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This isn’t a joke: A MacBook ranks as best Windows laptop

Want to buy the laptop that best runs Windows software? Then you might have to purchase a 13-inch MacBook Pro. At least that’s the recommendation from PC services company Soluto, which recently ranked Windows laptops. Yes, it really is strange that the best-performing Windows laptop is in fact made by Microsoft’s big rival, Apple.

The Study

CNET recently reported on a study by Soluto that examined the frequency of frustrating events on Windows laptops. The study examined everything from crashes to blue screens to hang-ups. The laptop that experienced the fewest of those annoying events? The 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Better Performance

The main benefit of running Windows on a MacBook? According to Soluto, the Windows programs installed on the machine run cleanly. In other words, they run as they are advertised.

Fewer Frustrations

According to Soluto, the MacBook Pro encountered fewer crashes, hang-ups and blue screens when running Windows software. The MacBook also booted at a faster rate. So what does this suggest? Just that Microsoft’s rough patch continues.

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Do you think Microsoft is going backward with its new logos?

What does Microsoft need to do in order to avoid criticism? The company produced the Windows 8 operating system as a way to appeal to fans of both traditional keyboard-and-mouse-based computing and those that preferred touch-screen technology. So what happened? So far, the experiment has blown up in Microsoft’s face, with a lot of critics pointing to the disappointment of Windows 8 as one rationale why PC sales are so sluggish. Although, I have to say that I disagree with that assessment!  Now critics are even going after Microsoft for its artistic failings, declaring that its new logos are aesthetically unpleasing.

Too Simple?

This user argues that Microsoft isn’t putting enough time into designing artistic, attractive logos. Instead, the user writes, Microsoft is dashing off simplistic, minimalist logos. These logos, the assertion goes, look like graphics pros dashed them off in five minutes. The user adds that Microsoft is dumbing down their logos since introducing Windows 8 and Office 2013.

Not Everyone Agrees

Quora is a site that promotes debate. And debate quickly followed the original user’s criticisms. A small army of Quora users argued that Microsoft’s new logos – including ones for Internet Explorer, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Office – are in fact rather stunning in their simplicity. Some others argued that just because a logo is simple doesn’t mean that it didn’t require as much thought and planning as more complex designs. In fact, the prevailing theme of the counterargument is that in some cases simplicity is best. When you are looking at computer graphics, sleek, simple logos in many cases are the best.

The Trend

The fans of Microsoft’s new logos may be right. The intention of the icons is to let users understand what program will pop up after they click on the icon. And the logos express this information well. You instantly can recognize which icon will open Microsoft Publisher and which will open Microsoft’s new cloud services. And if a logo does that? Then who cares if it’s too simple?

Please, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Posted in: Windows 8

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Living Social hack exposes dangers of using one password at multiple sites

It’s a mistake too many of us make. We become lazy, so we depend on just one single password to access several different Web sites. This, though, is a unsafe strategy. A recent story by ars technica on a serious password breach at daily deals site LivingSocial.com points out just why this is.

A LivingSocial.com breach

According to the story, LivingSocial.com — which offers users daily bargains on everything from restaurants and spas to amusement parks and museums — recently suffered a significant security breach. The breach exposed the names, e-mail addresses and password information for up to 50 million LivingSocial users, according to ars technica.

Changing Passwords

But, as the ars technica story illustrates, quite a few users might have responded too late to the password breach. Tim O’Shaughnessy, the chief executive officer of LivingSocial, was quoted after the password breach as telling the site’s users to change their passwords. Also, he advised users to change their passwords at other sites if these passwords are the same as or similar to the one they were using at LivingSocial. This is useful advice. Even better advice? You should never use the same password at different sites to begin with.

Change it Up

It can be a hassle to memorize dozens of passwords and log-in names. But it’s also important. What if hackers crack the password you use to log into Groupon? If you utilize that same password to pay bills through your credit union’s online site, you could be in trouble. Smart hackers can quickly get access to that credit union site and, possibly, drain the funds out of your bank account. The message here? Make the extra effort and modify those passwords. Never ever use a universal password at the sites you visit.

Posted in: Security, Uncategorized

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Watch out for these bad tech habits

You might look at yourself a tech-savvy sort, one that would not fall victim to some of the bad tech habits that raise your chances of being hacked or getting your smart phone stolen. But you may just be shocked at how many of the worst tech habits you practice. Fortunately, PCWorld recently ran a list of many of the most dangerous tech habits. Study this list, make the needed changes and shield yourself from hackers and computer failures.

Easy Target

Your tablets and smart phones are valuable. So don’t make it so easy for thieves to snatch them. A lot of people practice the bad tech habit of leaving their devices alone at a coffee shop or restaurant booth while they head off to get refills or another cookie. While they’re gone, thieves can simply snatch their devices off of the table and easily head out of the restaurant. Then there are those folks who practice the bad habit of staring so intently into their smart phone screens that they don’t spare any attention for their surroundings. It’s simple for crooks to sneak up close to these preoccupied folks, sock them and run off with their smart phones or tablets.

Hurting Your Health

Bad tech habits may harm your health, too. Perhaps you sit all day long hunched in front your computer. This bad posture can result in serious back pain. It may also cause carpal tunnel syndrome. The most effective solution here? Sit up straight, take frequent computing breaks and get a comfortable chair that places less strain on your back. On the subject of breaks, another bad tech habit is not taking any. As PCWorld says, your can hurt your eyes, strain your back and blur your thoughts if you insist on spending the whole day concentrating on your computer screen. Remember to take regular breaks to help keep yourself healthy.

Computing Errors

Do you employ the same password at each and every Web site where you register? This can be a especially dangerous habit. What happens if hackers crack that go-to password? How much of your personal details will they then be able to access? Or perhaps you never take time to back up your files. PCWorld correctly identifies this as yet another dangerous computer habit. Suppose your hard-drive crashes? If you don’t have back-ups, do you lose your most important files?

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Can you guess which mobile device is hacked most often?

Apple’s iPhone line of smartphones continues to be popular among consumers. Unfortunately, they’re also well-liked by a less savory group, hackers. Business Insider recently documented on a new study that discovered that the iPhone ranks as the most hacked mobile device. And most stunning? It’s not even close – the iPhone is the most hacked by a lot.

The most hacked

Business Insider cites research conducted recently by Web security firm SourceFire – “25 Years of Vulnerabilities” – in its story. As outlined by Source Fire, iPhones have registered 210 CVE – Critical Vulnerabilities – reports. In comparison, mobile devices powered by the Android operating system have just received 24 CVE reports. That’s a major difference.

Reasons

This begs the obvious question: Why have iPhones been hacked so many more times than have Android mobile devices? As with so many other big questions, there are no easy answers. Business Insider ponders whether part of the reason might be the iPhone’s popularity. The devices, in spite of everything, remain a top seller. But the SourceFire report states that Android has received fewer CVEs in 2012 than it did in 2011. This drop happened even though Android enjoyed a big rise in market share last year.

Another explanation?

In an interview with the ZDNet Web site, the author of the SourceFire report marvels if hackers don’t target the iPhone more often because it’s more of a challenge. Since of course, Android relies on an open platform. Consequently it’s relatively easy for criminals and scammers to create malicious apps for this platform. Users can then download them to their phones themselves. Hacking the iPhone, which does not use an open platform, might be more challenging. And that may inspire the nation’s best hackers.

Posted in: Security, Uncategorized

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Do your research before buying a new monitor

Is it time for it to upgrade your LCD computer monitor? Guess what? It’s not as simple a process as you may think. That’s because not all LCD monitors are the same. Some respond quicker. Others do a better job reproducing colors. And, of course, some are simply pricier than are others. For anyone who is considering a new LCD monitor, you’ll want to take a look at your computing habits. Do you generally use your computer for creating reports, searching the Web and sending e-mail messages? Or do you use it watch movies and TV shows? Perhaps you use it for making art. All of this matters when you’re in search of the best LCD monitor to suit your needs.

What matters

The Lifehacker Web site recently took a close look at the various monitors currently available. The lesson from this site? Monitors are definately not created equal. Some, for instance, feature lightning-fast screen response times. These monitors are favored by hardcore gamers who want their video screens to move as fast as their thumbs. Others do a incredible job of reproducing colors and boast clear viewing angles. These monitors might work better for graphic designers and other visual artists, according to Lifehacker.

Monitor types

You’ll find three main varieties of LCD monitors today: TN, IPS and VA. The Coding Horror blog recently sorted out these three types. According to the blog, written by Jeff Atwood, TN monitors are usually the most inexpensive. Additionally they boast the most responsive screen times, making them favorites among gamers. However these models also provide weaker color reproduction and less impressive viewing angles. The IPS monitor doesn’t have as responsive of a screen. But it does easily top TN monitors in color reproduction and viewing angle, making it great for graphic designers and other visual artists. These monitors, though, are usually the most costly available.

Option

A solid middle-ground choice for many might be VA or vertical-alignment monitors. As Coding Horror says, these monitors feature good color reproduction and viewing angle capabilities. Also they are more affordable than are IPS monitors. The downside? Colors shift when you look into these monitors at an angle. And the response time for these monitors is only average.

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Don’t think a passcode protects your phone from skilled hackers

You protect your smart phone with a passcode that you must enter before it comes to life. But just how much protection does this passcode actually offer? The disturbing answer? Not quite enough, according to a recently available story by the tech Web site Lifehacker. The report details several passcode exploits that hackers have used recently to compromise smart phones. Fortunately, the story does something a lot more comforting, too. It tells users how to best protect the data on their smartphones.

Passcode attacks

The Lifehacker story details the newest passcode exploits that have made it possible for hackers to compromise Apple’s iPhone and the Galaxy Samsung smart phones. The Apple exploit, enabled criminals to gain access to the iPhone phone app. Hackers didn’t gain total access to phones. But they made it possible to use the app to make phone calls, view pictures and look at or edit users’ contact lists. The exploit focusing on Galaxy smart phones operated in a different way. Hackers were able to flash the phone’s home screen for merely a second. This presented them enough time to launch apps or start downloading an app that awarded them full control over the phone.

Not foolproof

As these exploits show, using a lock-screen passcode is no guarantee that hackers won’t be able to break into your phone. As the Lifehacker story says, passcodes today are little more effective at keeping out hackers than are standard passwords. Which means that you need to take the extra steps if you wish to secure your phone from cyber criminals.

Protection

As with all things tech, it is possible to do something so it will be more challenging for a hacker to break into your smart phone. First, use a strong password, one containing letters, numbers and symbols, for your lock-screen passcode. Next, make sure you encrypt your phone’s data. Finally, Lifehacker recommends utilizing services such as Apple’s Find My iPhone or the independent app Prey. These apps help you track your smart phone and erase its data if you lose it or somebody takes it.

Posted in: Connectivity and Acess, Security, Technology and How it's Used

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Strained eyes too common an occurrence at work

Does your work require you to stare at a computer screen for hours at a stretch? If so, eyestrain may become a serious problem. A current story by the everon small-business blog says that workers connected to their computers can face a host of problems, from watery eyes to headaches, increased sensitivity to light and difficulty focusing. The good news? Avoiding eyestrain is actually quite easy, even if you have to stare at the monitor for eight hours. The everon blog offered some simple techniques for reducing the negative effects of eyestrain.

20/20/20 Rule

What’s the key to avoiding eyestrain? Employees merely need to follow the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, employees need to turn away from their computer screens for 20 seconds. They should take a look at an object or image that stands at least 20 feet away. This surprisingly simple exercise will help keep eyestrain at bay. And it can make employees more efficient. And, best of all, everon found several worthy apps which can remind employees of when it’s time to take an eye break.

Workrave

Workrave received high marks from everon. This app will send a message onto employees’ computer screens telling them when it’s time to take a short eye break. The program will also suggest specific exercises for workers. A more advanced app is EyeLeo. This app will blank employee computer screens when it’s time for their short breaks. Then an animated leopard will guide employees through quick eye exercises.

The Coffee Break App

There’s also the Coffee Break app, though it’s limited to Apple. This app will steadily darken your screen as a reminder your break is coming up. When the break arrives, your screen will be totally dark, and it’s time for you to step away from the computer. Of course, not even Coffee Break can make you give your eyes a rest. That’s up to you. Here’s hoping you don’t skip those important eye breaks.

I’d love to hear about any similar apps that you’ve ran across.  Please, share them below.

Posted in: Tips and Tricks

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These apps make sharing your screen on a tablet a breeze

This has turned into a tablet world. And why not? Consumers can use these nifty and highly portable devices to watch movies, surf the Web, listen to online radio and send and receive e-mail messages while on the go. It’s little wonder that tablet sales have eclipsed the sales numbers of traditional laptop computers. But that doesn’t mean that tablets are perfect. Many users have lamented that these devices falter when it comes to sharing screens with other people. But this, too, is beginning to change, thanks to several high-end screen-sharing apps for iOS now available. Miguel Leiva-Gomez, a writer with the smallbiz technology Web site, took a look at three of the best. Start using these apps and you’ll soon be sharing screens with ease, even on a tablet.

Join.me

The join.me app comes in free and “pro” versions. To use this app on the iOS operating system, you’ll need to spend about $20 a month for the “pro” version. But as Leiva-Gomez writes, the investment is worth it. The software allows users to share all their screens with co-workers, and it does it without a steep learning curve. It’s exceedingly simple to use. The program also comes with other bonus features, including instant chat capabilities, Internet calling and file sharing.

Air Sketch

Leiva-Gomez says that this app will turn your tablet into a whiteboard with such features as multiple pages. Users can use images from their own libraries as the background of their whiteboard and they can make use of one of five different drawing tools. Users can also use Air Sketch to open PDFs. The application displays everything in real time, creating an environment well suited to collaboration.

Conference Pad

Though it’s a relatively simple app, that doesn’t suggest that Conference Pad isn’t also a strong one. Leiva-Gomez writes that that this app is especially promising in the case of zooming in on documents and PDFs. As he writes, users can perform this without giving up any image quality. The application also is an intuitive one, made to be easy for new users to master.

Now, I know that the iPad isn’t the only tablet on the market and trust me, I’m a big fan of the others.  But, that’s another blog post.  So, for now, have you heard any any other great screen sharing tools?

Posted in: Technology and How it's Used, Tips and Tricks

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Simple steps to protect your privacy

Smartphones, tablets and laptops are fantastic tools: They enable us to search the Internet, answer e-mail messages and watch video whether we’re sitting on the train or waiting for our flight at the airport. Yet these devices can be harmful, too. Should they fall into the wrong hands, your private information, everything from your online banks accounts to your e-mail messages to your Facebook pages, can fall prey to cyber thieves. And there’s little restriction to the problems they can cause. Luckily for us, there are steps that you can take to safeguard your privacy even in today’s age of mobile computing, and as Forbes says, these steps are really easy.

Password Protect

Password-protecting your mobile devices – your tablets, laptops and smartphones – is your first line of defense. If thieves must first guess your password before they can turn on your iPad or Amazon Fire, the chances are lower that they’ll actually gain access to your private information. As Forbes says, password-protecting your mobile devices is no different than locking your car doors when you park at the grocery store.

Google Alerts

To protect your privacy, you might want to find out what people are writing about you online. To make this happen, set up a Google Alert in your name. You’ll then receive a message whenever someone says something about you online. As Forbes says, there isn’t any easier way to track what’s being said about you.

Signing Out

You just completed changing your Facebook page. You’ve just transferred money electronically to your PayPal account. What do you do now? Make certain, before leaving the site, that you simply sign out. This is especially important if you’re using a computer at a library or any other public place. You don’t want the next user to see your accounts and gain easy access because you’re still signed in. All of us are busy. However you are not too busy to remember to sign out.

Posted in: Facebook, Uncategorized

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