Monday, April 30, 2012

Kaspersky One Universal Security


By George Harding

There are many programs available to use to protect our computers. It must be a profitable field to have so many players wanting your business. Kaspersky One is a protection service that sets itself apart from all the others.

One way it is different is that it is sold in combinations to protect multiple computers. There are three versions: three computers, five computers and ten computers. For those of us that have more than one computer, this is a boon, being able to acquire one protection package that can be installed in several computers.

A second way it is different is that not just computers can be protected, but also certain smart phones and tablets. Blackberry, Symbian, Android and Windows Mobile phones are currently supported

A third way it is different is that not only the Windows computer platforms are supported, but Macs are also.

What’s included? A lot!
·         Anti-virus – for mail, file and web
·         Firewall – two way
·         Anti-phishing
·         Anti-spam
·         Anti-banner
·         Pro-active defense
·         Application control
·         Mobile security
·         Tablet security
·         Password manager
·         And more

This is a good program for protecting all your computers at a single price, whether you have three, five or ten computers. There is a 30-day free trial available.

Price: 3 computers $80, 5 $85, 10 $150 (download)
usa.kaspersky.com      

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Android Tablet Market Share


The numbers are in from comScore on Android tablet computer sales. As you can see on this chart, there are a lot of different competitors fighting for your dollars with their products.

Overall, the iFruit company still has the largest share of the market but it has dropped from 61.5% of the global market in the third quarter of 2011 to 54.7% in Q4 2011. The booming sales of the Kindle Fire were largely responsible for the drop and that is a good sign for the market. More competition is always better for the consumer.

Note that the B&N Nook isn’t listed. The reason is that the Nook is considered an eBook reader, not a tablet.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS


Canonical has released the latest version of their operating system, named Precise Pangolin, which is Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, a long term support version. As usual, it’s a totally free to download and use and seems to have some interesting new features. I haven’t had a chance to install it and test it as yet but hope to very soon.

If you want to see what the updates are go to:
http://www.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/whats-new
 
For those Linux users who prefer the K desktop environment (KDE) to Ubuntu’s Unity UI, the latest version of Kubuntu is also available from www.kubuntu.org.



Friday, April 27, 2012

Google Drive

 
Yesterday I received an invitation to use Google Drive from Google and decided to give it a shot. The first device I used to set up Drive was a Phablet and I was told I would receive an email on my Gmail account when the cloud based drive was ready to use. This morning, while waiting for a Doctor’s appointment I received the promised email and a link to the drive setup. I went ahead and did the Android install and it went perfectly.

If you haven’t heard of Google Drive yet, here’s the official pitch from Google:

Access everywhere.

Google Drive is everywhere you are—on the web, in your home, at the office and on the go. So wherever you are, your stuff is just...there. Ready to go, ready to share. Get started with 5 GB free.

Google Drive is available for:
  • PC and Mac
  • iPhone and iPad (coming soon)
  • Android devices

So far I’ve loaded it on an Android 3.2 Phablet and my WinV laptop. I’ll give it a serious workout and let everyone know what I think of it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mahjongg Artifacts


We recently received an interesting press release announcing a new Mahjongg game from G5 Entertainmnet. Here’s the announcement:

Leading casual games publisher G5 Entertainment today announced that its highly addictive tile-matching game, Mahjongg Artifacts, is now available on Nook Color and Nook Tablet.

This highly addictive tile-matching game with tons of content will keep you entertained for hours. The game features three different modes of play: Classic, Story and Endless. While the Story mode features an epic quest for lost relics, in the Classic mode you can choose the layout you want to play, and in the breath-taking Endless mode you will remove tiles from an ever-rising tower of game pieces. The game is filled with innovative gameplay twists and turns you'll love to explore. For example, use special tiles to clear layouts, collect bonuses and trophies for special accomplishments. And the marvelous graphics and elaborate sets are really what make this Mahjongg title so prominent among the others. Mahjongg Artifacts is developed and published by G5 Entertainment.

Key features:
  • Story mode featuring 25 layouts
  • Classic mode with 100 layouts
  • Innovative Endless mode
  • 27 gorgeous backgrounds
  • Music tracks inspired by ancient cultures
  • Manual smooth zoom in/out and auto-zoom option

I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to play it! I’m a Mahjongg fanatic!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

More Google Changes


Once again Google has made positive changes to their cloud products. This week we noticed that our Google Docs account had our storage capacity increased from one gigabyte to 5 GB of free storage. That’s just awesome! Thanks Google.

Google has become a behemoth in the computer world by providing great products at even better prices, usually free. No matter what hardware you use to access the internet, desktop, laptop, Phablet or smartphone, there are Google apps to make your life easier. We use Gmail to communicate, Blogger for our blog, Docs for writing, Picasa to share pictures, Maps to navigate, Chrome as a browser (and OS on the Chromebook), Android on many Tablets and Phablets, and more. The next big step is going to be Google Drive, cloud storage for all of your devices that will allow you new flexibility in file management.

Now we even have 5G of free storage and can upgrade up to 1TB if we want to pay for it. Google has become the MSFT of the 21st Century.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gas Prices


I just had a thought. Sales of GMC (Government Motors) cars are doing very well. The price of gas has gone through the roof, double over a couple of years ago, and the GMC sales are all high fuel economy cars.

What does that tell me? Simple, the current administration in DC is pushing their anti-fossil fuel plan to the extreme. No coal at all, no nukes, no drilling that has not been forced on them by previous administrations and no pipe lines.

What better way to make your product successful than by stopping competition. Please God help us. Open the eyes of the American voters to what is really happening.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Serious Internet Threat


I read this online and thought I should pass it on to all of our readers. It sounds very important to me.

International hackers have corrupted many thousands of computers worldwide. In the US, the FBI has been blocking the malicious sites but will be shutting down the expensive system in July.

The FBI is encouraging users to visit a website run by its security partner, http://www.dcwg.org , that will inform them whether they're infected and explain how to fix the problem. After July 9, infected users won't be able to connect to the Internet.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Lexmark Color Laser Printers


We attended an online press briefing last week on two new Lexmark printers. Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

Lexmark announced two new families of color laser products that build upon the company’s long-standing leadership and expertise in enterprise printing and imaging. The Lexmark X740 Series of color laser multifunction products (MFPs) and Lexmark C740 Series of color laser printers extend compelling solutions advancements to Lexmark’s mid-range line of color workgroup devices, further strengthening the company’s competitiveness in this important market segment. With these new products, Lexmark has enhanced its color offerings for workgroups of 10 to15 people who require the latest productivity-enhancing software advancements and robust, high-quality color printing.

The Lexmark X740 Series and Lexmark C748 family are highlighted by intuitive 7-inch and 4.3-inch color touch screens, respectively, that provide tablet-like navigation. In fact, the models within the Lexmark C748 family are the first and only color laser printers under $1,000 to offer a color touch screen user interface1. These sophisticated touch screens are the gateway to several pre-loaded applications, such as Forms and Favorites and Scan to E-mail on the Lexmark X740 Series, and can also be tailored easily with additional time-saving solutions based on unique business or workgroup needs.

Foe more inofmation go to www.lexmark.com


Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Future of Shopping


When I was a child back in the ‘50s most shopping was done in small stand-alone stores. Every block in my hometown had a small grocery store (and a bar!). There were a couple of “department stores” where we bought major products and, of course, there was the Sears catalog. This buying model changed when we got our first strip malls and big supermarkets. All of those small shops were forced out of business (but the bars remained!).

The next evolution was from strip malls to enclosed malls with a hundred plus stores in them. Once again, many of the strip malls were closed. Then the big malls went out of favor and new big-box stores with satellite stores took over. These store were places like CompUSA, Circuit City, BestBuy, and the mega-bookstores. Now most of them are gone too, replaced by online shopping.

I imagine most of our readers are like me and do the majority of their consumer electronics shopping online. Just about the only stores I still drive to are home improvement stores like Lowe’s and to the grocery store. All of my other shopping is online.

I wonder where I’ll be shopping in 10 years?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Vanguard USA Awards

In our last ePub issue we reviewed a superb camera bag from Vanguard USA, the Adapter 46. If you read the review then you know how adaptable (hence the Adapter name) it is. It’s a backpack or shoulder bag or hand carry bag that can hold all of your camera equipment and more.

We aren’t the only people who love Vanguard’s products. Here are excerpts from an announcement we received this week:

VANGUARD, global leader in photo-video accessories, today announced its BBH-200 ball head and The Heralder series camera bags have earned prestigious 2012 TIPA awards.

The 2012 awards were voted on by the Technical Image Press Association (TIPA) General Assembly last month in South Africa, where editors of close to 30 top photo magazines from around the world selected the best imaging products of the year.

VANGUARD's BBH-200 was named "Best Accessory 2012." According to the TIPA, voters were won over by the ball head's innovative Rapid Level System that aids photographers in instantly positioning their camera perpendicular to the base, stating, "Vanguard's unique 'Rapid Level System' in their new BBH-200 Ball Head makes life easier for photographers."

VANGUARD's The Heralder series camera messenger bags were voted "Best Photo Bag 2012" for their quick and easy access and large storage capacity. The Heralder Series is a fast-action messenger bag for on-the-move photographers.

More information about the TIPA and TIPA awards are available at www.tipa.com.





Thursday, April 19, 2012

ILC Cameras


One of the major changes in photography in the past few years is the birth of Interchangeable Lens Cameras or ILCs. Back in the days of film you needed to use mirrors in order to be able to see what the camera lens saw. Those cameras were called Single Lens Reflex cameras or SLRs. All Pros and advanced amateurs used SLRs because they wanted to use multiple lenses to take the best possible photographs. There were exceptions of course, like interchangeable lens rangefinder cameras (like the Leica cameras we all loved) and twin lens reflex cameras (like the Rollieflex line)  but they were usually very expensive specialty cameras.

ILC cameras became possible because today’s digital cameras use electronic viewfinders. The image you see in your viewfinder or on your LCD on the back of the camera is a digital presentation, not a true image reflected from mirrors. Some SLRs still exist but the industry is rapidly moving to digital images, no matter what the camera looks like.

The ILCs available today are far smaller and lighter than was possible when you had to use physical mirrors in order to see what your lens sees. I love them dearly and use ILCs for the majority of my shooting. The King (SLRs) is dead, Long live the King (ILCs).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Facebook security


The reports of Facebook security problems have always been taken seriously by me. Or so I thought. Last night I ran into multiple problems that came out of the blue because I was being unsafe.

Naturally I have always had all of the security features turned on for Facebook on the computers that I use. After all, who wants to be hacked? What I didn’t take into consideration is my wife’s computer! She is a typical user, she has no idea what she is doing when she is online!

Needless to say I found out that spammers were hacking her account to send out their crap. It took me a bit of time but I think the problems have been resolved.

Here’s the moral of this story: ALWAYS practice safe computing. If you don’t know exactly what you’re doing....... don’t do it!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Our Groceries app, Part II


I’ve been using the Our Groceries app for over a week now and I love it. It has made paper lists obsolete and has been a wonderful time saver. Every time I go shopping I take a list with me because I’m not a shopper, I’m a buyer.  The concept of going into a store to look around is alien to me, I just want to buy what I came for and leave.

Our Groceries makes it a breeze to make specific lists for whatever you want to shop for. I’ve made lists for the grocery store, Sam’s Club, Lowe’s and online shopping already and it’s very easy to make and modify lists.

Normally I buy certain products every time I go to certain stores so I’m the perfect Our Groceries client. The routine I’ve settled on is to enter the products I want to buy into the various lists on my laptop in the office or Chromebook in the kitchen  on the Our Groceries web site. They are then available immediately listed on whatever Phablet I’m taking to the store with me. It’s perfect! I love this app!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sales of Video Games


The final numbers are in for U.S. sales of video game software, hardware and accessories for March. Total sales were $1.1 billion which sounds good on the surface. However, it’s down from $1.47 billion a year earlier, a drop of 25% and every major manufacturer, including MSFT, Nintendo and Sony, reported drops in sales.  

I’m not sure what this means at this point. I have a feeling it’s just a lull in the market because buyers are waiting for new devices to come out later this year. The games market is slowly changing but I have complete faith in the big players, they’ll come up with new and gamers will clamor to buy the new stuff.

My kids and their families will probably be the first ones in line to spend their money on new game products when they come out. Ones an XBOX nut and the other is a PlayStation fan and they’re both buyers.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Ides of April

Everyone knows about the Ides of March and, like Caesar, they beware. But the Ides of April, the 15th, actually is a far more sinister date! Why is that you ask? Well, let me list what has happened on April 15th over the years.

The really bad stuff:
It's US Federal income tax day
1865 - Abraham Lincoln died
1912 - The Titanic sank
1945 - FDR was buried
1990 - Greta Garbo died
1992 - Leona Helmsley went to prison

The not-bad stuff (to most people):
1947 - Jackie Robinson played his 1st Major League game (a lot of people thought it was terrible at the time)
1952 - the 1st B-52 flew (how many people have died because of them)
1955 - Ray Kroc started McDonalds (the start of the obesity epidemic)

And finally the one good thing that compensates for all of the bad things over the years:
1978 - I married my wonderful wife 34 years ago

Saturday, April 14, 2012

MSFT software road map


I recently read an article on the “leaked” road map for MSFT software products, including Office, IE and phone. Just imagine, a “confidential” MSFT document that passes on projected time lines for MSFT products. How exciting!! NOT!!!

I’m sure someone, somewhere cares about the MSFT project timeline but, considering their track record, I can care less. I haven’t used Office since version 2003 and I dumped IE many, many years ago. Will I switch back at some point in the future? Who know. I guess anything is possible.

Personally I am a much bigger fan of the way Ubuntu updates their software (every six months in April and October) and Google updates their products (whenever they need to).

Friday, April 13, 2012

Who's Number One


If you ask most people the question “who is the number one company in US Smartphone sales?” you’ll probably get the answer: the iFruit company. Surprisingly enough, that answer is wrong. The number one company in Smartphone sales is, and has been for quite a while, Samsung. LG is number two and iFruit phones are third.

For the quarter ending February 29th Samsung had 25.6% of the market, LG had 19.4% and iFruit 13.5%. They were trailed by Motorola with 12.8% and HTC with 6.3%.

As for operating systems, Android is the clear leader with 50.1%, far ahead of iFruit’s 30.2%. RIM is down to 13.4% but they are still far ahead of MSFT’s 3.9% (and shrinking) and Symbian’s miniscule 1.5%.

The iFruit company gets most of the buzz but Android gets most of the sales. Users who are spending their hard earned money on a new phone are voting for Android in this election.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Olde Cameras


I have always been a collector, a collector who sometimes borders on obsessive, by the way. There was a time in the 1970’s that I had a Minolta camera fetish and accumulated many, many of them. I still carry a key fob given to me by Sam Kusimoto, President and CEO of Minolta in thanks for my support of the company.

I’m always happy to see other people who love old cameras and are proud to show them off. I found the Prism Yard web site and want everyone to take a look at some of the beloved cameras that are featured here.

Share & Browse Camera Collections at Prism Yard [via KEH]

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The iFruit company and MSFT


I’m sure that more than one of our regular readers has wondered why I seem to have a bit of animosity towards the two juggernauts of the PC industry, the iFruit company and MSFT. It’s not because they are the 800 pound gorillas in the room it’s actually something very different.

Over the years there have been many big companies that have had rivalries that were very intense. In the 1990s there were battles between IBM and MSFT over operating systems, OS2 vs. Windows. MSFT also had battles with Borland, Corel, Lotus and other companies with competing products. Those were good healthy battles that caused rapid and positive innovation. The iFruit company, at that time, was just a niche player.

What really started to aggravate me was MSFTs constant efforts to use the courts to try to drive competitors out of business. MSFT didn’t want to have a majority of the money, they wanted all of it. If someone else had any sales they needed to be stopped.

The iFruit company is doing the same thing today. Their efforts to stop Samsung from selling products because of rinky dink patent infringements is totally bogus. Come on iFruit company, your stock is selling for over $600 a share, you have more money in the bank than anyone in the world and you’re still trying to squeeze everyone else out of the market.

Here’s my suggestion to everyone: fire all of your lawyers, stay out of courtrooms and enjoy some friendly competition.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

MSFT buys AOL patents


In a major move in the patents wars MSFT has purchased more than 800 of AOL’s patents for $1.056 billion. Analysts that I’ve heard say the deal should be a good one for both companies and I believe them. MSFT can always use more ammunition in their never ending quest to sue everyone in the world and AOL can use the cash.

From what I see, the acquisition is intended to strengthen MSFT’s hand in the mapping wars.Google currently has a lead with Google Maps and it’s wonderful integration with all of Google’s other products.

As everyone knows, I am a huge fan of innovation and if this move spurs all companies to make their products better then I’m happy for them. But, it this purchase is going do be used to try to block innovation the I’ll be very disappointed indeed.

Monday, April 9, 2012

TaxACT

We just received this and since federal tax time is rapidly approaching we thought we should pass it on:

With just 8 days left to file tax returns, taxpayers who still need to file have an alternative to waiting in line, paying someone to do it, or buying expensive software. TaxACT offers all taxpayers a free and easy tax filing solution.
"Whether it be online from home or on an iPad® elsewhere, last-minute filers can do their federal taxes free at taxact.com," said TaxACT spokesperson Jessi Dolmage. "TaxACT Free Federal Edition has all the forms, tools and one-on-one help taxpayers need to file easily and quickly."
TaxACT is the only free federal tax preparation solution to include all e-fileable forms for simple and complex situations, including returns with itemized deductions, interest and dividends, business and self-employment income, and investments.
TaxACT saves time with tools such as Quick Convert that brings in data directly from last year's return, fast data entry options for W-2 and 1099 information, bookmarks and an extensive tax glossary.
Answers to tax and technical questions are just a click away in TaxACT's Answer Center or online at www.taxact.com. Free Edition users can also email TaxPayer Support Specialists for free help, or purchase phone support for the 2011 tax year for a one-time fee of $7.95.
Taxpayers who need more time can file federal and state extensions free with TaxACT Free Federal Edition. TaxACT users can prepare, print and e-file a state return for $17.95. TaxACT State includes all part-year and non-resident forms, free email help, Accuracy Guarantee and Maximum Refund Pledge.

iFruit Malware


iFruit Fanboyz and gurlz all like to talk about how safe their systems are compared to the malware prone systems made by other companies. As most real techies know, nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is the iOS is just as open to the bad guys as other systems, if not more so.

The Flashback Trojan currently infects more than 600k Mac computers, the largest amount of Macs ever affected. As a percentage of systems affected for an OS it’s far more than any MSFT or other OS has ever had. The Trojan is spread through very malicious means and actually requires no user interaction or approval to get on your system. It’s sneaky and dangerous.

iFruit users need to be as alert as any other computer users. No system is totally safe so do what you need to do and always, I mean always, practice safe computing.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Grocery List App


Yesterday’s post about the Chrome browser and the integration of Google apps led me to this post. A few days ago I was working on a grocery list and I realized how old fashioned it was doing it on paper with a pen. I use Phablets and computers for everything else why not lists?

After doing some internet research, I went to the Android Play Store to download the Our Groceries app. It’s supposed to be the best grocery list app and it was worth a few minutes to check it out. It’s a free app but has an advertising banner. It will cost you $4.99 to buy the unlock code if the ads bother you.

I downloaded the app onto both a smartphone and a tablet. The installation asks if you want to synch with other devices and I chose to use my Gmail account to synch. I was pleasantly surprised to see my grocery list synching away on both Phablets and on the www.ourgroceries.com web site. Just imagine, you can create multiple list for any purpose you want and they automatically synch on multiple devices. Now this is cool!

I’m still in the initial testing stages but at this point I have to say I really like Our Groceries and recommend readers give it a shot too.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Google Chrome Browser


Until recently I was a devoted Firefox fan. However, Google’s Chrome browser has worked it’s way into my heart and it now is my favorite. I’m writing this post in Google Docs and will do a cut-and-paste tomorrow morning to post it in our blog. Why am I telling you this? Simple, because Chrome made it so easy to do!

I’m just starting the initial testing of a Sony VAIO S laptop and I was dreading having to do all of the initial startup stuff I have to do with any system before it becomes useful. The Sony came pre-loaded with Win7 Home and that meant the browser was IE9. Since I despise IE I needed to install a new browser. My first thought was Firefox but I decided to go with Chrome for this test. What a great decision it turned out to be!! I downloaded Chrome and answered the few questions the install asked.

What I ended up with, in mere minutes by the way, was the exact browser I have been using every single day on another computer. Every bookmark and all of my preferences were there in seconds. I merely clicked on my Google Docs bookmark and ended up where I always go to write blog articles. My email, address book, calendars, documents and browser settings were all there waiting for me.

Thanks to Google any computer or Phablet I use is linked together and all of my information is there for me. Thanks again Google!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Star Trek saw the future of computing


On Wednesday April 4th Google showed the first version of what may well be the real future of computing, Google glasses. The current prototypes actually look very cool and, from what we’ve heard, actually work. I’m reminded of Star Trek when I see them and I have a hunch that’s what Google is looking for.

Actually, by the later versions of the Star Trek TV show (not the original Shatner version) they had very good guesses at what computing would be like in the near term future, not hundreds of years in the future. If you recall, everyone used tablets!! I’m a dreamer but I admit I can’t imagine what computing will be like 50 years from now, let alone hundreds of years from now.

The only real fear I have is that people are not ready for the kind of connectivity Google glasses will give them. How many people will die on the highways if this enormous distraction is available while they are driving? I’m very afraid at this point. Let’s see what the future holds.



Thursday, April 5, 2012

The OLPC Concept Grows Up


We have always been huge fans of the OLPC, One Laptop Per Child, concept. It has always seemed to be a perfect way to provide an education to children in any country, developed or not. Since laptops have gone the way of the dodo bird it is time for a OTPC. One Tablet Per Child. We read this on DigiTimes.com and think it is well worth repeating.

Intel is set to push a tablet PC product codenamed StudyBook to target emerging markets and will adopt the same sales model as its Classmate PC, according to sources from PC players. The StudyBook tablet PC will feature a 10-inch panel with Intel's Medfield platform and adopt dual-operating systems and will target the emerging markets such as China and Brazil, the sources noted.

The sources pointed out that Intel's Classmate PC project has been operating for about five years and the company has already established a partnership with many emerging countries. The StudyBook tablet PC will be released in the second half of 2012 and in addition to the education procurement market, Intel also hopes to push the product into regular retail channels priced below US$299.

Second-tier notebook maker Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS), which has close relationship with Intel and is also the OEM of Classmate PC, is expected to manufacture the StudyBook for Intel, while China-based Malata will also receive the tablet PC orders from Intel.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Are laptops dead?


We recently saw the work desk of one of our friends who works in hi-tech on Facebook. It’s a 21st Century desk. There is no desktop or laptop computer, just a Tablet with a keyboard and full size monitor behind it.

We have tested quite a number of Phablets and honestly feel that for most purposes they work as well as a much more expensive laptop or desktop computer. The 10.1 inch screens on many of the Android units provide plenty of real estate to see what you’re working on and the processors are more than adequate for online work and most writing.

Sony just sent us a Sony VAIO S notebook computer to review with a 15.5” screen and every bell and whistle you can imagine. It will be an interesting review and we’re wondering if it will prove to be worth $1,429.99 plus $149.99 for the extra battery. How many Phablets can you get for that money?