Sunday, February 16, 2020

Lenovo Tab M8 FHD

That's one of the worst product names I've come across.

You'll remember that I wasn't thrilled with the Amazon Fire HD 8.
[It] would be tolerable if it was blazingly fast but it's not. 
It only has 1.5 GB of RAM so apps are constantly restarting. The launcher "fix" works by letting the Amazon launcher run then running the alternate launcher so you get a noticeable flash every time you press the Home button. 
I'm just not sure.
So I came across the Lenovo Tab M8 FHD for $120 and went for it. There are several variants. In addition to the FHD there's an HD model with lower resolution.


It's pretty much everything that the Amazon Fire HD 8 isn't.


LAUNCHAnnounced2019, September
StatusAvailable. Released 2019, October
BODYDimensions7.84 x 4.80 x 0.32 in
BuildGlass front, aluminum back, aluminum frame
DISPLAYTypeIPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size8.0 inches (~76.5% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution1080 x 2160 pixels, 16:10 ratio (~189 ppi density)
PLATFORMOSAndroid 9.0 (Pie)
ChipsetMediatek MT6761 Helio A22 (12 nm)
CPUQuad-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A53
GPUPowerVR GE8320
MEMORYCard slotmicroSDXC (dedicated slot)
Internal32GB 3GB RAM
eMMC 5.1
MAIN CAMERASingle13 MP, AF
FeaturesLED flash
Video1080p
SELFIE CAMERASingle5 MP
Video1080p
SOUNDLoudspeakerYes
3.5mm jackYes
COMMSWLANWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth5.0, A2DP, LE
GPSYes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
RadioFM radio
USBmicroUSB 2.0, USB On-The-Go
FEATURESSensorsAccelerometer, proximity
BATTERYNon-removable Li-Po 5000 mAh battery
MISCColorsIron Grey, Platinum Grey

I don't think it will be getting regular security updates nor Android 10.

Still good enough for a bedside table.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Windows as a Service

Oh, you didn't know that Windows was a service? Just keep reading.

Windows users have been complaining about a problem with the search box for months. There was even an out of band cumulative update (archive.is) offered for it in January 2020. I thought that this was the search box in Windows Explorer but it's not.

The search box in question is the one that shows up on the taskbar. That's one of the first things that I disable on a Windows 10 installation.

So I turned it back on and looked to see what build I had.


Since I'm not using it I wasn't familiar with the various build numbers.

The point here is that Microsoft is capable and is, in fact, updating the build of Windows Search over the Internet WITHOUT notification nor interaction. Read this Computerworld article (archive.is) about the details. And there's more here (archive.is) with examples of dynamic changes.

Folks, that's called "Windows as a Service."

What else is Microsoft updating silently?

That's not what I signed up for.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Acer Spin 1

I'm a sucker for bargains.


I've got several laptops and several tablets but I haven't really ever had a TOUCH laptop.

When this Acer Spin 1 came up for $149, I just couldn't resist it.

It has:
  • Processor: Intel® Pentium® Silver N5000 Quad-Core (Up to 2.7GHz)
  • Display: 11.6" HD (1366 x 768) Widescreen LED-backlit Multi-Touch
  • 4GB LPDDR4 Onboard Memory
  • Hard Drive: 64GB eMMC
  • Audio: Two Built-in Stereo Speakers
  • Built-In Digital Microphone
  • Ports: 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x HDMI® 2.0 port with HDCP support, 1 x 3.5mm combo jack (headphone/speaker), 1 x DC-in jack for AC adapter
  • Webcam: Webcam (640 x 480)
  • Wireless: Intel Wireless-AC 9560 802.11ac Gigabit WiFi which can deliver up to 1.73Gbps throughput when using 160Mhz channels (Dual-Band 2.4GHz and 5GHz)
  • Up to 10 Hours Battery Life
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Dimensions: 11.46" (W) x 7.95" (D) x 0.67" (H)
  • Weight: 2.76 lbs
  • Graphics: Intel® UHD Graphics 605 supporting Microsoft® DirectX® 12

I upgraded to Windows 10 Pro and installed Microsoft Office 2016 Pro.

I wish it had a fingerprint reader. I wish it used USB C charging.

But for $149!


Sunday, January 26, 2020

Office Deployment Tool

Recently I bought a new laptop. It didn't come with Microsoft Office.

I used to have a TechNet subscription that gave me a number of Office licenses but those have all been used up.

I found one of those gray market key vendors and bought a Office 2016 Professional key for less than $30. It came promptly and even included a link to a Microsoft download site.


I downloaded the bits and ran it expecting to get the old fashioned dialog that would let me choose which application and features would be installed.

I usually use that dialog to omit all the Office apps except Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

But that's not what happened.

The download installed installed all the Office apps without give me any options. As the new laptop only has a 64GB SSD, I wanted to minimize the space used.

I searched for a while and came across several articles on Microsoft's Office Deployment Tool. The instructions were primarily aimed at enterprise installs. After a couple of failed attempts, I came across MS Guides.

The article (.png) is written mainly to describe how to use the Office Deployment Tool to add/change languages within Office. But a few obvious changes tailored it to just what I wanted to do.

The process even automatically downloaded the Office bits.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Startpage

Are you worried about what Google knows about you? Here's a way to reduce that AND what the web sites you visit know about you.

It's startpage.com.

Their tagline is:.
The world's most private search engine.
While that's not a very high bar, every little bit helps.

Startpage is headquartered in the Netherlands so it operates under the European Union's privacy regulations.

If you've tried alternative search engines, you've probably been disappointed with the results. However Startpage has an arrangement with Google  This is done without saving the users' IP addresses or giving any personal user information to Google's servers.

But the part I really like of Startpage is the anonymous surfing feature. Here's an example.


Here's where the Anonymous View took me.


Notice that the page is framed so that you know you are anonymous. You can break out by clicking on the "door" in the bottom right corner.

I was interested in why there was this big blank space so I loaded the page normally.


The nytimes.com site was trying to get the user to give them credentials.

Good job Startpage!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Happy New Year

The start of a new year is a good time to review a few things and make sure everything is right. Here's my list of things I think you should check once a year.
Some of the steps may be a little out of date but I think you can find your way around. If not, leave me a comment and I'll help.

PayPal Preapproved Payments
Offline Backup
Certificate Store
Router Configuration
Windows Defender and Windows Defender Offline
Controlled Folder Access
System Restore

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Mobile Data History

I track my mobile data monthly and have been doing this since early 2010.

Pretty interesting.

You can certainly see where the smartphone data picked up in April 2011 when I got a Samsung Galaxy S. My wife's data picked up later that year when she got an iPhone.

The spikes generally correlate to travel where either I'm using my smartphone for tethering or where we use mobile data rather than Wi-Fi.

The bright green bars are from Android Auto or Car Play. The spikes there are when we are traveling and using both the mapping capabilities and streaming Memphis radio.

AT&T's plans have been outstripping my mobile data usage. For the last 12 months, my average was less than 2GB. The highest month was less than 4GB when we were traveling. My AT&T plan is 35GB with one month rollover.

I regularly review AT&T's plans but lowering the data plan doesn't significantly reduce the monthly cost. Their incentives are to drive customers to unlimited data plans. This is often at the loss of tethering.