Saturday, November 30, 2013
For our regular readers who have been waiting patiently for their December issue of our monthly ePub, it will be a few more days. We're having technical issues but hope to have them corrected soon.
Until then, keep following our daily blog and we'll try to keep everyone informed and entertained!!
Friday, November 29, 2013
We realize that Black Friday is a huge deal for retailers in the US but it seems to have gotten totally out of control. This morning my email inboxes were filled with dozens of Black Friday offers from eTailers and brick and mortar stores alike. Amazon and Walmart seemed to be the worst offenders, or the companies offering the best deals, depending on your perspective.
I remember back in an earlier life when I worked for the Federal Government I always volunteered to work on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Why did I do that you ask? For two reasons. First to avoid all of the crowds of people who went shopping on that day and second because every facility was down to a skeleton crew and that meant very little work was going to get done. It was like having a free day off with pay!
If you're a retailer then we wish you good luck today. May this day make your whole year profitable. But please leave me alone. I just want to have leftover turkey and pie and relax today. No shopping for me.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
The endless legal and competitive maneuvers that big mobile technology companies engage in as they jostle for market leadership is one of the biggest stories in the technology industry.
Will Android continue its ownership on software? Will Microsoft find a way to creep back and catch up with Google? Will Apple and Samsung keep spending money that could be invested in product research in their interminable patent litigation?
On Nov. 21, Apple won the latest round in its patent war after a San Jose, Calif., jury determined that Samsung owes the iPhone maker an additional $290 million. With that, Apple has been awarded about $930 million across all of the cases it's won.
Suffice it to say that Samsung walked out of the courtroom with a bit more than a black eye.
But Apple can't start counting its court winnings yet. More appeals are coming, and in 2014, Apple and Samsung will be back in court to litigate additional patent issues.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Western Digital (WD) today released a laptop drive that combines a full-sized solid-state drive (SSD) with a 1TB hard disk drive, offering users high performance or high capacity storage through a single interface.
The company claims its WD Black Dual Drive is 17 times faster than a traditional hard disk drive and costs about three times less per gigabyte than an SSD. The new drive only works with Windows hardware and will retail for $299. The drive does not come as a stand-alone unit, but as a kit that includes installation instructions and hardware. It comes in a standard 9.5mm high, 2.5-in diameter form factor, and has a SATA III, 6Gbps interface.
The WD Black Dual Drive combines a 120GB SSD with a 1TB hard disk drive.
Desktop computers have offered dual drive slots for years, allowing users to install a low-capacity SSD for the OS and heavily used applications, and a slower, but much higher capacity hard disk drive (HDD) for mass data storage.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Digital Capture After Dark
By Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler, Philipp Scholz Rittermann
Digital Imaging After Dark is a 13 chapters and 190 pages of detailed information to help the reader become a better low light photographer. Since the entire concept of photography is capturing light on film or a digital sensor it’s important to be able to understand the possibilities of capturing what little light is available under many circumstance. Ms. Quintenz-Fiedler has compiled the writings of herself, Mr. Ritterman and Kevin McCollister and Michael Penn into a narrative that encompasses each of their techniques and experiences.
Each chapter covers a specific subject that photographers need to understand in order to become more skilled in this difficult art form. The subjects discussed cover everything from what equipment you need, to getting started, what to photograph, atmospheric conditions, movement, lighting and processing.
Low light photography can get fairly technical, especially if you want to take good pictures, and the author does a good job of keeping the technical aspects understandable for the layman. She does a very good job of keeping the technical subjects readable.
In the equipment chapter the author goes into detail describing what kinds of digital cameras are best suited to low light photography. I agree with the general statement that the sensor size (not the mega-pixel count) is one of the most important factors in camera choice. I also liked the descriptions of what types of cameras, lenses, and accessories are best suited to low light photography.
The only area of possible disagreement I may have is the authors brief touching on what I see as the wave of the future: Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras (MILCs). New MILCs, like the Olympus PENs and OM-Ds and truly superb pieces of equipment with all of the capabilities needed for excellent low light photography. In addition, they don’t have the inherent limitations of mirrored SLR cameras, the big flapping mirror below the prism. I would recommend that they use the exact shooting techniques described throughout the book using an MILC. Personally I use an Olympus E-P5 and find it to be perfect
Naturally the one piece of required gear (other than the camera, of course) that is really needed to take low light photographs is a good tripod. I agree with the authors completely on this subject and recommend buying the best one you can afford.
I found Chapter 5, From Dusk ‘Til Dawn to be especially informative Shooting at dusk and at night has always been a passion of mine and some of my best photographs were taken during those hours.
The one piece of advice that really stood out is: Pocket Your Meter! In low light situations your light meter, either built-in or hand-held, will be useless. It is designed to measure reflected light (for the most part) and can’t possibly understand the lighting that occurs at night. So how do you get a correctly exposed picture? Simple, experience and lots and lots of bracketed shots. Shoot with different apertures and different time exposures to get what you’re looking for. It’s so much easier today with digital cameras. I remember shooting dozens of relatively expensive film exposures at night trying to get the one shot I wanted.
This book is beautifully illustrated throughout. Almost every photograph is well done with framing and lighting that clearly shows the reader just what can be done with “impossibly” low light. It should inspire the reader to want to take pictures that are as good as the ones in this volume.
Digital Capture After Dark is highly recommended.
Print & Ebook: $43.95
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Acer is trying to push down the prices of Chromebooks, announcing a new laptop with Chrome OS priced at $200.
The Acer Chromebook C720-2848 has an 11.6-inch screen, and is targeted at those who do most of their computing on the Web. The lightweight laptop offers 8.5 hours of battery life and runs on an Intel Celeron processor based on the Haswell microarchitecture.
A new wave of Chromebooks, running the latest version of Chrome OS, have hit the market starting in October. The latest Chromebooks are priced above $200, and the new Acer laptop and could spark a price war.
The low price will hopefully make Chromebooks attractive to more buyers, an Acer spokeswoman said in an email. Most laptops today have Windows.
A Chromebook C720-2848 competitor will be Hewlett-Packard and Google’s Chromebook 11, which provides 6.5 hours of battery and is priced at $279. The Chromebook 11 was announced last month and runs on an ARM-based Samsung Exynos processor. Acer last month announced the $249.99 Chromebook C720-2800, which has similar specifications to the newest Chromebook, but more DDR3 DRAM.
The Chromebook C720-2848 weighs only 1.25 kilograms, is extremely thin, and boots up in a matter of seconds, Acer said. It has 16GB of solid-state drive storage and 2GB of DRAM, with 100GB of free
Google Drive online storage for the first two years.
The screen can display images at a resolution of 1366 x 768-pixel resolution.
Other features include a webcam, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports. An HDMI port allows the laptop to be connected to high-definition TVs.
The laptop is available immediately in the U.S. Information on worldwide availability was not immediately available.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Google has decided to engage in a little spring-cleaning in the middle of autumn; the company announced today that it would combine its Google Currents and Google Play Magazines into new the new Google Newsstands app.
The app gives users a cards-based view for magazine articles and blog posts. The app combines Feedly- or Flipboard-like access to RSS feeds and websites, but also allows users to purchase digital magazine subscriptions directly through Google Play.
While Newsstand does give access to RSS and website feeds, it is no reincarnation of Google Reader, nor is it a direct competitor with other content apps. Newsstand doesn't offer bare-bones list views a la Feedly, nor does it offer social media or multimedia inputs a la Flipboard. What Newsstand does do is try its darndest to make consumers comfortable with purchasing digital subscriptions through Google Play.
Everything points users back into Play. Indeed, the Google Play storefront now offers a Newsstand tab on the left side of the opening page. The Newsstand tab can be used to add new magazine subscriptions and marquee-name blog feeds to the app.
The blog subscriptions tend to be free, while the magazine subscriptions are typically available for a fee.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Acer's upcoming CEO has abruptly resigned from the troubled PC maker, in a surprise move that will result in founder Stan Shih temporarily taking over leadership.
Two weeks after Acer named Jim Wong to be its next CEO, the PC maker on Thursday announced he was stepping down "in light of the company's recent performance."
Wong, who was formally company president, was originally supposed to replace J.T. Wang as its CEO next year. Now, however, the two executives are both resigning as the CEO position is being eliminated, according to a company statement.
In the interim, Shih will take over as chairman and corporate president. "Former CEO duties will be charged to the Chairman or President and this is expected to boost the companys decision making efficiency," Acer said.
Wang and Wong will remain on as advisors.
The management shakeup occurs as Acer is posting poor earnings on declining PC shipments. The company, now the world's fourth largest PC vendor, has primarily sold products to consumers, but the rise of tablets and smartphones have been eating into its sales.
Earlier this month, Acer said it formed an advisory committee to propose changes to its strategy. Shih was tasked to help lead the committee.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Southwest Airlines announced today that passengers can access in-flight Wi-Fi during all phases of flight. The carrier is also the last major U.S. carrier to confirm today that flyers can use their mobile devices during takeoff and landing.
The news means that business travelers can start answering emails, uninterrupted, from the moment they sit down. Bulky laptops and devices larger than a tablet must still be stowed during taxi, takeoff, and landing. And mobile devices must be kept in “airplane mode” throughout the flight.
Southwest can permit Wi-Fi use below 10,000 feet thanks to service provider Row44, which uses satellite-based Wi-Fi that is capable of working on the ground.In-flight Wi-Fi on the majority of U.S. airlines, including American, United, and Delta, is powered by Gogo and currently engineered to start working at 10,000 feet.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
By George Harding
Here’s a company that has grown by providing just what the customer wants. It started with a line of waterproof cases, continued with cases through which the enclosed device could be manipulated.
From that point on, it was a matter of adapting cases to the continuing flow of new types of devices, still keeping each case waterproof and protective.
Every time I go to a computer show, Otterbox is there and has a new case to give away. I currently have two new cases, the Pursuit and the Armor, which the Company describes as “The toughest case ever made.”
The Pursuit is about the width and height of a cell phone, but is a good bit thicker, a bit over an inch. It has a latch that brings the top snugly down to the bottom. The top has a flexible strip just inside its rim, which is what makes the interior waterproof (up to 100 feet deep). Protection also includes crush (up to 1,000 pounds), drop and impact, as well as dust and debris.
The exterior of the case has hard plastic “bumpers” on each corner and end. There is a flexible loop attached to make it easy to fasten the case to your belt. Inside, both the top and bottom have semi-rigid pads to help soften impacts.
The Pursuit is designed to provide super protection for outdoor activities.
The Armor is a cell phone case sized for the iPhone 5, iPhone 4 or Samsung Galaxy, but could be used for others as well. The case is described as waterproof, drop proof, dust proof and crush proof.
Drop proof for this case means protection for drops up to 10 feet.
Crushproof is probably the most amazing – up to 2 tons! Soft foam on the interior provides a custom fit and cushioning.
There is also a screen protector built in that prevents scratches and damage to the glass display.
It’s hard to imagine any type of action that would damage your cell phone!
Otterbox Pursuit and Armor casesPrice: Pursuit about $20, Armor about $100
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Samsung Electronics Co said on Tuesday its Galaxy Gear has become the world's most popular smartwatch with sales reaching 800,000 since its debut two months ago, defying some market concerns the accessory would fail due to a lack of compelling features.
The South Korean firm said Gear sales have been better than its own expectations and it would expand sales promotions for the wearable device for the crucial year-end holiday sales.
Samsung has poured marketing resources into the Gear with heavy advertisements and collaborations with fashion shows to seize leadership in the wearable computer market after the device got off to a rocky start after being critically panned by reviewers.
Well-known tech reviewer David Pogue, who recently left the New York Times to start a new consumer-tech web site at Yahoo , described its design "inconsistent and frustrating" and recommended nobody buy it.
The product marks Samsung's latest attempt to prove that it is more than just a fast follower in innovation behind Apple Inc . The Cupertino California-based firm is widely speculated by media and analysts to be working on wearable device.
Priced at around $300, the Gear works as an accessory to its market leading Galaxy smartphone, with a small OLED screen offering basic functions like photos, hands-free calls and message notifications.
Monday, November 18, 2013
Android tablet shipments have outpaced Apple iPad shipments all year. But it’s only in the last quarter that Android tablet revenue has surpassed iPad revenue for the first time.
But not the last.
“For the first time Android devices accounted for a greater share of the market in revenue terms than iOS,” Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said in a research note today. “Android revenue share reached 46.2 percent in 3Q13, for the first time exceeding iPad share of 45.6 percent. Android’s unit share grew to 66.7 percent from 58.5 percent a year ago, largely driven by Samsung and Lenovo, while iPad share declined to 29.7 percent from 40.2 percent.”
Apple fans, this may be temporary, since iPad Air and iPad Mini retina tablets hit the market late in the quarter, but it’s a sign of things to come.
iPad shipments dipped sharply in the first calendar quarter of the year, resulting in a year-over-year drop in iPad sales by about 2.5 million tablets — a challenging feat, one might think, in a rising market. That continued, to a degree, in the second calendar quarter of the year, with Android reaching 60 percent tablet market share. And we saw it again in the third quarter, as Samsung doubled tablet shipments while Apple grew an anemic .6 percent, with bargain-basement whitebox tablet vendors selling more than Cupertino.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) last week released videos of tests of plastic guns made with 3D printers that show some exploding on the first shot. The explosions could injure users, the testing found.
The ATF has been testing guns made with 3D printers using two commonly used thermoplastic materials over the past year to determine how safe the weapons are.
Guns made using one of the two thermoplastics tested, a polymer from VisiJet, never lasted more than one shot before exploding. The other material, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), could produce a gun that fired eight times without incident.
The agents stopped shooting after eight bullets, an ATF spokesperson said.
"It depends on the material as well as the quality of the printer. Those variables both go into it," the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson wouldn't identify 3D printers used or which computer-assisted drawing (CAD) files were downloaded to create the weapons.
The firearm tested, however, looked like The Liberator, the world's first 3D printed gun, which was created by Cody Wilson and his company Defense Distributed. Cody has said he was able to successfully fire the weapon after it was printed using a second-hand industrial Stratasys Dimension SST 3D printer. The machine, about the size of a refrigerator, was purchased for about $8000 from eBay.
3D printers also come in hobbyist desktop versions that produce lower quality objects, but also cost from about $500 to $3000.
The ATF also released a list of answers to commonly asked questions about 3D printed firearms, such as whether or not they're legal to make.
A law passed in 1988 required any gun manufactured to have enough metal to be detected in metal detectors. However, that law is due to expire next month.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
The iFruit company has released a minor update to software running on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices.
iOS 7.0.4 includes bug fixes, security patches, and a slew of new features and software improvements.
The update also fixes a major problem for some, which caused FaceTime video calls to fail. iPods that are not able to upgrade to iOS 7 have their own version to upgrade to, iOS 6.1.5.
The new update improves iCloud Keychain, which was introduced in iOS 7.0.3, and the latest version of the desktop software, OS X Mavericks. The cloud-based technology keeps the Safari browser's passwords and credit card data in sync across all your Apple devices.
Secondly, in Spotlight, the device's internal search engine, Apple has brought back the ability to search Google and Wikipedia from the results. The two services were removed when iOS 7 was first released in mid-September.
The software update applies to the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and the two new smartphones, the iPhone 5c and 5s. It's also available for the iPad 2, the third and fourth generation iPads, iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPad mini with Retina Display. Fourth and fifth generation iPod touch models also receive the update.
Friday, November 15, 2013
Why computers get slower? One of the reasons known to all is that there are too much remnants and unwanted program leftovers on computers, which consume a lot of hard disk space and overuse ram of PCs. What’s worse, it may slow internet speed or even probably cause privacy security problem if there are too many toolbars/plug-ins in browsers. To avoid those situations, a regular cleanup becomes necessary for every new and old PC.
With brand-new and redesigned user interface, IObit Uninstaller 3 gets evidently enhanced and improved to powerfully uninstall undesired programs, deeply detect and delete leftovers, easily remove undesired toolbars and plug-ins in browsers to save disk spaces and secure users' computers and browsers. Moreover, IObit Uninstaller 3 offers smart and convenient features by adding “Powerful Uninstall” to program's right-click menu and “Add & Remove Programs” in control panel. Also, File Shedder can help users remove files thoroughly and permanently. And if there's a potential threat in users' IE, Chrome, Firefox or Opera, IObit Uninstaller 3 will warn users by a red notification. If users are not sure whether they need to remove the plug-in/toolbar, IObit smart rating system will make suggestions.
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Now IObit Uninstaller is available on IObit.com and CNET Download.com. It provides full support for Windows 8/ 8.1, IE 11, as well as 34 languages.
About IObit Uninstaller 3
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Thursday, November 14, 2013
Stephen Elop, one of the candidates in the running to be MSFTs next CEO, is said to be considering selling the company's Bing search business and Xbox video game business if he gets the job.
MSFTs attempt to take on Google in search was risky at first, and it hasn't made much headwind.
Bing only has 17 percent of the search engine market share in the U.S., compared to Google's 67 percent, according to the latest ComScore numbers. Microsoft also loses a lot of money from its online services division, which includes Bing. Since 2005, the division has lost about $11 billion. One could argue Microsoft is just throwing money down a rat hole with its Bing business. Wall Street has been howling for Microsoft to dump bing for some time now.
Spinning off the Xbox business makes less sense. As Microsoft repositions itself as a devices and services company, it likes to tout its popular video game console business as an example of how it can make great hardware people love to use. Despite its financials, Microsoft's Xbox business is one of the company's strongest, most beloved brands and proof that it can make hardware integrated with services people want.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Market research firm IDC today released the latest version of its Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, which provides data and insights into smartphone market share and shipments for all of the major mobile platforms.
The most recent numbers are for the third quarter of 2013, and they show impressive gains for Android and Windows Phone. Android for the first time broke the 80 percent global market share mark (81 percent) on 211.6 million devices shipped in Q3 2013, up from 74.9 percent share on 139.9 million devices shipped in Q3 2012, according to IDC. Cheaper, low-end smartphones and large smartphones, or "phablets," are helping to fuel Android's growth