Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tablet Shipments

The numbers are in for Tablet computer shipments in Q1 and it doesn’t look good for MSFT and the iFruit company. MSFT’s Tablets continued their poor sales with Win8 and WinRT combined sales amounting to a dismal 7.4% of the market and shipment of only 3 million units. The iFruit company shipped 19.5 million units for 48.2% of the market. That may sound great but one year ago they had a monstrous 63% of the market.

Android Tablet shipment continued their steady climb. with 17.6 million units shipped amounting to 43% of the market. If you include the “white box” Android Tablets, which I always do, then the Android market share jumps to 52% and pushed Apple back to 41%.

In a few years MSFT may well pull out of the Tablet market, as they usually do when their products don’t sell (remember the Zune anyone?). As for Apple, they will someday have the same percentage of users for their Tablets and phones that they do for desktop and laptop computers. Enough buyers to stay in business but not much else.

Monday, April 29, 2013

xPrintServer Review- Part 3

By Bayle Emlein

I decided that, given my usage patterns, all this hot-swapping is slightly more of a hassle than emailing myself from the iPad, especially as I’d need to clean up the formatting in either case.
I took the xPrintServer to the main office, where half a dozen or more dedicated iPad users would be ecstatic to print directly. Connecting the xPrintServer with the network printer got the fastest response from building IT that I have ever seen. Although we could not see the printer, apparently the xPrintServer had grabbed an IP address, causing the chief admin’s copier to fail.

Onward to a small outliving office that has boxed itself into a corner promising that printing from an iPad would be automatic from their air printer. They are a Mac-based facility, with all the confidence of Apple fans that everything is usable out of the box, though they had sounded like they had a bit of technical expertise. That was a month ago and as far as I know they are still looking for a router that will let them connect the xPrintServer.

A minor quibble in all this hassle: the power plug could be a lot more user-friendly. One black cord among half a dozen or so, nothing at all indicates that it goes to a Lantronix device. A little masking tape will handle the problem, though not elegantly. Another unfriendly characteristic of the plug is that it covers an extra power socket and is wide enough that with a little creativity one can drape over it three.

In summary, the instructions could be written more clearly and legibly. Fewer promises about the ease of installation and use would keep expectations under control. You might think I’d learn and not believe the next pretty PlugAndPlay offer I see, but I’ll probably fall for the line once again.

If anyone reading this has actually gotten the xPrintServer to print from an iPad, I’d appreciate knowing how you did it. You could let this blog know!!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

xPrintServer- Part 2

By Bayle Emlein

The Quick Start Guide has screen shots of how to plug the xPrintServer box into my router and printer, and screen shots of selecting my printer, all in the fly speck font (about 6 point sans serif) that seems mandatory for this kind of document. The graphics have an over-generous amount of white space that could be creatively used to enlarge the instructions to maybe 10 point or even a generous and legible 12 point. Just a thought.

Two visits from inhouse tech support have gotten me as far as getting the xPrintServer to notice that something is being sent to it. My printer, although it says it’s set up with xPrintServer, stays unblinkingly silent. Time to ask Lantronix for HELP. It appears no one else has had any difficulty getting this kind of set-up to work as there is nothing in the FAQ section that seems remotely promising. Onward to Lantronix Tech Support.

For now I’m going to skip the option of Tech Support for Reviewers and try the civilian route, the experience you’d have if you spent money first and then got to this impasse. It seems necessary to create an account before I can email them a message. I am promised they will not abuse my contact information, but only provide updates and information I really, really want.

I submitted my request on the evening of February 4, 2013. By the time I got to email on the 5th, there was a response that I’d get a response. And on the 6th, an emailed request that I send diagnostics, network addresses, and other information. Way beyond the “plugNplay” “never look under the hood” Apple philosophy. After another consultation with the inhouse techie, I provided what seemed like the requested info. And got more requests for detailed information about my set-up. Owing to the built-in schedule mismatch between my home office and Lantronix tech support, each of these exchanges took at least two days.

They closed the Help request on 2/20, without further resolution or a real explanation of why they thought they were done. By this time I was ready to pull rank and email the reviewer’s contact. After my evening email query, I received a phone call back early the next morning. When I arranged to get myself back to the home office, in front of the problem, I called the direct number back and a tech talked me through the set up. It boiled down to not being able to use the printer through the server unless it is directly routed into the network, or some geek-speak explanation along those lines. I can manually unplug the printer from the computer and into the xPrintServer, which will then print  from the computer also. But I lose the multi-functions of my multi-function printer, unless I plug the computer back into the printer.

To be continued, again.....

Saturday, April 27, 2013

xPrintServer Review- Part 1

By Bayle Emlein

What’s in the Box
xPrintServer, 3-foot RJ45 cable; international power adapter; mounting bracket; 4 rubber feet; quick-start guide.

xPrintServer comes in two flavors: “Home” and “Office.” As with many current applications, read “Home” as “basic” or “lite.” Office refers to a configuration such as a small office (any number of iOS devices, up to 10 network or 8 USB printers suggested–USB hub not included). So far this matches my set-up.

The stated purpose of this piece of equipment is to enable printing from an iPad or iPhone. For those not used to iDevices: there is no direct way to print. If you have access to a bluetooth printer that the device recognizes, you can use that connection. Or you can email or otherwise export your document to a computer (e.g., via Google Docs or Evernote) and then print. Unacceptably clunky in the Universe of Apple.

The scenario is that I am trying to print from an iPad 3 to an HP Officejet ProL7680. Because this printer is not in the list of WiFi enabled printers, I need to connect through my computer’s WiFi. The computer is running Windows XP. Page 3 of the Quick Start Guide lets me know that to coordinate an iDevice with a Windows printer, I’ll need to download and install a driver from Apple.

Life in the global economy is so complicated. The carton says, “Designed by Lantronix in California. Made in China.” I’ll have to think about how American that leaves this product. Am glad to see that the US telephone hours reflect at least some time that I’m not scheduled to be at work on other tasks, though now I’m wondering what kind of accent I’ll get if I call the Sales number and which holidays are excluded. Do they celebrate Susan B. Anthony? Malcolm X? Chinese New Year? Each is a valid “holiday” in some part of the Pacific Rim.

The carton is the trade-mark white of a certain set of Fruit-based devices. The lure on the still-shrink-wrapped box reads, “iPad® & iPhone® Printing Made Easy: Print From All Your iOS Devices to Virtually Any Printer!” (Excitement! And capitalization conventions theirs). Android and Windows users, just go on about your business while the iFruit company figures out that some of us do more than ephemeral Tweets.

To be continued.......

Friday, April 26, 2013

Ubuntu 13.04

It’s late April and that means the latest update to Ubuntu, and it’s siblings, is available.Every April and October Canonical, the developers of Ubuntu, put out a new version (hence the version number, 13.04, it’s 2013 and the 4th month).

Personally one of my favorite versions is Lubuntu, the lightweight version. Here’s how they describe it: Lubuntu is a flavor of Ubuntu based on the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment (LXDE), as its default GUI. The goal is to provide a very lightweight distribution, with all the advantages of the Ubuntu world (repositories, support, etc.). Lubuntu is targeted at "normal" PC and laptop users running on low-spec hardware. Such users may not know how to use command line tools, and in most cases they just don't have enough resources for all the bells and whistles of the "full-featured" mainstream distributions.

Everyone should try Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu or Edubuntu. You may find you’ll become a convert.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


If you’re planning to attend the Kentucky Derby early next month, you might want to make sure you’ll be content with capturing your memories with a smartphone or point-and-shoot. Churchill Downs, the racetrack that hosts the famous horse race, has unveiled new security measures that will prevent attendees from bringing certain items onto the grounds. Among them: all interchangeable lens cameras.

In addition to interchangeable lens cameras (e.g. DSLRs, mirrorless cameras), the guidelines also prohibit any camera that has a lens longer than 6 inches, tripods, and camcorders.
Churchill Grounds says that the measures were developed after consulting with several law enforcement authorities following the Boston Marathon bombings last week.

The policy reflects a common prejudice against “professional” style cameras. It’s interesting that a $629 entry-level Canon Rebel (a crop-frame camera) with a 18-55mm kit lens will be banned under the new policy, but a professional $2,800 Sony RX1 full frame compact camera will be perfectly acceptable.

....and that a tiny Sony NEX mirrorless camera with a pancake lens will be banned, while a much larger bridge camera with a powerful zoom lens will be perfectly acceptable:

Churchill Downs says that permitted items include:
Small cameras, but none equipped with detachable lenses or lenses more than 6 inches;
Cellular telephones, smartphones and tablets

It looks like you might want to pick up a telephoto lens for your iPad after all. Oh wait… that lenses is nearly 8 inches long. Is that allowed?…

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

iFruit Quarterly Report

In another example of the continued decline of the iFuit company, they announced their quarterly profits yesterday. As expected, there was a drop in their profits from over $11B in 2012 to $9.5B in 2013. Sales of iPhones continue to be strong but their share of the overall market is dropping because of the increase in sales of competing Android phones, especially those from Samsung.

We have been advising investors to dump their iFruit stock since late in 2012 and we see no reason to alter that advice. The iFruit company is traveling the same route many other highly profitable companies took. MSFT is a modern day example of a company that went from the top of the tech heap to sputtering along. Apple is doing the same thing.

In an effort to get their stock price back up they are going to buy back an additional $55 billion in shares. Will this work long term? I doubt it. Only really great new products will do that.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


As a retired Air Traffic Controller and Manager, I am very knowledgeable about the FAA budget process. In the Clinton Era I was the Manager of a control tower and had to deal with budget cuts and furloughs. Based on my experience there is absolutely no reason for the current controller furloughs and the resulting delays.

The current regime, headed by President Obama, has purposely chosen to hurt the American people for selfish political gain. Sequester was Obama’s idea and how it is being used is solely his idea.

The American people need to wake up and recognize what is occurring and why. This entire mess was created by power hungry democrats and they need to be stopped.

Monday, April 22, 2013

New Kobo eReader

Kobo has announced a new eReader that will be available April 25th. Here’s some of what we’ve read about it.

Kobo, the Canadian e-reader, tablet and e-book company owned by Japan’s e-commerce giant Rakuten, today unveiled its newest device, the Aura HD, a limited-edition e-reader it’s aiming it at power bookworms, with a 265dpi resolution on a 6.8-inch screen, 4 gigabytes of storage and a two-month battery life for the premium price of $169.99 (£139.99). 

The announcement, made in London to coincide with this week’s London Book Fair, comes as Kobo doubles down on its business, with a stronger retail operation and now plans to launch its own app store later this year to build out content for its devices.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

May ePub Issue

Our May issue is being emailed out this morning. As usual, it’s full of great articles and some wonderful reviews.

Any of our blog followers who don’t receive the ePub but would like to, just need to add a comment or send us an email to get added to our subscriber list.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Is The Netbook Dead?

One of the questions that we have heard many times lately is: Is the netbook dead? It sounds like a fair question on the surface but starts to lose validity when you carefully examine the data.

A few years ago Netbooks were the darlings of the computer world. Like many others, we fell in love with them and felt they were the best road devices ever created. We wrote many an article on them and reviewed quite a few of the little wonders. Prognosticators around the world predicted them to be sales dynamos for years to come.

But in the past couple of years their sales have tanked. Why? Simple, the growth of Tablets and Phablets. Now the Tablet is the darling of computer users (I have five of them, four Android and one iPad, within arms reach as I’m writing this). Where are my beloved Netbooks? On a shelf behind me, gathering dust.

Does this mean the Netbook is dead? Nope, it just means the market has changed. When you use a bluetooth keyboard and/or mouse with a Tablet you have a device VERY similar in size and capability to a Netbook. That is exactly what has happened to the Netbooks market. People still want the size and weight of a Netbook but have added the convenience and added capability of touchscreen products to the original design.

The Netbook isn’t dead, it has just morphed into a Phablet with a bluetooth keyboard.  

Friday, April 19, 2013

Pentax Q Firmware Update

Pentax has released another firmware update for the Pentax Q digital camera/ Here’s information on the update:

Pentax has just released a new v1.12 firmware update for the original Pentax Q.  This update fixes an issue with the "Tone Expansion" Smart Effect found in the camera.  As usual, it also includes the latest minor bug fixes.

We believe that this bug was introduced by firmware v1.11, which was taken down by Pentax shortly after being made available.  We recommend that everyone running v1.11 update to the latest firmware version, even if you don't plan on using Tone Expansion.

For those of you still running v1.10 or earlier, this new firmware update will improve your camera's autofocus, so we recommend installing it.

Click here to download firmware 1.12 for the Pentax Q, and read on for installation instructions.

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.

All Pentax firmware updates are cumulative, so by installing the latest update you also receive all the fixes and features from previous updates.

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

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Apple's Stock Price

We hope all of our readers took our advice last year and sold their iFruit company stock while the price was still sky high. As this is being written their stock price has dropped below $400 for the first time since 2011 and, in our opinion, will continue to drop.

The iFruit company no longer has the same innovative, must-have products they did in the past. All of the buzz that kept people panting in anticipation is gone. Google is now creating the products people are talking about and lusting after.

Can the iFruit company come back? Sure, in business anything is possible. But we feel that Apple without the day-to-day guidance of Steve Jobs will be like MSFT without Bill Gates at the helm. They will just sputter along, going nowhere.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

MSFT Win8 Rumors

The latest word from the rumor mill is that MSFT will try to salvage Win8 sales by re-introducing two of the things they “innovated” away. It seems that Booting to the desktop and the Start button may be part of Win8.1 when it comes out later this year.

Win8 has been a very disappointing seller (despite what MSFT says officially) and they are getting desperate to find a way to get things going again. MSFT may be planning on doing too little, too late. The age of the computer on every desk and Windows on every computer may well be over for good. Yes, there is still a need for full power computers for some tasks but for most users a Phablet will do 99% of the time.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

People Power Presence

Fox Business News had an interesting interview earlier this week. It was with Gene Wang, CEO of People Power. I must admit that I didn’t know anything about the company and their free app, Presence. Presence is a free app available on the iFruit store that turns any iOS product into a WiFi camera. We also found out that they are in the process of developing an Android version and we can’t wait to try it out.

Here’s info from their web site:

Presence turns iPhone's, iPad's, or iPod Touch's into a FREE WiFi video camera with motion detection, alerts, and more.

Recently upgraded to an iPhone 5? Have an available iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch? Take the available device, download Presence, and transform it into a wireless video cam, pet cam, security cam, baby cam, nanny cam, party cam, you name it. Then, install Presence on your new iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to view your camera from anywhere in the world! Seeing is believing: monitor your camera in real-time or get meaningful alerts with video clips when motion is detected. Engage in a 2-way audio/video conversation through your camera back at home, while you’re on the go. Be there for your loved ones and protect your valuables even when you are away.

  • MONITOR – Simply download Presence to your old iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. Connect it over WiFi and plug in power. Place it in your home, room, garage, office, or school and begin monitoring it remotely in real-time from your new iPhone.
  • ALERT – Customize settings and get an alert with a short video clip when motion is detected. You can tell when someone breaks into your room, when the kids get home from school, and that your elderly relatives are moving about their day.
  • PROTECT – See it for yourself. Have peace of mind with video clips and keep a constant eye on pets, family, and prized possessions when you are away from home. Communicate remotely through your camera to the people and pets you see through the camera.
  • SAVE – Don't buy an expensive IP camera; put that old iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch back to work! Download Presence and transform your unused iOS devices into the most advanced WiFi video cameras on the market for FREE.

All of this is possible with Presence and so much more. Make your home more comfortable and more secure starting today for FREE!

Monday, April 15, 2013

April 15th

There are some dates every year that seem to be more momentous than others and April 15th is definitely one of them. In case you weren’t aware of what has happened on this date, here’s a partial list:

1452- Leonardo da Vinci born
1865- Abe Lincoln died
1912- The Titanic sank
1945- FDR buried
1947- Jackie Robinson’s first MLB game
1952- 1st B-52 flight
1955- Ray Krok opens the 1st McDonalds
1978- my anniversary
1990- Greta Garbo died
1992- Leona Helmsley went to prison

And, of course, federal income taxes are due today!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

GoSmart 200 Series Stylus Review

One way to minimize the number of fingerprints on your Phablet screen is by using a stylus. We thought there were two styles available, those with a soft rubber tip that emulates a finger tip and those with a hard plastic tip. But now there is a third style, the GoSmart tip.

The GoSmart 200 Series Stylus that we were sent to review is an example of the third style. When we first opened it up we were a bit baffled by the design. As you can see in the picture above, the GoSmart is a wire wheel-like tip attached to the main body by a very thin wire spring. The 200 Series is made in a standard pen shape with a pocket clip for easy storage. The GoSmart Stylus tip is Teflon-coated to give a nice, smooth feel.

We were very surprised at how well the GoSmart worked. We ere able to do everything with it that you normally do with a finger tip.

Our review model had “rare earth magnets” built into the body which made it magnetic. If you want to attach your pen to a ferrous base, like a refrigerator, you can do it easily.

The GoSmart tip offers yet another way to use your Phablet efficiently and help keep your screen clean at the same time.

MSRP for the 200 Series is $23.95 or $24.95 with rare earth magnets in the body. Available in Black, Red, Blue and White

Saturday, April 13, 2013

PC Sales Plummet

As we have reported many times before, the sales of the PC continue to plummet. Both IDC and Gartner have come out with reports on PC sales in Q1 of 2013 and they agree that things look dismal for that segment of the market.

Here’s what IDC said:
Despite some mild improvement in the economic environment and some new PC models offering Windows 8, PC shipments were down significantly across all regions compared to a year ago. Fading Mini Notebook shipments have taken a big chunk out of the low-end market while tablets and smartphones continue to divert consumer spending. PC industry efforts to offer touch capabilities and ultraslim systems have been hampered by traditional barriers of price and component supply, as well as a weak reception for Windows 8. The PC industry is struggling to identify innovations that differentiate PCs from other products and inspire consumers to buy, and instead is meeting significant resistance to changes perceived as cumbersome or costly.

In short: Windows 8 was a bust, if success is defined as boosting PC shipments. But it's clear that the market currents are larger and more powerful than Microsoft (or any other single vendor) can manage -- never mind the fact that its radically different operating system has seen slow adoption.

Friday, April 12, 2013

App Sales

Apple’s App Store and Google Play on Android continue to set the pace for the overall performance and fortunes of mobile apps worldwide, while BlackBerry and Microsoft’s Windows Phone remain “distant challengers.” Figures out today from Canalys note that in Q1 2013, the four top app stores worldwide collectively accounted for 13.4 billion downloads, with $2.2 billion in paid app sales, in-app purchases and subscriptions. But while Google has long passed Apple as the biggest smartphone platform worldwide, Apple is still the undisputed leader when it comes to monetizing: Google Play accounted for 51% of all downloads (6.8 billion), but Apple’s App Store for 74% of all revenues ($1.6 billion).

In terms of downloads, Canalys says that Apple is not too far behind Google, with close to 40% of all downloads worldwide, while BlackBerry and Microsoft still hold single-digit percentage shares. Tim Shepherd, a senior analyst at Canalys, tells TechCrunch that he expects to see the gap between Google and Apple grow as Android retains its dominant position in the smart phone market globally.

In revenue numbers, however, Google has a lot of catching up to do. Compared to Apple’s 74%, Google is “close to 20%,” he says. The others are in single digits.
The figures represent 11% growth compared to Q4 in terms of download volumes, and about 9% growth in terms of sales. In terms of the biggest markets, app store revenues in North America were up by 8% and downloads 6%, and in Western Europe, revenues were up 8% and downloads 10%.

The concentration of activity on Apple and Google’s platforms show that while it continues to be a challenge for smaller players to break the hegemony that is Samsung/Android and Apple on handset sales, the same goes in content. “Upping their respective installed base of users is critical if BlackBerry or Microsoft are to close these gaps,” says Shepherd.