„All my friends got one” is sometimes a good reason to buy a specific phone

Last week, Apple released the new iPhone 5S and 5C. Android phones are released almost on a daily bases. With Microsoft now owning Nokia, we can probably expect new releases soon. And even Blackberry has some nice phones to offer. Never before was the choice of a phone so difficult. So what do we buy? And what are the reasons for our choice?

When outing ourselves that we want a new phone, we hear a lot of people around us telling us to get this one or that one for various reasons, some technical, some subjective and some just silly. And most of them will tell you not to get a particular phone, because “everybody got one”. But is this really such a bad thing?

We often want to display our individuality through the things we own and use but we tend to forget that we are social beings. Which means, in short, we have a need to communicate with each other and share things. Therefore, getting something because all your friends are getting or owning something may not be such a dumb reason after all.

What phone to get?

What phone you use often determines if you can play, communicate or interact with your friends or family. This is because different platforms make it harder to connect and interact. That is for different reasons, including the fact, that not all apps are cross-compatible and available.

Lets take the new iPhone, for example, with all the little features that make your life easier, like iMessage or the new Airdrop. If all your friends got Android phones, you won’t send many iMessages or exchange many files. The same applies for all the other platforms. Each has its own features but most are not cross-compatible. It is not about which is better then the other, it’s just which you can use most with your friends and family.

Not too long ago, “everyone has one” was a good reason for switching to or being on BBM. And that is why companies like Apple and Google are trying hard to keep the customers they already have.

I am not saying to go out and buy whatever your friends or family got. You should get whatever you like! But if you want to take full advantage of all that a certain platform or phone has to offer, you should take this criteria into consideration. There is no shame in doing or getting what your friends do or have. Basically, that’s what friends are for and that’s what defines us as a social being.

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Right Click Enhancer – Take control of your mouse

right-click-disableI remember my first experience using a mouse, back in the day. I was tutoring word processing students at Oakland University in Rochester, MI in a Mac lab.  90% of all the troubleshooting we did back then involved 2 things – don’t hit return at the end of every line of text (people were too used to hitting the carriage return on a type writer), and most verbal exchanges often began with, “OK, now, take your mouse and move it over to…”  That was in 1984, almost 30 years later, we’re still tethered to these magical pointing devices, and in order to get a better handle on how you work with them, cool utilities like Right Click Enhancer can make working with a mouse on a Windows box a lot easier.

Right Click Enhancer allows you to control the right click, or context menu everyone uses. With it, you can edit your right click menu, customizing it to give you the options you need. Right Click Enhancer consists of seven tools to manage your context menu.

RCE-06
Sometimes your PC desktop is cluttered with lots of shortcuts. These issue is easily solved by the Right Click Shortcuts Creator tool. It allows you to add applications, files and folder shortcuts to your right click context menu. If need be, you can also create sub menus if you have Windows 7 or Windows 8. You can add applications, files and folder shortcuts to these sub menus, too.

You can add command line arguments to the application shortcuts as well as edit previously added shortcuts and sub menus with ease. Regardless of how much you customize your context menus, your PC’s performance will not be affected.

Right Click Tweaker allows you to add useful functions to your right click context menu. With it, you can add functions that help save time by enhancing the common tasks found on your context menu, like copying or moving files, renaming files and accessing admin options.

Right Click Tweaker is a great utility to have and one that most users who find it will register, in my opinion.  The app is slightly overpriced at $10 USD, but not greatly so.  Depending on the level of customization you take and the OS you have on your PC (XP vs. Win7/8), you should easily be able to justify the expense.

The app’s Win7 God Mode brings all of Windows 7 customizations together in one place and places it clearly atop my short list of must have applications for my Windows 7 PC.

download Right Click Enhancer

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Microsoft embarrasses itself… again!

Microsoft released a new series of Apple-mocking videos but pulled them after negative reception

Not too long ago, Microsoft released a series of ads, comparing the Surface RT directly to the iPad, trying to boost their disastrous sales of its tablet. Which didn’t work out that well…

Now, Microsoft released a series of videos on their Windows Phone Youtube channel, called “A fly on the wall in Cupertino”, spoofing Apples newly released iPhones. The 7 videos show 2 employees presenting the new iPhone models to their executives in a product pitch meeting. The executives can only be seen from behind but bear a striking resemblance to Jony Ive and Tim Cook. Some even say that,in fact, the resemblance of the Tim-Cook-character is intended to resemble Steve Jobs.

The biggest mistake, in my opinion, Microsoft made with this videos is that at one point in the video, one of the employees says “And the beauty part is we can charge whatever we want,”. Then, the hashtag #timetoswitch then flashes on the screen, a reference to Microsoft’s Windows Phone. The message received by the public is exactly the opposite of its intentions: the iPhone users are insulted to their face and, at the same time, expected to switch to the Windows Phone.

microsoft_anit_apple_video

After a short while and, probably, a lot of negative reception, even a lot of mocking on numerous social networks, Microsoft decided to pull the ads, stating that the campaign was “intended to be a lighthearted poke at our friends from Cupertino. But it was off the mark, and we’ve decided to pull it down”. Fortunately, one of the videos was reposted by another user and can be watched here:

watch Video

While the commercials were clearly supposed to be funny, they mostly make Microsoft look desperate. It’s somewhat understandable but not excusable. You would expect any public material to be thoroughly reviewed before releasing it, especially from a giant like Microsoft.

Microsoft clearly has a lot of issues and troubles lately, not only regarding their products and sales, but especially with their public image. I really hope that this will be the last of Microsofts public self-humiliation and that they start doing things right.

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Is Google taking their selling strategy to the next level?

In 2011, Google opened their first physical shop in London in a branch of Currys and PC World. The shop was solely dedicated to Google’s Chromebook and was called the “Chromezone”. Basically, this concept is called a shop-in-shop. The concept was very well received and many customers appreciated the fact that they could not only try the gadget out, but rather receive valuable advice from the well-trained staff. The only problem, which customers expressed, was that no other Google products were marketed.

Today, after 2 years, Google took the next logical step and fulfilled their customers wishes. Google opened their first shop-in-shop in Hamburg, Germany, for all their products.

The shop was opened in a local branch of Saturn. On 100 sq. m (about 1.100 sq. f), Google presents all their products in a modern but natural design with a lot of colors and wood. Besides the whole Chromebook and Nexus range and accompanying accessories, you can also test their software products like the Chrome browser, Google Maps, Google Play or Youtube.

The highlight of the shop is the so-called Liquid Galaxy, a big Google Earth screen, where you can explore the world and visit interesting places. It’s a nice idea which also looks very cool.

Google Store Hamburg

The biggest advantage of the store is the very-well trained and competent staff, eager to help you with whatever question you might have, be it regarding hardware or software. This is, in my opinion, the right approach of bringing good products closer to the people. It’s very convenient to shop online and have the goods delivered to your door but sometimes it just feels better to see, touch and test the product you want to buy. And if someone can tell you more information and show you how that product works, it’s that much better. It makes you feel important and that you, as a client, matter to the company, thus you are more satisfied with your purchase. And you are more likely to establish a personal connection to the company.

Some might say, Google is trying to copy the concept of the Apple Stores. So what? If it is a good concept and customers can benefit from it, I don’t see the problem.

All in all, I really like the new approach and I hope, as probably many others do, that Google won’t stop with only this one store, but take it to an international level and expand this concept.

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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.

IW-02

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.

MSB-03
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..

WR-06

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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