Technology trends in 2015

I have so many thoughts regarding where technology is heading, but don’t find myself writing much of it down, which is really a shame. This entry is an attempt to get into the habit of posting my thoughts regarding these and other trends.

Intel’s newest chipset Broadwell, is going to make the noiseless PC much more powerful and practical. This really seems to be where both CPU and GPU technology is headed. Sure everything gets more powerful as time marches on, but the focus on power efficiency, as well as lower thermal characteristics, is enabling PC’s that are entirely passively cooled (no moving parts = less things to breakdown), yet powerful enough to use for a majority of tasks.

Just as we saw a convergence of technology manifest in tablets and phones that are powerful enough to handle most tasks that used to require specialized devices (still/video camera, phone, email, light gaming), we are now seeing these same technologies mature and enable much more powerful devices.

In the next 3 years we will see more and more fanless notebooks, boasting super thin screens. With optical drives no longer necessary, the main chassis can be slimmed down, and the last of the moving parts eliminated. It’s interesting how the optical drive is in the same position the floppy drive was at the turn of the century – still around, but not really needed.

While tablets will continue to evolve, I really think the combo notebook/tablet will find a place if the design is done right. While the freedom of having a single slab of technology to take with you is quite appealing, there is no substitute for typing on a keyboard. Having something you can dock at a desk to access a fully functional keyboard/mouse might be a hit.

As power usage drops, battery life improves dramatically. I see notebook/tablet combos with 18 – 24 hours of battery life (actual use, not sleep/suspend/low power mode) in the not too distant future.

The new flexible screens I’ve been seeing show a lot of promise for enabling what I like to call a “Pee Chee Computer”, because that’s about how thin they’ll be pretty soon.

Hopefully the first of many entries for the year 2015. I have a feeling it is going to be a whammy of a year.

ASUS Transformer 16GB Review

ASUS Eee Transformer Review


July 8th, 2011 (Updated August 8, 2011 & Octorber 8th, 2011 – It just worked out that way)


I type up this review on my desktop computer as I listen to music via Bluetooth headphones that are paired to the Transformer. I just glanced back and checked on the status of some music that I’m copying onto the built in 16GB of memory that comes with the model I got a scant week and a half ago.


I happened upon the Transformer while doing research for a friend/client who wanted to know what I thought was the best value in Android tablets right now. After looking at the likes of the Galaxy among others, I finally ended up selecting the transformer, partially because of the lower cost, but also because of the optional dock, something I do plan on getting down the road.


Having never used any tablet before, regardless of the OS that inhabited it, I was free to look at all available. I quickly settled however, on an Anroid-based tablet because of the relative freedom the platform affords. Coming from an OSS background although I use Windows for my desktop, I found a lot of software that I use on my Desktop and various machines that ran Linux Mint available in various states on the Android market.


The biggest obstacle for using a platform for me, is being able to access my data just as if I were using my desktop computer. While it took a bit of trial and error, app experimenting and moments of enlightenment to find solutions to various obstacles, they were well worth the effort.




I was expecting a check from my friend to pay for both the parts for his computer and whatever he felt my help was worth. I didn’t expect a bit of money AND a tablet, but I ended up picking out my own payment when the Transformer made its way to me on a warm Tuesday morning in late June.


While ASUS may not try to emulate Apple, they have got that simplicity thing down. Upon opening the box, you are presented with the Transformer, the charging dock (2 pieces – functions as USB connector for Tranformer) and assorted paperwork. It was nice not to get a bunch of paperwork trying to sell me what I just bought for once.


I turned on the Transformer and booted up. After personalizing the thing, I elected to setup a Gmail/Google account to take advantage of the various services offered through it.


While this is of course optional, I felt that this was the best way to experience the Transformer. I directed my mail accounts that I use for personal and business use to forward their messages to my new Gmail account, creating both a backup of all the accounts as well as allowing my to use the tablet to take care of email duties if my desktop is busy or unavailable for some reason.



While I was familiar with Android from reading about it, I had yet to try it out myself. Granted there are emulators for it, but this is a case where I wanted to try out on actual hardware. I spent about an hour just exploring the interface. The controls are pretty straight forward, with little things here and there that one picks up in the course of installing and configuring the tablet.

My first desire, was accessing my Keepass database that I use on my desktop computer. I installed the Android app and encountered my first obstacle – file transfer between the tablet and networked computers. I later found out that I could attach the tablet via the USB part of the charger apparatus, but since I was charging the device up in the first place at that point, that didn’t strike me until I had problems with the charger itself, which I’ll go into later on.

I ended up managing to transfer a single file via Bluetooth, but at 18 seconds for 2.5MB, it’s an unreliable (I’ve been unable to do it a second time) method at this time. I was pointed to ES File Explorer, which I had installed and uninstalled during my first day with the machine without running it. A slip in memory that I’m wary of repeating again. Using ES File Explorer, I was able to navigate to my shared drives within a few clicks on the tablet.

File transfers were pretty quick, with the limiting factor being that my Wi-Fi network is currently limited to G connectivity until I get that new N-Router I’ve been eying. Still ~54Mbps before overhead is nice to play with and is only really limiting when file transferring. For day to day use, G connectivity is just fine.

While I was working on getting file transferring up, I installed Winamp, Skype, Teamviewer, Twitter, Google Docs, Firefox, QQPlayer, Task Panel and System Panel Lite among others. Winamp and QQPlayer have played everything I’ve thrown at them audio and video wise respectively without problems and without skipping. Teamviewer works just like its desktop peers, Skype went through an update while I was testing it out, which greatly improved the interface, though I’ve yet to get video working on it. Now that I have a quality Bluetooth headset, I’m looking at using it for Skype on all my computers.

Amazon MP3 is wonderful on Android, allowing one even more access to purchased music via cloud. Because Flash isn’t available for FireFox Android at this point, I was unable to test to see if Amazon Prime Video streaming would work, ditto with Netflix‘s Silverlight-based streaming and Hulu. I tried Opera on Hulu, but was told video was not available for my platform. This is something that will get better in the coming months.

The Youtube app works wonderfully and I was able to watch HD video without any skipping or other errors. With my horrible experience trying to get Flash working on Linux Mint x64 with some degree of stability so I wouldn’t have to kill the process every 5 minutes/5 videos still in my mind, I was admittedly a bit shocked that it worked so well.

All the apps I have tried, from Ebay to Amazon have worked without a hitch, save for a few games that crashed because of the version of Android I’m running, and the Facebook app giving me a “hand to the face” when I try to install it on Honeycomb.

Delving deeper

Being a gamer at heart, I am always looking at turning any device I own into a gaming machine, in addition to kicking butt where business is concerned. So, in addition to the standard games that one can download from the app store, I began looking for Android ports of my favorite emulators. More to the point, emulators for the systems I grew up with. While I love all game systems, the NES, SNES, and the Gameboy hold a special place in my heart because although my brother and I have owned other systems (a Dreamcast sits not 5 feet from me right now, hooked up to a 17 in. LCD via VGA adapter and a pair of Logitech 2.1 speakers), those are the ones that captivated us during our childhoods.

There is a setting that allows one to install apps outside the Android App store. After checking that, I was off to find where the emulators, which had been taken off the Android store without warning a month ago, had gone to. After locating an alternative app store, I was delighted to see that the emulators were free for a limited time. This includes Nesoid and Snesoid.

While the emulators worked on the games that I have backups of, I had no way to control them decently as the touch screen just doesn’t cut it. Without a dock, I have no access to USB ports and therefore my X-Arcade joystick or my SNES & N64 controller to USB adapters.

Fortunately, I have a WiiMotePlus and a classic controller.

While the emulator Snes9x EX lets you pair the Wiimote in its options, the other emulators don’t offer that, which presented another obstacle.

Realizing that I had installed but never tried out WiimoteControl, I started it up and paired my Wiimote within a couple of seconds, switched the Wiimote as the primary controller for the tablet and proceeded to map the buttons in Nesoid. Thirty seconds later I was jumping on Goombas in Super Mario Brothers, alas I didn’t get 5 on the clock so I didn’t get the fireworks and bonus points. Aside from that, the controller worked like a dream.

aDosbox is another app that I quickly grabbed and installed. There are a great many DOS games and this app, just like its other incarnations, will let you play them. I’ve yet to do much because without the dock, I have to rely on the onscreen keyboard, which takes up about half the screen when in use. I’ll do an update when I have a dock for this thing.

Overview and Conclusion

Tablets aren’t for everyone. While powerful and silent, they aren’t yet as portable as their smartphone siblings. That being said, I feel that they are a more reasonable bang for the buck at this point in time with dual core cpu smartphones just now being released with price points that reach into the $800 MSRP range. While a contract will lessen the financial blow for a new smartphone, most cell phone carriers require a data contract when subsidizing that new handset.

A tablet, especially a Wi-Fi only one like the Transformer I got, is an excellent compromise. While you pay full price for the tablet, you have no extra bills to look forward to for the next two years. A lower price for tablets compared to cell phones also helps the wallet as well.

For years we’ve been hearing about the coming of Linux on the desktop, with distros becoming more and more sophisticated it seemed to some that it was only a matter of time. While people like myself were running Windows for their main desktop and maintaining one or more Linux computers as guest machines, Android was evolving.

Catching people like myself off guard, Android has developed into a potent platform that is Linux on the desktop, just in a form that you can carry with you.


As I get to know this tablet better and get accessories like the dock, I will update this review with my findings. I am excited beyond words to be able to use a tablet as great as the Transformer, and look forward to newer models down the road.

BBBBBBBBBBBattleToads!! - ASUS Transformer

BBBBBBBBBBBattleToads!! - ASUS Transformer

Widgets on the leftmost screen - ASUS Transformer

Widgets on the leftmost screen - ASUS Transformer

Floppy, Flash and the ASUS Transformer

Floppy, Flash and the ASUS Transformer

Wolf3D - ASUS Transformer

Wolf3D - ASUS Transformer

Noctua vs Tablet

Noctua vs Tablet

Update (August 8th, 2011)

Regarding the charger issue: ASUS, after waiting nearly two weeks for a reply, suggested I contact their RMA department for a repair/replacement. I’ve yet to do this because I’ve been on painkillers and sleeping a lot. The charger does work mind you, it just needs a bit of wiggling (sometimes unplugging and plugging in helps).

The Dock: I acquired the dock for the Transformer a few weeks ago and have been putting it through it’s paces. Two thumb drives, one 1GB, the other 8GB, worked like a charm with either of the USB 2.0 ports the dock gives you. My X-Arcade stick doesn’t work, but my Adaptoid (N64 to USB adapter) and SNES Retrotap (4-port SNES to USB hub) both work without a hitch. I still like using the WiiMotePlus+Classic Controller the most, since there are no wires involved and the Bluetooth performance is fantastic. The keyboard makes typing quite easy and, combined with the ability to turn off the touchpad with a single button, is more comfortable for me than using my laptop. Since the USB 2.0 ports are split one to a side, I was unable to try out my external USB-powered DVD/CD burner burner, which uses two ports. I could always get a USB extension cable, but that’s down the road and optional since there are so many other ways to get data to and from the Transformer.


Metal Slug via Tiger Arcade:

Update (October 8th, 2011)

I found even more apps since my last update, not the least of which, is an Android port of MAME that runs ~2000 games. MAME4Droid was released in early September, but is already attracting a large amount of attention.

MAME4droid - ASUS Transformer

MAME4droid - ASUS Transformer

MAME4droid - Centipede - ASUS Transformer

MAME4droid - Centjpede - ASUS Transformer

MAME4droid - Crime Fighters - ASUS Transformer

MAME4droid - Crime Fighters - ASUS Transformer

In addition, I’ve gotten Netflix to work, which makes the transformer a great little “non-TV TV”, especially coming from someone who abandoned TV almost a decade ago (save for going to a friend’s house to watch MMA). Below, we have the lovely Ann Francis in my favorite Twilight Zone Episode – The After Hours.

The Twilight Zone - The After Hours - Netflix - ASUS Transformer

The Twilight Zone - The After Hours - Netflix - ASUS Transformer

I also grabbed a soft case that houses both the Transformer AND the dock, something I’ve yet to find elsewhere. While it won’t protect it if you drop it, it IS useful to keep it from getting dinged/scratched during transport.

Poetic(TM) 2in1 Ultra Light Leather Case for ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101

Poetic(TM) 2in1 Ultra Light Leather Case for ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101


Poetic(TM) 2in1 Ultra Light Leather Case for ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101

Poetic(TM) 2in1 Ultra Light Leather Case for ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101

Poetic(TM) 2in1 Ultra Light Leather Case for ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101

Poetic(TM) 2in1 Ultra Light Leather Case for ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101


There have been more firmware updates, which are supposed to improve the device even further, no I’ve yet to notice anything striking, so the changes are probably rather subtle/fix less than common issues. The next big step, is when Ice Cream Sandwich comes out. Hopefully this occurs before the end of the year.

Below, a video of Crime Fighters running under MAME4Droid: