Short Takes: August 29, 2014

Short Takes: August 29, 2014

An often irreverent look at this week's other news

An often irreverent look at this week's other news, including a belated Microsoft crackdown on bogus and scam apps, a re-released Windows Update still requires you to work it, Satya is going to China, Apple set to invent NFC and revolutionize something, Nokia brings HERE to Android and Samsung, Google is testing drones outside the United States, and more.

Microsoft finally cracks down on deceptive Windows Store apps

Last week, I railed against Microsoft's policy of "store stuffing," in which for four years now it has approved virtually any app a developer—professional or otherwise—has thrown at the Windows Phone Store or Windows Store, resulting in mountains of crap. This week, Microsoft has finally responded. And while it is supposedly fixing this problem of its own making, one has to wonder how much damage it has done to the credibility of both Windows and itself. Remember, Microsoft is promoting these stores as safe, safer than downloading desktop applications from unknown sources on the web. But when the supposedly curated Microsoft stores include bogus and even scam apps of all kinds, why would anyone trust these stores, or trust Microsoft when it says it's going to fix things now? Microsoft. This started happening FOUR YEARS AGO. Shame on you.

Seriously, this new Windows Update won't screw up your PC. Probably

And speaking of trust, Microsoft has reissued a borked Windows Update from the August Patch Tuesday and if you weren't already feeling a little burned maybe you could give this version a shot? I'll get the alcohol ready, because you're going to love this little tidbit: If you already did install the original, borked update—MS2982791, as it's lovingly called—Microsoft still recommends that you uninstall it first. And doing so requires a manual process by which you restart in Safe Mode, delete certain files, change the registry, and more. Mission accomplished!

"What happens when Microsoft ends Windows 7 mainstream support next year"

This was foretold in the Book of Revelations.

Only Satya Nadella could go to China

Well, assuming we forget that Apple CEO Tim Cook did it last year, I guess. Reuters is reporting—in an exclusive, no less—that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will make a business trip to China this year. I eagerly await their next report in which Mr. Nadella will allegedly join a meeting in a different building on campus. Will he drive or walk? I need to know!

"Microsoft smokes out 1,500 bogus Windows 8 apps from its app store"

So there are only about 150,000 to go then.

Apple to launch iPhone 6, wearable device(s) on September 9

After several agonizing months in which Apple blogs had nothing to write about except supposedly leaked images of the next iPhone(s), Apple blogs can now turn to a future of several agonizing months in which they have nothing to write about except the recently released next iPhone(s): Apple has sent out invitations to a September 9 event at which it will almost certainly announce two new iPhone models and some number of wearable computing devices. I'm surprised I wasn't invited, given how prominently I featured in Tim Cook's last public appearance (the WWDC 2014 keynote in June), but then with two straight quarters of falling iPad sales, he's probably a bit more focused on the next big thing. Which, for once, isn't a Samsung phone of some kind.

Apple to invent NFC in less than two weeks

Speaking of that Apple event, while there have certainly been enough rumors about the next iPhone(s), here's a recent one I find to be particularly interesting, since I've been using this technology for a few years now. Apple will invent a technology called NFC, for Near Field Communication, which will—get this—provide a handshake of sorts between the phone and other wireless devices. It can be used for something as mundane as connecting a Bluetooth speaker, or sharing photos and files between phones, or for mobile payments. I cannot wait for Apple to invent this technology because even though I just used it as recently as last night to connect to a speaker, and in Spain to share photos between phones, none of that happened on an iPhone. So it's like it hasn't really happened. You know, until Apple invents it.

Nokia brings HERE maps to Samsung, Android

HERE is the one good bit of Nokia that didn't go to Microsoft. And now this mapping technology is heading to Android where, you know, there's never been a decent mapping and location solution. (Cough, he says, to crickets.) This week, Nokia revealed that a new Android-based version of HERE Maps will be made available via Samsung Galaxy branded smart phones first, and will be labeled as a beta. It is also being ported to a Samsung Tizen-based smart watch, the Gear S, and Tizen-based smart phones. Joking aside, HERE maps has one huge advantage over the omnipresent Google Maps: It works great offline via downloadable maps, a feature Windows Phone users have been enjoying for years. And from Samsung's perspective, it has a second huge advantage: It's not made by Google.

"Microsoft makes Visual Studio Online free for occasional contributors"

Or as you might call them, your co-workers.

Now Google is testing drones too

And if there's any company I trust less with a product that could easily be weaponized, I can't think of it. Google's advanced research lab—called Google X because, you know, "X" was so cool back in 2001—said this week that it is working on developing delivery drones. Which is fascinating on a number of levels, the most obvious being that all of Google's products are actually online services that are delivered virtually not physically. Called Project Wing, a prototype Google drone delivered supplies such as candy bars, dog treats, cattle vaccines, water and radios to two farmers in Queensland, Australia, earlier this month, which I am praying violates some international treaty. Fortunately, commercial drone use is banned in the United States, because it's the only thing more likely to incite violence than cell phone calls on an airplane. So Google is doing what all major US corporations do with their money: Keep it outside the country. Have fun with the drones, Australia. I'm sure you have a few more years before you're completely enslaved.

"9 Changes We Want to See in Windows 9"

"The Top 9 Things I Want To See In Windows 9"

Seriously, there are 9? How convenient.

But Wait, There's More

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I'm trying to change the book publishing model, and would appreciate your support: Windows 8.1 Field Guide is available directly from me for only $2 in PDF, MOBI and EPUB formats. And it is now available on Amazon Kindle for $4.99 too. I also have other free and inexpensive e-books available too, including Windows Phone 8 Field Guide (free from that site, or available from both Kindle and Nook too) and the in-progress Windows Phone 8.1 Field Guide.

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