Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Today I had some thoughts on Nokia's business model. Nokia is a company that made their fortune making cell phones for people who want to TALK to each other. Gazillions of people around the world started out using a Nokia phone (including me) that was provided by a service provider of some sort.

The big problem, in my opinion, is that people no longer use that model any longer. The vast majority of people don't ever use their cell phones to actually talk any more. They use them for texting, running apps and everything else BUT talking.

I'm sorry Nokia, and MSFT too, but you've missed the boat. You'll never catch up with Android.

Monday, May 30, 2011


We saw this announcement today:

VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today announced that it will demo the ultra compact ZOTAC ZBOX mini-PC featuring the  VIA Nano X2 dual-core processor at the VIA Computex booth, TICC, room 201D.

Powered by the VIA Nano X2 dual-core processor, the ZOTAC ZBOX features a palm-sized chassis measuring just 12 x 12 x 4cm, making it an ideal solution for integration into a home entertainment system as well as space constrained workspaces.

“The ZOTAC ZBOX is a great example of the kinds of innovations in form factor design that are possible on our low power VIA Nano X2 dual-core processor platform,” said Richard Brown, Vice President of Marketing, VIA Technologies, Inc. “It provides an excellent solution for home and officer users seeking a premium computing experience in an ultra compact size.”
VIA Nano X2 Dual-Core Processor
VIA Nano X2 dual-core processors are available at speeds of 1.2 and 1.6GHz and are built using the latest 40nm fabrication process.

VIA Nano X2 processors come with native 64-bit software support, VT CPU virtualization technology, and VIA PadLock™ hardware security features and are also pin-to-pin compatible with VIA Nano, VIA C7, VIA C7-M and VIA Eden processors, facilitating easy upgrades of existing designs.
For images of the ZOTAC® ZBOX mini-PC, please click here.
For more details about the VIA Nano X2 Processor, please click here.

Memorial Day

Lexmark is making a wonderful offer for Memorial Day:
Don't forget to honor your favorite memeber of the military on Twitter. Lexmark is working with @OfficeDepot and @Op_Homefront for #MemDay – Shout Out to your favorite member of the military to enter to win a printer using the hashtag #OperationShoutOut

Thursday, May 26, 2011

All good things must end

For MANY years we have been using dedicated file servers using Linux OSs. We proudly praised them for their 24/7/365 reliability. A few years ago the oldest one died an honorable death. Last year the second one also expired. We are now facing diminished operation with the third.

We're taking all of our important files off and preparing for the worst. How many of you still have a system that has been running since 2003 without turning it off and it has been wonderful. Thank you Snap Server!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fruit bugs

I don't often comment on iFruit stuff but I am so happy to see that the Fruit Company has not been able to squelch the news about their virus problems. The Fruit Company did their best to cover this up and in the end their solution is nothing more than more coverup. Trust us, they said, we'll auto-update your system and fix the bad stuff. Yeah, right.

Maybe now Fruit addicts will recognize that they are not all powerful and protected by a divine force.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A wonderful offer

OfficeDepot and Lexmark have announced a program to provide free printers to military families. Here are the details:

Office Depot® (NYSE: ODP), celebrating 25 years as a leading global provider of office supplies and services, and Lexmark International, Inc. (NYSE: LXK), a leading global provider of imaging products, software, solutions and services, today announced a special program to support Operation Homefront, helping to give military families the products they need to stay in touch.  This is the second consecutive year that Office Depot and Lexmark have partnered to provide support for Operation Homefront.

Beginning now and running through June 4, and again from June 26 through July 9, Office Depot and Lexmark will donate a new Lexmark printer* to Operation Homefront,  a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting military families nationwide, each time a customer purchases a Lexmark printer in an Office Depot store (regularly priced at $199.99 and above) or online at www.OfficeDepot.com. Office Depot and Lexmark aspire to donate more than 4,000 printers to Operation Homefront through this special initiative.
“Office Depot is proud to kick off the second year of the Operation Homefront program alongside Lexmark and continue to support military families throughout the country,” said Randy Wick, Vice President of Merchandising for Office Depot.  “We encourage customers to help us donate 4,000 printers through this special and rewarding initiative.”

“Lexmark is proud to align with Office Depot for the second year in a row to support Operation Homefront,” said Marty Canning, President of Lexmark’s Imaging Solutions and Services. “Customers who participate in this program by purchasing a Lexmark all-in-one printer will not only save time and money, but help us in supporting thousands of deserving military families.”

For more information, please visit www.officedepot.com/lexmark/operationhomefront or your local Office Depot retail store location.
You can find Office Depot on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/OfficeDepot and follow Office Depot on Twitter at http://twitter.com/officedepot.

Friday, May 20, 2011

June newsletter

We sent out the June issue of our newsletter today. It has some great reviews, articles and our annual PC building project. We hope all of our subscribers enjoy it!

If you're  not a subscriber just let me know and I'll add you to our ever growing list.

Monday, May 16, 2011

PC Lock software

Hury to take advantage of this free offer, it's only good for 24 hours:

Laplink Software, Inc. today announced the release of PC Lock™, cutting edge data encryption software with cloud management and high security encryption to protect sensitive data from hackers and thieves.
According to research conducted by Ponemon Institute, Gartner and Intel, over 1,700 laptops are stolen every day and someone's identity is stolen every 2 seconds. Files on a PC that are not encrypted are at constant danger of theft, increasing the user's risk of identity theft, privacy invasion and significant financial loss.
PC Lock uses the latest in remote services with a cloud-based Web Management Console. With this unique console, users can modify preferences, change settings, reset passwords, lock the data on a missing or stolen PC and remotely delete sensitive data. The Web Management Console is accessible from any web-enabled device, including smartphones, allowing management from virtually anywhere, even if the user is on the go; no need to rely on live customer support as with other products.
PC Lock also features multiple levels of security, a sophisticated EKE "Encrypted Key Encryption" approach with military-grade 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), providing the most secure and simplest data security solutions available.
"Data protection is critical to any PC user as identity theft continues to rise," said Laplink CEO Thomas Koll. "PC Lock ensures data is not able to be accessed by unauthorized persons which significantly reduces the risk of identity theft."
PC Lock utilizes a simple wizard that walks users through installation, configuration and encryption of their PC's data. After installation, PC Lock encrypts files automatically in the background without degrading the PC's performance. Files are unencrypted when opened and re-encrypted when saved. The result is a simple-to-use but powerful tool with real-time, always-on protection.
Encrypted data is locked behind the PC Lock password, which is separate from the Windows login. This has two important benefits: if you forget your PC Lock password, you can still log into Windows and access the Web Management Console to reset your password; and secondly, it adds another level of security guarding against cold boot hacks and pre-boot login problems.
"We made the process as easy and user friendly as possible," explained Koll. "Encryption can be a confusing, difficult and sometimes scary process. By enabling cloud management, users have constant control over what is encrypted and how they want PC Lock to operate, eliminating the fear and confusion from the encryption process."
Files and folders on a PC remain protected even if the PC is lost or stolen. Users can trigger a remote wipe of their encrypted data from the Web Management Console, preventing access of stolen files. Even if the thief pulls the hard drive from the PC and never accesses the Internet, the data remains encrypted and inaccessible. PC Lock is also compatible with other security software, so it can provide an extra layer of protection and complement existing safeguards a user may already have in place or add in the future.
Because Laplink is celebrating its 28th anniversary, the full version of PC Lock is free for the first 24 hours after launch at www.laplink.com/pclocklaunch. Following the launch giveaway, it will be sold at a discounted rate of $14.95, regularly $29.95 at www.laplink.com/pclock . It is also sold in most major U.S. software retailers for the suggested retail price of $29.95.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Every once in a while even Google makes a mistake. They've had a flop or two in their time and they are about to have another one. The new Chromebooks that are due to be introduced will be a dismal flop. Why so you ask? Simple, it's nothing more than a Netbook computer but far more limited.

In case you haven't heard, the Chromebooks are the same size and weight as Netbooks but operate using a Google OS and the Chrome browser. It will boot faster than a regular PC and will NOT have built in storage. The concept is you will do EVERYTHING online using Google apps. And it will cost $350, more than most Netbooks. Considering the recent outage for this website, Google's Blogger, I question the reliability of using the cloud for mission critical computing.

IBM has built into their Netbooks a Quick Start (QS) option for years that allows users to boot to a Linux OS that offers the same kind of functionality as a Chromebook.

If Google were to sell their Chromebooks for $100-150 they might have a winner but at the price they'll be asking I think it be a resounding dud.

Friday, May 13, 2011


I've read several interesting articles on jobs lately and things don't sound good. Cisco just announced they're laying of several thousand high tech, skilled employees in order to cut costs. McDonald's on the other hand is hiring 10's of thousands of new employees. If you're in Washington, DC you would say that's a net gain in jobs but is it?

Each $100k plus job at Cisco does more to help the economy than a dozen minimum wage McJobs. We are continuing our economic downward spiral and I'm worried for my kids and grandkids.

Let us pray.

Ubuntu 11.04

I'm very disappointed in Ubuntu 11.04 and it's offspring, Kubuntu and Xubuntu, at this point. I dislike the new user interface and have had serious problems getting WiFi to work with all three versions.

Last fall I was also disappointed in version 10.10 and I had high hopes that this release would be an improvement. Unfortunately, it's even worse than the old version. At least 11.04 will load on IBM netbooks without hanging up when it's trying to boot. I'll post more after I test it some more.

Right now I'm still recommending Ubuntu 10.04 and it's Netbook Remix as the version that I would use and have faith in.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Free software offer

We found this offer this evening and thought we should pass it on:

EASEUS Software, the award-winning backup and disaster recovery solution provider for the Microsoft Windows® environment, today offers a chance to get free advanced backup software - EASEUS Todo Backup Professional (worth $29). What's more, it is not a one-day giveaway as usual. By giving your valuable views, comments, sharing this good news to your friends, or sending us your suggestions for improvement, you can get EASEUS Todo Backup Professional free of charge.  

EASEUS Todo Backup Professional is now available in a newly updated version, offering advanced and fast data backup and system disaster recovery for home and home office users. With features like disk and partition backup, network file backup, incremental backup, clone disk, explore backup image, and automatic deletion of old images to save disk space, it's a best solution to avoid data loss caused by system crash, hard disk failure, or virus attack, fully protecting your personal photos, music, financial data, documents, applications, etc.

To get a free full version of EASEUS Todo Backup Professional, you may choose any of the following ways: Writing reviews on your Facebook, Twitter, or blog; forwarding others' reviews about our backup software; uploading a video to YouTube or sharing your ideas about features of Todo Backup by pointing out any advantages and disadvantages.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

MSFT innovation

Once again MSFT has "innovated". What is their latest super-innovative technology you ask? How about a product that lets you use your computer like a picture phone! Imagine being able to do Jetson like phone calls without getting the phone company involved! Wow, super duper! MSFT spent $8.5 billion "developing" this new technology, just as they often do.

But wait. Are you saying Skype already does that? You're right and that's the point. MSFT "innovated" by buying Skype!

Some things never change.

Monday, May 9, 2011

FBI tracking device

I've always loved James Bond movies. One of the special devices that Q and his team made was a tracking device so Bond could follow Goldfinger or other evil-doers. Well Q must be working for the US Government now because the FBI is doing the same thing today. These warrentless trackings are taking place all over the country as we speak. You may want to take a look under your car some day and see if there's anything odd under there!

Here's a great article on the devices:

Disclaimer: We love the FBI. We've had the opportunity to help them fight crime 
on several occasions. We've helped them with instructions on gaining entry into 
certain devices. We have nothing against them, and we hope they don't come after 
us for sneaking a peek inside their nifty tracker.

Now that we're in the clear, it's teardown time!

We partnered with Wired (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/) to bring you a peek 
inside an FBI car-tracking device. The device was loaned to us by a person who 
found the device on their car, and is similar to the one Yasir Afifi recently 
found underneath his own vehicle (http://bit.ly/fbi_tracker).

The hand-assembled device is comprised of a GPS unit for receiving the car's 
position, an RF transmitter for relaying your location to the interested 
authority (aka the FBI), and a set of sweet d-cell lithium batteries that power 
the whole enchilada. 

But we didn't stop there, of course. Read on to find out exactly what components 
make this secretive device tick.

The teardown:

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I was right, dammit!

Unfortuantly, it looks like I was right about the Netbook Remix being dead in Ubuntu 11.04. The worst part from our view is that we don't like the new interface a all!!

Here's the message we saw online:

According to Canonical, “The introduction of the new shell for Ubuntu means that we have a user interface that works equally well whatever the form factor of the PC. And the underlying technology works on a range of architectures including those common in netbook, notebooks, desktops or whatever you choose to run it on. Hence the need for a separate version for netbooks is removed”.
From 11.04, the core product that you run on your PC will be simply, Ubuntu. Therefore the next release will be Ubuntu 11.04 and you can run that on anything you like from a netbook to a notebook to a desktop”.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ubuntu Netbook Remix

The Ubuntu developers have apparently dropped the Netbook Remix version of their software. Version 11.04 has been released without a Netbook version and that caused us some concern. We checked out www.ubuntu.com and found out that the installer recognizes your hardware configuration and loads the version that is appropriate. Hmmmmm, we wonder how well this will work.

We'll be testing version 11.04 soon and let everyone know what happens.

eReaders and tablets

We've had a chance to use many eBook readers and several tablet computers over the last few months and have come to some conclusions. Here are our conclusion:

Are they going to change the face of computing? Nope. People will still use laptop computers for the majority of their work. eReaders and tablets just don't have the horsepower and peripherals people need.

Are they going to change the face of book and newspaper publishing? Yes and no. The shift from print to digital has been going on for a long time and will continue for the foreseeable future.

Will they kill Netbook computers? That's up to buyers. Personally we'd rather use a Netbook than a tablet 90% of the time.

In our opinion eReaders and tablets have a real market and will work along side other computers rather than replacing them.  Most users will have a laptop, an eReader/tablet AND a smartphone. All have capabilities that the others don't.