Legacy Devices & Android 4 – Why your Ice Cream Sandwich is Gonna Melt

I’ve seen this over and over again – I’ve got a Samsung Galaxy.  Will I get the new upgraded OS for it when it’s released?

I remember back in the day when I had a Samsung i700 on Verizon Wireless here in the US.  Windows Mobile 2003 was about to come out, and the device was fairly new, and should have received the update for it fairly quickly. Samsung came out and stated that the device would get an update; but this was the early days of true smartphones – and apparently, the driver development wasn’t going well.

The device eventually got the upgrade that was promised, but it took Samsung over 18 months to deliver it.  Eighteen months…Eighteen months?!  Are you serious?  Yes, it was well into 2004 by the time the Samsung i700 WM 2003 upgrade was delivered.

Google just released the source code for the latest version of their Android 4.0, code named Ice Cream Sandwich. As such, Samsung, HTC and others are in the process of working on Android 4.0 powered devices. Some of their flagship devices, like Samsung’s Galaxy S II, and HTC Sensation 4G may or may not see some ICS love.

At the end of the day, kids…It’s up to the manufacturer or the carrier, not Google.

This is somewhat different than my experience with the i700 and Verizon.  While it took Samsung a while to get it together, Verizon also did a great deal of “testing” with the new OS before it released it.  While the OEM and the carrier are supposed to partner together to manufacture the device, in the end, the carrier has the final say.  They’re the ones you call when you have a problem – not Samsung…not HTC.  You call Verizon, AT&T…whomever you have your mobile contract with. In the end, they really don’t want you to upgrade, however. They want you to buy a new device.  Think about it…it’s part of how they make their money.

However, I know that both Samsung and HTC have already announced a starter list for devices that will definitely get ICS.  Those lists can be found at the manufacturer’s web site, and should be easily located, so if you’ve got a Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LG, etc. device and want to know if you’re going to get the upgrade, the best place to look is their home page.

If your device isn’t going to get an automatic upgrade, it’s not over. You can always root your phone and check out XDA Developers or CyanogenMOD.  More than likely, you’re going to be able to find a version of Ice Cream Sandwich that will meet your needs at either of those two sites.

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Create ad-hoc VPN’s and protect your internet activity with Hamachi

I hate trolls!
You know what I mean…those individuals that skulk around looking for an opportunity to tap into your network or file transmissions with the intent of stealing your sensitive information.  Those kinds of people just really bother me. Over and above the fact that mean people stink, what I send to another person or website is no one’s business but my own (and the other person designated as the information receiver). That’s why I really like applications like Hamachi. It’s a multiplatform secure networking tool that works for both Windows and Mac.

With Hamachi, you can create virtual private networks on-demand. LogMeIn’s Hamachi is a hosted VPN service that lets you securely extend LAN-like networks to distributed teams, mobile workers and your gamer friends alike, in minutes. With it, you can remotely network printers, cameras, gaming consoles and more, all on demand and all over the web.

When implemented, users are provided access to your network resources, from a centralized gateway, without modifying firewalls or network routers.  You can provide user access
to specific computers, printers, drives, etc. Hamachi also allows you to connect all of your network clients to each other.  You can quickly and easily create a simple, virtual, mesh network that allows remote machines to directly connect to each other, thereby giving users basic network access to all the network resources they need, all while using 256-bit SSL encryption, employing the same level of security as your bank, over both public and private networks.

read full review | download Hamachi

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Keep your private information private with East-Tec Eraser 2012

You know, eBay and Craig’s List are wonderful things. You can find all kinds of bargains there, and can usually sell things you either want or need to get rid of rather quickly. There great around the Holiday’s for quick cash and gift purchases; and computers are usually high traffic items that trade hands quickly.  The bad thing about used computers though is that hard drives can often retain data, even if you’ve already erased it. This is why I like tools like East-Tec Eraser.  It’s a hard drive security tool for Windows.

Getting rid of data on your hard drive isn’t always easy, but with East-Tec Eraser you can completely destroy information stored without your knowledge or approval, like your Internet history, web pages and pictures from sites you visited on the Internet, any unwanted cookies, and your chatroom conversations.  You can even get rid of deleted e-mail messages and attachments, temporary files, the Windows swap file, and the contents of your Recycle Bin, etc.

If you have (or had) sensitive information on your computer, and want or need to get rid of it and the tracks it leaves behind, don’t worry. East-Tec Eraser 2012 meets and exceeds government and industry standards for the permanent erasure of digital information, as well as Russian and German security standards; and industry standards like the Bruce Schneier Algorithm or the Peter Gutmann Method.

read full review | download East-Tec Eraser 2012

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iPhone 4S Battery Problems – A Viable Work Around

While Apple takes another whack at cracking the battery life nut in iOS 5.x, there are a few things users can do in order to keep themselves powered up.

The battery life issues in iOS5 are real. Apple has acknowledged them and they’re actively working on trying to resolve them. Unfortunately, its proving to be a bigger nut to crack than they thought it was going to be. So while Apple tries to dig themselves out of the battery life hole, I thought it might be a good idea to explore a few battery life saving alternatives.


Switch to EDGE Only
When 3G data was introduced to smartphones a few years back, it was discovered that 3G radios consume a LOT more battery power than EDGE based radios. It was also discovered that the device will work VERY hard to pull in and lock onto weak 3G signals, thereby consuming even more battery power. This is a problem, especially if you live in an area that skirts the edge of 3G coverage area.

One of the things that carriers tell their customers who are having battery life issues is to turn off 3G and run on EDGE only. Yes, you will be relegated to much slower speeds, but the extended battery life may be worth the trade off to you, especially if the 3G coverage you have in your area is spotty.

Curb Data Use
If you don’t have a lot of data running over your smartphone’s data connection, you can turn data off completely and you’ll save a lot of battery power. This kinda kills the smart in your smartphone, but again, you’d be surprised at how much power you can save. I do believe that this isn’t realistic, though. If you’re going to do this on a regular basis, then you probably didn’t want a smartphone in the first place. I’d switch to EDGE only first…

Carry a Power/USB Cable
If you’re going to be out and about, then you need to carry an iPod/iPhone cable in your gear bag, backpack, purse, whatever. If you’re going to be in the car for a while, you need to make certain you have a car kit or a power cord for your car. Charge the device when you can and keep the battery fresh at given points throughout the day.

Get an External Battery
Both Mophie and Zagg offer external batteries for your USB powered devices. While they can be a bit pricey, having additional battery power available for your iPhone can be important, if you choose to leave your data services as they are, fully enabled, and find yourself running low on power.

Get a Battery Case
There are a number of different battery cases available for the iPhone. Most offer an additional 10 to 20 hours of additional battery life as well as much needed protection to your iPhone. The only downside to a battery case is that they add a great deal of bulk and some additional weight to the device. You need to make certain you’re ok with a thicker, bulkier device before jumping into one of these. Depending on the model you buy, you can expect to pay $40-$100 USD for the case; but the additional bulk, weight and cost may be worth your while as Apple works on the iOS update that’s supposed to resolve this issue.

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Last week’s highlights #5

We left a busy week behind us with lots of good articles and reviews. Let’s take a look:

Traktor Pro 2 – the maximum freedom in DJing

If you spin tracks for a living or on the side, then you need to listen up. I’ve looked at some mixing software over the past few months, but none have really “sent” me. Traktor however, is a completely different story. It’s a DJ-ing and track mixing application and its available for both Windows and Mac, and quite frankly, it floored me.

If ain’t dirty, don’t clean it

Amid all the Holiday Hullaballoo, malware attacks can be nasty. However, beware where the warnings are coming from. You must have a malware scanner on your computer – Mac, Windows or Linux – don’t compute without one. Period. You also need to heed the warning dialogs they display. If you’ve got a bug, or if it catches one before it infects you, do what it tells you in order to get rid of it. However, do yourself a favor, mind where the dialog boxes are coming from.

Make use of a synchro calendar with GoCal

In case the default calendar app for iOS isn’t enough for you and you want something more advanced and with some additional synchronization features, GoCal can be the solution to your needs. At its core, GoCal is nothing else but a calendar client that can integrate the default iOS calendar, and the Google Calendar. Actually the Google Calendar integration is the main reason you should try this software out.

2011 Gift Guide Part 2 – Suggested Gifts

Following the 2011 Gift Guide Part1 – Ok, Great! Now what should I buy? article here are my recommendations for just about every budget level, given our recent thorough discussion about Mobile Device Ecosystems. It’s true.  The hottest ticket items this 2011 Holiday Season are all mobile – tablets, smartphones, music players, ultra-portable notebooks (the netbook is dead) – and the like will undoubtedly find their way to a gift box near you. Ecosystem aside, there are some really cool gadgets out there right now, and figuring out which basket to put all your eggs in can be confusing.

Pho.to Lab lets you create fun photo montages on your iPhone & Android

Android has some great picture and image editing apps to adjust and enhance your photos, such as Photoshop Mobile and PicSay. But what if you just want to add some cool photo frames and effects to your pictures? We all love having fun, right? Then you definitely have to try Pho.to Lab. This simple app is a winner for two reasons: first, it is very easy to use and second, it has more than 450 awesome effects for your photos!

Zemana AntiMalware

You’ll hear me say it over and over again – you simply can’t run a computer now-a-days without some kind of antivirus or security software running in the background.  You’re just asking for problems if you think you don’t need one…and if you get a virus, bug or worm, THEN what do you do??  This is why I’m thankful for applications like Zemana Anti-Malware. It’s a specialized malware scanner for Windows and it’s the kind that most people need.

NoteLege – your iPad note-taking app that takes the hassle out of organizing your notes and thoughts

We’re in the information age now. Everything gets around faster and the number of sources and amount of information we need to remember can get overwhelming. Now, for those who own an iPad, let me suggest you a great note-taking application that combines handwriting, typing, audio and video recording. The application is called NoteLedge and it’s developed by Kdan Mobile.

iOS 6 Wish List

iOS5 is out and available to all supported iOS devices. With the iPhone 5 and iPad 3 rumored to be coming in 2012, let’s take a quick moment to speak to a couple desired features. The release of the iPhone 4S also gave us iOS5. Battery life issues and improvements not-withstanding, any additional additions or life altering improvements will need to wait until iOS 6 is released. In light of that, I’d like to speak to a quick wish list for iOS6. The list is below, in no particular order.

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Play all of your movies with ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5

There are a number of different kinds of media available today with a number of different formats – Blu-ray, DVD, different 3D formats, HD and SD video – the list goes on.  The biggest problem with all of this is that not every media player is created equally; and you may need more than one player app to handle all of the formats, until now.  If you’re a video junkie like me, then you need to check out ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5. It’s a complete video player for Windows.

With ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5, you get everything for a splendid graphical experience.  You can play Blu-ray 3D movies, DVDs, and native stereo 3D video.  With its Advanced SimHD module, DVDs and low-resolution videos, even YouTube videos, are played at near high-resolution quality, with dynamic lighting, denoising and smoothness.

ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5’s Parental Controls simplifies your ability to apply parental controls to your movie collections. You can restrict specific movie content by rating or choose to set a password.  You can also change Region Code.  However, you are only allowed to change the region code up to five times. After the maximum allowed limit has been reached, the region code locks.

read full review | download ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5

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iOS 6 Wish List

iOS5 is out and available to all supported iOS devices. With the iPhone 5 and iPad 3 rumored to be coming in 2012, let’s take a quick moment to speak to a couple desired features.

The release of the iPhone 4S also gave us iOS5. Battery life issues and improvements not-withstanding, any additional additions or life altering improvements will need to wait until iOS 6 is released. In light of that, I’d like to speak to a quick wish list for iOS6. The list is below, in no particular order.


Improved Battery Life

Let’s face it, the battery life issues in iOS 5 are real and legitimate. The iPhone’s battery needs to last at least 12 hours between charges. I don’t know if that’s a software fix, a hardware adjustment, or a better, bigger battery. I don’t care. At the end of the day, however, 12 legitimate, realistic hours is the magic number in my opinion.


Browsable File System (a File Manager)

We have about as good a chance at getting a real, browsable file system as we do of Samsung and Apple amicably settling their patent disputes. A browsable file system goes against the tenants that Apple laid down regarding iOS – the user doesn’t need to worry about such things. However, at times, I would like to be able to add, subtract and move files on my own without having to use a sync conduit (iTunes).


Widgets

This is the one Android thing I am really going to miss when I move back to iOS. Widgets on my home screen are an awesome way for me to check the time, the weather, etc. However, Apple hasn’t embraced the concept and really hasn’t changed their application launcher at all. The only thing they did to it, really since its introduction in the original iPhone in 2007, was to add folder support, and implement Spotlight searching. But I would really like to see a clock and weather widget on my main home screen. My eyes aren’t as sharp as they used to be, and I’d like to do this without jail breaking the device.


Google (or other provider) Maps with Turn by Turn Navigation

I’ve said it many times, I am SEVERELY directionally challenged. I need turn-by-turn navigation on my phone. Without it, I’m going to get turned around and get lost when going to new places. Android and Windows Phone have this via either Google or other carrier sanctioned application. I’d rather not go the carrier sanctioned route. It would be nice to either have something Apple branded or from an Apple partner on the device when I buy it. The current version of Google Maps really just isn’t enough.


Customizable Shortcuts (to settings and other default applets)

I would really like to be able to place a shortcut on my device to Airplane mode, Sound/Vibrate toggle, Bluetooth on/off, Wi-Fi on/off, 3G/4G on/off, etc. or to at least have this built into some sort of Settings bar that could be enabled on one or more home screens. Constantly sifting through menus to get to this stuff is a pain, and is very inefficient.


Siri Improvements

I like the idea of AI on my smartphone. I like the idea of being able to have an intelligent conversation with my device and then it taking action based on that. Part of that is there now – Siri, what’s my day like? Siri, schedule a meeting on “xxx” with “xxx.” Siri, send an email to, “xxx…” I know I’m a getting a little ahead of the game, but something like I want isn’t too far away based on the building blocks that are already put in place. I think some of this is going to happen, but it’s going to take a lot of time, and won’t all come together in iOS6. It will take a number of years and a number of OS revisions. It’s also going to take time, working with Siri on YOUR iPhone, as it will need to learn your habits and then anticipate them. What I would like to see for iOS 6.x is a way for that learned behavior to be passed on from OS rev to OS rev, old iPhone to new iPhone.

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Powermark battery life test for Windows 7 devices

We all heard of Futuremark, the software development company that produces computer benchmark applications for home users and businesses such as 3DMark and PCMark. Well, a while back, Futuremark expanded its product line with Powermark.

Powermark is a new battery life and power consumption test for Windows 7 notebooks, laptops, tablets and other battery powered devices. Powermark includes a set of standard tests based on productivity and entertainment use-case scenarios, as well as allowing custom settings for bespoke testing requirements.

Battery life is critical to delivering a positive user experience. Powermark helps PC industry OEMs and their suppliers strike a balance between performance and power consumption by providing a consistent, accurate and reliable testing and measurement tool created with Futuremark’s deep experience in quality benchmarking software.” – Jukka Makinen, CEO of Futuremark.

Powermark Professional Edition commercial licenses start at $200 for 10 activations. However, at this time, Powermark is only available for business customers.

Order Powermark

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