Friday, July 25, 2014

iFruit Money

Apple may introduce a new mobile-payment system as soon as the fall, which would add yet another tech giant to a particularly hot trend in mobile.

The Information reported Wednesday that conversations between Apple and companies in the payment industry, such as Visa, have "heated up" in recent months. Citing people briefed on the talks, the online publication said Apple executives discussed launching a mobile "wallet" soon and it could be included in the introduction of the highly anticipated iPhone 6.

The area of mobile payments has drawn considerable attention from the tech industry, with companies seeking to either gain payment data from customers or take a small cut of credit and debit transactions. Still, in-store payments using smartphones haven't been particularly popular with customers, and a few major initiatives have struggled to make progress.

Google has been blocked from wireless carriers' networks for its Google Wallet app. Several wireless carriers -- looking to take on mobile payments themselves under the name Isis Mobile Wallet -- spent years building partnerships, but said this month the service would change its name after the word "Isis" became synonymous with a Middle East-based terror group. The Isis Mobile initiative is jointly run by Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile.

Startup Square and eBay's PayPal are just two more of the many companies offering services in the mobile-payment market.

While many other companies started pushing into mobile payments around 2011, Apple has been slower to jump into the waters, though industry watchers have long expected the company to eventually come out with a mobile wallet service. In January, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company was intrigued by mobile payments and added that part of the thinking in rolling out the iPhone 5S's Touch ID feature was, potentially, to complement payments.

A small step Apple has taken into that arena was Passbook, a service launched in 2012 that brought together a person's loyalty cards, coupons, and event tickets on the iPhone. Passbook doesn't include debit or credit card payment features.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Chromebook Sales are Surging

Chromebook sales have risen sharply over the past several months, according to a recent report from research firm NPD. Chromebook sales in the commercial channel increased 250 percent compared with the prior year and accounted for 35 percent of all U.S. channel notebook sales during the January-May period. Chromebooks, in other words, were extremely popular during the period and continue to be so.

Exactly why and how Chromebooks have been achieving such sales success, however, are not so readily known. When the devices, which run Google's Chrome OS Web-based operating system, were first announced, many market observers believed that they had little chance of winning a significant share of the PC market.  And that seemed to hold true in the first couple of years after Chromebooks hit the market in mid-2011. But the latest data shows that Chromebook sales are adding to the competitive headwinds that Windows notebooks are experiencing these days.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Nvidia Tablet

Nvidia, trying to prove the value of its chips in mobile devices by appealing to gamers, will begin selling a tablet computer under its Shield brand.

The Shield Tablet, which has an 8-inch screen, comes in two models, one with Wi-Fi only for $299 and one with a cellular connection that will retail for $399, the Santa Clara, California-based company said yesterday. It’s also offering a companion wireless controller for $59. The device will debut in the U.S. this month and Europe in August.

Nvidia Chief Executive Officer Jen-Hsun Huang is trying to reduce his company’s reliance on its core product of chips for add-in graphics cards in personal computers. Instead, he wants to spread the use of that kind of processing to other devices. Shield Tablet, based on the company’s K1 chip and Google Inc.’s Android operating system, is also designed to show Android can be the basis of high-end gaming machinery.

The new product will be sold alongside the Shield hand-held device that Nvidia introduced last year. The lineup shows that Nvidia intends to stay in the gaming gadget market, said Matt Wuebbling, a company vice president for product marketing.

“We think it’s perfect for those millions of gamers out there that want a tablet,” he said in a phone interview. “We’re targeting an end user that we know very well.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chrome Dumps Windows Font Technology

Google last week said that it was finally ditching a 30-year-old technology to display fonts on Web pages in its Chrome browser for Windows.

In an announcement Thursday about some of the notable changes in Chrome for version 37, which reached Google's Beta build channel earlier that day, a software engineer said the preview relied on Microsoft's DirectWrite technology.

"Chrome 37 adds support for DirectWrite, an API on Windows for clear, high-quality text rendering even on high-DPI displays," said Emil Eklund in a July 17 blog post.

Microsoft introduced the DirectWrite API with Windows 7, which shipped in the fall of 2009, and back-ported the technology to Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2) at the same time with what it called a Platform Update. Windows XP, the now-retired operating system -- but one that still powers one-in-four personal computers worldwide -- does not support DirectWrite.

Prior to the switch to DisplayWrite, Chrome used Microsoft's Graphics Device Interface (GDI), which was a core component of Windows since the graphical user interface's (GUI) debut in late 1985. Microsoft had been working on GDI for at least two years before that.

Chrome 36, the current version out of Google's Stable build channel, continues to use GDI to render text on Windows.

Monday, July 21, 2014

SysAdmin Appreciation Day and Software Giveaway

This may be the first time you have ever heard about it, but Friday, July 25 is SysAdmin Appreciation Day. Started in 1999 (right around when iolo was created), the holiday celebrates the often-forgotten hero – the system administrator.

If you aren’t 100 percent sure what a system administrator is, it is a person who is responsible for the upkeep, configuration, and reliable operation of computer systems; especially multi-user computers such as servers. Almost every office has them and as this song explains, they are frequently treated poorly and frustrated.

To help out with the holiday and recognize the holiday, iolo is offering giveaway licenses of System Mechanic. They have generously provided us with give away licenses so let us know by email or commenting if you’re interested in a FREE license!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Dell Chromebook Sales

Dell’s only Chromebook is at least temporarily unavailable for online purchase through the company’s website, only seven months after the model started shipping.

Facing rising commercial demand for the devices, Dell has not been able to keep up with orders.
The Chromebook 11, which shipped in December, is listed as unavailable on Dell’s Chromebook website, and the company is asking potential buyers to call in orders.

“Due to strong demand, the Dell Chromebook 11 is currently not available for order on It continues to be available for our education customers and can be ordered through their sales representative,” said Ellen Murphy, a Dell spokeswoman, in an email.

The laptop will eventually come online again, though the company did not provide a specific date.
With Dell keeping Chromebook purchases open mainly to commercial customers, individual buyers may have to turn to competitive products from Samsung, Toshiba, Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard, which are available online starting at under $200.

The Chromebook is a lightweight, low-cost computer for those who do most of their computing online. It has Google’s Chrome OS, and most applications needs wireless connectivity. However, more offline applications are becoming available.

Dell’s decision comes as Chromebook shipments rise and competitors launch new models. Chromebooks accounted for 35 percent of all U.S. commercial laptop shipments to date in 2014, jumping more than 250 percent compared to the same period last year. Chromebooks accounted for 5 percent to 6 percent of overall consumer laptop sales in the period, and that number will continue to rise, said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD.

More than 20 Chromebook models are expected to be available by the end of the year. Acer last week shipped two C720 Chromebook models with Intel’s Core i3 chips. Dell spokeswoman Murphy said the company is committed to Chromebooks and will launch a new model with the Core i3 processor later this year.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Another Bad Decision By MSFT

Last Thursday, Microsoft ended its brief fling with Android, dumping the Nokia X smartphone and fleeing back into the arms of its beloved Windows.

That Microsoft had made cuts following its acquisition of Nokia wasn’t unexpected; after all, the deal brought with it 32,000 Nokia employees. What wasn’t known was how many of those employees Microsoft was willing to give up, and, likewise, what this would mean for Microsoft’s strategic direction.

Satya Nadella’s memo provides the overall strategic direction for the move—necessary, he said, to “realign the workforce” to provide a “clear focus” for the merged company. But Stephen Elop, the executive vice president of Microsoft’s Devices and Services Business, provides the clearest look at what this means for the products you know and buy.

The short answer? Aside from the fewer number of employees designing, selling, and supporting Nokia products, not much. “..[W]e will continue our efforts to bring iconic tablets to market in ways that complement our OEM partners, power the next generation of meetings & collaboration devices and thoughtfully expand Windows with new interaction models,” Elop writes. “With a set of changes already implemented earlier this year in these teams, this means there will be limited change for the Surface, Xbox hardware, PPI/meetings or next generation teams.”