Thursday, October 31, 2013

iolo technologies Contest

iolo technologies Opens Up “System Mechanic Saved My Computer” Video Contest

Leading PC tune-up software company is giving away prizes from Alienware, Crucial, JBL, Coolermaster and Caselogic totaling more than $3,000 in prizes

WHAT: To celebrate their 15-year anniversary, iolo technologies is offering people the chance to share their story about a time that the program saved their computer and helped them out. iolo is offering a prize pack worth more than $3,000 to winners of the contest which opens up on Wednesday, October 30.

The contest asks System Mechanic users to tell a story about a time when the program saved their computer and made their life easier. All entrants will also receive either a 3 months extension of their System Mechanic license or a free 3 months trial.

WHEN: Contest opens Wednesday, October 30 and submissions close Friday, November 22 at 5 p.m. p.t.


HOW TO ENTER: Submission details, prize details and rules and regulations can be found here  and an instructional video here

For applicants who never used System Mechanic before they can simply download and use System Mechanic Free :

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

iFruit Stock and Profits

The iFruit company's profit and margins slid despite selling 33.8 million iPhones in its September quarter, and revenue from climbed just 6 percent even though two smartphone models hit store shelves in its second-largest market last month.

The unremarkable quarterly numbers prompted some disappointed investors to cash in recent gains in the stock, which slid 5 percent at one stage after-hours on Monday.

Wall Street had hoped for a stronger beat on quarterly sales after the company predicted in September that its revenue and margins would come in at the high end of its own forecasts.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Protecting Yourself

By Robert Sanborn

The scammers are out in force, even I got a call from “Technical Support” telling me they were calling me about a Windows error report I had submitted.  

Give me a break!  First of all, no one is going to call you out of the blue about a computer problem you are having unless you start the call first. 

Just hang up. They are calling at random, hoping to land a gullible fish at the other end and it will cost you. So hang up.

 2nd thing.  If you use a Yahoo, Hotmail, or AOL email account, at some point, someone is going to guess what that little silly password you used is and hack into your email account and will start to send everyone on your address book junk to hook them. 

It’s a fact of life. It’s also time to change the password to something other than your house number, birthday, or dog’s name. 

Want an easy hint on a much stronger password? Then use an easy to remember two or three word phrase and separate it with a number or two. How about something like “christmas15coming”? It is strong, difficult to crack, and easy to remember.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lowes Home Alarm System Review

By George Harding

Our homes today have so much good stuff in them that protection is important. We have our smart phones, high definition TVs, other electronic devices, computers, laptops, tablets and so on. Most of us have insurance coverage to protect against loss of these items, but it’s certainly better to avoid having them stolen than to go through the hassle of filing insurance claims. Enter a home alarm system.

In the past, alarm systems were hard-wired, a perfect system requiring attic and wall installations, and a monthly fee for maintenance. The system usually includes 24/365 monitoring of the account by an off-site service. When an alarm is raised, the service calls to see if the alarm was triggered accidentally, or if illegal entry is involved. 

Ultimately, police may be called to investigate.

The Lowes system is completely wireless, requires very little installation, is either free or has a nominal monthly fee. There is no off-site service involving a person, rather an alarm triggers notice to you by email. An advantage over wired systems is that you can look at your home by smart phone to see if anything is amiss, and you can control the system from your smart phone, tablet or computer.

I received the Lowes Smart Kit alarm system, called Iris. It includes the following devices: Hub, Keypad, Motion Sensor, Door/Window sensor, Smart Plug, Smart Thermostat, Range Extender and Video Camera. Actually the video camera is an extra-cost item not included in the Kit, but I received it along with the Kit.

The setup procedure involves first setting up an account. You must provide the usual contact information, the most important of which is your email address. Nearly all the communications are done through email, although you can also use the Iris web site for control and notification.

Part of the account setup is providing credit card information, although nothing will be charged is you select the free service. Otherwise, you will be charged about $10 monthly after the free period of two months.

Once your account is setup, you begin by installing the Smart Hub. It requires a connection to your WiFi router, and a power connection. When these are connected, the Hub communicates with the Iris web site to pair the Hub with the service. The router and power connection are permanent.

Next you pair any of the additional devices to the Hub. It is recommended that you initially do the pairing near the router, but once paired, you can place the device where it can best be used. The Keypad requires 6 batteries (supplied) and when paired should be placed near your normal exit/entry door. It has a keypad that you use to enter your code number, and On, Off and Partial buttons. When you leave your home, you press the On button and exit. When you reenter, you key in your code number and press Off.

The Video Camera can be places anywhere that gives you the view you want to see when you check by smart phone, tablet or computer. It is paired by use of a connection to your router and wall plug power, but once paired, it is a stand-alone device. It can be mounted on a wall, ceiling or anyplace you desire. It comes with mounting hardware.

The Smart Plug can be used to turn lights or other powered item on or off on a schedule of your choosing.

The Motion Sensor can be placed so as to detect movement in the part of your home it sees. You control what happens when it detects motion through the Hub. You can trigger an email message and/or start the Video Camera.

The Door/Window sensor will detect opening a door or window to which it is attached. Again, when an event is sensed, the Hub can be controlled to send an alert by email and/or start the video camera.

The Lowes Smart Kit contains everything you need to set up an efficient, easy to setup and use home security system.

Lowes’ Home Alarm System                  
Price of Smart Kit $299, additional devices available at extra cost or may be added at any time.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Protecting Your Gear

By Robert Sanborn

I have been a long fan of Otterbox ( phone cases as the gold standard by which I have compared a ton of other cases to. 

Last year, I got a new case for my iPhone from Lifeproof, ( that I thought was probably the best one that had come along in a long time since Otterbox and guess what, Otterbox also saw something to like about them and bought the company this past May.  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

bCODA Coda One Review

By George Harding

It’s all too easy to pick up your phone and answer or make a call when you are driving. Doing so is illegal in many states, so what do you do? Coda One to the rescue!

Coda One is a hands-free device that clips to your car’s sun shade. With it, you can receive calls, make calls or listen to music.

The device is less than 6” long, 1 ½” wide and 1/2” thick, which makes it easy to handle. It fastens to your sun shade with a magnetic clip. When a call comes in, you get an announcement about the caller, either the name (if in your phone’s contact list and your phone supports the feature) or the number.

To answer the call, you press the multifunction button in the middle of the Coda One. Other than that, you need not use your hands at all. The call may be ended by pressing the multifunction button again, or just wait until the caller hangs up.

To make a call, unless your phone supports audio calling, you must initiate the call from your cell phone. After that, it’s hands-free.

You can listen to music on your cell phone if you wish.

The Coda One is Bluetooth enabled. Using this feature, you must “pair” the device with your cell phone. The process is almost automatic.  The process is similar to pairing with any Bluetooth device. Up to 8 phones may be paired with Coda One.

The specs are quite impressive: 20 hours talk time, 40 days standby time. It is full duplex with noise reduction and echo cancellation capability.

Coda One by bCODA                           
Price about $100

Friday, October 25, 2013

November ePub issue

The November issue of our monthly ePub was emailed out tonight and it turned out great. We were a bit later than usual because we wanted to include information of the big Pepcom event in San Francisco recently.

If you aren't a subscriber just let us know and we'll add you to the list!

Pentax Firmware Update

Pentax has just officially posted new firmware versions for all recent DSLRs on their Japanese web site; this totals 9 firmware updates. This new firmware adds support for the recently announced flashes and HD Limited lenses.  As usual, the latest firmware releases also include some minor bug fixes.  By upgrading your camera's firmware to the latest version, the contents of all previous updates will also be applied.

Specifically, with the latest firmware version, the Pentax K-500, K-50, K-5 II/IIs, K-5, K-30, K-r and 645D will be able to use the LED light on the new AF360FGZ II and AF540FGZ II flashes as an AF assist beam.  In addition, on the Pentax K-500, K-50, K-5 II/IIs, K-5, K-30, K-01 and K-r, the contrast detect (live view) autofocus performance with the new HD lenses has been improved.

Below is a complete list of cameras with new firmware versions, as well as links to the official firmware download page for each camera.
Firmware Version
K-5 II/IIs
Read on for easy-to-follow firmware installation instructions.

K-r, K-5, K-5 II/s and 645D Firmware Upgrade Instructions

  1. Download the firmware ZIP file corresponding to your camera using the links above (opt for the Mac version even if you're on Windows)
  2. Extract the file to a folder of your choosing
  3. Locate the extracted .BIN file and copy it to the root (top level i.e. outside of any folder) of a formatted SD card
  4. Insert the card into your camera and ensure it is fully charged
  5. Turn the camera power on while pressing the MENU button
  6. Select "Yes"at the firmware prompt
  7. Once the screen displays "Complete", turn off your camera
  8. Power your camera back on and resume normal use
  9. In order to verify that the firmware update was successful, hold the menu button while powering your camera on.  The screen should indicate the latest version.  You should then power off your camera and resume normal use.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Laplink PCmover

Laplink Software announced today that its newest version of PCmover passed its certifications and is fully compatible with Windows 8.1.

For several years, PCmover has been the number one, best-selling application for PC-to-PC migration. Now, PCmover holds a 95% share per migration in the US retail market.

“PCmover remains the leader in migration,” announced Laplink’s CEO, Thomas Koll. “It delivers more functionality and more value than competing solutions. It supports any transfer scenario, whether users want to upgrade their current PC to Windows 8.1, or whether they want to upgrade to a new PC entirely. PCmover will even allow users to migrate to a new PC using an image or old hard drive in place of the source PC.”

While Microsoft only provides support for a few limited scenarios and has no solution for transferring applications to a new PC, Laplink’s PCmover fits any user’s needs. PCmover is the only software that moves applications installed and ready to use to a new PC in addition to user files, settings, and programs.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New iPads

Speaking at the launch event in San Francisco, Phil Schiller announced the next iteration of the company's tablet. It's thinner, lighter and more powerful -- hence the new name: the iPad Air. (No more of that "new iPad" nonsense.) And Cupertino takes that moniker seriously; this slate weighs just one pound (down from the fourth-gen model's 1.4 pounds). It also boasts a 43-percent thinner bezel and a 20-percent thinner profile; it's just 7.5mm thick this time around.

As expected, the new iPad Air sports a 9.7-inch Retina display. 64-bit architecture is on board with more than 1 billion transistors, and there's an A7 processor under the hood along with an M7 motion chip. Schiller says this guy is eight times faster than the first-gen iPad (we'd hope, to be honest -- that was three years ago!), and graphics are 72 times faster. Thanks to MIMO, you should enjoy faster WiFi, and look for expanded LTE support from international carriers as well.

The 5-megapixel iSight camera is capable of shooting 1080p video, and the FaceTime camera on the front includes "larger pixels" and a backside-illuminated sensor for better image quality. Additionally, the iPad Air sports dual mics. As far as battery life goes, expect about 10 hours. Finally, as many have been quick to point out, the iPad Air does not include the Touch ID fingerprint sensor that debuted on the iPhone 5s. That feature was met with plenty of backlash; it's unclear if this is why Cupertino opted to leave it out.

The Air will ship on November 1st to several countries, including the US, UK, China and Japan. Notably, this is the first time China will get the iPad on launch day. When the tablet is available, you'll have your choice of silver, white, grey and black color options.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

MSFT Win 8.1 Upgrade Woes

While some of us were very lucky to have the Win8.1 upgrade load on our travel laptop with no problems at all, others have not been so lucky.

Microsoft customers have been plagued with problems that have foiled attempts to install the Windows 8.1 update, according to widespread reports on the company's support forums.

Some of the trouble has been tentatively traced to incompatible device drivers.

While the situation on traditional PCs and Windows 8-powered tablets has not prompted Microsoft to yank the update -- as it did Friday with the one designed for Windows RT -- they have frustrated users' efforts and gotten a few angry enough to swear off Windows 8.1.

Customers saw a variety of cryptic error messages, but most reports about the sequence of events were similar: After the update has downloaded and was being installed, at some point the PC or tablet spontaneously restarted with an error message. The update then tried to recover but failed a second time -- or went through that cycle several times -- before restoring the system to Windows 8.

Monday, October 21, 2013

New iFruit Tablets

The iFruit company is upgrading its iPad lineup to fend off a growing list of competitors, which are introducing their own tablets at lower prices with snazzier features.

Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook will debut a high-definition iPad mini and a thinner iPad at a San Francisco event tomorrow, people with knowledge of the plans have said.

Facing two straight quarters of declining profit and a stock that’s down by more than a quarter from a September 2012 record, Apple is facing a similar challenge with the iPad as it has with the iPhone, battling lower-cost rivals and proving that incremental changes to existing products are enough to draw customers. The iPad is Apple’s second-best selling gadget after the iPhone and the new models will be critical as the company seeks to reignite growth.

“Tablets are a maturing market,” said Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in San Francisco. “It will be difficult for Apple to move the needle on new tablet sales, as the strongest growth is coming from emerging markets where customers are more price sensitive.”

Apple saw its share of the tablet market contract to 32 percent in the second quarter from 60 percent a year earlier, according to researcher IDC. While iPad sales more than doubled every quarter since the 2010 debut, growth of the devices hasn’t topped 66 percent since mid-2012.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ubuntu 13.10

Thursday saw the release of Ubuntu “Saucy Salamander” 13.10, the first version of the Linux distribution to explicitly support smartphones and tablets, as well as desktop PCs and servers. There aren’t any Ubuntu mobile devices on sale yet – London-based sponsor company Canonical hopes these will arrive in 2014 – but there’s a long list of Android devices that can be flashed to use it.

However, while this is the first really touch-friendly version of Ubuntu, it’s incomplete in its mobile incarnation. For a start, there are hardly any smartphone or tablet apps for it yet, as is to be expected at this early stage. But there’s a far greater omission: Ubuntu Touch’s ability to run as full-blown desktop Ubuntu when hooked up to an HDMI monitor and Bluetooth keyboard.

This is because Ubuntu’s new mobile-friendly display server, Mir, is not quite ready yet for the operating system’s desktop flavor. It was supposed to replace the legacy X Window System in 13.10, but “outstanding technical difficulties” mean it will only land in the next version, 14.04, which is due in April. Hopefully.

“The desktop at this stage doesn’t fully support the new graphics architecture that is now enabled on the phone OS,” Richard Collins, Canonical’s product manager for mobile, told me. “It’s something we are working very rapidly towards.”

“At this stage we are looking to have Mir running on [the 14.04] release, probably initially as more of a specific release for [manufacturers] that feel they are in a position to produce hardware that wants that same graphics architecture to run. The full release, in terms of the main codebase that’s fully open, will be from 14.04 and beyond.”

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Body Media FIT Review

By George Harding

An amazing development has been occurring in the health field. There are more devices than ever before that measure and report on aspects of your body and health. The Fit device is one of them.
FIT is essentially a weight management system that records, analyzes and reports physiological parameters. The objectives of using the system are to assist you to maintain a healthy weight and an active lifestyle. Benefits include combatting serious medical conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

This device has an attached arm band and is designed for you to wear most of the time. As you wear it, four sensors collect information about your body’s response to activity:
  • Galvanic skin response.  When you sweat, your skin becomes more electrically conductive. This sensor measures how active you are
  • Skin temperature.  Measures surface temperature of your body.
  • Heat flux.  Measures the rate heat dissipates from your body.
  • Accelerometer.  Measures motion and steps taken.
When you start using the system, you open and account and enter your goals with respect to aspects of your health, primarily weight reduction. As you wear the arm band and upload the data, a web site collects the data and organizes it for your use.

The system reports five items of information it collects: Calories burned; Calories consumed; Physical activity; Steps taken; and Sleep duration. These are shown in a grid formation with a bar chart. You can easily chart your progress toward your goals.

There are two items of information that you must enter manually, meals and weight. Entering the weight each day or two is a simple procedure. Entering the meal information is more complex.

For each meal, you use the web sites tools to find the foods that you ate and the portions. There is an extensive database of foods that can be used to select and enter the data. You can simplify the process somewhat by copying yesterday’s info for a meal to today.

The device in the arm band that collects information may be removed for uploading and charging. It comes with a cable, one end of which fits the micro-USB port in the device, the other end of which has a USB plug for your computer or laptop. Charging takes about 3 hours initially. Uploading only takes a few seconds.

When you connect the arm band device through the cable to your laptop, syncing begins automatically and the grid of report information is displayed with the current information. There is an iPhone app available that shows the grid information from the last sync, which is handy.

There are several tools you have available to provide information and to help you with your weight loss task. Food analysis can point out what you are eating that raises your calories consumed count, to help you evaluate your eating habits.

The exercise calculator shows the estimated calories burned for a wide selection of activities. For example, playing racquetball competitively for an hour burns about 800 calories. Mowing lawn for 30 minutes uses 240 calories if walking behind the mower, but only 100 using a riding mower.

This is a very helpful device for controlling or losing weight. In fact, it has been used by entrants to the Biggest Loser TV show to help with their weight loss program.

I found this system easy to use and beneficial to me. The arm band is not at all uncomfortable, during the day or at night. I encountered only one anomaly, the record of physical activity. My 2 hours of racquetball only showed up as 17 minutes. I don’t know why.

I recommend this system for anyone who wants to lose weight and/or stay healthy. There is some comfort in seeing how closely you measure up to what you want your health to be.

FIT by Bodymedia               
Price about $119, $149 for a wireless version