Monday, February 28, 2011

Print books vs. eBooks

I had an interesting discussion over the weekend with a major author who is also a Professor at Columbia University. Our discussion was about print versus digital publishing and covered just about every aspect of the two mediums. We agreed on most things but I was surprised, at first, when he told me his feelings about why he preferred digital publishing with DRM.

DRM is wonderful to our author friend because it restricts how many people can read one copy of a publication that they have purchased. The "problem" with print books is that one person buys a book and then allows other people to read the book. That takes money out of his pocket. It's an aspect I guess I never thought about and I can see his point.

Our discussion ended in a book store in MKE airport that specializes in old books. We agreed that all of the DRM eBooks that people buy today will be unreadable in 50 years, unlike every single book in the store we were in.

As a sidebar, he was kind enough to sign all the copies of his books that were in the store for the owner.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

iolo news

Our friends at iolo technolgies had some interesting news today:

iolo technologies, LLC, named the fastest-growing company in the U.S. by the American Business Awards in both 2010 and 2009, today announced it has been awarded a new patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office for its ActiveCare® technology. ActiveCare, a unique system and method for proactively monitoring computer performance and automatically repairing and optimizing system configurations during idle periods, is one of the many industry-first innovations for the company recognized as the technological leader in computer performance and reliability.

The newly patented ActiveCare technology works transparently when a computer is idle and intelligently tunes the machine for peak performance without slowing it down, consuming vital foreground resources, or interrupting users with indiscriminately scheduled tasks or messages. A significant leap forward in proactive technology, ActiveCare uses a sophisticated method to sense when the computer is on but not being used and performs a battery of background system analyses that can then trigger specific associated optimization, maintenance or repair actions in real time to target and preemptively correct even slight degradations in performance or stability. If the computer user initiates any other tasks during that time, ActiveCare silently terminates any active processes and full control is returned to the user. By only running when a computer is idle and only running the optimizations and repairs that are specifically needed in real-time, ActiveCare solves the problem of ineffective and obtrusive schedule-based maintenance, which by design fails to proactively resolve problems as they occur, while representing the ongoing hassle of foreground workflow interruptions.

“The ActiveCare approach has truly revolutionized PC maintenance for the millions of people who rely on iolo to keep their computers running like new. This new patent once again affirms iolo’s commitment to technological innovation and leadership in performance software,” said Noah T. Rowles, iolo technologies’ founder and CEO and co-inventor of the patent.

The patented technology embodied within ActiveCare is one of the many reasons behind the effectiveness of iolo’s flagship software product, System Mechanic, which remains the #1 best-selling PC performance software in the North America and other key markets according to NPD and similar sources. The recipient of hundreds of industry awards, System Mechanic has been used by more than 32 million users worldwide to tune up more than 75 million computers since 1998.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Free software (my favorite kind!)

We received this offer today and want to pass it on:

Now people can get free JPG To PDF Converter giveaway licenses to create PDF documents from scanned images. today launches their free 30-Day Giveaway for the fast image-to-PDF converter product - JPG To PDF Converter at The free giveaway will be closed on March 22, 2011. During this time JPG To PDF Converter is for free for all users and visitors.

PDF is the most popular format for digital archiving in the world. Normally PDF files are created by virtual printer; however it is not easy to create PDF documents from multiple scanned images. JPG To PDF Converter is a windows application that quickly converts multiple images into a single PDF document without virtual printing.

JPG to PDF Converter supports the majority of modern graphic formats, including GIF, BMP, TIF, PNG, JPG, ICO and PSD. Users can control the compression ratio of PDF files for optimal quality/size balance and specify such PDF file properties as title, creation date, subject and keywords.

"JPG to PDF Converter has a simple interface that will take seconds to get used to and will allow even novices to efficiently create lightweight PDF documents from multiple image files." Alex, the chief editor of said.

The giveaway is 100% free and full functional. Giveaway promotion page:

Latest US Cellular deals

Here are the latest super-deals from US Cellular:

Through March 10, U.S. Cellular is offering two Buy-One-Get-Five deals on its popular Android-powered phones and messaging phones. Customers who buy a Samsung Mesmerize (a Galaxy S device) for just $99.99 can get up to five LG Optimus U smartphones free, or pick up one Samsung Messager Touch for $29.99 and get up to five Samsung Profiles free. On top of that, all of U.S. Cellular's Android-powered phones are under $100 and the carrier is offering a $100 Smartphone Activation Credit for every new line.

New Samsung lenses

We received an email from Samsung today announcing 5 new lenses for their compact interchangeable lens cameras. Here's part of the announcement:

Samsung Electronics Co. today announced five innovative new lenses for its NX camera system. The new lenses bring more premium innovation to the range, featuring class-leading technology such as a premium portrait lens and lenses for movie capturing, opening new creative avenues for NX users to explore.

All of the lenses are compatible with Samsung’s unique i-Function system, which helps users create powerful effects easily through quick and convenient controls. The new launches, along with the five lenses released in 2010, mean that there are now 10 high-performance lenses available for the NX system, making this one of the most comprehensive ranges available in the Compact System Camera (CSC) market. Samsung’s new lenses have been created to allow users to maximize the potential of their NX system cameras, achieve professional-looking results and enjoy taking photos whatever their level of photography experience.

The new lens range includes Samsung’s 18-200mm multi-purpose Long Zoom Lens. This model features modes which are optimized for creating high-quality movie content with a single lens. The new long zoom lens also has a fast, silent Auto-Focus due to Samsung’s use of Voice Coil Motor (VCM) technology, so users can capture important events without recording the sound of the camera’s AF. The lens also features Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) to cancel out any hand movement and deliver crisp, clear images, even when a subject is far away. 

The 18-200mm zoom should be available in May. 

We'll have information on the other lenses as they get closer to release.

March newsletter

The March edition of our newsletter goes out this morning. There's more CES coverage, some great reviews and even coverage of MacWorld! If you don't get your issue today just let me know and I'll email you a copy.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Clean Out Your Computer Day

I forgot to post this notice earlier this week. My darned Organizer let me down!! My apologies to our friends at iolo technologies. Here's the information:

I wanted to let you know about this funny coincidence: Feb 14 isn’t just Valentine’s Day this year – it’s also Clean Out Your Computer Day. (How romantic! The next time Clean Out Your Computer Day - originally started by Institute for Business Technology back in 2000 and falling on second Mon in February - will coincide with Valentine’s Day will be in 2022!

Since the opportunity comes only every 11 years, this Valentine’s Day, show your computer some TLC and stop neglecting this (also important) relationship. Few people take the time to proactively clean out computers, despite PCs’ widely recognized slowdowns and the wasted hours and the ‘hourglass syndrome’ frustrations they cause.

With more than 50 tools and 13,000 Tune-up Definitions, System Mechanic is the perfect way to celebrate Clean Out Your Computer Day. Its Whole Home Licensing keeps all your household computers in optimal operating condition and with such new tools as Program Accelerator or CRUDD Remover, it’ll jump-start your spring cleaning, removing frustrating clutter and speeding up your computer.

More stats and tips around this holiday are available at

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Photo lighting

We found out today that ProMark brands (Photogenic, Smith Victor, Coolux and Norman) have started a Social Media presence on Facebook. They will eventually have a lot of how-to videos on professional lighting for video and still, free educational materials, links to lighting articles, etc... Some will be contributed by ProMark, but they're also tapping in to their enormous database of pros to have user generated content. Several vids are in the works now and should be up soon.

If you have any suggestions for things you would like to see come out of a community of pro photographers and videographers just let me know and I'll pass the information on to them.

They are at:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Pentax lens

Here's one more new product from Pentax:
PENTAX Imaging Company announced the addition of a second lens for the 645D Medium Format digital camera. As the second model of the 645D lens series, the smc PENTAX D FA 645 25mm F4 AL [IF] SDM AW is designed as an ultra-wide-angle lens that features PENTAX-original optics optimized for high-quality digital photography to assure exceptional image- performance as well as dependable dustproof, weather-resistant construction for active outdoor photographers.
Offering a focal length of approximately 19.5mm in the 35mm format (or approximately 15.5mm when mounted on a PENTAX 645-format film SLR camera body), this new lens provides the widest perspective of all PENTAX 645 lenses. Creating visual effects unique to ultra-wide-angle lenses — such as exaggerated perspective and enhanced depth of field — this lens may be used for a wide range of subjects including spectacular landscapes and indoor shooting in confined spaces.
      Priced at $4999.95 USD, the smc PENTAX D FA 645 25mm F4 AL [IF] SDM AW lens will become available in April 2011.  More information is available here: and product images are available here:
The lens is available for preorder on:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More Pentax news

Pentax also announcd a new version of their K-5 dSLR. Here's the announcement:

PENTAX Imaging Company has announced that the popular K-5 digital SLR will be available soon in Limited Edition Silver.  Available in the US in limited quantities this special-edition model of the PENTAX K-5 digital SLR camera will feature an exclusive design with an original exterior color scheme and a uniquely shaped grip. 
Along with the silver K-5, PENTAX announced three popular PENTAX DA Limited Edition Silver lens models designed for use with PENTAX digital SLR cameras also which will ship in the near future.  Each limited edition lens will feature a high-quality, silver finish applied to the high precision machine shaped lens barrel, hood and cap.
The three prime lenses that will be available in silver include:

·         smc PENTAX-DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited Silver
·         smc PENTAX-DA 40mm F2.8 Limited Silver
·         smc PENTAX-DA 70mm F2.4 Limited Silver

The special edition, silver finish K-5 will match existing PENTAX FA-Limited series lenses and the new DA Limited Silver series lenses. The camera’s mode dial, control buttons and levers all feature the elegant silver color. To improve handling, this special-edition model comes with an exclusively designed grip that is thicker than the standard K-5 model.  Shock-resistant, scratchproof reinforced glass has been used to protect the LCD monitor on the camera’s back panel and the status panel on the top panel. 
 First announced in September 2010, the K-5 DSLR offers a true high-end, weather-resistant prosumer design and features normally found only on the most costly of professional cameras including:

•    High resolution 16.3 megapixel CMOS sensor.
•    Fast 7 FPS to capture fast action shots.
•    A high sensitivity 80-12800 ISO range, expandable to 51200, with improved noise performance overall.
•    Widescreen 1080p HD video at 25 FPS with sound via built-in microphone or external 3.5mm stereo microphone jack.

   The unique DA Limited series of prime lenses offers incredible sharpness and image quality, and are made specifically for PENTAX DSLR cameras. These lenses are ideal for even the most discerning photographer who demands top performance in an ultra-compact package. The high-grade aluminum construction of the DA Limited series provides the utmost durability and elegant design.
Whether paired or purchased separately, the Limited Edition Silver K-5 and the smc PENTAX DA Limited Silver lenses will offer owners a classic, high-end photography expererience.  Priced at $1699.95 (body kit), the PENTAX K-5 Limited Edition Silver will be available in April 2011.

The PENTAX DA Limited Edition Silver lens pricing and availability are TBA. More information is available here: and product images are available here:
Preorder is available here:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

News from Pentax cameras

We had our annual briefing from Pentax at CES under NDA and we've had to keep things under our hat, until now! The first of the new 2011 products have officially been announced. The first one is the WG-1, the replacement for the superb W90 we reviewed a few months ago. Here's some information on the new WG-1 cameras:

PENTAX Imaging Company has announced its12thgeneration of adventure series digital cameras – the PENTAX Optio WG-1 and PENTAX Optio WG-1 GPS.  Featuring outstanding waterproof, dustproof, shockproof, coldproof, and crushproof capability, these extra-rugged models take adventure photography to new heights (and depths).
The new and improved features on the PENTAX Optio WG-1 include:
·         14 megapixel sensor.
·                                 Waterproof to 33 feet.
·         Shockproof, ruggedized design to withstand falls up to 5 feet.
·         New crushproof construction* to withstand weight force up to 220 pounds (100kgf  kilogram-force).
·         Enhanced Digital Microscope mode that offers five macro LEDs for excellent macro lighting  plus a detachable macro stand for steadier capture.
·         Fast Face Detection technology, Smile Capture, and Blink Detection for portraits including a handy new Self-Portrait Assist mode perfect for facebooking and other social networking activities.
·         Available with and without GPS, the WG-1 GPS functionality* tracks and records positional data recording with images for geo-tagging applications making it easy for users to check the shooting locations of captured images and link the data with PC-based maps.
*Measured under PENTAX-original testing standards.** GPS included only on the select WG-1 GPS model.
Other important WG-1 features include:
          Coldproof to sub-freezing temps of minus 10 degrees C (14 degrees F).
          Dustproof protection for dry, dusty environments.
          Wide angle 5X internal optical zoom lens (28-140mm equivalent).
          Large 2.7 inch LCD features a wide angle 16:9 aspect ratio with anti-reflective coating.
          Video capture in widescreen 720p HD at 30 frames per second.
          Pixel Track and Digital Shake Reduction ensure sharp, blur-free images.
          An autofocus assist lamp helps to quickly and accurately focus, even in challenging lighting.
          An HDMI port to play back beautiful, high definition images and video on HDTVs.
          Infrared remote control compatibility with the waterproof Remote Control WP, as well as other PENTAX infrared remotes.
          Designed with the look of mountaineering equipment, the new Optios includes a woven web fabric strap in complementary color accents complete with a carabiner to attach the camera to a backpack and other outdoor gear.
          Eye-Fi wireless SD memory card connectivity for built-in Wi-Fi capability to transfer photos and videos from the camera to a computer or an online sharing site (Eye-fi cards sold separately.)

Priced at $349.95 USD, Optio WG-1 will be available in a choice of Black or Purple, while the Optio WG-1 GPS will be priced at $399.95 USD and available in Black or Yellow Green.  Both cameras will ship in April 2011. 
A waterproof infared remote control (sold separately) for use with the PENTAX Optio WG-1and other infrared compatible Optio models  is available now for $29.95 USD.  More information is available here: www.pentaximaging.comand product images are available here:
The PENTAX Optio WG-1is available for preorder on:

Monday, February 7, 2011

New Samsung cameras

We received news on two new digital cameras from Samsung. Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd, a global leader in digital media and digital convergence technologies, today announced two new compact cameras, the PL20 and ES80 –stylish point-and-shoot cameras which will bring fun and great quality photography to everyone. The cameras make clear, sharp images accessible to all users, through a combination of high-quality features and cutting edge innovation, all at an affordable price.

The PL20 packs a 14-megapixel sensor, a 27mm wide angle and a 5x optical zoom, plus HD movie recording, into a simple to use and stylish device. It also removes the need for the ongoing purchase of AA batteries with a unique Li-ion rechargeable battery to keep the fun lasting longer.

The ES80 provides another smart point-and-shoot option for consumers who seek affordability and value in their camera technology. The camera offers easy-to-use features such as an internal charging system which helps to ensure that power isn’t lost at that crucial photo moment. The ES80 also boasts 12-megapixel resolution and a 5x optical zoom to make taking great quality images effortlessly simple. 

Both the PL20 and the ES80 come in four vibrant colors – Silver, Tomato Red, Pink and Black – meaning there’s a model to suit every taste.

The PL20 will be available in March and will have an MSRP of $119.99. The ES80 will be available in April with an MSRP of $99.99. Here's a pic of the PL20:

Saturday, February 5, 2011


I  want everyone to know that there will be some exciting new products announced in this blog next week. Make sure your read it every day so you don't miss any hot news.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Verizon iPhones

For all of the people who have been waiting for the iPhone to be available on a network other than AT&T, I have some good news and some bad news.

First the good news. Verizon has announced that the pre-sales of the iPhone have set new records. Clearly there are a LOT of people who were not satisfied with AT&Ts dropped calls and slow data connections. Does anyone remember when AT&T stopped selling iPhones in NY because they overstressed their system?

Now the bad news. Verizon just announced that they will be slowing down the data rate for their highest data speed customers whenever there is too much stress on their system. Guess what people, performance will be the same as AT&T's is!!

To paraphrase a line from Casablanca: I'm shocked, shocked, to hear this!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

CES conclusions

Now that I’ve had a chance to reflect a bit on what I saw, and didn’t see, at CES 2011 in Vegas I’ve come to a couple of conclusions.

The first conclusion is that WiFi systems can be easily overtaxed. There were times when the WiFi pipes were so overloaded that no one was able to connect to the internet. One of the evening events we attended actually asked the press to turn off all of their WiFi devices so the vendors would have access for the products they wanted to show off.

When you consider the number of different products we saw at CES that offered wireless connectivity it’s no surprise that systems get overloaded. And what are promised for the future? Why even more wireless of course! I’m getting more convinced every day that Powerline networking is the smart path for many home/SOHO users.

The second thing that I noticed was the “wave” of tablets that were announced or hinted at. Vendors announced over 80 new tablets/slates using many OSs. Android seemed to be the OS of choice with Win7 and WebOS both far behind. We had a chance to try some of them hands-on and expect to review a slew of them this year. HP had no announcements at all but I was told by a very reliable source that they will have an announcement in early February.

Many companies that had tablets/slates all had the same caveat: the products we saw didn’t necessarily reflect what the final product would look like or the software would be like! It was obvious that the catch up with the iPad scramble was on!