Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Move Over Android

Google's mobile operating system may be the most popular software in the world for powering phones and tablets. But Google is also making a push for its other operating system, Chrome OS, which mostly powers laptop and desktop computers.

Consider a few of the new devices the search giant announced Tuesday. The Asus Chromebit is a small device that looks like an oversize flash drive that turns any screen or monitor with an HDMI video port into a full-blown computer. With the Chromebit, you can connect to a Wi-Fi network and run Google's Chrome browser, check Gmail and watch YouTube -- all through Google's Chrome operating system.

The device will sell for less than $100, Google said. It's set to be released this summer.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

MSFT Win10 News

Today's Windows 10 Desktop preview is the second Microsoft has made available to testers in March, and the fourth Windows 10 Desktop build the company has released as of October 1, 2014.

Like Windows 10 Desktop -- which runs on PCs, laptops and tablets -- Spartan is still not feature-complete at this point. The first Spartan preview does, however, include most of the functionality that Microsoft execs showed off on January 21 during an early demo of Spartan as part of a Windows 10 press event.

Specifically, the integration between Spartan and Cortana, Microsoft's personal digital assistant, is in today's Windows 10 release, as is the "Ask Cortana" user assistance technology. The ability to annotate Web pages with a pen or mouse is included in today's Spartan build. Users can share annotated Web pages using this new "Web Note" technology and view the annotated pages in a variety of browsers.

The new Reading View, which allows users to view content with fewer distractions and/or save it for later, also is in Spartan in today's new test build. (The ability to read saved content offline is not yet enabled in today's test build.)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Too Much Screen Time?

Children aged five to 16 spend an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen compared with around three hours in 1995, according to market research firm Childwise.

Screen time is made up of time spent watching TV, playing games consoles, using a mobile, computer or tablet.

The Connected Kids report has collated data from 1995 to the present day to create a comprehensive picture of children’s media habits. It finds that teenaged girls now spend an average of seven-and-a-half- hours watching screens, compared with 3.5 hours of TV viewing in 1995.

Younger children fare slightly better – in 1995, five to 10-year-olds averaged around two-and-a-half-hours of TV. Fast-forward to 2014 and screen time has risen to four-and-a-half hours.

Children are also now multi-screening – using more than one device at the same time, for example, watching TV while surfing the Internet on a tablet or mobile so some of the screen time will be concurrent.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Boo, hiss to Lexmark

We received this tonight:

We are notifying all Lexmark Rewards customers that we will be ending the Lexmark Ink Rewards program on June 30, 2015. Fortunately, there are nearly four months to earn free cartridges before the program ends. All purchases and returns received by June 30, 2015 will still count towards a free cartridge. Plus all the promo codes you’ve earned will remain valid for 90 days after receipt.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Office 365 Free on Mini Tablets

Microsoft drew a line in the sand on Tuesday, as its Office 365 chief said that editing and viewing documents on small-screen devices would continue to be free—likely killing off the idea of a small-screen Surface Pro mini, incidentally.

Kirk Koenigsbauer, the corporate vice president for the Office 365 Client Apps and Services team, revealed in a blog post that Microsoft believes that 10.1 inches is the dividing line between a “personal” and “professional” experience. Pros need the reliability and security of paid apps, while “personal” users are more interested in free.

“Currently, we are also using screen size to delineate between professional and personal use,” Koenigsbauer wrote. “Based on our research, we are classifying anything with a screen size of 10.1 inches or less as a true mobile device: You’re probably using it on the go, when it’s not practical to use a larger computing device such as a PC or a Mac. You probably aren’t using a mouse or a keyboard, instead navigating via touch interface. It’s probably not a “pro” category tablet that is used for design or presentations.”

Thursday, March 26, 2015

HP Switches to B&O

Hewlett-Packard once relied on Beats for audio technology in its PCs and tablets, but that was before Apple acquired it. HP has now found a new audio partner in Bang & Olufsen.

HP will use Bang & Olufsen audio technology to its PCs, tablets and accessories. The companies will “custom tune” audio for each PC model; different models typically have different hardware specifications in order to meet different expectations. For example, a gaming laptop typically delivers more booming sound than a low-cost laptop.

HP will put the Bang & Olufsen brand on the high-end Spectre, Omen, Envy and some other commercial PCs. The B&O Play label will be on lower-cost Pavilion PCs and tablets. The companies will also resell audio Bang & Olufsen accessories for HP hardware.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wearable News

Technology developers from the UK have designed a new wearable technology where the garment itself becomes an active motion sensor. Xelflex uses bend-sensitive fiber-optic that are stitched inside the clothing to provide intelligent feedback for athletes without encumbering them with bulking electronics.

The makers say that until now smart fabrics have had multiple electronic sensors, making them bulky and sensitive to moisture. Xelflex's fiber-optic thread is robust enough for use in sportswear, with only a small, credit card-sized, electronics pack being the only other component.

Xelflex inventor Martin Brock said making a wearable technology that was comfortable was a key factor: "Xelflex is a breakthrough sensing technology based on optical fibers; where the optical fiber is actually integrated into the garment. And really it behaves like any other thread in that garment, there's no compromise between having a sensor that gives you feedback on your motion or your performance; and having some clothing that is comfortable and wearable and elegant as part of the everyday activities."

The technology built on the developers' extensive experience in industrial fiber-optic sensors and low-cost impulse radar. Brock explained that Xelflex measures the scattering of light in the optic fibers where bending the fiber results in increased scattering and reflection, which can then be measured.