Today is the day when the Internet goes on strike against SOPA

January 18th – A day we’ll remember. Thousands of sites went dark to protest against SOPA and PIPA, two US bills racing through Congress that threaten prosperity, online security, and freedom of expression. Sites are striking in all different ways, for example, Google censored its own logo and Wikipedia decided to bring out drastic measures in the fight, as they make the website unavailable for 24 hours in protest against the bill.

One thing is clear, if the bill will pass, the Internet will never be the same and it will affect everyone around the world, not only the people of US, by blocking site’s web traffic, ad traffic and search traffic using the same website censorship methods used by China, Iran and Syria. All websites both inside and outside the US could be blocked based on an infringement claim and website based on user-generated content like YouTube and Reddit could be really effected.

By clicking Google’s logo or the link just under the logo takes you to a SOPA / PIPA landing page that displays these words:

Millions of Americans oppose SOPA and PIPA because these bills would censor the Internet and slow economic growth in the U.S.

Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA.

The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.

The page gives you the option to sign a petition against the legislation, and I hope you will!

https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/

You can also declare your opposition to it via a PIPA petition website

To find out more information about SOPA, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act

 

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Give your digital photos the professional touch with PhotoFiltre

I’ve said this a couple of times now, but it’s very true – with the Holidays come and gone, you’ve probably taken quite a number of digital photos that you’d like to do something really cool with. I see it nearly every year. Post-holiday sales of graphic apps are generally very good for one reason: people want to retouch their photos and give them a professional touch. This is why I really like applications like PhotoFiltre. It’s a prosumer photo retouching application for Windows.

PhotoFiltre allows you to do simple or advanced adjustments to an image and apply a vast range of filters to it. It’s simple and intuitive to use; and has a shallow learning curve. Its toolbar gives you access to the standard filters with just a few clicks. It also gives the application itself, a robust look.

PhotoFiltre has a wide range of filters, allowing novice users to familiarize themselves with the world of graphics. You can find the standard adjustment functions – brightness, contrast, dyed, saturation, gamma correction – and its artistic filters – watercolor, pastels, Indian ink, pointillism, puzzle effect via both toolbars and menus. The application has more than 100 different filters.

PhotoFiltre uses both automatic and lasso/polygon vectored selection methods to select objects and photo elements. Both allow you to select a customized form by drawing a shape by hand or using a series of lines. Every selection can be saved into a separate file, to be used later on.

You can further enhance your photos with PhotoMasque.  You can create advanced contour and transparency effects on your images by using preset masks. PhotoFiltre’s masks are gray scale images, where white is the transparency color.  Opacity increases as the shades of gray become darker. Black is completely opaque. PhotoMasque comes with several basic masks to inspire you to create your own.

Read full review | Download PhotoFiltre

 

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Backup and keep all of your data safe with CyberLink Power2Go Essential

Everything is about data. Your entire computing experience is about your data – pictures, movies, music. Your data, your memories are irreplaceable; and keeping it and them safe should be your primary concern when it comes to your computer. This is why I’m really grateful for applications like CyberLink Power2Go Essential. It’s an optical disc burning tool for Windows. It can keep your data and memories safe and you can have a good time using it, too.

CyberLink Power2Go Essential allows you to safeguard your data, copy DVDs and burn everything in sight to optical media. You can use it with its new System Recovery tools and you can make use of over 5000 free DVD menus from its online resources at DirectorZone.com. These powerful templates allow you to create professional styled CD’s and DVDs, and to safeguard YOUR valuable data.

CyberLink Power2Go Essential is a complete burning tool. With it you can burn data, rip music, copy discs, create photo and video discs on Blu-ray, BDXL, DVDs as well as CDs. If you have access to disc images, *.ISO files, you can also mount that disc image file as a virtual drive and access it like a real disc drive on your PC. You can rip and copy your music from your favorite CDs or extract a soundtrack from your videos. CyberLink Power2Go Essential’s precision audio editing tools, featuring its Wave Editor 2, provide you with a high-grade precision waveform editor for that perfect professional touch.

Read full review | Download CyberLink Power2Go Essential

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O&O Autobackup – the simple solution for backing up your data on a USB stick

O&O GmbH brings a useful tool for backing up your precious data on an external backup device (USB stick, external USB hard disk, FireWire volume).

Featuring a single window interface, O&O Autobackup is easy to use. Just connect your desired backup device to your PC, choose the targeted folder for backup and the destination device. There are three actions that can be performed: copy the entire content of the folder, copy only the modified and the new files, or full synchronization including deletion.

In case, the default actions cannot fulfill your needs, you can choose to edit your own criteria, based on which, new actions will be performed. The copy process will start automatically whenever you connect your USB/Firewire disk to the computer. Using the status bar icon and the status window in the program, you can see when the process is complete and simply remove the external drive at the end.

With O&O AutoBackup you can backup your files and directories quickly and automatically. But if you want to backup your entire computer, then is recommended to use a proper application, a comprehensive backup & recovery solution such as O&O DiskImage.

Until February, O&O Autobackup will be offered for free. All you need is to download it and request a free license code, which will be send to you by email.

download O&O Autobackup 32 bit version/64 bit version

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Project Fiona – the PC Gaming Tablet powerful enough to play the most PC games of today

We’ve seen a huge influx of tablets in the past year. Some tablets have ten-inch screens, others seven, and there are differences in battery life, processing power and RAM. However, none of them are as good to play AAA PC games but this is about to change with a new kind of gaming computer. It’s called  “Project Fiona” and it’s a hybrid tablet and gaming PC developed by Razer.

Unlike other tablets designed for general use and casual gaming, Project Fiona is powerful enough to play the most popular PC games of today with great on-the-go gaming experience.

How powerful is Project Fiona more exactly? Well, check out the specs:

  • Intel Core i7
  • 10.1 inch 1280×800 display
  • Multi-touch screen
  • 3-axis gyro
  • Magnetometer
  • Accelerometer
  • Force feedback
  • Dolby 7.1 surround sound
  • WiFi 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • Runs Windows 8

Razer worked closely with Intel to harness the power of its third generation Intel Core i7 processor in Project Fiona. As a result, Razer’s tablet is more akin to a fully functioning PC; and yet in a form factor and platform highly familiar to everybody.

As you can see in this video, Project Fiona can run smoothly Warhammer 40K: Space Marine, a game which requires minimum a computer with dual-core 2.0 GHz processor, 2GBs of RAM, and a 256MB video card.

Instead of relying on developers to work on a suite of brand new applications for Project Fiona, many PC games today run natively on the tablet concept without the need to be ported, optimized, or developed from scratch.

Moreover, Project Fiona will feature one of the most powerful processors integrated in a tablet form factor. Instead of the casual and mobile-only games that run on under-powered tablets, Project Fiona will run full-fledged PC games that have never run on a tablet form factor before until today.

Project Fiona’s combination of high performance Intel-based gaming hardware and innovative tablet design is specifically focused for PC gamers. It will unleash the PC gamer to play their existing and future high-end games in one of the most exciting new form factors – a tablet,” – Brad Graff, Director of Partner Marketing, Netbook & Tablet Group, Intel.

Talking about the user interface scheme for Project Fiona, the gaming tablet features integrated dual game controllers with ultra-precise analog sticks which runs gamepad-enabled PC games right out of the box.

Along with the game controllers, Project Fiona integrates ultra-precise accelerometers and a highly sensitive multi-touch screen. This provides game developers with new game experiential opportunities to develop around the hybrid game control experience offered by Project Fiona. It also ensures current-generation PC games run on the tablet concept, as well as any existing games optimized for the touchscreen interface of a tablet.

Future games developed for Fiona are expected to take advantage of not just the integrated gamepad controls but also integrate core game functionality controls for the touchscreen and accelerometer-based controls.

While multi-touch screens have become the de facto user interface for tablets, they are not the right interface for serious PC gaming.” – Min-Liang Tan, CEO, Razer.

To further intensify the gaming experience with Project Fiona, Razer’s integrated dual controllers deliver full force feedback, so every explosion or gun recoil can be felt in the gamer’s hands and ears thanks to Dolby 7.1 surround sound that has been integrated in Project Fiona.

Project Fiona is a working prototype, not yet released. Estimated price? Below USD $1,000.

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Google’s Biggest Problem – Focus Part 3

Last time (read article Google’s Biggest Problem – Focus, Google’s Biggest Problem – Focus Part 2), I spelled out what Google was doing with Android. Today, I’m going to wrap it up and bring it home, providing a recommendation that I hope Google will listen to.  Unfortunately, given their track record, I’m not getting my hopes up. Unfortunately, neither should you.

Android is attacking the market en masse. It’s the only way the fragmented OS is capturing share. Its lack of focus provides for a quick product introduction cycle by its 3rd party supporters. For example,

T-Mobile USA currently offers 16 Android smartphones from 6 different manufacturers.
AT&T offers 22 Android smartphones from 7 different manufacturers.
Verizon offers 34 smartphones from 6 different manufacturers.

Most of these phones are either running FroYo (Android 2.2.x), or Gingerbread (Android 2.3.x). Very few of them will run or officially support Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0.x). Each manufacturer has added their own launcher and customizations on top of the OS. Nearly all have provided customized versions of some system level apps or components, originally developed by Google.  This has unfortunately created a bigger divide between stock Android and what end users actually use on their devices.

What does this mean, exactly?  In many cases, Google provides the shell and relies on the 3rd party developer to complete the structure. Until recently, and by recently I mean the last 12-18 months, Google resisted the development of an ecosystem. It provided an operating system that would allow users to organize their lives, communicate with the outside world, run apps, listen to music, watch video and read books.  However, it failed to provide a way for users to purchase, organize and manage that content on those devices. Their philosophy – we provide the means, YOU (meaning the hardware OEM or 3rd party developer) provide the way. In the process they’ve lost out on potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in sales and royalties.

It finally recognized this when it introduced Google Music.  From there, you could buy and then stream music directly to your Android phone.  It also modified its Android Market allowing for the sale of not only music, but books, movies as well the standard and familiar device apps.  Music purchased there could be copied to your device and your PC and then synchronized with Google Music’s online music locker.

While this signifies a move in the proper direction, not only for Google and its partners, but for users as well, it doesn’t completely solve the problem. Google needs to further lock down the platform – hardware manufacturers and OEM’s shouldn’t be allowed to have devices with up to three different revisions of the OS in active support at the same time, and shouldn’t be allowed to introduce new products with outdated OS revisions, as they have in the past.

Google is developing focus, but it’s taken approximately 4 years to get here. Frankly, I think Google’s gotten very lucky. Hopefully, they’ve seen the error of their ways, have seen the success their major competitors have in their own ecosystems, and continue to stay focused.

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Samsung Galaxy Note – the link between Smartphone and Tablet

Galaxy Note has been released internationally since autumn, by skipping the US market. Only now at the Consumer Electronics Show 2012, Samsung decided to announce its product for the AT&T carrier in US. It is the third 4G smartphone announced to be available soon in the States after Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II.

Based on consumer research, Samsung decided to create a brand new type of smartphone that brings diverse mobile utilities while maintaining the smartphone portability. With its 5.3 inches HD AMOLED display (1280 x 800), the Note looks to be a hybrid between a smartphone and a tablet. Many of you will say that this is nothing else but a mini tablet. But this is not necessarily true. The Note comes also with an Stylus-Pen that widens the functionality of this device.

The S Pen is combined with the full touch screen to create a best-in-class mobile input experience. It is the most advanced pen input technology featuring an array of functions including pressure sensitivity, preciseness, speed and more. With the S Pen, you can easily sketch drawings or write notes with increased accuracy and ease. Also, the S Pen functionality is deeply integrated into the GALAXY Note’s native applications to provide a richer interactive experience.

The device runs Android 2.3.6. on a 1.4GHz Dual Core Processor with support for 4G LTE, EDGE/GPRS networks. Its huge 5.3 inch multitouch display is capable of 1080p Full HD video playback, adding support for an Advanced smart pen. The 16GB Internal memory plus microSD slot for up to 32GB makes the Galaxy Note a hyper gadget for the business class and for the ones that have big pockets…to stuff it in.

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HP Envy Spectre – one of the best-looking ultrabook you’ve ever seen

Do you remember the teaser clip released by HP which showed a mysterious device dubbed Spectre ? Well, now we can be more accurate and tell you that the mysterious device is called HP ENVY 14 Spectre and it’s possibly one of the best-looking ultrabooks you’ve ever seen.

Sleek, midnight black glass on the outside and stark contrast silver glass on the inside make Spectre extraordinary, defying conventional notebook design,” said Eric Keshin, senior vice president, Strategy and Marketing, Personal Systems Group, HP. “We chose the Spectre name to evoke mystery, and we packed it with the best in entertainment technology to satisfy those who expect the unexpected.

HP Spectre weighs less than 4 pounds and uses lightweight, scratch- resistant glass on the lid, display, palmrest and HP ImagePad and a full 14-inch screen HP Radiance Display which offers higher resolution, richer color, better brightness and wider viewing angles than traditional notebook displays.

HP Spectre is equipped with a matching audio-grade speaker mesh and Beats Audio, an exclusive, high-performance technology developed by HP and Beats by Dr. Dre, the HP Spectre boasts an aluminum analog volume dial that acts as a visual design to precisely adjust audio levels.

HP Spectre features built-in HP Wireless Audio that can turn your home into a concert hall, allowing you to stream uncompressed audio to up to four external devices or directly to any KleerNet-compatible device.

The HP Radiance Backlit keyboard provides really cool illumination using individual LEDs dedicated to each keycap. The keyboard works with an advanced proximity sensor to intelligently sense a user’s presence, lighting up when a user approaches and dimming down after he or she leaves.

Talking about performance, HP Spectre is powered by an Intel Core processors (i5 or i7), solid state storage (128GB or 256GB) and 4GB (or 8GB) of RAM. Moreover, the ultrabook features Intel Rapid Start Technology and support for two ultrafast mSATA solid state drives allow for quick boot and resume times. Also, it comes loaded with HP CoolSense technology, which automatically adjusts performance and internal fan settings for a noticeably cooler PC. In addition, the HP ImagePad provides precise multifinger touch navigation and the HP TrueVision HD Webcam provides brighter, cleaner HD images.

Additionally, the Spectre offers a performance-tuned software image, full versions of Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Elements, two years of preinstalled Norton Internet Security and a concierge phone line for technical support that is dedicated exclusively to HP ENVY users.

Envy Spectre is expected to be available in the United States on Feb. 8 with a starting price of $1,399.99.

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