Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Chromebooks

Google just made it a no-brainer for school districts to kick Apple and Microsoft to the curb.

At the education technology conference Bett, the search giant announced two new Chromebooks from Acer and Asus that basically offer low-cost, secure alternatives to iPads and Windows notebooks in one device.

Google has been pushing hard into the education market for the past few years with software and services as well as with its Chromebook laptops and other hardware running on the company's Chrome web-based operating system. Chromebooks are attractive for their affordable pricing, simplicity and shareability, but they typically don't offer the same level of interactivity as an iPad or the durability of some Windows systems.

The two new Chromebook models -- the Acer Chromebook Spin 11 and the Asus Chromebook C213 -- are convertible laptops that can be used as tablets, as traditional notebooks, or in tent or display positions. Both are built to military standards for drops with the Acer featuring a spill-resistant keyboard and touchpad and the Asus, a modular design for easy onsite repairs.

Along with the sturdy construction, the Chromebooks have three key features. One is the included stylus, which Google said is inexpensive, doesn't require charging and doesn't need to be paired before use. Wacom EMR (electromagnetic resonance) technology and the stylus will let students write, draw and erase directly on the screen with little lag.

Each has a world-facing camera. Along with a camera above the screen, there is one also above the keyboard deck so that when they're in tablet mode students can use it to capture photos and video with the screen as the viewfinder. Lastly, they both charge off of USB-C, so there's no need to keep track of a specific power adapter.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Sculpteo 3-D Printed Bike

By George Harding

CES 2017 showed many 3-D printers and the amazing array of objects that can be created from these devices.

The most amazing object I saw was a bicycle created mostly by a 3-D printer by Sculpteo. The company says that 70% of the parts were made from a printer in less than two months at a cost of $4,200.

To prove the viability of the bike, it will  be ridden 579 miles from Las Vegas to San Francisco beginning in June, 2017. This will be an amazing  trip and will not only show viability but also durability of both bile and riders.

The riders will are the designers of the bike, who laid out the design, engineering and manufacture of this unique product of a 3-D printer.

Sculpteo states that it is the leading force in online 3-D printing today. The digital bike shows Sculpteo’s expertise in metal and polymer 3-D printing and laser cutting.

Sculpteo is based in Paris and San Francisco

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Win 10 Insider Build 15019

The gaming-focused Windows 10 Insider build that Microsoft promised earlier this week, with Game Mode, Beam livestreaming and other features, is rolling out—but with some game-breaking bugs, unfortunately.
What’s officially known as Build 15019 for the Insider Fast Ring also includes a number of more general improvements, including a version of Edge that will read your ebooks aloud and a better out-of-box experience, complete with voice actors to guide you through the process.
If you’re hoping to try out the new PC-centric Game Mode for yourself, though, be wary: Microsoft warned that unspecified “popular games” may experience crashes or black screens when loading, and clicking on certain elements in a Win32 game may cause it to be minimized (and therefore unplayable) unless killed. Even the new Game Mode will show up as OFF when in fact it’s enabled by default. Also, be aware of one download glitch: The issue Microsoft had with its progress bar is still there, so the download will still show “0% completed” even when it’s actually downloading.

“We recognize that this is painful for those wanting to try out the new gaming features announced this week,” Microsoft’s Insider chief, Dona Sarkar, wrote in a blog post. “We deliberated a lot on whether to release this build to Insiders with these issues; however we decided to go ahead and release it as we need feedback from Insiders on other areas of the OS.”

Friday, January 27, 2017

Life is Good

By Bayle Emlein

LG continues to lead the way in improving consumer life. The Signature OLED TV W provides the most immersive viewer experience to date with the widest possible viewing angle, richer colors, blacker blacks, better detail resolution, and a paper thin screen that sits flat on the wall, giving the sensation of looking through a real window into a world beyond. With enhanced audio, it sounds like you are really there. Working with Dolby and Technicolor, LG partners with experts in every field to yield the best possible user experience.
LG robots clean the floor, mow the lawn, and do the laundry learning your individual  situation and adjusting as they operate. At an airport near you, a friendly robot can provide directions and confirm gate locations. (How about a demo at CES? A robot that really knows where things are and how to get there from here at each corridor intersection. The InstaView refrigerator works with Amazon to monitor it's contents and even order delivery of groceries, per user specifications. It will order up your music too. As of 2017 all LG home appliances will be connected through the WebOS.
LG also operates in the personal vehicle arena. The Driver State Monitoring System monitors--and suggests corrections to--a driver's focus.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

LibreOffice 5.2.5

The Document Foundation (TDF) announces LibreOffice 5.2.5 “still”, the fifth minor release of the LibreOffice 5.2 family. Based on the upcoming announcement of LibreOffice 5.3, all users are invited to update to LibreOffice 5.2.5 from LibreOffice 5.1.6 or previous versions.

TDF suggests to deploy LibreOffice in large organizations, public administrations and enterprises with the backing of professional support by certified people (a list is available at:

Road to LibreOffice 5.3

LibreOffice 5.3 will be announced in less than a week, on February 1st, 2017. Users can start learning about the new features on LibreOffice 5.3 Release Notes page (https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/ReleaseNotes/5.3).

Download LibreOffice

LibreOffice 5.2.5 is immediately available for download from the
following link: http://www.libreoffice.org/download/libreoffice-fresh/. LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members can support The Document Foundation with a donation at

Several companies sitting in TDF Advisory Board (http://www.documentfoundation.org/governance/advisory-board/) are
providing either value added Long Term Supported versions of LibreOffice or consultancy services for migrations and trainings, based on best practices distilled by The Document Foundation.

Verizon/Yahoo Deal Delayed

Verizon’s planned acquisition of Yahoo will take longer than expected and won’t close until this year’s second quarter, the internet company said on Monday.

The $4.8 billion deal was originally slated to close in the first quarter, but that was before Yahoo reported two massive data breaches that analysts say may scrap the entire deal.

Although Yahoo continues to work to close the acquisition, there’s still work required to meet closing the deal's closing conditions, the company said in an earnings statement, without elaborating.

Verizon has suggested that the data breaches, and the resulting blow to Yahoo’s reputation, might cause it to halt or renegotiate the deal.

In September, Yahoo said a “state-sponsored actor” had stolen details from at least 500 million user accounts in late 2014. As if that wasn’t enough, the company reported another breach in December, this one dating back to August 2013 and involving 1 billion user accounts.

Both breaches were detected months after Verizon announced last July that it would buy the ailing internet company. Reportedly, Yahoo is facing an investigation from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over whether the breaches should have been reported to investors earlier.
The breaches may have shaken confidence in Yahoo’s internet business. But the company has since taken measures, such as password resets, to secure user accounts.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Acronis Tru Image 2017 New Generation Backup

By George Harding

There are many programs for saving your vital data and programs, some separate programs, some built into the operating system. One which has been around for many years is Acronis, a program provided by a Russian company.

Acronis has had a backup program for many operating systems, providing a new version as operating systems have changed. The result is a proliferation of different versions, each doing essentially the same job. The most recent version, however, does backup and considerably more.

The newest version, called Tru Image 2017 New Generation, offers protection from ransomware, Notary, which assures that data you’ve backed up is authentic and unchanged, Security, which makes sure that data is secure against intervention or alteration, Cloud backup and Mobile backup.

This program does a lot, yet is easy to use. A free trial is available.

Acronis Tru Image 2017 New Generation
Price $80 for one year

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Samsung Fires

Samsung Electronics finally identified what went wrong with its Galaxy Note 7 handsets that led to one of the worst technology recalls in recent times, a day before its full-year earnings.
Dong-jin Koh, Samsung's mobile business chief, acknowledged two separate instances of battery malfunctions were to blame for some of the handsets catching fire at a Monday press conference in Seoul, South Korea. He also used the conference to apologize to customers and suppliers.
Investors responded positively to the news, with Samsung shares closing up 2.31 percent at 1,903,000 won during market close on Monday.
The Galaxy Note 7 handsets were packed with lithium-ion batteries, which are arranged in three layers: a positive electrode, a negative one and a third physical layer that acted as the separator between the first two. When the positive and negative electrodes touch, it can sometimes lead to short circuits within the battery cells

Monday, January 23, 2017

A&D Medical Mobile Help

By Bayle Emlein

A&D Medical develops and distributes medical devices. Where appropriate they partner with other companies to include their devices in to solutIons A&D offers. MobileHelp is one such company.
In the 40 years A&D has noted some trends in the delivery of medical services to:
*Patient centric
*Connected health
*Cost efficient
*Chronic condition management
The focus has moved from event-based care to health management, from physician managed care to active patient self-management.

What makes things work for consumers? That is, what ensures compliance? Affordability, ease of use, how it looks. Focus groups reveal that folks want their stuff to look "normal," not like a medical device.
The MobileHelp device looks like a handheld device. Warnings and reminders are delivered. Data, such as weight and blood pressure, are automatically reported. This ensures both better long-term compliance with health routines and ongoing monitoring. These features as well as the ability to report emergencies reduce costs, including those for hospital readmissions. This is above the emotional and energy costs for caregivers.
MobileHelp is a model of a nationally available health monitoring system. If you're reading this, chances are you're not currently looking for health management support for yourself. That's the best time for  investigation. If you know someone who might soon need such a system to remain out of an institution, start introducing the normalcy of self-care and self-monitoring now.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


By Bayle Emlein

Remember the Casio calculator watch? Now Casio watches are connected and can tell you the time anywhere in the world. The WSD-F20 PRO-TREK Smart outdoor watch incorporates tools, apps, GPS, sensors, and a microphone. Casio's goal is to provide a watch that adapts to the user, rather than demanding that the user adapt is life. Pro-Trek branding clearly identifies the line. The newly added GPS function uses satellites for connectivity beyond cell towers.
The Pro-Trek Smart is thinner than its predecessor and has better battery life. Look for it at the same price point as last year's model, around April 20.

Friday, January 20, 2017

MyCharge Review

By George Harding

If you need an external charger, this is the place to go. This company has chargers for every situation.

I received one of their great products at CES and am using it right now to charge my iPhone6. It is about as simple as a device like this can get. It’s called the Amp Prong+.

It is an external battery in compact form. It’s only about 1” by 2 1/4” by 4” and weighs only one-half pound.

The name tells you how it’s charged – you just plug it into a wall socket. It has plenty of charge capability, with its 6700 mAh Lithium-Ion battery.

It has two USB ports that can be used simultaneously to charge smartphones, tablets or just about anything else.

It has the two collapsible prongs for charging its internal battery.

There is a silver button on the side, which turns on the four LEDs to show the degree of charge.

And that’s it! It’s very compact, able to fit into a pocket or purse or to slip into your car’s glove compartment.

myCharge External Batteries
Price of AmpProng+ $50

Thursday, January 19, 2017

An Important Lesson from CES

By Bayle Emlein

Attention CES attendees! Everything you saw last year is obsolete. Everything you will see this year will be obsolete by the time you get home. Come back again next year to experience new and improved obsolescence.

Samsung: The Battery is Guilty

A Samsung Electronics Co Ltd investigation into what caused some Galaxy Note 7 smartphones to catch fire has concluded that the battery was the main reason, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday.

The world's biggest smartphone maker is seeking to put behind it one of the biggest product safety failures in tech history as it prepares to launch the Galaxy S8, one of its flagship phones, sometime in the first half of this year.

Investors and analysts say it is critical for Samsung to provide a convincing and detailed explanation about what went wrong with the Note 7 and how it will prevent such problems from recurring if it is to regain consumer trust.

"They've got to make sure they come clean and they've got to reassure buyers as to why this won't happen again," said Bryan Ma, Singapore-based analyst for researcher IDC.

The results of the investigation will likely be announced on Jan. 23, a day before it announces detailed fourth-quarter earnings results, said the person, who was not authorised to speak publicly on the matter and declined to be identified.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Amazon Patents Self-Driving Trucks

Amazon was awarded a patent for a network that manages a very specific aspect of the self-driving experience: How autonomous cars navigate reversible lanes.

Reversible lanes indicate a change in direction of traffic with an overhead signal, making it a potential disaster zone for self-driving cars that haven’t yet been programmed to understand those signals.

In the patent, Amazon outlines a network that can communicate with self-driving vehicles so they can adjust to the change in traffic flow. That’s particularly important for self-driving vehicles traveling across state lines onto new roads with unfamiliar traffic laws.

It’s not surprising Amazon has thought about how to ease that process, given its recent push into creating its own logistics network and controlling more of the delivery process.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

We're almost back to Normal

After several weeks of CES in Vegas followed by a trip to SoCal we're finally on the way back to Tennessee!! Expect a log post tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Delayed Posts

We have a lot of posts to this blog we have a connectivity problem right now. It's hard to belive that there is a spot in the 21st Century that we can't get connected at but it's here, on Camp Pendletonn!!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Missing Posts?

Are you concerned that you missed a blog post this week? Don't be. We have been so busy covering CES that we may have mssed a post (or two).

But we'll catch up... we promise


Snapdragon is the heart of the chips Qualcomm provides OEM's to create leading edge products. Keith Kressin, Senior Vice President for Product Development, reviewed the speed with which technology has improved communication among people. Adding communication among things is the next revolution. Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips have enabled the Internet of Things.
This year's release of the Snapdragon 835 chip removes about a third of the real estate occupied by its predecessor. This means less heat, more room for other components. In addition:
*improved battery life  adds 2.5 hours of talk time per phone charge
*immersion means faster, blurless video rendering and 3-D directional audio
*capture means a better camera is possible. The manufacturer chooses which features this power will incorporate
*connectivity at fiber optic speeds gives the same uninterrupted experience found at the most desirable wired setting
*built in security keeps it all working seamlessly
*machine learning enables ongoing individualizations and improvement

What's next?

Raj Talluri, Qualcomm Senior Vice President for Product Management, noted that mobile devices are in a unique position to manage the Internet of Things. One example is AR/VR glasses, in which  the Snapdragon chip is so light that it can be included in fashionable glasses. The same features of size and reliability are reflected by Qualcomm's inclusion in 80% of wearables.

Patrick Little, Qualcomm Senior Vice President for Automotive Development, is excited to be working with several auto manufacturers to address carbon pollution and also to enable autonomous vehicles. Integrated Snapdragon 820A chips promise a seamless user experience, where entering a vehicle does not mean any change in behavior. Sensors will quickly adapt to the environment and select the best response. Coming to a vehicle in your near future, cellular V2X (vehicle to anything) will enable communication with any device. For example, your car will note that someone with her face buried in her phone stepped off a curb half a block away.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


By Bayle Emlein

The HDMI Forum mission is to develop interoperability of connection among companies. Forum members are divided into two groups: development and marketing. Any company is invited to join and there are many global players on the 86 member list.
The HDMI 2.1 offers higher resolution and faster refresh rates. This means better audio as well as video in terms of both image quality as well as smooth rendering at gaming speeds. 48G cable supports higher bandwidth.
HDMI does not announce the product developments made by companies using HDMI specifications. That's up to the manufacturer.
For geek details, go to www.hdmiforum.org.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


By Bayle Emlein

Las Vegas, NV, is many things, many of which can stay in Vegas. A few need to be noted world wide. Las Vegas is proud to operate public facilities 100% on renewable energy. This in one of the fastest growing cities in the country.
At the same time that the population is growing, Las Vegas hosts a number of visitors equivalent to a Super Bowl. Weekly. If you've ever tried to get a taxi during CES, you'll have no problem believing that. Las Vegas envisions itself as a leader in moving people safely and efficiently. The Nevada Center for Advanced Mobility is focusing on local--neighborhood--transportation, the daily going to and fro of life. In addition to Nevada, Michigan, Colorado, and Utah--and the national government of the UK--are proactively exploring implementation of autonomous public transportation with the goals of improving safety, convenience, and the variety of people (the young, the elderly, folks with disabilities) who can travel independently.
Local Motors is changing the paradigm by co-creating the notion of locally sourcing local transportation. This starts with considering the input of all relevant parties, not necessarily incorporating every guess or trying to do more of the same. More traffic is not better, more careless driving is not better.
Low speed autonomous vehicles are in operation today. Almost half the parts are manufactured locally using 3-D printing. No more long-distance shipping of parts and vehicles, with the cost and environmental overhead. The nature of vehicle manufacture and distribution will change as radically as the change from horses to horsepower. Just as that revolution opened transportation to more people in unforeseen ways, autonomous vehicles will change who can get around independently and how. Automobile, truck, bus, and train: forms, creation, and usage will all be dramatically different in the very near future. Regulation and insurance are just two of the sectors that must readjust.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calculates that 94% of traffic accidents in the US are caused by driver error. A well-designed autonomous system would not eliminate all accidents, but it would make a statistically significant difference.  In response NHTSA has changed focus from reaction problems already noted to proactive policy and enforcement to ensure the safety of the American public. Yes, NHTSA.gov is actively seeking public input.

Lyft is partnering with GM to promote the demise of the private automobile. Founder Tim Burr predicts that within 5 years most trips in the US will not be person-operated. No more auto related expenses or traffic hassles. No license needed.

Press Day Number 1 at CES

Today is the first Press Day at CES in Las Vegas. I got a good night’s sleep in the Luxor Hotel, which is right next door to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center where Press Day will be held.

Stay tuned to this blog for news as it occurs for the next few days!!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Flight to LAS

Once again we're on our way to The City of Lost Wages (better known as Las Vegas) for our annual CES trip. I know, it's a hard life but someone has to do it. An editor"s work is never done.

Over the years CES has gone by quite a few names, most recently it's just CES. Before that it was the International CES and before that it was the Consumer Electronics Show. It's kind of like our blog, the MCC. Before that it was the Monthly Computer Chronicle and before that the PHL HUB PCUG (short for the Philadelphia HUB PC User Group). MCC is much easier to remember!

As a perfect example of how things change over time, I'm writing this on my cell phone, an LG G Flex. In the almost 25 years I've been going to Vegas for trade shows I've used many different devices to write my columns. Various laptops of course, a slew of WinCE devices (Windows CE, gone and probably best forgotten), several PDAs and now cell phones. Times change and we need to change too. I wonder what I'll be using in five years?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Cheero Power Plus

By Robert Sanborn

Back in October last year, I wrote about a portable power pack that quickly ended up in my travel bag, see the review here. It was the Cheero and they have just sent me the newest Power Plus 3. Outwardly, it has a similar but smaller shape as the prior one I wrote about but internally, the differences are terrific. If you are doing any traveling at all, you will find having something like this indispensable as my last trip to China, while staying powered up in the hotels is pretty simple these days, it is while traveling around, it gets truly difficult and having something to keep the phones, tablets, and cameras going is truly needed.

As you can see from the images below, the new Cheero is about a third the size and shape to the prior model with just one obvious difference in how the two USB ports are set on the top of the unit. This model is actually less power than the other at 10,300 mAh but enough to power several devices for a day out touring. Another thing that sets it apart is the USB ports are autosensing so that if you need to plug in something that can handle the higher voltage like an iPad or fast charging phone, it will handle it no matter which port you use. It comes with a USB to Micro USB cable for charging the device but as you can see in the image, I am using my really cool and fast Xcyte cable to charge it but if you want to cut down on cable clutter, any Android charging cable will work.

The LED lights are also quite informative. If all four lights are on, you have at least 76% of the battery capacity available; three lights 51% or more; two lights 26% or more; and one light lit is 6% or more. If the one light is blinking, there is less than 5% capacity left. When charging the Cheero, the lights will stay on in reverse order till it is fully charged and the lights flash to indicate the amount of charging done and how much is left. All four solid on indicate fully charged. The power button on the unit is for two purposes. One is to tell you what the level of charge is left in the device and the second is to start the charging of your phone when you plug it in. When the charging of your phone or device is complete, the Cheero powers itself off and it has several protective features like the auto shutoff, short circuit protection, and overheating detection.

It is a perfect size for traveling being smaller than its sister unit. If you are worried about carrying it on a plan, not to worry, it has a rating of 36.2 Watt-hours; well under the limit of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). see thier battery page. The packaging from my sample came from Japan and it was in a pretty cool all plastic case with insert. If you have a choice, I would prefer the white unit as it will be much easier to spot in the bottom of the gadget bag. The original Cheero 13400mAh unit is still listed on Amazon but is currently unavailable. This new model, the Cheero Power Plus 3 is model CHE-072 and should be available soon. Highly recommended.