Thurrott Daily: November 13

Thurrott Daily: November 13

Tech tidbits from around the web.

11/14/2016 3:50:17 PM

John Strike brings 8-bit gameplay, Continuum support to Windows 10

A couple of days ago, I wrote about Plimpli, a new Windows 10 game that supports Continuum on phone. If you enjoyed that one, you might also get a kick out of John Strike, a free UWP game for both Windows 10 PCs and phones. And yes, it supports Continuum on phone too.

The John Strike looks like a good retro platformer game with all the 8-bit glory, shootings, explosions and funky music.

Jump from platform to platform, shoot on enemies, go stealth. Simple and enjoyable fun!

You can play this game on your Windows 10 PC or on your smartphone.

You can use your keyboard, Xbox gamepad, or use the buttons on the screen. (Work on Microsoft continuum)

This game does not have sponsorship or support, if you like the game share and give good feedback in the store.

Nextbit Robin drops to $170 on

If you’re depressed by the high price of today’s smartphone flagships, you have options. Among them is the interesting looking Nextbit Robin, which is now bargain-priced on Here’s the Neowin write-up:

While we have seen discounts on the Robin before, this has to be the lowest price we have seen on the device yet. Although the specifications aren’t top notch by today’s standards, the handset should offer more than enough power and be a good all-around device.

  • Processor: Snapdragon 808
  • Memory: 3GB RAM / 32GB onboard / 100GB online
  • Screen: 5.2” IPS LCD 1080p
  • Rear Camera: 13MP with phase detection autofocus, dual-tone flash
  • Front camera: 5MP
  • Battery: 2680mAh
  • Dual front facing stereo speakers
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • NFC
  • Quick charging
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • WiFi A/B/G/N/AC
  • GSM 850/900/1800/1900
  • WCDMA 850/900/1800/1900/2100
  • LTE Bands 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/20/28

There aren’t currently any details on when this sale might end, but one thing to take note of is that it is being offered by a third party, but does come with a US warranty.

Buy the NextBit Robin in Mint green for $170

Buy the NextBit Robin in Midnight black for $170

There are over 2 billion Chrome users

Google VP Rahul Roy-Chowdhury recently tweeted about a big milestone:

2 billion active chrome browsers across mobile and desktop. Truly amazing to be making an impact at this scale. Let’s move the web forward!

That’s pretty impressive, though one might argue that this figure is no more impressive than IE’s previous reign at the top because of product bundling. Whatever: Usage is usage. And Chrome really is the best web browser.

Do Chromebooks only get faster over time?

Speaking of Chrome, a Chrome enthusiast website claims that Chromebooks actually get better over time.

Likely, you’ve owned a Windows PC or two and have lived with the eventual slowing and death of that device. It happens and we know it will continue … The problem is, as we all know, that regardless of how much I dump into a Surface or other piece of hardware, in a few years that PC will begin to slow.

Windows is not alone in this flaw. Pick up a 4-year-old Mac and see how quickly it operates now.

Yet, in the midst of this thinking, we have Chrome OS sitting to the side and quietly proclaiming, “Um, not me.”

Take this example for instance. When I originally unboxed and tested the Acer Chromebook 15 with the base Celeron processor, I saw a score of 12,875. When I run that same test right now, I get a score of 14,877.

That is a 2,000 point jump on THE SAME HARDWARE.

Think on that for a second. A device that is used daily around our home has actually become markedly faster over the course of a year. It would be a departure to simply say that this Chromebook is just as fast as the day I bought it.

Instead, I can say in a measurable way that it is actually faster and better than the day I bought it.

Interesting, but I’m skeptical. Anyone have any thoughts or experience here?

What’s new in Android 7.1 Nougat

An official Google video aimed at developers does a nice job of explaining what’s new in Android 7.1 Nougat.


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  • 5949

    14 November, 2016 - 9:19 am

    <p>Remember how Google improved performance of Chrome because it was so horrible? Well, there is you answer on why Chrome OS got "better". It didn’t, its performance are just less worse. They finally optimized a bunch of slow and resource unfriendly code.</p>

    • 5592

      14 November, 2016 - 9:28 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#25659">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/Yannick">Yannick</a><a href="#25659">:</a></em></blockquote>
      <p>Exactly. It’s not that the individual machine with the same software got faster as it got older (those slowdowns come from having more things installed on the computer and it’s not like Chrome OS is anything special in that regard). What’s happening is that the performance bug fixes are so massive that the slowdown from bad OS implementation was corrected more than the buildup of cruft in the system slowed it down.</p>

      • 5234

        14 November, 2016 - 10:22 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#25662">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/MikeGalos">MikeGalos</a><a href="#25662">:</a></em></blockquote>
        <p>The argument is that Windows suffers from old age rot through updates and software installations. &nbsp;Anyone can tell you that this is the reality of Windows. &nbsp;Chrome OS doesn’t experience that at all. &nbsp;As a computing platform, Chrome OS always boots fast and loads apps fast. &nbsp;Whether they are only web apps or not doesn’t matter. &nbsp;If you only used web apps on Windows, it would still get slower over time. &nbsp;Chrome OS is just a better platform for cloud computing.</p>
        <p>As far as the browser is concerned, do you make the same assessment of IE being so bad, and that’s why Microsoft made Edge? &nbsp;IE is a big pile of garbage. &nbsp;Care to argue that?</p>

        • 1377

          Premium Member
          14 November, 2016 - 2:56 pm

          <p><em><a href="#25670">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/Waethorn">Waethorn</a><a href="#25670">:</a></em></p>
          <p>Is it registry cruft slowing down Windows over time? Or is it overstuffed temporary file directories ever being emptied? Or both?</p>
          <p>One way Windows definitely compares unfavorably to Linux (of which Chrome OS is a Gentoo offshoot) is cleaning out temporary files.</p>

          • 5234

            15 November, 2016 - 4:21 pm

            <blockquote><em><a href="#25695">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/hrlngrv">hrlngrv</a><a href="#25695">:</a></em></blockquote>
            <p>Any given PC’s System Registry takes a small amount of RAM when loaded. &nbsp; It’s mostly conflicting configuration settings, WinSxS, unnecessary background applications, and bad drivers that slow down Windows. &nbsp;Also, old, heavily-fragmented hard drives slow down Windows too. &nbsp;Chrome OS has none of those issues.</p>

  • 5530

    14 November, 2016 - 9:25 am

    <p>"Anyone have any thoughts or experience here?"</p>
    <p>What’s the benchmark they’re running? If it’s browser benchmark then it shouldn’t be surprising that a newer version of the browser on&nbsp;Chrome OS does better. Doesn’t necessarily mean the OS is faster. I also would point out that Windows’&nbsp;system requirements have stayed the same&nbsp;for quite a while now.&nbsp;10 is pretty much on par with Windows 8 performance-wise, and Windows 8 was a big step up from Windows 7, which was also a big step up from Vista. Our old computers didn’t die, they just can’t keep up with the changes in our content consumption, such as increasingly more complex HTML 5 websites, 4k video and gaming, and so on. Our&nbsp;expectations of computers&nbsp;have also changed, we no longer expect our computers to keep the fans&nbsp;running to avoid throttling, and only newer computers can do that.&nbsp;Windows 10 on a Celeron actually does just fine. And so does 8 and 7. The problem is, of course, when you load up a complex webpage, the fans spin up, and you get choppy scrolling (irony: choppy scrolling usually seen in Chrome, not Edge)</p>

    • 5234

      14 November, 2016 - 10:24 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#25661">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/FalseAgent">FalseAgent</a><a href="#25661">:</a></em></blockquote>
      <p>You don’t get choppy anything on a Celeron Chromebook.</p>

      • 5519

        14 November, 2016 - 3:56 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#25671">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/Waethorn">Waethorn</a><a href="#25671">:</a></em></blockquote>
        <p>So long as one has 4GB of RAM. &nbsp;I have a Celeron Chromebook with 2GB and it bogs down with about 4 or 5 tabs open.&nbsp;</p>

        • 5234

          15 November, 2016 - 2:37 pm

          <blockquote><em><a href="#25699">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/Pbike908">Pbike908</a><a href="#25699">:</a></em></blockquote>
          <p>You can have about 10 tabs open on 2GB of RAM. &nbsp;More, and you’ll see pages reload when you toggle back to them. &nbsp;4GB of RAM gives you practically unlimited tabs (more than anybody could realistically handle anyway).</p>

      • 5530

        15 November, 2016 - 10:25 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#25671">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/Waethorn">Waethorn</a><a href="#25671">:</a></em></blockquote>
        <p>Hmm, yeah, it does seem like the Chrome browser performs better on Chrome OS than either on Windows and/or Mac OS. It’s like Edge on Windows, you don’t get choppy scrolling even on low-end machines either. Edge even beats Chrome on Google’s own Octane benchmark, which is what they used to benchmark Chrome OS, and I bet you could get a higher Octane score in Edge on that same Celeron-based Chromebook. So I think it’s more to do with the performance of the browser than the OS itself.</p>

    • 5508

      14 November, 2016 - 5:06 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#25661">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/FalseAgent">FalseAgent</a><a href="#25661">:</a> All good points. I now use Edge for everything, it has steadily improved.</em></blockquote>

      • 5234

        15 November, 2016 - 3:44 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#25701">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/HoloLensman">HoloLensman</a><a href="#25701">:</a></em></blockquote>
        <p>So has Chrome.</p>

        • 5530

          16 November, 2016 - 12:52 am

          <blockquote><em><a href="#25771">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/Waethorn">Waethorn</a><a href="#25771">:</a></em></blockquote>
          <p>Both Edge and Chrome have really good performance, but I think Chrome has the upper hand in terms of cross-platform syncing, extensions library, and stability. I still use Edge though.</p>

  • 5486

    14 November, 2016 - 9:50 am

    <p>I’ve never seen a hint of a slowdown on our Acer C720P Chromebook, not in over 2 years. Infact, I’d argue it could also be faster than when purchased, but I’ve never bench-marked it. By this stage, any Windows installation would be like wading through treacle.</p>

  • 1294

    14 November, 2016 - 9:50 am

    <p>The MS store just announced their Black Friday sale, looks like the 950 and 950XL will be bundle again. &nbsp; I pulled the trigger too quickly and bought my 950 only a month ago, but I don’t regret it. huge upgrade over my 920 and I’m about to play with the continuum dock which just arrived.</p>
    <p>I’ll take advantage of the $100 deal for the 650 for my wife though, I offered her a 950 like mine, but said it was to big for her.&nbsp;</p>

    • 691

      14 November, 2016 - 12:12 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#25668">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/Mestiphal">Mestiphal</a><a href="#25668">:</a></em></blockquote>
      <p>Who is selling the 650 for $100?</p>

  • 442

    14 November, 2016 - 11:40 am

    <p>Love the John Strike game!</p>
    <p>The utilitarian look of the Robin is not my style, but it is oddly attractive anyway.&nbsp; Not a bad price either.</p>
    <p>The Chromebook is just a "dumb terminal" in many ways, so there’s no way for it to get slower, other than a bad internet connection.&nbsp; Where it does need it’s own processing power, the software there almost never gets updated, patched and rarely improved.&nbsp; Any movement to something standing still seems fast…</p>
    <p>Still waiting for Google Assistant in all Nougat releases (other than Pixel of course…)</p>

  • 5394

    14 November, 2016 - 11:49 am

    <p>My 2 years old Windows tablet is useless and it can’t accept the Anniversary update since it doesn’t have 4 GB of available space. The $200 was a waste of good money and I won’t pour another few dollars to make it last longer. My old 5 year old&nbsp;desktop PC performed better after a slight upgrade.</p>

  • 5510

    14 November, 2016 - 2:14 pm

    <p>Wait, Paul doesn’t know? Doesn’t his kid use a Chromebook? Why don’t he ask him or her?</p>
    <p>Like I have said for the past years…the Chromebook is an excellent machine that can perform all the necessary functions a fully loaded PC can do without the heavy cost and bloat…stress BLOAT…of a Windows running machine…INCLUDING….Microsoft Signature.</p>
    <p>According to sources on the internet, the average number of PCs in a household is 5.7 (as per The fact of the matter is, the average person does not need that many PCs or Macs in a household. It’s just not necessary. If the world is truly progressing in technology, that "5.7" should go down even more. Perhaps even as low as 1 per household. Right now, the only reason to ever use a PC or Mac is for full featured Photoshop. Perhaps, then only then will a computer user ever need a "bigger" computer where they can tolerate the bloat of the Windows and Mac OS.</p>

    • 1959

      Premium Member
      14 November, 2016 - 2:58 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#25692">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/Bats">Bats</a><a href="#25692">:</a></em></blockquote>
      <p>Faulty logic on your part… Just because YOU do not need more than a Chromebook, or you don’t see a need for 5.7 PC’s in your household, does not mean that those two truths apply to everyone else. You stating "the only reason to ever use a PC is for Photoshop" is hilariously misguided. Content creation of nearly any type, from Photoshop to video production to app production to etc, etc, etc. needs a full featured PC. Even creating the apps that run on a Chromebook requires a PC! Gaming, if one chooses to game on their PC, requires a full fledged PC.</p>
      <p>Again, not all of your experiences are universal. This is not a one-size-fits-all world.</p>

    • 241

      Premium Member
      14 November, 2016 - 5:12 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#25692">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/Bats">Bats</a><a href="#25692">:</a></em></blockquote>
      <p>The 5.7 PCs per household is based – I would think – on the having older PCs that are repurposed or not being used. The reason I have 4 desktop PCs and 4 Windows tablets/2in1s is not because I "need" them. I use on 3yr old desktop PC for work and have an SP4 that supplements my main PC and that I use for personal use.&nbsp; The other ones I have kept for use as a server or a multi-media computer.&nbsp; </p>
      <p>I still may have multiple Chromebooks (and ChromeBoxes) if I was all-in with ChromeOS. These were serve in different parts of the house. The key think is not how many you need but how long you can hang on to Chromebook and have it be useful.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; If I just use web apps and browsers all of my PCs would still be fine.</p>
      <p>My Windows 10 installs have not felt bloated. My main PC I install so many apps/programs and run many programs and services all the time. It is a fast as when I installed Windows 7, the Windows 8.</p>
      <p>I think ChromeBooks are a similar problem for Microsoft as mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). It is not really Windows that is an issue. (Yes there are problems and&nbsp; Microsoft stumbles in the consumer space). The key is that people don’t need a full PC for most of their computing needs.</p>

  • 1959

    Premium Member
    14 November, 2016 - 2:51 pm

    <p>Tried the John Strike game on the phone and through&nbsp;Continuum… Sadly, the controls don’t seem to translate very well to the Continuum version. It was basically unplayable with my PC’s keyboard. Can’t tell if it’s the game or Continuum, but it seems as if only one keyboard input is allowed at a time. Holding right to walk and pressing jump results in the character jumping and ceasing all sideways movement, even with the right key still pressed.</p>

  • 4159

    14 November, 2016 - 3:27 pm

    <p>Heads up! The Nextbit Robin is a great phone, great pics, fast, well built and great looking. I have owned one for a few weeks now and let me tell you, it’s a keeper.</p>

  • 5508

    14 November, 2016 - 4:13 pm

    <p>Windows XP did slowdown over a period of time&nbsp;due to inefficient management of system resources. Crapware loaded Windows PCs&nbsp;are sluggish from the start. Modern clean Windows does not slowdown.</p>

  • 1547

    15 November, 2016 - 6:20 am

    <p>The only experience I have with Chromebook is the one my company has &nbsp;provided me. I loathe the thing. We use Office 365 and it’s a pain to only use web based solutions. Most of what we need is there but to open anything we have to download the file, upload it to our OneDrive, then open it on the web. And our scheduling system requires IE so I’m having to use a virtual machine over the web to use that.</p>
    <p>It’s awful. Love using Microsoft services, hate using them via a Chromebook.&nbsp;</p>

  • 5783

    15 November, 2016 - 11:32 am

    <p>I gave John Strike a try for a half dozen levels. Unfortunately all this dumbed-down Contra wannabe ends up being is a never-ending ad for other games in the MS store. Run out of lives? Congratulations, you get to sit through another 30-second ad. No options to buy the game to get rid of the ads.</p>
    <p>Never again.</p>

  • 5234

    15 November, 2016 - 2:36 pm

    <p>Nextbit Robin.</p>
    <p>Replete with Amazon referral links, I see.</p>

  • 1775

    15 November, 2016 - 2:38 pm

    <p>&gt;What&rsquo;s new in Android 7.1 Nougat<br />I’d be happy if I could&nbsp;get 7.0 on my Nexus 6.&nbsp; Still waiting, Google!</p>

  • 7037

    15 November, 2016 - 6:28 pm

    <p>I commented on the original post about Chromebooks getting faster. I said that it’s not a fair comparison. To be of real use to me I have to be able to run Android apps on any Chromebook. Google is rolling out Android app support one Chromebook at a time. Google needs to do a mass rollout.</p>


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