Monday, March 31, 2014

Samsung vs. Apple Tablets

The latest wave of Samsung tablet spots for TV are trying to apply to tablets the Apple embarrassment approach the company used in its Galaxy campaigns in recent years. An iPad using worker is shamed by his device’s inability to multitask. Boss scowls over the live chat on the tablet, co-worker magnanimously tries to cover for the poor Apple dweeb while sharing his Samsung.

Well, good luck with that, Samsung. According to Kantar WorldPanel ComTech, the iPad still crushes the competition when it comes to overall usage. In fact, 32% of iPad users say they are using the device throughout the day, with 42% on the iPad at least once a day. Only 24% of Samsung tablet users are firing it up much of the day, although 41% are on it daily. Kindle Fires actually seem to spend much of the day chilling, with only 18% of their owners using them broadly. When you drill into the specific use cases, iPad owners are seen accessing the full range of capabilities, from email to apps to browsing frequently. For Samsung devices, listening to music seems to be the biggest draw for frequent users. The Kindle Fire still can’t shake its ebook roots, with book reading leading the way among its owners.

Samsung’s problem is the ongoing Android problem for tablets. I keep trying to press myself toward greater reliance on my Nexus 7, if only to experience that ecosystem more fully. But the range of options constrains my efforts. The fact remains that despite growth in tablet-specific builds for the Android app store, many of the experiences apart from games look and feel like oversized smartphone designs. The Android tablet experience feels good enough without being compelling.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

April ePub issue

The April issue of our monthly ePub was emailed out this afternoon. If you are a regular reader of this blog then you really should read our ePub also.

Just send us a comment and we'll add you to our subscriber list.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang debuted new and upcoming graphics technology on Tuesday including a $3,000 high-end component for PC game enthusiasts and a cloud-computing partnership with VMWare.

With the personal computer industry losing steam and the chipmaker's move into mobile facing relentless competition, Nvidia is heavily promoting its graphics technology for a wider range of applications, including cars and data centers.

At the company's annual graphics technology conference in San Jose, Huang wowed close to 3,000 attendees with souped up chips for machine learning and a self-driving Audi, powered by an Nvidia processor, that drove onto the stage during his presentation.

Huang announced a new version of Nvidia's high-end Titan graphics card, its top of the line offering for die-hard PC gamers. The new Titan Z, which will sell for $2,999, boasts two Kepler graphics processors and follows the previous Titan chip that sold for about $1,000.

He showed the new Titan device intricately simulating the natural interplay between a solid block swinging from an elastic and smoke particles moving around it, all adhering to the laws of physics.

Friday, March 28, 2014

From MacWorld

By Bayle Emlein

(Anonymous Company[that part is probably irrelevant]) youthful rep/shill, trying to impress me with a 'word processing' app for iOS: "This is a new version, a full featured word processing application."

Me: "Oh, great! The version I have is about 2 years old."

Anon: "This is new. It has all the features of a full word processor."

Me: "Wonderful. How do you start the Outline function."

Anon: "You mean draw a line around it?"

Me: "No. Outline as in organize ideas, to help with writing. [Visualize appropriate hand gestures to indicate vertical list, with indentations.]
Anon: "Draw a circle around it? I think you do that in [another of their apps] drawing or handwriting."

Me: "Uh, not like that, for organizing writing. You know:
    1. Main Idea
         A. Supporting Idea
         B. Other supporting idea
    2. Next Main idea
         A. Supporting Idea
         B. Other supporting idea . . ."
(Still no light anywhere in the tunnel)

Anon: "Maybe you could just write it out that way??"

Me: "And save it as a Template?"

Anon: "Umm. Yeah? And then use it again?? I think that could work ?"

Me: "Thank you." 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Facebook Acquires Oculus

Facebook Inc will acquire two-year-old Oculus VR Inc, a maker of virtual-reality glasses for gaming, for $2 billion, buying its way into the fast-growing wearable devices arena with its first-ever hardware deal.

The acquisition, which comes hot on the heels of its $19 billion deal for messaging service WhatsApp, marks a big bet by Facebook to anticipate the next shift in an evolving technology industry, at a time when consumers are increasingly abandoning their PCs for smartphones.

The world's largest social network was deemed late to recognize the shift to mobile devices and the company's revenue has only recently begun to recover from the late start.

Many in the industry believe that wearable devices could represent the next big platform shift. Google Inc has been testing Google Glass, a stamp-sized electronic screen mounted to a pair of eyeglasses for several years. Last week, it introduced an effort to develop computerized wristwatches.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New Chromebooks

The Samsung Chromebook 2 laptops aren’t yet available for purchase, but Samsung is starting to tout the new devices in order to build buzz. The company is using its Exynos 5 Octa chip to power the pair of laptops and says to expect 125 percent more performance over the prior model. The old Samsung Chromebook, debuting in 2012, uses Samsung’s older Exynos Dual chip.

Android Central noticed Samsung’s press release, which explains how the eight-core chip combines two pairs of four “big” cores and four “little” cores using the ARM architecture. The former are for more intensive computing while lighter processes are done on the latter cores, which can help save battery life.

A doubling of graphics and multimedia performance should help movie viewers. While the current Chromebook streams and plays videos from YouTube, Netflix and other services relatively well, there’s room for improvement. Occasional frame-drops, stutters and lags aren’t uncommon in videos on the original Samsung Chromebook. That device only had 2 GB of memory, while the new Chromebook 2 models will come with double the RAM, which will also help general performance.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why We Do NOT Use MSFT Word

All versions of Microsoft Word, both Mac and Windows, and several related programs like the Word Viewer and Word Automation Services on Microsoft SharePoint Server are also vulnerable, but the current attacks are directed at Microsoft Word 2010. Exploits such as these are often version-specific, and in targeted attacks, such as this appears to be, the attacker may already know which version he needs to exploit.

Microsoft also says that Microsoft Outlook could also be exploited with such an RTF file if Word were set as the viewer for Outlook. In the default configuration Word is the viewer in Outlook 2007, 2010 and 2013.

Microsoft has issued a Knowledge Base article with a "Fix It" tool which works around the problem by disabling support for RTF. If you rely on Word for RTF files this could be a problem.

A successful exploit would give the attacker control with the privileges of the user running Word, so running with standard user privileges could lessen the damage that an attacker could cause.

Microsoft also says that their Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) tool can mitigate this vulnerability.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Apple Wants More of Your Money

Apple has opened exploratory talks with senior label executives about the possibility of launching an on-demand streaming service that would rival Spotify and Beats Music, according to three people familiar with the talks. Apple is also thinking about adding an iTunes App for Android phones, the Google rival that has been growing faster than the iPhone, these sources said. The surprising discussions are part of a multi-pronged strategy to deal with the double-digit decline in U.S. download sales at Apple’s iTunes Music Store, the largest music retailer.

Apple is considering a range of efforts to support the iTunes Store. iTunes executives like Eddy Cue and Robert Kondrk, for example, have suggested creating exclusive album-release windows in which digital versions of the albums would go on sale ahead of the CD release. Individual tracks would not be available for sale until the CD versions hit shelves.

But it's the talks around on-demand subscription and the iTunes App for Android that will most intrigue label heads and the wider market. Apple founder Steve Jobs was widely known to have argued that fans would never subscribe for music. Moreover, up until now, iTunes has been committed to keeping the iTunes ecosystem closed off.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Backblaze Review

By George Harding

Here’s a backup solution you’ll love! You are familiar with the “cloud,” right? Well, this is quite similar.
With Backblaze, your files are automatically saved on a server and you can restore them anytime you want.

How does it work, you ask? You download a small program that installs with 3 clicks and doesn’t require any information or even a credit card. The program searches out all your documents, pictures and music. Then they are compressed and encrypted. When your computer isn’t being used, they are uploaded.

The program has been constructed so as to minimize the impact on your operations. The company says that the average impact is less than 1% on CPU and memory.

Note that you don’t have to specify which folders or files are to be backed up. The program does all that for you automatically. Further, as files are changed and new files created, these are saved, too.
So this is about as simple as you can get!

The initial upload takes a while. In my case, I had about 9,500 files with a size of 10.7 GB. It took just over 5 hours to compress, encrypt and upload all these files.

Backblaze backs up all files but those for your operating system, applications and temporary files. Note that Backblaze is not a storage system; if you delete a file on your computer, it will be removed on Backblaze after 30 days.

The restore function only requires you to sign in, then you can restore a file, a folder or all your files. You can do this from any web browser to any computer.  Not only that, Backblaze saves up to 4 versions of a file, so you can restore an older version if you need to.

One last feature may be very important to you. Backblaze can find your computer if it is stolen. When you access your account, there is a “Find my computer” feature. I locates your computer and shows a map with the location. The IP address is shown, which may help police to track down the thief.

Price $5 per month

Friday, March 21, 2014

Lenovo Buying Patents

Lenovo is buying up patents related to 3G and 4G technologies from U.S.-based Unwired Planet for US$100 million, as the company sets about expanding with its proposed Motorola Mobility acquisition.

The 21 patent families Lenovo is purchasing from Unwired Planet will help the Chinese company grow its smartphone and mobile business in new markets, it said Thursday.

In addition, Unwired Planet is licensing its patent portfolio to Lenovo for an unspecified number of years. The Nevada-based company develops mobile technologies in use by carriers including AT&T and Sprint. After its deal with Lenovo closes, Unwired Planet said it will have about 2,500 issued and pending international patents in its portfolio.

Although Lenovo is best known as a PC maker, the company is aiming to becoming a major vendor of mobile phones. Already, in its home market of China, Lenovo ranks as one of the biggest smartphone vendors, and has dozens of different models on the local market.

Lenovo's mobile phone business is set to grow even larger. In January, the Chinese company announced it planned to buy Motorola Mobility from Google for $2.9 billion.

With the proposed acquisition, Lenovo's handset business will get a foothold in the North American market. The company plans to keep the Motorola business intact, and even use the business to sell phones in its home market of China.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

HP and 3-D Printing

Hewlett-Packard Co will outline plans to enter the commercial 3D-printing market in June, saying it has solved a number of technical problems that have hindered broader adoption of the high-tech manufacturing process.

Chief Executive Meg Whitman told shareholders on Tuesday the company will make a "big technology announcement" that month around how it will approach a market that has excited the imagination of investors and consumers.

Critics have accused the sci-fi-like technology of being over-hyped and still too immature for widespread consumer adoption.

Industry observers have long expected HP, the largest of several printer-making companies from Canon to Xerox, to eventually get into the business. Whitman said HP's inhouse researchers have resolved limitations involved with the quality of substrates used in the process, which affects the durability of finished products.

"We actually think we've solved these problems," Whitman told an annual shareholders meeting.

"The bigger market is going to be in the enterprise space," manufacturing parts and prototypes in ways that were not possible before.

"We're on the case," she said without elaborating.

HP executives have estimated that worldwide sales of 3D printers and related software and services will grow to almost $11 billion by 2021 from a mere $2.2 billion in 2012.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Google Cross-Platform Games

Android and iOS owners can soon settle who is better at games.

Google introduced a new version of its Google Play Games Services tool kit at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco today. This update will enable studios to make multiplayer modes that can have iOS gamers playing against people on Android. This means that game companies can quickly connect their iOS and Android fans, which may increase retention since players could potentially have a bigger pool of friends playing together. And this might encourage more game development on Android which, with mobile gaming reaching $16 billion in 2013, is a major driver of revenue on smartphones and tablets.

“We want the whole world to play together,” Google developer advocate Todd Kerpelman said during last year’s GDC when they first introduced Google Play Games Services. “I know that’s a little bit touchy-feely — kids holding hands around the world — but at the core level, it’s really true. All of us on the team are gamers. By that I don’t mean that we just play games — we haven’t had a lot of time lately — it’s more that we understand that games are powerful.”

Google wants to get everyone on a single backend platform that will enable them to play together despite who makes the device they use. The Play Games Services can accomplish that. It lives totally in the cloud as an application programming interface (API), which games on any platform can access. To take advantage of the leaderboard and multiplayer features, players just need to log in with their Google+ account.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Google Offers More Control

Google has updated its Play Store with an option that lets you require that a password be entered every time someone wants to buy virtual goods while immersed in a game or other app, according to a report in blog Android Community. Previously, goods could be bought for a full 30 minutes on one password entry (an option that remains available).

Such in-app purchases have caused more than one parent's heart to skip a beat or two. Earlier this week, a New York woman filed a class-action lawsuit against Google over the 30-minute window, charging that the company hadn't made it plain to parents. She was peeved on discovering that her 5-year-old, who'd been playing Marvel Run Jump Smash, had smashed into her bank balance to the tune of nearly $70 by purchasing virtual "crystals."

Some might say she got off lucky, however. An earlier Federal Trade Commission complaint -- against Apple and the 15-minute purchase window it had in effect on its App Store -- revealed that one woman's daughter had spent $2,600 while playing Tap Pet Hotel and that other kids had shelled out more than $500 in the apps Dragon Story and Tiny Zoo Friends.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Wikipad Price Drop

Wikipad announced a new price for the Wikipad 7” gaming tablet. Now priced at $199, Wikipad 7” is the only tablet to possess both the unique combination of a console quality gaming experience with the functionality and portability of a high end tablet thanks to its award-winning and patented detachable dual-analog controller.

The Wikipad 7” also announced that touch games can now be mapped to a controller eliminating one of the limitations of mobile games in that games often have control schemes not suited for touch screen play. Aptly named Wikipad Controller Assistant, users can now transform ordinary touchscreen controls of virtually any Android game into extraordinary gaming experiences using Wikipad’s gamepad mapper and patented gamepad controller. Content is king and Wikipad 7” offers a complete ransom of software riches such as Madfinger Games’ Dead Trigger 2 and titles from amazing partners such as Google Play from Google Mobile Services, PlayStation®Mobile games from Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., and TegraZone – NVIDIA's free app that highlights the best games optimized for the Tegra processor.

When the gamepad controller is detached, Wikipad’s sleek design and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system provide gamers with power, speed and functionality necessary for surfing the web, watching the latest YouTube sensation, tweeting, checking Facebook status, Netflix and enjoying all the latest films, books, magazines and music.  Fans can even use dongles such as Google Chromecast to stream content direct from Wikipad 7” to their TV.

Wikipad 7” comes standard with 16 GB memory and possess an additional micro SD slot to support a further 32 GB of storage together with micro USB, GPS, accelerometer and gyroscope. The tablets ultra-light, super thin chassis stands optimized for cloud gaming with a 12 core Nvidia GPU. With an aspect ratio of 16:10, a 2-mega-pixel front facing camera the Wikipad 7” gaming tablet offers true widescreen HD display and HDMI out.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


By George Harding

This company has an amazing line of products for those with portable devices. Here’s a short list:
Screen protectors

Each of their products is colorful and made to last.

I visited their booth at CES and received several of their products to review.

One of the most unusual is the Band charger. It is a flat cable with a plug for your car’s power outlet at one end and a USB port at the other. The power output is sufficient to allow you to charge a tablet or a smartphone. The flat cable prevents coiling, the bane of many such cables today. It comes in four different colors.

The Y-charger works in your car and comes in two strengths, 2.1 or 4.2 mAh. Either can charge two smartphones at once. The 4.2 version can charge two tablets at once. One end of the Y fits into your car’s power outlet; the other ends have a USB port.

Energi 3K is a battery pack with a built-in micro-USB cable. It also has a USB port so that you can charge two devices at the same time. The internal rechargeable battery is 300 mAh, making it possible to charge your smartphone or your tablet. It comes in three colors.

All their products come with a one year warranty.

TYLT by Technocel              
Prices vary by product

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pelican ProGear Review

By Robert Sanborn

I worry about my gear, especially when I am out in the elements and that is why my current iPhone 5S case of choice is the LifeProof.

But something else you might want to consider if you are not so weather adverse as I am would be the Pelican ProGear Protector Series for the iPhone. if you want gear that is as rugged as you are, or want to be, they have an iPhone case that will take falls much better than you will.

The cases are made of advanced polymers that really give it some protection. The ProGear CE1150 Protector Series for the iPhone 5 not only has the tough chamfer design on the outside but also a soft elastomeric lining on the inside to cushion the phone and provide an excellent layer of protection. They even guarantee it for life.

While the glass on the phone is not protected, the casing wraps around it so the only risk would be a direct hit on the glass itself. It adds very little size to the phone and while they tout the smooth shell for easy sliding into a pocket or bag, my only complaint is that smooth shell also means easy sliding out of that pocket or bag. But I really do like the solid construction of the case and its shock absorbing capabilities.

Price is around $40.

Friday, March 14, 2014

UAL Freebie for iFruit Users

If you’re an iOS user and you’re planning on making a trip anytime soon with United Airlines, you might be interested to learn that the airline company has recently announced that they will be providing free in-flight movies exclusively to passengers with iOS device.

This new program will roll out next month, so iOS users if you’re planning on flying, you won’t have to bother loading your device up with movies or videos as United Airlines will be providing it for you.

Tablets and smartphones are ubiquitous these days meaning that just about everyone has one. Given that users are able to control the content on their devices, it means that passengers won’t have to rely on the whims of airline companies who will choose what kind of content they play on their in-flight entertainment systems.

For iOS users who wish to take advantage of United Airlines’ service, all they’d have to do is download the United Airlines’ app onto their mobiles and from there, they will be able to stream the content onto their tablets or smartphones. For those who wish to view the content on their laptops, they will also be able to do so via a browser plugin.

Unfortunately for passengers who use mobile platforms such as Android and Windows Phone, well you guys would be out of luck, at least for now. There’s no word on whether United Airlines will eventually bring this feature onto other platforms, but now it appears to be an iOS exclusive.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Flappy Bird May Be Coming Back

The creator of Flappy Bird is doing quite well since he decided to pull the smartphone game from the iOS App and Google Play Stores last month. Dong Nguyen, the 28-year-old Hanoi, Vietnam-based game designer, is still making tens of thousands of dollars off the addictive mobile hit that pushed smartphone users to a game-playing fever pitch, as well as his other titles, Shuriken Block and Super Ball Juggling, that earned success by association.

The clones are countless; a new one was sprouting up on the App Store an average of every 24 minutes in the immediate wake of Flappy Bird's demise. Even now, three knockoffs currently sit in the top 10 of free iOS games. And announcing via Twitter that he was pulling Flappy Bird with one day's notice earned the game more than 10 million downloads in 22 hours alone.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Nomad ChargeKey

By Robert Sanborn

I have always loved the minimalist approach to traveling and how much gear I need to take with me and of course, nearly every time I do travel by air, I hear the announcement that would so and so please return somewhere to pick up something left behind. So when Nomad came out with an iPhone charge cable that was no bigger than a key; I had to take a look.

It is cool, and tiny, no more larger than a key that is a charging solution for my iPhone. Match that with my Lenmar mini charger and I might have a very compact travel charging solution for a short trip.

Longer trips will be another matter as I will also need a wall and car connector with me as well as definitely a longer charging cable. And speaking of charging cables; now with an iPhone 5S, it requires a different connector cable than did my old iPhone 4S and so if you look for an extra cable at say Best Buy, you will spend $15 for one.  So, on to Amazon. Found that I could buy three of the iPhone 5S charging cables from CR Trading (Hong Kong) for an incredible $3 including shipping. 
 Yes, it took a while for them to get here but they work just fine.

The Nomad ChargeKey is only 2.5mm thick and is the same size as a standard key.

The ChargeKey is available for both Apple Lightning cable devices and Android microUSB cable devices. Both are the same size and price. We’ve tried both versions on a number of smartphones from Samsung, LG and Motorola as well as Apple devices and they always worked perfectly.