared no expense in creating a very good Dropbox client for Symbian.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Nokia: No N9 for USA, but Plenty of WP7

So August 9 might not be as drastic of a day as February 11, but it was still not full of good news. Firstly, @engadget reported that someone from Nokia confirmed that the N9 was not going to be released in the United States (possibly all of North America). So I don't get thought of as spinning the story, here is the exact quote:

After the very positive reception to the launch of the Nokia N9, the product is now being rolled out in countries around the world. At this time we will not be making it available in the US. Nokia takes a market by market approach to product rollout, and each country makes its own decisions about which products to introduce from those available. Decisions are based on an assessment of existing and upcoming products that make up Nokia’s extensive product portfolio and the best way in which to address local market opportunities.
 Now, my pal @mikemacias of Mobile Fanatics pointed out a few key phrases that indicates the N9 will eventually come stateside, just not under any carrier subsidy.

At this time we will not be making it available in the US
Meaning, it could very well come two, three, six, or twelve months after its initial release (looking to be slated for mid- to late-September in most Euro markets). However, just like three (E73 Mode, Astound, and Nuron for T-Mobile) of Nokia's previous 13 smartphones (E6, X7, E7, C5-03, C7/Astound, C6-01, X6, X5-01, E73, E5, C6, N8, and 5230 Nuron) released have been picked up by a US carrier, I don't find it surprising the N9 slipped through the radar of the US cellular carriers. However, I buy all my phones unlocked, dating back to my feature phone days with Nokia, to my first smartphone (E61) and now with my N8. I don't mind paying for unlocked, but I do mind paying for unlocked, overseas prices (rumors are the N9 will debut around 599 GBP!!) and the hassle with buying from overseas. I see it as Mike does now, I feel the N9 could make its way to the states eventually, and as an unlocked, unsubsidized device via Amazon.

Decisions are based on an assessment of existing and upcoming products ...
 Another key phrase Mike pointed out, simply stating that Nokia is likely clearing the tables for a Windows Phone 7 device to be Nokia's sole phone entering the USA before the end of this year. It makes some sense, considering Nokia has often flooded the market before surrounding releases of flagship devices (N97 was surround with flurry of E-series devices, the N8 was surrounded by its lower-end cousins, the C6-01 and C7, not to mention budget devices like the E5, C3, and Touch-and-Type phones). So, by leaving a void, the US market could jump on Nokia's next big thing once it released, without the discernment of cluster and logjam with other Nokia devices looming.

The N9 is still a magnificent device, from the countless hands-on videos I have seen. I would love to develop for the MeeGo community and contribute to a platform that will be short-lived in the eyes of Nokia, just to have a sense of building a better gateway to the ecosystem for other users, but without an official release into the USA, I can't say the N9 will be a device I purchase unless the price is reasonable.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Nokia N9: A Turning Point

On June 21, 2011 Nokia CEO Stephen Elop announced the first Nokia device to run on the mysterious MeeGo operating system. Before this announcement, there was only one device that ran a version of MeeGo - the N900, originally the company's Maemo 5 device, that in the eyes of many, is a powerful portable computer that just happens to have mobile phone functionality.

The issue with the timeline of the N900 to the N9 is that the N900 was released in early 2009. The N9 may not be released until Q4 in most markets, and availability outside of Europe is still uncertain. The N900 was suppose to be a stepping stone to a  great ecosystem in Maemo. In the months following the N900 release, Maemo was merged with Moblin, forming MeeGo, which brought Nokia and Intel together - promising to say the least. Nokia lacked visibility in the regions between the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean (North America) as a smartphone powerhouse, so having backing from a very respectable name (Intel) might have been all Nokia needed.

Then the house of cards fell. Nokia ousted a lot of officers, which led to others leaving, resigning, retiring, and I think it came at the right time to transition to new horizons, but the wrong time for the MeeGo platform to stand a chance. MeeGo was a big project that Nokia simply could not afford to keep as the platform of choice going forward. Considering Elop's background with Microsoft, I thought the choice to pair with Windows Phone 7 was very logical, and considering the growth of WP7 and name recognition in the North American market, I think it was the best choice.

Google. Apple. Two of the biggest companies in North America both have operating systems they back for mobile phones. Nokia, a Finnish company, does not give North America the confidence in a Nokia-built operating system, because they are thought of as a phone maker, not software. Internationally, Nokia is still the biggest phone (smart and feature) in terms of market share, and I think Nokia will continue to dominate the non-smartphone market because they have been doing it for so long. I think they have evolved their feature phones in a great way, and S40 is the best OS I've ever used in terms of ease of use paired with functionality.

Enter the N9. Elop called it a "market disruption device" that will likely see Nokia support fall off near the end of 2012 (and not because of December 12, 2012). Let me start off with the positives I see in the N9:
  • Great design - the curvature of the front and back combined with the unibody shell and simplistic lines reminds me that chrome, metal, etching, and over-use of logos are not necessary to produce a beautiful product. This may be what gets Nokia WP7 phones into the hands of the populous.
  • Functional and gorgeous user-interface - the idea of a "circular-based" user interface reminds me why I believe Nokia can still do a lot of work and it be spectacular. The circular icons add a sense of continuity and uniformity. The circular home screens are great because there are no "apps" to open or button-combinations to press to get to three items I personally use the most; applications I have, applications I am running, and events I want to be notified of. While having a button-less interface is new to me, it could possibly be a trend that other operating systems borrow. 
  • Gigahertz and Gigabytes - Nokia has prided itself of being conservative with the under-the-hood specs. Although there are still nay-sayers who whine "these are last year specs" Nokia is still king of making the most of the least amount or processing power and memory capacity. Specs do nothing for me, because the Intel Core 2 Duo in my Lenovo laptop doesn't do squat if the operating system doesn't use it properly. 
  • The best digital camera - yes, better than the stand-alone digital cameras because the N9 is my camera and phone. The Carl Zeiss line of lenses that Nokia has used are spectacular. The 12mp shooter on my N8 still amazes me to this day, because I can take respectable photographs that I feel proud to share on Twitter and Facebook. The 8mp shooter on the N9 with wide-angle lens and f/2.2 aperture is very good specs for a phone, and I imagine there will be very little difference in the N8 and N9 photographs.
Now, let me lash out against the decisions behind the N9, because although I am a Nokian for life, I have to express my concerns. Firstly, what took so long? I was close to getting a N900, although I am on AT&T, and I decided to wait until the next big Maemo device. Two and a half years later, it was announced. Also, there is not even a decision of the availability of the N9:

Although the likelihood of it not coming to the States is slim, the fact there is not a decision bothers me. I think Nokia's fence-straddling in the North American market has killed its branding. I can name one device that is currently being offered by Nokia to US carriers that was released in the past 6 months - the Astound (C7) on T-Mobile. One device. One. Guess how many Samsung has just on AT&T? Five. Two WP7, two Android, and one WinMo. Plus the plethora of feature phones. I just can't comprehend the lack of North American carrier support, not for the sake of myself, but for the sake of Nokia's North American market, which is essentially non-existent.

Nokia may be planning a full-on assault on North America with the WP7 devices to come, and I anticipate success, because Nokia (great phones) + Microsoft (hey, it's Microsoft!) is likely to equal success. I just wish Nokia had room for MeeGo to continue to be their baby.

Unless the forthcoming WP7 device from Nokia blows my mind, I don't see not buying the N9, granted it makes it to Nokia USA. If Nokia is going to abandon MeeGo, then I want to be a part of keeping the OS alive in being a developer and contributor. So, the Nokia N9 is a turning point in three ways:

  1. It has geared up my motivation to become a mobile developer, be it application or operating system improvements, I want to coddle the heart of the beast as long as I am able.
  2. Nokia has certainly turned away from its most loyal patrons by leaving the MeeGo ecosystem out on the doorstep and hopes someone adopts. Nokia is still dear to my heart, but they have mishandled the MeeGo development and it could damage the credibility of their brand to loyalists going forward.
  3. Nokia is ready to take on WP7 full strength. They are ready to reclaim world dominance, by getting rid of the dead weight of Symbian (I still love you) and MeeGo, they are surely more streamlined to ride the WP7 train. The question is, how far will this train go?
Nokia can be compared to the rattled American car companies - the market is pulled out from under their feet by Toyota and Nissan (Apple and Android), the economy blows up in their face (turnover of officers) and the comeback plan to address the changing economy (drop Symbian, go WP7).

Will Nokia rally?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My 2011 NCAA Men's Bracket

The tournament expanding to 68 teams, and 4 "first-round" games is a little confusing, so I will try to break it down some:

There are 8 teams that play in the first-round. Texas-San Antonio v. Alabama State; Alabama-Birmingham v. Clemson; Southern California v. Virginia Commonwealth; North Carolina-Asheville v. Arkansas-Little Rock

Since I am not picking any of those teams to go on and win their second round game, which is the traditional first-round, field of 64, I will give you the third-round, field of 32 participants, then the Sweet 16, and so on.

In the East region, I have:

THIRD ROUND                 SWEET 16      ELITE 8

Ohio State v. Villanova  -> Ohio State
                            v.         -> Ohio State
W Virginia v. Kentucky   -> Kentucky
                                          v.   -> Ohio State
Marquette  v. Syracuse   -> Syracuse
                            v.         -> Washington
Washington v. UNC        -> Washington


THIRD ROUND                 SWEET 16      ELITE 8

Kansas     v. Illinois   -> Kansas
                            v.         -> Kansas
Vanderbilt v. Louisville -> Louisville
                                          v.   -> Kansas
Georgetown v. Purdue     -> Purdue
                            v.         -> Notre Dame
Texas A&M  v. Notre Dame -> Notre Dame

THIRD ROUND                 SWEET 16      ELITE 8       

Duke       v. Tennessee  -> Duke
                            v.         -> Duke
Arizona    v. Texas      -> Texas
                                          v.   -> Duke
Missouri   v. UConn      -> UConn
                            v.         -> SDSU
Penn State v. SDSU       -> SDSU


THIRD ROUND                 SWEET 16      ELITE 8

Pittburgh  v. ODU        -> Pitt
                            v.         -> Pitt
Utah St.   v. Wisconsin  -> Wisconsin
                                          v.   -> Pitt
Gonzaga    v. BYU        -> BYU
                            v.         -> BYU
UCLA       v. Florida    -> Florida

Final Four:
Ohio State                               Kansas
v          -> Ohio State v Kansas  <-         v
Duke                                 Pittsburgh

Champion: KANSAS

Link to the PDF version:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Top 10 Reasons I Love Ubuntu

The entire month of February, I went back to being a Windows user. I had a couple of reasons for switching back, the main reason was to have the ability to sync my phone with the music, pictures, etc. on my computer via Windows Media Player. Also, my build of Ubuntu was starting to act crazy, like not going into suspend mode, instability in some applications, among other things (I've attributed it to upgrading the distro on the fly instead of doing a clean install or downloading the update all at once first).

Going back to Windows was a painful process, and in my top 10 reasons I love Ubuntu, I will also explain the inconveniences I endured during my switch back to Windows. I don't plan on switching back again, for sure.

10) Native SSH/SFTP connection support

Windows does not support SSH/SFTP connectivity out of the box. PuTTY or some other SSH client is required. PuTTY is a decent application, but it lacks severely in comparison the gnome-terminal in Ubuntu. Copy/Paste is a hassle, key mappings are a pain to get correct (gnome-terminal does very well without configuration), and it really comes  down to not having the Linux OS underneath, which enables so much more when using SSH (which I do 90% of work in with 4 Linux servers). PuTTY was good, but the Ubuntu terminal is the best I've ever used.

9) Support for multiple server connection types

WIndows Explorer does very well in opening WIndows shares, but that is where it ends. FTP, SFTP,  and WebDAV is not supported out of the box, which means all your Linux servers must be setup with Samba shares in order for Windows clients to open Explorer to. Ubuntu, on the other hand, can handle not only SSH, FTP, and WebDAV, but Samba as well, right out of the box. Network locations can also be saved as bookmarks in Nautilus, so they act like a mapped drive, instead it is a mounted share, for ease in working out of a network directory.

8) Usability of command line

I do ok with a Windows command-line. I can do a few things, call a few processes, but I am in no way a power-user. But, I've quickly become a Linux power-user because the command line for Linux, in my opinion, are much easier to understand and get accustomed to than that of Windows. gnome-terminal make is easy to handle copy and pasting, the Linux OS seems more structured on the command-line side, and I feel I can write scripts much easier using a Linux terminal. I can't completely knock the Windows command line because I haven't used it as much at the degree of Linux, but I highly enjoy the Linux terminal experience.

7) Command-line utilities

This goes along with number 8, except Linux comes with so many useful command line utilities. My favorite, awk, is an advanced text-parsing scripting language that can be written in one line or 50. Other commands like locate, sdiff, sed, and a combination of multiple commands have allowed be to build very useful utilities for myself and others I work with.

6) Driver Support

Ubuntu is the only distro of Linux I have used on a personal and professional level, but the driver support from Ubuntu is amazing. A bluetooth dongle, wireless network card, and my smartphone, required drivers from Windows, and even then, they didn't work well. With Ubuntu. I have had no issues with any device, and everything seemed plug-and-play -- like it should be. Windows would turn my wireless radio off after a few minutes of using it, apparently because the driver was bad - the very driver that came with my laptop. Downloading an update did not work, and that is why I quickly went back to Ubuntu.

5) Customization

I love the ability to customize my user experience with Ubuntu. From how my command-line functions when I open it, to my desktop, where my icons are, what is displayed in my panels, and the amazing Compiz effects that add not only special effects, but increased usability. No other OS has given me the options I desire, and Ubuntu keeps adding to the long list of customizable options.

4) Workspaces

Not having workspaces with Windows killed me. Although I found third-party software that allowed me to have virtual desktop spaces, it was not the same experience, and likely was the cause of Windows crashing on me the few times it did.  Workspaces have allowed me to be a quicker, more efficient worker, and they have saved me a lot of time scrounging for that minimized window in my task bar.

3) Window Management

WIndow management in Windows is aweful. How ironic. Although I wasn't using Windows 7, which is much better at window management, my productivity sunk when I wasn't able to drag a maximized window to another monitor, or scroll on a window that didn't have focus, or snap windows to the edge of the screen. On top of not having native support for workspaces, the workspaces application was a bummer to use when the windows management system was so bad.

2) Native Network Profile Support

This was one of the biggest pains in Windows - the lack of an intuitive network profile system. Lenovo's application allowed for profiles, but the application crashed so often, I had to uninstall it. I love having the ability in Ubuntu to define network connections, and the ease of doing so is one of the best features. At work, I need a fixed IP address, but at home, or most other places, I just need DHCP to give me one. The nm-applet for Ubuntu allows me to do so, and to easily switch profiles, without opening any windows. 

1) Learning something new

Since a majority of my work involves a Linux server, I have learned a vast amount about the Linux OS just by having it and using it everyday. It has allowed me to write scripts and processes I would not have ever been able to do without Ubuntu as my primary OS, and it has allowed me to excel at my job. I continue to learn more and more each day.

Thanks Ubuntu!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Nokia + Microsoft: What Happens Next

This morning's announcement came at a surprise to a lot of the Nokia community members I stay in touch with. A lot of the comments were Windows Phone 7 was not a platform Nokia could support, not their style, no parallel ecosystems, etc. etc. etc."

I was not a buyer in the conversation about Nokia going in with Android or WP7. However, I knew Symbian wouldn't last, regardless of my endless love for the platform since the S60v3 days on the E61. Nokia has done the best job of not adapting, or being late adapters in the smartphone platform, where the OS is king, and hardware is second (hence the millions of iPhone 4s sold after finding out about the antenna issue) and the number of Galaxy S phones being littered over the carriers with the GPS fiasco, yet they still have the support of the best selling smartphone platforms in the North American market. Symbian still holds a lead in the market share worldwide, yet they light at the end of that tunnel would come in a definite time-frame, and Stephen Elop refused to be caught with his proverbial pants around his ankles once the Symbian ship runs aground. Being a former exec at Microsoft, and the fact Android is as polluted a mobile platform as the Hudson River, and WP7 was a viable opportunity to bolster one another's trajectory. Granted, WP7 is a very young, and immature OS, but with MeeGo still in the R&D mill, which is based out of the most mature mobile device OS (Maemo), the odds are certainly against Nokia and Microsoft in the smartphone ecosystem, but there are several factors that weigh in favor of the partnership:

  1. Microsoft's attraction to business - Businesses run on Microsoft, from the floor to the ceiling. Microsoft Exchange is an email server empire. The Microsoft Office suite of programs is second-to-none, and that comes from Mac users with the new Office for Mac 2010. Outlook calendars, tasks, and contacts are probably the most synced content on any smartphone, be it an iPhone, Android-based device, or Symbian-based device. The business of the decision is to provide a vessel to business customers through the world's most renown mobile phone company (and that's not tooting their whistle too loudly, it is a fact).
  2. Microsoft's growing mobile entertainment division - Zune as a device hasn't been the best of successes, although we can simply blame the iPod and move on. The Zune, as a service, has reaped the most of benefits because every one of the 10+ million of Xbox 360 systems sold in the US have the Zune store built-in, regardless of Xbox Live subscription level. Music, Videos, and Movies are what drives the revenue outside the realm of the video game subspace of the system, and with WP7 being the flagship device for Xbox Live and Zune, Nokia will benefit from being absent in the States with their Ovi Music Store and the failure of N-Gage.
  3. Nokia's worldwide brand - as the top selling cell phone based on worldwide sales in the past ... well forever, basically, Nokia brings the big name in cell phones WP7 needs to get their software out the doors and on the streets. Microsoft, being a U.S. based company, and much bigger in terms of software development resources, can cut down the cost of the OS, so Nokia can provide premium hardware at a competitive rate, even unlocked. Nokia can also continue being an international phone, being provided on several dozen European carriers subsidized, as well as the future possibilities of AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon (sorry Sprint, Nokia says they want nothing to do with you). 
  4. Nokia's quality of hardware - The consensus from the current WP7 devices from HTC, Samsung, and Dell have been, well, not good. Lack of decent camera, poor speaker quality, and other media-related features are what is lacking with the current slate of the WP7 devices. The Dell Venue Pro, the most promising of WP7 devices, has failed to get out of the door before considered a flop. Nokia has a strong hardware development backing, and the Fins do it the best. Back to the early N-series devices, they have always had the best cameras, speakers, and overall build-quality. Even Nokia's low-end feature phones are superb quality, so low-end smartphones can and will be better than the current offerings.
  5. Microsoft's empire in North America - Microsoft is a worldwide brand in computing, without question, but the empire is based in the states, where the reaches of Nokia's empire fails to tap into. It will be a huge bolster to get Nokia back into the states as a premier device, and the culprit before was the lack of embrace for the Symbian OS. In 6 years of the S60v3 Symbian software lifecycle, a total of 3 devices made it to the States (E61i and E71x for AT&T and the E73 for T-Mobile). Nearly every Nokia device was present on the Euro carriers during that time period. Nokia needs the backing of U.S. carriers to continue their success of yesteryear, and with WP7 now a common and marketable platform for smartphone OS, the U.S. carriers should be able to open their doors once again to Nokia devices.
With MeeGo still being one of Nokia's software platforms for their phones, which might be a more viable OS in the higher-level computing platforms, such as tablets, notebooks, and in-vehicle info-tainment systems. Symbian, set to be "harvested" sometime in 2012 will more than likely spell doom for a lot of Nokia loyalists. My hopes are since Symbian opened the doors of their source code, that the dedicated Symbian community will continue development, and Ovi becomes a Cononical-like service to the Symbian environment. Ovi Maps and Store, likely to be the only two Ovi services to survive the WP7 migration, will likely have limited support in future years, but as a loyal Symbian user, I intend to use my Nokia N8 until I find the next Nokia phone that is for me.
Long live Symbian.

Friday, January 14, 2011

National Champions

First post of the new year will probably start off very one-sided, but I will dig deep into my soul to find the necessary line between objectiveness and subjectiveness. However, I tend to put my heart above my appearance as an objective writer. I will, in no way, disregard my beliefs just to make an audience listen. My blog is here for me to express my thoughts and opinions, and regardless of how many people may read it and agree or disagree with it, I am accomplishing what I've set myself out to do with this platform.

Auburn University. National Champions in college football. It was one of the greatest moments in my life of sports. I've been an Auburn fan since I was a little guy, and to finally see them win a championship is wonderful. However, it saddens me that the entire country doesn't feel the same way, as multiple sports writers went right to the computer to post their take on "how long will Auburn keep their championship" and to chronicle the current status of the Cecil Newton saga. Those writers get the readers, but that is what they are paid to do. I am not paid, and the only benefit I receive out of writing is a sense of accomplishment, that I was able to coherently express myself in the best way I can. I am not going to continue on using this post to bash the media that decides to write pessimistically on Auburn's amazing feat, but I will congratulate the team, as a whole, and who I saw that made impact plays throughout the game.

First of all, Cam Newton was not the best player in the game. He was the leader, and he kept the team in the game, but he never looked comfortable for extended amounts of time, and not because the offensive line was not blocking, but Oregon's defense did very well in taking away his running options when there was no receiver to get the ball to. Cam missed on a few plays, but one game doesn't tarnish his season as the nation's leading passer in efficiency. He connects on long balls, he connects when there is room, but there were a few he did miss on. NFL scouts, whether he had a perfect game or the game he ended up with, will account for the multiple times he led his team back into a game, namely the Georgia game, where he only threw the ball 17 times, and every one of those passes would have been caught on a normal day for his receivers. His two touchdowns to Philip Lutzenkirchen were two of the best touchdowns he threw all season - tight window, and a throw that could have been mistaken as a ballistic missile - on target and on a line. His game against Alabama and South Carolina, 30-48 (62%) 551 yards, 7 TD, and passer ratings greater than 200, along with 36 carries, 112 yards, and 3 TD, he accounted for 10 TDs and 663 yards in two of the biggest games of his career. 

But, like I said, Cam Newton wasn't the best player on the field that night. Michael Dyer, the offensive MVP, with a bruising 143 yards on 22 carries, and nearly had the go-ahead TD with 0:10 on the clock. His run to setup the offense well in field goal range was the play of the game for sure. 

The best player, whether the nation likes him or not, was Nick Fairley. He was the focus of the Oregon offense to keep him out of the backfield, but that didn't work. When one player gets singled out on defense, yet still impacts the game, not to mention leading the Auburn defense to hold the nation's leading rusher to under 50 yards and 3.8 yds/carry. Kirk Herbstreit mentioned him being as dominate as Ndomakong Suh, and he may very well be. Suh is also regarded as a dirty player, even still in the NFL, yet he is more than likely the Rookie of the Year for Defense in the NFL and will probably be the most dominate defensive lineman in years to come. I do think his discipline after a play will have to tighten up, and I imagine that the NFL would break him of the late hits and cheap shots, but Suh has been flagged and fined this year for his hits, although questionable calls. The NFL will crack down on him more than the NCAA did and hit him in the pocketbook - that combined with the rough nature of the NFL should change his habit of cheap hits after a play.

Auburn's National Title will always be under question, regardless if the NCAA does allow them to keep it. People will always speculate. The media will always find the dirty laundry, and that is their job, disgusting as it is. The facts that matter is Auburn won the game on the field, and just as USC won their game on the field, regardless of 1 ineligible player for 100. I am confident Auburn will not be found in the wrong with Cam Newton remaining eligible, because Auburn is where my heart as a sports fan lies. 

War Eagle.