Saturday, August 31, 2013

LibreOffice 4.1.1

The Document Foundation (TDF) announces LibreOffice 4.1.1, for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. This is the first minor release of the LibreOffice 4.1 family, which features a large number of improved interoperability features with proprietary and legacy file formats.

The new release is a step forward in the process of improving the overall quality and stability of LibreOffice 4.1. For enterprise adoptions, though, The Document Foundation suggests LibreOffice 4.0.5, backed by certified professionals.

LibreOffice 4.1.1 arrives a few days after the announcement of the Spanish autonomous region of Valencia's migration to LibreOffice on 120,000 PCs, which will save the government some 1.5 million Euro per year on proprietary software licenses.

The LibreOffice ecosystem continues to grow at a steady pace, with an average of over 100 active developers per month since February 2013. These figures tops the cumulative number of over 700 new developers attracted by the project since the announcement on September 28, 2010.

LibreOffice 4.1.1 is available for immediate download from the following link: Change logs are available at the following links: (fixed in and (fixed in

Friday, August 30, 2013

Blackberry Q10 a Total Failure

Sales of the keyboard-equipped Blackberry Q10 have been dismal, according to carrier executives and retailers in the U.S. and Canada.

Chris Jourdan, who owns and operates 16 Wireless Zone stores in the Midwestern U.S. that sell Verizon Wireless products, said customers didn't show up for the Q10 as expected. His stores only ordered a few of the devices per location and "the handful that sold were returned."
"We saw virtually no demand for the Q10 and eventually returned most to our equipment vendor," he said.

In another indication the new BlackBerry devices aren't selling well, used phone dealers aren't reporting the flood of old BlackBerrys that typically comes when updated devices are released. Jeff Trachsel, chief marketing officer at NextWorth, which buys used electronics, said both the all touch-screen Z10 and Q10 launches were "nonevents" from a trade-in perspective.

BlackBerry, which dominated the smartphone market for much of the past decade, fell behind as touch-screen devices like the iPhone grew in popularity. About three years ago, the company launched an all-out effort to catch up. It focused on two devices—one all-touch screen, the other with a keyboard—that featured new designs and would be powered by new operating software. Earlier in the year, BlackBerry said it planned to spend "in the hundreds of millions" marketing the phones.

The rollout of the phones was delayed by more than a year. By the time they were unveiled at a glitzy January launch event in New York, BlackBerry's market share had shriveled. In a decision that confused some in the industry, BlackBerry pushed out the touch-screen Z10 first, even though its fans valued BlackBerry for the keyboard.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Waterproof Phone

When it comes to waterproof smartphones, style and protection are no longer mutually exclusive.

Why opt for a waterproof phone? Analysts say that nearly 100 million smartphones in the United States have been destroyed by liquids to date, according to TNS Global. The list of everyday hazards waiting to wreak havoc on mobile devices is almost endless – rainstorms, sinks, puddles, sprinklers and even the dreaded toilet.

The new waterproof Hydro ELITE by Kyocera is a sleek, global-ready 4G LTE Android smartphone with a 4.3-inch HD display. The device offers protection from blowing rain and immersion in up to one meter of water (3.28 ft.) for as long as 30 minutes.

The Hydro ELITE, however, isn’t just designed to keep water out. It’s also optimized to get sound in with Kyocera’s award-winning Smart Sonic Receiver technology. This ceramic actuator replaces the phone’s speaker and transmits sounds as vibrations, making the phone audible even in the noisiest environments.

Those new to Android or who just crave simplicity can choose to use Kyocera’s new optional and easy-to-use “Starter Mode” user interface, with features like a tap-based menu, large fonts, and large intuitive graphics.

Hydro ELITE also features wireless charging, Touch-and-Send NFC sharing, plus Eco Mode with MaxiMZR power-management software to maximize the phone’s large 2100 mAh battery. It has an 8-megapixel HD camera plus a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera for selfies and video chats with friends. It supports up to 32 GB of expandable memory for music, photos or videos.

The Hydro ELITE by Kyocera is available from Verizon Wireless online starting Aug 29 for $99.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate with a new two-year customer agreement.

Built to survive the rigors of everyday life, Hydro ELITE is launching with a little help from extreme-survivalist Bear Grylls – star of television’s hit new series “Get Out Alive” and the father of three active boys. Watch Grylls showcase the device’s unique protective features and Smart Sonic Receiver technology on Kyocera's YouTube channel.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hmmmmm, really??

A Samsung executive has confirmed speculation that it will unveil a new smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear, at an event next week. Lee Young-hee, executive vice president of Samsung Mobile, tells the Korea TImes that the device will be based on Android and feature a "non-flexible" display. Lee calls the Galaxy Gear a "wearable concept device," which raises the question: will Samsung sell its smartwatch to the mass market? Lee adds that Samsung is "confident that the Gear will add meaningful momentum to the mobile industry," implying the device is just an early exploration of a potential market, rather than one aimed at mainstream adoption.

In the same interview, Lee also confirms that the Galaxy Note III, a sequel to the popular tablet / smartphone hybrid the Galaxy Note II, will make an appearance at the September 4th event at the annual IFA conference in Berlin. She later goes on to dismiss rumors that Samsung is preparing to buy the struggling Canadian manufacturer BlackBerry.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


By Robert Sanborn

The year is half over as we get ready to celebrate the 4th of July; and while I have some mixed feelings about the directions of our country, there is never a mixed feeling about Windows. My main computer runs Windows 7 and I begin to understand the push from Microsoft to get people to Windows 8.  Seems like every time I turn around, something in Windows 7 is not working right.  Just this minute, Outlook has decided that it wants to hang as does Internet Explorer.
I keep Windows up to date and am running the latest version of Office. But still, things seem to hang more and more frequently.  What is also interesting to note is that nearly every computer in the stores carries Windows 8 and people must be buying them but I hardly hear a peep of complaints about Windows 8. What is that? Is it so good that people don’t mind the radically different Metro interface or are they so frustrated that they just put it in the closet and hope it goes away?

Nearly every online publication you care to look at has nothing good to say about Windows 8 but it seems it is only the writers that are complaining. The first thing I noticed was that Windows 8 really buries itself in the background to the point that the ones that complain the loudest are the old DOS hands that really want to know where their files are. If you can get over that little hangup, you find that Windows actually manages things quite well. I think the key is that if you upgrade to a Windows 8 computer, don’t try to bring all the old baggage with you.  Start fresh.  Having said that, will the new Windows 8.1 look more like Windows 7 than 8? Doesn’t sound like it. I think Microsoft would rather you first purchase their mobile phone offering to get used to the new operating system and then buy a Windows 8 computer to go with it.

Ok, I had six different Internet Explorer tabs open and it was locked so tight I couldn’t even close any windows or the group.  So I brought up Task Manager and could see six entries for iexplore32.exe and so I deleted one of them. Boom, one went away and the rest are now behaving normally as is Outlook.  Maybe time to shut down the computer and restart, isn’t that the normal thing to do?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Smaller Tablets

Global shipments of touch-screen display panels used in media tablets more than doubled in 1Q 2013, fueled by “booming demand for low-priced 7.x-inch products. Totaling 45.2 million units in 1Q, global shipments of capacitive touch screen displays for media tablets rose 111.9% year-over-year, down 13% quarter-to-quarter from a typical, seasonally slow 4Q 2012,” according to the latest report from IHS.

“Sales of smaller-sized tablets are rising at a rapid rate, driving shipments of capacitive touch screen displays ranking in size from 7- to 8-inches,” commented Duke Yi, senior manager for display components and materials research at IHS.

“These tablets are inexpensive, with pricing at $199, making them popular among consumers. With the level of competition increasing in both the tablet and panel markets, pricing is expected to continue to decline, boosting shipments of displays and end products in this size range.”

Manufacturers’ margins are being squeezed as their number increases, IHS analysts note in the market research and consultancy’s “Tablet PC Touch Panel Shipment Database” report. The average selling price (ASP) of 7.0-inch tablet touch panels dropped to $15.60 year-over-year in 1Q, down 16% from 1Q 2012′s $18.60 and 7.5% from 4Q’s price.

Among suppliers, TPK – whose clients include Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Microsoft and Asus – led the market, capturing 29% of the global market for tablet touch screens. Foxconn subsidiary GIS, continued to gain ground in 1Q with a 13.3% market share, up from 12.8% in 4Q 2012, supported by a growing share of panels for the iPad and iPad mini, as well as supplying touch screen panels for the 8.9-inch Amazon Kindle Fire HD.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The iFruit company Wants More Gold

Apple has reportedly set in motion plans to ship two iPhone models -- at the high and low ends -- early next month, according to a published report, which notes the dual launch would mark the first time Apple has introduced more than one iPhone model at a time.

It is also believed that Apple, which usually brings its handsets to market less than two weeks after unveiling them, is putting a metal casing on its standard model and also will offer a gold-toned iPhone, according to several Internet reports, which say the color could prove especially popular to high-end buyers in markets like China.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Great News for MSFT

Finally there is positive news for MSFT. After years of sputtering along they finally have the chance to turn their business around, Steve Ballmer is finally retiring!!

Ballmer made his intentions know on August 23, 2013. A search committee headed by Microsoft board member John Thompson is working on finding a successor.

Ballmer is going to remain CEO until his successor is appointed, a company spokesperson confirmed.

“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer is quoted as saying in a press release. “We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Google Maps and Waze Data

This week Google is introducing the first integrations between its homegrown Google Maps for mobile and its newly owned Waze.

The traffic tab on Google Maps for iOS and Android will now include accidents, construction, road closures and other incidents reported by Waze users. Meanwhile, the Waze app now supports Google search, and Waze map editors will have access to Google Street View and satellite imagery.

Google grabbing Waze for more than $1 billion in June kept the hot startup away from other suitors, but also landed the “more wood behind fewer arrows” advocates in Mountain View, Calif. with two map apps.

Given the substantial overlap between Google Maps and Waze, it’s interesting to see what the company does to bring them together and keep them distinct.

Adding Waze incident reports is the obvious choice, but also a substantial one; Waze users report millions of blockages and accidents per month. “I think it will have a pretty big impact,” said Brian McClendon, VP of Google Maps. “A big fraction of GMM users will see these.”

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Energizer Smart Charging Station

By George Harding

One of the many categories of product that has grown dramatically is mobile device chargers. A year ago, there were few available, but now, many companies make and sell them.

I received a review unit of the Smart Charging Station. It is a compact unit that plugs into a wall socket and provides three grounded surge-suppressed outlets for charging most anything that needs 120v power. Laptops are a prime example.  The wall plug rotates 180 degrees, so it can be used in most spaces.

But that’s not all! There are also two USB 2.0 charging ports, one smartphone charging port with micro- and mini-USB connectors. This gives access for charging to almost every mobile device.

The unit comes in either white or black and is made of hard plastic to resist breakage.

There is a slot on top of the charger to hold a cell phone or other device while it’s being charged.
And last, but not least, the unit includes a nightlight!

This is a handy device to charge most any mobile unit you may have. And the price is very reasonable!

Price about $40

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Stuck in LAX

Well this is a first for me. I'm stuck in LAX waiting for an airplane that is delayed by severe weather in Tucson, AZ!! I've spent a lot of time in Tucson over the years and have never even seen one drop of rain. I guess there's a first time for everything.

There has been a lot of news today but I'll have to wait until later to post it.

On the road again

We're on the road again, or more accurately, in the air. Expect another post later today after we get to the west coast.

Monday, August 19, 2013

September ePub issue

The September issue of our monthly ePub will be emailed out today. As usual, there are a lot of great articles in it and it is well worth your time to read it.

If any of our blog followers don't read the ePub we heartily recommend you let us know and we'll add you to our reader list.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Invisible Shields Review

By George Harding

Zagg has been making plastic shields for mobile devices for some years. They all have the same qualities: very clear, no distortion; very thin; and virtually indestructible. I've used these shields on several of my phones and have been extremely satisfied.

I received for review an Invisible Shield for my iPhone 4S and another for my Nexus 7 tablet.

The kit comes with the Shield, a container of application solution, a squeegee, and a microfiber cloth. In the case of the kit for the iPhone, the Shield comes with two pieces, one for the front, and the other for the back of the phone.

The application process begins with using the microfiber cloth to clean the surface of the device of grease, fingerprints and other material that may affect adhesion of the Shield.

Next, after you wash your hands, you use the application solution to coat the device with it and to wet your fingers with it, as well.

Next comes the somewhat tricky part: remove the film from the back of the Shield and apply one end of it to the top or bottom of the screen (or back) surface. You may have to slide it slightly to align it properly with the holes and buttons on your device.

Lastly, use the squeegee to move any air bubbles to the edge of the Shield. Any that remain will probably disappear in a day or two.

The Company advises leaving your device off for 12-24 hours.

The Company offers a lifetime warranty for damage to the Shield. They describe the Shield as "durable, invisible and scratchproof." Pretty impressive!

Invisible Shield by Zagg        
Price varies with device to be protected: for iPhone, $20 for screen only, $30 both front and back; for Nexus 7 tablet, $25 for screen only, $35 for both front and back.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Laplink Sync

Laplink Software, Inc., the leader in PC migration and synchronization technology, today announced the release of Laplink Sync, the surefire way to keep your computers, tablets, and smartphones synchronized with the most up-to-date versions of important data.

Laplink Sync is the newest software from the file transfer and synchronization pioneer and uses peer-to-peer synchronization, meaning it does not rely on cloud connectivity. This approach allows users to directly connect devices to transfer, and synchronize files, increasing data throughput speeds and reducing security risk, as well as risk of connectivity failure or data loss.

Laplink Sync quickly and easily transfers and synchronizes files and folders between PCs and tablets or smartphones. (Windows and Android platforms are supported in this release; Mac, iOS, and other platforms are coming soon.) Using Laplink’s proprietary UltraSyncTM technology, the software intelligently synchronizes the files which have been changed, added, or deleted, greatly simplifying the sync process.

Laplink Sync offers advanced file selectivity with multi-directional synchronization. This gives users the ability to define exactly which documents, pictures, music or other files are moved to or from which device or computer.

Laplink Sync is available at for $39.95, which includes two licenses for Windows and one license for Android. Individual licenses for Windows are available at for under $20; Android licenses are available from Google Play.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Smartphones Continue to Sell Very Well

For the first time ever, smartphones outsold feature phones in the second quarter, according to research firm Gartner. During that period, 225 million smartphones were sold, representing a 46.5 percent gain over the same period last year. 

Feature phones, meanwhile, saw their sales drop by 21 percent year over year to land at 210 million units. Looking ahead, smartphones are expected to continue to outsell feature phones, and the gap between them should only grow larger.

But exactly how smartphones caught on so quickly over the past six years since Apple introduced the iPhone is an interesting question, though it's not that surprising that Apple, HTC, Motorola, Samsung and other mobile device makers keep finding ways to cram more new features and applications in handsets with touch-screens. The feature phones that most people were using a few years ago look pretty bare-bones by comparison.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Blackberry Looks for Help

Blackberry’s board of directors has formed a committee to explore strategic alternatives for the future of the company that could include joint ventures or a sale of the company, as it struggles to turn its new BlackBerry 10 operating system into a success.

The news comes after the company announced that it had shipped 6.8 million smartphones and recorded a $84 million loss during the three months to June 1. Only 2.7 million phones running the new OS were sold, a figure that disappointed analysts.

The soft sales led analysts to question the future of BlackBerry 10 and the company during a conference call on the results. At the time, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins offered various themes on the same reply as a defense: “BlackBerry 10 is still in the early stages on its transition. In fact, we are only five months in to what is the launch of an entirely new mobile computing platform,” he said.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Plextor Announcement

If you’re attending the Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara this week you might want to check this out:

Plextor, leading developer and manufacturer of high-performance digital storage devices, is slated to give a sneak preview of their new M6 SSD at the Flash Memory Summit and Exhibition to be held August 13-15 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.

The M6 features the next generation of Plextor’s proprietary TrueSpeed technology that works in tandem with the Marvell 88SS9187 controller for enhanced performance and reliability. The new drive will also feature the latest generation of A19 Toggle NAND flash from Toshiba and an ultra-slim 5mm casing.  Additional product specifications and a formal release date are expected to be announced in the coming months.

In addition to the M6, Plextor will be displaying its complete lineup of storage solutions. Included are Plextor’s flagship M5 Pro Extreme and M5S series, the critically acclaimed M5M mSATA drive, and their much-anticipated M.2 form-factor drive. The M.2 (formerly New Generation Form Factor or NGFF) is the new industry standard form factor and is slated to replace drives such as the mPCIe, mSATA, and other versions of the blade SSD.

The Flash Memory Summit is also an opportunity for Plextor to highlight new products from their breakout year in the enterprise and industrial storage space with a wide range of new solid-state solutions and applications. Among the products on display will be enterprise cloud storage solutions, temperature and power-safe storage for automotive applications, embedded eMMC solutions for use in cellphones and tablets, and drives built for industrial device applications, such as POS machines and digital signage.

Prakash Talawar, Plextor Business Development Manager for Enterprise SSD, will also be in a Summit panel discussion addressing the topic—"What Will It Take to Live in a Disk-Free World?" This will be in the OPEN session (303-E) on August 15 at 3:10 to 4:45 p.m.

Show Details:
Flash Memory Summit
Santa Clara Convention Center, August 13-15, 2013
Plextor Booth #721

Panel Discussion: "What Will It Take to Live in a Disk-Free World?"
Speaker: Prakash Talawar, Plextor Business Development Manager for Enterprise SSD
OPEN Session (303-E), August 15 at 3:10 to 4:45 p.m.

About Plextor
Plextor is a world-leading developer of solid-state drives, Blu-ray optical disc drives, and other high-performance digital storage devices for professionals, consumers, and enterprises. Since the company launched its first CD-ROM drive in 1989, Plextor’s prestigious multi–award-winning products have set the standard for quality and high performance. Plextor will continue to deliver new generations of products based on our core values of market-leading innovation, unequalled quality, complete service, and our belief that users should have full confidence in the performance and stability of the equipment we supply. The Plextor brand of storage and multimedia products is owned by Shinano Kenshi of Japan.

For more information visit:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

SCC- Part 6 Wolverine

By Bayle Emlein

Matt Mardini reviewed the history of Wolverine. Despite the name, Wolverine has nothing to do with work boots and is located in Southern California.

Around the year 2000 Wolverine Data decided to get out of the computer hardware business. They looked around at what was going on and noticed that many people have decades of film, photos, negatives, and slides that had collected since Kodak invented 35mm film. The move to digital preserves pictures, without the deterioration that lowers paper and acetate quality. The problem at the time was that all the transfer technology was painfully slow.  

The Wolverine F2D converts slides and negatives quickly. A computer is not necessary, though the F2D can be used to display directly onto a computer or TV. Converted pictures can be saved to the F2D or to an SD card that you can move to a computer or other devices for displaying if you want.
The Wolverine Snap 14 box does the same for photographs. In the process of demonstrating the transfer process, Matt learned a lot about using Picasa to annotate his pictures. It also includes the possibility for cleaning up blemishes in old pictures. There is other free software for editing and enhancing digital photos.

On a completely different note, the Btunes wireless bluetooth speaker system lets you listen to your music anywhere. They have a range of 100 feet in open air and battery life for 10 hours of listening. It has a built-in speaker so it can be used to put your cell-phone into a really audible speaker phone system.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Plummeting Camera Sales

Pressured by the improving quality of smartphone cameras and the convenience of apps to share photos instantaneously,” The Wall Street Journal says, “camera demand is falling at an unprecedented pace.”

In the first six months of 2013, camera shipments are down 42.7 percent on year, according to the Camera and Imaging Products Association. There was a 15 percent fall in 2012.

At Nikon, net profit fell 72 percent in the last quarter due to the slump in the imaging division. The company, the second-largest camera maker, cites a steep slide in demand for compact and interchangeable-lens models, the Journal says, and cut its sales and profit outlook for the fiscal year to March.

The biggest declines have come from the entry-level, point-and-shoot models. Nikon is also seeing sales decline in SLRs, and notes the disappointing demand for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras as well.

Nikon cut its full-year sales estimates for interchangeable lens cameras by 8 percent to 6.55 million units, while slashing its compact digital camera forecasts by 18 percent to 11.5 million units from its earlier projections announced in May, the Journal reports.
Olympus says its mirrorfree camera sales were also falling short of its own projections. Losses at its camera business narrowed in the quarter to a net loss of ¥1.83 billion.
Reuters reports Olympus’ Pen sales fell 12 percent last quarter

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Windows 8 Apps Lacking

Microsoft's Windows 8 app ecosystem badly needs a jolt to make it competitive with iOS and Android on tablets, an analyst says.

But it's looking like that won't happen anytime soon.

"Most of the top apps are still not supported by Windows 8," said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. "Not only is that a major issue on its own, but Windows 8 now has a reputation for not having the right apps."

And that reputation will stick—and the taint will stink—long after the developers of the must-have apps have created something for Windows 8. "Even when Microsoft rounds out the catalog, Windows 8 will have a lingering perception issue with consumers," Moorhead said.