Archive for January, 2010
Big, Ugly Bezel
Have you seen the bezel on this thing?! It’s huge! I know you don’t want to accidentally input a command when your thumb is holding it, but come on.
This is a backbreaker. If this is supposed to be a replacement for netbooks, how can it possibly not have multitasking? Are you saying I can’t listen to Pandora while writing a document? I can’t have my Twitter app open at the same time as my browser? I can’t have AIM open at the same time as my email? Are you kidding me? This alone guarantees that I will not buy this product.
No front facing camera is one thing. But no back facing camera either? Why the hell not? I can’t imagine what the downside was for including at least one camera. Could this thing not handle video iChat?
So much for Apple revolutionizing tablet inputs; this is the same big, ugly touchscreen keyboard we’ve seen on other tablets, and unless you’re lying on the couch with your knees propping it up, it’ll be awkward to use.
No HDMI Out
Want to watch those nice HD videos you downloaded from iTunes on your TV? Too damned bad! If you were truly loyal, you’d just buy an AppleTV already.
No Flash is annoying but not a dealbreaker on the iPhone and iPod Touch. On something that’s supposed to be closer to a netbook or laptop? It will leave huge, gaping holes in websites. I hope you don’t care about streaming video! God knows not many casual internet users do. Oh wait, nevermind, they all do.
Adapters, Adapters, Adapters
So much for those smooth lines. If you want to plug anything into this, such as a digital camera, you need all sorts of ugly adapters. You need an adapter for USB for god’s sake.
Update: Why stop at 8? Here are more things we are discovering that suck about the iPad.
It’s Not Widescreen
Widescreen movies look lousy on this thing thanks to its 4:3 screen, according to Blam, who checked out some of Star Trek on one. It’s like owning a 4:3 TV all over again!
Doesn’t Support T-Mobile 3G
Sure, it’s "unlocked." But it won’t work on T-Mobile, and it uses microSIMs that literally no one else uses.
A Closed App Ecosystem
The iPad only runs apps from the App Store. The same App Store that is notorious for banning apps for no real reason, such as Google Voice. Sure, netbooks might not have touchscreens, but you can install whatever software you’d like on them. Want to run a different browser on your iPad? Too bad!
If you are like me, you love Pandora. My problem was that I would have 10 brewers open with 20 tabs each. I would often close the browser that was playing my music. Now Pandora One is a pay service, for 36 dollars a month, that comes with a great Adobe Air app, but I did not want a pay service. Yes, Pandora One comes at a high bit rate, but regular Pandora sounds great. I Binged and found OpenPandora. OpenPandora is an open source windows desktop application that exposes Pandora music discovery service. It does every thing I want, without the pay service.
- Integration with Last.fm, Microsoft Messenger, Xfire and Skype
- Hide to tray and popup tray notification window with full info
- Full control from tray icon
- Control with multimedia keyboard and global shortcuts
- Support for Logitech G15 keyboard
- Control with Wiimote
- more …
* Requires Internet Explorer 5.5 (or later) and .NET Framework 1.1
Office Casual: Why Monster’s resume templates are easy
Now you can use and submit a resume template designed by Monster.com without leaving your Word program. Doug Thomas shows you Monster’s Easy Submit Resumes.
You may remember seeing the Microsoft Research project Kodu for Xbox last year. The game allows programming novices to develop robust games on the Xbox and control interactions between the characters. Now the PC version is available in beta form which is great news as most schools don’t have Xbox 360′s.
With Kodu, the idea is to give kids a way to accomplish something they didn’t think they would be able to do while strengthening their design, math, and problem-solving skills. It was created as Matthew MacLaurin, director of Future Social Experiences Lab, watched his then three year old daughter interact with a computer. Realizing there was a disconnect between the passive experience she was having and the coding that went into applications, MacLaurin began the project. Kodu is now used in more than 60 educational institutions around the world including a pilot program across 26 schools in Victoria, Australia. You can download Kodu for PC and get started here.
If you need a good launcher for apps, files, folders or URLs and would like the option to organize your files and shortcuts into tabs then check this one out. FLS Launcher is a free, tabbed launcher activated by clicking on the top left corner of the screen with the mouse. It supports the dragging and dropping of icons into the interface and allows for a range of useability customizations.
Another nice launcher. I’ve been using this one for a few days and am very pleased with it. I like that it can easily be used as an organizing tool; for example, you can easily organize your desktop icons into tabs you create in FSL Launcher and get rid of desktop clutter. I also like that it automatically reconciles shortcuts you drag to it and links to the original icon (you can, for example, drag a shortcut on the desktop to FSL Launcher and then delete that shortcut, the icon in FSL Launcher will still work).
What do David Allen, Dwight Eisenhower and Stephen Covey have in common? Apart from believing in the ‘time as a virtue’ maxim, and practicing it, I can’t think of anything else. It turns out that all three are gurus of time management (or task management) theories. All three (and some more) of their time management ideas find a place in the free personal productivity application called TimeGT.
The thing about time or task management apps is that there’s no “one size fits all” (thus TimeGT also might not be the final solution you are looking for). We all have our own foibles and like to see them accommodated in the solutions offered to us. Perhaps this see-saw of human nature gets mirrored in the numerous ‘get things done’ theories that are propounded, and by extension in the web or desktop apps that spring up.
My own confusion has seen me try out quite a few, keep some and discard some more. The strange thing is that we all think that there’s something better around the corner that can help with personal productivity. If you have yet to turn the corner, try out the posts we have covered on GTD and time management in the past. If you are beyond those and are looking for another one, then let’s head for TimeGT.
TimeGT is a personal task management desktop client for Windows, Mac and Linux. It comes in two favors – Rabbit (the free one) and Hedgehog (the paid version).
The paid version that’s called Hedgehog comes with online server backup features and gives the user some say in adding new features. Otherwise, both the versions are exactly the same. It is on the Rabbit we will focus on for now. So, let’s pull the rabbit out of the hat and see how it helps us with our personal productivity.
TimeGT can be installed using the 51MB sized Windows installer which also includes Java runtimes. As I have Java already running in my machine, I opted for the more ‘portable’ 19MB zipped version. I can run this without an install straight from its unpacked folder. The latter zipped version is also multi-platform.
Even for the free version, a TimeGT account needs to be created. That done, you can log into the app and create some projects for your life. TimeGT follows David Allen’s GTD workflow and that’s apparent from the interface. It also puts in some additions from other theories.
Projects are what take more than one step to complete. Think of them as major areas of life that can be further drilled down to as many levels as possible.
Each project has individual tasks and tasks in turn need some actions to move it towards completion. The middle panel shows how each task can be organized. The Inbox is the dump for all your tasks in each project. There are three actions you can perform on a task and organize it – you can do it right now (Next Action), you can delay it for some time (Waiting For) or you can defer it altogether (Someday/Maybe).
Completed tasks can be moved away from sight into a separate area. Each task can be assigned a status like Completed or set a priority like In Progress, Important or Urgent. The most urgent ones move to the top, to be done in a top to bottom sequence. The Horizon slider on top also helps to review all your tasks in one go. Drag it around and see which tasks need action according to the time periods.
The right click menu gives you all the commands in a trice.
You can describe a task, add Notes and give it a time horizon using the start and due dates on the Task Details panel.
When you have a lot of tasks Tags help to keep them organized. Tags also help as a one touch filter.
It’s also easy to add tasks on the fly. TimeGT can be kept minimized in the System Tray. You can add tasks with a right click on the little icon. These tasks get dumped into the Inbox and can be organized later.
Reviewing It All
Did I get my share of stress free personal productivity? To a certain extent, yes because TimeGT makes it easy to dump my tasks into it. It also helped me to move the tasks around and organize it in context. What I liked about it was the ease of arranging our life areas into projects and the prioritization of tasks that come under it.
But it is also not perfect. A calendar view of how my month is panning out also would have been nice. That’s there in the paid version which allows sync with Google Calendar. What’s missing is a dedicated help file. Newbie’s will have to play around with it a bit. To get a hang of it though, you can watch a screencast at the site
Well, it looks like Microsoft still has a bit more stuff in store for CES that didn’t slip out ahead of its big keynote, with it now announcing its new Arc Keyboard that will exclusive to Best Buy (at least initially). Like its Arc Mouse, this one is slim and high on style, and relatively light on any extraneous features, although you will get a 2.4GHz wireless receiver that can be tucked away in the keyboard, and at least a few extra function keys. Look for this one to be available February 21st for $59.95
Windows 7′s so-called God Mode is actually a shortcut to accessing the operating system’s various control settings.
Although it’s name suggests perhaps even grander capabilities, Windows enthusiasts are excited over the discovery of a hidden "God Mode" feature that lets users access all of the operating system’s control panels from within a single folder.
By creating a new folder in Windows 7 and renaming it with a certain text string at the end, users are able to have a single place to do everything from changing the look of the mouse pointer to making a new hard drive partition.
The trick is also said to work in Windows Vista, although some are warning that although it works fine in 32-bit versions of Vista, it can cause 64-bit versions of that operating system to crash.
To enter "god mode," one need only create a new folder and then rename the folder to the following:
Once that is done, the folder’s icon will change to resemble a control panel and will contain dozens of control options. I’m not sure it’s my idea of playing god, but it is a handy way to get to all kinds of controls.
I’ve asked Microsoft for more details on the feature and how it came to be. But so far, Redmond is silent on the topic.
When we look ahead in 2010, we can see that the innovation have just begun. So here is the list of technologies, which I think, will make its breakthrough in the industry in the year 2010. Most of these technologies are related to online media and the Internet.
1. Apple’s Tablet
The noise and speculation are too loud to ignore the presence of Apple’s Tablet. If all the rumors are authentic and, if by all means Apple launches the iSlate on 25th January, then it’s going to be the thing to talk about in 2010.
We all must admit that a tablet is a concept that has been around us for a very long time. But it still hasn’t entered the main line consumer devices. But after the increase in sales and demand of Amazon Kindle and Nook, the market is pretty sure that a tablet is soon to be the device to have. So at this time, if Apple can bring the device with the interface that people are looking for then that’s it – We have our new iPOD.
The reason I say this is because, Online Reading is something that every Internet users do and Tablet provides the best way to consume the Internet content. Though we might still be working on a Laptop, Tablet will be the way to consume the digital content.
We are already seeing the usefulness of Google Voice, which many Americans have enjoyed. We already have software like Skype which allows you to communicate through the data line.
This shows that people are still comfortable with voice communication and it is not something that will die. We would still want to call our friends and family and communicate. Hence, we might see more advancement over VOIP and its strength.
Though mobile network provider would have to play a hard battle with the VOIP services, the conflict between these two models will end once we have more and more VOIP services running in our mobile devices.
3. Net Neutrality
The rise of Smartphone have suddenly put lot of pressure on the mobile network providers. The online content consumption and communication have stressed out the network providers. One of the prominent example is the failure of At&T to meet the iPhone’s demand. This have forced the content provider and distributors into two opposite poles.
Content providers like Google (YouTube for video content) consumes lot of bandwidth and this is not good for the network providers because they have to face the burden of handling the requests. On the other hand, content providers doesn’t have to pay anything to the distributor. As a result, Network providers would have to charge the users for more. Now this brings a great conflict between the consumer, provider and distributor. Net neutrality is all about giving full access to the Internet without any restriction. But we still need to make some breakthroughs in the communication between the provider and the distributor. Hence, we might be able to see some breakthroughs on Net Neutrality in 2010 and this should solve the current problem.
4. Social Profile Management(Advanced Analytics)
Online Social Networking have blasted the news channel on each opportunity in 2009 and it will continue to do so in 2010. More and more real time content would be distributed online and consumed by people. Online networking will see more than just sharing information.
2009 had an overwhelming reaction towards social media which created a lot of junk in the Internet. Currently, so many in formations and contents goes to waste and doesn’t make its way towards the targeted audience.
2010 will see a revolution towards social profile management with advanced analytics. This will be applying spam control over your network and strengthening the efficiency of your network connections. Profile search will also be a big thing, as sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook gets employed in professional hiring. Social network provides a best way to reach out to potential business and hence search (not for content) but for people should be big. Hence, social profile management with advance analytics will be the next big thing for social networks
Client desktop computing is surely the new way towards connecting people to offices. Virtual desktop
or Virtual machines will soon be employed in many offices providing better flexibility to hardware and software selection. This will reduce all the hardware cost of servers and desktops CPU maintenance in office. This will also reduce the cost of software as most will be deployed in the virtual machine. This is a key to cutting costs, lowering complexity, as well as increasing agility as needs shift.
6. Online TV
YouTube and other online video sharing sites have almost killed the TV. The new generation prefer Internet over TV channels. As with the music industry, TV channels have understood and going online is the only way towards future and they have to jump into this bandwagon before it’s too late. There are already many commercial channels shifting their attention from TV to Youtube or other sites like Hulu. Further, Google have already announced its paid content over Youtube and the new video advertising technology.
Along with TV, advertising also has to make its way to the eco-system and we already know of many rumors over Apple and Google coming with ways to prevent viewers from skipping the ads. This makes TV programs the best way to enter into Internet. Hence 2010 will certainly see the hand and hand cooperation of the Internet providers and the Online TV channels.
7. Cloud Computing
Cloud computing will be the new way of doing business over the internet. It will be more of virtual resources management, where company can optimize his/her resources according to needs and dynamic adaption to changes. This will allow companies to greatly enhance their products and services. Cloud computing will also leverage the potential of web application in the Internet and we might be seeing some great online applications for users and also enterprise solutions.
8. Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality is going to blow people’s mind in 2010. With the help of mobile computing, GPS technology, mobile camera and Google maps, mobile application is going to have much more power to bring the experience to the user.
Further, the core of the technology will be the mobile camera and the placement of processed information on top of live streaming content from the camera.
We are already seeing some of it with mobile GPS applications, but 2010 will be clearly put these applications on the top shelf of mobile apps. This will allows users to get every information by integrating physical reality and virtual world.
9. Online Microsoft Office
Microsoft did face a lot of failures in 2009 starting with its slow rise of Bing and failure of Windows Mobile 6.5. So 2009 was not the year for Microsoft, but we could expect more from Microsoft in 2010. It’s Windows 7 have received good reviews, hence in 2010 we may get to read more about it. Windows Mobile 7 is also on its way, it might help Microsoft gain over their Smartphone market share.
But above all, we might get to read about Microsoft’s online OS. Yes, the Word and Excel. With the strength of today’s computing power over internet, the time is right for the Online Office. We have already seen the success of the Google Docs, so the speculation is high for Online Office. Hopefully this will reduce their cost and avoid nagging updates. The new competition is obviously on the Internet.
10. Mobile Transaction (Mobile Banking)
We all surely need to get rid of credit cards and debit cards. Once the mobile becomes more than just a communication platform but your financial manager, we will see a huge potential of mobile transactions and mobile banking.
Mobile application builders have already started making applications for enterprise solution by making it enterprise friendly. For mobile banking and transaction to be successful we need an enterprise solution over the mobile network similar to RIM’s Blackberry which will confirm security over the mobile transaction.
The year 2010 will certainly see the glimpse of future’s monetary transaction
Picture this: It’s late at night, you’re sitting at your computer playing a game or working on a project when, suddenly, Windows freezes completely. All your work is gone, and you find a blue screen full of gibberish staring back at you. Windows is dead, Jim, at least until you reboot it. You have no choice but to sigh loudly, shake your fist at Bill Gates and angrily push the reset button. You’ve just been visited by the ghost of windows crashed: the Blue Screen of Death.
Also known as the BSoD, the Blue Screen of Death appears when Windows crashes or locks up. It’s actually a Windows “stop” screen, and is designed to do two things: tell you the reason for the error, and to calm your nerves, hence the use of the color blue (studies show it has a relaxing effect on people). Though Blue Screens are difficult to decipher, all the information you need to figure out what caused it is right there in front of you in blue and white—and that’s where we come in. We’re going to show you how to dissect the blue screen error details, so you can fix the problem that’s causing them.
BSoD 101: A Crash Course
There are many parts to a BSOD, but the most important is right at the top. The actual name of the error is presented in all caps with an underscore between each word. In some cases this will be all that’s needed to get to the root of the problem (thanks to the handy guide you are about to read). Most of the time, however, more information will be required.
Nearly every BSOD includes a portion of text with some basic troubleshooting advice, the first of which recommends restarting your computer. Gee, thanks for the tip Microsoft. Before you restart, copy the exact all-caps error code and hexadecimal values shown above and below this portion of generic text. The next paragraph provides sound advice, alerting the user to check to make sure their hardware is installed properly, or to undo any recent software or hardware upgrades.
Every BSOD is accompanied by a memory dump. What this means is when Windows crashes, it dumps whatever it is holding in system memory to a file, and saves the file on your hard drive for debugging purposes. If you contact Microsoft for technical assistance, they’ll want to know the contents of this file.
The “technical information” section portion contains the actual Windows stop code, in oh-so-easy-to-read hexadecimal form. Despite appearing unintelligible at first glance, this combination of numbers and letters is instrumental in determining the cause of the crash. Pay particular attention to the first set of numbers and letters. It precedes the other four, which are enclosed in parenthesis. If a specific driver is associated with the crash, it will be listed on the very next line.
I Run Vista, so I’m Immune to BSODs, Right?
Unfortunately, no. A common misconception is that blue screens don’t even exist in Vista, but not only are they still there, but we’re here to tell you we’ve seen them first hand. The good news is Microsoft put a lot of work into how Vista handles critical errors and other glitches that in previous OSes would cause a system crash. Most of the time, if a problem occurs, Vista will attempt to fix the problem without any interruption. For example, if your videocard crashes, you may see a messge saying "Display driver stopped responding and has recovered." In XP and previous OSes, this almost always would have resulted in a system crash.
In some cases, Vista will be unable recover on its own, and the result is a blue screen. By default, Vista will reboot itself after briefly flashing the blue screen. It happens so fast you might miss it, but once Windows reloads, you’ll be greeted with an error message similar to the above. You can try clicking the ‘Check for solution’ button, just as you can try your hand playing the lotto. Neither one is likely to result in anything.
Instead, scroll down and take note of the blue screen codes. Armed with this information, you can perform your own detective work. Alternately, if you’d prefer to see the actual blue screen rather than automatically rebooting, right-click the My Computer icon on your desktop, select Properties, and click on Advanced System Settings. In the System Properties window that appears, select the Advanced tab, click Settings under Startup and Recovery, and uncheck the box that says ‘Automatically Restart.’ The same steps also apply to XP.
In another nod towards streamlining the troubleshooting process, Vista’s Problem Reports and Solutions wizard can save you oodles of time in PC detective work, and may even alert you to potential conflicts you weren’t even aware existed. You can find this applet by name in your Control Panel, or just type Problem Reports and Solutions in Vista’s search box. Once loaded, click ‘Check for new solutions’ in the left-hand column. If Vista finds any conflicts, it will list them in the main window, along with any potential resolutions.
Windows only: Free application Portable Ubuntu for Windows runs an entire Linux operating system as a Windows application. As if that weren’t cool enough, it’s portable, so you can carry it on your thumb drive.
Built from the same guts as the andLinux system that lets you seamlessly run Linux apps on your Windows desktop, Portable Ubuntu is a stand-alone package that runs a fairly standard (i.e. orange-colored, GNOME-based) version of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution. It just doesn’t bother creating its own desktop, and puts all its windows inside your Windows, er, windows.
The coolest parts about Portable Ubuntu are:
- It actually works (in most cases, on most systems).
- It fits on a (larger) thumb drive and can run entirely from it.
- It can work on, and save to, your Windows folders and files.
- It’s persistent, so changes you make and apps you install are carried around with you.
- It’s easily manageable from Windows, and works great on dual monitors.
Wanna give it a go? Grab the latest Portable Ubuntu package (about 438MB as of this writing), then double-click to unpack it to a folder. On Vista or Windows 7, you’ll have to open your command prompt as an administrator (hit Windows key, type in
cmd, then right-click on the "Command Prompt" option that appears and select "Run as Administrator"); on XP, you’ll probably just have to launch a command prompt. Head to the folder where you extracted your Portable Ubuntu, and enter
run_portable_ubuntu and hit Enter to launch the .bat script.
Your machine will whir and decompress for a while, and you’ll likely get a few prompts to "Unblock" coLinux and a few other apps’ abilities on your system. Unblock all of them, and you’ll eventually get a small, move-able menu bar on your desktop, as seen in the top screenshot. Drag this wherever it’s comfortable to keep it, and you’re on your way.
From those three pop-out menus—Applications, Places, and System—you can accomplish pretty much the same thing as any Linux user can, just without the full desktop. Launch a program, and it appears in a window that looks like any other on your Windows system. Open a file browser from "Places," and you can get to your Windows files by heading to
/mnt/C (or substitute your drive name/letter for "C"). Feel free to carry around Audacity, GIMP, or any other editing programs that lack a Windows equivalent and start getting creative with them.
Whatever changes you make to your system stick with it. So if you, say, want to install VLC media player for some on-the-go media, you can install it from the Add/Remove dialog or tackle it manually in Accessories->Terminal, and it’ll be planted right in the Sound & Video menu. The same goes for system tweaks or startup apps you add to your little Ubuntu package.
Update: For those who miss it over at the Portable Ubuntu page, the default root password is 123456.
Portable Ubuntu makes for a great place to test out your more cutting-edge stuff, without having to worry about messing up your working Windows system. The latest beta of Firefox 3.1/3.5? Even easier to run than the portable solution, and you can keep both your Windows and Portable-Ubuntu-launched Firefox browsers open at once.
When you’re running Portable Ubuntu, Windows treats it like any other program. You can close down individual app windows from your taskbar, and pop it onto and off your desktop with little hassle.