When I sat down today to write a blog, I did the same thing I always do. I opened my bookmarks menu so that I could quickly navigate to my blog login page. To my horror there were no bookmarks. That’s when I remembered I was on the PC that crashed a few day ago, and I had to rebuild. Hence, all the bookmarks were gone. Fortunately, I had all the bookmarks on my MAC. I am also fortunate that I use FireFox.
Firefox has a very cool feature simply called sync. You can use it to sync your bookmarks, tabs, password, preferences, and history. I mainly use it to sync my bookmarks, but nearly everything can be synced if you like. Using it is very simple. On the PC that has the bookmarks, which we will call the master, navigate to Tools>Setup Sync. Select Create a New Account and enter an email address and password. On the other PC navigate to the same location but select Connect. A 12 character code appears. On the master PC, navigate to Tools>Options>Sync and select Add a Device. Now enter the 12 character code that is on the other PC. Click Next and in a few moments the sync will be complete and you will have all your bookmarks on both systems.
If you are like the majority of computer users, you use Microsoft Office suite. If you own an iPad, there are times you need to open an Office document on it. While there are a number of apps that allow you to view and edit Office documents, none of them seem as good as the true Microsoft Office program. Now thanks to an app called OnLive Desktop, you can run Microsoft Office programs on your iPad.
To be honest, Office doesn’t run on the iPad rather it runs on a virtual Windows 7 server in the cloud. When you launch the app, you login to the virtual machine and are able to run the Office suite and a number of other Window programs. I have used a number of apps that allow you to remote into a PC so the experience isn’t entirely new, but this is the first one that I have used that made it feel like Windows was actually running on the iPad.
The app is free, and the only thing you need to do to use the service is create a free account at Onlive.com. When you first go to this site, you may think you are at the wrong place because it looks like a Game site. That would be because, for the most part, it is. OnLive is primarily a service that allows gamers to play a number of games remotely. They just recently moved into the remote computing space, and it looks to me like they did a very good job. Currently there is no charge for the service, but I can’t believe that will last forever. Hurry up and give it a try while it’s still free.
2011 was filled with news in the world of technology. Here are just a few of the topics that stand out in my mind.
Biggest Vaporware – iPhone 5, or as I like to call it, the iPhone that never was.
Give away the Razor - Kindle Fire, it is funny how Amazon goes to great lengths to not call what is obviously a tablet, a tablet. But what tops that is the fact that they reportedly sell it below cost. The thought being that the profit will be made up by the sales of books, apps, and other media people will buy for it.
CD Not Included - Mac App Store and Apple made a huge shift in software distribution with the launch of the App Store for the Mac. Now it makes so much more sense why my MacBook Air doesn’t have any drives.
Tablets, Tablets, Everywhere But Still Only One - I am not sure if this will go down as the year of the tablet, but there sure were a lot of them released. The king, however, is still the iPad. It will be interesting to see if anything can unseat it next year.
Smart Phone Anyone? – If this wasn’t the year of the tablet, it has to be the year of the smart phone. It seems EVERYONE has one now, even those that you never imagined having one before. However, as long as my brother-in-law is around, there will be at least one camera-less flip phone.
Greatest Loss - This year the tech world loss a great visionary, Steve Jobs. No matter what side of the Apple camp people are on, they almost all agree that tech just won’t be the same without him.
Happy New Year!
A company called Republic wireless is promising to turn the cellular world upside down or die trying. They offer an unlimited voice and data plan for only $20 a month. If you are anything like me you are asking, “OK, what’s the catch?” To be honest, there doesn’t seem to be much of one.
When the plan was first announced, they said that, while the plan was “unlimited,” customers were expected to use WiFi instead of 3G most of the time and if you didn’t, then the plan wouldn’t be so “unlimited.” The idea was that if you used a much larger amount of cellular time (voice or data) you could be cut off. However, the company has changed the tone on that, at least during the beta. Anyone that is a member of the beta now has a truly unlimited plan. Republic promises that all members will continue to have unlimited access at least until the end of the beta. I actually think it is best explained in their own words. Here’s a clip from a recent post on Replubic’s blog:
“Everyone who has purchased or purchases a phone during beta will be guaranteed the opportunity to enjoy unlimited service, without fear of cancellation, until the end of beta. We won’t end beta until we either achieve economic sustainability or become convinced that doing so is impossible.”
It sounds like what they are saying is, “we are going to offer unlimited cellular for 20 bucks a month until we run out of money.” But maybe I am just being cynical because I didn’t get in on the beta. Seriously though, I really do hope they are successful. We really could use a shake up in the cellular world and something like this just might do it.
I am not sure, but I sometimes think people have forgotten how to use a telephone to actually make a call. As cell phones have evolved, more and more features have been added to them making them a much more useful device. I have no problem with that. As a matter of fact, I am sure I use my phone to surf the web far more than I do to talk to someone. However, for the most part, when I need to talk to someone, I actually dial their number and talk to them, not send them a text. Don’t get me wrong, I do text, but not in place of talking to someone. Far too often I have seen people text each other back and forth for a half an hour to communicate something that could have been done in less than five minutes by actually talking.
This got me thinking, how much does it really cost to text when you account for all of the factors, such as time, loss of productivity, miscommunication, etc? Since there are so many factors, it is hard to calculate, but I am sure that if anyone ever did a study on this the real cost of texting would be alarming. While I was researching this topic, I did find one very interesting fact. When you take a hard look at what carriers charge to send a text, it is staggering, some many even call it criminal. People that don’t have some type of texting plan are normally charged 20 cents per text. While that doesn’t seem that expensive, it is without a doubt the most expensive way to transmit data. Look at it this way, a text is normally 160 characters or less. This means it contains 160 bytes of data. A gigbyte of data is 1,073,741,824 bytes. When you do the math, you see that you can send around 6710886 text per gigabyte. When you multiply 6710866 by 20 (the cost of a single text) you find that a staggering $1,342,173.20 is charged for a single gigabyte worth of texting. I think I’ll just save about $1,342,173 and make a call next time.
Bookmarks are great. Without them there is no way I could keep track of all the sites I frequently visit. Sometimes I will create a bookmark for a page I want to view later or store for reference. As much as I like bookmarks, there is nothing more frustrating than clicking a bookmark and getting a 404 error because the page was moved or removed. Thanks to a service called BO.LT this isn’t a problem anymore.
BO.LT allows you to make a copy of pretty much any webpage. The copy is then stored on BO.LT’s servers, and you can retrieve it anytime you like. You can also add comments to these pages and share them with others. This is not a link to the actual web page, but rather a copy you are able to edit in a number of ways. If you desire, you can even remove some of the content (such as ads) or change links. When you add a comment, a sticky note type overlay is added to the page so others can see what it is.
So next time you want to save a page and know that is is still going to be there the next time you need it, give BO.LT a try.
Okay I admit it, at one time I jailbroke my iPhone. I hope the Apple gods can someday forgive me, but I had good reason – the OS had some major shortcomings. As the OS has matured, it has gotten better, much better – so much so that I find very few reasons to jailbreak. I know there are many that feel the only good iPhone is a jailbroke one. That’s cool, to each their own. I just found that it was a pain having to jump through the hoops of jailbreaking every time a new OS came out.
The one tweak I still find myself missing is SBSettings. This tweak allows quick access to settings such as brightness, WiFi, Bluetooth, etc. As of late, a number of developers have found ways to work inside Apple’s requirements and bring similar features to the non-jailbroke world.
Of the different solutions, my favorite is FlashLaunch. The apps allows you to configure eight quick launch buttons. These buttons can be configured to take you directly to specific settings pages. The neat thing that this app does, that I have seen done before, is that it allows you to launch itself from the notifications drop down. This means to get to any settings page, that I configured as a quick launch button, is as easy as a swipe and two taps.
You can also configure it to launch certain apps, start a call, or SMS. You can even start an email to a predefined recipient. While it isn’t as convenient as the real SBSettings, it is a lot easier to install than jailbreaking your phone.
Update – I just checked the app store and can’t seem to locate this app. Hopefully it is just a glitch and hasn’t been pulled down for some reason. In the meantime you checkout the Icon Project app which is similar, but instead of having eight quick launch buttons it allows you to create quick launch icons on your home screen.
There is one thing you can be sure of when it comes to computers – they will eventually fail and most likely at the most inconvenient time. You know the time I am talking about, it’s when you waited until the last minute to write that proposal, term paper, or resume. It is a proven fact that computers have a 78.9 percent higher chance of failing two hours before a crucial deadline. Okay, maybe it isn’t exactly a proven fact, but it sure seems like it should be. It is bad enough that the thing is going to fail on you, in addition it will most likely going to take all your data with it. This is because far too often the problem is that the hard drive fails.
I have friends that have had several hard drives fail and they always ask why it seems that the hard drive fails before the rest of the computer. The answer is quite simple. It is one of the few things in the computer that has moving parts, and things that move are more likely to wear out than things that don’t move.
Because of the fact that hard drives are more likely to fail than say a processor, I have always been surprised that many manufactures have three and five year warranties on them. Well, that is about to come to an end, at least for some hard drives. Seagate and Western Digital have announced that they will be reducing the warranties on some of their drives starting in 2012. Seagate is going to lower warranty on some drives from five years to one year. Western Digtial is going to lower it from three years to two years on select drives.
Some are speculating that this is caused by a high level of drive failures while the companies claim it is being done to bring their product warranties inline with similar products in the industry. Regardless of the reason, I would suggest if you want to make sure your hard drive has a long warranty, you may want to add one your Christmas list.
The folks over at codecademy.com have created a nice way for those interested in getting their feet wet. It is one of the least intimidating introductions to coding I have ever seen. The first thing you are asked is to enter your name. With this simple task you have started coding. It takes many of the common programming concepts and presents them in a very simple and easy to understand way.
If you are reading this article and already know how to code, there is still a place for you on this site. They are currently looking for people to write additional courses. Why not share your knowledge with others and help grow the community of coders?
After having used the Kindle Fire for more than three weeks, I still like it as much as I did the day I got it, which is a lot. When I decided to get the Fire. I sold my Android tablet because I figured I didn’t need that and a Fire. While I don’t regret that decision, there are some things about the tablet that I miss. The biggest being the traditional android home screen. Amazon created their own home screen which is supposed to make it easier to navigate, and I guess it does do that. However, it also takes away one of the things that I felt made the Android home screen nicer than Apples IOS home screen, which is the widgets.
Widgets allow real time information to be displayed on the home screen. Things like your schedule, weather, and emails. The good news is that I found a way to get that traditional Android home screen running on the Kindle Fire which allows me to run widgets on it. It is really quite simple to do. What most people refer to as the home screen is really just an app that launches when you hit the home button. This app is called a launcher. There are a number of three party launchers so all you need to do is download one and set it as your default launcher.
While there are a number of launchers out there, not all of them play nice with the Fire. I settled on one called Go Launcher EX. I found it at the GetJar app store, and it is free. In order to install it you need to enable the installation of applications from unknown sources. This setting can be found in Settings>Device. Once you install it and hit the home button, you will be asked what launcher you want to use. Select the one you installed. Every time you press the home button you will be asked which launcher to use unless you click the check the Use by default for this action check box before selecting the desired launcher. Once you check this box, this will be the default launcher.
Once the alternate launcher is running, the Kindle Fire looks and acts a lot more like an Android tablet than it used to including the ability to run widgets on the home screen. However, if you try this and find that you miss the standard Fire launcher, you can always got back to it. All you have to do is go to Settings>Applications and select the launcher you installed. Next click the Clear defaults button under the Launch by default section. The next time you hit the home button you will be asked what launcher you want to use. Check the Use by default for this action check box and select the standard launcher which is called “Launcher.” Now you are back to the Fire home screen (launcher) you are used to. But why would you want that?