ISO Workshop – Take command of your data and your optical disc drive

iso_workshopWorking with optical discs is still a big part of computing. Despite recent trends to go completely digital, using CD’s and DVD’s is still a reliable way to store, share and transport data from one computer, one person to another.  This is one of the reasons why I am really thankful for apps like ISO Workshop. It’s a disc imaging utility for Windows.

ISO Workshop is specifically designed for disc image management, conversion and burning. The app has a very simple user interface and enables you to make ISO images, extract specific files and folders from disc images.  You can create disc backups by copying items to an ISO or BIN image file, convert different disc image files into ISO or BIN formats.  You can also burn standard and bootable ISO images as well as CUE images to blank discs.

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The application is pretty cool. It supports ISO, CUE, and BIN files  as well as others. It also supports CD-R/RW, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, DVD+R DL, and BD-R/RE disk formats; and will verify all images written to discs.

ISO Workshop is one of those applications that you really want to have in your PC’s toolbox.  Its easy to use, works with a number of different image formats as well as disc types.  If you don’t have a tool like this, this is one that you really need to take a hard look at ISO Workshop. The price is right and it does a great job of giving you the basics.

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What to Expect from Apple’s iPhone Event

Without [completely over] stating the obvious…

September 10, 2013 was the day.

It was iPhone 5S day. Nearly everyone that I’ve talked to over the past few days have asked me what I think will actually happen with Apple’s release of the new iPhone. With the caveat that it ain’t over until Apple says, “thanks and goodbye,” here’s my brief rundown of what I felt Apple would have announced at the event.

Apple-Event-1

In summary, I think we’ve heard and seen everything. I don’t think there’s going to be too much new or previously unknown or unannounced. These were my thoughts prior to the event:

New Models

I think you will see two new models of iPhone released. The iPhone 5S – a premium model, and the iPhone 5C – a more affordable device. I don’t think that the 5C will be labeled as a budget model. Unless Apple sells it at a loss and prices it at $299-$349, the device while perhaps “more affordable” than the more familiarly priced 5S, at $499, $599 and $699.

I also think that the 5C WILL make an impact with customers of budget conscious, post paid carriers like T-Mobile in the States, NTT DoCoMo in Japan and China Mobile. Its possible that tens of millions of additional iPhones could be sold due to the addition of these last two carriers.

The reported color choices of the plastic-backed 5C are also a likely lock. I’d also call the 4 color variations of the 5S – white, black, graphite and champagne – a done deal.

Biometric Sensor

This is all but a certainty at this point. Tools like this will pair well with the enhanced security measures in iOS 7, and make the iPhone a very difficult phone to steal and then sell. Security is a huge deal in iOS 7, so enhancing it with this type of hardware tool is more than logical.

iOS 7 and Other Software
You’ve seen my predictions and thoughts on iOS 7. The mobile OS is going to take a GREAT deal of getting used to. I’ve been using it for months and I’m still not completely sold on it. Apple is going to take a ton of grief on it, as I do NOT think the masses will receive it well. The flattening of the OS will not be well received, as it doesn’t appear to have the Classic Apple spit an polish that most of us are used to. The new editions to the OS are simply additions that have already been seen and added to other platforms. The Notification Center and Control Center are both remakes and overdue on iOS.

We’re also going to see iTunes Radio finally get the limelight it has been craving. The free service has pre-created music stations, as well as stations that can be created based on individual songs or artists. Apple will offer it ad-free to subscribers of its iTunes Match service.

AppleTV will also see updates to it that will allow Apple’s set top box add-on to play additional content. Some of the additional options/ apps are really very nice, especially if you have a cable subscription.

We’ll also likely see the iPod Classic finally retired, and will see updates to the iPod Touch line; but probably not a price cut. Updated iPads will be announced at a later date. Don’t look for updated models on Tuesday. That day will be all about the new iPhone 5S/5C and iOS 7.

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Malwarebytes Secure Backup – Protect and backup your data

mwbrKeeping your data safe is probably the one of the most important things a computer can do. Without your data, there really isn’t a reason to have or use a computer.  Its for this reason that having a backup strategy is important.  If I were you, I’d give serious consideration to Malwarebytes Secure Backup.  It’s a backup program for Windows.

With Malwarebytes Secure Backup, your files are backed up automatically to a secure server, according to a schedule that you set. Every version of a backed up file is archived. Every backed up file that is deleted from Malwarebytes Secure Backup is archived. Every file can always be retrieved, so you never have to worry about something being lost forever. With Malwarebytes Secure Backup, your data is always, ALWAYS safe.

The app even backs up infected files; but thankfully, the app automatically scans your files with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware engine and cleans them.  Don’t worry about your data. Malwarebytes Secure Backup keeps it safe and clean.

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Many backup services backup your most current dataset and that’s about it. As items change, so does your backup set. That’s not the case with Malwarebytes Secure Backup.  It backs up and archives every version of every file on your PC.  You’re not limited by the number of devices it backup, either.  It will backup most any device on your PC or network with just one license.

If you’re looking for a backup service or thinking of making a change, then you really need to give Malwarebytes Secure Backup a serious look. Its worth the cost and the time it takes to backup the data.

download Malwarebytes Secure Backup

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Keep yourself healthy with Workrave

workraveIn my current job, I get to the office, start my day by about 730am and then end it by about 545pm. I am on conference calls nearly all day long, or am doing desk work. I very rarely get away from my desk, or get a break. This is one reason why I really like apps like Workrave. Its an RSI preventive app for Windows.

RSI, or repetitive strain injury, is a condition that is serious for workers who constantly have to do the same tasks over and over during the work day. Its easily preventable with an application like Workrave. Workrave is a program that assists in the recovery and prevention of RSI. The program frequently alerts you to take micro-pauses, rest breaks and restricts you to your daily limit.

Workrave breaks up your day by helping you implement micropauses, rest breaks and daily limit timers into your work routine. A micropause, is a brief respite or break in activity that lasts several seconds. Micropauses can be scheduled every few minutes or so in order to break up or stop you from continuing the same motions over and over again..

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A rest break is much longer, and is usually scheduled as early as every 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the amount and type of repetitive motion that you are doing. The biggest issue here is that there aren’t any solid setting recommendations, because requirements differ from person to person based on the amount and type of repetitive motion they do.

Workrave surprised me. There’s a bit more to it than I initially thought there would be. If you’re the type that sits at a desk all day long and does the same things all day – typing, filing, coding, etc. – you might want to add Workrave to your PC. RSI injuries can be painful and difficult to heal, as the injury prevents you from doing many simple, needed, everyday tasks. Having something like this at your desk everyday, reminding you to stretch, exercise and get up, can be a huge help in making sure you either don’t get an RSI injury, or help prevent you from getting one again.

download Workrave

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Blackberry Considering Break-Off of BBM to its Own Subsidiary

Is Blackberry Messenger (BBM) a sustainable asset for Blackberry, Inc.? Not to be a naysayer, but…

I’m a huge fan of Tech News Today. The TWiT Network provides a lot of valuable podcasts and live round table technology shows, and yes… I’m hooked. I was listening to Episode 826 – The Promised Fridge, and Tom, Iyaz and Sarah started talking about how Blackberry – formerly RIM – was considering a spin-off of their Blackberry Messenger (BBM) product into its own subsidiary. Many of them saw possibilities in it. I think it’s a whacked idea and doomed to failure. Here’s why.

Back in its prime, BBM was one of the biggest draws for new users to the Blackberry smartphone. You could send instant messages to any other Blackberry user anywhere, on any other domain or BIS/BES server that also supported BBM; and that’s where the value ends.

bbm

Blackberry is seriously considering bringing BBM to other platforms, giving users the opportunity to trade messages with users on other platforms like iOS and Android. Unfortunately, the value in that decision is coming about 5 to 7 years too late… much like everything else the Toronto, Canada organization has decided to do.

Unfortunately, BBM is much like What’sApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Line and Viber. All of these apps are already cross platform and have wide user bases. They already provide the same level of functionality – and value – that BBM provides, except perhaps, security.

In the wake of the NSA and Snowden scandals, the public has become more aware of the need for privacy and security in their communications. Even if all you’re doing is chatting with friends about what the kids did after school or the latest posting on Facebook, no one likes the idea of having their privacy invaded.

As such many are looking at secure messaging options; and if BBM can offer that to cross platform users, then there’s its market. If it can’t, then it has no market, as their app and platform is just another me-too, late-to-the-game offering in a very crowded market.

Unfortunately, this seems to be part for the Blackberry course. They should have started looking for a buyer for the company 2-4 years ago when its assets still had some serious value. Now because they’ve asserted their patents and required competitors like Microsoft and Google to find another method to provide Push notifications and mail – with device management services – as well as independent messaging services (Apple’s iMessage platform is very similar to BBM, by the way), the only value that the company has is its patent portfolio.

I also have very serious doubts as to the TRUE value of it, too. As I said, RIM, now Blackberry, forced both Microsoft and Google to find different ways to provide Push services. As such, Blackberry’s technology while still very popular, is outdated technology and is quickly losing not only relevance, but the value of its exclusivity. BBM’s value is tied to the secured server technology that everyone has already worked around.

This, like most of what Blackberry has been doing, is too little, too late, and so very unfortunate.

 

What do you think? Am I totally off my nut, or am I dead-on? Why don’t you let us know your thoughts in the comments, below.

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DiskFresh

DiskFresh

Keep your hard drive running at top specs with this Windows utility.

If your microprocessor is the brain of your PC, then its hard drive is definitely its heart. In order to keep your PC running at peak proficiency, you need to keep your hard drive running well. This is one of the main reasons why I like applications like DiskFresh. It’s a hard drive utility for Windows.

DiskFresh is a powerful disk optimization tool. It can inform you if there are damaged or bad sectors on the drive, so you can determine the right time to replace the disk, as well as insure that the content is in the right spot for optimal access. Unlike other tools, it does the bulk of its work as a background task, and it doesn’t interfere with priority tasks.

diskfresh

DiskFresh is a very simple app. As you can see from its UI, there’s not a lot to it. This can be seen as either a pro or a con. Its simple, so it doesn’t waste a lot of resources on eye candy or other information. Unfortunately, its stark display lacks any kind of useful information on fragmentation or other disk usage.

Its biggest plus is that it can work completely in the background and doesn’t take away resources from active tasks.

 

download DiskFresh

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Did Microsoft Just Buy a New CEO?

It seems awfully convenient that Microsoft has announced what could be HUGE, strategically acquisition over the Labor Day Holiday weekend…

It was announced over the weekend that Microsoft had acquired Nokia Devices division for roughly $7.2B USD.

nokia-microsoft

I’ll be honest – I really didn’t see this one coming – for a couple – three reasons:

  1. Microsoft had tried to acquire them before, and the transaction never happened. Nokia pushed back.
  2. Microsoft just announced a huge reorg. The amount of change created here is enough to keep Redmond busy, let alone having that combined with
  3. Steve Ballmer just announced his exit from Microsoft. The $900M write off was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Just to clarify the timeline for everyone, because its critical to see what Redmond might be planning:

  • July 11: Microsoft announces a huge reorg.
  • July 18: Microsoft’s quarterly earnings are released, including a $900M write off for unsold Surface RT inventory.
  • August 23: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announces he will be retiring.
  • August 30: Investment fund, ValueAct joins the Microsoft Board.
  • September 3: Microsoft buys Nokia’s handset unit.

There are a couple items here that should be brought to mind, related to the items on this list. First, the reorg, once thought to be set in drying cement, is now up in the air. With Ballmer exiting, any new CEO may come in, assess the plans and make changes or throw them out entirely. Secondly, there were no layoffs with the reorg. Most people were simply shuffled around. That is also completely up in the air now.

Thirdly, Investment fund ValueAct has been pushing for Microsoft to be split up into consumer and enterprise based companies. That is also a distinct possibility, as the new CEO could make the case and have that happen. Bill is still the chairman of the board, but clearly, it’s all about the dollars at this point. Bill gets to do his philanthropy stuff because Microsoft makes him money. Without that, Bill really can’t give it ALL away. Economics does play a REAL part here.

Given all of this, I was REALLY surprised that both companies announced the acquisition. However, many people are speculating that Nokia’s CEO, Stephen Elop, who goes to Microsoft as part of the acquisition, is now the front runner in Microsoft’s search for Ballmer’s replacement. If this is the case, it makes sense. Quickly, here’s why:

  1. Elop knows and understands mobility. It’s clear from what’s happened with and to Microsoft in the past 13 years of Ballmer’s run as CEO that he couldn’t even really spell mobility let alone understand and lead the company in that direction. Microsoft missed the boat with WindowsCE and PocketPC, blew the opportunity to create a solid mobile name with Nokia as simply a smartphone partner, and doesn’t know how to create an ecosystem around Surface and Windows RT. The company’s future is uncertain due to its disjointed approach to mobility, CoIT and BYOD. The window for fixing this is closing fast, and if they want to turn things around, they need a leader who understands this sector and isn’t afraid to make bold decisions.
  2. Splitting the company may, or may not, be easier now. With Elop now on board, envisioning a separate mobility based division or company is easy to see. Perhaps the board wants to take enterprise and mobility and draw the line there, with the mobility business handling the consumer end. When you bring in the Nokia mobile division into the picture, it’s very easy to see things working this way.
  3. Nokia has been around for 150 years. They’ve sold everything from paper products to rubber boots and tires. The organization knows how to change businesses and focus, which is something that Microsoft clearly is having a huge problem with. Hopefully, Elop with bring at least this much of Nokia’s culture with him and instill that into the new organization.

I’m going to be watching this topic, and as more information comes to light, I’ll likely have a bit more to say. Why don’t you tell me what you think in the comments section, below?

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Highlight

hl_icon2Get a handle on your source code and see what’s what with this handy Windows coding tool.

I’ve been in the software development biz for quite some time now, and the crafting of source code in many ways is just that – a craft or an art. Over the years, the best way I’ve learned to do that is to have a special app to help write and highlight certain syntax. This is probably the biggest reason why I’m interested in apps like Highlight. It’s a source code development app for Windows.

Highlight converts source code, like HTML, XHTML, RTF, LaTeX, TeX, SVG, BBCode and terminal escape sequences to code with colored syntax highlighting. Language definitions and color themes are customizable. The app was designed to offer a flexible but easy way to use syntax highlighting for several output formats. Instead of hardcoding syntax or coloring information, all relevant data is stored in configuration scripts. These scripts may be altered or enhanced with plug-ins.

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Highlight is a decent code editor, offering a way to highlight code to make it easy for coders to identify specific blocks of code by functionality – or color – with just a quick glance. This is especially helpful if you have to look for different loops or segments of code within a specific file when debugging or modifying or enhancing existing code.

This is great for programmers and testers; but won’t see much use outside of the development lifecycle type.

 

download Highlight

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