Tag Archives: Tablets

Technology – That Was Then, This is Now

This guest post is contributed by my Aussie mate, Jim Hillier. Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at Dave’s Computer Tips. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele… as well as writing for DCT, of course.

I was just sitting and thinking the other day – you probably heard the strange ticking noises – about how far PC technology has advanced over the past few decades. I’m getting a bit long in the tooth now so these moments of nostalgia are not uncommon.

A computer of some kind or another has been a part of my life for so long and I marvel at the differences between what we thought was the bees knees 30 odd years ago to what we expect today.


I started off circa 1980 with a TRS-80 purchased from Tandy, this was a very basic machine compared to today’s PCs but at that time it was considered pretty cool. Programs came on pre-recorded tapes which were loaded via a connected tape player. They were very volume sensitive with each program requiring its own optimum volume level and users had to keep a list of what programs loaded best at what volume setting. I taught myself Basic language during that time and used to amuse the kids with little programs I’d write especially for them.


Next, I moved on through the Commodore series of computers, starting off with a good old Commodore 64 and eventually to an Amiga 500 and 600. When it came to playing games, these machines were incomparable in their day. I still have a working Amiga 500 and 600 stored away in the garage but, unfortunately, the floppies and software have long fallen victim to far too many house moves.

I can’t even recall the exact specs of my first Windows PC but I do remember they were far from spectacular. Those were the days when 20GB hard drives and 256MB RAM were pretty much the norm. I do, however, still remember the specs, if not the model number, of my first Windows XP machine purchased from Dell some 14 years ago which came with an 80GB hard drive, Pentium 4 CPU, and 512MB RAM – pretty good specs at that time but laughable by today’s standards.


I’ll tell you something; XP sure taught me a lot about computers and the Windows operating system. I think I spent most of that initial year or so with XP on Google looking up how to fix this and that. XP really was a horrible operating system when it was first released, regularly BSODing all over the place. A decade and 3 service packs later, of course, XP had matured into a pretty good OS, but people tend to forget about those formative years.

Following the Dell’s untimely demise, I built my first custom machine. This was during a period when hardware advancements really went crazy and the “norm” moved to unprecedented new heights. The new norm for hard drive capacities increased from 40-80GB to 350-500GB.  The new standard for RAM was now 2-4GB rather than a measly 512MB, and Intel had introduced a whole new range of powerful CPUs.

My latest custom built machine is even more powerful of course. I always try to build my machines to specs which offer value while still retaining at least some relevancy for a period of time. However, technology is moving forward at such a rate that this is often a fool’s errand and, even as the last screw secures the tower’s side panel, I am aware that the machine is probably already outdated.


I can’t finish up without also mentioning the dramatic advancements in peripherals. I remember saving up for months to purchase an Epson LQ dot matrix printer which cost an exorbitant $599.00au, ten times the amount of today’s basic multi-function inkjets.

And who remembers the old CRT monitors, whose bulk and weight belied their small screen size?


Who would have thought that those humble beginnings would lead to a tiny portable device capable of not only making and receiving phone calls but also connecting to the internet, watching videos, playing games and music, taking photos, etc.

As I watch today’s youngsters nimbly manipulating their internet connected smartphones and tablets, I can’t help but wonder what awesome technological innovations might be in store for them during the next 30 years. The mind boggles!



Filed under computer, History

Holiday Season Shows the Importance of Mobile Interaction

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.

In 2012, shoppers spent $1.46 billion online on the Monday following Thanksgiving (also known as “Cyber Monday”). And more than 18 percent of shoppers used a mobile device to access retail sites that day. As mobile devices become more available – and as retailers designer their websites to be more mobile-friendly – the trend in online shopping is expected to continue.

Of particular interest to retailers is the fact that people who use mobile devices to shop online exhibit a slightly higher rate of conversion when compared to their desktop computer-using counterparts. That’s why it pays to develop a strategy for capturing this audience.

Buying habits

Shopping data pulled from Black Friday and Cyber Monday show that the average mobile shopper is approximately 7 percent more likely to make a purchase in the evening than during the day. While they may not be outside of their home in the evening, the convenience of their tablets and cell phones makes for easy shopping from their favorite leisure spot in their home. To take advantage of this trend, be sure to coordinate your efforts to take place after dinner time to achieve better conversion rates.

Best practices

To achieve sales conversions, you should engage the potential customer in a variety of ways. Some good approaches include:

  • Optimizing your mobile site – To convert visits to sales, you need to use simple features on your website. Especially when dealing with mobile devices, which have less precise input and smaller screens, an optimized site is easier for shoppers to use. Make sure to include basic features customers may be looking for, such as “subscribe” and “contact” fields.
  • Implementing social media campaigns – While a long-term campaign is needed to build a significant following, you can ramp-up customer excitement about sales or new inventory by carefully timing tweets and social media posts. Tying in your message to your other channels (including blogs, emails and print publications) will help to unify your message for any special sales or deals available. Consider including deals or discounts for followers of your accounts to foster brand loyalty.
  • Using SMS messages to get immediate results – A text message is frequently read within four minutes, which can lead to quick conversions on limited-time offers. Brands such as Redbox and Papa John’s effectively use SMS to deliver coupon codes to subscribers, encouraging them to take advantage of deals and generate business on specific days.
  • Building a subscriber list – When it comes to digital marketing, email is a very effective solution. A subscriber list can bring customers back repeatedly, especially if you deliver limited-quantity offers to subscribers on occasion. Making your brand advocates feel appreciated will lead to higher conversions – and people who appreciate your brand are more likely to spread the word about positive interactions with your business.

Mobile shopping could eventually become the main way people buy goods and services. Plan accordingly, always being mindful of how mobile-friendly your website is. And don’t be afraid to ask for input and ideas from your customers – they’ll happily share their opinions about what might make your website easier to use.

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Filed under Connected Devices, Guest Writers, Point of View, Web Site Design

Laptop vs. Tablet: Which One Do I Need?

Guest article.

imageEver since the first laptops became available in the 1980s – in a very different incarnation from the sleek creations we’ve grown accustomed to today – the option of portable computers has revolutionized the market. All sorts of people, from business professionals to home users, welcomed their ease of use and mobility.

However, today that market has leaped much further with the introduction of tablets, smartphones and netbooks, giving users enhanced portability and an ever-increasing choice of technology, and posing a new question: which is better, a laptop or tablet?

For many users, the laptop remains the number one choice. Whereas some struggle with the touch screen keyboards featured on tablets, the fully integrated keyboards of laptops are simple to use, enabling faster and more accurate typing.

The larger screen size is also preferable for many people, particularly when dealing with complicated data on spreadsheets, which can become tricky to view on the smaller tablet screens.

Yet the laptop does not necessarily out-do the tablet in all respects. Despite being introduced as a portable alternative to desktop PCs, laptops are now quite bulky compared to other devices on the market. Whereas a tablet can slip discreetly into a day bag, most laptops require a separate carry case, which can seem cumbersome to many users.

This is where tablets really come into their own. With their integrated touch screen technology, tablets are incredibly lightweight and portable, with many weighing less than a pound. And despite their small size, the majority of devices can still store large quantities of music, video and photo files, making them a top choice for leisure users seeking entertainment on long journeys.

The touch screen, though tricky for some users to negotiate, also has its own advantages over the traditional keyboard and mouse set-up, with the hands-on, tactile technology often proving particularly useful for designers and digital artists.

With both laptops and tablets offering their own benefits, the decision of which product to choose must ultimately come down to your own personal needs and preferences – if you’re a fairly casual computer user who is often on the go, a tablet may be the best option for you.

On the other hand, if you often need to carry out complex word processing and data handling tasks, a fully-equipped laptop is likely to serve you better.

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Filed under Connected Devices, Guest Writers, Tablet Computing

Scan a QR code – Expose yourself to mobile malware

Guest post by David Maman – CTO & Founder of GreenSQL.

imageA single poisoned link is all it takes to expose an entire organization to a full-scale attack.

Hackers write sophisticated browser-based attacks that operate quite stealthily. Now, they’re going after our mobile phones, which are soon to be the number one way we access the web.

As QR codes have evolved, they now can offer users – and thieves – unlimited information within seconds of scanning.

And we scan them voluntarily.

We’ve already been trained to think twice before entering an unknown link we get from a stranger or even a friend, but almost anyone will scan an unknown QR code with a smartphone or a tablet, if the offer it’s embedded in looks tempting enough.

The Experiment:

Over a three-day security conference in London, I created a small poster featuring a big security company’s logo and the sentence “Just Scan to Win an iPAD.” Thousands of people walked by, no one asked where the sign came from, and no one took it down, not even a representative of the company featured on the sign.

The results: 455 people scanned the sign and browsed the link over the three days. The breakdown: 142 iPhone users, 211 Android users, 61 Blackberry, and 41 unknown browsers.

Remember, this was a conference for security professionals.

As I’m a nice guy fighting for the right side, the QR code simply linked to a web page featuring a smiley face. If I had decided to include a malware or poisoned URL attack based on multiple mobile smart phone browsers, I wonder whose phone I would have penetrated…

To make a long story short: QR codes are becoming more and more prevalent. And most of us don’t have the same AV or URL filtering technology on our phones or tablets that we have on our PCs.

The question is: Can we really fully trust the QR codes we see on the streets, in restaurants, or in ads? Regretfully, the answer is no.

Any attacker can take advantage of QR codes. And remember, unlike computers, most mobile devices do not include antivirus solutions to protect us against mobile malware.

Think before you scan.

· Does this QR code seem to come from a reliable source?

· After scanning the QR code and seeing the link, is the link really from whom it claimed to be?

· Would I click on this link if it came through my email?

Even if you miss out on the iPAD or the free ice cream cone, you’re probably better off.

Author bio:

David Maman is CTO & Founder of GreenSQL, the database security company.

About GreenSQL:

GreenSQL, the Database Security Company, delivers out-of-the-box database security solutions for small and mid-sized organizations. Started as an open source project back in 2006, GreenSQL became the no. 1 database security solution for MySQL with 100,000 users worldwide. In 2009, in response to market needs, GreenSQL LTD developed a commercial version, bringing a fresh approach to protecting databases of small- and medium-sized businesses.

GreenSQL provides database security solutions that are affordable and easy to install and maintain. GreenSQL supports Microsoft Azure, SQL Server (all versions including SQL Server 2012), MySQL and PostgreSQL.


Filed under Connected Devices, Cyber Crime, Don't Get Hacked, Guest Writers, Internet Safety Tools

Android Malware – Take the Security of Your Device Seriously

Guest writer Megan Berry has some timely advice on how you can avoid avoid malware on Android smartphones and tablets.

imageRule #1 of Android security: don’t download apps from websites other than Google Play for fear that you unwittingly infect your smartphone or tablet with malware. Well, not surprisingly, cybercriminals found a way to invalidate rule #1.

A security researcher at Symantec recently discovered two apps infected with malware in the app store that were quickly removed. But not before tens of thousands of users downloaded them.

This scenario is particularly troubling for companies with BYOD programs that permit Android devices to connect to their network. How do companies protect corporate assets without taking away employees’ ability to use their favorite mobile devices on the job? Especially since it seems that cybercriminals are always one step ahead of security experts.

Whether you use an Android device at home, on the job, or both, the growing threat of Android malware means it is more important than ever to take the security of your device seriously.

How to avoid malware on Android smartphones and tablets

Nothing you can do will guarantee you will never be infected with malware, but there are things you can do to minimize the risk.

· Before downloading an app, do a quick web search to check up on the developer and the app itself. Look for red flags in the search results, such as negative user reviews or complaints, that indicate you need to dig deeper before tapping that “Accept & download” button. Hint: You can visit the developer’s webpage from the app listing.

· Some malicious apps try to hide behind a legitimate brand name. Make sure the name of the developer jives with the title of the app.

· Read the app’s user reviews. Red flags will show up here, too.

· Examine the permissions of the app: are they in line with the app’s intended use? For example, does a news app really need to access your contacts or send text messages?

· IT managers should insist that employees install an Android anti-virus app. Or, better yet, insist that users turn their devices over to IT before they’re allowed to connect to the network for the first time. This way IT can install anti-virus software it has evaluated, configure it properly and enforce its use.

Android anti-virus apps: worth it or not?

The effectiveness of Android anti-virus apps is debatable, though. In a recent study, only a handful of Android anti-virus apps were found to detect most types of threats. The March 2012 study by AV-Test.org rated 23 out of 41 apps effective, or 56%. Of those 23, only 10 detected greater than 90% of known malware types.

Still, the authors of the study say any of the anti-virus apps that were found to detect greater than 65% of known malware types provide adequate protection.

Unpatched system software: Your device’s Achilles’ heel

Even though you’re careful about what apps you install and you run an anti-virus program, your device may still be vulnerable because of unpatched system software.

According to security vendor Duo Security, the speed at which wireless carriers supply updates to their users varies. Therefore, it’s possible for devices to go unprotected for long periods of time. The fragmentation of the Android platform complicates the task of rolling out updates, not to mention the fact that companies have little incentive to fix existing flaws when new devices with the latest system software are already on the shelves.

This is of particular concern for companies that allow their employees to connect their personal Android devices to the company network. It should also be of concern to employees, who may be liable if their device infects their employer’s network – many corporate bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies place the responsibility for keeping devices malware-free squarely on the shoulders of the user.

Duo Security’s new app, X-ray, scans Android devices to discover unpatched flaws in system software. If the app finds a problem, the user can go to Settings>About Phone>System Updates to download the latest version. If an official update isn’t available via System Updates, Duo Security encourages users to contact their carrier for more information, or at the very least, exercise extreme caution when downloading apps.

Individual users can download and install the app from the X-Ray for Android website. Organizations can get an enterprise-level version by emailing the company.

Lesson learned

The lesson here is that unfortunately, it’s no longer safe to assume that just because an app is available from a reputable source, it’s malware-free. And, educating yourself and your users, combined with tried-and-true anti-virus software, is still the best protection against the quickly evolving threat that Android malware presents.

About the Author: Senior writer for IT Manager Daily, Megan covers the latest technology news and trends impacting business.


Filed under Android, Anti-Malware Tools, Guest Writers, Malware Protection

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.


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

Google Drive: One of the Best Things to Happen to the Web

Store your files in a safe placeI remember when I bought my first MacBook. I had been waiting two years to make the exciting switch to Apple, and once I did, I knew I’d never go back. I even remember the day I turned it on.

I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around all the beautiful typography, colorful hues, up-to-date programs, and obvious innovation that composed my 12-inch computer. Sure, it wasn’t a cheap purchase, but I was in love… with a computer.

As the years go by and innovation and creativity continue to grow at infinite speeds, I’m captivated by technology more and more every day. It would be foolish not to give credit to Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter for changing the way in which we exist and interact with one another. No one could deny that. But, I want to take a moment to talk about Google, particularly Google Drive (formerly Google Docs).

Since the day I started using Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and the rest of those compose-your-own-document programs, I have absolutely detested them. Not only have they become more and more difficult to navigate through over the years, they are also unreliable. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve grown angry with a Word document for instantly formatting my stories, at PowerPoint for crashing when I’m almost done finishing my last slide, or at Excel for being one of the most poorly designed programs on the market today.

Whenever it came time to print a document or email it off to a colleague, I always prayed everything would work out. My mind would conjure up the worst anxieties about a paper not making it to its destination, and often times, my premonitions came true. I’d wonder why the document didn’t download as the right file, why my PowerPoint presentation was not compatible with a newer version of PowerPoint, and why I put up with all the stress of these programs.

Google Docs, now called Google Drive, changed the way in which I interact with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. If a document wasn’t able to print from my home, I could breathe a sigh of relief knowing I could access it from anywhere. If my computer crashed, I felt confident in knowing all of my documents were still accessible. If I needed a colleague to look over my work before I submitted it, I could rely on Google Docs to “share” my document with them and allow the person to incorporate changes or suggestions.

In fact, I no longer even store programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint on my computer because I find Google Drive to be useful in most every shape and form.

Google has been at the forefront of innovation since its creation. Google Drive is receiving a lot of positive reviews, and the hype surrounding this newest version couldn’t be more appropriate.

Google Drive allows individuals to collaborate on documents at the same time, access documents through a simple link, search through a document archive, and go back and undo automatic revisions. If that isn’t exciting enough, an iPad and iPhone app is coming soon that will allow individuals to access Google Drive through their smartphones or tablets. If you haven’t accessed Google Drive yet, give it a test drive and see what you think.

About the Author:

This guest post is contributed by Katheryn Rivas – an avid blogger whose true calling is researching and exploring the future of learning. For comments and questions, she can be reached at katherynrivas87@gmail.com.


Filed under Cloud Computing Applications, downloads, Freeware, Google Drive, Guest Writers