Archive for February 2011

I’m a Mac, and I’m a Virus

imageEven though Macs are a tiny percentage of the home computer market, someone has taken the time to write a virus just for the Mac.  It’s a variant of a common virus seen attacking PC’s and it’s just for all the Apple owners who were told (or thought) they couldn’t get a virus on a Mac.  InfoWorld has the article on what it looks like, how you get and what it does.

Facebook Has Changed What the “Like” Button Does


Yesterday Facebook changed how the “Like” button works when you click it on a web site outside of Facebook.  TECHi has written a good article about it, calling it “bait and switch”.  You might want to think twice before liking a web site you’re on.  Here’s the link to the article:

DEAL: Lenovo 15.6” Laptop $399 at Office Depot

imageOffice Depot has this Lenovo (they bought the IBM PC division a few years ago) for only $399.  This is a good general purpose laptop for email, web-surfing, YouTube, etc.  If you plan on importing and editing videos then you may want to get a laptop with more power, but for most people this will serve you well at a great price.  It come with plenty of memory (4 GB), a 320 GB hard drive, DVD burner, webcam, numeric keypad and wireless-n built in.  It’s available online and in-store, so if the store near you has it in stock, you might as well check it out in person.

Find Cheap Gas With Your iPhone (and Android too)

imageMashable has an article on three apps for your iPhone that help you find the best price on gas in your area.  One of the apps mentioned in the article (Gas Buddy) is also available in the Android Market.

Here’s the link to the article:

Here’s the link to Gas Buddy in the Android Market (don’t forget, you can now install apps onto your Android phone from your computer’s web browser completely wirelessly, just log in using your Google account that you set up your phone with and the app will automatically install on the phone without you having to touch it):

DEAL: Acer 22” Monitor for $129 has this Acer 22” monitor for only $129.  I know some of you are looking to get into a bigger monitor than that puny little 17” you’re using, and you can appreciate the easier reading this monitor can give you.  It won’t get much cheaper for a monitor this size for probably another year, so you can suffer and wait or go for it now. 

Here’s the link – go get it:

You’ve Got USB, Get Ready for Thunderbolt!

imageOK, most of you reading this know what USB is, you probably plug your keyboard and mouse into those flat ports in the back of your computer, if you have any kind of smartphone or media device like an iPhone or iPod the USB port is what you’re plugging the other end of that cable into.  Maybe you have an external hard drive, well at best you’re probably transferring data at 240 Megabits per second.  Today Intel announced that Thunderbolt (formally known as Lightpeak) will be on the next MacBook Pros, which means it will soon be available on new PC’s as well.  What’s so special about Thunderbolt?  Technically it’s about  20 times faster than USB, and in reality probably 40 times faster, and with Thunderbolt technology, you won’t have a zillion cables behind your computer because you can just daisy-chain your various components together and the computer will figure out what is what.  So when you’re in the market for your next computer, and you start seeing references to “Lightpeak”, you’ll know that THAT’S the technology you’ll be looking for.  Later on when we start seeing it more commonly in computers I’ll explain how the name went from Lightpeak to Thunderbolt.

Windows 7 Service Pack 1 Ready for Download


If you bought a new PC in the last 16 months it probably came with Windows 7 installed.  Hopefully you’ve been keeping it updated along the way, but now Microsoft has released Service Pack 1 for Windows 7, which is a roll-up of previous updates along with a few new ones.  To get Service Pack 1, click on your start button, then “All Programs” and toward the top you’ll see “Windows Update”.  Click on it and it is listed as an “important” update.  The download will be somewhere between 44 and 533 megabytes depending on how up to date your system is.  The installer will check your computer and only install the updates that you need.  It could take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour or more, so allow the time but be sure to do it (don’t make me nag you again.)

iPad 2 Announcement Coming March 2nd?


Apple is having a media event on March 2nd, and all bets are on the anticipated iPad 2, which if nothing else is expected to have front and rear-facing cameras and probably a more powerful processor, possibly thinner and perhaps a better display.  All Things Digital has an article about it here:

DEAL: Toshiba 17.3” Laptop – $479

imageOffice Depot has this nice Toshiba laptop on sale this week for $479, that’s a $170 discount on a big, LED-backlit screen, 4 GB of memory, pretty decent AMD dual-core processor, 500 GB hard drive, webcam, HDMI port, media-card reader and wireless-N networking.  If you’re in the market, check it out on the site and then check it out in the store.  Here’s the link:

Is There an iPhone Nano Coming This Summer?

imageLast week, Bloomberg reported the possibility of an iPhone Nano coming out this summer, and now the Wall Street Journal is also spreading the rumor around (click here to read the article.)  If the reports are true, the new phone will be approximately 2/3 the size of current phone, and quite a bit cheaper to buy.

How Does Watson Do It?

imageIf you watched Jeopardy the last three nights and saw IBM’s Watson computer play against the two greatest Jeopardy champions of all time and am curious as to how Watson did as well as he (it?) did, InfoWorld has a not too-techy article on how Watson worked its magic.  If you have a computer made in the last couple of years, it probably has 2 processors and maybe 4 if you paid a lot – Watson has almost 3,000 processors and was really remarkable in its ability to sort out the strange wording you get in a Jeopardy “answer” and turn it into an appropriate “question”.  Here’s the link:

If you missed the show, the first two episodes are on YouTube here.

DEAL: Logitech Wireless Mouse–$13 at Best Buy

imageBest Buy has this Logitech wireless mouse for only $12.99, that’s $17 off the regular $30 price.  It comes in several colors and you can get it online or in the store (you can check on their web site to see if it’s in stock at your local store.  Here’s the link:

Best Android Phone Interface

The GREAT thing about an Android phone is that the operating system is open source, meaning a phone manufacturer and service provider can do pretty much anything they want to do with it.  The BAD thing about an Android phone is that the operating system is open source, meaning a phone manufacturer and service provider can do pretty much anything they want to do with it (and yes – except for one word those two sentences were identical.)

The Android operating system (which is what the phone needs to even run) is provided by Google for free.  The problem is when the cell phone makers (Samsung, Motorola, HTC, Nokia, etc.) “customize” it.  From there, it goes to the service providers (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint & T-Mobile.)  They add they own special touches on top of what the manufacturers have already added.

HTC by far has the nicest interface I’ve seen on any carrier.  Sure, it’s nice if you’re a raving fan of a particular genre or feature (for example Sprint has an exclusive deal with Nascar, and a tailored app just for you football fans,) but the day-to-day use of the phone is what counts.

I’ve used and dealt with the Samsung, HTC and Motorola interface versions of Android, and I have to tell you, if you’re considering an Android phone as your next smartphone, get one built by HTC.  I know you’ve probably never heard of them, but the “HTC Sense” (the name of the interface HTC puts on their phones) is by far the nicest and most featured filled of all of them.

Buying a phone used to be simple, but as their power and capabilities increase, so do the complications in choosing which one is right for you. 

So the next time you walk into a phone store, don’t feel bad about spending an hour or two figuring out which one YOU like.  If the sales person is impatient or rude, get another salesperson or go to another store.  Spend as much time as you like before buying the phone you want – after all, it will end up costing you a couple thousand dollars.

Taking Care of Your Laptop/Cellphone Battery

imageAll Laptops and Cellphones (along with tablets, iPods and most other portable devices) use Lithium ion batteries (abbreviated as “Li-ion”.)   Ars technica has an excellent article on the truths and myths of getting the most life out of your battery.  Here’s the link:

DEAL: Beautiful HP 25” Monitor–$219

imageIf you know me at all, you know that I’m NOT a fan (to put it lightly) of HP’s computers or printers, but when we talk about their monitors that’s a whole different discussion.  This is a big, beautiful monitor with a gorgeous picture.  One reason the display is so good is that is has a glossy screen – meaning there is nothing distorting the actual pixels from your eyes.  The downside is that it is reflective, so if you have a bright light behind you or perhaps a window – you’re likely to get a lot of reflections which may bother you.  I use two of these monitor side-by-side and I can’t say enough good things about them.  Now, I DO have a window behind me, but I also have a shade I pull when using the computer that eliminates the reflections and make these a please to work with.

It has a full HD 1920×1080 resolution, VGA and DVI (from your computer), and HDMI from another source like a Blu-Ray player.  CLICK HERE to go to the HP web page.  Be sure to use the coupon code SAVE30HP to save $30.

Here’s why I like the glossy screen: The “anti-glare” screen which seems to be so popular on desktop displays diffuses the light that reaches it by having a textured surface, reflecting the light in many different directions so you don’t see it.  The problem is that it also has a diffusing effect on what you see – most noticeable on the sharpness of text and richness of colors.

Oddly enough, laptops – which by their very nature are mobile and can be often outside usually come with glossy screens which are USELESS outdoors because of all the glare – I can only guess it has to do with marketing and what you see in a showroom before you buy (easy to move a laptop screen – hard to move a desktop display.)

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