Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Forget Windows 8....... please!!

After spending the past two years in damage control mode over Windows 8, Microsoft will officially begin a new era for its OS on Tuesday, when it’s expected to unveil a preview of Windows’ next major version during an event focused on enterprise customers.

After the success of Windows 7, Microsoft misread the market with Windows 8 and botched the product’s user interface, leaving a trail of many unhappy customers, especially in the consumer market.

Among businesses, Microsoft encountered much resistance to upgrade, as many CIOs clung to the very stable Windows 7, and took a pass on Windows 8 and its subsequent revisions, afraid that the UI, optimized for touch-screen tablets, would confuse their users, lead them to revolt and affect productivity.

So it’s not a surprise that the first look of the next generation of the OS—referred to unofficially as Windows Threshold and Windows 9—will be directed specifically at businesses.

Monday, September 29, 2014

iOS 8.0.2

Apple is again in big trouble.

After a successful iPhone 6 launch, the company on Sept. 24 released an update to iOS 8 that was supposed to address issues its users were having. Instead, the update, iOS 8.0.1, left them without Apple's Touch ID fingerprint recognition feature and cellular support and forced Apple to pull its update before it affected too many users. It was a black mark on the company's otherwise superb last week, and it angered far more people than might be expected.

Those who don't live in the iOS world or didn't have a chance to download the update might be wondering what all the outcry is about. After all, for those folks, nothing changed, but for those who were affected by the update, everything is different. Fortunately for Apple, it was able to quickly get out a fix, iOS 8.0.2, but still the issues with 8.0.1 has brought up questions related to trust in Apple.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gmail and Google+

People signing up for Google's Gmail service are no longer required to create an account for the search giant's social network as well.

Since 2012, part of the process of joining Gmail meant also signing up for Google+, but now, new users can opt out of the requirement by hitting a "no thanks" button.

"We updated the signup experience in early September," a Google spokesperson told CNET. "Users can now create a public profile during signup, or later, if and when they share public content for the first time (like a restaurant review, YouTube video or Google+ post)."

Google has made a number of moves around its products and their integration with Google+ in the past few months. The company has extended features beyond the walls of the social network. Hangouts, Google's videoconferencing service, in July was added to the company's suite of enterprise software. The company will also reportedly break out popular photo features of Google+ to become a standalone brand.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

iPhone 6 Sales

Bigger screens for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus aren't convincing many fandroids to switch over to iOS — at least not yet.

Data from 5,703 shoppers on the weekend of Sept. 12-14 from Slice Intelligence found 85% had previously bought an iPhone. About two thirds were upgrading from either an iPhone 5 or an iPhone 5S:

Those percentages may change. Opening weekend is likely to draw more repeat customers than casual users on other platforms, who might be waiting for the initial product reviews from the press and fans. Apple has also reached out to Android fans with this site designed to help such customers as they move data from their old phones to an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Apple Pulls the iOS 8.0.1 "Upgrade"

After its decision to pull iOS 8.0.1 yesterday, Apple is now advising users to roll back to version 8.0 of the operating system.

Apple is planning to take a second crack at updating the newly-released iOS 8, which it yanked yesterday after widespread reports of it affecting cell service, mostly in newer iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models, as well causing problems with its fingerprint reader, Touch ID.

The bug appeared not to have been specific to a country or particular network, affecting iPhone 6 devices running on networks in the US, the UK and Australia.

Apple has now posted an advisory on the issue, telling affected users to pretty much follow the steps in the unofficial fix for iOS 8.0.1 that ZDNet outlined on Wednesday, shortly after users reported problems with the update.

"We have a workaround for you if you have an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus and you lost cellular service and Touch ID functionality today after updating to iOS 8.0.1," Apple's advisory states.
"We are also preparing iOS 8.0.2 with a fix for the issue, and will release it as soon as it's ready in the next few days," it added.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

iOS 8.0.1 Bugs

Less than a week following the release of iOS 8, Apple has released the first update to the platform.

However, for some it brings more problems than it solves.

Hundreds on Twitter say they are unable to get a cellular signal following the update, with their iPhones stuck in searching for service mode, or getting the "No signal" message.

Others are seeing problems with the Touch ID fingerprint reader after applying the 8.0.1 update.

Several iPads that have been tested however seem to have survived the update unscathed.
For now, upgrading to iOS 8.0.1 is not advised, no matter what device you are running.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

KNeoWORLD Arcade

KNeoWORLD has announced its new Android and iOS App, KNeoWORLD Arcade.  Developed by leading game designers and an expert team of educators and scientists, KNeoWORLD Arcade sports a colorful and intuitive interface and is designed to exercise the brain in stimulating short workouts. The Arcade mode is comprised of 70 games on the web and 30 on your favorite mobile device and was specifically designed to help sharpen memory, verbal reasoning, arithmetic, concentration, spatial awareness, and problem solving skills. It is super easy to play but challenging to master and appropriate for a range of ages.

As you give your brain a work out, you will earn KNeoBADGES and achievements that help you assess your learning progress and steer your focus to games that will advance you towards a desired outcome.

"It's been a long journey, from the initial launch announcement to today's exciting news, but we've been hard at work crafting each level and mini game with forethought, care and precision," said Marti Miernik, COO of KNeoWORLD Inc. "We have created an immersive and enjoyable experience for fans of puzzles and brain teasers. You deserve the best, and now it's time to reward you with some brain scratching fun."

Australian, publicly-traded, parent company, Entellect Limited, with a series of funding partners, has raised over $6 million in funding to localize and further build out KNeoWORLD by increasing its mobile games library, extending its reach into the education market and expanding the application to new languages. In coming weeks the game will launch in Spanish, Cantonese and Mandarin, with other languages to follow soon. Upcoming game updates will encompass a series of new games as well as imports of time proven fan-favorites from the web platform. Schools and PTAs across the country are currently testing the KNeoWORLD platform and over 500,000 kids worldwide are playing the game.

In addition, KNeoWORLD Inc. will soon launch the KNeoWORLD Story, an adventure game that will go hand in hand with KNeoWORLD Arcade. KNeoWORLD Story encourages exploration and curiosity, while helping the gamer discover the world. You will adventure through clever quests, fun activities and mini games that build knowledge about science, match, art, history, linguistics, social intelligence, creative thinking and more.

"I can't wait to showcase the KNeoWORLD Story to the public," Ms. Miernik continued. "It packs everything what I love about gaming: adventure, puzzles, brain games. It is like LumosityTM, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth GraderTM and You Don't Know JackTM rolled into one with an added benefit of comics, great characters and a spectacular world to discover. You can't go wrong with KNeoWORLD."

Whether you want to boost your brain power, focus at work, or do better at school and standardized tests, or just to stay sharp, KNeoWORLD Arcade will get you there, in a fun and entertaining way.

Download the KNeoWORLD Arcade now for only $4.99.
Google Play

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Net Neutrality

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission needs to create explicit rules that tell broadband providers what traffic management techniques they can and cannot use if the agency has any hope of enforcing its proposed net neutrality rules, some advocates told the agency Friday.

The FCC needs to reclassify broadband as a common-carrier, public utility service in order to have a firm regulatory foundation to take net neutrality enforcement actions, representatives of Kickstarter and Mozilla said during an agency forum on net neutrality enforcement.

The FCC needs strong prohibitions against broadband providers selectively blocking or slowing Web traffic, said Susan Crawford, a visiting intellectual property professor at Harvard Law School. She called on the FCC to pass net neutrality rules pegged to Title II of the Communications Act, a section of the law that has focused on requirements for common-carrier telephone companies.

“Consumers are really collateral damage in some Titanic battles between these terminating [broadband] monopolies at the interconnection points and edge providers,” said Crawford, a longtime net neutrality advocate. “The government is the only entity that can take on these companies.”

The FCC’s mission is to protect the public trust, and that focus trumps the profit motive of a handful of large broadband carriers “every time,” Crawford added. “The only reason to water down very strong net neutrality rules under Title II would be to serve the commercial interests of the carriers,” she added.

Monday, September 22, 2014

iOS 8 is Still Years Behind Android

The privacy improvements in the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system provide necessary, but limited, protection to customers, experts say.

With the release of iOS 8 this week, iPhones and iPads configured with a passcode would encrypt most personal data, making it indecipherable without knowing the four-number password.
By tying the encryption key to the passcode and making sure the key never leaves the device, Apple placed the burden on law enforcement to obtain a search warrant and go directly to the customer to get data from their device during an investigation.

"Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data," Chief Executive Tim Cook said on the company's new privacy site. "So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8."

Rival Google reacted quickly to Cook's comments, and announced that it would turn on data encryption by default in the next version of Android. The OS has had encryption as an option for more than three years, with the keys stored on the smartphone or tablet.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

NTI Promotion

NTI has launched a promotion with sweepstakes to win a Toshiba Canvio AeroMobile Wireless SSD, you’re more than welcome to participate.  Good luck!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

New Kindle eReader

Remember all that speculation that Amazon would one day start giving away Kindle e-readers for free? In fact, the company is going in the opposite direction: Amazon introduced on Wednesday a new, high-end e-reader, the Kindle Voyage, that starts at $199 for the version with ads and goes all the way up to $289 for an ad-free, 3G version. Not only is it expensive for an e-reader, it is twice as expensive as the most basic tablet that Amazon also launched Wednesday.

So what will you get for your money? The Kindle Voyage is thinner and lighter than previous devices. It has a totally flat glass screen, without the raised plastic bezel that is present on cheaper models, and the screen is high-resolution, with 300 pixels per inch. Like the Kindle Paperwhite, the Voyage is front-lit, but its light is better — it can go “39 percent brighter” and there is an “adaptive front light” option that adjusts based on the level of light in the surrounding area. If you’re reading in a dark room, the light gradually decreases in brightness as your eyes adjust to the dark.

The Voyage also has a new method of turning pages, which Amazon is calling PagePress. People really like turning virtual pages, apparently, and tapping the screen wasn’t satisfying enough. So the Voyage has added sensors on either side of the screen; you press on them to turn the page, and, if you’ve enabled this option, a haptic actuator vibrates slightly, to confirm the turn.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Pentax Lens Sale

Adorama has just re-launched the many Pentax lens rebates that expired last week.  The rebates have been extended until 9/20, just like the recent Pentax K-3 deal.  This means you can save on Pentax K-mount lenses as well as Q-mount lenses and flashes.

Note that the deals are not visible on the Adorama web site, thus the special links below must be used.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

iOS 8.0 Update

After first displayed publicly at its annual developer conference in June, Apple has finally released iOS 8 for iPhones and iPads.

Just days before the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant opens its retail stores to sell the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, existing smartphone and tablet users can upgrade to the latest mobile operating system.

Though, it may be a few more hours until you get the update, or receive the notification that you're ready to jump to the latest version. That's because hundreds of millions of Apple's smartphone and tablet users are upgrading at the same time

The latest software version is is compatible with iPhone 4s handsets and later, iPad 2 tablets and later, iPad mini and iPad mini with Retina display, and iPod touch (5th generation) devices.
And, don't forget to backup your phone first.

There are three methods of updating: on the device, and through iTunes, or for enterprise deployments.

For the vast majority, updating from the device is easiest and quickest. The update will be ready to download and install when the notification arrives on the Settings icon on your device's home screen.

iOS 7 users and earlier can upgrade over-the-air on compatible devices by going to Settings > General > Software Update. However, we saw with the previous update last year that had many users frustrated that the update was slow to download, or would not finish downloading. It may take repeated attempts.

Because the size of some update files are huge, downloading over a Wi-Fi connection is recommended.

Alternatively, Windows and Mac users can connect their compatible iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices to the latest version of iTunes (which must be installed to use iOS 8), and upgrade by selecting the Check for Upgrade button in their device's summary window.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Panasonic DMC-CM1

Compact, point-and-shoot cameras are dying, simply because people would rather use smartphones and tablets to snap their dinner and instantly share them to Instagram. Unfortunately, that's a segment of the market that Panasonic abandoned (at least in Europe) back in 2013. That left the company without a convincing rival to the Lumia 1020 and Samsung's various phone / camera hybrids. That's why the company has now launched the DMC-CM1, a "connected camera" (i.e. a smartphone with a proper lens) that's capable of taking 20-megapixel stills and record 4K video thanks to a one-inch MOS sensor.

For its part, Panasonic knows that the device won't beat equivalent smartphones on a spec-for-spec basis. Instead, it wants people to concentrate upon the photographic equipment that's been crammed into this slender device. Perched atop the aforementioned one-inch sensor is an f/2.8 Leica DC Elmarit lens. The lens is fixed, but works equivalent to a 28mm zoom lens, packing an aperture that'll run all the way up to f/11. A manual control dial runs around the lens, which you can assign to a function of your choice, lending this an old-school feel. In fact, the CM1 looks like the Lumia 1020 by way of Dieter Rams, all austere chrome with cracked-leather style back, and has a weird retro-futuristic look that's tremendously attractive.

On the surface of it, it's no slouch in the phone department either, packing a 4.7-inch full HD touchscreen that'll offer full manual control of your images. Sandwiched between the frame is a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 with 2GB RAM and Android 4.4. The 16GB of internal storage can also, thankfully, be improved with microSD cards up to 128GB in capacity. Battery-wise, there's 2,600mAh unit lurking inside the hardware, although we'd be concerned that it won't hold enough juice to get you through a full day of snappin' and callin'. If there is one downside, it's that the CM1 is only earmarked for release in France and Germany of Christmas of this year. Still, we imagine that plenty of camera enthusiasts will be racing to get back in contact with some long-lost Gallic grandmother in the hope of scoring one of these as a present.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

iFruit company Lemmings

Yep, lots of people tried to order new iPhones as pre-sales began just after midnight on Friday.

There were the usual reports of challenges ranging from sites not loading to error messages, with clear indications that plenty of phones were being ordered.

Demand for the new iPhones is higher than that seen in either of the past two years, AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel told Re/code.

In particular, Apple and all the major carriers appear to have sold through their preorder allotments of the larger iPhone 6 Plus with all quoting longer ship times for that model.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Amazon Slashes the Price of the Fire Phone

Amazon.com cut the price of its Fire smartphone to 99 cents with a two-year contract through AT&T Inc., seeking to boost adoption of the device six weeks after it went on sale.

The 32-gigabyte phone previously cost $199 through AT&T, the exclusive wireless carrier for the device and the second-largest mobile carrier in the U.S. The Fire phone comes with 12 months of free membership to Amazon’s Prime fast-delivery and media-streaming service, the Seattle-based company said today in a statement.

Amazon is slashing the price of the Fire handset a day before Apple Inc. holds an event where the iPhone maker is set to announce bigger-screen phones, people with knowledge of the matter have said. Competition in the smartphone industry is intensifying, leading to reduction in prices for some phones that aren’t selling as well. In May 2013, AT&T said it was considering whether to stop selling an HTC Corp. phone that integrates Facebook Inc. social-networking features after cutting the price to 99 cents.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Wearable Devices

By George Harding

This is a hot product category these days. There were quite a few products at CES last January, the field is expanding rapidly.

I saw advertised and bought a Bowflex Heart Rate Monitor for $13. It’s really a watch with lots of functions, time of day, day, month, year, timer, countdown timer, calendar, alarm and backlight, but with an additional function of pulse monitor. It’s pretty simple. You press one of the four buttons and hold until the monitor function shows up. Then place the back of the watch against any place your pulse can be sensed. The display shows a heart symbol which pulses in time with your pulse and after a few seconds, a number representing your heart rate shows up.

Popular Mechanics magazine had a brief article about a new product called Narrative Chip. It’s a white one inch square device that attaches to your shirt, belt or whatever and records one picture every 30 seconds. It’s about 1 ½ inches square and clips to your shirt, belt, headband or whatever. It has a capacity of 6,000 pictures and a battery life of two days. You download the pictures to save and display them. Price $229. See getnarrative.com.

Gear Fit from Samsung is a fitness band that not only tells you the time, but also monitors your heart rate, counts your steps,  plays your music, answers calls and much more. It connects with your smartphone where it gives you an extensive readout of results. Brief results are shown on the device itself. Price $200. See samsung.com/us/mobile/wearable-tech/

Google and Apple are both working on Health apps that will collect information that can be used in applications to display results on wearable devices. Google’s developer kit is called Android Wear. Apple’s is HealthKit. Both companies are expected to develop smart watches soon.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


By George Harding

Here’s what I saw at this show.

QBIC is a very small camera with a very wide angle of view. It can be used in many different ways, but the most fascinating uses deal with sports and other motion activities. You can attach it to your body, so that you have a video record of your ski run, your kayak adventure, your race car trek or whatever. It has an adjustable angle of view, from 135 to 185 degrees. You can connect it to your smartphone by using the QBIC app or you can use WiFi to control the QBIC remotely. There are other features, as well. Price is about $260.  See www.elmousa.com.

Corning products. Their Gorilla Glass 3 was introduced. It has the “almost indestructible” feature, but is also anti-microbial, making publicly-touched surfaces more sanitary.  It can be used as a dry erase markerboard in the customary manner, with much better resistance to smudging and scratching than traditional products. Or, it can be a multi-touch panel, each section of which can be manipulated separately. Sizes range up to 84 inches. See corninggorillaglass.com

Kramer Collage and Connect. These products change the dynamics of a meeting room dramatically. Collage allows any device that participants bring to a meeting to be displayed, up to 12 such devices. Connect does the same thing, but with a limit of 4 devices. The devices can be PC or Mac laptops, tablets, iOS or Android smartphones. No hookups are required – all is connected by WiFi. You download software to your laptop of tablet or an app for your smartphone. Nothing else is required. Your screen shows on the main display. Your device can copy the main display, if needed. File sharing is enabled among participants.

Whoosh! This is a screen cleaner, whether phone, tablet or PC/Mac. It cleans them all. It removes dirt, skin oils, smidges and fingerprints. It is eco-friendly and non-toxic. And, it won’t damage your screen. And it’s economically priced with  various sizes available. See whooshscreenshine.com

Friday, September 12, 2014

The iPhone 6 is Old News

This image, which compares the specifications of the new iPhone 6 and a Nexus 4, an older Android device, is all over the internet today. It was put together by the Ars Technica reviews editor Ron Amadeo. The infographic, which got retweeted nearly 16,000 times and favorited by more than 7,000 users on Twitter, highlights that most of the new iPhone's specifications are matched by the Nexus 4 — when it was released way back in 2012.

On basic specs, the Nexus appears to do either just as well as the iPhone or even sometimes outdo it — t he graphic suggests that the iPhone 6 is simply playing catch-up to the Nexus 4's features. The phones have the same screen size, and both have widgets and NFC payments — but the Nexus has a slightly higher screen resolution (760p compared with the iPhone 6's 750p).

However, the iPhone 6 has the advantage in some specs that are not mentioned on the graphic. For example, the iPhone has Touch ID, a fingerprint-recognition feature that allows iOS users to unlock their phone with only a touch. Touch ID also lets users pay for products they want to buy without having to use their credit cards.

To round off the ridicule, Amadeo sarcastically lists the "new" features to expect in 2016 from Apple. On the list, he includes wireless charging, water resistance, and split-screen apps — all of which are already available on Android phones.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

New iFruit Phones

iPhone 6 features a 4.7-inch Retina HD display with 1334-x-750 resolution, providing 38% more viewing area than the iPhone 5S; the iPhone 6 Plus features a 5.5-inch Retina HD display with 1920-x-1080 resolution, which provides 88% more viewing area than iPhone 5S. The iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C will also remain available.

The phones will be available for purchase Sept 19. The iPhone 6 will start at $199 for the 16GB model on a two-year contract, and the 64GB and 128GB versions will sell for $299 and $399, respectively. The iPhone 6 Plus will start at $299 for the 16GB model, and retail for $399 and $499 for the 64GB and 128GB models.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

New Ricoh/Pentax Camera

A new camera will soon be joining the Ricoh (formerly Pentax) WG waterproof outdoor lineup.  

The new compact pictured above, which will be known as the Ricoh WG-M1, appears to be a video-oriented device with a nontraditional form factor.  It inherits some of its styling from the current WG-4.

Its specifications are as follows:
  • Waterproof to 10 meters for up to 1 hour
  • Shock, dust, and coldproof (-10° C)
  • Full-HD video recording at 30FPS
    • 120FPS high-speed videos at 848x480
    • Support for endless recording (i.e. limited by card size only)
    • Time-lapse videos
  • 14-megapixel 1/2.3" CMOS sensor
  • 1.5-inch LCD with 115k dots
  • 16.8mm (eqv.) lens with 160-degree field of view
    • 6 elements in 6 groups
    • 2 aspherical elements
    • Variable field of view underwater
    • Minimum focusing distance 0.6m (0.8m underwater)
  • Micro SDHC card slot
  • Built-in Wi-Fi w/ remote shooting capabilities
  • 42.5x66.5x89.5 mm
  • Weight: 151g (190g with battery and card)

This alongside the recently-launched WG mounting accessories shows that Ricoh is trying hard to expand the appeal of its products by following the same route that led GoPro to success.
The presence of built-in Wi-Fi in this camera is of particular interest, as this would be a first for a Pentax/Ricoh.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

OK Google

The new "OK, Google" hotword detection will let you start a Google Now search from any screen on your device, even the lockscreen. This change rolled out last week, but despite a couple of updates to the app from the Google Play store, many people are still reporting that they aren't seeing this set of options in the Google Now app.
When you spontaneously remember something you need to do at a future time or date while using your device, you can simply say, "OK, Google," and then the Google Now interface will be at your service. Ready to add this option? Thanks to Reddit user pr01etar1at and the site AndroidPolice, here's how:
Note: This feature may be limited to Android 4.3 and up for now.

Edit: Some users are reporting that this only works on their Android 4.4 and up devices, so you may need to update your Android version before you can use this functionality.
Update: Make sure you're on the latest version of Google Search from the Google Play Store before attempting to enable this feature. (Thanks, netjeff!)
Update No. 2: Canadian users can switch the input language to English - US to enable this feature. (Thanks to Twitter user @_gwh_.)
Step 1: Open Google Now and type "OK Google everywhere" in the search box. You can also say "OK, Google" and then say "OK, Google everywhere," if you're feeling fancy.

Step 2: Tap the menu button on your device and choose Settings > Voice > "Ok Google" Detection.
Step 3: Check the box next to "From any screen" (and also "From lock screen" if you choose).
Teach Google how to recognize your voice. Nicole Cozma/CNET

You'll have to agree to the terms provided by Google, and then teach the app what your voice sounds like by saying, "OK, Google" three times.

That's it! Now you can use Google Now when using another app, or just after waking up your device.