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The HP TouchPad Fiasco from an Author's Perspective and Comments on the Industry as a Whole

Here's a famous quote that sums up the reaction to yesterday's surprise announcement by HP to stop supporting webOS, and, by extension, the TouchPad tablet, as well as get out of the PC business, courtesy of the classic 1968 film, The Planet of the Apes: "YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP! OH, DAMN YOU! GODDAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!". We all knew that Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker was a software guy, we just didn't realize that meant he'd pull the rug out from under consumers and do a dramatic IBM-style business shift. At least we can still buy their printers, right? ... Anyone?

This affects me personally, because I was working on TouchPad For Dummies, which would have been my third book for 2011, to go along with the recently released, Motorola ATRIX For Dummies, and the upcoming, My Xbox: Kinect, Xbox 360, and Xbox LIVE. While these events are much bigger than me and others will be affected far more dramatically, I thought I would still give my personal impressions, starting first with a little background on the book stuff, some discussion of the TouchPad itself, and then get a bit more into an analysis of the present situation within the industry.

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HP's webOS - The Ultimate Answer to iOS and Android/Honeycomb Mobile Domination?

HP webOS DevicesHP webOS DevicesAfter acquiring Palm back in April 2010, HP yesterday unveiled their long awaited webOS strategy. While the two showpiece devices are arguably the HP TouchPad tablet and the HP Pre3 smartphone, HP's strategy involves getting webOS on all types of devices, including desktops, laptops and even printers, and making the development environment inexpensive and relatively transparent. This should in theory create an explosion of apps for all webOS devices in short order, assuming there is reasonable positive reaction to an alternative to the headline-grabbing Apples iOS and Google Android/Honeycomb device infrastructure. Certainly HP and Palm seem to have gone all out, creating what is being called an attractive and effective operating system/interface and one with hitherto unseen connectivity features. One example of these impressive connectivity features is shown in the video below:

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Windows Experience Score Across My Current Systems - Discrete Graphics Make a Difference!

As detailed previously, after canceling my two year Pandora pre-order, I decided to put the money towards a Sager gaming laptop. As mentioned, this was going to be my first true gaming PC since an old Windows XP Dell desktop from I-don't-remember-when (that system is in my basement office and used as-needed). Well, the laptop arrived earlier today, so I decided to do a Windows 7 Experience score comparison between that and our other current systems, most of which, unlike the Sager, do not feature discrete graphics cards. The results were startling. I'll start with the oldest system first:

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Restoring the HP TouchSmart IQ524 - A Quick Photo Summary

Well, my wife and I have been jinxed these past few weeks, with various expensive house repair issues and an as-always bad timing computer disaster. This time, it was my relatively new HP TouchSmart IQ524 and its 500GB hard drive. Apparently the extraordinary issues I was having with creating Armchair Arcade TV Episode 1 - Route 16, was not entirely software or inherently system limitation related. By this past Thursday, my system's hard drive died, as in no longer bootable and no longer even data accessible, which makes some of the performance issues leading up to the complete failure explainable. Ironically, an MXM (laptop specific slot, which is what my all-in-one desktop PC has on its motherboard) video card that I had ordered from China just came in as well after a month long wait. My only option then was to run out to the store (an Office Depot by my work in this case) and plunk down the $85+ for a new 500GB 7200RPM Seagate Barracuda hard drive (I could have spent more for a 1.5TB HD - the only other option there - but it would have had less performance and I really don't need the extra space at this point). Since the original hard drive was no longer accessible, my only recourse was to restore from a hard drive clone from the middle of December. Luckily, as was the case with the last computer disaster with the Gateway, most of my important data was either in the cloud or on a flash drive, so once I went through the entirely too long process of getting the clone data off of my network server onto a USB drive so the amazing Acronis True Image 11 could work its restoration magic, it was a relatively easy process to get back to 100%. Unfortunately, this process took from late Friday until this morning (Sunday), so, of course, this put my already packed schedule behind schedule, including getting a script revision over to Matt Barton, studying for an "exam", and getting the second episode of Armchair Arcade TV produced. Such is life. What follows are photos of the take-apart-and-put-back-together process with my HP TouchSmart, along with some light commentary, including how the video card purchase seems to have been an ill-advised one:

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Epic Computer Disaster - Now with a happy ending

As some of you may recall, I recounted my personal tale of woe back in October when my Gateway Tablet PC (CX210X) - my then primary system - decided to no longer start up. It wasn't a hard drive issue, it was a motherboard issue. Since I bought it from Gateway directly back in 2007 - and they no longer support direct purchases out of warranty (even if you want to pay) - I was out of luck--or so I thought. I took a chance and hit up a repair service out of California via eBay called Laptop Rescuer, which for a $175 flat fee (plus my cost to ship it to them) promised to make everything right (their regular Website is here). So, with some reluctance, I shipped it off. They professionally called me when they received it. They professionally called me when they sent it back. Best of all, it arrived back to me relatively quickly (within a few weeks) and most importantly, working as good as new. While I don't necessarily like to promote such things, I must say in this case I give them my wholehearted endorsement and if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, you probably wouldn't go wrong with this company.

So now I have my primary HP TouchSmart desktop (64-bit Windows 7) and my now secondary Gateway Tablet PC, which is now maxed out for a 32-bit system with 4GB of memory and a new 7200RPM 320GB hard drive, upgraded with Windows 7 Home Premium (for those wanting a 100% clean install from the upgrade version, check out these instructions). The OS install of Windows 7 was a major pain mostly because of the extra features of the laptop (namely the digitized screen via a pen) and Gateway's lack of drivers, but, through some hard detective work and a bit of luck, it now appears to be 100% and better than ever. Whew!

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My Epic Computer Disaster

Well, the timing couldn't be worse (have to work on critical book and documentary stuff this weekend)--my main computer, my Gateway Tablet PC, died some time after 4:30PM today. Not the hard drive, but something to do with the system, so it's fully shot. After a frantic run to the stores in the evening right up until they all closed around 9PM, no suitable replacement was found (seems like the stores are pretty much cleared out until after the 22nd, when they'll all mostly no doubt be Windows 7-based; I could have gotten an iMac, but I did not want to pay the Apple premium).

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Moving on with Linux, a "Man Bag" and the Repurposing of Older Computers and Laptops

After repeated abuse from our daughters - mostly our one and a half year old - my wife's expanded Twinhead Durabook (Intel Pentium M 1.73Ghz Celeron) running Windows XP wasn't doing so well (toughbook indeed), so we went to our local office store a few weeks back and picked her up a nice 17" widescreen HP Pavilion dv9812us A

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