Steven Sinofsky has left the building

The post-PC tide makes collateral victims and Steven Sinofsky is one of them. Almost three weeks after the launch of Windows 8 and RT on October 26, the man responsible for these products and president of Windows and Windows Live division, is gone. Preceded by a short announcement by Microsoft, his departure becomes even weirder.

We should take in consideration that Sinofsky is the architect behind Windows 7, a product that was meant to revive the Microsoft platform, after the unsuccessful launch of Vista. Not to mention his direct involvement in the developing process of Windows 8. Against all these facts, “he left the building” instantly without any transition period. It looks like he was fired during a crucial launch. The only official explanation about Sinofsky’s departure comes from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer who explains that this move is necessary in order to: “continue to drive alignment across all Microsoft teams, and have more integrated and rapid development cycle for our offerings.”

Sinofsky’s departure comes short after the exit of iOS chief Scott Forstall from Apple, but unlike Sinofsky, Forstall departed during a transitional period.

As a result, Microsoft’s stock is down 3.2 percent, but this drop is modest considering that many imagined Sinofsky to be the CEO heir when Ballmer quits his job. An immediate side effect is that the management will change which will affect the cycle of development for the next Windows operating system.

Unfortunately there is only speculation about the reason of his departure, but the truth is out there, and it may surface in the end because Microsoft is a leaky environment.

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Run your favorite Android Apps and Games on a Windows PC or Mac

Android has thousands of useful apps to socialise, entertain and help with just about anything you can think off. Until now, they have been exclusively available on an Android phone or tablet.

BlueStacks App Player brings together your Android apps on your desktop with the rest of your software onto your Windows or Mac.

Apps launch on your screen quickly, filling the full screen of your computer or laptop. They often also run faster and smoother than on your phone when run on your more powerful Windows or Mac device.

Most apps are easy to control with your mouse and laptop, but some games designed specifically for touch screen devices become more difficult to control on your Windows or Mac.

All your Apps are organised in an attractive and easy to use interface, similar to that of Apple’s popular iOS software. It’s simple to organize your apps into folders and launch the app you’re looking for quickly.
If you don’t own an Android device, the App Player allows you to try out all the features available before you buy a new phone or tablet.

Whilst the software is one of the first on the market to allow you to run Android apps on your Windows or Mac, it doesn’t replace an Android device. There are a few bugs in the software, most notably one that recognised upward scrolls of the mouse as a tap, which will hopefully be improved over time.

Download BlueStacks App Player for Windows | Download BlueStacks App Player for Mac

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iPhone 5 – My Princ(ess) is in another Castle

Weeks before the official launch of iPhone 5, I was telling to myself: “AT&T is going to make me wait the entire 3-4 week delivery time”.

And that’s because back in the day, I stood in line and bought an AT&T locked, iPhone 3G. I had a very serious love-hate relationship with the device. It dropped nearly every call I was on at least once. Finally in October of 2007,  I remember being on the phone with a writing partner trying to discuss a couple stories we were writing. In a 20 minute time span, my iPhone dropped the call 11 times. I was sitting at my desk and had a 3-bar signal.  My writing partner was on a land line.

I had to ask myself – as a veteran product reviewer – would I put up with that kind of behavior from any other device?  The answer was a clear and unequivocated no.  I put the word out that I was selling the device.  It sold in less than 10 minutes.

We left AT&T; and I got into Android devices at that point, and were happy for a while.  The iPhone experience is so compelling, however,  that I eventually ended up buying an unlocked iPhone 4S and put it on the T-Mobile network and have lived there for the past year or so.  The device and the smartphone experience it brings is just that good.

My wife is due for a phone upgrade on T-Mo; and my daughter and I have unlocked iPhones. I did the math and decided that I could literally cut my cell bill in half by moving back to AT&T. I priced my unlocked iPhones for resale by Gazelle and found out I could part with both unlocked devices for the cost of 2 AT&T locked iPhone 5’s, so effectively, I get three brand new iPhones for the price of one.

I ordered them on 22-Sep-12, the day AFTER they were released in the US.  I was quoted a delivery time of 3-4 weeks.  And yes, I had to wait a lot.

Based on what I’ve heard about FoxConn quality issues, strikes and the complexity of the device to manufacture, I can only conclude that the rumors we’ve heard are true.  I was told by the salesman at my local AT&T store that other, single orders of 16GB iPhones placed AFTER mine have beaten their delivery estimates and have been activated. But not mine.

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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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Explore the Space with SolarMax

The Solar Max is a fantastic way to get informed on space and the extraordinary galaxy that surrounds us. This nifty and stylish piece of software displays almost real-time data taken directly from the NASA/ESA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, the Solar Dynamics Observatory and the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory – all downloaded with speed to the Android device.

Each of these satellites follows the Sun’s activity continuously, while Solar Max provides users with high resolution images around the clock. The images come from a total of 19 solar image sensors across three spacecraft. The latest version of this extraordinary software comes with a load of brand new features, including an awesome new Pinch and Zoom system for users to get extra close to the sun, as well as the ability to actually download saved images of the sun, and watch the sun in all of its glory.

As said before, the images displayed are of high resolution, so download time will vary depending on the power of the particular service provider – but all image data is well worth the wait.

The Solar Max is an educational and stylish software to play with; a delight for anyone with a passion for technology, and an interest in the workings of our solar system.

download SolarMax

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Achieve the highest level of LEGO design with LEGO Digital Designer

With the LEGO digital designer, users can play with LEGO without the hassle of actually buying it. Really, this nifty little program links to the online store, providing a complex and engaging way to design and build. The digital designer is a graphics-rich, feature-filled program which doesn’t leave you bored for a minute.

The package includes basic bricks, infrared sensors and model jet engines. The user feels in control of his creation as he zooms in and out freely and with ease. You can place bricks together, rotate them, and generally master the object you are, bit by bit, piecing together. All bricks are held together in the Brick Palette – providing an easy way to keep track of your building materials. On top of this, there are included seventeen prebuilt models for those just starting out.

When you’re happy with your design, you have the option of taking a screenshot of the finished piece – with the extra-fun bonus of placing it in front of the background of your choice. You then have the option of submitting it and sharing it with, taking it apart in seconds, or watching a detailed video of how to build/rebuild whichever design you wish.

This program makes for a highly effective online alternative to LEGO bricks. The program’s complexity is a delight. As an added bonus, it’s entirely free, meaning that it’s definitely the best decision if you’re not looking to pay for the unique designing experience of LEGO.

download LEGO Digital Designer

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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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Completely remove sensitive data from HDD with Eraser

Security and privacy on your computer are everything. Sometimes you take it for granted but you can never be too safe when protecting sensitive information. That’s why it’s always best to permanently delete any information on your system that you may be concerned about, and that’s not as easy as right clicking and deleting, unfortunately. Deleting a file only removes the reference for it; you need to overwrite the file to ensure that it is gone forever.

Eraser 6.0.10 is a secure data removal program that allows you to permanently erase information with just a few clicks of the mouse. With a simple drag and drop function, you can completely eradicate a file. Eraser will overwrite the file and delete it permanently in a matter of seconds.

At the same time, you can schedule files to be overwritten, which is really the only part of Eraser 6.0.10 that could be considered difficult as getting familiar with the schedule function takes a little time to get around initially. However, once you have this down you can easily set up the program to delete from particular folders at appropriate intervals.

Eraser 6.0.10 is the latest version of the software so a few bugs have been seen to and the program runs extremely smooth now. For information security and peace of mind, Eraser 6.0.10 is highly recommended.

Download Eraser

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