Remember what a huge success HP’s Touchpad was? Of course you don’t because it wasn’t a success. That is until they dropped the price to next to nothing, – $99 to be exact. All of the sudden they were the hottest thing around. Well, at least until they were all gone. Since then, the mill has been spitting out rumors that more of these low priced gems would be forthcoming. Many people have been on the lookout for this elusive creature, but it hasn’t been spotted by many since the initial sale.
This is all about to change, and starting November 1st Best Buy is promising to have the HP Touchpad 32 GB device available for $149.00. Now, before you run out to stand in line there is one thing you should know, there’s a catch. To snatch one of these devices at such a low price you will need to buy a new HP PC. Yep, you can only get the Touchpad if you buy a new HP PC. So if you are in the market for a new PC and you want an HP and have an extra 149 bucks, it looks like November 1st might be your lucky day. But, might I suggest you scrounge up another 50 bucks and just get a Kindle Fire?
So you have one of those shiny iPad 2s do you? You keep it close to your heart and store your life on the thing don’t you? You aren’t afraid of the wrong person getting their hands on that information because you have a passcode on it. You even went so far as to enable a more complex passcode, and you enabled the feature that will wipe your iPad if the wrong passcode is entered ten times in a row. While all that is well and good, you might not be as safe as you think you are.
It turns out that all one needs to unlock your iPad 2 is a smart cover. If you happen to be using one of those already, then you have done half the work for them. Here’s how it works. On an iPad 2 that is locked, hold the power button until the shutdown slider appears and then simply close and open the the smart cover. Voila, I iPad is unlocked. It’s a neat trick if you forgot your passcode, but no so neat if someone else gets their hands on your iPad.
I am sure this will be addressed rather quickly by Apple. They seem to be pretty responsive to things like this. This is just one more reason to make sure you stay up to date with the IOS updates. Remember, you are only as safe as the code you are running.
The next time you use your computer, you may want to make sure your cell phone isn’t near you. It seems that someone at Georgia Tech had too much time on their hands and figured out how to use a Smartphone to figure out what keys you are pressing on a nearby keyboard. One would assume that this is done by having the phone’s microphone listen and determine the keystrokes based on the sounds it hears, but it doesn’t. This new trick uses the accelerometer of all things. It “listens” to the vibrations that each keystroke makes.
The folks over at Georgia Tech used an iPhone 4 for their tests. They had tried an iPhone 3, but the results weren’t as good. Thanks to the gyroscope in the iPhone 4, the results were much better. In fact, the iPhone 4 was able to achieved an 80% accuracy rate. While that’s not perfect, I would rather someone not know 80% of what I typed. Just think if someone knew 80% of your passwords? 1% is too much in my book.
There is no reason for you to become immediately concerned about this new hacking technique. There have been no reports of it being used in the wild yet, and in order for it to work the hacker would either need to get the software loaded on your phone and have it send the results back to him, or they would have to leave their phone next to your keyboard. By the way, it would have to be real close to the keyboard, like no more than three inches from the keyboard.
While this technique doesn’t seem to be a real threat for anyone right now, I think I will be keeping my cell phone in my pocket the next time I type my password.
You may have heard by now that Amazon has announced a new tablet. The Kindle Fire is suppose to start shipping November 15th. This new device includes a new kind of web browser that offers higher speed browsing than normal. It does this by offloading much of the work to servers that Amazon owns. This means that everything you do on the browser is sent to Amazon. This information is also stored for up to 30 days. As you can imagine, this is concerning to some people. I am good with that. I get it. What I don’t get is why some members of congress feel it is their job to get all up in arms about this.
Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts is very concerned about this and has sent a letter to Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO) with a number of fairly good questions. Many of which can be answered simply by reading the Kindle Fire details on Amazon’s website. He wants to know how the data is being used, if a user can opt out, and so on. Like I said, many of these things can be found on Amazon’s website. The short answer to most of these concerns is simple. If you don’t want your information tracked, then turn it off. That’s right, you can turn it off. However, if you choose to do so, the web browsing speed will be reduce – not because Amazon wants to punish you – but because you won’t be using Amazon’s servers. You can still surf, just not as fast. It’s your call.
Here’s the other thing. This isn’t all that new. Other browsers such as Skyfire and Opera Mini are doing things very similar to this. Why is it only now that Congress is concerned about this? My guess is because they just heard about it and it sounds like something everyone will get on board with. I mean, how can you be upset with someone that just wants to protect you privacy?
So why does this concern me? I guess I always fear things that are seen as being broken get over-fixed and new problems (or limitations) are created. But really, it comes down to this: It’s my job to protect my privacy, and it’s your job to protect yours. If you are willing to give up some of that privacy to have a faster web browser than that is your choice. People do it everyday when they sign up for those frequent shopper cards so that they can save 50 cents on their next purchase.
Some will say that the average buyer of the device may not know that this information is being tracked. Amazon isn’t hiding this information. Anyone that takes a few minutes to read what the device is all about will learn about this. In the end, no one will ever be able to protect your privacy as good as you can, not even Congress.
Last week Apple released IOS 5, which included over 200 new features, but there was only one that I was really interested in. With IOS 5, an iPad 2, and an Apple TV, you are able to wirelessly stream anything that is on your iPad to your TV.
The uses for this are larger than one might think at first. Sure you can stream your photos and videos, but that’s not really new. You could do that type of streaming even before IOS 5. Now you can stream ANY app that is running on the iPad. At first I had high hopes for this when it came to games. Unfortunately, the stream has a slight delay, which makes it tough to play games that require quick reactions. However, if you are watching a video on a website, you can share it with the whole room or you could use it with a flash card app to help your children learn their multiplication tables. The various uses are limited only by the apps and your creativity.
I expect to see some apps come out shortly that take advantage of this feature, but what I really want to see is a device that attaches to the TV and allows you to use the TV as the iPad input device. We have seen those large touch screens that the weather reporters use on the morning shows. Imagine having something like that hooked up to the iPad.
I think the way people use this feature will vary from simply watching videos to doing all sorts things. For instance, my wife and I don’t get the Sunday paper anymore. We sit in the living room on Sunday mornings and view ads on the TV via the iPad. Isn’t technology great?!
I have to admit, I am feeling a little sad today. I read the news of the passing of Steve Jobs last night, and I was surprised by how it hit me. I mean, I guess we all knew he was sick, but it still shocked me. I guess that is what happens when someone larger than life passes.
I have to admit, I was never an Apple fan. I use to purposely avoid the Apple aisles of Fry’s and CompUSA (oh how I miss CompUSA). But then something changed when I finally decided to buy an iPod Touch. The device was simply amazing to me. Not that it was so revolutionary, but that someone finally got it right. It’s like someone looked inside my mind and saw exactly what I would want a device to be. I later purchased an iPhone, Macbook, and an iPad. I wouldn’t say I am a fanboy, but I really am impressed with Apple products. I still use a PC everyday, and I also have an Android tablet.
There are a lot of people out there that dislike Apple product simply because they are Apple products. I know because I used to be one. There are also people out there that love Apple products simply because they are Apple products. However, somewhere in the middle there are people that love SOME Apple products because, as Steve said, “It just works” and yes, sometimes they even feel magical.
If you are one of those people that dislike Apple products and have never tried one, I urge you to do so. Not because it is magical and will change your life, but because in trying new things we learn to let go of some of our unfounded prejudice and learn that new is not always bad. I know for myself that once I tried an Apple product and found that I liked it I was more open to things that I had once dismissed for no valid reason. As a matter of fact, the reason I own an Android device is more due to Apple than it is to Google.
Not often will a man with vision like Steve Jobs pass though this world, but as Dr. Seuss said, “Don’t be sad because it is over. Smile because it happened.” Steve, thanks for everything. Rest In Peace.
It’s Friday. It’s been a long, hard week. Heck it’s been a long, hard month, and we are finally at the end of it. I figured we could all use a little mindless fun. Remember floppy drives? Remember the noises they used to make when reading a disk? Do you ever miss that sound? Me neither, but what you are about to see may make you a little nostalgic.
Someone took the time to create a program that turns those floppy drive noises into something that resembles the theme to the original Star Wars. While watching this you will either be amazed by the talent that it took to created this or sadden by the fact that such talent was used to makes this. For me, I was just amazed and thankful to the individual that created this for helping make this day, this week, this month end with a smile.
Happy Friday and enjoy!
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Nowadays life is pretty busy, and we all have a ton of things to keep track of so we make lists – lots of lists. Lately I have so many lists that I had to make a list just to keep track of my lists. Software developers have decided to help us by creating hundreds of different software applications that allow us to make lists. While these apps are all well and good, most seem to fail me. Like many people, I use several computing devices throughout the day and never know what one I will be using when I need to add something to one of my lists. Fortunately, I just found an app that promises to solve this problem.
The app is called Wunderlist, and it is available for the PC, MAC, iPad, iPhone, Linux, and android devices. For me the beauty of the app is its simplicity. It does just one thing and does it very well. It also allows you to sync your lists across all the devices. There really isn’t much more to say about this app. It is one of those simple things that can really help in your daily life. If you are like me and find yourself with a few too many things to keep track of, give Wunderlist a try. It might just be the answer for you.
Unless you have been off of the planet for a few months, I am sure you have noticed that nearly every week one company or another is releasing a tablet of some type. For the most part there are two types of tablets, the iPad and all the other ones, also known as Android devices. I have been keeping an eye on what is coming out in the Android world because the potential seems huge. The hope was that since the Android OS is open source, the price of these devices would be very competitive. However, when you compare the similarly equipped Android devices to iPads, the price difference isn’t enough to sway many people one way or the other.
Well, this morning at about 7:20am (PDT) all that may have changed. Amazon announced the new Kindle Fire. It is essentially a tablet that isn’t being told it’s a tablet. If you search the Kindle Fire web page, you will only find the word tablet once on the entire page. It’s buried under the technical details in the “Included in the Box” section. I find this very interesting. It is almost as if they are trying to stay away from a term that has been used to describe many “less than successful” products.
The device does run Android, which allows it to run many Android apps. You can also view movies, play songs, surf the Internet and, of course, read books. For the most part you can do the majority of the things you would typically do on a tablet.
So why does this matter to you? THE PRICE! Yep, you can get your hands on one of these for a mere $199. Well, you can’t really get your hands on one yet. They don’t ship until 11/15, but you can pre-order one today. In addition to announcing the Kindle Fire, Amazon also announced that there is now a $79 Kindle. It is pretty much just an e-reader, but it’s only $79! I wonder how many of those are going to be stuffed into stockings this Christmas? You can be sure that other manufacturers are scrambling to try to figure out how they, too, can produce and sell a product like this and make a profit. I am not saying that the next iPad will be priced at $199, but this will have to impact the price of future tablets.
Rumor has it that the build cost for the device is around $188. If you are wondering how Amazon expects to make money when they sell it near cost, just think Gillette. You know that old saying, “Give away the razor and sell the blades.” The Kindle is a content delivery device. Much of the content is going to have to be purchased and the most likely place to buy it from will be Amazon
There are many more details to this device, which I am not going to go into. If you want to get those details, just hop on over to Amazon.com. Personally, I don’t think that any of those details are as important as the fact that what looks to be a very nice tablet has just entered the sub $200 arena.
If you read my blog very often, you probably think I am obsessed with cut and paste. I have written a few times in the past about cross-platform cut and paste solutions. The reason I may appear to be obsessed with cut and paste is because I commonly use two PCs, a MAC, and two tablets throughout a typical day. Recently I installed a personal cloud at home so that I can store all my files in a central location and access them from any device, but I still have the need to send small snippets of text between them.
A few weeks ago I started using a service called Clipray.net. It is a very simple service that allows you to paste text in a text box and then access it on another device. Basically the way it works is you create a clipray page by entering clipray.net/ followed by a unique set of characters. For example, clipray.net/12asde will create a page called 12asde. At this point, simply enter the text into the text box and click save. Now go to the other device and enter the same URL you just used. The text will appear in the text box. From here simply copy it and use it as you please.. There is also an IOS and Android app for the service that allows you to cut and paste between phone and tablet devices as well.
One thing to keep in mind is that there is no security so anyone that happens to enter the same page name as you will see your text. To help avoid this I recommend using a combination of letters and numbers for the page name and make sure you delete the text from the page when you are done.