Construct complex mathematical equations for your documents with MathType

imagesOne of the biggest problems I remember having way back in the day was writing papers for either my math or physics classes.  Back when I was in college, Windows wasn’t around. Windows didn’t really become Windows until well after I graduated from college.  I had access to word processors and such, but they were DOS based, and at the time, most people hand crafted complex mathematical expressions in their documents. It was just easier, and a lot more affordable than any programmatic alternative. This is why I like MathType. It constructs mathematical expressions on your Windows PC.

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MathType allows you to enter mathematical equations as easily as you would write math with paper and pencil.  The app makes use of Windows 7’s built-in handwriting recognition, though you’ll need a PC with a touch screen in order to use this feature. You can also use its point and click editing features.  With Automatic Formatting, you can create equations quickly by choosing templates from MathType’s palettes and plugging and chugging data into its empty slots. MathType applies mathematical spacing rules automatically as you type.

If you don’t have a TabletPC or Windows PC with a touch screen, the app also supports customizable keyboard shortcuts.  If you already know the TeX typesetting language, you can enter equations directly into MathType or Microsoft Word documents. TeX editing can also be mixed with point-and-click editing. You can even paste in equations from existing TeX documents. Existing expressions can be saved to the MathType toolbar for repeated use later.

If you need to compose complex mathematical expressions for your Office documents, there’s no better tool than MathType.  The app is easy to use, supports Windows 7’s TabletPC extensions and touch enabled hardware. With support for Office XP forward, it’s going to work with the version of MS Office you already own.  The only issue with the software is its limited scope and target audience.

download MathType

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Explore your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch files with i-Funbox

Apple has always advocated letting the OS and the device (computer, smartphone, tablet, etc.) manage where it wants to put files. Many Apple advocates continually ask me why I care WHERE the computer puts data as long as its, 1. Backed up, 2. Available to my programs. The Windows Camp, coming from a DOS point of origin, is exactly the opposite. Serious Windows users want near total control over where and how their data is organized. This is one of the reasons why many Windows users will appreciate i-Funbox. Its an iDevice tool for Windows and Mac.

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i-Funbox allows users to take Total Control of you iDevice’s file system. With it, you can manage files on your iPhone or iPad just like you do in Windows File Explorer. You can easily transmit files and folders to your computer with the app’s optimized file transfer and browsing. I-Funbox now fully supports iOS 6.x as well as Asian/ Long filenames.

You can install and backup all of your applications, This is especially important if you’ve got a custom app that you want to install, like something for work, which may be unsigned. You can also access an app’s sandbox area, giving you access to application created documents as well as the ability to upload audio or video to 3rd party players. You can also export iTunes managed content. The nicest part of all of this is that using the app doesn’t require an installation of iTunes.

The secret sauce is that i-Funbox makes your iDevice function like a USB storage drive. You get access to the storage you need when you need it, as well as all the other benefits. This is a great app and its free price tag, no jailbreak or iTunes required status make this a must have for just about any iDevice owner. Novice users need to take caution, however, as the average user isn’t meant to access the file system directly and you might move or delete something that you shouldn’t.

Download i-Funbox for WindowsDownload i-Funbox for Mac

 

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Apple’s Low Cost iPhone – Good or Bad Idea?

Apple LogoBelieve it or not, this isn’t as slam dunk as you might think it is…

Emerging markets are a big deal.

In areas like China, Korea, parts of Africa, etc., where there are untapped consumers just waiting to buy a smartphone, the right device at the right price can sell and sell very well. Low cost, low margin phones are intended to make money in volume sales.

According to an article published on TUAW, former Apple CEO John Sculley agrees that Apple needs to produce the low cost device, which for many in those markets, is the only computing device they will own. While Sculley acknowledges that there’s “nothing wrong” with the current iPhone, he also acknowledged that Samsung is very good at what they do, and implied that Apple needs to figure it out and provide a competing product.

Sculley agreed that Tim Cook is the right person to lead Apple at this time due to his operations experience. Apple’s decision to cut its product update cycles to 6 months instead of 12 will require solid supply chain experience, and that’s right up Cook’s alley.

While its still unknown if a low cost iPhone would make an appearance in either the US or Europe, there seems to be a shift in thought in the smartphone arena. Lower cost, unsubsidized devices seem to be the direction that the world wants the industry to go. That being the case, I suspect that we’re going to see a number of exciting changes over the next year or so.

Whether or not a low cost iPhone is a good or bad idea is going to be validated by Apple’s financial and stock performance. The markets seem very fickle right now, with Apple stock jumping 3-5% over the past couple of days on news of component order cancellations and their 2013 product pipeline, respectively. Until the world decides that Apple knows what it wants to be when it grows up, I’d expect a great deal of fluctuation in their stock price and speculation in the news regarding the company’s viability in a post-Jobs era.

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Mix digital tracks with MixPad Audio Mixer

mixpad_iconAnybody who has made music or likes to mix tracks of any kind needs a decent mixer. With the introduction of computers to the masses, more and more people are bringing audio mixing to their bedrooms and basements. This is one reason why I like MixPad Audio Mixer. It’s a multitrack mixing suite for Windows.

MixPad Audio Mixer is a digital multitrack mixing suite. It can mix and process more than 100 tracks at once in most audio formats, and it can also extract audio from video files as well as rip CDs. Its media-player-like buttons and time indicators give MixPad’s interface a familiar feel. The main window displays each track horizontally within its own control console. The setup options involve selecting a recording device and output folder, while the Audio options included sample rate and other specifications.

Each track in your mix can be comprised of a number of different clips. You can view the clips in each track by selecting the optional Clip Manager on the View menu opened a right-hand panel. MixPad can manage dozens of tracks and clips, so this is a handy feature and it can toggle it closed when you don’t need it.

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MixPad’s extensive zoom and expand controls let you view entire audio clips or individual passages of a clip in tiny fractions.  The Pan slider can shift the sound of a particular track from the right to the left channel or vice-versa. Pressing the Fx button allows you to string together a chain of effects to apply in sequence. We were also able to change tracks’ playback speed to synchronize speed and pitch.

MixPad Audio Mixer provides professional level tools that should be easy enough for just about anyone with a reasonable amount of audio mixing knowledge to use to create professional sounding mixes. The app is easy enough to use and understand, but unless you’re looking for something for a specific event – a big party, wedding or other gathering – or are a semi-serious/semi-professional DJ, its somewhat elevated cost and short trial may reduce its overall appeal and value.

download MixPad Audio Mixer

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Turn your laptop into a WiFi hotspot with mHotspot

Getting access to the internet is increasingly important in today’s always on, connected world. This is one of the big reasons why I like apps like mHotspot. It turns any Windows 7 /8 laptop into a Wi-Fi hotspot; and it’s free.

mHotspot converts your Windows 7/8 laptop into a virtual Wi-Fi router and creates a secure Wi-Fi hotspot without installation of additional networking components. With it, you can share your single internet connection with multiple devices. You can share your existing LAN, Ethernet, Data-Card, 3G/4G, or Wi-Fi connection with devices like laptops, smartphones, PDAs, tablets etc. No additional router or external hardware is required.

mHotspot

If you’re out and about and have a mobile broadband capable laptop, this application is a must have. It quickly and easily creates a mobile hotspot that you can share with all of your internet capable devices. This can be very important to those that need to give access to friends using other devices. The only issue that may be encountered with this is that it uses bandwidth from your existing mobile data plan.

While this can also be great for those times when you need to access the company network from your personal laptop while at work, it does require an existing internet connection in order for it to work. The interface is simple and easy to use, and its free price tag makes it a must have for nearly everyone.

Download mHotspot

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Chat with all of your Facebook friends with this handy Windows app

facebook-messenger-para-windows-7-02-535x535Keeping in touch with your friends isn’t always easy. Some use this tool. Others frequent that site. Getting to everyone on a common platform isn’t always possible; however, Facebook is one place where most everyone goes. This is one of the reasons why I really like Facebook Messenger. It’s a chat tool for Windows.

Facebook is great for catching up with old friends. Its chat features are pretty nice and very useful. You can chat with just about anyone, anytime, anywhere. The big problem with FB chat is that it requires you to have a browser open, and be logged into their site for it to work. Facebook Messenger solves this problem.

You can do almost everything with Facebook Messenger that you can with FB chat on their website. The app makes use of Java to provide universality from platform to platform, and this is both good and bad. Java may be the great programmatic equalizer – code once, execute on many platforms – but it can be problematic as well. Each platform performs differently and Java may not behave the same way from platform to platform. I had some problems getting the app to behave and function as I had hoped it would. It offered similar experiences on all the Windows machines I tried to run it on.

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The app’s interface can be somewhat confusing. It’s not always clear where incoming messages and their alerts will appear. Sometimes they show up in your active chat window, other times in your inbox. It makes for a confusing conversation. It also doesn’t do a lot for the app’s usability, either. Facebook Messenger is an ok app, but nothing really to get excited about.

Download Facebook Messenger

 

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Apple to Acquire Waze..? NOT!

waze-iconThe rumor that Apple is going to acquire social GPS developer Waze has largely been put to rest; but was it a good or bad idea?

There have been multiple rumors reported by multiple sites over the past few weeks (Apple Insider, Mac Rumors, TUAW) speculating that Apple was taking a long hard look at Waze, a crowd sourced, GPS app developer for both iOS and Android.

It was later determined that TechCrunch, the source for all of the speculation had it wrong. However, the idea still has merit.

Pros

  • Crowd sourced (read: user validated) Maps
    The biggest problem Apple Maps has is that it’s a 1.0 version app.  Google Maps has been on Apple devices for quite some time, and Apple basically knew what it wanted to do with the app. However, they haven’t had to worry about rolling their own mapping solution…EVER, until now.  Apple Maps was, in all fairness, a decent shot at a new app for Apple, but it does have some very serious issues.  The bulk of those issues are with the map data provided by TomTom (and powered via their relatively recent purchase of TeleNav).  It may also stem from the way the Apple Maps makes use of the data. Unfortunately for Apple, they are still taking the lion’s share of the blame for the sometimes glaring navigation and satellite image errors within the app.Waze provides a way for users to validate the data. Users can report problems or provide updates to map data that can then be incorporated back into the app. While the method is reminiscent of a real life version of Pac Man, it works and works well. Users validate or update map data and the data gets assimilated and provided back to users in a “reasonable amount of time.”Incorporating this method of data validation into Apple Maps would provide Apple real time, corrected or updated map data from around the world. It would also give users the feeling that they are correcting the reported, egregious errors.  This is a clear win-win for users as well as Apple. Both sides get what they want – more accurate map data, ASAP.
  • Local search
    There’s BIG money in local search. Waze’s focus is validating that what it thinks is around you, actually is around you, which directly supports local search. As such, Waze can get you there from here, but its strength isn’t really navigation.It does local search VERY well. It has hundreds of thousands of users validating its map data on a daily basis.  It knows exactly what’s near you or how far away you are from where you want to be.  This is an area of competency that Google feels confident it does well, too. If Apple wanted to challenge Google in the local search arena, an acquisition of Waze could have gone a long way to making that challenge credible.

In acquiring Waze, Apple could have resolved two of its biggest map based criticisms. It wants to vindicate Tim Cook’s public apology for Apple Maps and it wants to be a serious player in Mobile Search. Waze does the latter well and would likely have been an acquisition that would have increased its competitive edge with Google.

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Does a Jailbreak for Windows RT Matter?

RTThe latest rumor to hit the ethernets is a pending Jailbreak for Windows RT tablets; but does it matter?

I read on Computerworld that a jailbreak for Windows RT has been discovered that will allow unsigned applications to run on Surface RT and other Windows RT based tablets.

The big question is – While this is cool, what does it matter?

A jailbreak would only be relevant and important if there were a market for unsigned apps. Windows RT barely has a viable market for SIGNED applications, let alone unsigned apps.

Computerworld is siting a developer who was able to get an unsigned, compiled for x86 .NET app to run without recompiling the source, but again, who cares? The big need for this or similar jailbreak is to get legacy applications from previous versions of Windows to run on Windows RT. Since Windows RT doesn’t run on an x86 (or Intel compatible) platform, having apps like any of those available in Soft32’s vast Windows software library run on a Surface RT or similar Windows RT tablet, is unlikely.

surface

What is interesting about this whole discovery was that there’s little to no difference between Windows RT and Windows 8. It really amounts to nothing more than a security bit that was set to require apps to be signed in order to run on Windows RT. While the discovery – or really validation – of this was important (Microsoft already told us they were effectively the same OS), it doesn’t get the latest version of running on a Windows RT tablet.

Most applications that run on Windows 8 won’t run on Windows RT without some serious tweaking to account for the differences in microprocessors. As such, the jailbreak, while interesting and somewhat exciting, doesn’t mean much – yet. Again, there’s not much Windows RT compatible software in the Window RT software store; and zero unsigned or “forbidden” software that Microsoft has refused to put in the Store.

Until MS can court enough developers and interest in non-jailbroken software, this jailbreak, while interesting, really amounts to nothing more than an interesting, but irrelevant story.

There’s nothing to see here people… This isn’t the development you’re looking for…. Move along.

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