Buying a New PC? Better Start Shakin’ that Cup…

Microsoft’s latest discount involves you or your student(s) lobbying family and friends to help pay for the cost of their next PC.

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Finding the right PC for you isn’t always as easy as heading down to the local Wal-Mart and buying whatever they have on sale. While that may get you a PC quickly, its probably not the kind of computer that’s going to take your high school or college-aged student through four years of studying. Which is too bad…PC’s, and other major electronics should not be disposable…

Microsoft’s Surface tablets aren’t among the cheap offerings you will find at Wal-Mart or other discount stores. Surface RT starts at $499. Surface Pro starts at $899. If you go the Surface Pro route, don’t’ buy the low end model. The only difference between it and the high end model is the amount of storage space, and for $100, the extra 64GB of room is worth it, though Surface Pro does come with a microSD card slot with support for 64GB microSDXC Class 10 cards. Amazon has these for roughly $50USD.

Anyway, after $999 for a 128GB Surface Pro tablet/ulatrabook, and $129 for a Type Cover, you’re going to spend over $1100USD before tax. In order to help you out, Microsoft has decided to offer a program where they will offer up a 10% discount on the cost of the PC purchased via the Microsoft Store (they have more than Surface RT and Surface Pro in their stores) as well as a copy of Office 365 University. The kicker is that you have to provide the rest; and MS allows you to build a crowdsourcing campaign to fund the remaining 90%. Dubbed the Chip In program, MS allows anyone with a .edu email address to join the program and fund a PC.

There are a couple items of note here

  1. The MS Store doesn’t charge a restocking fee, so you should be able to find the PC you need
  2. Your school or university might have a better deal. Make sure you check out all your options before you invest in crowdsourcing a computer

I can’t say how well this option might work, but Kickstarter has been doing pretty well… however, its unlikely people you don’t know will help fund your PC. Its also unknown how many times you may have to mow grandma’s yard before she kicks in some money to help you get the Windows tablet of your dreams…

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Connect to your PC or Mac from anywhere in the world with LogMeIn

logmein-iconLogMeIn is fast, easy-to-use remote access software that allows you to control your desktop from anywhere. Its in-browser provides a minimal latency portal to your PC desktop, which you can access from any Mac, PC or hand-held device, including iPads, iPhones and Android Smartphones. You can remotely start up a sleeping computer and with a password protected, 256-bit SSL encrypted connection, you can rest easy knowing your access is secure and safe. Best of all, this is freeware and once you’ve created a LogMeIn account you can instantly start accessing your PC remotely, 100% free.

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With a quick and easy in-browser interface, LogMeIn is a truly impressive way to access your PC remotely. Signing up for a new account is a fairly easy process, though the installation itself might take a little longer than you might expect. Once LogMeIn is up and running though, you’re going to be very pleased with the results. You can wake up your computer remotely and even in-browser it’s a similar experience to having your desktop right there in front of you. And while some features are reserved for the company’s paid offering, the price isn’t too steep ($70 per year) if you want access to HD streaming, file syncing, audio-streaming or printer access.

For the basic level with a free-price tag, this is the best offering you’re going to find without paying for your remote access. Highly recommended.

Downloag LogMeIn for WindowsDownloag LogMeIn for Mac

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Remember your password with Password Memory

0t_KeynoteWe are all connected to the huge www. We have accounts on websites we can’t even remember! So, tell me, if you can’t remember the website, can you remember your account details? Well, let’s say you made the account with your desired username, but on every website you made a registration; was your favorite username was available? I’m sure not. And about the password, you might want to say “I will have the same password for all my online accounts”, but now you know very well that this is a complete stupid idea, because your accounts will become very insecure and extremely vulnerable. One “smart guy” can find out your password from one website, and after that, after you worked very hard to have all your life online, your accounts can get “burned” from the ground in just minutes with irreparable effects. To avoid any of the above disasters, try out Password Memory 5.

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Many times I lost my account details, and I had to use the “reset password” function or I had accounts that I forgot even the username. So, let me tell you how I managed to keep all my accounts safe, with passwords like (723hjJdA”_sa!@@ paaKSd) that are impossible to remember. The main idea is simple. Password Memory + Dropbox = 100% security and you can rest assured. No matter what happens to your computer, your personal password data base is safe on Dropbox. And of course, if you want to access the database, you’ll need only a single master password.

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Password Memory is a 5-Star application that can help you store all your private data in one secure database. All you have to do is to remember one master password. This makes things really easy. You don’t even have to visualize the password. You just right-click on the entry you want, and click Copy Username or Copy Password in the clipboard, and you can simply insert it in the website. In case of emergency, you have a button that will lock the database in an instance, and another one that can clear the computer’s clipboard memory, so you can be safe that your password was not copied in the clipboard.
The Password Memory it’s quite handy when it comes to security. Has a nice MS-Office 2007 look, and it’s very easy to use even for a very basic user. It would have been interesting to see this application on my phone too, but for now it is available only for PC.

download Password Memory 5

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Mount, convert, create and manage ISO disc images with WinISO

WinISOThe one thing that I really like about my Mac is the ability to easily create and mount disc images. I think it’s one feature that is really missing from MS Windows. That’s why I really like WinISO. It’s an image and disc mounting and creation utility.

WinISO is a professional CD/DVD/Blu-ray image file utility.  With it, you can make disc image files from CD/DVD/Blu-ray discs.  You can also convert files between ISO / BIN and other formats, including NRG, CCD and MDS.

WinISO will extract, edit, rename ISO files directly, and make bootable images as well as mount ISO image files on your PC. You can then read and run executables directly from the image as though the image were a physical disc in your CD or DVD drive. I think this is probably the biggest feature in the entire app.

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WinISO also lets you easily add, delete, rename, and extract files from within a mounted image. It also supports burning image files on-the-fly.

Simply put, WinISO is a must have program for your PC. Its small, easy to use and quickly and easily mounts, burns and converts all kinds of Windows compatible disc image files. It plugs a huge hole in the OS; at only $30US is reasonably priced.

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Communicate with your friends and family with Nimbuzz

nimbuzzmobilelogoVoice over IP is a huge deal now-a-days. Thanks to applications like AIM, Windows Messenger and of course, Skype, using your computer to make PC to PC calls is second nature today. Some even allow you to make PC to landline calls. One application which I’m using lately is Nimbuzz. A free call and messaging app for the connected generation.

Nimbuzz combines the flexibility of the Internet and mobile communications into a single, accessible platform. With it, you can make calls, send messages and share files, on any mobile device, for free.

Nimbuzz is one of the best free instant messengers for your Windows PC, Mac or mobile phone. Once you download the free client, you can communicate with anyone on the network, regardless of the other person’s platform. If you have friends and family in a different country, you can also use Nimbuzz to make free PC to mobile phone international VoIP calls, anywhere in the world.

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You can also use Nimbuzz to connect with your Nimbuzz friends via instant messaging. Nimbuzz supports a simple ‘drag n’ drop’ function that allows you to share music, movies and photos with your friends. Nimbuzz also supports many popular IM clients, including Facebook, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and Google Talk. You can connect to all of your contacts through a single client.

Nimbuzz is a decent IM and audio calling client. The one thing clearly missing here though is video chat. With this one, extremely huge hole, there’s little compelling reason to switch to it from any other network unless you have friends and family that are already using it elsewhere. Honestly, the other networks that Nimbuzz supports have the same feature set, likely have the same price points and also supports video chat. It’s good for what it does, but other apps are better.

Download Nimbuzz

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Apple’s WWDC Starts Today

wwdc13-about-main_2xToday, the rubber meets the road as the wrapper is ripped off of iOS 7 and we see if it’s any more than just a coat of indoor, flat paint.

In mid-May, I pulled together a two part blog series on what I thought were must have changes for iOS 7. It involves much more than just a coat of paint.

Most everyone is saying that Jonny Ive hates skewmorphism, or the implementation of life-like design elements – textures, glitz, gloss, etc. – that makes software look and feel like the real-world elements they imitate. Those that have been watching the rumor mills churn prior to the start of WWDC today (on 10-Jun-13 at 10am PDT), have heard and seen a number of reports indicating that the new OS is much flatter and has what’s being called a “skinny jeans” look with an ultra-thin Helvetica font taking center stage as the default font for the OS.

Many others have said, and I also whole-heartedly agree, that if iOS 7 is nothing more than a new coat of flat, indoor house paint, then Apple is going to have trouble drawing new iConverts to their walled garden of devices.   iDevices are nice, but the user interface needs a refresh, with new and innovative updates that provide an updated sense of ease of use and innovative features.

You can read my iOS7 blog to find out what I think should be done to the OS at a minimum. I won’t repeat it here. Suffice it to say that the rumor mill hasn’t been churning out a lot of leaks or speculation. Everyone seems to be in wait and see mode. Expect a plethora of commentary from industry pundits in the days and weeks to come.

I will have an update tomorrow or Wednesday of this week on what Apple has decided to do with iOS 7. I will also have an in-depth tear-down of the updated mobile OS for Soft32 in the coming weeks. Please watch the site for it as well as a tear-down of  Windows 8.1 after its released by Microsoft at their technical conference at the end of June.

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MorphVOX Pro changes your voice online and in-game

One of the best thing in MMOs (massively multiplayer online games)  is the ability to communicate with other players. With the right game and the right equipment, you can speak to the rest of your party real time while hacking and slaying your way through zombies, a make believe military installation or fantasy dungeon. Now, if you would like to make things even more interesting and fun, you definitely have to try MorphVOX Pro Voice Changer.

MorphVOX Pro changes your voice online and in-game. With superior voice-learning technology, background cancellation, and sound quality, MorphVOX Pro can enhance your online and gaming experiences by finding a voice that matches your character’s persona. The overall effect can be quite cool when you pair a specific voice with a specific character.

MorphVOX Pro Voice Changer allows you to download free voice and sound pack. They let you add hundreds of new voices and sounds to the app. You can tweak each of these voices to your liking to produce many, new voice combinations. You can also download background sounds as well as voices. For example, you can sound like you’re in the middle of a traffic jam or shopping at the mall.

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Superb voice changing algorithms and ultra-quiet background cancellation make it one of the cleanest-sounding voice changers available on the market. Its high-quality sound is perfect for creating voice-overs for your latest video or audio project.

MorphVOX Pro Voice Changer is a cool app. Some of the voice changing capabilities are pretty cool. I can see where this would work very well with online gaming where you’d pair your online persona with a specific voice. While it will work with other online audio and video chatting apps, after a while, the novelty is going to wear off, and you’re going to be left with a paid, voice filter that doesn’t have the same level of luster outside of an online game.

Download MorphVOX Pro Voice Changer

 

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CCCP – Combined Codec Community Pack.

Cccp-white2Well, except for the logo, this pack is awesome! I’m not saying that is an ugly logo, but I don’t like a look-a-like communist sign. Anyway, you should not care that much about the logo, if you really want a simple and efficient codec pack to play almost every movie you want.
It was the year 2009 when, I discovered CCCP for the first time. And I wouldn’t have used it, if I didn’t had to playback an mkv file (HD movie files.). After several hours spent on Google, searching about how to open those files, and trying many many codecs, none of them gave me the desired results. And as a last solution, I tried CCCP (I avoided to use it in the first place, BECAUSE OF THE LOGO!<thinking that a software with such a logo, can contain some unwanted viruses and other bad software, and their website was a bit suspicious because it’s very simple and doesn’t have too much info on the main page.>)… Well, I decided to take the risk, after I was sure that the pack was clean and installed it.

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I have to say I was surprised! For the first time, I was able to play the mkv file, without any lag, compared with other codecs that I’ve tried. While with others the sound an image were out of sync, with CCCP pack everything worked perfectly, even for 10Gb+ files. I even realized that I could watch the movies with any other video player, without being forced to use the embedded one in the package.

The pack’s main components are LAV filters, Haali Media Splitter, xy-VSFilter, and the player, the easy but powerful Media Player Classic Home Cinema. These combined, gives the best movie experience. If you have a surround sound system and you really enjoy watching full HD movies at their maximum potential, this is the right tool to use. Of course, you must set the LAV Audio mixer to 5.1 or 7.1 for your speakers setup, but that is quite easy to do. Another great feature that I really used, is the “After playback feature” , that, if selected, will give the computer a command to perform whatever you want after the playback. I use this feature to shut down the computer after the movie is finished. (you can select even to play the next file in the folder, and then to shut down the computer)

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Word from the producer: “CCCP (Combined Community Codec Pack) is a filter pack specifically built for playing anime. It has been assembled by some of the most knowledgeable people in the anime world, and one of the primary design goals is to play as much possible with as little as possible. It attempts to be as unintrusive on your system as possible.” I never played anime with it but it’s definitely great for every movie.

CCCP is a powerful codec pack, a complete solution for Full HD movies, and if you have a surround sound system (after you set up the LAV codec for your sound scheme), you will feel the true high definition term. It’s the easiest pack for a basic user.

download CCCP (Combined Community Codec Pack)

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