Thursday, June 30, 2011

A non-tech post

Most professional sports are in serious financial trouble these days. The owners are complaining, the players are complaining and the unions are yelling louder than anyone else. Why? Because the teams say they can't make a profit with the current labor agreement.

That sounds just like the same problem that States and the US government have. We have committed way too much money in union contracts and have no way of paying for it. There are bench warmers in sports making 10's of millions of dollars a year and they do nothing for the betterment of mankind.

I am a true believer in a free economy and I think the solution is obvious: fiscal restraint. Don't spend what you don't have. Let's turn the clock back 40 years when pro athletes had to have off season jobs to make a living and there were no luxury boxes.

I'll get back to tech stuff next time.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Boy, was I right

Once again one of my opinions has turned out to be dead-on. I have said for ages that Tablets aren't a hot hardware product, iPads are! The term iPad has definitely come to mean any tablet computer. How do I know? My two oldest grandkids are here for their summer vacation and they have confirmed my theory.

They are 7 and 5 but are both VERY tech savvy. They have been using computers of one kind or another since they were infants (a result of having me for a grandfather!!) and know what they're doing.

Since they've been here they have both been enjoying Android tablets, an Archos 10.1 and a Motorola XOOM, including getting new apps and using them like they've had one for years. However, they insist on calling them iPads!! When they go back home they'll tell their family and friends how much they enjoyed their time using an iPad. Except they've never used an iPad!!

I can picture my son buying them an iPad even though that's not what they really learned to love. The Fruit company must be overjoyed.

Monday, June 27, 2011

New version of the Pentax WG-1

We received this news today:

PENTAX Imaging Company has announced the PENTAX Optio WG-1 GPS* version will be available soon in a third color choice.  As early as next month, the twelfth generation PENTAX Optio adventure camera will be available in orange, in addition to yellow green and gray.

Every one of the five PENTAX Optio WG-1 models offers enhanced waterproof, shockproof, dustproof, coldproof and crushproof performance and features an inventive Digital Microscope mode with LED lighting to capture small but intriguing subjects.  Designed with the look of mountaineering equipment, each Optio WG-1 series kit includes a woven web fabric strap complete with a carabiner to attach the camera to a backpack and other outdoor gear.  These rugged models offer photographic performance, innovative features and style that surpass other outdoor compact digital cameras now available on the market.
   As with other GPS models, the orange 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.

The orange WG-1 will ship in July 2011 for $399.95.  More information is available here:  and product images are available here:   Complete information about the camera is available here:


Friday, June 24, 2011

New Pentax camera

We received an email today announcing a new digital camera from Pentax. From the pictures and description it sounds a lot like the Olympus PEN E-PL1 that we love for it's compact size.

Here's the release:

Introducing the PENTAX Q. The featherweight body of a compact. The advanced DNA of a DSLR.
So small it can hide behind a playing card. The world's smallest, lightest digital lens system.*
It's the camera. Evolved.

We've created the best of both worlds. Compact and lightweight, yet boasting the functionality of a full-size digital SLR - including its own suite of lenses - the PENTAX Q truly is in a class of its own. Now you have the creative control to create stunning photos, in the palm of your hand.

Smallest Digital Interchangeable Lens Camera in the world
Interchangeable Q-mount lenses
12.4 megapixel backlight CMOS sensor with SR
Full 1080p at 30 fps video with h.264 compression
Durable, lightweight magnesium alloy body

Thursday, June 23, 2011

GPS units

Have you noticed how car GPS units have changed? Over the years they have grown from somewhat useful map replacements into powerful copilots for drivers.

Today Magellan announced an add-on for several of their units that provides a back-up camera that connects wirelessly to the GPS. Many units already provide media players with their GPS products and they are rapidly becoming multi-media devices.

I'm looking forward to seeing where we'll be in a few years. The merging of capabilities of cell phones, GPS units, tablets and what's just around the corner is so exciting!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

iTablet Bluetooth keyboard

We've been testing an early version of the iTablet Bluetooth Keyboard. Here are our first observation:

We've used the keyboard with a Samsung Galaxy Tab and with an Archos 10.1. Both are tablets and both use Android 2.2. We have been able to connect and pair with both, often after several frustrating tries, but can't seem to maintain a connection for very long.

With a Motorola XOOM using Android 3.0 function is fine. We connect easily and everything seems to work as programmed.

The keyboard may be great for people who are used to using cell phone keyboards for texting (just about everyone under the age of 30) but I found it slow and tedious to use. It seemed like I needed to use all 10 fingers but in very different ways than I'm used to. This may be more of a commentary on the way I use a keyboard than the useability of the product.

The User Guide is one of the best we've seen for a product that can connect to so many different OSs.

Newsletter is out

We've just finished sending out the July issue to all of our subscribers. Make sure you read it, it's great!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

July issue

Tomorrow morning our July issue will go out. It has some great articles and reviews and we think our readers will love it!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Flying in the cloud

We have just witnessed yet another failure of cloud computing. United Airlines had a computer system failure last night and as a result their entire system was shut down. Because of their total dependence on computer systems they were unable to fly their airplanes. Passengers were stuck in airports overnight and it may be many days before they can fly to their destinations.

It is very obvious to us that cloud computing is a long, long way from being a totally reliable way to do business.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Birthday IBM

Today is the 100th birthday to IBM. It's hard to imagine what our world would be like without the contributions IBM has made. Let's hope they have 100 more years!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Partition software

I saw a press release tonight that brought back old memories. It was many years ago at an APCUG event and a new company introduced their new product: Partition Magic. Until then the only way to re-partition a drive was with fdisk and you would lose all of your data. Today we found out this news:

EASEUS Partition Master Home, a free all-in-one partition solution and disk management utility, has reached over 5 million downloads on CNET and becomes the most popular partition manager software all over the world; based on its main functions like resizing/moving partition without data loss, managing disk space quickly and easily, settling low disk space problem on MBR and GPT disk, etcetera.
Up to now, EASEUS Partition Master Home has been downloaded 5,380,055 times. After its release, owing to its advanced partitioning features and ease-of-use, users and CNET's editors are speaking highly of this free partition software. The average rating of it given by the users and editors is above four stars (five stars in total). A user said: "Fast start up, clean interface, easy to understand online help. Loads of options even a newbie can navigate."
With basic partition features that other free partition software may offer, EASEUS Partition Master Home also provides the following advanced features completely free for home users:
  • FREE partition manager for Windows 32 bit & 64 bit HOME USERS. No Adware and Toolbar.
  • Support removable devices like flash drives and memory cards.
  • Extend system partition without reboot to maximize computer performance.
  • Partition manager utility for better hard disk management and computer performance maximization.
  • Copy Wizard to copy partition or upgrade the hard disk to a larger one without Windows system reinstallation.

"A plucky little piece of freeware that packs a subtle punch, EASEUS Partition Manager partitions hard drives like a reigning champ. Loaded with features, EPM runs smoothly," a CNET editor recommended.
Pricing & Availability:
Free for home users, EASEUS Partition Master Home is available at:

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Today was the last day of the E3 show in LA. For many years E3 was a mega-show centered on the gaming industry. Eventually it suffered from the big trade show collapse the killed off Comdex, PC Expo and so many other BIG shows. For the past couple of years they've had a much smaller and more focused show and seem to be making an excellent comeback.

Look for a show report in an upcoming issue of our newsletter.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New column

We have been reviewing tablet computers and eBook readers for several months now and we decided to give them their own column starting this month. We’ll try to review at least one tablet or eBook reader each month so make sure you read every issue.

A year ago Netbooks were THE hot category. Prognosticators were predicting the pending demise of notebooks and the collapse of the computer world as a result. Today Netbooks are still available but no one is pushing them and new models are few and far between.

What happened? Two things happened, first notebooks were made smaller and lighter taking away much of the Netbooks advantages. Second, the Fruit Company brought out the iPad. They squeezed the Netbook from both ends and have done severe damage to the concept.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Archos 10.1 Tablet

Earlier today I received an Archos 10.1 Internet Tablet to review. As is my habit, I charged it up and gave it a cursory look to see what it could do. At first I thought it was a typical tablet, but with a really great screen. After several hours of testing I now am in love with this tablet. It does all of the normal Android stuff, playing videos, reading books, playing games, etc.But what makes it great is it's ability to use USB peripherals amongst other things. I plugged in a wireless dongle and had full keyboard and mouse functionality immediately!

So this means I can use a tablet all day long when I'm on the go and have full computer functionality back in the hotel to write articles and blogs. How great is that! I can't wait to write this review!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Controllers sleeping

Here's a tease for an article I'm working on. It's on the PlayAway PowerNap.

Over the past few months there have been numerous incidents of Air Traffic Controllers falling asleep while on duty. I have an in-depth understanding of this “problem” since I worked as a tower ATCS for 36 years before I retired and became a full-time editor. For many of those years I worked the dreaded Rattler shifts (2 evening shifts, 2 day shifts and an over-night shift followed by 80 consecutive hours off). It was perfect for a father with kids involved in school activities and sports. How did I do it, you ask? Simple, I slept on the mids!

At the vast majority of airports in the US there is very little traffic between midnight and 6AM every day. Most airports have strict noise abatement procedures to severely restrict how many flights are allowed because of concerns for nearby residents getting their sleep. What this means is that you have controllers who are expected to sit in a chair looking out the windows with absolutely nothing to do for 6 hours every night. Nope, no distractions, no reading books or magazines, no TVs or radios, nothing but staring out a window. Could you survive if that’s what your job was like?

Here’s what really happens. Controllers on the mids will either split their shift in half if there are two assigned to the shift. One controller takes a “break” and naps somewhere while the other one works whatever traffic there is. The then swap at about 3AM and reverse positions. When I was a controller the people who regularly worked mids kept a pillow, blanket and alarm clock in their lockers!

If there is only one controller on duty they set up the tower chairs as best as possible to be able to lie down (most towers had one chair that didn’t have any arms to serve as the middle of the “bed”). You turn all of the speakers up real loud so that any radio or landline calls wake you up so you can respond. Is it dangerous? Sure, you can fall out of a chair easily! Is it dangerous for the flying public? NO it is not!!

Instead of firing controllers for doing something that does no harm to anyone why not work out procedures and schedules with reality built in. It’s truly cutting off your nose to spite your face. It takes years to train a good controller, don’t waste them unnecessarily.


The latest numbers are in on smart phones and Android continues their climb. Android is the clear leader in smart phones with the Fruit phones behind them. Trailing the pack, and falling rapidly, are Win7 and RIM phones. My guess is that before it's all over Android phones will have the vast majority of the phone market and MSFT will pull out completely.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Newsletter article

I'm editing our next newsletter issue and just added a great article from Andy Marken. I'm not going to give away too much but here's an illustration from his piece: