Howard Thurman

good-dayThis weeks quote comes from Howard Thurman.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

This is the meaning of life (for the most part). It has been said many different ways, the other you may have heard is: “If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life.” If you like taking pictures do it, where would the world of photography be without an Ansel Adams or Annie Leibowitz? Where would the music world be without Mozart or Elvis? Everyone has a dream or something that they love, go do that. I am not saying to quit your job and chase this dream, but work toward doing your hearts desire. For example I changed careers a few years ago, I was a factory worker who was the typical worker bee. I got up, went to work, put in my eight hours, came home and started the cycle over. In retrospect I wasn’t living life, I was surviving. Then my factory position became obsolete and I had to go find a new job. I took this opportunity to do something different. I always had an aptitude for computers and electronics. I took this as a chance for me to start over.  So when I was offered training I jumped on computer training, so I could get a certificate saying I knew what I was doing. So here I am.

That is my story, what’s yours? I have a motto that I live by: “Life is to short to be miserable.” If you are not happy with your job or your life, change it for the better. What’s your story? Please share it in the comments.


Only one Jimi

Jimi_HendrixThis week’s quote comes from the great Jimi Hendrix.
“I’m the one that’s got to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to.”

This is a immensely powerful and important statement. In today’s environment, with the nanny state telling us what is good for us, this statement rings true. New York is passing laws because they want to eliminate sugary drinks. Why must people who don’t enjoy something, feel as though they must legislate what they deem to be good behavior. A good example is smoking. (Full disclosure – I am a reformed smoker) At one time, you could smoke anywhere. Then it was legislated that you can’t smoke in buildings, unless otherwise posted. Then you can’t smoke outside, and now there are states debating whether you can or cannot smoke in your own car. I haven’t even mentioned how these same states are punishing smokers by treating them like criminals, they continually raise taxes on cigarettes, to further punish smokers with the so-called “Sin Tax”. I guess that’s why I would not be a successful politician. I agree too much with Jimi. I think people should be allowed to live their life. This goes back to my primary mantra. “Life is too short to be miserable”. I think as long as your happiness doesn’t impede anyone else’s pursuit of happiness, what’s the harm? Back to smoking analogy, I can understand not being allowed to smoke in an office building, because you are invading someone else’s space. But if they are outside, they should be able to go for it. Now I am not saying to run out and start smoking, but it easily states my point. I think if you want to gamble with your health, that is your right. I don’t think it is the governments business any more than it is your employers business what you do in your free time. As long as it doesn’t impede your work performance, Go for it. So far, smoking is a sin, alcohol and sugary drinks are a sin, what is next? Why can’t we leave people to their own devices? Call it Darwinism. If people do things to harm themselves, that is their choice. That is my point for this entire post. Let’s not try to punish people into acting the way someone else feels is right. What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments.


Skate to the puck

WGThis week’s quote comes from Wayne Gretzky.
I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been – Wayne Gretzky.

This is terribly profound and can be applied to everyone. Everyone that is not focused on the present, is concerned with the past. How many times have you heard “That’s not how we have always done it”. If you are complacent in your life, how can you expect to get ahead? This isn’t to be confused with “Don’t dress for the job you have, but the job you want.” That implies that somehow the way you dress will magically make you better at your job. Wearing suits and so forth is a very east coast idea. If I had a company, I would much rather have a genius working for me wearing jeans and a t-shirt instead of a moron in a nice suit. (Sorry, had to get that off my chest, now back to the quote). For you to evolve as a person, this can be thought of as setting goals. For example I set a goal for myself that once a week I would write something for my blog. Goal set (and so far) achieved.

I understand this is a relatively small goal, but a goal just the same. In your professional career, you could decide to further your self in you current speciality and take some courses. (Especially if you employer has a tuition program.) Or take courses in a field you are interested in.

The bottom line is, life is way to short to be miserable. If you find yourself in a rut, that will tend to make you unhappy. Shaking stuff up every now and then makes life exciting.

Leave your thoughts in the comments.


Life is about creating yourself

life-isnt-about-finding-yourself-life-is-about-creating-yourselfThis weeks quote is from George Bernard Shaw

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

Beautiful and on target. There are too many people that are willing to let life happen to them, then complain that “Life is hard” instead of living life on your own terms. What do I mean by “living life on your own terms”. Many people hear this and think I mean you need to be a multimillionaire, jet setting all over the planet. (While this wouldn’t be a bad gig if you could get it) It means follow your bliss. Find that one thing that makes you happy and follow it. Personally, I like writing (as evidenced by the fact you are now reading it.) I know I am not a great writer, but I enjoy sharing my opinions with the world. If someone agrees with me that’s cool, but if they don’t that’s cool too. The point is in writing these blog posts I am making myself happy. It doesn’t cost me a dime. But I am doing what makes me happy.

When was the last time you did something just because it made you feel good? (Get you mind out of the gutter. You know that’s not what I meant). I mean something like taking a day and taking a bunch of pictures, shooting video of an interesting location or subject or breaking out the paints and creating a picture. Don’t allow anyone but yourself define you. Because when you let someone else control the narrative you are subject to the definition of you they have in their mind of what you should be or how you should act.

As always, leave your thoughts in the comments.


Garden Party

Be-Yourself-BrandBe more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are – John Wooden.

There are far too many people concerned what everybody thinks about them. In doing this they try to portray someone “tougher”, “meaner” or some other insane projection, other than what they really are. It is by far more important to develop character instead of a reputation. Reputation is great when you are young, everybody wants a “rep”. However in gaining that reputation, you lose sight of who you are and as you get older you either have to continue to live up to the reputation or spend all of your time trying to repair your reputation. In my opinion neither sounds fun. How about this… Be yourself. You have heard this mantra time and time again growing up. It is some of the best advise you can get. If you are yourself, there is no need to be something you are not. In addition to being yourself I would add, express yourself. If you think you are creative, create something. The trick is do what pleases you, not what you think you can sell or anything like that. If it makes you happy, at the end of the day that’s all that matters. You have created happiness for yourself, what more can you ask for? If others see it and can appreciate it, thats great. If they don’t it doesn’t matter. You achieved your goal in making happiness for yourself.

This is another one of the keys to life. Strive to make yourself happy. Like the song goes:

“But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well
You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself” -“Garden Party” was written by Ricky Nelson.

Truer words where never uttered. Many people try to be accepted by people in general, where I believe it is more important to be able to be comfortable with yourself. The only expectations you have to live up to are the ones you set for yourself. Once you are comfortable with yourself, being yourself with a group of people is a snap.


Blog Direction

I have come to notice that the things I write about on my blog tend to be all over the place. I have some articles on politics, computers, product reviews and so forth. This has been a long time in coming that I plan on refocusing my blog to be a more positive endeavor. I would write about computers, because I work with them and have a pretty good grasp on using them. But when I write about politics I tend to get angry and it stays with me for a while. But the last article I wrote, made me feel good. That’s when I decided that is the route I want to take. So from this point on I will strive to be more inspiring and less the angry nerd.

How am I planning on doing it? I think the best way would be to take an inspirational quote, then put my spin on it, hopefully inspiring a conversation in the comments. The last article I wrote “Bang into the walls” was based off of a quote from Steve Jobs. While I am a fan of many computer pioneers, like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, however my posts will not be relegated strictly to the world of computers. I will be using quotes from my heroes. Some are Military men, philosophers, Presidents, and you get the picture. So I ask that you give the new format a chance and let me know what you think. If you think this is a direction you would like to see the blog go in, leave your thoughts in the comments.


Bang into the Walls…

SteveI have been doing some reflecting on Steve Jobs quotes I came across. Everyone has seen the quotes “Here’s to the crazy ones…” or “I want to put a dent in the universe”. While both are great quotes, I think my favorite is: “When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life and try not to bash into the walls too much…that’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact—everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you…shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just going to live in it versus make your mark upon it. Once you learn that, you will never be the same again.”

This is basically what life is about. If you are afraid to “bang into the walls” you are not embracing life. What would have happened if “the crazy ones” would have not challenged the status quo? We would not have seen the genius of Rembrandt, Einstein or Jim Henson. Where would we be if these people never existed? The world would be a different place. If everyone lived in their own little world and never tried to improve it, we would have missed out on so many things, without the “crazy ones” you wouldn’t be reading this, because there wouldn’t be electricity let alone computers. Communication would be done through letters and not email, blogs or text messages.

Today I want to challenge EVERYONE, Bang into the walls. Make something. It doesn’t matter if it is a blog, a piece of art, or even improve an existing product the will help people. Those that just exist are not experiencing life, they are just existing and putting in the time waiting to die. Do SOMETHING! ANYTHING! Seize the world around you and make your mark on it. Then when you are gone the world will remember you. This is the secret to life. Live life in this way and you can become immortal.


Just say no…

Mona+LisaBack in the ’80’s “Just say no” was the slogan for the “War on drugs” I think that was misdirected. I think that should be used for the way children are coddled now. The fact that they are told from an early age that they are special little snow flakes for nothing. Or giving them ribbons or trophies just for participating. More and more frequently, we are witnessing the true results of this policy.

I am not saying that children aren’t the future or anything like that. However what I am saying is that when you run sports leagues that don’t keep score because it will hurt the child’s self esteem,  you are actually doing more harm to the child. Loss is part of life. Whether is is losing the soccer game, or the promotion or the loss of a family member, learning to cope with loss at an early part of life helps you as you get older. Examples of this can be found at the recent attacks at Franklin Regional High School in PA or at  the Jonathan Law High School in CT, one was allegedly caused by bullying, the other was due to rejection. This can all be traced back to the “You are a special snowflake” mentality. Let’s start with the first one at Franklin Regional. Bullies have been around since the beginning of time, EVERYONE at some point in their life had to deal with a bully. But it hasn’t been until recently that children were committing suicide and becoming violent.

In my opinion, you come off better to build a child’s sense of self-esteem than you are to try to force an elevated sense of self-esteem. Think about this, just about every school in this country has a “No bullying” policy, yet children are still being bullied. It makes more sense to teach the children how to deal with bullies instead of trying to “rule” it away. Here is a thought, instead of teaching a child they are a “Special snowflake”, how about teach them they are an artist and their life is a lump of clay or a blank canvas and as an artist they can make their life whatever they want it to be. If they want to strive to be great, their life could be the Mona Lisa or Venus De Milo. If they put less effort into it, it can be Picasso, or even less to the point where it is Sponge Bob.

It is important for children to set goals for themselves. Regardless if it is to get a base hit in a T-ball game or score a goal in a soccer game. You think you are helping them by not keeping score, but the kids that are driven to succeed, are the ones you are hurting. Instead of them trying to help the team win, they end up giving up with the attitude of, why am I trying? No one else has to work hard and everyone gets a trophy.

As for the case in CT, rejection is part of life, and instead of being able to handle rejection this kid takes a girls life simply because she said she wouldn’t go to the prom with him. Another problem I see is children today are too pampered. When I was in school and failed a test or class, I had to deal with my parents. I failed. Not the teacher, or the school, it was all on me. Now parents hold the teacher responsible because their child failed rather than the child for not doing the work. So what happens is that teachers don’t want the hassle of having to deal with these parents instead will pass them through to the next grade. (all along not helping the kid) then reports come out that the reading and math levels are so low no one can understand how this can happen.

I truly believe this mentality is the cause for many of the problems occurring in the world today, what do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments.


When is a tragedy not a tragedy?

DeathThis past week revered actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman died, as the result of an overdose of heroin. Many have called this event a tragedy, while nothing could be further from the truth. A tragedy, by definition is something that is unavoidable. For example a plane crash is a tragedy. When someone elects to subject themselves to a drug that has a history of taking the lives of users.

Every day an average of 9000 people die due to an overdose of heroin. I think the thing that bothers me is that the media is shocked, that the addict has died all the while hiding the fact that they have been abusing the drug for years. How many celebrities have been addicted, to or died due to heroin? This isn’t a new fad, which is so sad.

Back to my statement about tragedy, a tragedy is something that is unexpected. A car crash, a plane crash, a person being diagnosed with cancer. That is tragedy. A person that dies due to an overdose basically has to make an appointment. He or she has to do so with forethought. The world has lost so much talent due to heroin, Lately Cory Monteith, but in the past there was John Belushi, Chris Farley, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Sid Vicious, just to name a few. The sad part is they get to “enjoy” the media frenzy after their death. Sad as it may be, what about the rest of the people that die from heroin overdose that aren’t famous.

Those who are arrested for possession, or distribution, there is no punishment that would prevent them from continuing to deal this death. These celebrities, instead of crying crocodile tears at the death of their friend, why aren’t they in Washington, demanding stricter laws. Military operations to remove the poppy fields from other countries?

The only true tragedy of what happened this week as in in the past, the world will be deprived of lives that were taken to soon, not only those of the performers that have been lost, but as well as the everyday people. Parents that won’t get to see their children or grandchildren. How many will never know what their lives could have been? That would truly be the tragedy.

How many people have to die before there is a culture change?

My only hope is that Mr. Hoffman’s untimely death will cause his celebrity friends to take up this cause and put these death dealers out of business.


Is the Constitution on life support?

ConstitutionClipArtAfter sitting back and allowing the dust to settle in the Duck Dynasty vs gay individuals, I think it’s time for me to try and straighten out my thoughts on the matter. Why is it that a person offers a personal opinion on a question posed by a magazine (that knew the answer to said question going in), and the world has a melt down. At no time during the interview did Phil Roberson, did he advocate violence or hate toward homosexuals. (or anyone else for that matter) but the media lit up making Phil out to be a hateful homophobe. This is one of the things that I don;t understand. The media will defend any muslim country that has not only mentioned killing homosexuals but advocated stoning and hanging them. Where is the liberal media now? While it is cool to attack an American  with an opinion, it is sad. The constitution affords you the right to speak your mind.

It has gotten to the point in this country that you can have an opinion, as long as it is the same as everyone else’s. That is the part that bothers me. Many years ago I took an oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States. This latest debacle that is facing Phil Robertson is one of the most heinous direct attacks I have seen on the constitution in some time. How many things have been discounted when taken to court? The First Amendment guarantees the Freedom of speech, as well as the freedom of the religion. Neither of which did Phil violate. He simply said that according to his belief, homosexuality was wrong. He did not call for violence, or even shunning of people that pursue that lifestyle.

Now Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam has advocated torture and murder of homosexuals, where is the outcry from the liberal media? Is it because there is a fear of being deemed Islamophobia, or could it be considered racist because he is an Afro-American? I guess my question becomes does the “new improved” constitution only apply to minorities?

In the comments can someone please tell me what he said that was so wrong? Or better yet how it is more hate filled than what the Nation of Islam proclaims?


To MacPro or not to MacPro, that is the question

ProApple has finally released the long awaited MacPro. Based on the specifications, this machine is, for lack of a better word, monstrous. The introductory model starts with a 3.7GHz quad-core processor, 12GB of Ram, 256GB of flash storage, and dual AMD FirePro D300 GPUs with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM each.This is a great system, that starts out at $2999.00. It is roughly the size of a roll of paper towels. For the normal and even most power users, I would recommend that you pass on it. I know you are shocked. Where I have always been the Apple Fanboy, telling anyone that will listen to run out and but the new shiny Apple device. This is not that case. This machine has some of the best specifications I have found for any single device. That being said, for the normal user, the MacPro is a gross overkill. For a normal user that is using their Mac to edit pictures or iMovie, to Aperture or Final Cut Pro X. Pretty much any of the newer devices can   perform all of the functions that you are looking for, with the exception on maybe the MacBook Air. (Don’t take this as a slight on the MacBook Air, The Air is a great devices with 12 hours of battery life, but the processor is not as robust as that of the MackBook Pro or the iMac.) The new MacPro, is targeted just for this, Computer professionals. By that I mean users that are editing photos or video for a living. While these are devices are great, the “normal” user takes pictures, cleans them up and uploaded them to FaceBook or video to YouTube.

While this can be used I would suggest a $1,200 iMac, or an $1,200 MacBook Pro. If you need a device that can travel with you, The MacBook Pro is built to please. Not to say were one to be given to me that I would refuse it. Now that the entire Apple line has been released, which one are you looking for? As for me I run two. For my normal email, web surfing and so on, I use my MacBook Air with 8 GB of Ram, for more heavy lifting, such as  editing and compressing video, I use my iMac that has 12 GB Ram, and is my hub. (Many may remember Steve Jobs saying that the theory was the Mac would be the hub of your digital life and all of your peripherals were  going to be connected to the hub. It took me a few years to understand and grasp the concept, but now that has become a HUGE part of my workflow.)

So what do you Pro toll users think? To Mac Pro or to not Mac Pro?


Back to the future

back-to-the-future-deloreanWith 2013 behind us, we turn our focus to the future of Apple products. Any Apple enthusiast knows that 2014 will hold new Macs, iPods, iPhones, and iPads. That is expected every year. No one needs to be told that these products are going to be released, but what I want to talk about is rumors. With the amount of secrecy that Apple is known for, rumor mongering is almost a sport. Normally I take no stock in Apple rumors, however since this is the first post of 2014 I wanted to take a stab at my own rumor mongering.<p><strong>Apple TV’s </strong>- Not the normal Apple TV hockey puck sized device that Apple is selling but an actual Television. After Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs the rumor was started that Steve said that the had finally figured out how to do a TV. Since that time the world has been waiting to see what sort of vision the ultimate visionary had. The problem I see with that is while Steve was a visionary, he wasn’t that technical, so while he may have come up with a really cool idea, there is an entire process of taking a germination of an idea and bringing it to fruition.<p><strong>Apple Watch</strong> – During the “All things D” conference Time Cook was asked about the iWatch. Tim’s response was kind of cryptic, stating that wearables are “interesting”. Samsung rushed a watch to market that connects your phone to your watch. While it is mildly interesting, people are moving away from wearing watches. Most people use their phone as their watch. The other things that comes into play are style and price. Because it is Apple, you tend to believe the style will be there, but the problem then becomes functionality. The model that Samsung is using is that the watch connects to the phone via Bluetooth allowing you to do some rudimentary phone functions on the watch. Here is where the price problem comes into place. The Samsung device is $200.00 for the watch alone, then you still need to purchase the phone and phone plan. This is one that I would have to wait and see what the advantage of having the watch is. I can’t think of any scenario where I would want to rush out and get one, and I can’t.<p><strong>Software</strong> – If history is any indication, we can be sure that Mavericks will get an upgrade, as that has been Apples method of operation lately, so we can look forward to the Mavericks update. (I for one am not a fan of upgrading the OS so quickly. I do understand that Apple doesn’t want the OS to get too long in the tooth {See Windows XP}, at the same time, I think it would help shake some of the bugs out instead of just changing out the whole OS. In my opinion the whole move from Lion to Mavericks occurred a bit too quickly for my liking.) Seeing as Apple updated their productivity apps, iLife, Logic and Final Cut X, I would look to see Aperture get some Apple love.<p>What are your thoughts? Did I miss something? Lets here it in the comments.


A look at the past

pastAt the end of the year, I tend to be more nostalgic. I’m not sure why I got the idea to think about the past, but here we are.My generation is probably the last one to remember life without technology.

When growing up most in my neighborhood had only one television, and the idea of a remote control was the youngest in the room to turn the channel manually. Or how many remember that when the phone rang you never knew who was calling unless you answered it and had to be no further than 3 feet from the base. Wireless phones were on the horizon, but not anywhere near mainstream. Much less a phone that you would carry with you to be in constant contact with the world, and the only way that someone could find you would be to call around to all the places you normally frequented in hopes of finding you.

I remember a world where if you wanted to play a video game, you had to go to a video arcade. We never thought of having a video game system or a personal computer in your home. A mention of a video arcade to a child today would illicit some of the oddest looks you will ever see.

Most people don’t realize how the tech world has evolved in such a short amount of time. In fact did you know that the time from the first flight at Kitty hawk until the moon landing was only 57 years. Let that sink in for a second. Now let’s even go more recent. How about the space shuttle (which was awesome in its own right), had LESS processing power than the phone in your pocket. Speaking of cell phones, that is one technology that evolved quicker than most others. If you cab remember back to the first “car phones”, they had to have a special antenna and the handset looked like the Bakelite phone you had in your house, where nothing could be further than from the current iteration of cell phones that are in use today.

With the exception of computers and cell phones, it looks like once a device is invented, it gets “tweaked” a bit, then it hits a plateau, we have seen this with “landline” telephones and televisions. It has only been in the past few years that the television itself had really changed with the use of high definition.

While we are on the subject of television, there was the evolution from the Betamax to VHS to DVD to Blu-Ray. Speaking of evolutions how about the music industry. From records to 8-tracks to cassettes. Or in the portable world transistor radios to cassette walkmans, to portable CD players to MP3 Players, to iPods. The thing that feels so weird to me is all of these advances occurred during my lifetime. My children would vaguely remember the era of cassette tapes, where my grandchildren will know only of the world where MP3’s were the music medium.

I’m not even going to get into the computer world where a computer was the size of a room and shipped by a tractor trailer, to more powerful computer that fits in your pocket. (cell phone). I could go on and on about this, and it should be a conversation for a later time. I wanted to concentrate on the everyday technology in every household rather than focus only on the computer information.

This article was my trip down memory lane. What evolutions do you remember.


Remember the Information Superhighway

digital-information-highway-horizonBack in the 90’s the big buzzword was Information Superhighway popularized by then Vice-President Al Gore. While the vision at the time was grand, in reality it really wasn’t super. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good start, for example being able to send a message across the country in minutes rather than days. Then people got very exited about the internet causing them to invest, acquire and basically bet on every aspect of the internet. A lot of millionaires were reared at this time. Then the bubble burst, many of these companies died (for lack of a better word). I tend to think that the internet hasn’t realized its super power just yet. During the time of the recovery from the implosion of the internet market, it was rebranded 2.0. In computer terms that would be version 2 of some popular software, even though there were many iterations of the internet, but we’ll stick with this for now. At version 2.0 more and more web applications became database driven. One of the bigger additions was the CMS (Content Management System) with a CMS, you didn’t have to modify your web page as you did in previous iterations and with the emergence of WordPress and Blogger (and many more), one would just have to choose a pre-created theme and start adding content. Pretty cool, faster and easier than getting webspace, hiring or becoming a web developer, taking months to get a functioning website. Months have become minutes. One more big advantage of the CMS’s, is that the information part of the information superhighway, it more information packed. The ease at which experts can share their knowledge.

While it is getting faster, it’s not instantaneous, people put a premium on 2 things. Bigger and Faster, while the internet is getting much bigger, it’s not getting faster. Enter what I believe to be Web 2.5, not what a think to be a new version, but a serious improvement to the previous iteration. It almost started with MySpace, but they made it almost painful to have an account on there. Then it became the place to be if you were a musician. It didn’t take long for people to run away from MySpace, not because the concept was bad, but poorly implemented. People that were creating MySpace sites, weren’t web developers and had no idea about continuity on the site. This is what opened the door for FaceBook. In FaceBook, people got the sense of community they had at MySpace, but with constraints. I think that is primarily one of the reasons FaceBook continues to thrive while MySpace is floundering. (As a side note, there is a report that a consortium led by Justin Timberlake has purchased MySpace and are trying to restore it to its previous glory.)

The other application that thrived under the web 2.5 paradigm was Twitter. Previously there were applications like Pounce and Jaiku. But it was almost a battle royal with Twitter coming out as the undisputed champ. I’ll be honest, at first it took me some time to see the advantages of Twitter. So I’ll take a second to give some Twitter advise. Think of Twitter as the internets nervous system, if anything happens anywhere, it is usually reported on twitter in seconds. But the trick that I found with Twitter is, bigger is not always better. I found a web app that would automatically follow back anyone that followed me. Then I thought that was really cool, I had almost 2,500 followers. Which sounds impressive, it is really hard to navigate through all of the internet “noise” I then had to sit down and go through all of my followers to determine if I thought they really had something to say that I would be interested in, or we going to get me to buy something. After my cleanup efforts, I have disabled the auto-follower and am down to 165 people that I follow. This way Twitter isn’t overwhelming with a bunch of information that I really don’t care about. That being said, Twitter does add to the speed action of the internet. Since that inception of Twitter, it has been everywhere deputizing citizen reporters that have reported on everything from the Boston bombing to the overthrow of the Egyptian government.

Let that sink in, world wide instantaneous live news. Add to that everyone can be a reporter, or commentator about the days events, using a simple microphone, you can start an audio podcast for no money whatsoever. The same goes for video. Almost everyone has a video camera with them at all times now, (their phone), and adding video to YouTube, Blip, Vine, or . Posting content has never been cheaper or easier.

Compared to where we are now, the Information Superhighway was more like the information dirt road.


To the cloud?

2_cloudsSince the beginning of the computer age people have been striving for a more cost effective, safe way to save their respective bits to some medium for use later. At the start of my computing career, we used reel to reel tapes, which would eventually become cassette tapes when home computers came out. Then came the floppy disk. Starting at a whopping 8 inches then shrinking to 5 1/2 inches, before finally ending up at 3 1/2 inches. Which were nice and convenient to carry around in your pocket all the while being able to store an amazing amount of data, 1.44 MB’s and at that time could house multiple applications. However most cameras today don’t even take a single picture that small. So as always we bean to seek bigger and better as we always do. The next medium was the Compact Disc (CD for short). The CD could hold an earth shattering (at that time) amount of data 700 MB. So it took roughly 700 3 1/2 floppy disks to equal a single CD. Then came the DVD’s, coming in a single layer that held 4.3 GB to a Duel layer, that held roughly 8.6 GB. Meaning one Duel layer DVD held as many as 5,970 3 1/2 in floppy disks. Then along came Blu-Ray, with the duel layer capable of storing 50 GB of data, that would be about 23 hours of standard definition movies.

Now I told you that story to highlight the idea behind the next one. The Cloud. It is almost as if this “cloud” is some magical place you can put all of your stuff. (Even though it kinda is). When people talk about the cloud, what they are talking about is internet connected servers. (Cloud sounds cooler now right?). Many things can be done in the cloud. For example Google uses Cloud computing to write and store documents on the internet. Another use is for storage and security purposes. There are some apps out there like Carbonite and Mozy that for a free will allow you to back up your entire computer to the internet. Which in a case of something catastrophic happening, you would be able to restore your system albeit on new hardware.

The next type of cloud storage is something I am sure you have heard of before. That is using cloud storage to share large files and folders with friends. These applications like Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Google Drive, DropBox and so on. These solutions are great for keeping a backup of all of your pictures, or to share the 1 hour video you took of your child’s first steps with grandma across the country. That is exactly what the reason for these sites.

Now that all being said, there are some considerations you want to make sure are in place before you load data up to one of these services. The first being, how is your data being handled once it leaves your computer? Usually the communication between your computer and the server on the internet is encrypted. The key word is usually. Before you sign up for any of these services, verify that not only the communication is encrypted, but once the file is on their system it is also encrypted. You will also want to find out what the Terms of Service say about your date, for example, what is the data retention policy? If you delete a file is it gone forever? Is there a possibility of recovery? Research to determine if the service has ever had any previous security problems.

Another good practice, if you are using one of these services to transport sensitive data, encrypt it on your computer first, then upload it, and CALL the intended recipient and give them the recovery password. NEVER send ANY passwords through email. That is security 101 and will be a topic for later.

Develop a strategy, like the saying goes, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. The one I employ currently is to use Skydrive fro documents, DropBox for video and Google drive for photos. But that may be lending itself to my paranoia, or it makes it easier for me to find things. I would like to think it is because of my organizational skills rather than any paranoia, but I make no promises.

Do you use any cloud services? If so, what is your strategy? Sound off in the comments.


Should I go SSD?

slc-green-house-ssd-hard-driveThis is a question that I get quite a bit, so I figured I’d post my thoughts on the matter here. For those that don’t know, an SSD stands for Solid State Drive. SSD drives are finally coming down in price and making them a great substitute for the older “spinning” drive. One of the primary reasons is that the SSD requires far less power to keep it running which is a huge plus if you are installing it in a laptop. You will find that an SSD will improve your battery life, because it takes less power to run an SSD over powering the older mechanical spinning drives. One of the other benefits is seek (or read) time. The SSD handles reads and writes much more efficiently than its mechanical counterpart. The SSD boot times will be super fast compared to its mechanical counterpart.

Now for the other side of the coin, mechanical drives do have their uses. If you are running a desktop and need a lot of storage, the older mechanical path is your best bet. While the SSD’s are fast, they don’t have a massive storage capacity for a reasonable price. An example that I found was at Best Buy. A  1TB mechanical drive will cost you $277.00, while a 1TB SSD drive will cost you $850.00.

The bottom line – Your primary benefit right now for an SSD would be in a laptop configuration where battery power is a consideration. That being said as prices continue to drop, while size goes up, I would be all for putting an SSD in everything I own, as I have a need for speed.

What do you think? Post it in the comments.


An Apple for the holidays

AppleLogoWith the holidays almost upon us, I get a lot of people asking for computer advice. Such as what computer should I get for my house or what computer should I get for my son or daughter who starting collage soon. Everyone expects me to say Apple right away. You would be wrong. Each OS has it’s own strengths, and weaknesses. While I am a fan of Apple devices, I understand there could be reasons to use a windows device, especially for collage. IF you plan to go to school for something like marketing or advertising, a Mac is almost mandatory. While there are Windows versions of most graphics applications such as PhotoShop are available, however for any application that requires direct access to the processor, Macs simply work better. A Mac allows an application to directly access hardware.

Apples don’t need Anti-virus software* – Why the Asterix you ask. Well as with anything there is a caveat. An Apple doesn’t require Anti-virus software as long as you are careful and not just download anything and install it from potentially nefarious websites. Now the fact that Windows requires an Anti-virus application, but if you look at it a little differently, the anti-virus software acts like  a virus in itself.  Think about the hallmarks of a virus, whenever it is running, your computer runs slower. In addition every year most anti-virus companies expect you to pay a yearly fee to upgrade the application.

Apples can run Windows, whether it is using bootcamp, where you boot your Mac directly into Windows, or use an application such as parallels to run OSX and Windows simultaneously. However there is no way to boot to OSX from a Windows device.

The Mac can also read Windows formatted documents or drives. The Mac version gives you an advantage over the the Microsoft Fat32 format. Fat32 has a 4GB file size limit. While for the most part it shouldn’t be a big deal unless you are dealing with video in which the 4Gb limit will be tested.

One other thing the Macintosh does better than a Windows machine is application management. What I mean by that is, when you want to get rid of an application in windows you have to open the control panel, go to Add/Remove programs, find the program and uninstall. With a Mac, all you have to do is drag the application to the trash can.

Even though I initially set out to make this article about each operating system has its own strengths, I ended up making it about why a Mac is better. I really tried to be objective, unfortunately that was going to happen.


Mavericks Review

Mavericks-OSXOctober 22nd, much to everyones surprise, Apple gave everyone an early Christmas present. It released the newest version of OSX 10.9 (Mavericks) for free, as well as some other titles that we will focus on at a later time. Todays focus will be on Mavericks. Other than being a shot across the bow of some other software makers that will remain nameless. This OS X release has a lot of stuff under the hood, such as memory management, and multi-tasking enhancements. 10.9 focuses some attention on some older apps that were missing for functionality as well as making apps more visually pleasing.

Finder: Of all of the Mavericks applications Finder (in my opinion) got the most attention. With the new finder, you can categorize things with tags. While this might sound pretty weak, once you get used to using tags you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. Another welcomed addition to finder was the ability to use tabs, just like in your favorite web browser. Now instead of having finder windows all over your screen, they can be gathered into a single pane, making your work that much easier.

Calendar: Calendar got more of a visual makeover as compare to a functional change. The new calendar looks much cleaner and speaker. Gone is the “leather binder” look. The functionality hasn’t changed. I do notice that the interaction between my desktop and iPhone seem to work better through iCloud. That has been my experience, other users experience may vary.

New Applications: With Mavericks Apple has also rolled in iCloud Keychain, Maps and iBooks. The Maps feature is very much like that on iOS, with a few exceptions because it is now a desktop application. Now you can use “flyover” more easily than you can in iOS, just because it is a desktop application. One of my favorite features of Maps is that I can now find directions and with a single button-click share them with my iPhone. Which makes getting directions to my phone much easier than searching for multiple routes on my phone. The other iOS application the got some desktop love was iBooks. Now ebooks aren’t relegated to your iOS device. If the book is created with iBooks author or in a standard e-pub or PDF format, they will be readable on your desktop. Previously, this could be done with an application like Calibre or the Kindle application. It’s once that for once Apple isn’t letting the competition eat their lunch. One more application I wanted to address today was iCloud Keychain. This solves one of the problems I used to use Mobile Me for, keeping all of my keychain in sync. It does that and a bit more. This will allow your iOS device to share your Keychain as well as all of your desktops. iCloud Keychain will also store credit card numbers allowing you to auto fill your credit card number. (For security iCloud Keychain won’t store the security code on your card.) All of the data is stored in iCloud, using AES 256-bit encryption giving you total security.

Other notables: Some of the other notable applications included in this release are Safari, Multiple Displays and Notifications. The Notifications update is particularly interesting. With this update, when you get an email notification, you can reply directly from Notification center instead of having to open the application. (This also works for the messages application.)

The Bottom line: This isn’t a hugely ground breaking upgrade, but at the price rage of free, it is well worth doing the upgrade.

What do you think about Mavericks? Leave your thoughts in the comments.


Apple Users

AppleLogoI guess the name of this article should be what kind of Apple user are you. I have been giving this a lot of thought lately. (Well since the release of Mavericks) and thought I would ask you the question. To my thinking there are 4 kinds of Apple users. Let’s go through them now and see if I miss any.

Apple Fan Boy/Girl- These are usually fairly easy to spot. They have the latest and greatest Apple device as soon as it is released, no matter what it is, it is almost as great as the second coming.

Apple apologist – This is the type of user that will buy most things that Apple releases, finds its short comings and still tries to convince everyone around him that even though it might not work exactly right, Apple will eventually tune the product and fix the issue.

Tech users – These users have no loyalty to any specific brand as long as the device meets their needs they are happy. This type of user will do research, talk to other users before making their decision.

Apple hater – This is the type of user that will hate anything Apple releases. They will try to justify their hatred because the iPod they bought 10 years ago, can no longer be charged.

The bottom line – Even though I used the term Apple users, these categories can be used to describe almost any tech group. Just switch Apple for Microsoft, Google, Linux, and on and on. While there is no problem enjoying your gadget, just remember that is what it is, just another gadget and not a religion. Or maybe it is a religion, and like any religion people are permitted to make their own choices and don’t deserve any kind of anger on anyones part. What do you think? Leave something in the comments.


Mobile Security

bank_security_safe_iphone_4_case-r57a20d3fc5414eb5ad2f920bf51cc3d3_w8wtc_8byvr_512When people usually here the words mobile security or computer security, their eyes glaze over and they tune out what is being said. I am going to try to change that. Today we are going to focus on mobile security, if there is any interest after this article I’ll right one about computer security.

Mobile Security – The type of security we are going to talk about will be VERY generalized, and only pertaining to mobile phones and tablets. Let’s start with iOS. I have heard from many people that they don’t want to be bothered to lock their phone/tablet, because it is inconvenient, or “I don’t have anything on it that anyone would want.” If you work in a legal firm or hospital, there is the possibility that you could have client/patient data on your device opening you or your business to a lawsuit or a fine depending on what kid of date was disclosed. The easiest thing you can do is to put a passcode on your device. Most people don’t know that as soon as you apply a password to your device, the device encrypts so that unless you have the passcode, there is no way for a “bad guy” to get in and see your data. While it may be a little inconvenient, it is getting better, with the iPhone 5s you can use your fingerprint to unlock the device. A system I am sure will soon become standard on many devices. Biometrics have been around for some time, and usually didn’t work well, but I must say that the fingerprint reader on my device works really well. I can say that I am very impressed. Some of the other devices that had fingerprint readers never functioned as advertised. After pass codes the most important thing you can do with your iOS device is NOT to jail break it. Jail breaking is the most dangerous thing you can do to your device. In order to jailbreak a device, hackers have to figure out how to exploit a vulnerability. Once a vulnerability is found the hackers create the jailbreak. Now let’s think about this for a second. You are going to give a complete stranger, who is a known hacker, access to your life? If you ever jail broke your phone, you are trusting that person created a virus free replacement for iOS. Think about this, what could possibly be disclosed if a stranger had access to your device? Not only could he read all of your email, but could get a copy of your address book, with all of your friends phone numbers and email addresses. Additionally. there was recently a story in the press about the Google Play store that someone with bad intentions downloaded the top 10 Android apps and injected a virus in them and then uploaded them, There is no telling how many devices were infected before the infection had been discovered. Quick recap – put a passcode on your devices and don’t jailbreak it. These two simple things can make your life much more secure than anything else you could do on your device. If you aren’t using iOS, I have some tips for you also. The passcode suggestion is still in place with any mobile operating system. However the earlier iterations of Android didn’t allow encryption (they do allow whole device encryption now). Encryption must be enabled manually. (Unlike iOS that enables it as soon as a passcode is put on the device.) Another suggestion is to get a good anti virus such as AVG which has been in the Anti-virus game for some time now, and scan regularly, especially if you download a lot of applications.

The bottom line: No matter which device you choose, think about the data that is on your phone, and whether or not you want that information shared with the world. These simple little hints can save you a lot of heartache in the long run.


iPad Air

iPad-AirThis week Apple released the iPad Air. Of coarse all of the Apple haters poo-pooed the new Air, and I’m not sure why. Everything about the device SCREAMS new and improved. For example the iPad air runs on the A7 chip with 64-bit architecture making everything faster and gives the user a more enjoyable experience, and after all isn’t that what you want from something that is new and improved? Not only is it new and improved, it is incredibly thinner and lighter, with the Wi-Fi version weighing in at 1 pound. (The cellular version is slightly heavier due to the added radio and weighs in at 1.05 pounds). The display is the Retina display with a resolution of 2048×1536 at 264 pixels per inch.(ppi).

The iPad Air comes in two finishes, Space Gray and Silver. Another interesting feature that was not really covered during the keynote was capacity, the iPad Air stars off with 16GB storage for $499 up to 128GB at $799 for the wireless model with the cellular model coming in at $620 and $929 respectively. The wireless radio runs at 802.11a/b/g/n duel channel 2.4GHz and 5GHz. The cameras are what you have come to expect. They shot 1080P HD video, with video stabilization, face detection tap to focus and much more. (Being a video guy it is very easy for me to go on and on about cameras, but I and intentionally holding off so I don’t bore you.) Battery life, this is where Apple destroys the competition. even with making the iPad smaller, Apple still managed to retain the same battery life as the previous model, up to 10 hours of surfing on Wi-Fi, or 9 hours using cellular data. The iPad Air comes with iOS 7, and the iLife and iWork suites. Also included if FaceTime which is now capable of Video and Audio calls. AirPlay is also included to share content from your iPad to your Apple TV.

The bottom line: The iPad Air is a really nice upgrade, if for nothing else weight. Don’t make any judgements about the iPad Air, until you need to pick one up yourself to really appreciate how light and functional this device is.


Keynote Aftermath

appleNow that the keynote is done, and everyone is putting together their own take on what was presented, here at Diary of a Madman, we figured we would throw our two cents in.

Mavericks – Apple’s new Operating System was released, with the most immersive features under the hood in my opinion. Memory management is addressed, as well as the way the OS handles multiple displays. Multiple display act independently of each other, so now you can run an application full screen and still have access to the other display, which is very nice if you want to work in full screen and still multi-task between apps. Another cool addition is the new Keychain. This will remember all of your passwords across all of your devices. Also included in Mavericks is iBooks as well as Maps. The big shock or this announcement was that the update was FREE! Which may be considered as a shot across Microsofts bow, basically saying the days of licensing an OS are over. In fact during the presentation, they compared the price of Windows 8 at $199 to Apple Mavericks of free.

MacBook Pros – Now both the 13” and 15” MacBook Pro’s have the Retina display,  Forth generation duel and quad core processors, 802.11 AC wireless with Thunderbolt 2. Once again, Apple hits it out of the park with battery life. The 13” MacBook Pro gets 9 hours of battery life, while the 15” MacBook Pro gets up to 8 hours of battery life. Both are very respectable. The new MacBook Pros ship with Mavericks as well as BOTH the iWork and iLife suites.

iLife – iLife has a totally new look and feel. iLife consist of iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand, all of which have been tuned for use with Mavericks. All are 64 Bit applications which will now let them take advantage of the 64 Bit architecture making the applications run and scroll more smoothly than ever before. The GarageBand update was the one that was demonstrated. GarageBand has a new feature (Drummer) that ill add a session drummer to your recording. You can “tune” the drummer to your needs. Once again iLife is free with all new Macs.

iWork – For the first time iWork has been made available for free with the purchase of a new Mac. iWork consists of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. Also for the first time iWork offers the ability to collaborate with someone else on a project via the Internet. The new Pages application is very nice. (In fact, it is what this article is being written in.) The UI is what you expect to come out of Cupertino. It is really powerful, yet simplistic. The controls are located in a sidebar and out of your way. I am really enjoying working with Pages. Once again, this will be included with every new Mac.

iPad – This is what the keynote was supposed to be about. The new iPad, or the iPad Air as it is now called. iPad Air boasts the retina display aOne of the reasons for this is that the iPad Air only weighs one pound. Making it 28% lighter and 20% thinner. It also has the new A7 chip and M7 Co-Processor that made its debut in the iPhone 5S. With all of the size reductions the iPad Air still has the 10 hours of battery life that you have come to expect form an iPad.

iPad Mini – Also saw a refresh. With a 7.9 inch Retina display, the iPad Mini boasts a 2048×1536 resolution, with 326 pixels per inch. iPad mini like its larger brother also has the A7 chip taking advantage of 64 bit architecture, also with a 10 hour battery life.

 The bottom line: It is almost as if Apple held everything until the end of the year to release everything at one time. I am really looking forward to digging into some of these new apps, and doing a review on some of them as soon as possible.


Apple Keynote

appleOn October 22nd, Apple is having an event at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco. We can guess the topic will be the release of the new iPad models, OS X Mavericks, and maybe the new Mac Pro that was shown at WWDC. But my question is “What else?”. It’s almost funny that we Apple fans want more. The announcements that are rumored are probably right, but part of me want Tim Cook to pull a Steve Jobs’ “One more thing…” and show something totally unexpected. Like the MacBook Air, no one had any clue that was going to be announced. I think that has always been part of the Apple vibe, you go to a keynote to be surprised. In the past that was pretty easy, but now with everyone having a camera phone, secrets aren’t what they used to be. On the other hand if Apple were to come out with the most awesome device ever seen the Apple cynics would be on the blogs…”Apple released widget version 1, while it’s a good start, why doesn’t it have a can opener?” That is what Apple has to contend with. When they gave the “sneak peek” at the new Mac Pro with a radical new design and without even getting their hands on it or even seeing it in person the Apple Trolls started with complaints about something that they haven’t touched. This amazes me.

Maybe Apple will shock everyone and demo a watch or TV. I guess I am old school, and think I am happy with what I have been given. I tend to see the glass half full. Instead of saying the new iPads “only” have 64GB of storage, I tend think “Wow it has 64 GB of storage.” Maybe because I have been around computers for a while and realize how cheap storage has gotten, I remember 64GB is a TON of storage.

That’s enough of my rant, here is the question, that I wanted to write about originally, “Other than the rumored release, what else would you like to see Apple released?” Let’s see your thoughts in the comments.


More Bluetooth fun…

vehoToday I am going to be reviewing the Veho 360 BluTooth Wireless speaker. I usually test all of the Bluetooth devices with my iPhone, but in addition to my iPhone I also paired it with my MacBook Air. The speakers in the air aren’t bad, but I wanted to see what kind of performance I could get out of this little device. I was pleasantly surprised. The overall sound was very good, and lasted about 6 hours with a full charge. The Veho has enough power to sound good in a decent sized room, the sound is clear and the controls on top of the device allow you to control iTunes on my MBA as well as the music app on my iPhone. Another cool addition is the ability to play audio directly from up to a 16GB Micro SD card, in either MP3 or WMV formats. The Veho also has a line in jack for devices that don’t have bluetooth like some older iPods.
The bottom line: I really like the Veho 360s sound and price of $40.49 USD. If I have one complaint is there isn’t a lot of bass, but the overall sound is great and I would recommend it for anyone in the market for a small, convenient speaker system.

If you are in the market for any other mobile accessories, Check out my friends at MobileFun.com.


Bumper Cases

CaseIf you have been following the history of the iPhone, I’m sure you remember the famous Antenna Gate with the release of the original iPhone 4. The problem was if you held the phone in a “Death-grip” it would cause you to loose signal. The solution at the time was to add a “bumper”. The bumper was made of rubber that wrapped around the edge of the phone. (Side note: I think the reason for the bumpers was that Steve Jobs wanted as much of the iPhone 4 was as visible as possible, as it was a very good looking phone.) The bumpers are still available on the Apple Website for $29.00, but only for the iPhone 4 and 4S. Fast forward to today. I have been trying the Spigen SGP Neo Hybrid EX for iPhone 5S.
I know its really tough to get excited about a bumper case, however I am really liking this design. There is a rubber “Bumper-like” cover that wraps around the edge of the device, but then there is a hard case that surrounds the bumper case protecting the rubber. The Neo Hybrid also comes with screen protectors, (which the Apple one did not). The price is the same as the iPhone bumper cases $29.99.
The bottom line: The thing for me and cases is, how easy is it to get my phone in and out of my pocket. I started out with the Otterbox Defender on my iPhone 3GS, (and that is a great case) but the problem was you had to wear a belt clip and couldn’t put it in your pocket, so with the 4S I started with the OtterBox defender (also a very good case). Due to the need for the rubber for protection, it was easier than the defender to get in and out of my pocket, but not much better. I then moved to a Pinlo Concize Metal Case for iPhone (Which I did a review for here.)
I liked that case, as it was made of aircraft aluminum, and would work easily in my pocket. The Neo Hybrid, is just the next step in my journey. It protects the phone while showing off the beauty of the phone. If you want to check out some other iPhone 5 cases at reasonable prices, check them out here.


Geeks vs. Nerds

geek-vs-nerd-I have been wanting to write about this for some time now. For some reason, everyone thinks these terms are interchangeable and derogatory. Nothing could be further from the truth. I tend to describe it like this. When you are trying to determine if you are dealing with a Geek or a Nerd the test is fairly simple. A geek tends to be an enthusiast (for example a “Star Trek Geek” can remember different characters or plot lines, a “Star Trek Nerd” can speak in Klingon. Geeks tend to have a variety of interests where as Geeks tend to focus on a handful, and take them to the next level. Another example would be the computer geek. They are the people you call when your computer is acting weird, and they can usually talk you through fixing whatever the problem is. The computer geek can do the same thing, but 90% of the time you won’t have a clue what they are talking about.
I tend to think of myself as primarily a geek. I have many interests, and the things that interest me, computers, sports, video editing. Unfortunately I am not a nerd, in any of these. It’s like the old saying “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Not that is a bad thing. There are times when a nerd will be so focused on one thing, they can’t talk about anything else.

While most schools still glorify the athletic,while the geeks/nerds are looked down upon and shunned, the truth is for 99% of the “jocks” that graduate collage, their skill set has pretty much run its coarse. Where as the guys that are Nerds or Geeks are just hitting their stride. It is in the “real world” that the Geek/Nerd is truly appreciated. Most will enter a career field geared to their interest, vs the “jock” who is asking “would you like fries with that?”

The bottom line: If someone calls you a Geek or a Nerd, wear that as a badge of honor. That means that odds are you are way better at something than they will EVER be.


Have you forgotten?

This is a reprint of an article I wrote in 2004. How much of it still applies today?

Have YOU forgotten?
Shortly after the horrific attacks on 9-11, the media felt as though they needed to stop showing the images of 9-11, because it is to “disturbing”. They are right, it is disturbing; however they should show it everyday, for nothing else but to remind this country why we are at war. A war against terrorists. The liberal left wants to make you think it is because of oil. They must not remember the four airliners, but I do.

The second American has been be-headed. This is another image that the American people need to see everyday. Then when the left start whining about the “atrocities” in “grab-an-Arab” prison, the argument should be… We humiliated them, we scared them, they cut our guys heads off. How wrong were we?

There is a liberal protest group called ANSWER. (Act Now Stop War & End Racism). These are fundamentalists, which are every bit as rabid as the terrorists that we are fighting. They are so “locked on” to their doctrine that they refuse to acknowledge what is truly happening. These animals are cutting American’s heads off; did ANSWER even mention it on their website? Nope, not a word.

The media needs to quit thinking for me. Televise what is “disturbing”, so that these losers will understand what the whole thing is about. They may say that Nick Berg was killed because he was in Iraq. What about Paul Johnson? These animals cut off his head and put it on his back. Then they took the knife and rested it against the severed head. Is this graphic? Does it make you angry?

Why was Paul Johnson killed? He was simply an American, just like you and me, getting up everyday and going to work. He was targeted because he was an American. He was not in Iraq, but in Saudi Arabia. That means these terrorists feel as though they can attack Americans anywhere. Lots of folks involved in answer are very affluent; will they be traveling outside the country anytime soon? I bet not.

These animals kill Americans BECAUSE they are American. But that is not a reason to wage war…right?


Old VS. New

internetI was reading this article, and in it there were some really good points made. Those of us who have been around since the beginning of the web as we know it, have fond memories of pre-web 2.0 sites, that most don’t know they existed or didn’t care that much to look for them. The article points out Yahoo, which has re-invented itself to be more relevant in this post 2.0 world. One of the others that comes to my mind is AOL (or America On Line as it was called) Do you remember that in the late ’90’s AOL disks were everywhere. (The hay day of dial-ups) and for $13.00/month you had access to the internet at blazing 14.4 kbs speeds. AOL is another company that is re-inventing itself from an ISP to become a content provider. (Mostly by buying established content providers and putting them under the AOL umbrella.) Not that there is anything wrong with that. That is one of the many prerequisites when doing anything on the internet. Everything on the internet will either grow, change, or die. That is the nature of the internet.

Today there is nothing on the internet that is stagnant. and if there is it won’t be there long. I think that may be another side effect of the internet is we have developed a very short attention span. If anything stays the same for too long it falls out of favor. (Remember MySpace?) FaceBook continues to update the site at fairly regular intervals, keeping them interesting. Think back, how many “Titans” of the ’90s are still around? Anyone remember Alto Vista? or Lycos? Netscape? (to be fair Netscape is still around, but nowhere near what it was.) I guess the reason for my trip down memory lane is, every now and then I think it is just as important to look where we have been as it is to look where we are going. Remember, those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it.

What are some of the tech companies you used/liked that “went away” because they couldn’t keep up with the times? Drop them in the comments.


Movies and musings…

movie-clip-art-8A lot has been made of the lack of money that is being generated out of Hollywood. We will start with the theatrical side; think about this, in today’s current economic climate, for a family of four to go to a movie (that isn’t a matinée) is almost $80.00 dollars and that’s just for tickets, add in popcorn and what not, you are easily over $100.00 dollars, for an hour and a half’s worth of “entertainment”. My issue with movies is the lack of imagination. Everything that is coming out is a sequel, super hero or reboot. (And sometimes a combination of all three – See Batman and Spiderman).

Let me give some advice.

1)   Don’t aim for a “Blockbuster”. Blockbusters happen and there is no formula.

2)   Start with a good story. Most movies that have been coming out have no interesting storyline. Get a good story before you start shooting.

3)   Keep costs down. Perception will also kill a movie.


Here is an example of that. The Lone Ranger was just released; this movie violates all of my advice. Out of the gate it was a Blockbuster  produced by Jerry Bruckheimer with Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp. With a weak story and a $250 Million dollar budget.  In fact, “I think they were reviewing the budget, not reviewing the movie, ” Bruckheimer told Yahoo U.K.-Ireland. “The audience doesn’t care what the budget is — they pay the same amount if it costs a dollar or 20 million dollars.” That is where you are wrong Jerry. If I hear that a movie was $250 Million dollars I expect to be extremely entertained for my money.  The budget should determine if it is worth my time.  If the reviews come out and a ton of money was spent, but the story is week, I am not going to spend a dime of my money on it. If I was a Johnny Depp fan (which I am not) I might wait until it comes out on DVD or I can stream it from Netflix.

While we are at it, I have the same feeling about television. (you guys aren’t getting off the hook either). Television has become cheap and lazy. Networks don’t pitch shows anymore they pitch concepts and prices.  What I mean by that is the networks will crank up yet another reality show. Survivor created this market and now it’s all over the place. No need to have writers, paid actors and a minimal crew. This is not entertaining. The fact that networks are willing to exploit people for their own gains. (See Honey Boo-Boo) while not truly providing entertainment. The way that it is going, you will be able to bounce your grandkids on your knee and regale them with stories about what television was like when they used actors, and not exploiting something that is tragic (See MTV’s teen mom) They don’t seem to understand that typically life imitates art. While not having the show, may not decrease the number of teenage pregnancies, it might help by not promoting it.

The biggest problem is us, the viewers. We are not demanding that we be entertained, and so we get force fed Honey Boo-Boo, Teen Mom and Amish Mafia.

I’ve said my piece. What do you think? Leave something in the comments.


Is it time for a watch?

product-image-Apple-iWatch-989-1284460508851Over the past few weeks, I have been seeing more and more references to a “Smart Watch”.  There has been plenty of speculation that Apple and Google were going to have offerings. Now today there is a report that Microsoft may be throwing their hat into the fray. (You can read that story here). Here is my question; do you think you would want a watch? Other than the obvious Dick Tracy similarity, what does it actually buy you?

Think about it, when the iPad was released it was to fill a gap between the iPhone and a laptop. How do you position the watch? So the workflow would go watch – phone-tablet-laptop-desktop? The cell phone has effectively taken the place of the pocket watch.

That being said, I can find some uses for a “smart watch” for example telematics. If you were a jogger, using it to monitor your heart rate and so forth, that might be a good idea. There is another school of thought that the current phones are too big and need to be made wearable.

If you were to buy a Smart watch what features would you want? If you got those features, would you ditch your cell phone?


Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


A case for cases.

pinloIn my last review I looked at a case for iPad. So this week I am reviewing the Pinlo Concize Metal Case for iPhone. I have had it on my phone for a couple of weeks now. I have to say I like it, and here’s why. I used to use an  Otterbox Defender case. (Don’t get me wrong Otterbox makes a great case.) But the case itself is rubberized to help protect my precious. It came with a belt clip which was OK, but I found that if I had to dress up, I didn’t want to use the belt clip. With the Otterbox the rubber is tacky which in the best of situations is difficult to get out of your pocket, so I opted to remove the case all together. But in doing that I introduced a new level of stress into my life. Every time I had to take it from my pocket I had a death grip on my precious, just to be sure I didn’t drop it.

Along came the Pinlo Concize Metal Case for iPhone. It is light, aircraft grade aluminum, so it is light, protects my precious and slides easily into and out of my pocket. I would highly recommend this case for an office worker if you do something in the construction field I would recommend something a little more ruggedized. Luckily, this isn’t the only case they have. You can find many more here.

The bottom line: This is the second case I have looked at for MobileFun. Both cases have been outstanding. I would recommend that if you are planning on a case for your device, check them out first.


Just in case…

ibamcaseCases are one of the last things most people think about. Usually, you never think about until something bad happens and you wish that you had a case on your phone, iPad or whatever expensive device you need to have protected. This week I had the chance to evaluate the iPad 2 case from MobileFun.  Previously I was using the The Smart Cover by Apple ($39.00 US). It was functional and protected the screen nicely. It also allowed you to roll up the case and work like a stand. All really cool ideas. The problem that I found was after some time, while the screen was protected the back was not. So while the screen is pristine, the back of my iPad has some fairly deep scratches. The sad part is I have NO idea how they got there. So now we fast forward to this week. I got the Macally BookStand2R Cover and Stand for iPad. This is just what the doctor ordered. The iPad snaps into the back case and has a flap that also utilizes magnets like the Apple case and at $28.99 is a much better deal than you get from the Apple case with much better protection for your device. I would recommend that everyone put a case on their device, if for nothing else for piece of mind. I would HIGHLY recommend you check out our friends at MobileFun for all your mobile case needs. Not do they have cases for all of your favorite “i” devices, but cases for just about everything that can be put in a case.

The bottom line: 2 BIG thumbs up! MobileFun has some really great cases at reasonable prices. I am sure that anyone can find a solution for their case needs at their site.


Memory Lane

thToday I was taking a trip down memory lane. I came across an old box with some of the MANY music players over the years. I had to laugh that one of my earliest music player memories was my Sony Walkman that had the auto reverse so you never had to touch the tape. It also had a built-in AM/FM radio, so when you got tired of listening to the one tape you had with you, there was some variety. I also found my Sony CD Walkman. I remember this was a very early edition and the skip protection wasn’t great, but it let me take my CD’s out and about. Then came the MP3 revolution.  The Diamond Rio came on the scene. Because it was digital skipping from track to track was much easier than my Walkman cassette player. The Rio had a whopping 32 MB drive and you had to sync through your computers parallel port, but is was great. Then came the iPod. I can still remember the advertisement “A thousand songs in your pocket”.
I only bring this up, because I was thinking about how all everything in tech evolves. Sometimes it is fairly quick, like the evolution of the laptop that has seen it biggest advances in the last 13 years. Laptops were first used in the ’80’s but the cost was extremely prohibitive. The price tag was roughly $8,100.00 US. So not many people use one. But as Moore’s Law predicted that the number of transistors on Integrated circuits doubles roughly  every two years, it took a while but manufactures were finally able to create affordable small laptops. But that is the way of tech. There is always a germ of an idea that puts an entrepreneur into the next mode. For example when the guys at Apple saw the GUI interface at Xerox Park, that was was sparked the Macintosh. (the same as when Microsoft saw the Macintosh, Widows was born).
But I guess my point is everything brings about something else. Records gave way to 8-tracks, which gave way to cassettes, that gave way to Compact Discs, to MP3’s. What’s next?



toolboxMany people use their computers for a multitude of things. Some just want to surf the internet and check email. These aren’t the people I am addressing here. The people I am focusing on right now do some very specific things. Some are podcasters, bloggers, video editors, photographers or graphic designers. If you do any of these I am talking to you. Every one of these disciplines requires a toolbox of tools that you need to achieve your goal, making the best end product possible.

Podcasters – The key to doing a good podcast is a good Mic. I would recommend a good USB mic. That way the input to the computer is already in digital format and the computer won’t have to do any additional work to convert your audio to digital. Now for software, if you are using a Mac, you already have a pretty impressive podcast studio pre-installed. Garageband. GarageBand can record your podcast, add effects to you voice, provide you with sound effects and so on. Now if you don’t want to be the sole talent and want to have guests on, and they aren’t able to be in your “studio”, you can buy a copy of Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack pro for $32.00 US and record from Skype or Google+. Once your interview is done, you can then import it into Garage band for your post-production, to add your effects and so forth.

Bloggers – Depending on the platform you are using, be it Blogger, WordPress and so forth most of these have really good web interfaces and make it easy for you to create your content. But if you would rather use a local client I have one for you. Ecto the blog editor for OSX. This one is a judgement call. If you are happy using the web interface, continue to do so, Ecto is $19.95 US. It isn’t a bad alternative, but personally I work using the web interfaces.

Video Editors – Editing video is a fun and with the low prices of pretty decent video cameras, video editing is more affordable than ever. iMovie, which ships preinstalled on a Mac is a very capable video editor. With built in pro style tools to reduces camera shake and so forth, I would recommend anyone that thinks they want to start editing video, I would highly recommend using iMovie. Once you feel that you have outgrown iMovie, you can “graduate” to Final Cut Pro. The good news is the new version of Final Cut Pro is $299.99 US. Previously the only way to get Final Cut was to buy the Final Cut Suite which as about $1200.00 US. Most of the transitions and so forth are available in iMovie, but you are only allowed a single video track and editing with multiple cameras is difficult, (Not impossible but a lot more work). If you are planning on being the next Peter Jackson, I would recommend Final Cut Pro.

Photographers – This is one category where you can spend a lot of money on tools. Apple installs iPhoto on every Mac, and iPhoto is sufficient for family photos or “snapshots” that you have taken and it does a great job cleaning up the pictures by boosting levels and so forth. But if you are planning to be the next Annie Leibovitz, you may be better served using an application like Adobe’s Light Room for $149.00 US or Apples Aperture for $79.00 US. There are also countless photo editing apps for your smartphone and there isn’t enough room here for me to discuss them all.
Graphics Designers – There are many graphics applications, but the Grand Daddy of them all is Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop has been around for a long time and is a VERY intense application. Starting at $699.00 US, this isn’t an application that I would suggest to someone that wasn’t really sure if they would really be interested in it. A more affordable option could be Adobe’s Fireworks, that starts off at $299.00 US. Which is still more than I would pay if I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. I would suggest starting off with a free graphic application like Seashore free for the Mac or Gimp. Both are free and while they may not have all the bells and whistles as some of the more expensive applications, you will still be able to find out if you enjoy doing this type of work before sinking a lot of money into something you are unsure of.

The bottom line – While the applications mentioned here are some of the more popular, there are many, many many, more. Some are more expensive, some are open source. I would always say to try the open source or free applications before spending a lot of money on something you don’t know you will like.

Are there any good tools I left out? Let me know about them in the comments.


Ask a Geek…

I have been kicking this idea around for a while, and what do you think about me creating a quick place to ask your computer questions. I will take all questions on any OS (Microsoft, Apple, or Linux). I will also field application questions. (As log as the application is fairly mainstream, I can’t troubleshoot an app your friend wrote for example.) Other than that, ask away. I have access to some other geeks, so if I don’t have an answer, I can get one pretty quick.

So now it’s your turn to write something in the comments…. Go!!!


What kind of user are you?

osHeadI have been working with computers for about 20 years. (Even more if you count the Commodore Vic 20 that I had growing up.) In that time I have found three types of computer users. The first is like me. I can’t wait to install the latest and greatest new application or operating system, knowing full well that I will be dealing with all the new features as well as the bugs caused by the new features. This is my choice and I am OK with running on the bleeding edge, whether it’s running the latest version of Windows, OSX, or Linux, I enjoy solving the issues that inherently come with a new OS. (That being said I’m not really sure how I feel about Windows 8. I have it installed and will be doing a review later.)

The next type of user is the one that will upgrade to the latest version, once it is deemed stable, then “skin” it to look like the previous version. This type doesn’t like change but still wants to say they are up to date. For example, someone that installed Windows XP when it became stable, but the first thing they did was to do away with the “Crayola” Interface and change everything back to the look and feel of Windows 2000.

The third type of users is still running the version of Windows 98. (out of fear of change more than anything) That being said there is nothing wrong with that. Many people get into their comfort zone and just want to stay there. In fact I have a friend (who will remain nameless) that works in IT, and was running Windows 98 up until last year. The reason he gave is legitimate (sort of), he said one of the applications he relies on will only run on Windows 98. But there are more than 1 ways to skin a cat. (just sayin’)

Now while I understand the different types of users, there are some important things to keep in mind.

1) Make sure you check with the OS creator and make sure the OS or application is still supported. Most companies support the current OS and one back. Meaning, if you are running two versions behind, odds are you are no longer getting any updates or security patches making your computer and all the data on it vulnerable to an attack.

2) If the new OS has more system requirements, you may want to look into upgrading your computer. A hardware refresh may be how you actually get your OS upgrade, and new hardware will also have the latest hardware so other than the normal processor and Ram upgrade, with the other new hardware such as a newer video card to make the graphics look better or new network card that should work more efficiently.

3) Keep up to date, at least if you can’t update the OS or the computer itself, make sure you do everything that you can to protect yourself. Make sure that you know when the OS will no longer be supported and find out what you can do to shore up your computer until you can upgrade.

I think the key thing is regardless of which type of user you are, as long as you are able to enjoy your computer and OS of choice, that is the important thing.


More Music

musicMy last post was about iTunes 11, and that started me thinking about different music players. In Windows you also have iTunes but also Windows Media Player. But I would be remiss to not discuss other music players. There are many out there and may have there own strengths and weaknesses. So let’s get to it.

Pandora – (free) http://www.pandora.com This was really one of the first web based radio players. Pandora allows you to create your own radio station. The first thing you do is provide Pandora with a song, then Pandora creates your station based on the seed song, and will play songs that are by the same band and similar bands. Not a bad proposition, but Pandora tends to quit playing, to see if you are still listening, which can be annoying.

Slacker – (free) http://www.slacker.com Slacker radio is another web based player. Slacker is more like a traditional radio station in that you select the genre of music you want to listen to and it plays. Pretty much no frills, but they do have many popular bands. Not bad if you are looking for a quick and easy method of getting background music, while you are working or gaming on your computer.

Songza – (free) http://songza.com Songza is a little different than most music players. Songza lets you choose music, based on your mood. When you first go to the site it will ask if you want a playlist based on the time of day, or on the activity that you are doing. For example some of the choices might be, Sunday afternoon then catagories for that time of day such as relaxing at home, doing housework, brand new music, saving the world, or reading. Then based on your choices you are given a choice of playlists. It’s a pretty cool concept, to choose your playlist based on mood.

iTunes Match – ($25.00/year) This really isn’t internet radio, but it is still streaming music. iTunes match requires that you use iTunes but it gives you the ability to have your ENTIRE iTunes library at your disposal. Additionally it allows you to share your playlists, not only with your computers, but also with your iOS devices. After you upload all of your music, anything that is in the iTunes store, you can download a high quality MP3 on any of your iOS devices or computer. I am a fan of iTunes match for the price and ease of use.

These are just a few and there are many more out there. Now comes the part for audience participation, what do you use? One of these or something differant all together? Let us know in the comments.


iTunes 11 is here!

itunes 11-256On November 29th, Apple released the new version of iTunes. Previously iTunes releases were always basically the same thing, with new features added. (such as upgrades just to support the latest iOS devices). But this is something completely different. Other than the name the new version is like no other iTunes release that you have ever seen. Back when iTunes 1.0 was released in 2001, navigation and layout stayed the same (roughly) until now. The days where iTunes looks like an old school webpage are over. The new version is very iOS’ish. (once again a word I’ve created and still hoping it would catch on). When you launch iTunes in Album view, you will see the artwork for all of your music,(*hint* prior to upgrading I would suggest using an application like Tune Up to make sure that you have all of your cover art in order) clicking on a specific album cover expands to show all the songs that you have for that specific album. Selecting a song, then “right click” on it will allow you to create a Genius playlist.

Speaking of playlists, the new way of creating playlists is pretty cool. First you create the name for the playlist, then switch to your music, then it is a drag and drop. I know it doesn’t sound like much but it is pretty cool.

One of the new features is “Up Next”. So let’s say you are listening to your playlist, and suddenly you have need to listen to Free bird. It used to be that you would have to either wait until the current song was over or if you are impatient (like me) you would just double click on Free bird  and when it was done go back to your playlist. Up Next allows you to queue up songs without stopping your playlist. Another cool feature is that once you add the song to up next, you can drag them up and down and reorder your up next playlist.

iTunes 11 gives you multiple views to sort and explore your library. You can sort by Song, Album, Artist, Genre, Videos, Playlist and Radio. You can use this to “stumble” around your library to find music you forgot you had, are experience it in a new way.

Apple also used this opportunity to completely redo the iTunes store. Which is cool in itself. with rotating artwork of featured bands. (To be honest my description leaves much to be desired, I suggest you head right out and download iTunes 11 to see what I am talking about. A picture is worth a thousand words and what not.)

By far this is the best version of iTunes I have ever used. In fact, I’ll take it a step further, this is the best music player on a computer that I have ever used.

Have you installed iTunes 11? Let us know what you think in the comments.


Latest Apple Announcements

This week Apple made a few interesting announcements. Lots of new hardware, some apps and the long anticipated iPad mini. We’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s go over the new software first as it wasn’t as ground breaking as I would have liked. There is a new version of iBooks author for the Mac, loaded with some new templates and a “portrait only” orientation, and some new widgets. Not much else has changed. There was also the release of iBooks for iOS. The new version will allow you to scroll though a book rather than turn the page. Nothing earth shattering. The earth-shattering part was kept for the hardware. Let’s start with the laptops. All reviews will be done based on the low end models, you can always change the configuration to whatever you like, so I won’t be going through every possible iteration.

New 13″ MacBook Pro with “Retina” display. The display is AWESOME with over 4 million pixels crammed into a 13″ monitor is very impressive. On the low end  ($1699.00) it has a 2.5GHz Intel duel-core i5 processor, 8 GB of 1600MHz Ram, 128GB SSD drive. AND WEIGHS LESS THAN 4 LBS!

A new Mac Mini was released. But the price stayed the same, ($599.00). It is 7.7 inches square and 1.4 inches high. 2.5 GHz i5 processor, with 4GB ram and a 500GB (5400 rpm drive).

A new iMac was also announced, and it looks gorgeous. Starting at $1299.00, the new iMac comes with a 2.7 Quad-core processor, 8GB of ram, and has a 1TB 5400 RPM hard drive.

**One other thing worth mentioning with the new iMac, there is an option for a 1Tb fusion drive. The fusion drive is a hybrid hard drive that has part flash memory and part spinning drive. Mountain lion will move applications based on use into the flash portion of ram so that they will run much faster.

Then there is the announcement everyone was expecting. The iPad mini. With a viewing area of 7.9 inches diagonally, it has the same resolution as the iPad 2, so developers won’t need to recode their apps. The starting price for the 16GB iPad mini is $329.00.

My thoughts, most of the hardware announcements  were very welcome and good looking updates. The only problem I had was the introduction of the iPad mini. When Steve Jobs was alive, he was asked about a smaller iPad and he said at the time nobody would want it. I think he was right. Don’t get me wrong the iPad mini is cool looking, at the same time it looks like you ran a full sized iPad through a dryer and shrunk it a bit. When iPad was released, it was supposed to fill a market between your iPhone and desktop. A satellite device the was lighter than a laptop, but ‘Almost” as functional. The iPad mini is tough for me to wrap my head around. I think that their won’t be much of a demand for the mini as there was in the iPad. I don’t think Apple should have created a 7’ iPad, just because someone else did. Apples strength has always been innovation. That’s what they need to return to.


For the kids…

OK friends, I have request. A guy I work with is setting up a game marathon with all proceeds going to Children’s hospital. If you can donate some money do it, if you can’t that’s cool too, just help spread the word. I will put all the links to all the pertinent information in this post. Any questions drop it in the comments or send it to me.

Out KBMOD Team: http://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.team&teamID=8116

My Page: http://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=29362


Without Steve

Today is the one year anniversary of Steve Jobs death. Many tributes were produced today today, Apple had a really cool montage, with a nice tribute by Tim Cook. When Steve passed last year, everybody tried to write Apple off. Luckily when Steve returned to Apple as iCEO, he surrounded himself with good people and infused Apple with his DNA. All of the naysayers keep waiting for Apple to fall flat. That hasn’t occurred. In fact Apple has become stronger. As evidenced by Apple’s latest release, the iPhone 5 is poised to be the best product release Apple has ever had. Now do I think some of the keynotes would have been different had Steve still been alive? Maybe, but Apple has moved on, releasing some very cool hardware and software. Only now after his death do we see the true brilliance in some of his predictions. In fact, I heard a recording from 1984, where Steve talks about networked computers, and Smartphones. (even though he didn’t call them smartphones, he did talk about a commuter you could put in your pocket.)

Steve will forever hold a place in Apple lore, however that doesn’t mean that he is not missed.


Apple vs. Samsung

Is it just me or do you find the new Samsung ads to be demeaning? The ad implies that if you use an iPhone that you are somehow “uncool”. Here’s my perspective. In my younger days, I would have owned an Android phone, because I could hack it and try to make it do “cool” stuff, but as I have gotten older (and I can afford to use what I want) I have gone with an iPhone. I does what I need it to do. It’s a phone. I rely on the phone part more than I am concerned with the surfing capabilities. I have a few apps that I do use all the time, but I don’t need or want something with a huge screen that doesn’t fit comfortably in my pocket. Instead of having an ad demonstrating the functionality of their phone, Samsung goes out of their way to belittle iPhone users. So based on their contempt for Apple users I will NEVER buy a Samsung device of any kind. If I were to look at a phone other than iPhone, I would look at either the Motorola or HTC offerings. Samsung has lost me as a potential customer for good and people ask me all the time about phones, and I will NEVER endorse any of their products.

Most people in the media are coming down on Apple for filing suit against Samsung for patent infringement. Here is the thing about patent law. If you do not defend your patent EVERY TIME it is infringed, you lose your rights to the patent. Apple learned this lesson with the Macintosh, and has to keep a fleet of lawyers on retainer because of it.

Let’s back up for a minute… The original iPhone was released January 9th 2007. Until the time that Apple showed the world what a smart phone could (and should) look like many people thought the Motorola Razr was the best phone ever. Apple had single handedly revolutionized the mobile phone industry. Think about it, until you saw the iPhone, many were convinced the BlackBerry was the only way to go if you wanted a “smart phone”. Apple innovated, everyone else sat on their hands and were content with their BlackBerrys. As of January 2007, the rest of the phone makers were scrambling to catch up to Apple. Now has there been problems? Yes. This is what happens when you innovate and try to change an industry. Have these problems been resolved? Yes. Will there be problems in the future? More than likely. But the thing is, they are always addressed.

Think about it, when the first phone was released, people clamored for 3G over Edge networking. There were reasons to go with Edge over 3G. The first being battery life. In the early days things were necessary to achieve a decent batter life, but Apple was ridiculed for trying to make the phone have a better battery life than a couple of hours. But as batteries improved so did the capabilities of the phone. Then came the call for GPS, once again Apple figured out how to improve the battery (again) to provide GPS.

Let’s get to the bottom line. There are plenty of options out there. Figure out how much you are willing to spend on a phone and then buy the one that fits your price range and has the functions that you want.

In the comments, let me know what phone you bought and why.


It’s all about the music

If you didn’t know it, I am a big music fan, and I am always looking for a good music app. The iPhone and iPad have the music app that can play your music or any playlists that you have created. You can also use it to create a genius playlist, based off of a seed song, it will match other songs in your library that are similar. There are plenty of apps that will help you find new music, Pandora, Spotify and so on, they use a seed song or band to create your playlist. But what if you want to create a playlist based on something other than a song? For example a playlist based on the day of the week, where you were going, or your mood? Enter Songza. Songza does just that it will create a play list for you based on filters as what you are doing or how you are feeling. All of Songza’s playlists are made by music professionals. DJ’s and music critics. The other cool thing about Songza, is there are no commercials. It also functions a little like Pandora where you can give a gong the “Thumbs Up” or “Thumbs down” which will fine tune you playlist on the fly. For example I am writing this post on Sunday morning. When I opened Songza, it asked me if I wanted a “Late Sunday morning playlist” I clicked go, then it asked if I wanted “pre-game pump up music” and of I said Go. It started playing some really cool songs that would fire you up, but I hadn’t thought about in a while. Songza is not limited to iOS. The application also runs on Android and there is also a website, so you can always have a new cool playlist at your fingertips. I know your next question, “How much for this app?” You can have this app and all of it’s playlist creating goodness for the low, low price of… FREE. So you have no excuse not to at least give it a spin. Even if you don’t download the app, give it a shot on the web. You won’t be disappointed.


Thoughts on Maps

Why is it that people have some kind of perverse need to see a person (or company) rise up, against the odds, the once they are considered the top of their field, the same people take delight in pointing out every flaw, no matter how minor, in an almost venomous attack? After hearing all of the hubbub on the internet about how bad the Apple maps are, I wanted to chime in and put in my two cents.

  • First – Google is one of Apple’s main competitors. I never thought it made sense for Apple to allow its DIRECT competitor to create applications that were pre-installed on their phone. (In addition to Google Maps, the YouTube application was also not pre-installed with the OS, However you can still download it from the App store).I am sure this was in the works prior to Steve Jobs death. As revealed in his autobiography Steve said “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.” That being said it is possible that Steve had started the wheels in motion prior to his death.
  • Secondly – While the Apple maps application isn’t as feature rich as the Google maps application. The thing to remember this is only Apples first shot at maps. I am sure that the future iterations will add some of the features that are missing. While the Maps application may lack some of the Google functionality such as “Street view”, I’m quite sure that ability will be added in future releases.
  • Lastly, with all of the enhancements in iOS 6, (over 200 new features) the only thing that everyone is focusing on is a mapping application. Instead of focusing on the improvements in Siri, or any other of the cool new additions, it appears that for some reason people tend to not focus on the improvements but would rather complain about the Maps application not being as good as Google Maps.

I on the other hand, am an optimist when it comes to software. Every software company releases the first iteration that is missing some feature that you think “it would be great if it could do this or that”. Instead of thinking “This is the first try and it will be better in the next evolution.”

As far as Maps go, I have to admit, I really don’t use my iPhone as a GPS or any of the “heavy duty” map tools, so it’s really hard for me to be a map snob. So I think for the first try it is acceptable, and the next revision will be better.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.


New Releases

This week Apple released iOS6 and an update for Mountain Lion. (Not to mention a little device called the iPhone 5). While I can’t have an iPhone 5 (contract restrictions) I was able to get the other two and I figured I would sit down and share my thoughts.

iOS 6

nav_icon_maps.pngnav_icon_siri.pngnav_icon_phone.png  nav_icon_safari.png nav_icon_facetime.png nav_icon_facebook.png nav_icon_mail.png
As the name implies the 6th iteration of the iPhone software. There are 200 updates to the OS and I am way to lazy to review them all so we will only hit the big ones. To be fair, some of the changes are only UI and really don’t contribute to the functionality of the device so I won’t be discussing them.

  • Maps – Apple has totally redesigned the Maps application and abandoned using Google for maps. The application is really slick and also uses Siri for turn by turn directions. Maps also allows you to view traffic conditions real time, allowing you to navigate around any accidents or traffic jams.
  • Siri – Siri was introduced in iOS 5 and in iOS 6 there is a BIG improvement. Siri can now do much more than before. You can now ask Siri how your favorite sports team is doing, stats on individual players and so forth. But it doesn’t end there. Integration with “Open Table” allows you to make restaurant reservations, and with integration into “Rotten Tomatoes” you can find movies based on ratings.
  • Phone – Yes even the phone got a needed update. The update will allow you to set “quiet hours” when you don’t want your phone to ring. The only exception being if someone from your favorites calls. (there is also a feature that if someone calls repeatedly within 3 mins it will ring as it is then deemed an emergency. One of the other phone features is that if you are in a meeting you can refuse the call and send a text, or set a reminder to call back in an hour.
  • Safari – Safari also got an update. The new Java engine is lightning quick. One of the new features in iOS 6 gives you iCloud tabs. This will allow you to pick up surfing right where you left off where you were on any other Apple device. You can also set up offline reading lists. (Not just links, the full page).
  • FaceTime – Not much has change with FaceTime, with the exception that you can now make FaceTime calls over cellular. It should be noted that some carriers (AT&T) want you to by a separate plan for this. There has been no final decision yet, but AT&T users need to be aware of this. If you have AT&T and FaceTime fails, it may not be Apple’s fault.
  • Facebook – Facebook now has integration throughout the OS. From your camera roll you can post pictures directly to Facebook as well as from Safari.
  • Mail – Mail also got some love in this update. You can set up VIP lists to flag mails from your boss, or your family that you don’t want to get lost in your email stream.

Mountain Lion

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  • Messages – “Texting” has come to the Mac. Using Messages you can now send messages to any iOS device or Mac that has Messages configured.
  • iCloud – This is much more than an application, iCloud is a framework. Back in early 2000 Steve Jobs referred to the Mac as the hub of your digital life. That was before everyone had access to the internet. iCloud now is that hub. Using iCloud you can put documents in the cloud to be shared among all of your devices. iCloud also keeps you Contact list and Calendars in sync. There are also some other applications that take advantage of iClouds syncing ability.
  • Reminders – Reminders sync with all of your devices, now you can set a reminder on your iPad and be reminded on your phone or your Mac. All the while syncing with iCloud. While reminders have the ability to remind you at a specific time or place.
  • Notes – Sometimes you don’t need to be reminded when to do something, but how to do something. That’s where Notes come in. Once again using iCloud, you always have the latest version at your disposal.
  • Notification Center – You can configure Notification Center to notify you on many built in applications such as Mail, Calendars, Facebook, Twitter, and may more. Notification Center came into being in iOS 5, and has now come to the Mac.
  • Dictation – Leveraging some of the voice recognition associated with Siri, now you can dictate to your Mac. You can set up a hot key and dictate in pretty much any application that you would normally type in. In Mail for example, you can launch the dictation and compose an email, or you can use pages to write your epic novel.
  • Sharing – From within Safari, there is now a sharing button, which will give you the option to: Add to a reading list, Add a Bookmark, email this page, Send the page using messages, Send to Twitter, or post it to Facebook, all without leaving the Safari App.

As I said before, there were 200 new additions and listing them all here would have been terribly long winded on my part. If you got these updates, what was your favorite addition or upgrade? Let us know in the comments.


iPhone 5

apple-event1.jpg On September 12th Apple will be introducing iPhone 5, (or whatever they decide to call it), additionally they will also be releasing iOS 6, and possibly Mountain Lion 10.8.2. There is also talk of an iPad mini. As with any Apple event EVERYTHING is a guess. So I figured I would add some things I would like to see in addition to what everyone is expecting.

  • iWork Refresh – iWork is Apple’s version of Office. It is a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation software. The current version is getting a bit long in the tooth, as it hasn’t been updated since 2009.
  • iLife Refresh – While it hasn’t been around as long as iWork, I am sure the brain trust in Cupertino has come up with some new cool stuff by now. I am always hoping for new software. I love new software to learn.
  • Pro Hardware Refresh – While during the last keynote, the pro laptops got a nice refresh in addition to the Retina MacBook Pro, a refresh on the Desktops might be good. Maybe a new iMac, and/or Mac Pro.

Now that’s my wish list. What’s yours? Leave your predictions/wish list in the comments.


Windows 8 Thoughts


Windows 8 was recently released. I installed it, if for nothing else but to give it a test drive and write a review for the site. I had stated early on when I started this blog that I would review all new tech, and that’s what I am doing. Many people think that because I like Apple that I am a fanboy and if it isn’t Apple it’s not any good. Nothing could be further from the truth. I can appreciate all tech. I am not only a fan of Apple, but also Microsoft and well as Linux. My earliest certification were in Microsoft Systems (Windows NT 4.0 to be exact). Microsoft doesn’t want to appear to be like Apple and have a separate OS for tablets and desktops the way Apple does with iOS and Mac OSX. So there is one interface regardless if it is a tablet, desktop or laptop. that’s just my $0.02. I just don’t want you to think I am Microsoft bashing. So here I am going to give you the Good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good:
Windows 8 is pretty snappy and polished. One of my concerns is navigation, and the steep learning curve. (which will be discussed later). Some of the navigation is the same in previous editions of Windows, such as some of the “right-clicks” on certain desktop icons and the desktop. But that’s where all of the similarities end.

The Bad:
As stated before, the navigation and steep learning curve are both challenging and frustrating. Anyone who ever used Windows will find the “Metro” interface, (now simply being called Windows 8 after a naming dispute) to be very odd. For whatever reason Microsoft is basically replacing the Start button, that has been around since the very earliest iterations of Windows 95, with this new launching method. (that I don’t really care for…but to each his own). Placing your mouse in one of the right-hand corners will open a slide out that gives you the ability to search, so if you know the name of your application and it can’t be found in the “Windows 8” interface, you can launch it or pin it to the Windows 8 interface. THe interface itself is set up for a touch screen/tablet use, so using it on a conventional laptop/Desktop without a touch interface may not be as useful.

The Ugly:
If you have never used a computer before, Windows 8 won’t be that hard to pick up. BUT if you have used a Windows computer before, learning where everything is can be quite challenging. If you have a chance to see the OS in action, or have a chance to use it yourself, post your thoughts in the comments.


Be on the lookout!


We were alerted by Symantic that a new virus is known to be in the wild. The bad guys are exploiting Apple fans. They are using iPhone 5 rumors in malicious Word documents and email to entice online victims with file names referencing Apple’s iPhone to attack a PC. Thus far this vulnerability is only present in Windows running Adobe Flash version 11. You can find more information about this vulnerability here. The bad guys are using a social engineering technique in addition to a known vulnerability to get you to infect your computer.

Example of the email. (note the attachment name)
















The .doc files attached to the email contain hidden malicious .swf files. The .swf files then drop more files onto the compromised computer, which are then opened, for example:

  • %Temp%\~WRD0001.doc           
  • %Temp%\Word8.0\ShockwaveFlashObjects.exd
  • %Temp%\Word8.0\ShockwaveFlashObjects.exd             
  • %Temp%\Word8.0\ShockwaveFlashObjects.exd
  • %UserProfile%\Application Data\Macromedia\Flash Player\macromedia.com\support\flashplayer\sys\settings.sol

Meanwhile, the threat is also downloaded and then executed.

The .dll files dropped by the threat are detected as Backdoor.Briba and the dropped .doc files are detected as Trojan.Mdropper.

Adobe has released a security update to correct this vulnerability.

Just remember to be vary careful when opening any attachments, but beware of any saying that have any information about Apple. Remember Apple keeps a secret better than anyone, so there won’t be an email floating around.


Mountain Lion – Messages

Messages-OSX-icon.png With the release of Mountain Lion (10.8) Messages (formerly iMessage) is baked into the operating system. What is Messages? Glad you asked. Messages is one of my favorite applications in the new operating system. Using Messages you can “text” with other iCloud users., but that’s not that cool, except these messages show up on ALL of your devices. iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or Mac. Personally I am usually in front of my computer and it is easier for me to type a message on my full sized keyboard instead of the little keyboard on my phone.

Messages also has an MMS like feature by that I mean you can send photos, HD video, or any other types of attachments. Unlike a text message, Messages will let you see that the message has been received on the device as well as whether the person is responding.
Now Messages is everywhere. You can start a conversation on your Mac, then continue it on your iPhone or iPad and back. Also from within Messages, you can initiate a FaceTime conversation.
Do you have any favorite Mountain Lion apps, or features? Leave them in the comments.