Tech Bits: Alexa beats Cortana and Nintendo dominates gaming

The Physical Keyboard Goes On

I still want my keyboard phone so I can type emails and notes on the go, but I find the Blackberry KeyOne to be too expensive. But I’ve had the privilege of handling the Motorola Moto Z which can be customized by Moto Mods. All it needs is a keyboard Moto Mod. And now, thanks to Indiegogo and the guys at Livermorium, there is one called the Slider Keyboard Moto Mod. It’s not around yet, but Motorola has announced at CES 2018 that this Mod will be available in the first quarter 2018 and will retail at $99.

The Slider Keyboard Moto Mod attaches to the back of a Moto Mod device. The full landscape keyboard then slides out and allows the screen to tilt at a 60-degree angle, resembling a mini-laptop or more like the T-Mobile Sidekick. There are still folks who appreciate the tactile feel of physical keyboards when typing on their phones. Aside from the feel of real keys and the better efficiency of typing, one of the biggest advantages of a physical keyboard is speed dial. Type the first letter of your wife or husband’s name, and you’re there. Something I have to fumble about on my iPhone when I’m elsewhere. I’m not sure if this keyboard will allow a speed dial function, but it should still sell through.

intel cpu bug patch hits

CPU Level Meltdown Fix by Intel

Of course, Intel has to be present at the Consumer’s Electronics Show but what kind of face will they show to the public after the epic fail of Meltdown? It’s just one of their chips’ undiscovered flaws patchable though the OS, but the fact that the patch will slow down their chips noticeably has consumers on edge. So with a straight face, Intel announces a 49 qubit quantum processor, hopefully, Meltdown free. And of course, a promise that they themselves will patch the Meltdown and Spectre bugs with a CPU-level fix by the end of January.

While Microsoft and Apple released their respective patches, those patches result in a noticeable slowdown in the system performance rumored to be as much a 30 percent. Some would rather risk it than swallowing that bitter pill. A CPU-level fix from Intel itself should be a better solution. Who better to know? The fix should reduce the slowdown percentage hopefully to unnoticeable levels and to keep class-action lawsuits at bay.

“Security is job number one for Intel and our industry… Fixes for more than 90 percent of Intel chips that are less than five years old will be ready by the end of the week,”

— Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO, CES keynote

The flaw goes back much further so older chips on older systems will unfortunately, have to rely on OS patches. Something Microsoft admitted will suffer the most.

 cortana being replaced by alexa amazon

Cortana Switched Out for Alexa

Admittedly, it’s much less awkward to call out the name Alexa in public than Cortana. Other than the sexier name, their voices sound the same. Name preference or not, Alexa is poised to edge out Cortana from her home in Windows 10 systems. Amazon’s Alexa assistant. It’s been announced at CES 2018 that Alexa will be installed on Acer, Asus and HP systems.

Aside from the sexier name, Alexa has 25,000 skills versus Cortana’s 230 and it seems development for Cortana has taken a backseat within Microsoft itself as integration with Microsoft’s Dynamics ERP platforms has been dropped and that Microsoft itself entered into a pact with Amazon to put both Cortana and Alexa onto PCs. Of course, who would you prefer? Alexa will arrive on Acer PCs o the first quarter of 2018. HP and Asus will follow suit.

Nintendo Owns 2017

From the brink of failure back to the top of the game. The Nintendo switch has been hailed as the fastest-selling console in US history after selling 4.8 million units since its launch last March. It could have sold more if it came out with more than just Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and 123-Switch and if there were more units available.

New titles steadily came out like Arms, Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, each its own little hit until the much-awaited arrival of Super Mario Odyssey which further boosted unit sales. The Switch has already sold 10 million units worldwide and is expected to reach 14 million by the end of its first year, which is in March.