Why Tablets will Never Replace Laptops

Tablets PCs are all the rage nowadays. I mean, lets face it – the personal computer is no longer the king of technology. It’s been around for decades and it’s high time that we Tablets on a Shelftalk about something fresh and new. Smartphones are of course still hip, but the release of Apple’s original iPad in April of 2010 has shaken up the market with a completely new viable form factor for the media to go crazy over.

The entire market has also been presented with a device which is genuinely more portable, generally offers better battery life than laptops and is far more intuitive with multi-touch capabilities. The experience is simply far more interactive. Tablets certainly have their place, but still have their pundits. Some are still left asking themselves why they need yet another device for browsing the web, viewing pictures or writing emails.

There is far more to it than that, however. Here are the top 5 reasons why tablets will never be able to completely replace laptops:

  1. Nobody would ever want to write this article on a tablet. I mean, seriously guys, think about this one. By the time somebody typing the 1,000 or so words (hopefully less!) it will take to get my thoughts across in this article, a writer equipped with a laptop could easily write 2 or 3 full articles. Then there is email, programming, Excel, databases… I think you get the idea: the keyboard is simply the ultimate input method for writing… anything. Period.
  2. Just because you can make it smaller, doesn’t mean you should. This point goes hand in hand with the above point. We all like small and portable things. But the smartphone revolution has made this point abundantly clear as well. When we found out how powerful that ultra-portable technology like smartphones could be, we also began to recognize that a bigger screen could also be a huge asset which would allow us to work with more data at once. The keyboard and mouse have a similar relationship with the tablet as the tablet does with the smartphone. After all, we are human and we will always need devices that are large enough to interact with. If our eyes could resolve the hairs on an ant we could certainly live with much smaller screens. If our hands were smaller, we could certainly live with smaller keyboards. There is a finite limit to how small something can possibly depending on how we choose to interact with it.
  3. Higher-end content productivity is simply better served with a full-fledged system. I’m talking photo editing, video editing, CAD drawings and the likes. Not to mention that full-fledged laptops are more powerful (though in 10 years this may not even matter anymore). But the venerable mouse and keyboard with various other input devices attached have certainly proven themselves. In fact these are environments where all the input devices required almost favor having a fixed workstation. Let us also not forget more advanced multi-display setups as well. These are largely fixed and take advantage of features which tablets have no place offering.
  4. Not everybody is always on the go. Really, I promise! Everybody is increasingly mobile nowadays? Tech support representatives are more mobile? Accountants are more mobile? Not everybody is more mobile, and that’s fine. But somebody has to call out this fallacy that absolutely everybody wants to or even can work while driving or flying to some other destination. And besides, wasn’t technology supposed to help people stay put and avoid having to fly out to meet your client in the first place? What happened to green initiatives focusing on reducing how much you travel? When did fuel get cheap again? I must have missed those memos.
  5. Tablets are better suited to content consumption than creation. That really seems to be the recurring theme here. This is not derogatory. This does not mean that tablets can only be used to view YouTube videos of people getting kicked in the groin and pictures of lolcats. The CEO of a company is more likely to be a consumer of content than a creator. The engineers, marketers, accountants and lawyers create the content, among other groups of skilled workers. Managers will then look at all that information and make better decisions based on it. But at the core of everything, there is always a huge need for creation of new information and content. Tablets, mainly due to the different interface, are better suited to organizing and displaying the information once it’s been created.

So given all this, what can we deduce? First, tablets are complementary to laptops in the same way that smartphones are complementary to them. This often seems to get lost in a lot of the media coverage surrounding them.

Further, to those who do not understand what purpose a tablet serves in an office environment, I’d be willing to bet that you don’t spend much time reviewing lots of information while on the run, you don’t work with information often, or you are the one creating it.

So no, I can’t predict the death of the laptop even within the next 10 years anymore than I can predict the death of the full-size keyboard in that time frame, and nor should you. It’s absurd to even think about it when you put it that way and it always will be as long as humans have 10 fingers and two hands.

DIY Wheel Alignment

Have you ever wanted to perform an alignment of your car at home for free? As a general rule, I never let a garage touch any of my cars unless it’s somebody that I know and I’m giving them a very specific task.  With car maintenance I often find that if you want it done right then you have to do it yourself. How many stories have you heard of people going in to get an alignment and driving out with a car that doesn’t travel straight? Far too often.

When I replaced the inner and outer tie-rods on my E36 BMW 325is, it was important to get a proper alignment done to ensure that the tires would last as long as possible and to provide the coveted BMW “ultimate driving experience”. What’s more, I wanted to make sure it was done right for the right price. BMW wanted around $350 to do a 4 wheel alignment. Absolutely insane!

I’d to preface this method by telling any skeptics out there that this is the method we use to align our Formula 1600 open-wheel race car. In fact, it’s the established method. I also watched the Ferrari of San Diego racing team use this technique on a 458 Italia during the Montreal Grand Prix. I guarantee you that if this is good enough for the track, this is good enough for any street car. Finally, with that out of the way, here’s what you’ll need:

Required Tools

  • A thin piece of string longer than the car (dental floss works well)
  • A couple of stands to hold the string taught from front to back at wheel hub level
  • A level
  • A caliper or very accurate ruler (1mm accuracy or better)
  • Whatever renches you’ll need to adjust the tie-rods

Alignment Spreadsheet & Calculator

I’ve created a nifty Excel spreadsheet that will automatically convert your measurements into a toe angle and camber angle.

Download: Alignment Spreadsheet & Calculator

Level the Car

This shouldn’t be too hard to do. Find a flat, level surface where you can work on the car and park it there. Alternatively, I stopped at at the foot of the driveway half on the road such in neutral and rocked it forward and back by hand until it found its level. I then double-checked with the level.

Straighten the Steering Wheel

This part is quite important. If you want your car to drive in a straight line when the wheel is straight then you must keep the wheel straight through this entire process. It is possible to have equally valid alignment settings when the wheel is not set straight, but we definitely don’t want that. It’s annoying. Straighten your wheel and check often to make sure it stays that way. If your wheel gets turned once mid alignment you will absolutely have to start over.

Square your String to the Chassis

Easier than it sounds. All you need to do is run the string from the front of the car to the back at wheel hub level. Make sure to keep the string taught with your stands. These can be as simple as a piece of wood with a nail in it for all intents and purposes.

The goal is to then get the string to be of equal distance from the front wheel hub as it is from the rear wheel hub. The actual distance doesn’t matter so much, just that both distances be the same. This step assumes that the offset of each wheel is the same. For most stock cars this is the case. Once this is done, your string will be perfectly square with the car’s chassis.

Measure Your Toe Angle

This measurement is taken by lining up your caliper or ruler at string level and measuring to the outer edge of the wheel on the left and right. Measure the left side of the wheel first and write down your distance. Then measure the right side and write that down too. Repeat this for the rear wheels. Note that you should never measure to any point on the tires because they are rubber and will always have small deviations. We want the highest possible accuracy.

If your toe angle is 0 degrees then both your measurements will come out the same. Zero toe is what most street cars run on the front end, but you should Google the proper alignment settings for your car to be sure.

Make Adjustments

Now you should pull out your wrenches and adjust the tie-rods either in or out depending on your car and what you found your toe angle to be. For tie-rods connected to the front of the hub, lengthening the tie-rod will toe the car out. For tie-rods connected to the rear of the hub, lengthening the tie-rod will toe the car out. The converse is true in both cases for toeing it in.

Your goal will be make adjustments and re-measure the distance from the left and right of the wheel until it is perfectly straight when the wheel is straight.

Rinse and Repeat

Once you have gotten the alignment of one wheel correct, repeat it for the next on the side of the car you are working on. Once that’s done and you are happy with your measurements, you can switch your string to the other side of the car and repeat the same steps. Bear in mind that you have to make sure your steering wheel is still perfectly straight. If it isn’t or moves from one side to the other, your toe angle will be off.

Using this Method for Camber

A slight variation of this method also works for setting your camber angle if it is even adjustable on your vehicle. The only difference is that we have to hold a string with a weight on the bottom to droop down at the same outward distance as the string until it crosses it and forms a + at the wheel hub level. Usually you’ll want a buddy to help you hold it off the top of the tire for this part. You then measure to the top of the wheel and the bottom of the wheel and make your adjustments based on your measurements.

Typically you’ll want to Google the correct camber settings for your car as they all vary and likely won’t be 0 degrees as is often the case with toe angle.

Apple Loses Another Unreleased iPhone… Or Not

Hot Girl Holding iPhone
Hint: she doesn't have it.

As you  probably remember  last year, an Apple employee who was testing the iPhone 4 prototype in the wild lost the prototype in a bar. The man who found the phone quickly realized what it was and contacted well-known tech blog Gizmodo and sold it to them for $5,000. Apple was apparently far from pleased with the incident as they started a police investigation and tried to sue the pants off Gizmodo, which subsequently settled. In a thoroughly altruistic mood, Apple also ended up firing the employee that lost the phone despite a large public outcry not to, which included Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Fast forward a year, and we have found that CNET is reporting in an apparently “exclusive” that the latest iPhone 5 prototype has also suffered the same fate… in yet another bar. When I heard that a couple of days ago, I thought it sounded a little fishy and promptly moved on. Well it turns out that an editor at SF Weekly called the San Francisco police. Turns out they had no record of any such investigation – exactly what they told CNET.

Apple has not responded to this incident publicly, yet.

The Truth?

In this case, something doesn’t add up and clearly somebody is lying. Consider all the possibilities:

1. Apple intentionally lost this phone to steer attention away from the recent departure of CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs.

2. A prototype was accidentally lost, but the police don’t know about it or are lying about it for some reason.

3. CNET fabricated this whole story to get all the press coverage. They get an exclusive high-profile story without having to shell out 5 grand as Gizmodo did.

I’ll let you decide, but personally I have a sneaking suspicion that this is a CNET fabrication, and a poor one at that. I can’t possibly imagine Apple employees are so careless that they would be running around with iPhone prototypes and losing them in bars. Especially just a year later. What’s more, Apple really didn’t seem to be too pleased with the loss of their phone last year – and they certainly weren’t shy about making that crystal clear.

Then we come to CNET, they have the most to gain from this by far. This story is just too perfect and they have too much to gain.

Seemingly Magical Seamless Computing from nsquared

nsquared Seamless Computing Microsoft SurfaceIt seems that technology is breaking down the boundaries of what is science-fiction and what is real yet again. A company called nsquared Solutions has put together a series of Microsoft technologies that put some Star Trek tech to shame.

Largely, this seamless computing consists of completely wireless communication between devices such as a Windows 7 mobile phone, the Microsoft Surface, a Windows 7 tablet and Kinect. The large breakthrough is how these devices seamlessly interact with each other and complement each other. Gone are the days of the antiquated progress bar.

[youtube_video id=”oALIuVb0NJ4″]

In the following demonstration, Dr. Neil Roodyn receives an email on his phone and then reads the data from the Surface. He then pulls up architectural plans, overlays a different view on the tablet and then navigates the 3D model of the house using a TV powered by Kinect. The computer, called “Bill” in this video responds to voice commands and helps him along in his architectural madness while he scans in 2D pictures he just took into 3D objects that get thrown into the mode.

This technology all comes together almost magically. Now if only things technology was this seamless to use everyday!

Fix Windows Backup Error: 0x8078002A on 2.5TB and 3TB WD Drives

“One of the backup files could not be created. Detailed Error: The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error”

Hard DriveLook familiar? Have a Western Digital hard drive that you are trying to back up to?

I would like to quickly mention a solution that I found for larger (2.5TB or more) Western Digital hard drives that use “advanced format” 4KB physical sector sizes. Many users complain about an issue with Windows 7 Backup and Windows Server backup which spits out the useless Error 0x8078002A.

This worked for my 3TB WD Elements drive. Out of the box this drive did not work with Windows backup at all. WD support actually came through for me on this issue and pointed me to the following solution:


Basically it consists of formatting the drive with their external drive formatting utility in “Factory Default” mode rather than XP-Compatible mode which (ironically) is how the drive ships. After performing the format, the drive works fine with Windows backup in both Windows 7 and Windows Server, but is incompatible with Windows XP. In my case, this is an acceptable compromise.

This is how the drive appeared out of the box:

C:Windowssystem32>fsutil fsinfo ntfsinfo H:
Bytes Per Sector  :               4096
Bytes Per Physical Sector :       <Not Supported>
Bytes Per Cluster :               4096
Bytes Per FileRecord Segment    : 4096

This is how the drive appeared after the “Factory Default” format:

C:Windowssystem32>fsutil fsinfo ntfsinfo H:
Bytes Per Sector  :               512
Bytes Per Physical Sector :       <Not Supported>
Bytes Per Cluster :               4096
Bytes Per FileRecord Segment    : 1024

Finally, I should point out that this utility will probably not work for drives from manufacturers other than Western Digital as it scans for WD drives specifically on launch and is likely working directly with their drive’s firmware. That said, I do believe this should cover all WD drives 2.5TB and larger to correct this issue.

Writing Regular Expressions for .htaccess and IIS 7 URL Rewrites

Regular ExpressionsWhen I was in the throws of transferring this site from Joomla to WordPress, one issue that I had to contend with was the URL changes. The solution is the 301 redirect. That flows link juice from the old URL to the new one and if possible to implement is far more useful for users.

This would be a huge pain to implement manually for every URL and thus had to be systematic. The easiest way to accomplish this is through the use of regular expressions in what is known as a .htaccess file on Linux/Apache or Microsoft’s IIS 7 equivalent functionality known as the URL Rewrite module.

To use this guide, you’ll need to know the basics of setting up rewrite rules. Turns out that the regex not that hard though. In fact, a simple chart can describe all the behaviors that regular expressions follow.


All the values you will find in this section will be matching against a single character.

. Period matches any single character including numbers, letters and symbols.
A, a, 1, %, etc.

[ ] Square brackets will match against a range of characters.
[a-z] matches all lowercase letters
[0-9] matches all numbers
[abC] matches a, b or C
[a-f0-3z] matches a to f, 0 to 3 and z

[^] Matches against anything not in brackets. Basically a negation.
ex.: [^a-c0] matches any character that is not a to c or 0.


All the values you will find in this section will be matching against a single character.

^ Means the string must start here
cats will match “I like cats”
^cats will not match “I like cats”
^cats will match “cats like me”

$ Means the string must end here.
cats$ will match “I like cats”
cats$ will not match “cats like me”
^cats$ will match only “cats”


All the values you will find in this section will be matching against a many characters. You should always use the most specific one possible to reduce overhead and false positives.

* matches zero or more of the previous character.
ex.: lo*l will match “ll” “lol” “lool” “loool” and so on.

+ matches one or more of the previous expression
ex.: lo+l will match “lol” “lool” loool” and so on.

? matches zero or one of the previous character
ex.: pi?e will match “pine” and “pie”


| means OR.
ex.: “gray|grey” will match “gray or “grey”

() will group an expression together and allow it to be reused later (more on this later)
The example above could be simplified to “gr(e|a)y”.

Escape Character

Since regex use special characters as defined above, we need a way to tell the computer to read the character literally. This is done with a backslash .
ex.: “.htm” must be escaped as “.htm” to treat the period literally.

Example in Practice

So lets put all this together and put it to good use. We’ll use the case of this site as an example. The first thing to do is observe the structure of what you have and see which strings can be easily grouped together in addition to which parts of the URL you want to keep and which you don’t. Take this for instance:



We can see a few things here. First, the end of the URL will be staying the same “latitudereview”. That means we want to isolate the end of the URL. We also want to be as specific as possible to avoid false positives and avoid overhead. Finally, we know that we only need to match after the first slash and don’t need to worry about the www.cmoullas.net/. So consider the following solution:

[a-z]+/ matches “reviews/”
[0-9]+- matches “34-”
[a-z]+/ matches “mobile/”
[0-9]+- matches “46-”
(.+) matches “latitudereview” and saves it for later referencing

Putting that all together:


This will great, but we can still improve on it. How you might ask? Well remember in this case our only goal is to get at the string “latitudereview”. As a result, we actually only need to match “/34-mobile/46-latitudereview” as that will be sufficiently unique to not create any false positives. Thus we can get away with just:


A couple more notes on this and you can call yourself an expert! Notice the specificity here. We matched as follows:

Any numbers and a dash
Any letters and a forward slash
Any numbers and a dash
Any string and saved it

We can do this because we know that the URL will always follow that pattern. At the end, we had to match any string because the title could be far more complex with any letters, numbers or even symbols, such as latitude-review-2, for example. The rest will always follow the same specific pattern.

And that’s it! If you followed all this, you’ll be following all the best practice rules with regex and will be rewriting like an expert! Look forward to another article in the new future explaining how to use back-references in both mod_rewrite .htaccess files as well as in IIS!

cmoullas.net is Back and Better Than Ever!

Back to the FutureWell, this many not be a surprised to anybody who used to follow my blog regularly, but for the most part, this site has been quite dead for nearly a year now. Some wondered why the regular stream of posts stopped, myself included. The only reason I can propose is that I got so busy with working on web design projects that I became largely uninterested in playing around with my own web presence.

My main goal in starting cmoullas.net back in 2009 was to learn much more about web design. I remember the painful experience of messing with CSS styles and the awe that I had when consulting people that could write even just basic PHP code. A the time I could hardly ever read it. In that sense, cmoullas.net has been a huge success: I now work in a field where I work on SEO regularly and design sites on a daily basis. I pushed though and learned everything I needed to know to get into a field that I love.

Other aspects were not quite as successful, however. I also wanted to be able to share all the knowledge I accumulated about technology on a daily basis to be archived somewhere for everyone to be able to reference, myself included. I can easily say that I’m learning new things every single day but that never got reflected here for which I am sorry.

What prompted this re-launch was a couple of things. On one hand, I lost a fair amount of data including family pictures from when I was a kid, among other things. What became very apparent at the time is how fallible memory can be and the importance of writing things down. I intend on this being the place for that.

Secondly, I did feel that from a technological standpoint, not only had the site fallen well behind the times in just 2 and a half very shot years, but I was also losing touch with the latest and greatest web design technologies. Despite working on websites on a daily basis, there is always tremendous pressure to squeeze a project into far too little time. Not only does that mean that testing gets cut (for instance, cross-browser compatibility), but also that implementing the latest and greatest that HTML5 and CSS3 has to offer gets put on the backburner. It’s certainly fastest to stick to what you already know!

I’ve really enjoyed being able to do with web design what originally attracted me to it, which is to be creative and innovative in my own right. I might not be doing something that’s never been done before, but I’m doing things that I’ve never done before. And that’s exciting.

In the past 2 or 3 years, I’ve also launched myself into the world of motorsport and cars which have both become a great hobby of mine. I find it unfortunate that I haven’t been throwing down everything I learn about cars on a daily basis and helping others out with the knowledge I’ve acquired often the hard way. I’m going to do my best to backtrack on as much as I can and piece together as many cool things that I’ve come across in the time I’ve been gone.

So enough of the past, now to the brand spanking new cmoullas.net! I’ve learned a lot just in putting this page together and there will be some great web design articles forthcoming. The SEO (search-engine optimization) on this page is by far the best I’ve ever done on any site in the past, and the most recent standards are employed. I’m really motivated to furiously throw out content and so I strongly believe that this site will grow along with me. I whole-heartedly welcome everybody to come along for the ride and hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

The Truth About Microsoft

Apple vs. MicrosoftI’m continually amazed by news columnists that predict the death of Microsoft. Just this morning I was reading the news and saw a slew of articles in Google News about predicting a death within the next decade and possibly within just five years from now. So many people seem to hear the knell of the death bells. So are a bunch of people really hearing things that aren’t there? Yep. Here’s what they are hearing, why they are hearing it and why it’s all in their imaginations.

Usually the main point that is brought up is that Microsoft has no idea about what Web 2.0 is. After all, their browser market share has been taking a beating for years now and is now below 60% from near total domination. This comes amid allegations from Google that the browser is the way of the future and the OS won’t matter sooner rather than later. I wrote a very popular, if not controversial column on why Chrome OS will fail.

Regardless, Microsoft won’t dominate the browser market, that much is for certain. But there are other markets to consider. The phone market. Okay, well they lost that too. Clearly they don’t stand a chance then.

You also hear people cry foul about the fact that Microsoft has dumped Windows Live Journal (their mostly unheard of blogging platform) in favor of collaborating with WordPres to provide a better blogging experience for their end users.

Tablets? Microsoft has been pushing them for years without much success. Then Apple comes along and shows everybody a radical new way of doing it which has becoming a huge success.

Wow, that really does sound grim, doesn’t it? Those bells are ringing louder than ever now… But no matter, it’s all in your mind for one simple reason: most people have absolutely no understanding of what Microsoft actually does. Lets start with that and then go on to explain why Microsoft is actually stronger than ever (not to mention that their stock is soaring for the Q3 2010 and analysts are in full agreement). No, we aren’t all nuts. Here is the real story.

First of all, all that the average person off the street sees from Microsoft is Windows and Office on their home computer. They probably also have a work computer with a Microsoft installed whether it be 2000, XP, probably not Vista or 7. You might ask yourself  a question that rarely gets adequately answered: why do businesses run with Windows all the time? It’s horrendous. Then some people will say that they simply have old applications that were built for Windows which would be a pain to port over to something better or newer. Maybe, but that’s a very myopic view of the whole situation.

The reason that the Windows OS is run in the corporate world is simple: domain controllers equipped with Active Directory and desktops that fall in line with whatever the domain controller says. Say what? Active directory is one of the many things that most people don’t know about that is a prime example of how little most realize is going on. It is quite simply a way to manage groups of computers centrally from a server. You can remotely turn a computer joined to a domain to anything from a kiosk that runs one application and is totally locked down to a full development machine. You can enforce corporate policy and create a uniform and managed experience for all your users. The truth of the matter is, companies absolutely love it, and it really is all that.

Windows is actually built from the ground up to be run in a managed environment. The version that most people run at home has almost always traditionally been a port from the corporate built that allows users to run standalone machines. It was always an afterthought though, and the focus always has been on business requirements.

Google: I am Extremely Terrified of…

While this may not be and definitely isn’t news at all, it’s still pretty funny. Google can do a lot of nifty things like search, email, news, calculations, advertising, analytics and is even entering the phone and OS space with a bang. But despite all the great things that come out of the Google empire, it is still prone to some strange behaviors and mistakes. One such example is the suggestions you get when you start typing the seemingly innocuous string “i am extremely” into the search bar. Here is what Google will suggest:

Google: I am Extremely Terrified of...
Wow Google, you’ve got some strange phobias there!

Another fun Google trick is fooling it into being unable to do simple arithmetic. As some of you may know, Google got its name from the number called “googol” which represents 1 followed by 100 zeros. Interestingly, the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, intended to call their search engine “googol” but accidentally misspelled the number when they registered the company name.

So why this little story? Well one such example of Google being unable to do simple arithmetic is quite ironic: 1 googol -1 – 1 googol. Now of course most anybody who is reasonably good at arithmetic could tell you that should equal “-1” but Google wrongly calculates that out to be equal to 0. For anybody interested in why, you can check out this CNET article.

Top 3 Super Bowl Tech Ads!

In case you haven’t heard, the Super Bowl was today and as is the case every year, we got some really great ads. Being a complete geek myself I can assure you I’m not watching for the sports portion of it! Anyways, you don’t want to read what I have to say, you just want the top 3 list so without further ado – here it is ladies and gentlemen!

3. Cars.com

[youtube_video id=”DqT2xbODNr8″]

2. Google

[youtube_video id=”nnsSUqgkDwU”]

1. Motorola

[youtube_video id=”gX_eF-8tlqY&hl”]