Sunday, March 31, 2013

MSFT- Another Day Late and Another Dollar Short

Once again MSFT has shown just how badly they anticipate the buying public’s needs. We have heard the rumors that MSFT is planning on making Win8 work on 7” tablets. What?? They have just discovered the 7” market? Even the iFruit company saw this one a year ago.

Here’s what MSFT put out:
We're changing the System.Client.Tablet.Graphics.Minimum Resolution requirement to create a consistent minimum resolution of 1024 x 768 at a depth of 32 bits across all Windows 8 system form factors. The physical dimensions of the display panel must still match the aspect ratio of the native resolution. This doesn't imply that we're encouraging partners to regularly use a lower screen resolution. In fact, we see customers embracing the higher resolution screens that make a great Windows experience. We understand that partners exploring designs for certain markets could find greater design flexibility helpful. [emphasis added]

Anyone who has used a tablet know how great the 7” format is and always has been. Samsung has made incredible 7” tablets for YEARS and it is still our favorite format.

If you’re smart you’ll dump MSFT stock fast, it’s doomed.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Tablet Computer Photo Studio Light

We found this on and thought it was worth sharing

Turn your tablet into a studio light.

Why it’s cool:

Studio lights and softboxes are big, cumbersome, and cost a bundle!

By comparison, your tablet is like a cheetah vs a hippo. It’s quick, versatile, and light on its feet.

Download backdrops for free and create customized shapes and reflections that will make your photos stand out from the crowd.

What you need:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Pentax Q Firmware Update

Pentax has just released a new v1.11 firmware update for the Pentax Q.  This update introduces the same stability and autofocus improvements that were included in firmware version 1.01 for the newer Q10.

Download firmware v1.11 for the Pentax Q, and read on for installation instructions.

Please note: your camera settings will be reset after performing this upgrade.

Pentax Q firmware update instructions:

  • Download the firmware ZIP file linked above
  • Extract the contents of the ZIP and locate the fwdc601p.BIN file
  • Copy the file to the root (top level) of your SD card and insert the card into your camera
  • Ensure that your camera is fully charged, then power it on
  • Press the menu button to access the menu screen
  • Using the 4-way controller, go to the set up (3) menu tab
  • Select the firmware version info option
  • Press the right button on the 4-way controller and select "start" to begin the upgrade
  • Wait until the display indicates "COMPLETE".  The camera will then power itself off after 5 seconds
  • Resume normal use.  You can also go back to the firmware menu to verify that the version number has changed.

Important: do not turn your camera off while the upgrade is in progress, and do not remove the lens.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Otterbox Conterfeits

At CES this year I noticed a distinct trend, several companies, big and small, were clearly copying the successful Otterbox cases for Phablets. Here’s what Otterbox is doing about it:

A multi-billion dollar industry, counterfeiting of consumer goods continues to threaten brands around the globe. From inconspicuous individuals to organized operations, premeditated retail crime costs U.S. businesses $200 billion to $250 billion annually.* Fort Collins, Colo.-based OtterBox® is giving a growing focus to the fight against the production and circulation of counterfeit cases.

Known as the makers of the No. 1-selling smartphone case in America**, the OtterBox brand is a premium symbol for mobile tech protection. Counterfeiters have taken note of OtterBox’s position as an industry leader and are constantly trying to capitalize on the company’s success by producing fake OtterBox products.

“Counterfeiting has become a huge problem for OtterBox,” said Rachael Lamkin, associate general counsel for OtterBox. “We are serious about protecting the OtterBox portfolio of products and the brand as a whole. That means a focus on the fight against counterfeit cases and efforts to educate the public about the realities of counterfeiting.”

Internal investigations and collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have led to judgments and settlements totaling nearly $11 million in favor of OtterBox in 2012 and helped confiscate more than 118,000 counterfeit items.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Apple Buys into Indoor Mapping

Once again the iFruit company is trying to catch up to Google. Apple has acquired mapping startup WiFiSlam for around $20 million. WiFiSlam is developing an indoor location service for smartphones and that may be the next big thing in mapping. Google introduced their iPhone and Android app last November so Apple is lagging behind again.

WiFiSlam allows smartphones to pinpoint their location to an accuracy of 2.5 meters using only ambient Wi-Fi signals that are already present in buildings. We can think of a slew of great uses for this kind of app. It will be great to get step-by-step indoor navigation in malls, airports and especially trade shows.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Nook Giveaway

Barnes & Noble is seemingly trying to get some stock off its hands with a new, week-long promotion: Anybody who buys a Nook HD+ tablet between March 24 and 31 will get a Nook Simple Touch e-reader (the non-front-lit version) for free.

The offer applies at Barnes & Noble retail and college stores, online, and third-party retailers Walmart, Best Buy and Target. The Nook HD+ tablet, which has a 9-inch screen and is Barnes & Noble’s answer to Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD, is $269 for the 16 GB model and $299 for the 32 GB model. The Nook Simple Touch is normally $79.

Jamie Iannone, president of digital products at Nook Media (the spinoff of Barnes & Noble’s digital and college businesses, which was completed in October and includes investments from Microsoft and Pearson), said in a statement that the two-for-one deal lets customers “fully experience all that the expansive Nook Store of more than 3 million titles has to offer.” The idea is that tablet users who are coming to the Nook HD+ for its “movies, apps, magazines and more” — though it’s unclear how many people actually want these things from Nook, especially following the launch of the iPad Mini) — might stick around and buy some ebooks if they have a device to do so. (Of course, they can also read ebooks on a Nook Tablet.)

The deal might just be intended to get rid of Nook e-readers — it’s possible that Barnes & Noble wants to focus on the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight going forward. It may also be Barnes & Noble’s effort to compete with Amazon, which recently slashed the price of the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD, bringing the WiFi versions price in line with the Nook HD+.

Monday, March 25, 2013

China War against Apple?

It looks like the Chinese Government is starting a war against Apple. There appears to be a war of words (for now) being waged speaking ill of the iFruit company by the official news agency.

How much of an effect will this have on iFruit sales in the enormous Chinese market? Who knows? But it can't be good for the bottom line to have the ChiCom government working against you.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

LensPen SmartKlear

The first thing every Phablet user must have is a screen cleaner. Every user of a phone or tablet ends up with a very messy screen in no time. That’s where the Smartklear by LensPen comes in. 

We’ve used LensLen cleaners on tablets and laptops for the past couple of years and love them.
They are the best way to clean fingerprints from iPhones, Android Phones and other smart phone screens. They clean fingerprints easily using the unique LensPen carbon cleaning compound. Each of the  replaceable cleaning pad is good for about 300 cleanings before the pad needs to be replaced.

All of the LensPen products are highly recommended.

MSRP is only $9.95

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Too Little, Too late?

Blackberry (BB), the company formerly known as Research in Motion, has a lot riding on their latest smartphone... their very existence. Once upon a time, in 2009, RIM had close to 50% of the Smatphone market. Today they have less than 6%. Will the Z10 phone turn things around for them and get them back into the game? That’s the big question we’re all waiting to get the answer to.

BB has reasonable expectations, they only want to improve their position to third behind Samsung and Apple. They are spending relatively big (for them) but still lag way behind the big two in marketing spending.

How do I see things working out? My prediction is that BB will remain a small player until Lenovo buys them out and puts some real money and marketing behind them.

Friday, March 22, 2013

News from TaxACT

Taxpayers who have not filed a 2009 federal income tax return have until April 15 to collect their share of $917 million in unclaimed refunds. The IRS estimates nearly one million taxpayers are eligible, with half the refunds totaling more than $500.

Taxpayers have three years to claim refunds if they do not file a return. Otherwise, the U.S. Treasury keeps the money.

Now in its 15th year of providing affordable tax preparation solutions, TaxACT® offers a fast and easy solution for filing 2009 tax returns. TaxACT Online® 2009 includes unlimited tax support by email and phone, plus accuracy and maximum refund guarantees.

To see the number of eligible taxpayers and refund amounts by state, read the IRS Newswire.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

LensPen SensorKlear Loupe

See and Clean At the Same Time

We received this announcement from LensPen this week:

When you clean your DSLR sensor using the LensPen SensorKlear system, you can see what you are cleaning while you clean, a feature no other sensor cleaner can offer. It makes sensor cleaning simple, fast, easy – and more effective.

“The SensorKlear system is the ‘holy grail’ of sensor cleaning,” said Peter Meurrens, vice president of operations of the LensPen Group. “Other cleaning systems use sprays and gels that can make a sticky mess that spreads all over the delicate parts of your camera. Not only are they messy, you can’t even watch what you are doing when you use them.”

What was once a tedious, time-consuming and nerve rattling experience can now be done in less than a minute, Meurrens said.

“The heart of the SensorKlear system is simplicity,” Meurrens said. “You can clean your sensors with just three simple tools: the SensorKlear Loupe®, Hurricane Blower and SensorKlear II™ pen. All three are packaged in our SensorKlear Loupe Kit.”

The SensorKlear Loupe is easy to use; just remove the camera lens, place the Loupe on the aperture ring, turn on the light and inspect the sensor. If it’s clean, there’s nothing left to do but put the lens back on. If the sensor is not clean use the Hurricane Blower to remove the dry dust. Inspect the sensor again.

If sticky dust remains on the sensor, insert the angled tip of the SensorKlear II pen through the access window on the side of the Loupe to safely and easily target and remove the sticky dust. Only the LensPen SensorKlear Loupe has the access window to allow the user to see and clean at the same time.

“The sensor can be cleaned in about 30 seconds,” Meurrens said. “Fast cleaning is also safe cleaning. There is less chance that a dust particle will enter the camera chamber during the cleaning process.”
The SensorKlear Loupe was recently improved. The new design features eight LEDs (double the number of the original model) to give perfect visibility when inspecting the sensor. The LEDs are powered by just two AAA batteries – long life, low-cost, easy to install and available everywhere. And the new loupe is versatile; it’s designed to fit both standard and Four-Thirds DSLR cameras.

For more information on LensPen products, go to To see how the SensorKlear system works click on

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

April ePub Issue

The April issue of our monthly ePub was emailed out this morning. As usual, it has lots of great articles including some great product reviews. There are also some insightful opinion pieces and other articles that will be of interest to all.

If any of our blog readers want to start getting the ePub, just email me or comment to this post and you’ll be added to the subscriber list.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The End of Win7 Free Support

MSFT will end free support for Win7 in April of 2013, less than a month from now. A least they’re sending out a service pack prior to that date. Here’s some information:

As announced on March 18 on the Microsoft "Blogging Windows" blog, Microsoft plans to begin rolling out Windows 7 SP1 automatically, via Windows Update to Windows 7 users who still are running the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) version without SP1 installed. This process will begin on March 19.

From the blog post:
"Starting tomorrow, the installation will be fully automatic with no user action required for those who already have Automatic Update enabled. SP1 will be released gradually over the coming weeks to all customers on the RTM version of Windows 7. The service pack will take slightly longer to install compared to other updates. To ensure Service Pack 1 is installed without issue, customers should check for sufficient free disk space and that AC power is present on a laptop. If additional space needs to be created, we recommend using the Disk Cleanup tool to delete some files so that the service pack will install. If the service pack installation is interrupted, it will reattempt to install automatically after the next restart."

This automatic update will be applied only to Windows 7 consumer PCs that are not managed via other Microsoft management tools like System Center Configuration Manager or Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), the post noted. Some admins have chosen to block temporarily their users from getting SP1 until they've tested it to their satisfaction. Those in that category won't be getting SP1 pushed to them starting tomorrow.

Monday, March 18, 2013

New Cyprus Tax

We normally don't get involved in tax commentary in this blog but the pending vote in Cyprus to tax bank accounts deserves a comment. If you haven't heard, the Cypriot Parliament is voting to establish a tax on bank account balances, not income mind you, but money you have already paid tax on!

I know it's only Cyprus, but what happens when the tax spreads throughout the Euro zone and eventually comes to the shores of the USA. How will it affect every person when their existing assets are suddenly taxed, year after year after year. Note that I said assets because that's where it will lead. 

God help us. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

New Epson LabelWorks Kit

Printing personalized iron-on labels is quick and easy with the new Epson®LabelWorks™ Iron-On Kit featuring the portable LabelWorks LW-300 and two iron-on tape cartridges – all in a convenient carrying case. The machine-washable iron-on labels can quickly be applied to almost any fabric, giving busy families a unique way to organize multiple uniforms, sports jerseys, clothing, school items, and more.
“Writing names on clothes with a black marker is a thing of the past,” said Anna Jen, director of new business development, Epson America, Inc. “The LabelWorks Iron-On Kit has everything you need to get started customizing and organizing clothing with a variety of colors, fonts, symbols, and frames for fun and creative styles.”
The Epson LabelWorks Iron-On Kit helps busy families keep track of their belongings, preventing sweatshirts, jackets, lunchboxes, backpacks, and other personal items from making their way into the overflowing lost-and-found bins at schools, camps or sporting events. Parents and children can easily print durable, machine-washable labels from the LabelWorks LW-300 and iron them directly onto almost any fabric in a matter of seconds.
In addition to iron-on labeling, the versatile LabelWorks LW-300 is compatible with tapes in a variety of traditional colors, as well as specialty colors and textures such as fluorescent, pearlized, plaid, glow-in-the-dark, and printable satin ribbon. It also offers a variety of fonts, styles, symbols, and frames, taking creative labeling and projects to a new level.
For more information about Epson’s LabelWorks printers, visit For videos demonstrating various LabelWorks applications, including the use of iron-on labels, visit Epson’s YouTube channel.
Pricing and Availability
The Epson LabelWorks Iron-On Kit (MSRP $69.99) is available online at

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Where there's smoke........

Once again the rumor mill is abuzz with speculation that Lenovo will acquire BlackBerry (BB). In the classic spirit of “buy on the rumor, sell on the news” investors are buying BlackBerry stock and raining the price. The price of BB stock has gone up over 25% this year mostly because of the the Lenovo rumors.

Lenovo big wigs are making cautious statements and BB execs are denying there is anything going on. It has the look and feel of something going on in the background and it won’t surprise anyone when the deal is announced.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Samsung S4 Smartphone

As everyone probably knows by now, Samsung has announced their latest Smartphone, the Galaxy S4. It looks like it’s going to be one more huge hit, following in the footsteps of the SII and the S3. That will just strengthen Samsung’s lead in the world market and put even more pressure on the iFruit company to come up with a new device that’s even close in capabilities.

Samsung's current flagship phone, the Galaxy S3, became the best-selling Android device in the world in 2012. In its first six months on the market, the Galaxy S III sold over 40 million units. In the third quarter of 2012, it even passed the iPhone as the single best-selling smartphone in the world -- though Apple snatched back that distinction in Q4 with the launch of the iPhone 5.

This is the kind of wonderful competition that keeps the market innovating. We’re seeing better devices at lower prices because there are multiple products vying for the consumer’s money. Keep up the good work guys!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Zero TV Households

The internet has changed the way people entertain themselves at home. According to Nielsen, the ratings people, the number of households in the US that no longer watches traditional TV has increased to 5 million from 3 million in 2007. Those families have found that computers, smartphones and tablets connected to the internet work just fine as TV replacements.

That’s still a very small slice of the market, Nielsen acknowledges. Today, 95 percent of U.S. viewers still watch so-called “traditional TV” in their living rooms. And even among the cord-cutting group, the TV itself isn’t obsolete. It’s a platform used for console gaming, watching DVDs and surfing the Internet. More than 75 percent of the cord-cutting group still has at least one TV set, Nielsen found.

While the “Zero TV” household could also refer to those who simply don’t watch video content at all, most (67 percent) still do watch video content. Thirty-seven percent do so on a computer, 16 percent via the Internet, 8 percent on smartphones and 6 percent on tablets.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

MSFT Misses the Boat

Once again MSFT has missed the boat. The paradigm shift in computing away from desktop and laptop computers to portable tablets and smartphones is changing the way people think of getting things done.

The latest complaints come from Jun Dong-Soo, president of Samsung's memory chip division, who had no kind words for Windows 8 during a meeting with reporters in Seoul.
"The global PC industry is steadily shrinking despite the launch of Windows 8," he said Friday, according to Korea Times. "I think the Windows 8 system is no better than the previous Windows Vista platform."

Jun's statements echo findings by IDC and Gartner, who found that PC sales declined during the holiday shopping season. Jun added that Microsoft's Surface has seen "lackluster demand," and that demands for thinner Ultrabooks by Microsoft and Intel failed "mostly because of the less-competitive Windows platform."

Thanks to iOS, AndroidOS and ChromeOS users no longer want or need to use MSFT’s software.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

New Otterbox Battery App

We recently received this press release from Otterbox and it’s something very different from them.

Being predictable isn’t always a bad thing. OtterBox® now has the Smartphone Outsmarted™ with a new battery app for Apple® iPhone® and Android® devices. Introducing the OtterBox iON Intelligence® application, available free in the Apple Store and Google Play.

This innovative app is a smart and seamless battery extender. iON Intelligence eliminates the guesswork of predicting battery life with a clear display of power status and an intuitive indication of exactly when to charge next. Soon, industry-leading OtterBox Defender Series® protection for iPhone 4/4S and Android devices will come packed with this innovative technology to provide a trifecta of power, protection and battery management.

The iON Intelligence software is a learning application that estimates battery power and battery time remaining by incorporating current and historical power usage. Over time, iON Intelligence learns about power usage patterns and improves its accuracy. The more it’s used, the better it gets.

“Battery life is one of the few attributes that Apple and Android users are often concerned with,” OtterBox President and CEO Brian Thomas said. “OtterBox’s mission is always to enable the tech consumer, and giving them a means to manage their smartphone battery allows for intelligent use. Our engineering teams created a product that charges up to three-times faster than any other of its kind, allowing users to leave the phone charger behind and significantly improve battery life.”

For OtterBox, premium protection is always a key to the design. With a “Made for iPhone” certification, this state-of-the-art product offers triple-layer protection in addition to smart and seamless power. The first layer is a built-in screen protector that guards against scratches without inhibiting touch sensitivity; the second is a sturdy polycarbonate shell that securely snaps in place around the device and the outer layer is a robust silicone skin complete with port and plug covers to keep out dust and dirt.*

For more information and to download the OtterBox iON Intelligence app, visit

Monday, March 11, 2013

New iPad from Apple

The iFruit company recently slashed their orders from their Chinese manufacturers for iPads from 60 million to 33 million units for 2013. Does this mean they expect sales of iPads to fall to half of what they were expected to be? Maybe and maybe not.

The rumor mill is saying they will actually introduce a new iPad sometime in April with a larger screen, sort of an iPad maxi instead of an iPad mini. We’ll keep our eyes and ears open and let our readers know as soon as we do.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

LibreOffice 4.0.1

The Document Foundation (TDF) announces LibreOffice 4.0.1, for Windows, MacOS and Linux, the first release after the successful launch of LibreOffice 4.0 in early February, which has yielded rates of entirely new client IP addresses requesting updates each day over the 100,000 mark (they were just 25,000 one year ago).

LibreOffice Impress Remote is now available for all platforms - Linux, MacOS and Windows - from Google Play
How to instructions are available on the wiki:

The new release is a step forward in the process of improving the overall quality and stability of LibreOffice 4.0. For enterprise adoptions, though, The Document Foundation suggests the more solid and stable LibreOffice 3.6.5, backed by certified level 3 support engineers.

The Documentation team has also released the guide "Getting Started with bLibreOffice 4.0", which is available in PDF and ODF formats from the website ( and as a printed book from Lulu (

LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members can support The Document Foundation - infrastructure, marketing, community development - with a donation. There is a donation page - with many options including PayPal and credit cards - at

LibreOffice 4.0.1 is available for immediate download from the following link: Extensions for LibreOffice are available from the following link: