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Archive for September, 2013

Goodbye, MSN TV. Microsoft Finally Pulls the Plug

Posted by J Powers at 10:54 PM on September 30, 2013

msn-tvThe first time I actually saw someone using this service was when I went up north. We ate at this awesome steakhouse , which probably was on its last couple years in business (two brothers owned it and they were in their 70s). In the corner, one of the brothers’ wives were typing away on the MSN TV, trying to find out what was going on in the world (pre-2001).

The little box that was known as MSN TV finally got decommissioned today – 16 years after it started. Microsoft announced earlier in the year the TV appliance would be shuttered on Sept 30th. Users had to move their account information to Outlook.com and all other information to Skydrive (Microsoft’s cloud service).

MSN TV first started as Web TV in July of 1995 by Steve Perlman, Bruce Leak and Phil Goldman. The idea was Web TV acted like a thin client – taking snapshots of the web and sending them over telephone lines to your device, which would then project on your TV. It officially launched in Sept 1996 and ran for a year when Microsoft announced they were acquiring the service for $453 million (vested).

MSN TV tried to find its place in the tech world. The WebTV team took their ideas and created not only Digital Video Recorders, but also the XBox 360 game console. Its hardware could be found in Sony, Philips, RCA, Mitsubishi and other client hardware.

So with that, we bid adieu to MSN TV. the last of the real dial-up systems.

Verbatim Dual USB Power Pack Review

Posted by Andrew at 5:17 PM on September 30, 2013

Verbatim LogoVerbatim will be known to many older geeks for their floppy disks but since the demise of this market, Verbatim have branched out into newer media, products including lighting and water filters, and accessories such as USB power packs. Verbatim have an extensive range of rechargeable packs from 1,200 mAh up to 10,000 mAh and on review here is their Dual USB Power Pack with a 5,200 mAh capacity.

First impressions are good. The Power Pack comes in attractive, easy-to-open packaging that doesn’t need to be attacked with a pair of scissors. Inside is the Power Pack, a short USB to micro-USB cable and instructions. The USB cable is only 10 cm long and can be used for both recharging the Power Pack and charging other devices. Some might quibble about the length of the cable but I think it’s handy and avoids all the disentangling. Besides, I have loads of long cables should I need one.

Power Pack Top View

The body of the unit is about 7 cm wide and 11 cm tall. Depth is 1.7 cm and tips the scales at around 175 g. The top and bottom faces are covered in a soft-touch rubber coating and the middle section seems to be metallic-looking plastic. On the bottom, there are four small nubs for feet and the top surface has four blue LEDs and a small button. Pressing the button for a couple of seconds illuminates the LEDs to show battery charge level.

Verbatim USB Ports

Round the edge are three USB ports, 2x standard and 1x micro-USB. The latter is used for recharging the Power Pack and the former for charging other devices. In common with similar products, one port is rated at 2.1 A (port A) and the other at 1 A (port B). However, unlike some of the Power Pack’s competitors, both USB ports can be used to charge while the device itself is being recharged.

The Power Pack is a 5,200 mAh unit which Verbatim suggests on the packaging will recharge a smartphone 2.5 times. My experience with recharging a Nexus 4 (2,100 mAh internal battery) is that this isn’t too far from the truth. Further, the blue LEDs are good guides to the battery level – consider each LED as 25%, so all four is 100%, three is 75% and so on. Below is the obligatory screen shot from Battery+ showing the charging rate for a Nexus 4, which is pretty much the same as charging from a mains charger.

Nexus 4 Charging

In summary, the Verbatim Dual USB Power Pack is a fine little unit. The soft touch rubber coating gives it a slight softer feel and the recharging-while-charging is a worthwhile feature. My only concern is that I think the Power Pack is a little pricey at an RRP of £41.99 and there are other models out there that offer more capacity for less money (but do watch out for those batteries which can’t charge and be recharged at the same time). As this is a brand new product, no “street price” has emerged but something around £25 would make the Dual USB Power Pack value for money.

Thanks to Verbatim who kindly supplied the Power Pack for review.

New Media Show #22 with Marty Riemer

Posted by geeknews at 8:16 AM on September 30, 2013

TheNewMediaShowVideoIn this episode we talk with Marty Riemer who is a well known Seattle radio celebrity now podcaster. We talk about the challenges that the radio industry is facing and why podcasting is a viable option.

Contact the show: Rob or Todd @ newmediashow.com

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iPhone Speed Test Comparison with Every Version of iPhone

Posted by J Powers at 7:41 AM on September 30, 2013


Do you wonder how the iPhone 5S compares to the first version? Maybe you just want to compare between 5S and 5 or 4S to see if you really want to upgrade. If you don’t have every iPhone to test your theories out on, then check out this video by Everything Apple Pro.

This YouTube video tries to show you how fast the different iPhones react. The 5S, 5C, 5, 4S and 4 all with iOS7 and the 3GS, 3G and 2G (EDGE) with their highest level of iOS software.

Things We Learned from this iPhone Speed Test

  • Some cases, the 2G out-performed the newer models (it turns off the fastest, for sure).
  • 5S shows its lightning speed (when connected to Wifi)
  • You can see the size progression from each model
  • Unlocking all of them at once is pretty sweet!

It also shows that unless you want the fingerprint sensor and M7 co-processor functionality or if you want a colorful iPhone and the dynamic background of iOS7, then upgrading from the 5 or 4S might not be necessary at this time.

Jazooli’s Portable Tablet Desk Stand Review

Posted by Andrew at 2:29 PM on September 29, 2013

For some time I’ve been looking for a decent desk stand to hold my 10″ tablet but all the ones tried so far have some annoyance or niggle. Usually the stand wouldn’t work well with the tablet still in its case, but others would be bulky, flimsy, only for the iPad or just plain rubbish. The good news is that I think I’ve found the answer in the shape of Jazooli‘s “Portable Lightweight Universal Foldable Desk Stand“. They’re fibbing a little with the “lightweight” but in all other respects this is a good product. It’s solid metal, folds up, has two positions and works while the tablet is in its case. Perfect!

When folded up, the Jazooli is nice and slim, fitting neatly into a little pouch. At 200g, it’s not what I would call lightweight but the mass does mean it’s not easily knocked over.

Jazooli Folded

There are two ways that the stand can be stood up. Here it is in the upright position, which is good for viewing movies or keeping an eye on Twitter.

Jazooli Upright

For typing on the tablet, the stand has a reclined mode, aka “I-dont-want-everyone-else-in-the-office-to-see-I’m-on-Facebook-instead-of-working” mode. This position works well with ultrabooks, notebooks and small laptops to give an angle to the keyboard.

Jazooli Lying Back

There’s an extra smaller leg that pops out from the main support – it’s more obvious in this close up. The metal finish is better seen in the image too.

Jazooli Close-up

Finally, here’s what the stand looks like with a 10″ Android tablet on board. Note that the tablet is still in its case.

Jazooli Stand with Tablet

 

In summary, Jazooli’s portable foldable desk stand is currently my favourite tablet stand. Obviously your needs may not be the same as my needs but as it’s currently available from Amazon.co.uk for £5.99 and from Amazon.com for $2.55, it’s hard to go wrong!

[Disclosure: this was a personal purchase]

GNC-2013-09-26 #893 Ctrl-Alt-Del a Mistake?

Posted by geeknews at 1:17 AM on September 27, 2013

GNCLogo3_1_1400x1400AudioMetric ton of news and I make an announcement of the retirement of one of the feedback mechanisms of the show.

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Google Quietly Released Hummingbird

Posted by JenThorpe at 8:29 PM on September 26, 2013

GoogleThe new version of the Google search algorithm is called “Hummingbird”. It has already been released. For whatever reason, Google decided not to make a specific announcement about the release of the new algorithm before switching over to it. For good or ill, it has already affected how your blog is placed in order of the results that appear whenever someone does a Google search.

The purpose of Hummingbird is, in short, to keep up with how people use the internet. Many people will type an entire phrase into the search engine, instead of just one word, when they are looking for information about something.

This means that the algorithm has to “understand” the entire meaning of each word in the phrase, and how they relate to each other. Once it “gets” what you are looking for, it can show you websites that match what you are hoping to find. Things have gotten too complex for a “Boolean” type of search system.

In other words, “Hummingbird” has been designed to give us better results when we do a Google search. This is because it is going to “get” the meaning and context of what you typed in the search engine.

Overall, I see this as a good thing. My hope is that this will bring the blogs, articles, and websites that have the best content (based upon your query) to the top of the list. I cannot help but wonder if the blogs that have been crafted in ways that were designed around SEO, but that lack quality content, will notice a drop in their page clicks soon as a result of Hummingbird.

Ford Acquires Software Developer Livio for In-Dash App Connection

Posted by J Powers at 3:28 PM on September 26, 2013
Livio Connect API

Livio Connect API

Ford has been the innovator on connected in-dash infotainment since they first announced their new systems in 2007. So now with all the other car companies coming up fast on in-app systems, Ford needs to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Today, they have continued their strength with purchasing Livio for an undisclosed sum, but less than 10 million dollars.

Livio is a company which links applications for iOS, Android and Blackberry to your car. Livio takes the devices Programming interfaces and makes sure they can talk to the Ford Sync system. Livio created Sync Applink for just that purpose.

Ford_logoFord is also getting a product that is an industry standard. This would give app creators a single platform to work with, resulting in faster development of higher quality apps. Consumers – in turn – would have a safe way to access digital content on the go.

“With the additional expertise Livio provides us, Ford intends to continue to lead the next generation of in-car connectivity with technology advancements that give consumers more options to access their devices on the go,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation.

Livio was co-founded by Jake Sigal and Massimo Baldini in 2008. Their motto: More music, less work. based in Metro-Detroit, the company has grown since.

Find out more: Todd and Don interviewed Livio on the CES Live Feed

Welcome to The Gadget Professor Show #124 hosted by Don Baine, produced by Mike Baine.

We’ve Got Technology Covered! The Gadget Professor Show – a proud member of the Tech Podcast Network!

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Dell LogoMichael Dell took the stage of Oracle World to keynote the event. Of course, this is the first time he spoke since Dell announced they will be buying back all shares and privatizing the company.

On September 12 – after a lengthy battle with investors (including Carl Icahn), Michael Dell convinced the majority that Dell should become a privately held company once again. The $24.9 billion buyout will happen in Q3 of Dell’s Fiscal Year 2014. Stockholders will get $13.88 plus a .08 cent dividend until close.

Forward to Oracle OpenWorld – an event being held in San Francisco. Michael Dell gets on stage to give people an idea of where he plans to take the company, starting with a new extended partnership with Oracle around data management.

“Our success won’t be measured just by short-term results, but also our ability to help our customers succeed five, ten and twenty years from now,” Michael Dell stated in his keynote. ” We need to be looking not just at the quarter ahead, but the decade ahead. Investing to create value for customers as long-term relationships with a long-term vision.”

One thing to remember from Dell is he took his PC building company out of his dorm room and turned it into a major company in 1984. 30 years later, Dell is looking to re-create the same magic. Dell has been one of the top 5 in PC marketshare since 1997. Dell’s Enterprise services also make up the computer giant. With the renewed partnership with Oracle, they can go after HP and IBM Enterprise. “We’re unencumbered by old legacy” Dell stated.