Category Archives: cell phone

Design Tips and Practice for Non-Smartphone Mobile Hardware (which still exist)

This guest post is contributed by Grady Winston. Grady is an avid writer and Internet entrepreneur from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing, and advertising – implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients.

imageBreaking news: there’s an alternative to smartphones. It’s called a feature phone. You may remember them. They existed long before Android, iOS, Windows Phones and even BlackBerry. If you’ve been paying attention, which most people haven’t, you’ll notice they make up a huge portion of the global market. In fact, they’re very much alive and well.

Most developers completely overlook the feature phone market entirely, ignoring a massive market segment. In other words, there’s plenty of money to make with mass-market phones.

More About Feature Phones:

According to a recent Forbes piece, feature phones are now far more profitable than mid-market smartphones. How can this be?

As smartphones began their steady rise to dominance, popular handset makers from all over the world abandoned the feature phone market. Since most handset makers stopped development for mass-market mobile phones, it left a huge market wide open for Nokia and handful of feature phone developers throughout Asia. While the feature phone market is experiencing a decline, as of 2012, over a billion mass-market handsets are being sold annually. The bottom line: it’s time for developers to get in the feature phone development game.

Top Feature Phone Development Platforms

Brew MP

· About – The Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless (BREW) platform, developed by the engineers at Qualcomm, has been around for upwards of a decade. To date, over a billion devices have been sold with BREW as the chief OS platform. Additionally, over $3 billion has been paid out to BREW developers.

The big idea behind BREW is that it seamlessly integrates simple applications with feature phones. The way it does this is kind of misleading. Yes, BREW-powered phones can be programmed in C+ or C++, but for all intents and purposes, BREW works as the pseudo operating system.

While the faux-OS allows you to run native code on each device, you don’t need to code applications for a specific device. This is largely because the runtime library is actually a part of each BREW-powered phone’s on-chip firmware. In other words, BREW is among the most flexible and powerful feature phone development platforms out there.

· Navigation & Basic BREW Development Concepts – Start by downloading the BREW SDK from the Qualcomm site. Once you download the SDK or DevKit from the BREW resources page, you’ll find the Brew Simulator or Emulator, depending on the SDK release.

Throughout the dev process, the simulator offers multiple levels of application signatures: one signature to authenticate you (the developer), and another signature to ensure the application has passed all BREW-related app testing.

Testing apps involves transferring them to-and-from a BREW-powered handset via USB using the Brew AppLoader tool built by Qualcomm. If the app isn’t configured correctly, BREW will automatically delete the app once you restart the phone. From here, apps can be deleted and removed from the handset via USB to free up onboard memory for further app testing.

Symbian

· About – While the Nokia-owned Symbian OS has recently been re-tooled to focus on smartphone development; its history is in feature phone development. The platform is based in C++ programming, but there tends to be multiple issues with the Symbian platform to date. Essentially, Nokia had big plans for the OS – mainly to provide a development community with a repository of standardized code to work with – but third-party developers own much of the code. This essentially means that only a select number of development firms have access to the full source code.

In 2010, the development platform was switched over to open source, which marks the largest open-source code migration in the history of mobile development.

· Basic Symbian Development Concepts – The bad news is that the Symbian development platform is fairly complex. The good news is that once you wrap your head around it, it can prove to be a powerful platform for feature phone development.

For starters, the platform is fairly versatile. While the bulk of apps are programmed in C++, you can easily code with languages as diverse as Python, Java ME, Flash Lite, Ruby and .NET.

Downloading the SDK will reveal some crucial components you’ll need to spend some time with – namely the header files, library files and the Windows-based emulator.

The basics of Symbian development can be broken down into three main components: descriptors, active object and the cleanup stack. The problem with using these components is that they’re based on older, out-of-date Windows hardware components. While you can use a wide range of MobileDev languages to create apps, implementation is often limited to a small number of Nokia handsets.

Most Symbian developers use third-party tools like Carbide C++ express. With these coding tools, programmers can benefit from UI design features and other app debugging tools to get apps ready for deployment in a timely fashion.

The same development concepts that apply to smartphone apps also apply to feature phones: create an app people can use and you can make money off of. The key takeaway is this: there’s a $3 billion+ development market that many mobile developers have given up on. Don’t let that be you.

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Filed under Business Development, cell phone, Connected Devices, Guest Writers

High-Def Life: The Future is Looking Clearer Than Ever

Where Apple goes others follow. Apple’s iPhone, iPad and other devices are known for being on the cutting edge of technology, particularly in terms of setting the bar for individual user experience.

Apple is making a huge push toward high-definition and customers are not pushing back. Instead, high-definition is being welcomed with open arms the way a new member to the family is accepted – as if she had been there the whole time.

High-definition displays are rapidly becoming a permanent fixture. Companies like Google, Motorola and Nvidia are putting out their own high-definition products to compete with Apple and meet customers’ new (and high) expectations.

imageThe interest in high-definition consumer electronics has seen a significant increase in the past couple of years. Usage of high-def TVs and laptops, particularly among children and teens, was growing, while that of other consumer electronics stayed the same or was down in 2010.

Today, the expectation for high-def has expanded to smartphones, tablets and other devices. Apple’s new Retina display on iPads and MacBook Pros is meeting this new need and capturing the attention of customers worldwide.

Apple claims that the new Retina display on their iPad 3 surpasses the retina’s perceptive capacity. The iPad 3 features an operating system that displays at 300 ppi and the ultra-HD video blows away previous viewing options.

Apple’s Retina display is also available on the MacBook Pro. Apple unveiled a new 15-inch MacBook Pro 2012 with Retina display at the Worldwide Developer Conference earlier this year, sparking rumors of a 13-inch model soon to come. The company also announced the retirement of the 17-inch MacBook Pro without Retina.

The success of the Retina display began when Apple introduced it on their iPhone 4. It was then used for the iPhone 4S and the iPad before making it onto the 15 inch MacBook Pro, which demonstrates Apple’s commitment to high def.

The larger screen pairs well with the phones cameras and video chat capabilities. A Droid Razr HD seen in China featured a 13-megapixel camera on the back plus a 3-megapixel camera on the front. The extra megapixels contribute to what appear to be nicer pictures from the Razr HD compared to the iPhone 4S.

imageTo compete against the iPhone 4, Motorola is releasing their Droid Razr HD. This device has become one of the most anticipated smartphones on the market, according to International Business Times. Reports suggest that the Razr HD will be stronger, thinner and lighter than the iPhone 4S. The Motorola Droid Razr HD will feature a 4.5-inch 720p HD screen, while the iPhone has a 3.5-inch screen.

The Motorola Droid Razr HD’s screen is reportedly 1196×720, which matches the resolution of the Samsung Galaxy S3. The crisper, larger screens make both of these phones attractive alternatives for the iPhone 4S, though Apple is hard at work on the upcoming iPhone 5.

The industry now needs to catch up with the new technology by creating apps, games and other entertainment options that take advantage of the impressive high-def displays on portable devices.

Qualcomm’s impressive development wing had a good showing at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Spain and offered enthusiasts a sneak peak at what’s in store for the upcoming crop of HD smartphones, including impressive projector tech.

The bottom line is that high-def is here to stay and thanks to the efforts of Apple and its competitors, consumer electronic users are able to see more clearly than ever.

This guest post is contributed by Grady Winston. Grady is an avid writer and Internet entrepreneur from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing, and advertising – implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients.

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Filed under cell phone, Guest Writers, iPad, iPhone, Tech Net News, Video

HTC EVO 3D Brings 3D Parallax to Smartphones

Smartphone 3D – a game changer, or just a passing fad? Guest writer Simon Drew takes a look.

imageWith the resurrection in 3D cinema in recent years with Hollywood hits like Avatar, there has been a big drive by electronics companies to extend the craze to other devices. 3D televisions are now becoming more commonplace and even 3D games consoles are available with the introduction of the Nintendo 3DS.

It is no surprise then that this ‘new’ technology should make its way into the world of mobile phones, and even less of a surprise that HTC would be one of the companies at the helm of this latest development.

Although 3D cinema has been around for several decades, the technology has not really existed until now to take it to a wider arena. The electronics industry is currently undergoing rapid development however, thanks to the ever increasing demand for the latest smartphone gadgetry, and now it is more than feasible to introduce this feature to the world of mobile telephony.

It should be noted that the 3D technology found on the HTC EVO 3D, as with its only current rival the LG Optimus 3D, does not work in the same way as 3D cinema. While the latter requires 3D glasses to be worn for the 3D effect to be achieved, this is no longer a requirement with the relatively recent development of parallax barrier displays.

This system works by placing an undetectable barrier between the user and the screen so that the screen image is only partially displayed. This results in each eye seeing a slightly different image and the resulting disparity being the cause of an apparent third dimension that does not truly exist. While this system means that 3D glasses are no longer required it does have one obvious drawback.

This drawback is that the 3D effect is only achieved when the screen is held at a certain viewing angle. For short term use this is fine, but unless you are able to maintain perfect positioning of your head and the phone screen for extended periods, this will only lead to frustration when trying to engage in longer activities like watching 3D movies.

This is a similar setback to the one found on early handheld colour devices such as the Sega Gamegear. While the Sega handheld console looked more spectacular on paper, it lost out to its monochromatic Nintendo Gameboy rival for this very same reason – the screen was only viewable if you held it in the correct position.

Perhaps this was part of Sega’s downfall as they certainly don’t enjoy the position that they once did in the gaming industry. Should HTC and LG be worried? Maybe, but probably not. Most owners of their smartphones are not impatient school children and both companies have more up their sleeves than just 3D smartphones.

However, it could be a deciding factor in whether or not 3D really takes off in the smartphone industry and becomes a well established niche like music phones or camera phones. There are, no doubt, a great many people who will be keen to get their hands on this latest technological development but, perhaps even more who will not be fully convinced until this drawback is ironed out.

Simon Drew is a Marketing Executive with MD Operations Ltd, an online marketing company based in the UK.

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Filed under cell phone, Communication, Connected Devices, Interconnectivity, Telephone

Use Free Prey To Track Your Lost Or Stolen Laptop Or Cell Phone

imageRecent statistics indicate that more than 10,000 Laptops are lost, or stolen, each week at U.S. airports alone. Broken down, this same set of statistics indicate that a Laptop is stolen, not lost but stolen, every 53 seconds!

If you are a Laptop owner, you should consider what can you do now, to increase the probability that should your Laptop be lost or stolen, you can increase the chances that it will be returned to you.

One solution is offered by Prey, an Open Source application, that can enhance recovery chances. Stolen Laptop recovery is always a hit and miss proposition, but without an application such as Prey on board, the chances of recovery, at least statistically, are virtually nil.

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What is Prey?

Prey is a small applet for your Laptop or Android Cell Phone, which, when activated by a remote signal, either from the Internet, or through an SMS message, will provide you with the device’s location, hardware and network status, and optionally – trigger specific actions on the device.

According to the developer – “Prey helps you track and find your Laptop or Phone if it ever gets out of sight. You can quickly find out what the thief looks like, what he’s doing on your device and actually where he’s hiding by using GPS or WiFi geopositioning. It’s payback time.”

There have been substantial changes and improvements to Prey, since I last reviewed it here on January 28, 2010.

Installation is very simple, as the following screen captures indicate. BTW, Prey can protect your desktop/s, as well.

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Fast facts:

100% geolocation aware – Prey uses either the device’s GPS or the nearest WiFi hotspots to triangulate and grab a fix on its location. It’s shockingly accurate.

Wifi autoconnect – If enabled, Prey will attempt to hook onto to the nearest open WiFi hotspot when no Internet connection is found.

Light as a feather – Prey has very few dependencies and doesn’t even leave a memory footprint until activated. We care as much as you do.

Know your enemy – Take a picture of the thief with your laptop’s webcam so you know what he looks like and where he’s hiding. Powerful evidence.

Watch their movements – Grab a screenshot of the active session — if you’re lucky you may catch the guy logged into his email or Facebook account!

Keep your data safe – Hide your Outlook or Thunderbird data and optionally remove your stored passwords, so no one will be able to look into your stuff.

No unauthorized access – Fully lock down your PC, making it unusable unless a specific password is entered. The guy won’t be able to do a thing!

Scan your hardware – Get a complete list of your PC’s CPU, motherboard, RAM, and BIOS information. Works great when used with Active Mode.

Prey can check its current version and automagically fetch and update itself, so you don’t need to manually reinstall each time.

You monitor your devices on Prey’s web Control Panel, where you can watch new reports arrive and manage specific settings, such as changing the frequency for reports and actions.

You can add up to three devices for free, and can optionally upgrade to a Pro Account in case you wish to bypass this limit.

Full auto updater.

System requirements: XP, Vista, Win 7, Mac OS, Ubuntu Linux, Linux – all other distributions, (64 bit where appropriate), Android.

There is no guarantee that even with Prey on board that a stolen, or lost device, will be recovered – but, it seems sensible to make every effort to increase that likelihood.

Download at: The Prey Project

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Android, cell phone, Cloud Computing Applications, Connected Devices, downloads, Free Surveillance Applications, Freeware, GPS, Interconnectivity, Laptop recovery, Linux, Mac OS X, Open Source, Software, Ubuntu, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

RunKeeper Pro is FREE Until January 31, 2011 – Save $10

RunKeeper Pro, a hugely popular smartphone fitness application which employs GPS to keep track of –

  • how far you ran
  • how fast you travelled
  • your running route – overlaid on a map
  • and much more

is now free, through the end of January, 2011.

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Features (from the site):

Activity Tracking – No need for an expensive, standalone fitness tracking device when you can use your iPhone 3G or 3GS to do the same thing. Now you can track how far you went, how long it took you, and the route you traveled right from your iPhone

Personal Dashboard – Store all historical activities on runkeeper.com, where you can keep track of totals and monitor your progress

Maps integration – See the exact path you traveled on a map, both on the device and on our website

Activity Sharing – Share your activities with friends via email, or by posting them to your favorite social sites, including Facebook and Twitter

Music – You can listen to the iPod during your activity, and even change tracks without leaving the RunKeeper application

iPod Integration – Choose one of your iPod playlists to start automatically the moment you begin your activity

Audio Cues – Get time or distance-based updates through your headphones during your activity

Interval Workouts – Create a workout built from intervals of time and/or distance, and let the audio cues coach you every step of the way

Target Pace – Enter a target pace at the start of your activity and get coached on whether you are ahead/behind that pace through your headphones

Geo-tagged Photos – Take photos without having to stop your activity. Photos are geo-tagged so when you view them on RunKeeper.com, they appear on the map right where you took them

Splits – You can see your split times in the app as you do your activities

Manual Activity Input – You can enter activities manually, including runs done on a treadmill or without your iPhone

Requirements: Smartphone – iPhone or Android.

Download at: RunKeeper

Having once been a running enthusiast (now, walking is much more my speed), I certainly recall the rather crude devices we once used to calculate running distances, calories burned, and so on. Back then, this application would have sounded like science fiction.

If running is your thing (and you’re a smartphone user), this application should help keep you on track.

I’ll get back on my soapbox (just for a moment), and recognize RunKeeper as one more mature software developer who’s focusing on the big picture – creating an opportunity for significant numbers of users to benefit from an application giveaway. Not 5 or 10 free licenses, as companies who are stuck in a Twentieth Century marketing mode, continue to do.

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Filed under cell phone, Cell Phone Apps, Connected Devices, downloads, Free Full Versions, Freeware, Giveaways, GPS, iPhone, Software, Software Giveaways

IdentityMine’s 2010 Report On Mobile Application Development Trends

imageI’ve been around computing since long before the PC was even a spark in the consciousness of those involved in data manipulation.

I’m speaking here of a computer that is used in a “personal” manner. In fact, my first exposure to computers and programming was (if you can imagine this), in 1966.

In the years since, I’ve watched the incredible growth and buoyancy of the PC and connected devices market, with absolute amazement. But, the growth in the mobile market, and the  increased functionality of mobile devices, has not only amazed me, but has left me dizzy!

I found that keeping up with the breathtaking changes in the mobile/connected devices world, has been more than a bit of a challenge. Luckily, I discovered a solution that ties the missing bits and pieces together, all in one place.

IdentityMine, a leading-edge digital application and software solution developer for multi-screen, multi-touch, multi-platform, and multi-hardware devices, recently released its Application and Mobile Application Development Trends Report for 2011, which includes for good measure, a look at what we can expect in this expansive market in 2011.

This report has been the perfect catch up tool which brought into focus a number of data points that had completely passed me by. If you need a refresher on what’s been happening in the mobile market, and what’s likely to occur in the coming year, you’ll find the following information invaluable.

Application and Mobile Application Development Trends Impacting 2010 (and the Outlook for 2011):

1. In 2010, Mobile stopped being about form factor – it became about users. Mobile previously was defined as anything that can travel with you (not just phones) – including tablets. In 2010, Zuckerberg redefined mobile as anything that you can use while ambulating, which is basically anything that fits into your hands (and does not include tablets and laptops). We can already see this trend happening with iPhone 4 and Windows Phone 7.  In 2011, we can expect smaller form factor out of all our devices and the focus to shift from mobile devices to mobile users with a variety of hardware devices.

2. In 2010, IdentityMine became aware that Mobile devices were vector transmitters.  In 2010, IdentityMine created an unscientific study and found that touch-enabled devices like, iPads, smart phones and other devices particularly in high-traffic environments such as hospitals, retails stores, and hotel lobbies mobile devices transmitted illness.  When sick people use an iPad and pass it around, other people pick up germs.  In 2011, we can anticipate that healthcare will increase attention on gesture-based navigation (as opposed to touch-based) as a way to prevent disease/virus transmission.  We foresee applications for gesture everywhere from clinic waiting rooms to surgical suites.

3. In 2010, People let go of keyboards and mice. Two revolutionizing technologies occurred in rapid succession prompting this phenomena (iPad and Kinect). NOTE: iPad isn’t gesture-based. The iPad managed to do what tablets had been trying to achieve for some time, and surprisingly was a huge hit with seniors and baby boomers, who are not usually early adopters. Kinect was a game changer, particularly with developers. While some speculated that Kinect it seemed like a response to the Wii, Kinect actually taught UX experts new ideas about navigation and gesture control and they are already utilizing the hardware to produce applications that are gesture-based. We can expect more gesture-enabled and voice-enabled applications in 2011.

4. In 2010, the gaming market started redefining the software application market. We can expect this to continue into 2011.  Enterprise applications will take on gaming features with Gamification. We can expect companies to start managing employee activity through apps.  Anticipate that companies will integrate a reward/badge system.  Applications like Yelp, FourSquare, and Gowalla added game play to every day activities, and in 2011/2012, we expect enterprises and non-recreational applications to start incorporating gaming-style rewards to non-gaming behaviors.

Additional Application and Mobile Application Development Trends Impacting 2011:

1. Application Design becomes increasingly important. With the release of iPhone 4, Droid and Windows 7, mobile users became addicted to good design in 2010. Mobile application providers tried to provide intuitive applications. In 2011, we can expect that UX designers at agencies will be tasked to create beautiful intuitive design.

2. People will want the cloud even if they don’t realize they want the cloud. We can also expect that every application will need to function with a single login.  UX designs will be tasked to figure out how to minimize login experiences without compromising security.

3. In 2011, We can expect continued Market Fragmentation when developing applications. Even though developers are being pushed to choose between specializing in a UX (Mobile, Touch, Desktop, etc.) and specializing in a platform (IOS, .NET, Silverlight, MonoDroid, etc.), Developers will need to develop apps for multiple devices/platforms. Much like the .com boom, the strong will survive, while application development will become despecialized (especially as more tools are available)

4. Application development bubble will take on air. In 2010, consumers saw a plethora of applications hit the market. The bubble is growing, and will probably burst in the next 12-18 months.

5. Application Monetization will continue to take more of a focus. Many applications are incredibly cheap, considering the effort that goes into making a sophisticated one (such as IMDb or History Here or SBB). Because the price points make it difficult to monetize apps, there will be an increase in ad-sponsored apps.

6. Application utility will take more of a focus. Apple and other vendors are encouraging volume for application monetization. However, out of 250k apps in the Apple app store, only a small percentage actually are used long-term and have lasting impact. In 2011, we can expect there to be a host of applications that improve people’s lives. 3/4s of apps are deleted within 72 hours of being downloaded; in 2011 the focus will be on useful apps as much as fun ones.

7. Microsoft kicked some ass – both WP7 and Kinect, which came out mere months apart were legitimate advancements in technology, vs. the “long-follow” approach that they were typically accused of.  Windows Phone 7 is a big advancement for mobile app developers (which will ultimately benefit users), and Kinect leapfrogged Wii and other gaming companies are rushing to compete.

About IdentityMine, Inc.

Headquartered in Tacoma, WA, IdentityMine is an expert interactive design and user experience (UX) company. They develop leading-edge digital applications and software solutions for multi-screen, multi-touch, multi-platform, and multi-hardware devices for a variety of markets including mobile, retail and sports. They are able to create unique digital interactive user experiences by leveraging deep expertise in a variety of platforms to deliver highly engaging mobile, Internet and other media experiences for major brands in mainstream markets.

Clients include: Microsoft, Path 36, The New Orleans Saints, Elektra NOC, Nordstrom and others.  More information about IdentityMine can be found here.

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Filed under cell phone, Cell Phone Apps, Connected Devices, Integrated Solutions, Interconnectivity, iPad, Reports, Windows Tips and Tools

News From Symantec Hosted Services

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We know, only too well, that cyber criminals take advantage of every opportunity that new and emerging technologies provide to expand their trade – data theft.

So, with the huge adoption rate in smart mobile devices, and our increased reliance on these devices (which are literally powerful computers), there is a more pronounced sense of urgency to protect the data stored on these sophisticated mobile devices from the threat of cybercrime.

Symantec Hosted Services, recognizing this need, recently announced enhancements to its MessageLabs Web Security Service roaming support options, that will allow organizations to further support the security needs of their mobile workforce.

According to Symantec – “The new enhancements will monitor and secure the online activity of a highly distributed workforce.  Drawing on findings from the recent MessageLabs Intelligence report highlighting the inappropriate web usage of mobile workers, SmartConnect and RemoteConnect for MessageLabs Hosted Web Security protect against malware, and enforces Web acceptable use policies for teleworkers, or employees, at remote offices.”

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If you’ve noticed a significant drop in Spam in your inboxes lately, like I have, there’s good reason – according to Symantec Hosted Services.

On Sunday, October 3, Symantec Hosted Services noticed that global spam levels dropped to their lowest in a while. Symantec Hosted Services believes this drop was due to a decrease in output by the Rustock and Cutwail botnets.

For additional insight on how Symantec Hosted Services tracked last weekend’s spam drop via sophisticated botnet intelligence, what contribution to global spam each of the major botnets makes, and what factors influence botnet output, check out the MessageLabs  Intelligence blog report here.

About Message Labs Intelligence:

Symantec’s Message Labs Intelligence is a respected source of data and analysis for messaging security issues, trends and statistics. MessageLabs Intelligence provides a range of information on global security threats based on live data feeds from our control towers around the world scanning billions of messages each week.

About Symantec:

Symantec is a global leader in providing security, storage and systems management solutions to help consumers and organizations secure and manage their information-driven world.  Our software and services protect against more risks at more points, more completely and efficiently, enabling confidence wherever information is used or stored. More information is available here.

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Filed under bots, cell phone, Connected Devices, Email, Enterprise Applications, Malware Reports, MessageLabs, Software, spam, Symantec, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools