Get Ready for REAL 2016 by taking a look back at last year’s ground breaking summit. The inaugural year of REAL was an amazing exploration of the convergence of 3d sensing, making & visualization. Relive and experience leading designers, artists, entrepreneurs & educators discussing the latest innovations in this 3D revolution.
It is a multi-step (and quite expensive) process, but worked for me:
Get a heat pump installed (nowhere near the PC, not even using the same power circuit)
Arrive home and start computer, discover no response from screen
No power indication
Restart computer, thinking screen may be stuck in sleep mode
No sign of life from screen
Check power and video connection to screen
No sign of life from screen
Plug screen into different power source (in case bad outlet on UPS), then directly into another wall plug with no UPS or power strip
No sign of life from screen
Change video cable
No sign of life from screen
Give up, wonder if power coming back on after heat pump install knocked out the screen. It was sometimes a bit flaky restarting from sleep mode and about 5 years old. As there were no power LEDs or backlight decide it is probably dead.
Purchase new screen
Plug in new screen and connect video
Start computer, no sign of video from NEW screen although power light is on
Check video cable, plugs again, no sign of life from NEW screen
Restart computer, no sign of life from NEW screen
Shut down computer, open case, remove video card and put it back in the same slot
Start computer and enjoy crisp clean video on new screen
Curious, reconnect old screen to enjoy similarly glorious results on the old screen
Find a spare video cable and set up old screen beside new one
Enjoy, while feeling slightly mystified, the new dual monitor set-up in the warmth of the new heat pump.
When a model mixes with reality the results are stunning!
There’s more info on the Hololens hardware — the first fully untethered, see-through ‘holographic’ computer that will arrive with Windows 10 — in the video below:
“Windows 10 is the first platform to support holographic computing with APIs that enable gaze, gesture, voice, and environmental understanding on an untethered device. Microsoft HoloLens, together with Windows 10, will bring high‑definition holograms to life in your world”
Join us for AU 2013 Live Streaming Video from Las Vegas
Experience the excitement of this year's conference from your office or on the go as you watch AU 2013 live streaming video of sessions from AU Las Vegas. Join us December 3-5, 2013 for a selection of classes, the Keynote Address, the Closing Session, and the Innovation Forums.
Of course it does not quite have the atmosphere and excitement of being in Las Vegas but a recent Twitter conversation with Kean Walmsley reminded me of an old Autodesk project which recreates some of that closer to home…
KitKat, Smarties, M&Ms, Autodesk University?
Autodesk University Ambience Simulator
This isn’t an Autodesk Labs project, rather something pioneered several years ago by Autodesk New Zealand.
It had a limited distribution, just before Christmas from memory, but ours is still very popular with those who see it by my desk at work.
Like the one armed bandits in Vegas you do have to feed it and the pay-out is delivered with a distinctive clinky clang sound as sweets drop into the tray. Unlike Vegas machines the odds of winning, even the colour you want with a bit of care, are extremely good!
Maybe Mk2 will add an alcohol dispenser and whiff of stale cigarette odour for even more realism.
I love that something which began with a pencil scribble on paper and bit of sticky tape could be the solution to mobile power compromises. It is a long way from lab to shop floor but this looks promising.
“Meanwhile, two scientists at UCLA have made a graphene discovery of their own that could charge an electric vehicle in a matter of minutes or a cellphone in mere seconds. As the video says, this could be a very big deal”
Except they'll likely struggle with this requirement, unless lots of people buy them:
Not too expensive...
So I got a netbook?
There was nothing really close at the time, and an iPad didn’t cut it for me, so as a gap filler I got a Samsung Netbook. Yes, a netbook.
Many mock them but for blogging and mobile use, given the price, it really was quite OK. Windows 7 Starter meant it could run all the Windows apps I use for mail, blogging and RSS feed reading.
256GB storage allowed photo/media storage and the keyboard, if not quite full-size, was fine for bashing out a blog post, email or whatever. I was surprised it even coped with some fairly heavy duty photo editing like stitching 6 x 15 megapixel images into a panorama and running Office applications.
What it lacked was performance and screen size. pen, touch and the ability to run CAD to any degree due to limited processor, memory (2GB) and screen resolution.
Why iOS didn’t cut it:
The iPad transformed mobile computing in a way Microsoft’s Tablet OS failed to do but for me iOS has a couple of fatal flaws:
Limited memory (RAM, not storage) meant even iOS optimised design data apps struggle with complex files
No integrated handwriting recognition, aka “ink”. If you’ve never used ink (handwriting recognition) on a Tablet PC you might wonder why I think it essential. The direct input/convert to text is almost irrelevant as the power of ink is background conversion. Making written notes searchable is a powerful ability.
Besides I had a hunch something better suited to my needs was coming along…
Enter Windows 8 and the hybrid UltraTabBook
Windows 8 brings iOS’like simplicity to touch operation with a massively powerful desktop application which happens to be what was once known as Windows. It really is two operating systems in one, something many find confusing.
The mix of mobile (8 metro) and PC (8 desktop) is best leveraged with a hybrid hardware capable of touch, keyboard/mouse or pen input. You (well I) can’t type much with an onscreen keyboard, precision pointing with a finger is not realistic, either is sketching with a finger or mouse. There are times when typing is the best input, others when writing on a flat tablet is more appropriate.
Break off the tablet and you have something which can replace an iPad (the big one), slap it in a dock and you have an ultra-book of sorts with SD storage, USB connectivity and HDMI output.
I checked out several but it came down to two options for me: Microsoft Surface Pro or Samsung ATIV Pro. The prime reason was other convertibles either run netbook type chips or are more like notebooks which split, spin or turn.
The Surface & ATIV are more like an iPad with superior keyboard dock and a real operating system. They have almost identical spec but you can’t get any official Microsoft Surface in NZ, even the RT, so that leaves the ATIV. Lets look back at that wish list from a couple of years ago and what the ATIV Smart PC offers:
Powerful processor ~ i5 Pentium
Memory ~ 4GB system memory
Disk spec for CAD, BIM, Engineering Modelling ~ 128GB SSD, SD slot for up to 64GB more and a USB 3 port for up to (if you can afford it) another terabyte or so.
High quality separate graphics ~ High quality (HD) 1980 x 1080 yes but not separate. Maybe not such a big deal as on-board graphics have improved since i wrote that.
Touch, tablet like pen and voice interface ~ Touch Yes, Pen yes, and in app voice if you want. I hardly ever use as find both Apple & Microsoft voice input doesn’t cope well with my Kiwi akccint.
Full size keyboard with number pad, touch pad and stick ~ The hardware keyboard lacks a number keypad, touch screen almost makes the touch pad irrelevant and no need for a track stick
Power for decent mobile use (i.e 8 hours real work) ~ Samsung claim 5 – 8 hours for the ATIV. To date I’ve found nearer 6 than 8 for general use.
Not too compact - 17" screen minimum ~ Ok, so 11” isn’t exactly 17” but the resolution makes the smaller screen more tolerable. The main desire fro larger was a digital equivalent to that old A3 board, the ATIV is more akin to an A4 one.
Maybe even Windows 7 ~ When I wrote that there was speculation Microsoft might match iOS with a cut down OS based on Windows Phone. It turns out Windows 8 more like a new operating system with a Windows Desktop compatibility app for all those old programs!
So that was near enough me to plonk down the credit card…
First impressions of the ATIV
The Samsung unbox first impression doesn’t exactly match Apple. You get a fairly plain white box, same, with the hardware packed to keep it safe. Under the screen and keyboard was a box with power cord, transformer (nice & small) and a cleaning cloth. Documentation is a Quick Start Guide, Introduction to Windows 8 and Samsung Applications and consumer guarantee info. A bit surprising was a slip-sheet advising running software update before using the keyboard dock (with instructions on how to do that). There are no other adaptors, no mini-HDMI lead or a slip cover.
The packaging doesn’t match Apple and to be honest either does the first impression of build quality (or to be fair the price). The screen unit, which contains all the PC hardware, is plastic —rather than alloy—and sports the obligatory tacky Intel Inside & Windows 8 logo stickers. It is 304 x 190 x 12mm but tapered to about 5mm at the edges so appears thinner. The screen is 1920 x 1080 HD and has ten point touch sensitivity. The back has four surface vents (intake) and one small edge exhaust revealing it runs a chipset which needs cooling.
It is also quite heavy, Samsung quote 888 grams, but again that reflects all the hardware stuffed in there. You need not carry the keyboard if you don’t need it as Windows 8 offers two onscreen keyboards, std & split thumb layouts, and pen input without the dock.
It does get warm, not hot, but the internals are arranged to put the heat generation and exhaust away from where you typically hold it. The lower half is, according to a help diagram, mostly battery and the intakes are placed above where you hold the tablet. There is a bit of fan noise, not annoying though, when the chip is working hard but typical browsing is almost silent.
A couple of subtle grilles, about 3mm wide, on each side of the screen bezel hide stereo speakers capable of pretty decent output. Around the perimeter are ports for power/keyboard dock, USB 3, Mini HDMI, SD/MicroSD Card, Headphone & external mic and slim push button controls for power, screen rotation lock and volume. Also, hidden in a dock, is a pen with button erase for the Wacom tablet input. The tablet has built in mic and 2 megapixel front, 5 megapixel rear cameras.
The keyboard dock has real keys, with mechanical action, and a multi-touch track pad which allows you to work in true notebook mode if preferred. It has a nice action, familiar layout (from my netbook) and a mechanical latching dock hinge for the screen. One advantage of the ‘all in screen’ hardware is you can comfortably use it on your lap as there is no heat output from the base. Although stable you can tell there is a fair amount of mass in the screen making the balance, say when picking it up, different from a normal ultra book. I think Samsung missed an opportunity not putting an extra battery in the dock, something one Acer model has done. Perhaps they should consider that as a future offer.
The set-up was fairly painless but nearly all the Windows ‘Metro” and Samsung OEM Apps updated. Signing into my existing Microsoft account meant my settings, contacts, accounts and Windows Store apps appeared after a bit of streaming. One thing I discovered is once the SkyDrive Desktop app is installed you can copy the folder content from your other PC to speed the initial sync. This really used to upset Live Mesh but SkyDrive just acknowledged the files were there and synced changes from then on.
A recent blog storm on Microsoft Surface storage (or supposed lack of) questioned the space requirements for Windows 8. It was nicely debunked by Ed Bott but had me wondering about the ATIV. I don’t remember what I started with but have installed:
Windows 8 64
Microsoft Office Professional 2010
Microsoft Flight Simulator. This is my favourite ‘game’ and also a pretty good processor/graphics workout.
Autodesk Design Review. Holding off on installing my Building Design Suite until Autodesk acknowledge ready for Windows 8.
About 30 Windows Store apps including;
Facebook Touch, Tweetro+ & Skype
NZ Herald, Stuff & BBC News
Tunein Radio & Podcasts
YouTube, Vimeo and TED Video
Bing & Google Search
Sketchbook Express & Fresh Paint
The result after that space is reported as disk size 116.32 GB, 57.89 GB free and I still have the Samsung Recovery Drive data there. You can clone that off to a USB Drive to free up more storage if things get tight.
A slight concern about power:
For now I’m settling in and the only real concern is a slightly flaky power connection when docked. As a tablet you can plug power directly into the screen but when docked that connector is hidden.
The dock has its own power input but the link to the screen (and therefore battery recharge) seems a bit sensitive and occasionally the power comes & goes. What is odd is there seems to be only one connector and the keyboard command link seems really solid irrespective of the power.
Life with ATIV:
From now on most of what you see here will be authored on the ATIV. Will report back on life with “My (nearly) perfect PC” as I learn more.
UPDATES in Red 02/12/2013: I took the machine back today as appears the power problem is real. Looks like a new dock might be needed. Is it a design fault or just poor Q.A.?
Ok, so 1.2 kg isn’t going to make it an iPad competitor but I don’t want an iPad. So far this is the closest I have seen to my “My Perfect Computer”. You’re not going to do full on design on the road but an i7, decent SSD and the versatile configuration (with digital ink) means it sure looks like a nice mobile design/presentation device.
This video shows the potential with design media. I’m the dude with the tube…
UPDATE 2013-01-13: Or, if you don’t need two screens perhaps consider their Transformer book but it appears (by no mention) that ASUS have not included the pressure sensitive pen input seen on the Taichi. That’s a major omission for a full Windows tablet experience
There was no Esc, well it was there but didn’t work when pressed!
Perhaps after twelve+ years of typing and FSM knows how many AutoCAD command “Esc’s” it seemed my old faithful Microsoft Natural Keyboard was finally dead. I did the usual keyboard resuscitation (flip it over & bash the crud out) and even pulled the key off to see if the mechanism was stuck, but that didn’t help. Esc, Esc, Esc still meant no escape even though the other keys all worked fine.
And then, resurrection!
A reboot fixed it! I suspect flipping between virtual & real machines + running through a KMV box may have confused things in the keyboard department. After a reboot it came right & lives on in all it’s retro beige glory.
I like the split keyboard & have the same model home. That was purchased soon after Windows 95 came out if I recall correctly. It’s still going strong handling (based on recent ActiveWords stats) about 700,000 characters/year.
According to Wikipedia: “The Natural Ergonomic Keyboard claimed life of one million actuations for each QWERTY key” which means I have merely run mine in!