Wednesday, April 28, 2010

HP acquires Palm

Well, the other shoe has finally fallen. We've speculated in the past on Palm being acquired by someone. Now we know who has made the deal. HP has announced that they are acquiring Palm for for $1.2 billion.

Hopefully this will keep Palm's software and hardware alive and help them flourish.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Over the past couple of years the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) has been the poster child for efforts to replace traditional teaching methods with computer based learning. The thinking was that students will learn better and faster with internet connected laptops.

While no definitive studies have been done, there is a lot of evidence to show that just the opposite is true. Several colleges have banned the use of laptops in classes because they have proven to reduce student performance! Students with laptops actually score over 10% lower in classes than students without them. Law schools in particular have found laptops are distractions that divert students from learning how to think in depth.

Connection to the internet doesn't seem to be a major factor either. There are enough distractions on a PC without having web surfing be the sole problem.

It will be interesting to see just how much technology affects student performance over time. I have always been a supporter of students using netbooks but now I'm starting to question their affect on students being able to concentrate on their studies.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Facebook change

Thanks to Jim Evans for this:
Facebook's latest "improvement" of Instant Personalization reduces your privacy even more by allowing your data to be shared with other websites, by default this is enabled.Here's why you need to opt out.

The shortcut to it is to go to Account > Privacy Settings > Applications and Websites> Instant personalization and uncheck "Allow".

Be a good Facebook person to your friends and share this.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Many years ago I discovered the two best sources for technology press releases, PR Newswire and Virtual Press Office. Both of them have provided me with innumerable leads for stories for our newsletter and this blog. Today we received an announcement that PRNewsWire has completed the integration of VPO after they acquired it.

We'll have to keep an eye on this development and see if it reduces our access to important information or increases it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

VIA ARTiGO A1100 Kit

This week we received a press announcement for the new VIA ARTiGO A1100 do-it-yourself computer kit. We had discussed the new kit during CES 2010 at the Lunch @ Piero's event with Stewart Haston of VIA Technologies. We have been eagerly awaiting the announcement because we had been told the new kit was even smaller and lighter than the kit we reviewed last year. Here are some exeprts from the release:

VIA ARTiGO A1100: Compact Computing Redefined
The VIA ARTiGO A1100 is powered by a 1.2GHz VIA Nano processor, offering a high performance native 64-bit computing experience while remaining within a low power thermal envelope. The VIA Nano processor is joined by the VIA VX855 media system processor, a fully integrated all-in-one chipset that brings exceptional multimedia experience to small form factor devices including playback of the most demanding HD video formats.

The VIA ARTiGO is the smallest full featured PC Kit available today. With dimensions of a mere 5.7" x 3.9" x 2" (14.6 cm x 9.9 cm x 5.2 cm), totaling only 44.46 cubic inches or 752 cm3, this mini PC is suitable for a variety of applications in the home or office, including home server, media streaming and surveillance applications. The VIA ARTiGO A1100 is also great as a regular desktop PC, using only a fraction of the physical real estate.

Front and back panel I/O includes HDMI and VGA ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, five USB ports including one USB device port, three audio jacks with optional wireless IEEE 802.11 b/g and SD card reader modules.

Available now at the VIA Store
The VIA ARTiGO A1100 is available now from the recently launched VIA Online Store, retailing at US$243.00. The first ten customers get a special early bird discount price of only $199.00. To order your VIA ARTiGO A1100 please visit: 

ARTiGO A1100 Simile GameJoin the VIA ARTiGO A1100 Simile Game, a competition where you can win a VIA ARTiGO A1100 by simply submitting and voting for the everyday object that you think most closely resembles the VIA ARTiGO A1100's diminutive size. To learn more about the Simile Game competition, please go to:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lenovo mouse problems

One of our subscribers reported a problem to me and I found out it's a problem for others also. He has a Lenovo IdeaPad S10 and periodically loses his mouse. Everything seems normal but the mouse doesn't move the cursor and the left and right buttons don't do anything. The problem is intermittent but it's a real pain for him.

I did some research online and found that other S10 users have the same problem. It doesn't matter which USB port they use or which mouse the plug in, the mouse just doesn't work.

I've used several Lenovo IdeaPads and have never encountered the problem. From now on I'll be on the alert and I'll let everyone know if I run into the problem myself.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I know, what does hockey have to do with technology? Actually very little but I had one of those historical moments tonight and it involves hockey.

The Stanley Cup playoffs have started and both of the hockey fans in the USA are excited. Sorry, that's rude. There are actually dozens of hockey fans in the country. The start of the playoffs reminded of the days when I was actually a hockey fan, in the 70s and 80s, before the strike.

I fondly remember the Olde Phillie Flyers with no helmets and flying fists. They didn't beat teams on the score board, they BEAT teams. I wasn't at the game but remember my joy when they won the first of their two Cups over 35 years ago! I was playing bridge with the Cohen's at the home of the North Argyle Sox and we had the game on the radio (no TV was available). It was a great night.

So where's the link? Nothing that we consider indispensable today (cell phones, the internet, personal computers) even existed. In 35 years the best hockey team and the best technology have gone through so many advances that they are archaic dinosaurs.

The 1975 Flyers have no place in 2010 and neither do rotary POTS telephones and radio as the only way to view sports.

As I'm writing this for a blog, using a netbook connected to the net using 802.11g, I'm watching my beloved Angels live on DirectTV. What a difference 35 years makes.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Linspire quagmire

Our post on Xandros earlier this week ended up taking us to web sites we never expected to see. We knew that Xandros had purchased Linspire a couple of years ago but we didn't know what happened after that. It turns out that it's turned into a real mess.

You can go to a the web site for a lot more information but here's the basic situation. Freespire, BTW, was the free, open-source version of  Linspire. The former CEO of Linspire was Michael Robertson and he is being accused by former employees and share holders of stealing gobs of money from the company. There are law suits and counter suits flying all over the place and who knows what the real truth is.

The part of the story I found most interesting was the Xandros part. No one seems to know how much Xandros paid for Linspire or where any of the money went!! And right after the acquisition Xandros stopped working on both Xandros and Linspire linux product lines. It gets curiouser and curiouser.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15th

April 15th is a day of dread for many people because it's the day income taxes, Federal and most states, are due. Of course for the 47% of people who pay zero income tax this is "pay day" because they can collect all of their federal credits.

Do any of you know what else happened on April 15th? It's a rather momentous day.

On the bad side:
The Titanic sank
Abe Lincoln died
FDR was buried
Greta Garbo died
 Leona Helmsley went to prison

On the good side:
Jackie Robinson played his first Major League game
The 1st B-52 flew
Ray Kroc started McDonalds
Leonardo DaVinci was born

And best of all: it's my wedding anniversary!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Income tax extension

We received this announcement from TaxACT and thought everyone should know about it:
Despite their best efforts, some taxpayers have no choice but to file for an extension. It's likely that more taxpayers will request a 6-month extension* this year. In fact, the IRS expects 10 million extensions during the last week before April 15.
Instead of paying upwards of $19.95 to file Form 4868, everyone can estimate their taxes and print or e-file a federal extension free with TaxACT Free Federal Edition at Those who owe Uncle Sam can also pay all or part of their tax liability with electronic funds withdrawal or a major credit card in TaxACT.
Important reminders about filing an extension:
  1. Form 4868 must be postmarked or e-filed by midnight on April 15.
  2. Those who e-file an extension will receive e-mail confirmation of receipt from the IRS.
  3. Form 4868 only extends the federal filing date by 6 months; it does NOT extend time to pay taxes owed. If you owe, pay as much as you can by April 15 to avoid penalties and interest.
  4. A federal extension does not extend your state deadline. Guidelines for filing state extensions vary from state to state.
  5. A federal return can be filed any time before or on October 15.
To quickly e-file or print an extension in TaxACT, follow these simple directions.
*U.S. citizens who are out of the country on April 15 are allowed two extra months to file a tax return and pay any amount due without an extension.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Xandros desktop

In the week's issue of GCN (Government Computer News to the unwashed masses) there was an article on Linux desktop software. The software that received the highest rating was Xandros Desktop v.4. We had reviewed the same software quite a while ago and decided to check to see if a newer update was available.
To our surprise there were no updates of any kind on the Xandros web site. The version we reviewed ages ago is still the one for sale on their site.

We followed up with their PR people and they confirmed the fact that Xandros is no longer developing their Linux desktop. Here's what we were sent: "Xandros is concentrating on other products like Bridgeways. They only create desktop software for OEMs like the Asus these days."

What a shame, a great product is just being left to wither and die.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Palm for sale

In the up and down world of Palm it's sometimes difficult to know where Palm is on the roller coaster.  Palm has put itself up for sale and that could be good or bad. There are some interesting possibilities that could keep Palm's WebOS alive. We've heard rumors of HTC, RIM, Dell, Lenovo and several others being possible buyers and all of them have positive reasons for wanting Palm's assets.

There was a time when the Palm Pilot was THE must have accessory. Pulling out your Pilot showed the world that you were a cutting edge geek. Today Palm is a minor player in a game dominated by other players. I've always loved Palm PDAs and phones and I will personally miss them if they disappear.

Friday, April 9, 2010

iPad returns

I'm sort of surprised by the number of online articles and blogs I've seen by people returning their brand new iPads because the owner is dissatisfied. What did the purchasers not understand? Anyone who read much about the real details of the iPad knew how limited they were and never planned on buying one. Only true Apple "believers" would waste their money on an iPad.

I usually don't get into politics here, but to me the same people who bought iPads voted for Obama. Change was the key. The promise was for something different. Change isn't always good, sometimes it's VERY bad.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Starter editions

MSFT has taken their Starter Edition tactic to another level. Readers of this blog and our newsletter know how I feel about Win7 Starter Edition. It's a crippled version that netbooks users are supposed to get tired of quickly and then pay more money for a more usable version of Win7. Considering the fact that the full version of Win7 is pre-loaded on Win7 Starter computers and functionality is purposly turned OFF, it doesn't save money at all. It's just a lure to get you to "upgrade".

The next version of Office will use the same tactics. Instead of pre-loading an advertising sponsored version, like the Works version on netbooks, or time-bomb versions of Office they'll pre-load a stripped down version of Office. It will undoubtably be so crippled that users will go bonkers using it and pay a lot of extra money to "upgrade".

MSFT is always innovative..... when it comes to finding ways to squeeze more money out of users!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Too hot to handle?

I knew the iPads were HOT but I didn't how how easily they get TOO hot! It turns out that there have been numerous reports of iPads displaying a message of "'iPad needs to cool down before you can use it". It turns out that the maximum iPad operating temperature is 95 degrees F. If you're planning on using an iPad at the beach or in a car in direct sunlight then you'll hit 95 easily.

Amazon is taking advantage of the flaw and has this ad on their web site! Cool!.

Monday, April 5, 2010

iPad weekend

The first big iPad weekend is over and it looks like it was a huge success for Apple. Sales were excellent, over 700,000 from what I've read, and there was buzz everywhere. You couldn't pick up a a newspaper or watch TV without seeing coverage of the launch.

I still think it's far too limited for the money you pay but that's the way it is with all things Apple. By the time version 2 or 3 gets here the current limitations should be gone and it may be worth taking a look.

Personally, I'll stick with my netbooks for now and enjoy better performance for FAR less money.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A sad day

We just lost the true Father of the personal computer. Ed Roberts was the visionary that created the Altair 8800 and brought Bill Gates and Paul Allen into the industry. He will always be the person we have to thank for the computers we have today, He started it all.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

iPad kit!!

Thanks to my friend Jim Evans for finding this for us. The CrunchPad kit looks like a fabulous product that provides an inexpensive path to iPad Utopia. The instructional video says it all.