Monthly Archives: December 2010

Skype on the iPhone Now Supports 3G Video Calling

One of the most prominent features in the Apple iPhone 4 is the ability to make handset-to-handset video calls between other iPhone 4 users through a built-in application dubbed as “FaceTime”.  While this is a great feature – especially seeing as how the device has both a front and rear-facing camera – many people have been quick to point out one major flaw in the concept; FaceTime only works over WiFi. This means users that are not in range of a wireless access point cannot take advantage of FaceTime via their 3G data service.  While some people have learned to live with this limitations, others have circumvented the issue altogether by using jailbroken iPhone firmware.  However, amidst their recent meltdown, Skype has managed to revamp their mobile application for the iOS platform, which now allows users to conduct video calls between other Skype users – over WiFi or 3G.

While the Skype application is not as “native” as FaceTime in the sense that it’s developed by Apple, the fact of the matter is both Apple and Skype have the potential to benefit from this sofware update.  You see, this introduction will likely add new users to Skype’s user-base (or refresh current users), meaning Skype will be seen as a larger and more “standard” network to conduct business on.  From there, I’m sure Skype will see an influx of users on the PC and Macintosh platforms in a snowball-type effect.

Read Article

What Recession? 2010 Holiday Sales Were Higher Than Expected.

There are very few people who would argue that the United States is in the best financial shape possible.  Over the last few years, our economy has been scary to say the least.  This less-than-desirable economy has had an effect on the holiday shopping season in years past, but it appears that this year is showing signs of a return.  The Seattle Times is now reporting that the holiday shopping season in 2010 had higher sales than any other year since the beginning of the recession.  While there are a number of reasons that can be seen as contributions to this upward trend, the reality is that the upward trends may very well foreshadow an economic recovery.

One important aspect that needs to be considered is the fact that the matter in which we have been conducting our holiday shopping has been heading more and more towards online sales instead of in-store sales.  This is one of the components that attributes towards the downfall of “Black Friday.”  Why is online shopping so significant?  Simply put, online shopping is significantly easier than the traditional shopping methods (think mall parking).  And when outlets make it easier for people to spend money, they’re more likely to do so.

Read Article

3 Companies That Can Afford to Take Gambles in 2011

As we near the end of 2010, we cannot ignore the fact that businesses of all ventures – even those once seen as invincible –  have been struggling to stay alive.  As Jeff wrote the other day, companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL desperately need to step up their game in 2011 in order to have any chance in the future. While these companies simply need to focus on keeping up with current trends and practices, other more successful entities are now in a position to lead the way for future innovations and to set the trends for the years to come.

For these businesses, the current way of doing things is keeping them alive, and their success in the past has put them in positions to be able to take upon new ventures; even if there is risk involved.  More importantly, these businesses probably can’t afford not to expand into new ventures, because if they don’t, someone else will.

Read Article

Everything You Should Know About the Microsoft Kinect

So you just got your brand new Kinect for XBOX 360 and now what you’re wondering what to do next?  No problem, we have compiled everything you need to know about the Kinect to get you started and on your way to a ton of fun.

The basics:

  • What is the Kinect?  The Kinect turns your body into the controller, your body movements control the game.
  • What games are available for Kinect? Here is a great list of Kinect games.
  • What else does Kinect offer? Kinect offers a number of other cool entertainment features including Video Kinect which is a live video conferencing application.
Read Article

Are You a Walking Target for Identity Theft?

Identity theft – the action in which another individual impersonates you in order to defraud an organization or yourself – is not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination.  In 1964 when the term “identity theft” was first coined, the majority of fraud incidents involved individuals who physically stole identification and documents in order to rob individuals.  While physical identity theft is still a growing concern that still deserves a great deal of respect and concern, the revolution of the Internet and instantaneous communications has led to a new revolution of identity theft that takes place over the Internet.  So how do you know if you are likely to become a victim of identity theft?

First off, one has to consider how they store their data.  While many of us store data locally and decrypted on our local computers, we neglect to take the proper precautions to protect that data.  Even if you have security precautions in place, it’s important to realize that system passwords can often-times be reset relatively easily, and that they are of no use when malware is brought into play.

Read Article

Use Amazon CloudFront for Fast Web Hosting at a Low Cost

When maintaining a website, content is always going to be your number one priority.  However, you also need to carefully consider two additional factors in order to ensure your overall success.  First off is cost – simply because no one wants to spend too much on web hosting.  Next off is speed.  In a previous article, Jeff outlined some of the reasons why page load times are so important to a site’s overall success and health.

For a couple of months now, I have been using Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) to host a handful of files such as screenshots.  More recently I wanted to put together a personal website – nothing fancy; just a couple of HTML documents that would allow me to have a personal online presence.  While I pondered purchasing hosting service, I ultimately decided to use “the cloud” and host my simple site on Amazon S3.  However, I quickly remembered that S3 didn’t allow for “index” files to show up.  So while someone could access my site just fine by going to “www.mysite.com/index.html”, simply going to “www.mysite.com” threw off an error message.

Read Article

Keep Your Eyes Peeled: A Chrome OS Notebook May Be in Your Future

A little more than a week ago, Jeff wrote about a website that was tracking all of Google’s Chrome OS notebook shipments in order to determine what regions the were being sent to and who was likely to get a hold of the device first.  Being as eager as I was to get my hands on the device, I was reloading the page on an hourly basis to see of Google had sent one of the devices my way and if I maybe – just maybe – was one of the lucky first users for the device.  However, the site that Jeff wrote about has yet to add any new tracking numbers to its list for about five days now because Google caught onto what was going on and began to randomize the tracking numbers.  While the 13,869 notebooks that have already been shipped out are still viewable, there have yet to be any new shipments added to the tracker.  But a recent development may mean that we will see a new batch of shipments going out – one of which might just make its way to your doorstep.

You see, yesterday marked the 21st of the month; the day in which Google officially closed their acceptance of new applicants for the pilot program.  What does this mean?  Simply put, this means that Google now has all of the potential participants organized and can now make the final decisions as to who will be lucky enough to partake in what may very well be a cloud-computing revolution.  With a better idea of their options, Google is now going to be able to make decisions as to who will be best suited to demo the Chrome OS units and who they will likely receive the most structured and helpful feedback from.

Read Article

Apple to Shut Down Software Downloads Page

For years now, Apple has maintained a downloads page on their website where OS X users new and old could browse through a list of software titles, read details about software titles, and even purchase and download content onto their Macintosh computers.  This portion of Apple’s website was seen as greatly beneficial in allowing new Mac users transition over to OS X with ease.  However, what was once seen as a simplistic way of browsing and purchasing software titles is beginning to seem more and more dated; especially with Apple implementing an App Store on the Mac OS X platform come January 6th.  Because of this, Apple announced today that they will be closing the legacy downloads page in order to make room for the new and improved App Store.

I personally support Apple’s decision to close down their downloads page, simply because it is no longer going to be an important resource.  When looking at the success of the iOS App Store, one of the large contributing factors towards its success was the ease of use.  By allowing individuals to purchase and download software in the most simplistic way possible, Apple saw a massive success with the iOS App Store – and will likely see the same success on the OS X side as well.

Read Article

Use a “Mobile” Email Account to Increase Productivity and Security

For many of us – regardless of what industry we are in – email is a major component of our day-to-day lives.  In fact, many people see email as something important enough to take with them on the go via means of their smartphones.  The ability to keep in touch with family, colleagues regardless of location definitely has its benefits.  However, as beneficial as it can be to have access to one’s email whilst on the go, the concept of having all of our most sensitive and personal information on a handheld computer is definitely a scary one.  That mobile device of yours is a prime target for thieves, and is just waiting to be stolen.  But in many cases the sensitivity of the information on a mobile computer far surpasses the value of the device itself.  By eliminating the amount of personal information that is stored and accessible on your device, you can increase your sense of security dramatically.

Creating an entirely separate email account for your mobile device is simple enough.  Some carriers offer an email service with a data/smartphone plan, but creating a third-party email account is far from a challenge.  Services like Gmail (and Google Apps) are great in the sense that they provide IMAP and POP support, ensuring that your email account will be compatible with any device you have – be it in the present or future.

Read Article

Do You Think The Future of Games is 3D?

Editor’s Note: This is a sponsored post by Lovefilm a video game and movie rental service based in the United Kingdom.

With 3D cinemas commonplace, and 3D television become an increasingly affordable option, 3D gaming was never going to be far behind. And it is the Playstation 3 that is first to jump on the bandwagon, with three complete games already available, and a further 50 expected in the coming year.

They do, of course, depend upon you having a 3D television, but the PS3 is ready to go as it is, the processing power already strong enough to deal with the added pressures that the games require.

Read Article

3 Companies That Cannot Afford to Fail in 2011

The new year is right around the corner and for some 2011 will be a crucial year to rebound.  For AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo 2011 is the year which will be the determining factor of each companies success in the future.  If these companies do not step it up in 2011 it will drastically effect their role in the years to come within the tech industry.

Currently, Microsoft does not have an answer to mobile (smartphones or tablets) and their cloud efforts (e.g. Office.com) are really just starting.  So far, the move to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets in addition to more cloud-based computing has been led by Apple and Google.  As for, AOL and Yahoo, they are competing for advertising dollars with Google, which is never an easy task.  Let’s examine each of the three companies and what they have to do in 2011.

Read Article

The Most Reliable Blogging Solutions

When setting up a blog or personal website, one thing to consider is uptime.  After all, if your website is constantly offline, you’re never going to see an increase in visitors.  Worse yet, websites with high downtime tend to have lower search engine rankings, making it all the more difficult for users to find – much less frequent – your blog.  While I typically recommend that anyone serious about their website evaluates their options in terms of web-hosts and server providers, the fact of the matter is that the flexibility of a full-on host comes with a price; not only of monetary value, but of time and know-how to set up.  This is the reason why so many people flock to blog hosts, who allow users to host blogs on their servers without the need to learn anything more than the blogging platform itself.  Without the need to configure an HTTP server, database server, or anything of the likes, you are able to focus on the most important aspect of your blog: content.

Pingdom, a company that provides uptime monitoring solutions, recently conducted a study to determine which blogging services were best in terms of uptime and reliability.  In a two-month evaluation process that went from 15 October to 15 December of this year, Pingdom set up a number of test blogs on various blogging networks.  From there, they monitored the uptime of these blogs in order to determine which blogging services had the smallest level of downtime.

Read Article

RIM’s BlackBerry Outsold the Apple iPhone This Fall

While there’s no doubt that Apple’s iPhone has been an amazingly successful product – both at the initial launch and through each subsequent update of the device.  While I previously criticized Research In Motion, the manufacturer of the BlackBerry, for not staying current with mobile trends, it appears that RIM is still very successful in the mobile industry.  You see, this fall RIM sold 14.2 million BlackBerry units; just barely outselling Apple’s iPhone, which only sold 14.1 million units.

While it’s easy to understand why someone would be flabbergasted over this fact – especially seeing as how the Apple iPhone seems to be significantly more “popular” than BlackBerry units – there are a number of logical reasons why the sales numbers are what they are.

Read Article

YouTube Taking the First Steps to Produce In-House Content

For years now, YouTube has been seen as a well-known and trusted video sharing website.  In fact, the site has become a de facto of forms for video storage and distribution, and has only grown larger since Internet giant Google purchased the site in 2006.  One of the most important aspects of YouTube has been the fact that the company has stayed out of the production aspect of videos, and has rather focused on providing the most robust, stable, and feature-rick video service out there.  This has allowed users such as you and me to be the directors; producing and uploading content as individuals.  YouTube’s implementation of this philosophy has been the driving factor in letting a great number of “YouTube celebrities” obtain the status and relative fame that they have today.  However, it is now rumored that Google is looking to purchase Next New Networks; a production company that owns a number of web-based television networks.

While the exact details have yet to be published (or even confirmed) by either Google or Next New Networks, The New York Times is claiming that they have two credible sources; both of whom are incredibly involved in the issue.  Because of the reputation and credibility of The New York Times, I am have faith that they have checked their facts and that the deal will actually go through.

Read Article
>