“The cloud” is something of a buzzword these days: there’s lots of talk about it, but not everyone knows what it means. Windows Live SkyDrive [http://explore.live.com/skydrive] is a cloud-based document storage service, and what that means is that it can keep your documents safe from damage or getting lost, allow you to copy those documents to any computer at any time, and enable you to share documents via email or collaborative editing. The cloud component refers to where these documents are stored; rather than keeping them on your computer, they are in a password-protected portion of the Microsoft servers, completely isolated from the various threats that go along with everyday internet usage.
SkyDrive is integrated directly with the latest version of Microsoft Office (Office 2010). What this means for the user is that files typed up in Office programs, like Word and Excel, can be saved directly to SkyDrive [http://explore.live.com/skydrive-get-started?T1=t2], saving you the hassle of uploading them yourself. In addition, new Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote documents can be created directly within SkyDrive, and the use of Office Web Apps allows said documents to be edited directly. The Web Apps also allow for collaborative editing [http://explore.live.com/skydrive-share-photos-files?T1=t4], so multiple people can work simultaneously on the same document without the clutter of multiple copies or edit merging.
Another use for SkyDrive is photo sharing [http://explore.live.com/skydrive-get-started?T1=t4]. Whereas normally sending photos in an email would require attaching them individually, and thus being subject to attachment size limits and inbox clutter, SkyDrive can be used to store entire albums of photos and then simply linked to in the email. The recipient can then browse and download photos from the SkyDrive at their leisure. At the same time, permissions can be set on the SkyDrive so as to keep some documents private while others are available to anyone.
While SkyDrive is currently somewhat of a standalone product, it will be much more heavily integrated in Windows 8 [http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/02/20/connecting-your-apps_2c00_-files_2c00_-pcs-and-devices-to-the-cloud-with-skydrive-and-windows-8.aspx]. An app under the new Metro interface will allow SkyDrive files to be easily accessed and browsed outside of a browser, as well as making said files and the SkyDrive itself available from any other app. This is built-in alongside the open and save functions, so any app that can access files can access cloud storage through SkyDrive.
One of the greatest thing about Skydrive is the price – Skydrive is Free! 25GB of storage for your files for free! Skydrive apps are available for Windows Phone and iOS and there are currently a number of thrid part Android apps as well as the new OneNote for Android app just released from Microsoft that lets you access your notes on Skydrive from an Android phone.
Happy Holidays everyone! Once again it is that time of year, and I am always asked what I think are good tech gifts for Christmas and what kind of things to buy. This year, tablets are hot! From the new Amazon Fire, to some really nice new Android tablets, to the every present iPads. One thing to remember, Tablets are designed as consumption devices, they are great to browse the web, read emails, play games on, but they are not a replacement for a computer, nor are they generally very good for creation (writing a long letter, or trying to update a spreadsheet are not really enjoyable or easy on a tablet). If you simply Must have an iPad, take consolation that as soon as you (or whoever you give it to) get it set up and get your apps paid for that the iPad 3 will be coming out. If you are going the mobile data route, then iPad’s are no competition for the new 4G enabled Android tablets which give you blazing fast internet speeds, and full Flash so you can actually view pretty much all websites out there (something Apple mobile devices will never be able to do). The iPads do have their uses, and they are well made devices, but they are pricey and are in reality not much more than a stretched out iPod. I personally prefer the Android tablets as there is much more choice in devices, and I find they have more and better features that I want. Also, if you happen across a cheap HP Touchpad, you can fairly easily install CyanogenMod Android ROM on it, thus making it a truly worthy tablet – the Touchpad is an awesome device in terms of harware and quality of its build, however the stock WebOS leaves a bit to be desired. At the prices they have been going for though, it is certainly worth a look. Tablets are growing in popularity, and are certainly something that has many different uses and they make a great gift. I would be hesitant about dropping $500+ on a tablet for a child to play games on though as one drop and it’s game over for good!
For computers, Laptops are all the rage, but be careful, you often get what you pay for in terms of quality. I prefer the new iCore series of processors from intel i3, i5, and i7, as they generally have the best power/performance and in my experience usually run better than many of the AMD’s. Stay away from Celeron, Atom, etc unless you are looking for long battery life at the expense of performance. As always, more RAM is better, and just as important is the quality of graphics – the higher end nVidia and ATI graphics are needed if you plan on any serious gaming or graphic/video editing. Also make sure you check out the screen resolution and how they look in real lighting – there is a HUGE difference in screen quality out there, and the only real way to tell is by direct observation!
In the end, what you choose is up to you, but it always pays to do a bit of research first: check online, talk to friends, ask your neighborhood geek – whatever you do though, don’t ever count on or listen to the sales people at your local BestBuy/OfficeDepot etc. While some of them may be knowledgable, in my experience, most of them have no idea what they are talking about, and often give totally false or misleading information (if they really knew that much about technology, would they be working at one of these retail outlets?) – whatever you do, don’t fall prey to the upsell of basically worthless extended warranty service (you can often get extended warranties direct for the manufacturers), nor should you buy any of the offered security products or add on services they offer (why should you pay them to take off the same crap they themselves put on your computer in the first place!).
As always if you have any questions, need some help with new techology setup, or need computer service or repair here in Pensacola Florida, feel free to contact us at http://pensacolacomputers.com
No doubt about it, Apple devices have made a huge impact over the past few years with some amazing innovations, but at what price to our technological intelligence? Apple has swarmed the market with iPods, iPhones and iPads, basically all the same device in a different size (the phone makes calls, but that is about the only main difference). Steve Jobs has decided how the world should use portable devices with his ‘Apps’ and he has done a masterful job at it. Have you ever noticed that nothing ever ‘appears’ to crash on these Apple devices? That is because Steve is quite a good manipulator, he decided that he would pull the wool over our eyes and made it so that when an App on one of his devices has a problem, it just disappears – no warning, no error message, just poof, its gone. This is a great psychological dupe of people. Many people end up thinking that they accidentally closed the app with a bump, swipe, or touch, when in fact the app just crashed due to bad programming by Apple or the Apps maker.
The Apple devices like the iPad have taught us a different way of doing things – and many times that way is harder and more innefficient. Sure, the iPad is a great device for consumption of data, for viewing things, for reading, for surfing the web, but it is quite innefficient at data creation. I have seen many businesses fall for the lure of the iPad, not so much because it helps them, but because of the cool factor (many ‘thought’ it would help them, until they actually tried to use them). Don’t get me wrong, Tablets definitely have a place in business, but it is sad to see someone like a doctor struggle with trying to enter data on an iPad and taking 10 times longer than it would take to sit at the PC that is right there. I almost laugh out loud when I see people trying to use an App clumsily with their fingers that would be so much easier to do on a real computer with a mouse and keyboard. When it comes to using technology efficiently, Apple definitely makes us dumb.
Then of course we have the wonderful Apple marketing machine that has placed Apple devices in Schools wherever they can. This is so the young impressionable ones will see them and want one – and who wouldn’t want a sleek, aluminum body laptop, or all in one with that big Apple logo? Of course no one explains to the kids that learning how to use an Apple won’t get them squat when it comes to applying for a job. Businesses do not use Apple computer’s, they are not made for business, they are not secure, they do not have hardly any business software, and 99% of the worlds businesses run computers other than Apple. A security expert at the latest Black Hat security conference summed up the danger of using Apple’s Server computer in a business environment when he said “once you install OS X Server you’re toast“. Learning how to use a Mac will actually probably hurt students when it comes time to venture out into the business world as they will have to relearn many things. It may be ‘cool’ to have that Apple in class, but cool doesn’t pay the bills.
Now don’t get me wrong – Apple makes excellent quality devices, they pretty much always have (despite their massive exploitation of Chinese workers, but hey, everyone does that <sarc>), it is also true that you have less of a chance of getting malware or a virus on a Mac (not because they are more secure, that myth has been shattered), it’s because people write most viruses today to make money and infecting computers that hold such a small share of the market just isn’t that profitable. The iPad is slick, it has an easy to use interface, and it doesn’t show errors like Android devices (which do tell you when there is an error with the software). The iOS devices have a wealth of apps, which also make a wealth of money for Apple, and you can find an app for just about anything that Steve Jobs will allow you to have, because after all, it appears as if Steve wants people to be dumb when it comes to technology, that is how Apple has made their money.
I just upgraded my phone, a Droid X, to the latest Samsung 4G Droid Charge running on Verizon’s network, and I must say, after a bit of tweaking, I am quite happy. 4G is amazing with blazingly fast download and upload speeds, in fact, my phone is now as fast or faster than most people’s home intenet here in Pensacola. The folks at the Pensacola Verizon store on 9th ave were great as always, making the transition as painless as possible. While 4G is fairly new to Pensacola, I was pleasantly surprised on a recent trip to New Orleans to find that 4G was available for a good portion of the trip and it seems to be pretty strong in most areas of Pensacola. The Droid Charge has a ton of great points and a few not so great points, though with a bit of tweaking, those not so great points are easily manageable.
The Droid Charge 4G gives you quite a few things you definitely won’t find on any iPhone, starting with 4G. 4G speeds allow for much faster communication on the internet and allow applications like Netflix to work as they are supposed to, without freezing and stuttering. It also allows for smooth video calls via apps like Fring or Google Talk. Browsing the web is also a pleasure with full Adobe Flash support so you get to experience the full web (something no Apple iOS device can do). The Droid Charge also has a pretty good 8MP rear facing camera that takes good pictures and video, and a front facing camera for video calls. Add an HDMI port so you can hook up an HD monitor (although with the Allshare app you can easily share your media via a wireless network to wireless devices).
Stock out of the box, the Samsung Droid Charge does not have the greatest battery life – in my tests I was getting about 8-10 hours of normal usage. However you can get an extended battery, or even better, you can avail yourself of the wonderful Android development community (I like xda-developers.com) to find a wealth of free custom ROMS that replace the stock Android software. Most of the custom ROMS are pre-rooted (which allows you much more freedom in customizing your device), and many are highly optomized to give you better performance and much better battery life. Using some apps like the LTE switch (which allows you to switch easily between 3G and 4G) and a custom ROM, I am now easily getting a full day + of battery life with a bit heavier than normal usage. There is a HUGE community of developers behind the Android devices, and people are coming out with new tweaks, fixes and enhancements just about every day.
4G on Verizon also give you what ATT touted for a long time with their iPhone – the ability to talk and surf the web at the same time. While I never really saw this as a must have feature, it is nice to know you can do it if you want to. The Droid Charge has an amazingly bright screen which you can see even on a bright sunny Pensacola Florida day, and with all of its features like GPS, 2 Cameras, HDMI and USB ports, highly customizable Android OS, it is the best smartphone I have ever owned. Add in the ability (once rooted) to add free wireless tethering apps that you can use to make your phone a wireless hotspot without the extra charges (just don’t get greedy), I have found that the Samsung Droid Charge 4G from Verizon is certainly making my communication a lot better and easier. With my work for Pensacola Computers, I can easily access what I need to when I need to and have fun doing it!
With the popularity of social media like facebook and twitter, and the growing use of mobile devices such as tablets and smart-phones, having a website and Internet presence is becoming more important. Many business owners are sometimes overwhelmed with all the information out there and it can get confusing when people start talking about SEO and Places pages, and Facebook widgets etc, but the nice thing about the web is that you can start small and simple and then easily grow as you learn and expand.
I run into people who own small businesses every day who do not have a website and I wonder how much potential business they might be losing because of it. With so many people now using the Internet to shop and to find places to purchase things, having a web presence is more important than ever. Unfortunately, there have been many small business owners who have been ‘burned’ by unscrupulous web designers who have charged them thousands of dollars for websites that are not really worth it, but there are certainly many of dollar wise alternatives available if you do a little bit of research. For many businesses, getting even one customer from it can easily pay for the website, and having a website definitely increases your advertising exposure in one of the most cost effective ways possible.
I had one business owner that called me and asked if I could help him setup a website and he proudly told me that he had gotten his domain name himself. I asked him how much he paid for the domain and he told me that he was happy that he found the name he wanted at a bargain price of $300 (for a year). Unfortunatley, he too fell prey to a company that misled him and sadly I could have shown him where to get that same domain for @ $10 a year.
For a small simple website, you should be able to find a domain for @ $10 year, and then find hosting for it (the server that holds the website files and makes them available on the Internet) for $4 – $10 a month depending on your needs. Of course it takes a bit of research to find the best deals – and the best deals are not always the cheapest. You should always be careful of shared hosting companies that offer a lot for a little, as you may find your website on a server with hundreds of other websites and find that pages load so slowly that people usually leave your website before they even see it! There are however a number of large and reputable companies which offer good deals and good performance for a reasonable price, so a bit of beforehand investigating can certainly save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Then there is the website itself. Setting up a simple website is not that hard, nor should it be expensive. Personally I tend to stay away from those all-in-one site designers that many companies offer. The built in site designers are often slow, clunky and end up giving you a website that just looks bad. I have found that using a content management system like WordPress is often the easiest and cheapest way to get a professional and easy to manage website up in minimal time. Systems like WordPress allow you to design and edit your website without any special software and there are a ton of free themes and plugins available to help you customize your website.
I have setup many WordPress sites over the past few years for local businesses, and what I like the most about using WordPress is that the websites can be easily customized to be unique and professional, and the business owner or their employees can easily update information on the website without having to call and pay a web developer every time they want to make a simple change. The ability to control your own website is something I think is very important as I have seen far too many business owners who have websites that they hate because they have some developer that they have to call (and usually pay) every time they want to change a line of text or a picture.
At Pensacola Computers, we have helped many local Pensacola area businesses start their own websites and have a lot of insight in the local Pensacola area market with experience in both website design and local search engine placement (getting on the first page of Google search is always a plus!). We are also experts with WordPress websites and have setup a number of websites for local businesses with excellent search engine placement and front page google results. Visit us today at http://pensacolacomputers.com or call us at 850*390*4242
I got an original iPad when it first came out, both because it was something different and so I could support a number of clients who were getting them. It was cool, a very slick toy, but in the end it was a toy, just a larger iPod (which is Exactly what it is). Sure, it had some cool apps, most of which cost $$$ that add up much too quickly. The interface is very polished, as well it should be considering the years of iPod development that came before it. But in the end, it is the glaring lack of some things that make it undesirable (despite what Steve Jobs hype machine will try to make you believe).
It doesn’t support flash, which contrary to Steve’s godlike wishes isn’t going to disappear any time soon. Without flash, a very sizable chunk of the web is not accessible, and I for one am not happy having a device that is that limited when it comes to web browsing – I hate that Steve Jobs is the one to decide what I can and can’t view – it is not that the iPad can’t view flash, it is that Steve will not allow it to, plain and simple. The hardware can handle it, albiet on some sites it might stutter, but at least give me that option. I also hate that I cannot easily transfer files to and from the iPad – both because of the lack of hardware support like the ability to use a SD type card, and the huge limitation of the software of iOS which is after all designed for a toy and not a computing device.
With the growing influx of Tablets running Android, I now have a choice. A choice between a number of devices which easily can view the entire web including flash content. Devices that support external media like SD type cards. Devices that have an actual file system that you can easily transfer to and from other devices (I can even do it very simply over a wireless network). In addition, I like having devices that have a huge development community behind them, a community that is not based on one man’s whim’s. The Android community is constantly striving to provide enhancements (free) to make your device better, more customizable, and more personalized.
I got a Viewsonic Gtablet back in November and considering it was less than 1/2 the cost of an iPad, has full flash support, supports an external SD card, USB, HDMI, and has a huge number of custom software ROMS available, it is a good starting point for Android. I have used this device for months, and while it doesn’t have built in 3G, it is very easy to tether it to my Android phone and use its data plan (and I don’t pay any extra for that either!). While in all honesty, the gtablet’s screen does not have as good a viewing angle as the iPad, and the current Android 2.2 software is not totally tablet optomized, it is one of the first of a new breed of Android devices.
Then comes my Xoom, which has pretty much totally replaced my iPad usage. The Xoom was the first Android 3.0 device, and while still having some growing pains, it is so much better in so many ways than the iPad that in the few areas that it is currently lacking, I can easily get by and actually not get ticked off when using it as I often did with the iPad. Steve Jobs is definitely smart and a Master of deception. One of the biggest complaints of Android devices is what they call Force Closes (FC’s). These happen on apps when something goes wrong, you get a message saying the app has a problem and is closing. This is frustrating for sure, and is often caused by people trying to run apps designed for other devices (phones apps on a tablet etc). Apple was much sneakier – instead of the common practice of coding applications with error code that runs when something goes wrong, Apple apps just disappear when they encounter a problem, or in the rare case, the device just freezes. This has the effect of making many people think that it is They who did something wrong, like accidentally closing the app – smart ploy by Apple that takes advantage of people by making them think it is their fault their device is not working properly.
With my Xoom, I have full access to all of my files, both on it and my home and business computer. I can watch TV shows, movies, browse the FULL web, watch all of the videos on YouTube (something you can’t do on any iOS device), I can even easily write my own apps and install them plus I have access to many different app markets like the Google Android market, the Amazon Android market (which gives away a free paid for app every day!), as well as numerous other smaller app marketplaces. I like having a CHOICE in my devices, in what I can do with them and in how I want to use them. The Xoom even comes stock with the ability to Unlock it to allow you to install any kind of software you want on it!
Despite all of the iPad hype - I think Steve’s ad machine has done a great job duping the public into believing they Need an iPad 2 (come on, it’s a slightly slimmer iPad with crappy cameras that aren’t even a megapixel, as compared to the Xoom’s 5 MP and 1.3 MP cameras). But while people play and PAY with their Apple toys, I will quietly work and enjoy my freedom of choice with Android.
There are more Android tablets coming out every day, and I have been lucky enough to own a number of them. From my first Archos 5 internet tablet, to the Gtablet I have had since last November, to my latest, the Motorola XOOM, Android is poised to take a huge chunk of the tablet market away from Apple. Not that the iPad is worthless, it has its place. The iPad is a wonder of fine design and it definitely sets the mark in some areas for what others should strive for. Of course it is overpriced and limited in some critical areas, which is why Android is going to be able to whack away at Apple’s current domination of the tablet market.
I love how you can easily tether the Gtable and Xoom to an Android phone. With the gtablet, it is as easy as Rooting (or installing a pre-rooted custom ROM) and then running one of the better tether apps - my personal favs are wifi-tether and barnacle( see Viewsonic G-Tablet Wireless tether to Droid 1 via Barnacle video). The XOOM is even better as it has native Bluetooth tethering and I can easily tether it to my DroidX phone and use the Droids data plan (the XOOM does not have to be rooted to do this either!).
The thing I really like the most about the Android devices is the amazing community of developers and helpers that it has spawned. There are numerous forums devoted to making these devices better with custom ROMS and tips and tricks to get them running great! The people are amazing and so helpful. My favorite site is xda-developers.com, which has an incredible number of amazing people who thankfully post a great collection of How-to’s for a huge number of Android devices. Want to know how to Root your Xoom? Want to know how to flash a custom ROM to your Gtablet? Want to learn how to tether your Xoom or tether your Gtablet? xda-developers has how-to’s for every one of those topics. I myself have made a bunch of video tutorials on how to do things on the gtablet and the XOOM, but almost everything I have learned has started with things I read on xda-developers.com. Super thanks to everyone there! Android Rocks!
For a bunch of my tutorials, head over to my site: http://pensacolacomputers.com
Pensacola Computers presents: We show you how to tether your Motorola Xoom tablet running Android 3 Honeycomb, to a Droid X via built in Bluetooth. This ‘should’ work on some other Android phones as well and they shouldn’t need to be rooted in order for this to work.
Visit http://pensacolacomputers.com for the latest updates and support for computers and Android devices.
Pensacola Computers Presents how to tether your Motorola Xoom Android 3 tablet to a DroidX using the free Wireless Tether app. This will work on phones that have the ‘ability’ to create a wireless hotspot but do not have the Verizon hotspot plan.
Today I picked up the brand new Motorola XOOM tablet from Verizon Wireless on 9th ave. First, let me give props to Melissa from Verizon who was friendly and provided awesome service (a great reason to buy direct from Verizon instead of from BestBuy!), and who sold me the very first XOOM this morning. The XOOM is the first tablet to feature Google’s Android 3 (honeycomb) operating system, and from the first impressions, it is a winner and I will definitely be using it instead of the iPad.
Featuring an nVidia tegra 2 dual core processor, 1 GB DDR2 RAM, 32 GB onboard storage, front and rear facing cameras with HD video capability, USB and HDMI connections, the hardware on this beast is fantastic. After playing around with the Viewsonic gtablet for the past few months (one of the first tegra 2 tablets), I must say I am impressed with this hardware.
So far, setting up the tablet was a breeze and it easily accepted my google apps logon credentials. A few things to note on it for those who may be purchasing one immediately, this unit does support Adobe Flash, however it is not pre-installed and Adobe has confirmed that they will be releasing a new version of their Flash player that is optomized for the tablet in the next couple of weeks. Also, Motorola will soon be pushing an update which will make the SD card slot functional. Verizon and Motorola have promised free upgrades of the current 3G hardware to 4G LTE later this year.
Following is a short first look video of the Motorola XOOM tablet:
Pensacola Computers will be following up with a number of videos on the Motorola XOOM tablet in the days and weeks to come. Be sure to visit http://pensacolacomputers.com for the latest information and support for computers and Android tablets.