Friday, February 28, 2014

Pet Peeve

Pet Peeve

For quite some time now I have had a pet peeve. It seems like every time I go into a medical facility I am handed a clipboard with lots and lots of forms to be filled out. I know that it’s very important to have up to date information in order to provide the best possible medical care but filling out forms gets to be a real pain.

Many times I have told the staff that I have dealt with that everyone would be better served if they just handed patients a tablet computer and gathered the required information that way. Usually I get total agreement from the people who have to enter all of the information from the paper forms into their computer system.

Well this week I finally had my prayers answered. I had to go to my eye doctor for an annual checkup and was pleasantly surprised to be handed an iPad to check in with. The office has gone virtually paperless and they use touch screen tablets and computers for everything! Filling out the forms on a tablet allowed all of my information to be uploaded into their system instantly and no one had to re-enter anything. The doctor had all of my latest information and medications at her fingertips (literally) and we saved lots of time and effort.

The doctor told me that the switch to tablets had gone very well and was actually required by federal law. They had a financial incentive to get the transition done early so it was beneficial on several levels.

One of the arguments I’ve heard in the past was the lack of technology
experience that many people, especially the elderly, have. Handing a tablet to someone who has never used one can be intimidating to be sure. But times change and people need to change with them.

Kudos to Dr. Ely and her staff, they are trail blazers. I am happy to be part of the change and I look forward to the day when every facility I go to is linked digitally and I never have to fill out a paper form again.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

iFruit OS X 10.9.2 Update

Apple has released OS X 10.9.2 update for all Maverick users, which, amongst other things patches the SSL bug in the operating system that could allow full transparent interception of HTTPS traffic.

This vulnerability not only affected Safari, but also other installed applications relying on an encrypted channel to the internet. However, third-party browsers such as Chrome and Firefox rely on different implementations of SSL/TLS, which means that they aren’t subject to the vulnerability.
The bug, which has apparently gone unpatched since iOS 6's release in 2012, resides in a piece of open source code used by Apple.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

March ePub Issue

Our March issue is delayed a bit because we are way too busy. It will be out by the end of the week,

We promise.

TaxACT Donation Assistant

TaxACT has released a donation tracking app called Donation Assistant® by TaxACT. The free app, available for Android and iOS, helps taxpayers track their non-cash and cash donations throughout the year and maximize their deductions at tax time.
The most recent IRS data reports that more than one in four tax filers deducts cash and non-cash charitable donations on their federal income tax returns.
Donation Assistant automatically organizes and tracks information taxpayers need to report on their tax return to maximize tax deductions for cash and non-cash donations. Users can also view detailed summaries at any time from their mobile device.
The app saves additional information the IRS recommends taxpayers save to substantiate donations, including photos of donations and receipts taken with the users' mobile device.
To help taxpayers report accurate amounts for thrift store donations and minimize audit risk, the app provides fair market values for more than 1,300 commonly donated items, such as clothing, appliances, and furniture.
TaxACT's app also has the unique ability to track recurring gifts - cash donations made on a regular basis, often monthly.
Taxpayers can download the free app now to start tracking their 2014 donations. At tax time, data can be quickly and easily transferred to TaxACT Deluxe 2014 for tax returns due April 2015. The information will automatically transfer to the program's Donation Assistant tool, calculate deduction amounts and complete Schedule A and Form 8283.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

National Clam Chowder Day

In honor of National Clam Chowder Day, which is today, here's the recipe I'm making for dinner tonight:

12 large chowder clams (scrubbed)
5 medium eastern potatoes peeled and diced (Not Idaho or Yukon Gold)
One medium yellow onion diced
1 celery stalks diced
One small piece of salt pork diced (about two tablespoons)
20 ounces of Jersey tomatoes, peeled and crushed by hand into small pieces (or one 20 oz can of crushed tomatoes).
Fresh or dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Black pepper to taste.

Place clams into a heavy pot with two cups of water. Cover and steam until opened. Save broth. Coarsely slice the soft parts of the clams and mince the tough parts. Set aside.
Slowly render the salt pork in a heavy pot with a little oil if necessary to produce enough oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Remove salt pork when brown and crisp. Add onions and celery and cook until almost soft. Add tomatoes and clam broth along with salt pork cracklings and potatoes. Add the bay leaf and half of the thyme along with black pepper. Simmer for as long as it takes for the potatoes to become tender. This will be when the sharp corners of the potatoes become rounded and the starch begins to thicken the broth. Stir in clams, and additional thyme to taste, and heat through. Do not cook the clams any further or they will become tough. Keep warm until ready to serve or serve immediately. This will serve four persons one large bowl.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Internet Regulations

For the past two decades, the Internet has operated as an unregulated, competitive free market. Given the tendency of networked industries to lapse into monopoly—think of AT&T's 70-year hold over telephone service, for example—that's a minor miracle. But recent developments are putting the Internet's decentralized architecture in danger.

In recent months, the nation's largest residential Internet service providers have been demanding payment to deliver Netflix traffic to their own customers. On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Netflix has agreed to the demands of the nation's largest broadband provider, Comcast. The change represents a fundamental shift in power in the Internet economy that threatens to undermine the competitive market structure that have served Internet users so well for the past two decades.

The deal will also transform the debate over network neutrality regulation. Officially, Comcast's deal with Netflix is about interconnection, not traffic discrimination. But it's hard to see a practical difference between this deal and the kind of tiered access that network neutrality advocates have long feared. Network neutrality advocates are going to have to go back to the drawing board.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


By Bayle Emlein

The Maturity of China's Mobile Computing Ecosystem:  White Box is the Market Driver
Mario Morales, IDG VP EnablingTechnologies

Mario had several key points:
1. The next stage is here and China is an active market leader;
2. Technology alone does not guarantee success;
3. Technology is driven by customers and vertical markets;
4. Sustainable economic models must drive investment and strategies;
5. There will be rapid consolidation among suppliers and vendors will occur soon.

Main featuresof industry dynamics:
1. The Chinese market is large enough to drive its own ecosystem;
2. Chinese vendor capabilities are established in CE markets;
3. 80% of the phones manufactured in China are exported, often with focus on local markets in Asia;
4. 40% of nonApple chipsets come from China.

The Chinese market is divided between Tier 1 cities, where users prefer smartphones, and Tier 3 or 4 cities, where users have less technology exposure and seem to prefer tablets or PCs as a way of connecting.

The model is to move forward via rapid software development. A high proportion of Chinese R&D goes into software development rather than hardware improvement.

Some brands to watch in 2014:

*The Device Landscape in 2014,
Tom Mainelli, IDG VP

The 2013 holiday season saw smartphone vendors very happy, tablet vendors ambivalent, and PC vendors wondering what happened.

The market development has been astoundingly rapid. Phablets are taking a larger share of the market. In areas where people have only 1 device, a phablet will continue to be the device of choice. But as the border between large phones and small tablets blurs, this distinction may become irrelevant. Younger users use their phones and phablets more for data than for talking on.

The Android market share is likely to fall as users react to experiences with cheap devices. PC sales are likely to come back a bit as business needs to replace machines.

BYOD and Education will drive IT. More and more workers are bringing their own PCs to work, opening a new market for hardware and support. A generation of educators who have grown up with technology is changing classroom expectations.

Experience will trump new boxes. People just want this thing to work and will not care so much about the device or who made it.

Some points to remember: Reports of the PC demise are prematu. Tablets and phablets will co-exist with bluring lines. Nobody stays on top forever. User experience becomes more critical, especially as devices are expected to communicate seamlessly with each other.

*Buyer Behavior Practice
Allan Fromen, IDC Vice President & Consulting Partner
Buyer Behavior Practice

New Mobile research cabiblities
Survey research via smartphone: The cell phone is highly personal. The smartphone includes ability to capture photos, video, and voice, giving insight into consumer's lives.Using the smartphone enables realtime data gatherig and is not dependent on user recall. Web and app access can be tracked in real time.

*What's Next for Mobile Apps, Content, and Services
John Jackson
IDC VP for Mobility

While mobile advertising matures and follows more sophistacyted means of engagement, direct app revenue growth will decline. The app will become the new face of the internet. App-based ads outpace the mobile browser.

Chrome is Google's core mission. Android was an acquisition. But Android will remain a viable player. Apple may never again own the market, but will continue to be an active player if it can continue to reinvent itself. Can Amazon abide becoming an app on a cometitior's platform?

Some points to consider:
Mobility is the change agent

Control of service distribution and audience aggregation remain basic.
The battle to capture value is moving into the app.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

An iFruit Car??

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk confirmed to Bloomberg TV that he indeed held discussions with Apple Inc.

Whether the two Silicon Valley giants explored some kind of a deal, Musk won’t say.

“We had conversations with Apple,” Musk told Bloomberg TV’s Betty Liu on Wednesday. “I can’t comment on whether those revolved around any kind of acquisition.”
Liu asked Musk to respond to an exclusive report in Sunday’s Chronicle that he met with Apple’s mergers and acquisitions chief Adrian Perica in Cupertino last spring.

Musk remained cagey throughout the interview. When Liu asked Musk whether Tesla was up for sale, he said this:

“I think that’s very unlikely because we need to stay super focused on achieving a compelling – creating a compelling mass market electric car. And I’d be very concerned in any kind of acquisition scenario, whoever it is, that’d be become distracted from that – from that task which has always been the – the driving goal of Tesla.”

Note that Musk didn’t exactly rule out a deal. Spoken like a true politician.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Nook Simple Touch is No More

The low-cost Nook Simple Touch e-reader has disappeared from Barnes & Noble’s online storefront in the U.S. without a trace of its passing. A report by the Digital Reader, which first spotted the Nook’s disappearance, said that all references to the e-reader will also be removed from Barnes & Noble retail stores.

The $79 device, which had been Barnes & Noble’s entry-level Nook, competed with Amazon’s basic Kindle for the low end of the e-reader market. Now, the lowest-priced Nook is the $119 GlowLight, which lines up against Amazon’s Paperwhite. The disappearance isn’t all that surprising, considering the Touch hasn’t received a software update in quite some time.

Still, unless there’s a new version on the way soon, the move suggests that B&N has effectively ceded the low-cost e-reader market to Amazon.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Nikon at CP+

It’s no secret that certain areas of the camera-making business aren’t as profitable as they used to be (e.g., simple, compact point-and-shoots), but it took a while for the manufacturers to finally come to realization and accept that. Nevertheless, many of them are trying new tactics and touting special features in order to innovate and compete against smartphones. In an interview with Digital Photography Review at the 2014 CP+ show in Japan, Nikon executives discussed what their company needs to do in the current market, global trends, and what’s in store for the future. Some of the Q&A responses aren’t new news for those following the industry closely, but there are some surprises, like slower-than-expected growth in developing countries. It’s clear, as DP Review notes, that the market has become more challenging and products need to evolve.

While compact camera sales have been greatly affected due to a shift in consumer buying, the executives also noted a decline in interchangeable lens camera sales. They were also surprised by slower growth in developing countries, as well as in China, although Nikon still views China as the most important emerging market and that the slowing-down is temporary; growth in Europe and the Americas, or lack of, is a concern.

The executives discussed camera trends vary from place to place. While DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are doing well in Japan and Asia, the story isn’t the same in the Western Hemisphere – in fact, the mirrorless market is shrinking in North America, they say. (This could explain why a company like Canon has been hesitant in entering this market, and has yet to announce if its EOS M2 mirrorless camera would ever make it stateside; Nikon, Ricoh, and Sony dabble in both mirror and mirrorless, but companies like Olympus, Fujifilm, and Panasonic have gone completely with the latter, which doesn’t bode well for them.) The Nikon execs believe that Americans still view DSLRs as the superior product when it comes to image quality, even though mirrorless cameras have improved greatly in the last year. The opposite is true for video recording: the Nikon execs see video as more important to Western consumers than those in Japan.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

TaxACT Return Status

TaxACT has released Tax Return Status, a mobile app for tracking the status of e-filed returns and federal refunds. The free app is available for Android and iOS, and can be used by all U.S. taxpayers, not just TaxACT customers.

For the more than three out of four taxpayers who receive a federal refund each year, Tax Return Status provides an easy, fast and free way to monitor the status of their refund as it is processed by the IRS. After entering a few pieces of simple information, the app displays the current stage of the refund and the date when each of the following steps was completed along the way:
  1. When the IRS has received the tax return by e-file or mail,
  2. When the refund has been approved, and
  3. An estimated date of when the IRS will release the refund to the tax filer's bank or financial institution, or by check via mail.
Taxpayers can begin checking their refund status approximately 24 hours after e-filed returns are received by the IRS and four weeks after a paper return is mailed. Refund information is updated by the IRS once every 24 hours, usually overnight.
Tax Return Status includes additional information for TaxACT Online customers:
  • Status of e-filed state returns,
  • Summary of federal and state returns categorized by income, deductions, credits and taxes, and
  • Explanation of error, if the tax return was rejected.
All TaxACT customers can also track the status of their e-filed 1040 and small business returns and federal refunds on any browser at, or by using TaxACT Central, a free companion app with resources for use before, during and after filing taxes with TaxACT.
Download Tax Return Status and TaxACT's other mobile apps at

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

New LG low-end phones

LG Electronics has introduced the third generation of its low-end L series, with three new smartphones that all run Android 4.4 or KitKat.

The South Korean company has a history of launching its products ahead of Mobile World Congress, and this year is no different. Last week, the G Pro 2 arrived and on Monday the company added the L40, L70 and L90 to its 2014 line-up of phones.

The L90 is the most advanced of the three newcomers. It has a 4.7-inch screen with a 960 by 540 pixel resolution and is powered by a quad-core processor clocked at 1.2 GHz. It also has a 1.3-megapixel front camera and an 8-megapixel rear camera. There is 1GB of RAM and 8GB of integrated storage, as well.

The L70 and the L40 are powered by 1.2 GHz dual-core processors and each have 4GB of integrated storage. The L70 also has a 4.7-inch screen with a 800 by 400 pixel resolution, an 8-megapixel or a 5-megapixel camera and 1GB of RAM. The L40 has a 3.5-inch screen with a 480 by 320 pixel resolution, a 3-megapixel camera and 512MB of RAM.

As part of the development of Android 4.4, Google kicked off "Project Svelte," an effort to reduce the memory needs of Android so it can "run comfortably" on entry-level smartphones that have as little as 512MB RAM, work that especially the L40 should benefit from. Android 4.4 offers improved performance as well as a more intuitive user interface, according to LG.

In addition to running the latest version of Google's OS, all three phones also have removable batteries.

Monday, February 17, 2014

More on Flappy Bird

The Flappy Bird phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down, despite the fact that the original title was yanked out of the App Store by creator Dong Nguyen, whose newfound fame apparently became too overwhelming. But though “Flappy Bird” itself may be gone, the App Store’s top charts today are filled with clones that mimic the addicting, frustrating game that became this year’s viral hit.

However, that may not be the case for long. Word has it that both Apple and Google are now rejecting games that have the word “flappy” in their title.

According to Vancouver-based game designer Ken Carpenter of Mind Juice Media, Apple rejected an app of his called “Flappy Dragon” from the App Store. Apple told him “we found your app name attempts to leverage a popular app,” says Carpenter.

Apple told him the app was in violation of the following section of the App Store Review Guidelines.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Olympus E-P5 Firmware Update

I f you one of the lucky owners of an Olympus E-P5, the finest MILC on the planet, then you should know abiut the latest firmware update,

Updated firmware is now available for your camera. Download the Olympus Digital Camera Updater to update your firmware for the following features.

Version 1.3

The smartphone application "OLYMPUS Image Share" now supports continuous shooting, live bulb shooting, and P/A/S/M and shooting settings (shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, ISO, and white balance) adjustments.

It is necessary to update to the latest version of OLYMPUS Image Share.

When updating your firmware, do not disconnect the camera from the computer until the LCD on the camera displays OK. The firmware update is not complete until the camera displays OK. Disconnecting the camera before the firmware completes may render the camera inoperable.

For complete installation instructions and to download the Olympus Digital Camera Updater, please visit our firmware update instructions page.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

MSFT Shifts Gears (Again!!)

Microsoft is going to allow OEMs to continue to build and sell new PCs with Windows 7 Professional preinstalled beyond October 2014, the original date that would have been the cutoff under the company’s normal sales lifecycle. But OEMs won't be permitted to build and sell new PCs with the consumer editions of Windows 7 after October 31, 2014.

Microsoft officials went public with this change to Windows 7's lifecycle on February 14.

Back in December, Microsoft posted an update to its Windows 7 lifecycle page that indicated OEMs would not be able to sell PCs with Windows 7 preloaded after October 30, 2014. Shortly after posting that date, company officials said that information was published in error and that the actual date would be disclosed at a later time.

Today is that "later time." But while Microsoft officials are saying Windows 7 Pro will be available to OEMs for preload beyond the October 31, 2014, date, they are not yet specifying what the new cutoff date will be. Once that date is established, Microsoft will provide OEMs and customers with a year heads-up, officials said.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Smartwatch Shipments

Global smartwatch shipments reached 1.9 million units last year, and Google's Android mobile OS captured a 61 percent market share, according to Strategy Analytics.

The nascent smartwatch market is starting to take shape and there is huge opportunity for growth. In 2012 vendors only shipped a few hundred thousand units, said Neil Mawston,
executive director at Strategy Analytics.

Samsung's Galaxy Gear helped Android achieve its dominant market share. The device is being promoted heavily in the U.S., U.K. and South Korea, the market research company said.

Android has several challengers in the smartwatch space, like Firefox and Pebble OS, but none of them are a major threat at this stage because of their relatively limited ecosystems and modest retail presence.

Instead, the main threat to Android's smartwatch dominance will come from Apple, Microsoft and perhaps backers of Tizen or COS (China OS). These four have the potential scale or marketing power to offer a credible alternative to Google's platform, according to Strategy Analytics.

Apple hasn't announced a smartwatch yet, but if it does, that product will likely act as catalyst for the whole sector, Mawston said.

For smartwatches to achieve the same usage success as smartphones and tablets, almost everything about them has to improve, including the hardware and the surrounding ecosystems of apps. Prices also have to come down.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fast Growing Wearable Device Market

The wearables device market is still in its infancy but it’s growing fast — with more than 17 million wearable bands forecast to ship this year, according to a new forecast by Canalys.

It reckons 2014 will be the year that wearables become a “key consumer technology,” and is predicting the smart band segment alone will reach 8 million annual shipments, growing to more than 23 million units by 2015 and over 45 million by 2017.

The analyst said shipments of both basic band wearables (aka the Fitbit) and smart band wearables (aka fully fledged smart watches that can run apps) grew dramatically in the second half of last year — with Fitbit pushing into the lead spot in the wearable band market, thanks to the affordable Flex and Force bands.

Fitbit dominated the market for “basic bands,” according to Canalys’ market estimates, with more than 50 percent market share in the second half of the year. The Jawbone UP came second, cutting itself around a fifth of the pie, followed by Nike with its Fuelband.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Virgin Atlantic and Google Glass

Feel like flying has lost its luster? Well, what if airline staff could update you with weather information and local events at your travel destination on the fly, or know your dietary and refreshment preferences with just a simple glance? Virgin Atlantic is looking to restore some “sheen” to the air travel experience by testing new wearable tech from Google and Sony.

The pilot program begins Tuesday at London’s Heathrow Airport. Staff will be equipped with either Google Glass or a Sony SmartWatch 2 to help passengers through the check-in process. Employees will be able to update passengers on flight information, weather and local events, though it is possible the wearable tech could be used to update staff with the aforementioned dietary preference information in the future.

This is made possible through a custom-built app from air transport IT company SITA and Virgin Atlantic’s passenger service system. The app pushes passenger information directly to a staff member’s Glass or Smartwatch 2 as passengers arrive at the wing.

In addition to wearables, Virgin is also testing Apple’s iBeacon technology at Heathrow. This could help the airline automatically push updates to the phones of nearby passengers with information such as nearby services, discounts, and updated flight boarding schedules.

You’ll need to buy a first class ticket if you’re expecting Virgin to roll out the digital red carpet, though. Aside from the fact that these services are only being tested in the upper class wing of London Heathrow, Dave Bulman, director of IT for Virgin Atlantic, explains that right now the technology is primarily to restore a sense of glamour to the flying experience: “While it’s fantastic that more people can now fly than ever before, the fact that air travel has become so accessible has led to some of the sheen being lost for many passengers.”

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sony PlayStation Vita

A refresh of Sony's most compact gaming console will hit North America this spring with more battery life, a new LCD screen, and an 8GB memory card for $199.

PlayStation users in the US are about to have the option of buying a slimmer, lighter handheld console. Sony announced Monday that its redesigned PlayStation Vita is coming to North America this spring.

The Wi-Fi PCH-2000 series console will come bundled with the first-person role-playing Borderlands 2 game, six downloadable content packs, and an 8GB memory card. The whole shebang will cost $199.99. For now, the console will only come in the color black in the US.

"The new PS Vita Wi-Fi model is approximately 20 percent slimmer and 15 percent lighter than the original version, with rounded edges to fit comfortably in your hands," Sony Computer Entertainment America's vice president of marketing for home consoles and handheld platforms John Koller wrote in a blog post.

Sony says that the battery life of the new PlayStation Vita can now provide up to six hours of gameplay -- previously the battery maxed out at five hours. The new console also replaces the older OLED screen with a 5-inch LCD panel.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Global Tablet Sales

The global tablet PC shipments will rise to 315 million units this year, comprising more than 65 percent of the market and by 2017 tablet PC shipments will climb to 455 million units, encompassing nearly 75 percent of the mobile PC market, according to the NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report.

Falling prices and advances in displays will lead to higher shipment levels of tablet PCs which will increasingly replace notebook PC shipments for 2014 and beyond, the report noted.

Consumers will also have more options to choose from, as new technologies and features hit the market, including AMOLED and other display technologies, a greater variety of screen sizes, and higher resolutions.

Tablet PCs with screens smaller than 9 inches will comprise approximately two-thirds of overall shipments in 2014, and 7-inch screens are expected to garner the most tablet PC market share, exceeding 30 percent through 2017.

The shift towards smaller sizes continues to enable lower price points in emerging regions, such as Eastern Europe, China, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East and Africa, which will account for more than 60 percent of worldwide shipments in 2014.