Connected to the ultimate technology – Through Google Glass

Watch any futuristic film and you’re usually confronted with the Directors ideas of what future technology might look like.

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If you’ve seen a computer display in a pair of glasses you might be forgiven for putting this in the realm of fiction but technology writers and experts are getting excited by Google Glass, an Android-powered head mounted computer display which Google say will be on the market by the end of 2013.Practically Google Glass operates on a similar level to a Smartphone or Tablet. Think of varied apps like maps or restaurant finders, a camera, email and internet surfing all with voice activation. All these feature with Google Glass. The different is the hands-free nature of the devices. The small device can sit on a pair of glasses and Google’s initial promo video’s give the feeling of text and information displayed right infront of your eyes whether snapping a picture or reading as message.

Google are saying the devices will be available to buy at the end of 2013 and prices seem to be around the $1500 mark, although no one is quite sure. There is a secretive and low key approach from Google that has got some people asking some questions. Recently a Google Glass appeared on eBay at a $16000 price. Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin quickly spoke out that people should avoid these fake or counterfeit models. His TED seminar on the subject was again a little low key and he said that although a 2013 launch was likely there was still a lot of work to do on the product.

This doesn’t seem like an Apple-style reveal but rather a trickle down information cycle on this new product – with the hope that customers will not be able to restrain themselves when the Google Glass is finally launched. Some people have been able to get hold of a Google Glass as product testers. Through an application procedure on Google+ members of the public have been able to apply to try out the devices. Using a #ifihadaglass hashtag you can say what you would do with a Google Glass in your hands. The best ones get the chance to try it out – but apply quickly this is only running for a few more days. When thinking about Google Glass the key question would seem to be around it’s likely impact.

Do we really need a computer built into our glasses? Other than looking cool there seem to be some great benefits. Imagine a surgeon relaying his first person perspective of an operation to medical students online. This immediate capturing of life events or the ability to see through someone’s eyes is incredibly attractive. But concerns exist around Google’s ongoing collecting of data about us as we search. Will what we see and where we go be added to this? Are the days of face recognition and of real-time customer information even closer? We’ll have to wait till the end of the year to find out.

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Read, print and create PDF’s with Nitro PDF Reader

Nitro PDF ReaderDo everything you expect with a PDF reader, and then some.

PDF’s are an important part of both the online and offline computing experiences. If you can’t open or create one, your computing life can get difficult. This is when Nitro PDF Reader comes in handy.

With Nitro PDF Reader you can create PDFs from virtually any Windows application. You can convert any printable files to PDF directly from the source, or from within Nitro Reader itself. Nitro PDF Creator, a virtual print driver, lets you print directly from your favorite Windows applications. Its really just that easy.

Nitro PDF Reader also comes with a desktop icon that allows you to instantly create a document. All PDFs created with Nitro Reader are 100% compatible with other leading PDF readers and editors, like Adobe Acrobat Reader and Acrobat Professional. So you can share them securely with anyone, anywhere.

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Full-featured PDF creation.
Free doesn’t mean limited. You can completely control the output: customize the colors, font-embedding, page size, orientation and output quality. Or just keep it simple with 3 handy presets: Web, Office, and Print ready.

Nitro PDF Reader is a full featured app that gives you complete control over your PDF creations. You even get presets – web, office and print ready – that allows you to quickly change document creation settings. The app also has full support for PDF forms, allowing you to quickly save data as well as the form. You can even use the app to fill in a static form, not necessarily a PDF form. If you don’t have a PDF reader or creator, this should be high on your list of apps to check out.

Downloa Nitro PDF Reader

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Compress and secure your data with PKZip

566705Putting it in the cloud is all the rage today.  Hundreds of thousands of people are storing data remotely so that they can access their data However, not everyone has a lot of or wants to pay for cloud storage. This is one of the reasons why I like apps like PKZip. It’s a file compression tool for Windows.

PKZip is a file compression tool that can compress files by up to 98%, saving valuable storage space and making file transfer easier.  You can compress and encrypt files directly from Microsoft Office using SecureZIP. Its really very easy. When using Microsoft Office, simply select “Save Copy as ZIP File” or “Save Copy as Secure ZIP File” to compress or encrypt directly from Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.

Protecting your data is easy with PKZip.  It has support of AES or 3DES strong encryption. Files encrypted with PKZIP may be decrypted and extracted on all major computing platforms, including Windows, Mac OS, Unix and Linux.  You can rest assured that important data can be sent to and used by those that need it, regardless of where they are and what computing platform they use.

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Getting your information where you need it is easy with PKZip, too.  PKZip also integrates with Microsoft Outlook, allowing automatic encryption of any email and/or attachment. Encrypted emails can be forwarded without the need to download and resave files. PKZIP can compress files that are over 9 exabytes in size (1EB = 1,000,000 terabytes); and allows users to combine up to two billion files into a single archive.

PKZip is pretty decent software, and its comparably priced to other, popular file compression tools. While its compression ratios are good, its been my experience that other tools may be able to provide better compression algorithms and rates, but your mileage may vary. If you’re looking for a decent file compression, archiving and compression tool, PKZip is a great choice and one that you should give serious consideration to.

download PKZip

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ROBLOX

Create and play online games with this cool Windows tool set.

ROBLOX-iOS-IconHalf the fun of playing a game is creating it. When you can create your own levels with your own mazes, it makes for an interesting time. This is one of the reasons why I like Roblox. Its an online gaming tool set and game for Windows.

ROBLOX, is a huge multiplayer online for kids and teens ages 8-16. Players can create their own virtual world, where they and other online members may enter and socialize. Games on Roblox can be scripted using a sandboxed edition of Lua 5.1, and can be used to schedule events that occur in-game, creating different scenarios.

To get the most out of ROBLOX, you have to create an either an online free or premium account. Your account gives you a customizable character and in-game real estate to play in. In the online game, you use various blocks and bricks to build whatever you want. If you’re stuck for an idea, you can always look at other user’s worlds or ROBLOX games that have been created.

The first thing that’ll strike you about ROBLOX is that it’s blocky. Building in Roblox is much like building with Legos. With time and effort, you can build enormous and complex buildings, structures and objects. However, you have to accept the game’s design limitations.

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Roblox is very much like Mine Craft for those that play Xbox. The game is ok, and very basic for this modern world of powerful computer gaming systems and desktops. However, younger kids will definitely like making their own structures and playing game levels they’ve created themselves. If you don’t have an Xbox 360 console and have kids that want to play a Mine Craft like game, this is definitely an awesome choice.

download Roblox

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Use a GUI to examine the hard drive on your Wii with WBFSManager

If you’ve got a Wii set top gaming console, managing data on that drive just got easier.

WBFSManagerNewThis application basically provides a GUI for working with hard disk drives that have been formatted to the WBFS file system. The file system used by the console for this purpose is WBFS (Wii Backup File System), a system that is similar to NTFS, that you will now be able to handle thanks to WBFS Manager.

Customizing your gaming experience takes a bit of know-how. Getting custom content to your Wii is now possible with WBFSManager.  The app lets you list the games on the drive so you can see what you have. You get most of the standard drive manager features you’d expect – contents, space used, space available, etc.  You can also copy, move and rename files as you wish.

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The biggest and perhaps best use of WBFSManager is that you can use it to clone your drive to another one. If you want or need to move the content to a different or perhaps bigger drive, then WBFSManager can get you there.  If you’ve got a lot of Wii channels on your system, this can be a huge plus.  Bigger and faster drives make for a better gaming experience.

I never really got into hacking the Wii systems we have in the house; but then again, I’m not much of a gamer, either.  However, if you want to build custom channels for your Wii or want to mount ISO images that you’ve copied to the drive, this the best way to get the content there.  The app hasn’t been updated since 2009, but then again, the file and drive formats haven’t changed either.

download WBFSManager

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Are Software Subscriptions a Good or bad Idea for Consumers?

Simply put, it depends.  Value can be found at the consumer level, but you have to read and understand the EULA (end user license agreement) and if you need to be online before you buy-in.

Software subscriptions work in the enterprise and work for software companies, but may or may not work for consumers. Value for the end user depends on how the vendor licenses the software, and if you have to be connected to the internet in order to use it. Most people won’t care if, in the long run they feel they’re getting some reasonable level of value out of the recurring cost.

Many consumers never read an end user license agreement or EULA. Ever.  In many cases, even software users were required to activate has been installed on more than one PC, regardless of whether additional installs violate the licensing agreement, simply because the software was considered too expensive. Versions of Microsoft Office from Office 95 to Office 2010, fall in this category. Its one of the biggest reasons why MS has opted to switch to a subscription model for future Office sales.

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The key to successful consumer adoption, however, is how the licensing is written.  I have found that most people are honest and will buy software instead of pirate it; but the licensing associated with any particular title is often very confusing.  Many people have more than one computing device; and will want to use software they purchase where ever and with whatever they’re computing with.  As long as the licensing allows them to install it where they need it, and the subscription costs aren’t too high; and/or don’t exceed what a consumer would pay for the software at retail, then I don’t see why a user find a subscription model acceptable. However, where and how the software is installed may also be an issue.

My biggest concern is where and how the software is used.  Subscriptions for some software may require an online connection to a subscription validation server in order for the software to work.  If I HAVE to be online every time I want to use the software that may be a problem. Internet access and mobile broadband are in a lot of places, but aren’t everywhere. If I want to use it someplace where I don’t have a connection and the software won’t start, then the subscription model is broken. The cloud isn’t everywhere, and I may not be everywhere the cloud is. Software vendors moving to a subscription sales model need to address this in some way to insure that I can use what I’ve paid for, even when I’m disconnected.

I also want the software installed locally and don’t want to HAVE to use an online version like Google Apps or Office 356 Online, again, for the same reasons. I don’t want to HAVE to be tied to the cloud or an always on network connection in order to be able to use something I’ve purchased. Once mobile broadband is ubiquitous, this may be a non-issue, but until then, it may be an issue for some, especially in areas where connectivity is spotty.

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Microsoft Behind the [Mobile] 8-Ball

An interesting development – Bill Gates admits that Microsoft’s mobile strategy is clearly a mistake

windowsphone_en-us_how-to_wp8_news_spotify-news-3-460x460I’ve been saying it for years – since about 2004 actually – Microsoft has no idea what they want (at the time Windows Mobile, and now) Windows Phone to be when it grows up. They have no idea how tablet computing fits into the “mobile” picture. Apparently, according to an interview by CBS This This Morning/60 Minutes and article by Preston Gralla, Bill Gates agrees.

Honestly, it’s about time.

Microsoft has this ugly habit of wanting the [computing] world to conform to Windows, and it’s clear the world has moved on. If Microsoft wants to stay not only relevant, but profitable, it’s going to have to accept this and develop a mobile strategy that correctly and appropriately positions and empowers them. Right now, they don’t have a [mobile] clue.

In his article, Gralla says,

If Microsoft had done mobile right years ago, the iPhone never would have gone on to become such a success, and Apple would not be the dominant player in mobile. Microsoft would own mobile as well as the desktop.

I happen to agree. The world was thirsting for a smartphone or mobile device that converged the items they wanted in one place – PIM data, music, video, internet, etc. – into a single device. Microsoft had Exchange ActiveSync, WMP and an a couple different integrated content stores. It had an established application catalog in a number of different vendors, such as Handango. Had it understood how mobile should have worked, it could have gotten to the party first and taken everyone down the mobile path via their vision.

Unfortunately, Ballmer didn’t (and in my opinion, still doesn’t) understand the mobile computing market. He may be a brilliant marketing and businessman, but mobile is something that has escaped him from the get-go. What is needed from Microsoft at this point are big, bold moves powered by their branding and most importantly, their checkbook. Ballmer needs to find someone in the mobile market he trusts and then must let them define the vision and strategy

If Microsoft doesn’t get its mobile act together and define a clear mobile strategy that augments and is not encompassed by Windows, it may find itself permanently behind [the 8-ball], and eventually out of the game entirely.

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Corel VideoStudio Pro X5 – all-in-one video editor and screen recorder

Corel VideoStudio ProEveryone is taking video today. Nearly everyone that I know has a smartphone or has access to a smartphone. As such, they’ve got digital photos and, more importantly, video clips flying all over the place. This is one of the biggest reasons why I like applications like Corel Video Studio Pro. It’s a video editing application for Windows.

Corel VideoStudio Pro is a powerful video-editing application, and has screen recording, built in. Its an all-in-one, video editor that provides editing, advanced effects, interactive web video and total disc authoring into a single package. The app is fast and packed with intuitive tools, that let you create family movies and slideshows, fun, stop motion animations, and screen recordings of presentations, tutorials and more. You can tap into the full power of your multi-core processor and share your creations everywhere with native HTML5 video support, or enhanced DVD and Blu-ray authoring.

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Once you’ve got your creations completed, you can quickly share them online, or burn a professional quality DVD/ Blu-ray disk complete with menus, titles and transitions. Corel VideoStudio Pro has a huge template library. You can choose from a variety of Instant Projects, drop in your content and make a movie in minutes. You can drag your media and graphics onto the Timeline, add effects, transitions and more. You can reveal or hide tracks, zoom in and out, or customize the Timeline to your liking. VSP makes it very easy once you get a handle on the workflow.

Corel VideoStudio Pro is a really cool app. It makes creating video less complicated than other apps and is fun to use. Non-experienced users may have a little bit of trouble getting used to the workflow and some of the tools, but it’s not difficult once you get going. If you have a lot of video and want to pull it all together into a disc that can be passed or sent to relatives or simply want to keep a hard copy record that can be viewed from any set top player, this is a decent choice for the task.

Download Corel VideoStudio Pro

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