A compelling case for using a case

Posted by:
Date: Monday, February 10th, 2014, 08:03
Category: AppleCare, Cases, Consumer Electronics, iPad Air, iPad mini, iPhone, Mobile Phone

shattered-ipadIf you stacked one of every different mobile device case end to end, I bet it would reach Mars. Ok, maybe not, but there are an overwhelming number of choices for protecting your device. Even with all the options, ranging in price from just a few dollars to hundreds of dollars, many people choose not to get a case of any kind. With the first couple of iPhones, especially the original, even I was reluctant to cover up Apple’s designs with some ugly chunk of plastic. Once Apple started covering it all in glass, starting with the iPhone 4, I had to rethink this policy and have had some kind of case ever since. It doesn’t hurt that if you choose to sell your device later, a case can keep it looking almost new and fetch a higher resale price.

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Amazon has a plan to get into the mobile payments game

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Date: Friday, February 7th, 2014, 09:32
Category: Amazon, Finance, Mobile, retail, Services

amazon-logo-150x150It looks like Amazon is determined to expand out of the “virtual” retail space to get its foot in the door of brick-and-mortar stores. The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, has plans to0 equip retailers with Kindle tablets with credit card readers for accepting payments, possibly in exchange for web site development and data analysis. Trying to push its way into traditional retail spaces means Amazon will be pitting itself against much larger companies that provide checkout and POS (Point Of Sale) systems to large retailers, which may require Amazon to turn to smaller businesses. Even there, they are competing with companies like Square Inc., who have a big head start in that space. Amazon does have the benefit of allowing retailers that partner with them to offer promotions or discounts through Amazon.com or its Amazon Local daily deals offers. Amazon has a steep hill to climb, but Richard Crone who is chief executive of Crone Consulting, a payments advisory firm, makes a good point;

“At the end of the day, a merchant wants to make a sale, to drive up business. And if Amazon or anyone else can help them do that, that’s tough to turn away,”

Amazon will also be in a race with Apple, who is reportedly preparing its own blitz into the mobile payments game, offering the convenience of millions of customers with iPhones with the advantages of the iBeacon system. Even Amazon knows it’s not a sure thing. The WSJ mentions that, “Amazon’s plans remain fluid and the project might be delayed, altered or canceled, they said.”.

Review: First impressions of Pebble 2.0 and the appstore

Posted by:
Date: Friday, February 7th, 2014, 08:40
Category: Accessory, Apps, Consumer Electronics, Gadget, iOS, iPhone, Review, Software, Software, The Apple Core, Wearables

pebble-ios-7I’ve had a few days to work with the updated 2.0 firmware on the Pebble smartwatch and the updated iOS app which now features the new appstore. As far as app and watch face management go, the new iOS app is a huge improvement, but the appstore component still needs a bit of work. If you want to see a video about setting up a Pebble with the new iOS app plus a look at the new Pebble Steel (still saving up for mine), head over to the Apple Core where Jason O’Grady does an unboxing walk-through with Pebble’s latest product.

Hit the break for the rest of my look at the software side of the Pebble.

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Tired of using English on your Mac? Try Klingon!

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Date: Thursday, February 6th, 2014, 09:44
Category: Desktop Mac, Fun, How-To, User Interface

Klingon_EmpireI ran across this tidbit on FairerPlatform, but I really should have already known this already (shame on me). Among the many languages your Mac can support and display, such as Latvian, Russian, and Swahili; believe it or not, it can also do Klingon, the well known warrior race from Star Trek. To use the Klingon language on your Mac, go to System Preferences > Language & Region and, under the “Preferred Languages” box, click the “+” (plus) button. Then scroll down, until you find “tlhlngan Hol” (Klingon). Then select it and click add. The Mac will ask if you want to use Klingon or English as the primary language. Before that, however, you’ll need to download the appropriate fonts to install on your computer. Just make sure you know how to actually read Klingon or know your way back to the language preferences first. If you want to learn Klingon, you can find a number of books on the subject on Amazon, and there are even Klingon dictionary apps for your iPhone on the App Store. FairerPlatform also found a link to a review for a Klingon keyboard, but apparently they were all recalled to the home planet of Qo’noS, because they can no longer be found anywhere (probably in part because it could only use a PS2 port). Don’t expect the PowerPage to go Klingon, at least not for another 250 years or so.

Qapla’!

Critical update for Flash released

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, February 6th, 2014, 09:56
Category: Hack, Mac, Malware, News, security, Software, Windows

adobe-flash-playerEarlier it was Java, now it has been discovered that Adobe’s Flash software also has a vulnerability that gives complete control over compromised systems to hackers. This vulnerability, fixed in the just released version 12.0.0.44, affects Adobe Flash Player 12.0.0.43 and earlier versions for Windows and Macintosh and Adobe Flash Player 11.2.202.335 and earlier versions for Linux, although Linux was listed as having a lower priority rating. Adobe has detailed the problem in a security bulletin. All users are recommended to update Flash on their computers, as well as Google’s Chrome browser which has it’s own Flash component. The version of Chrome that includes this fix is 32.0.1700.107 and should update this automatically, but you may have to restart the browser for the correct version to register in the “About Google Chrome” window. If you want to check which version you are running before going through the update process, you can go to this page on Adobe’s site. You can download OS specific installers from here. Windows users who browse the Web with anything other than Internet Explorer will need to apply two Flash updates, one for IE and one for any alternative browsers (Firefox, Opera, e.g.). Both updaters can be found on the download page. On a Mac, if you already have Flash installed, you can also go to the Flash Player settings in System Preferences and click on the Check for Updates button in the Advanced tab. Our friends at Kaspersky Labs make another appearance in the Acknowledgements of the security bulletin where Adobe thanks them for discovering the vulnerability;

“Adobe would like to thank the following individuals for reporting the relevant issues and for working with Adobe to help protect our customers:

Alexander Polyakov and Anton Ivanov of Kaspersky Labs (CVE-2014-0497)”

So if you’ve got the time now, and you probably should make the time, get those updaters downloaded and installed. Almost makes you want to remove both Java and Flash doesn’t it?

Satya Nadella named as new Microsoft CEO

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, February 6th, 2014, 08:40
Category: Announcement, Business, Microsoft

Satya-NadellaAfter a long guessing game about who would be the next CEO, Microsoft finally announced Tuesday that it was appointing Satya Nadella to the post and adding him as a member of the Board of Directors. Nadella, who has been at Microsoft for 22 years, previously held the position of Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group. He is replacing Steve Ballmer, who has held the position of CEO for 13 years following Bill Gates’ transition from CEO to Chairman of Microsoft’s Board of Directors in 2000. Ballmer will now take a position on the Board of Directors. Gates, meanwhile, makes another title change as he relinquishes his Chairman position to John Thompson and goes on to assume the role on the Board as Founder and Technology Advisor. There is still plenty of guessing and speculation to go around as everyone waits to see what possible fallout results from the announcement. Many speculate that some of Microsoft’s executives, who were in the running to take a seat in the CEO chair, may move on to jobs outside of Microsoft now that the decision is made. Also of interest will be Nadella’s vision for Microsoft now that he is in the driver’s seat.

New malicious Java app aims to infect Mac and Linux systems

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 4th, 2014, 09:34
Category: Announcement, Apple, Desktop Mac, Hack, Mac, Malware, OS X, security, Software

target-javaIt’s a long held belief that unless you are using the Windows platform, you are more or less immune to the average virus, trojan, or hack that you might encounter out in the wilds of the internet. There is some truth to the notion that Windows is more vulnerable to attacks, but there really is no such thing as safe, only safer. Check out this article on How-To Geek for a historical perspective on Windows’ malware woes. While Linux and OS X have more inherent defenses against infection, there are still some avenues that hackers can take advantage of to breach them, one of them being Java.

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Will subscribers of Amazon Prime still think it’s a good value at $119?

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Date: Tuesday, February 4th, 2014, 08:46
Category: Amazon, Business, Finance, Opinion, Services

amazon-money1Last Thursday, Amazon reported their holiday quarter earnings and things didn’t look good. Their overall revenue was up 20% at $25.59 billion but analysts expected sales to come in at  just over $26 billion. This sounds very similar to the report of Apple’s earnings, which were good, but given the thumbs down for not meeting analysts’ expectations?  Unfortunately, Amazon’s net income of $239 million missed estimates by a huge margin. During the call, Amazon cited the rising cost of fuel and transportation for the increase, as well as the high frequency of orders from Prime members. As a result, Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak suggested that it may raise the price of Amazon Prime memberships between $20 and $40 per year (currently $79), bringing the total annual cost of the service up to as much as $119.

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Pebble debuts its new appstore later today

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Date: Monday, February 3rd, 2014, 09:38
Category: Accessory, Announcement, App Store, Apple, Apps, iOS, iPhone, Software, Wearables

Pebble_notificationsLast Friday, via its Twitter account, Pebble announced that the release date for the new Pebble appstore would be today, Feb 3rd, at 10 AM PST. So, only a few hours to go until Pebble owners can start playing with the new goodies. The announcement indicates that only the iOS update to the Pebble companion app would be released today, with an Android update arriving soon. For those already using a Pebble smartwatch with their iPhone, you should see the update appearing in the iOS App Store app, ready for download, or automatically installed if you have background updating enabled.

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My Menubar: Bartender

Posted by:
Date: Monday, February 3rd, 2014, 08:07
Category: Apple, Apps, Mac, Mavericks, Review, Software, Software

Have you ever caught a glimpse of another user’s Mac and wondered what that one (or more), unrecognized icon in their menubar was for? I’d like to introduce a new segment where we explore just that, interesting tools or application extensions that live in your menubar. It’s part review and part demystification, where we introduce some new programs as well as buried OS X system menu items you may not have seen before. If you want to know why I think this might be an interesting software niche to explore, check out my current menubar;

menubar_sample

 

How many of those can you recognize? I’m sure there are a few, like the Wi-Fi icon and Spotlight, and hopefully we’ll clue you in on the rest eventually. There’s even a few that I don’t have running at the moment. As you can imagine, before I upgraded to a 27″ iMac, I had a few problems managing this many menubar items without running into some issues. Most frequent was when an app had enough menus to collide with the growing number of little icons encroaching from the right side of the screen. This would either result in the app’s menus being obscured, or the menubar items on the left end disappearing making them inaccessible. What’s a menubar item hoarder to do?!

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