Slow (and Boring) News Week..?

I mean… Is it just me, or am I the only one that doesn’t see a lot happening right now..?

I look at the news often.

In fact, I look at specific sites throughout the day to insure that I don’t miss anything. Unfortunately, we seem to have entered a period where absolutely NOTHING fun and interesting seems to be hitting the wire. I mean, I could be totally wrong on this one, but I really don’t think I am.

There really isn’t much of ANYTHING of note or interest going on… Anywhere… At all… and I’m bored out of my mind.

Yes, yes, yes… There are somethings that are going on; but nothing that would make at least what I would consider to be a good news and analysis article on its own. Instead, I’ve decided to combine a few of them here as I have a few things to say; but I won’t have too much to say on them, as honestly, I’ve either partially covered the issue, or I personally don’t think they’re all that news worthy OR all that interesting… However, here’s some of the more interesting of the lot:

Microsoft Ain’t Giving up on Windows 10 Mobile
Really..?

I find this one a little hard to believe. I told everyone what I think of Windows 10 Mobile (it’s a waste of time, money and resources); but for some reason, Microsoft’s Terry Myerson seems hell bent on beating this dead horse, claiming he saw it twitch. Or, just claiming that he’s not giving up.

I have no idea why. It doesn’t make a lick of sense…

I’ve already predicted the death of Windows 10 Mobile (and the Windows Phone platform) and I know I’m not alone in this belief.

I mean, even Mary Jo Foley agrees with me…

MJF-Tweets

It’s hard to believe that Microsoft is apparently ignoring the obvious and that they won’t exit the market. I’d rather see them spend the time, money and resources on something that may actually add value to the market. Any strides they make in mobile will likely get swept under the rug and/ or forgotten before it really has a chance to make any kind of genuine impact.

I also don’t agree at all with Satya Nadella. I don’t think that “business phones are a segment where Windows Phone devices were catching on.”

Nadella’s further statements that, “…the fact your latest soccer app is not available or some social networking app is not available is not much of an issue (in business scenarios)…” is also grossly short sighted, in my opinion. There are little to no third party apps available for Windows Phone on the consumer side. There are even less enterprise focused apps available for the device platform. While, Nadella goes on to say that, “…what matters… is identity management, security [and] protection,” is dead on, even in an enterprise setting, its (device-based) apps that sell a specific platform. Unfortunately, Windows Phone has little to none.

This appears to be a huge mistake on Microsoft’s part. The fact that they don’t have a real tablet-tablet (most Windows based tablets are really nothing more than tablets that run full-blown Windows 8.x or Windows 10… there aren’t any Windows 10 Mobile tablets…) is a huge hole that Microsoft and their hardware partners don’t seem to be interested in filling; and even if they did at this point, it would still be too little, too late.

The platform is dead, Satya and Terry… Get over it and move on.

Reports of Apple’s Demise are Greatly Exaggerated
One… One. That’s it. Just one.

Apple has had one (and only one) quarter in 8 years (or over 32 quarters…) where shipped iPhones dropped from the previous quarter; and the entire financial and tech world is saying that Apple’s growth period is over.

Really…?? Y’all can dope that out after just ONE bad quarter?

Wow.

I bow to your superior analytical skills…

But let’s look at the facts

“Apple shipped 51.1 million units, which isn’t as bad as was expected (the figure to beat was 50.7 million units).” While the figure represents a 32% drop over the previous quarter and a 16% drop over the same quarter last year, Apple still beat the advice it sent to the Street by about 400,000 units. And while sales of the iPhone SE haven’t made up the difference (causing some to think that it’s not a big a hit with consumers – which it may not be… ) it still represents Apple’s 4th best iPhone quarter to date.

iPhone Sales

Sooooo… lemme get this straight – this is the first “bad” quarter in 8 years, because sales are down (and perhaps, down significantly…), but it’s the 4th best iPhone sales quarter EVER… so “repent for the end is near…?”

Really??

Articles like the one(s) I’ve sited in this section really piss me off… They spout and spew all kinds of “statistical” information, but ultimately only reflect a single data point. When you can show a steady, revenue bleeding, cash drop, like the one at Blackberry (click the “ALL” link under the graph), then, yeah… you may have a point.

BB Shares

One quarter, however, where you don’t sell through the roof, doesn’t mean that the party’s over.

Apple Seeds New Betas to Developers and to the Public
Third betas of both OS X 10.11.5 and iOS 9.3.2 have been sent out to both Apple’s developer community and to those consumers who’ve signed up for the Apple Beta program.

Both updates seem to be concentrating on security and performance improvements as well as bug fixes.

Apple vs. FBI
Oy!

Sometimes I really people would just grow up.

Yes, I’m getting a bit salty about all of this. This is another one where I think my 4 year old granddaughter has more maturity than some of the players in this mess…

Feinstein-Burr: Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016
In the wake of all of this, “unlock this phone – no, you can’t make me” hullaballoo, perhaps the biggest reason why non-technical people shouldn’t draft or sponsor legislation rooted in technical issues has come to light.

Now, quite honestly, this is (probably) the biggest piece of crap that I’ve ever really seen come out of Capitol Hill. Senators Diane Feinstein and Richard Burr have drafted the Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016. The bill, in short basically states that if properly ordered to, people must comply with any court order for data; and if that data is “unintelligible” – i.e. encrypted – then it must be decrypted by the party ordered to provide it.

This bill would make consumer controlled encryption, like the kind in the iPhone or in WhatsApp, illegal. It outlaws end-to-end encryption.

This type of logic is the same type of logic used to justify gun control laws in the US – if you’re not doing anything illegal then you don’t need [guns, encryption].

That type of logic is the first step to tyranny, as the language in the draft legislation indicates that the obligation of persons cited in the order must provide “assistance as is necessary.” This language indicates that “the bill goes beyond the current laws that the government has used to try to compel tech firms to help with data access such as the All Writs Act.

Even more disturbing and concerning, the draft bill also includes the requirement that any licensed distributors must also ensure that all “products, services, applications or software” they distribute must provide the same easy access for law enforcement, which means that Apple is responsible for unlocking encrypted data from encrypted apps when the author cannot, will not, or the US has no jurisdiction to compel them to do so. This means that Apple has to vet every app and make sure it has been backdoored or has weak enough security so it can comply with the request.

The bill is so badly written and steeped in privacy and technology issues that the White House has officially declined to publicly support it. At least the current administration is savvy enough to identify a stinker when they see it…

FBI Can’t and Won’t Share iPhone 5c Exploit
This is just sad…

The FBI has officially stated that it can’t and won’t share the method it used to hack into Farook’s iPhone 5c. While they paid over $1.3M for the method, apparently, they didn’t purchase the RIGHTS to the method, and therefore, they can’t disclose it.

AND per their own admission, they also aren’t smart enough to figure it out on their own, either.

And don’t get me started on the usefulness of what they found, either… because they didn’t find a bloody thing.

While some people will say this is also a good thing – they didn’t get instructions or information from any domestic or international terrorist network while planning or committing their crimes – I don’t know if THAT tidbit was enough to justify not only the price, but the whole $**t storm as well. In the end, this seems to be a huge cluster bump. I’m not saying that the FBI did the wrong thing in this issue, but I do think they picked a very poor test case to press this issue with.

Apple Issues Statement on Body Found in Conference Room
Yesterday, a body was found in an Apple conference room at 1 Infinite Loop, and unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of information on the discovery made available to the public.

The Santa Clara Sheriff’s office has confirmed that the body found was male and that no foul play was involved. The cause of death has not been released; and the name of the deceased has not been revealed.

There was a lot of confusion wrapped around this issue with a number of different reports about more than one person involved, some kind of crime or foul play, blood on more than one person and a 911 call. Thankfully, that appears to all have been either refuted or corrected. Unfortunately, everyone is being very tight lipped about the entire situation. It isn’t often that someone passes away at work. The only reason why this is getting any press, is, unfortunately because it happened on an Apple campus.

Apple released the following statement on the issue. While it doesn’t go into any kind of detail on what happened, it does show their support for the victim and his loved ones:

“We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of a young and talented coworker. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends, including the many people he worked with here at Apple. We are working to support them however we can in this difficult time.”

What do you think of all of this? Is the news slow, or is it me? Do you have any comments on any of the items I covered here? Why don’t you join me in the Discussion Area, below, and give me your thoughts on it all.

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Keep caught up on the latest news with Next News Lock Screen

nextnews-logo-300If you’re like me, then you’re busy. Very busy. Down moments are either in between meetings, or often at night just before you go to bed. Yes. There are a few moments here and there, but there’s never really a chance to catch up on anything that may be happening in the world.

Often you have to make the most of those free moments of downtime between meetings, or during the morning or evening commute on a bus or train to and from the office. Its during these moments that I’m really glad I have Next News Lock Screen. Its an Android app that helps you catch up on the news in the world that interests you most.

Next News Lock Screen is a next generation lock screen that delivers the latest trending news, based on your reading and news category interests. You can choose news categories for sports, good, world news, technology, health, fashion, etc. You choose only the topics that interest you, and then you get the news, straight to your phone, complete with full screen color pictures.

Next News Lock Screen

There are some really cool features, here. First, the app displays a full screen pictures with a descriptive headline. The picture is digitally zoomed in so that it takes up the full screen. Depending on the size and pixel depth of the original, you may see some pixelation here, but every shot I’ve seen thus far has been big enough so that it doesn’t look bad. The picture, regardless of orientation is moved around the screen in some kind of “animation,” giving the display some life. If you want to see the whole picture, you can tap and slide up on the screen. You can cycle through available articles with a screen slide to the left or right. If you find an article you want to read, tap and hold it. Your default web browser will launch, with the article loaded. Its all very fast and very easy to use.

Next News Lock Screen is a really nice app. I’m very busy and often don’t have time to stop and check out news and other important information. However, I do often have a free moment to check mail and such on my phone. In those cases, I now can also scan the headlines without having to specifically do anything else – like start a new app – other than turn on my phone.

I did have a bit of trouble with this on my HTC One M8. I had some issues getting to the lock screen and then the app had issues downloading content when turning the device on at times. I think this may be Verizon or One M8 specific issue here in the States, however; and shouldn’t deter anyone from giving this app a shot. Verizon is a quirky US-based carrier, and they often make changes to device configurations that has been known to cause issues with some apps.

download NextNews Lock Screen

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iOS 7 Beta 3 Improvements or Status Quo?

ios_7_icon-250x249Beta 3 of Apple’s next version of its mobile OS – iOS 7 – was released on 2013-07-08. Let’s take a quick look at how things are progressing

 

 

Introduction

If you recall, I posted a tear down of Apple’s latest mobile operating system – iOS 7 – a few days ago. Beta 1 of the OS was usable, but it was painful. Beta 2 made things a bit better, but the experience was still FAR from what you would expect from a completed system, meaning that Apple still had a great bit of work to do. Apple released the third seed in its iOS 7 development effort on 2013-07-08. Let’s take a quick peek at how things are progressing.

Music App

The Music app has seen a slight redesign from Betas 1 and 2. It has new icons and a rearranged set of controls. Ratings have also been reimplemented. I have almost 10 gigabytes of music on my iPhone. Without a doubt, music takes up the bulk of my onboard storage. Every time I restore my iPhone, it takes quite a bit of time to sync all of my content back to the phone.

I installed iOS 7 Beta 3 Monday 2013-07-08, late in the evening. I went to bed before midnight. When I got up at 4:30am Central the next morning, I expected all of my content to be restored to the device. It wasn’t. I started the sync again and saw content come over to the device. While it didn’t finish the sync before I had to leave for work, about 1/2 of my music had been synchronized to the device. Unfortunately, I found that none of it was actually recognized as being on board. It became clear to me that in order to be able to listen to my music, I’d have to blow the device and set it up as a new iPhone. Thankfully, though that process took a while, it solved the problem.

iOS-7-beta-3-launched-with-problems

Podcasts

Apple’s Podcasts app is now functional. However, I initially had issues with my synched content being recognized by the app. As I stated above, it was for this reason that I had to blow my iPhone again, reinstall iOS 7 Beta 3 and setup my iPhone 5 as a new iPhone.

Calendar

Calendar’s Month View has been updated to include a display artifact to indicate which days have scheduled events. The Calendar app is still a bit touchy. Its force closed on me more than once when trying to go from the default Day View to Month View.

Redesigned Fonts

One of the biggest points made with iOS 7 is its redesigned interface, which includes a thinned out, flat look. Many of the fonts used in Betas 1 and 2 have been replaced in beta 3 with a heavier weighted font. While thinner fonts make for a cleaner interface, heavier fonts provide increased readability. This is a much welcomed change in Beta 3, as the display in the first two betas was difficult to read.

You can see clear evidence of the heavier fonts in Messages, Weather and Notification Center. You should also have an easier time reading the Settings menu as well.

Apple also increased the size of the font used in the status bar, making your carrier name, signal strength, remaining battery life , etc. easier to read.

Next Page

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Let’s Take a Look to the New Features of iPhone 5

Year by year, Apple hits us with a new, shiny iPhone. Let’s take a look at the brand new iPhone 5, which was just launched yesterday. First of all, it’s 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than previous models and it has a new 4-inch Retina display. The screen is a little bit taller, but you can still tap, type and scroll the same way you always have.

The new iPhone is powered by a new A6 chip which improves performance and power efficiency to deliver better battery life. With up to twice the CPU and graphics performance, the new iPhone promises to be really fast when launching apps and loading web pages (2.1X faster than before) and now with the supports for wireless standards including LTE and DC-HSDPA, you can browse, download and stream content much faster. iPhone 5 also works on GPRS, EDGE, EV-DO, HSPA and HSPA+.

Anodized aluminum body with diamond cut chamfered edges and glass inlays

The 8 megapixel iSight camera has been improved and features new panorama feature which lets you capture panorama images of up to 28 megapixels by simply moving the camera across a scene in one smooth motion. The video is still 1080p, but it has improved stabilization, video face detection for up to 10 faces and the ability to take still photos as you record. The front facing camera has also been improved and it can now record 720p HD video.

iPhone 5 features a new connector that is smaller and more durable than the previous connector and features an adaptive interface that uses only the signals that each accessory requires, and it’s reversible so you can easily connect to your accessories. Sure there is also an adapter for 30-pin compatibility, no worries.

iPhone 5 also introduces new enhanced audio features including a new beam-forming, directional microphone system for higher quality sound, while background noise fades away with new noise canceling technology. iPhone 5 now includes support for cellular wideband audio and more natural sounding speech.

iPhone 5 comes with iOS 6 which was optimized for the larger Retina display and with over 200 new user features including: an all new Maps app with Apple-designed cartography, turn-by-turn navigation and Flyover view; Facebook integration for Contacts and Calendar, with the ability to post directly from Notification Center; Passbook, the simplest way to get all your passes in one place; new Siri features, including support for more languages, easy access to sports scores, restaurant recommendations and movie listings; Siri and Facebook-enabled apps like Photos, Safari and Maps; and Shared Photo Streams via iCloud.

iPhone 5 comes in either white & silver or black & slate, and will be available in the US for a suggested retail price of $199 (US) for the 16GB model and $299 (US) for the 32GB model and $399 (US) for the 64GB model.

For more info, please visit the official webpage of iPhone 5.

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Windows 8 Release Preview Review

Microsoft has released the final peak at Windows 8, with its Release Preview. Let’s take a quick look at what’s been updated and see if Windows 8 is any better now than it was in the Consumer Preview.

Introduction
Microsoft released Windows 8 Release Preview on 31-May-12.  The sooner than expected release of the new software is supposed to add on to the stability, usability, etc., of the new operating system.  Based on my interaction with the software, I have a great deal of doubt that the new release of Windows 8 Release Preview, is in fact, a step forward.

From what I’ve seen so far since installing it over Windows 7 Ultimate on my Asus Eee PC T101MT convertible, touch netbook, the software has taken a huge step backwards in quality. After the initial install, which required not only the removal of Microsoft Security Essentials, most of the Asus T101MT bundled software and specific T101MT utilities that didn’t have Windows 8 upgrades yet, had to be removed in order to get the software to install.

Even after that, I still had to force the display to push 1024×768 resolution by default with the handy registry hack I mentioned last time. Without that hack, none of the Metro apps but Control Panel would run. Even after that; I bumped into a few interesting problems that are worth mentioning.

Installation
I’m going to mention this more than once, as it’s important to note – after installing Windows 8 Release Preview as an upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate, I blew the machine and rebuilt it with a clean, vanilla install of Windows 8.  Here’s why…

Windows 8’s PIM Metro Apps, specifically, Mail, People and Calendar, wouldn’t run.  However, it seemed that their Live Tiles still updated themselves and cycled through data, which I found confusing.  It’s clear; however, that the services that Windows 8 makes use of to feed its Live Tiles is separate from the Metro App’s ability to run, regardless of the minimum screen resolution requirements.

What I found the most frustrating about this, and I’m sorry I didn’t capture screen shots of it, was that the Metro Apps failed without any real reason. The error message they generated did contain a More Info link that directed me  to Microsoft Answers (Microsoft’s Windows 8 support site); but once you sign in with your soon-to-be-rebranded Windows Live ID, you got an error message from Microsoft Answers indicating that you weren’t authorized to view the noted data.

Really?!?  I’m not authorized??  Thank you. That’s just too awesome…

I also found that the Camera Metro App also still generated the BSoD it had in the Consumer Preview.

I got fed up.  I decided to blow the machine back to factory fresh and then reinstall Windows 8 from scratch, replacing Windows 7 Starter Edition with a clean, vanilla install of Windows 8. This would effectively nuke the PC (leaving the Windows 7-based recovery image) and make my T101MT a native Windows 8 PC.

With the PC in an upgraded condition, it was clearly unusable. The PC had wouldn’t run  Mail, People and Calendar. It was impossible to trouble shoot due to my not-authorized status with Microsoft Answers, and the camera still would not work.

With a clean Windows 8 install, the PC is usable, but it feels very unfinished, especially when compared to Windows 8 Consumer Preview.  The upgrade experience with it was much better than with Windows 8 Release Preview.

Continue reading…

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Eggrr a handy RSS tool

Sometimes you don’t want or need to read an entire article. Sometimes you just want to quickly skim the headlines. Sometimes, getting the internet to work for you can be difficult.  This is why I like Eggrr. It’s an easy to use RSS tool for Windows.

One of the nicest things about the internet is that it has a lot of information on it.  You can find subject matter on just about everything that interests you.  News, technology, video, audio…it’s all there, waiting for you to sort through it.  Eggrr is an RSS (really simple syndication) aggregator. It gather’s content in specific categories and presents summaries to you. If you want more, you can surf to the article from within the application.  Eggrr can even pull down audio and video content, like podcasts, for you to listen to after they’ve been posted.

The application is easy to use, but we bumped into a couple of issues with it while installing and trying to use it. The application requires that you install Flash. Unfortunately, it wanted to install an outdated version of Flash.  It also requires a great deal of MS middleware (like .NET Framework) and the download and install of those components took nearly three times as long to pull down and install than the application did.

The app’s website also has very little information on the application itself. Finding out what it did and any other product or marketing information on it wasn’t really possible.  The best way to learn about it is to install it and give it a go; but not everyone wants to learn about products that way.

download Eggrr

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Last week’s highlights #01

It was a crowdy week in terms of new releases but somehow shadowed by the death of Steve Jobs and the release of iPhone 4S. Therefore we made for you a round-up of some highlight products and news.

Google Chrome is coming to Android

As expected by many, Chrome will be launched for Android too and it might happen in October 11. The information comes from Chromium Code website where we also found out that the Android version of Chrome will include most desktop functions and support for 2D Skia – a complete 2D graphic library for drawing Text, Geometries, and Images that Google has been hard at work on.

Back to October 11, Google has an event partner with Samsung with the debut of Nexus Prime and Ice Cream Sandwich and maybe, Chrome for Android makes an appearance. I believe that the Android version Chrome will be available through Android Market and it will also come as an option to the stock Android browser right out of the box for the latest version of Android, but this is just a hunch.
Make and share screenshots with Ashampoo Snap 5

This program allows you to easily take screenshots of various regions, websites, or even specific windows on your desktop with just a few clicks. Within the same interface you can use several tools for editing. In this way you can easily add images, notes, texts, markings, and watermarks to your screenshots. Even for saving or exporting the screenshots you’ll get a complete set of tools. You can share your screenshots within the program by email, by saving them to the clipboard or a file or just print them. Moreover, you can now upload your result directly to Facebook or YouTube.

download Ashampoo Snap 5
Get rid of malware with the latest version of Emsisoft Anti-Malware

The best way to protect yourself is with a virus or malware scanner. Emsisoft Anti-Malware (previously known as a-squared Free) is a program that can be a good choice to scan and remove malicious software from your PC. The new version comes with great improvements and completely re-written dual scan engine for multi-core optimizations which brings a huge speed improvement on average, with the same things being scanned. Also, the false positive handling was improved too and now with the latest version, there is a caching system which makes the scanning faster with every scan.

download Emsisoft Anit-Malware
Avira Antivirus 2012 the basic trusted protector

Avira Internet Security comes with an improved interface with many visual changes that reflect the status of the most critical components you use. The entire status panel has been redesigned in order to allow a fast configuration and control of all options and features. In case of emergency, the casual user will not be bothered with dozens of settings because now Avira can decide what needs to be done to protect the your computer. And this can be done with only one click: Fix problem.

download Avira Free Antivirus 2012
The father of the post-PC era is dead

Last week Steven Paul Jobs (Co-founder and former Apple’s CEO) died of cancer at age 56. The world has lost one of the most influential and visionary character of the modern digital era, an entrepreneur and inventor who managed to change the consumer’s mentality in latter years through revolutionary products such as: iPod and the iTunes service, iPhone, iPad, or the latest generation of MacBook Air.

 

Ashampoo Photo Commander – all-in-one app for editing, organizing, sharing, and presenting photos

We all edit our photos in one way or the other. Either simply to remove the “red eyes” from our photos, either to resize, crop or rotate them. Ashampoo Photo Commander is a comprehensive photo tool that covers all that you need to edit, optimize or quick fix your photos, but it also offers all the features to organize, share and even present your digital photos.

download Ashampoo Photo Commander

 

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