Raspberry Pi gets its own Appstore

The tiny Raspberry Pi computer is the latest device to get its own app store. The Pi Store opened for custom on 17th December contains a range of apps from games to developers’ tools. Currently there are twenty five apps available to download in the Pi Store, but this number is expected to grow significantly in the coming months.

The Pi Store is a collaboration between the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Indie City – operators of an online marketplace for independent game developers – and Velocix. The foundation launched the store with the aim to enable “young people to share their creations with a wider audience, and maybe to make a little pocket money”. Currently all apps are free to download except Storm in a Teacup. Storm in a Teacup features 50 levels of physics based puzzles and is priced at £1.99.

The range of apps on the Pi Store is already diverse. There are five games on offer including Freeciv which is an open source empire-building strategy game. OpenTTD, the popular open source transport simulation game can also be found in the store. Despotify is a Spotify client for the Raspberry Pi and is free to download, however users need a Spotify Premium account to use the app. LibreOffice brings an extensive suite of office applications to the Raspberry Pi and is compatible with Microsoft Office files. There are also several apps intended to assist Raspberry Pi developers. The Pi Store is also intended to be the hope of “Pi-related” media including the MagPi e-magazine and tutorials produced from the community.

The Raspberry Pi has widely been regarded as a success since its launch earlier in the year. Amateur and professional developers alike have written and ported a wide range of applications to run on the system but until now there has been no obvious place to find or distribute these applications. The Pi Store changes this and will greatly simplify the experience for developers and users.

A blog post on the Raspberry Pi foundation website encourages the community of Raspberry Pi users to embrace the store. The community has been asked to submit their own projects to populate the store and to review and rate the apps already on offer. The store features a clever recommendation engine which will learn about you and your preferences as you rate, review and download apps. These recommendations will improve as you interact more and more with the store.

The Pi store itself is easily browsed and well constructed. Apps can be found through their category or through their tags. There is also useful search and sort functions in the store. All apps on the store have a content rating so users know whether the content is appropriate for the recipient. Given that the Raspberry Pi is based upon an open source platform all apps also detail their associated licences so users are aware if they can modify or redistribute the app.

To download apps from the store, Raspberry Pi users must first download the Raspberry Pi Store application. Users can download the application from Raspberry Pi’s official download page.

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Browse the internet with ease with Microsoft’s premier browser for Windows and Windows RT.

Windows is perhaps the most widely used operating system in the history of computing.  In the enterprise, you can literally accept no substitute.  Most people find it a must have in the work place.  With more and more applications for both home and work use shifting to mobile, online and touch-enabled applications, I’m glad that Windows’ default web browser, Internet Explorer is keeping pace. Its perhaps one of the most widely used Windows-based web browsers around.

With the implementation of Windows 8 and Windows RT, Microsoft has taken a different tact to computing. They’re embracing a new, clean and uncomplicated interface, and IE is following suite.  IE gets out of the way when you browse. Its controls appear when you need them and vanish when you don’t, giving you full screen browsing, allowing you to see the web, not IE. When you need the controls, an easy flick of your finger can bring them back.

Speaking of fingers, all of IE’s tabs are finger sized. You won’t have to fumble with on screen elements that aren’t tablet-centric or meant for interaction with a mouse. IE 10 is meant to be touched and interacted with.  For example, IE automatically detects which page is next so it’s easy to swipe from page to page with your finger. IE 10 is fast.  The browser is quicker to start and to render pages than previous versions.

With security being such a hot topic, especially for Microsoft, IE 10 has security measures built in.  It uses the leading malware protection, blocking up to 40% more malware than other, similar apps. If privacy is a major concern, IE 10 also supports Do Not Track as well as implementing SmartScreen filtering that helps keep your personal information hidden from the public.

The windowed version of IE 10 is decent.  The MetroUI version that comes with Windows RT is a bit difficult for some to get used to. Unfortunately, the full screen or tablet version of IE 10 breaks Microsoft’s previous Window paradigm, requiring most everyone to get used to a different way of viewing the web.  While Microsoft may tout this as one of its newer features, not everyone is going to see it as a value add.  The app’s web rendering engine though is pretty awesome; and its performance may help you push aside its UI or presentation layer and just concentrate on the web as opposed to how it displays it.

Download Internet Explorer 10

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Google Kills off Google Apps Standard

Current users and domains won’t be effected, but the free version of Google Apps is gone.

Back in 2008 when Google introduced Google Apps, their online Office Suite, it came in two different versions.  Small businesses and those Gmail users that wanted to implement a custom mail domain (50 users or less) without having to set up a dedicated mail server or incurring any additional expense could use Google Apps Standard.  Larger groups (51 or more users) were required to pay a subscription fee and use Google Apps for Business.  Today, Google Apps Standard was discontinued.

Current users of Google Apps Standard won’t have to subscribe.  Google Apps Standard is still free for educational customers. New users will need to subscribe to Google Apps Premium.

I am a current Google Apps Standard user for my personal site, iTechGear.org. I rarely use any of the office suite apps. I use it mainly for Gmail and a customized email address (xxxxx@itechgear.org).  Users that want to use Google Apps for that, who are not educational customers, must now pay for Google Apps for Business.

Pricing for Google Apps for business can be seen here.  Basically, its $5 per user per month or $50 per user a year.  That includes 25GB of Gmail storage and 5GB of Google Drive Storage.  You can also use a customized email address if you wish.

For casual users like me, this would be a bit pricey. I wouldn’t choose this option if I had to do this now.  For small businesses and one to two man operations, this isn’t a good option, in my opinion. Thankfully, I’m grandfathered in…for now. This is likely not the end of this type of move by Google, either. There are a number of Google Standard users out there, and I think it’s only a matter of time before they get move to the Google Apps for Business realm and will be required to pay a subscription or lose their use of the service.

Time will tell, however; and until then, I’m glad I got in early.

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Internet Explorer 10 Release Preview available for Windows 7

A week ago Microsoft released Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7 users. While still not in its final version, the browser is served as a Release Preview in 32 bit and 64 bit form.

Initially Microsoft released Internet Explorer 10 only for Windows 8 as part of it. Being directly integrated into the system, many users have questioned Microsoft’s decision not to make the 10th version of the browser also available for Windows 7 a year ago. As a consequence to this, it was imminent the Windows 7 version to be available in this period of the year.

At a first look, the Release Preview of Internet Explorer 10 is nearly identical to the version of the browser integrated into the Windows 8. The only core difference is that Adobe Flash is not integrated into the Windows 7 / Windows Server 2012 version like it is in the Windows 8 version. The reason of having a built-in version of Adobe Flash into Windows 8 version of IE 10 is that the browser does not support browser plugins.

In case you want to try out the browser in Windows 7, you should know that the installation of Internet Explorer 10 Preview will replace the current version of the browser on the system. A restart will be required to complete the installation. If you are not satisfied with its functionality, you can uninstall it from the Updates panel of your operating system.

download Internet Explorer 10 Release Preview

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SugarSync – there’s no place safer than the cloud!

Too many times I needed a file that I’ve created at the office or at home and I couldn’t access from another location because I forgot to copy it or to email it to myself! Well, I was glad to find a way to access my files from office, home, or wherever I am from my android phone! Yes, I can access all my important files from anywhere. And, If I modify something to my files, when I save the document, it’s getting synced with the file stored in the “cloud” and so I can access my file from any other device later.

More and more the term “cloud” is used in our lives, and this feature of the internet is getting more and more popular. It is easy to share, to access your files anywhere, and most of all, it is safe! I save my important files there, I don’t have to worry anymore that my computer might crash. You can start by having 5 GB of space for free in the SugarSync Cloud, and you can gain more free space by sending invitations to friends (send 20 invitations to get 2 GB extra for free), do some small tasks that will teach you how to use the SugarSync application and you get extra space, and whenever one of your friends will accept the invitation, you will gain 500MB, at maximum of 18 GB. Wow, now that’s a lot of free space, a safe space to save ALL your important data! Imagine that you can store a little less than the capacity of 5 DVDs there, and share what you want, with who you want, even if that person doesn’t use SugarSync! And the best part is that the application is multi-platform. It’s working on Windows (including Windows 8), Mac, Android, iOS, Blackberry, Symbian, Windows Mobile.

No matter what device you have, you can use it!

Download SugarSync application

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Find out which browser is the fastest on your device with Browsermark

Meet Browsermark, a free benchmark that measure and compare the performance of any browser on any internet enabled device, including: desktops, notebooks, tablets, smartphones and more. The benchmark runs test like the page loading and page resizing, and conformance testing for HTML5 and network speed so you can easily pick the right browser for your device.

We are all frustrated with the performance of our browser based on the device we are web browsing on, to the point that we continue to ask ‘Am I expecting too much from my tablet?‘” said Tero Sarkkinen, CEO of Rightware. Browsermark answers that question for you. This simple to run test will help you decide which browser gives the best web experience for your device.

Browsermark was designed to measure the browser performance in the context of JavaScript, HTML5, WebGL, CSS and many more. Browsermark provides the de facto benchmark approach to measure variety of different performance aspects of device’s browsing capabilities, functionality and speed, and provides well-understood results for easy comparison of different device capabilities.

All of the data will be uploaded to Rightware’s Power Board online database. Power Board gathers and maintains all of the official benchmarking data from all of the company’s benchmarking tools. Power Board allows access to benchmarking data of graphics, system, multicore, browser and user interface performance of various different devices, running different operating systems and hardware.

Run Browsermark

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Get hold of the best defence in the war against online surveillance

Tor is free software that works to defend a user’s personal system against privacy-invading network surveillance measures, which criminally limit online freedom, reveal confidential matters and monitor private business relationships. It works in an intelligently crafted way – “bouncing” your activities around a network relay which is operated by a number of online volunteers.

Installing this software makes it impossible for Internet “invaders” to monitor which sites you like to visit, and prevents sites that you frequent from uncovering your specific location. It doesn’t really matter what you do; whether you’re a journalist, a blogger, a soldier, a human rights worker or just another citizen, Tor becomes a valuable tool.

The really fun bit about Tor is that the more the user base expands, the more the user’s level of security grows. Though the software doesn’t just automatically encode all Internet activities, the user’s security will continue to increase based on the number of volunteers that decide to help operate these relays.

This piece of software is Open Source, meaning it is completely free of any political involvement, a great way to hide your IP address, overall great proxy to achieve personal privacy on the Internet.

When it comes to achieving the basic right to personal privacy online, this software is certainly the way to go. Once you get the hang of Tor — used alongside additional tools – it becomes the best way to achieve ultimate anonymity and data sharing freedom.

Download Tor

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Free Mobile Broadband with FreedomPop

If you live in The States and you’re looking for cheap mobile broad band, I’ve got good news for you…

I got an interesting email the other day from a new company called FreedomPop. They provide free mobile broadband. All you need is a compatible web stick or hot spot.

FreedomPop is currently in beta.  You have to get an invite to participate.  Mine came out of nowhere, and I have to admit, I bit on the line and signed up.

FreedomPop provides 500MB of free, unrestricted, unthrottled bandwidth.  All you have to do is put a deposit down on either a 4G web stick ($50 bucks) or a 4G hot spot ($100 bucks).  The device arrives via FedEx, and all you have to do is either plug it in or let it charge and turn it on. The device jumps on the network, and away you go.

The web stick works with both Windows and Mac machines with a USB 2.0 port.  The hotspot allows up to 8 devices to surf; but with only 500MB of bandwidth on the free plan, you may want to watch what you do. If 500MB isn’t enough data for you, on FreedomPop’s pay as you go mobile broadband network, they do have plans available for purchase.

FreedomPop offers the following plans:

Data Plan Details Most per Month (US Dollars)
Free 500MB 500MB

$0.02 per MB overage


Basic 1GB 1GB

$0.01 per MB overage


Casual 2GB 2GB

$0.01 per MB overage


Premier 4GB 4GB

$0.01 per MB overage


Premier 5GB 5GB

$0.01 per MB overage


Premier 10GB 10GB

$0.01 per MB overage


The cool thing is that these are all pay as you go.  However, if you don’t use it, you lose it.  This isn’t like AT&T’s roll over minutes. You lose what you don’t use at the end of your 30 day cycle, so the point here is don’t buy more than you need. Only buy 10Gb if you know you’re going to use (nearly) 10GB of data every month.  Suburban Chicago is sufficiently covered, so I should be good to go. I’m giving the free plan a shot and will upgrade as necessary. You can also buy “swing loan” bandwidth to get you over a hump on those months that you use more than you normally would.

I’ll let everyone know how things go after my hot spot gets here. If the speeds are decent and the coverage is worthwhile, then you may way to check for availability in your area and sign up.


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