Thursday, May 31, 2012

Emergency radios that power your gadgets too!

Eaton is updating its self-powered hand-cranked emergency radios with USB ports to charge your portable devices.

This would have been really nice last September during the dark times of the Susquehanna River flood in when power was shut off.   I would have been able to stay up-to-date on the river levels and any other necessary news as well as charge my iPhone.    There are multiple models to suit your needs and price ranges.   For more information check out the Engadget article linked below.

Source: Engadget

If you just need to charge those gadgets without the radio, Sony is coming out with a new hand-cranked USB charger (and it even has an AC powered battery too!).  This would be a great addition to my camping gear.

CNET's article provides details on this potentially $100 device, as well as comprehensive link on emergency cell phone charging options.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Humor: How to use a dual screen setup

The image speaks for itself:

While it is humorous to those of us that constantly use dual screens at home and at work, it also shows that some user education/training is necessary.   Every time I upgraded a user to a dual screen setup, I spent more than just a minute or two explaining, many times it was a 15-30min training session going over their specific job tasks and how to manage them differently with dual screens.

And to leave you with a tip, this article from ComputerWorld offers 6 ways to use multiple displays with your laptop with a few of them being quite creative.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Stuff your Kindle full of RSS content

Just a quick post here.  Would you like to get some of your favorite website content on your Kindle for easy "offline" reading?   Check out for both free and paid accounts to push all that web content down to your Kindle

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Friday is Geek Pride Day - how are you going to show it?

Yes.  I am a geek.  I have been going all the way back to my high school years.  What better way to celebrate it than Geek Pride Day (see why at Wikipedia) on Friday, May 25, 2012.   This day has also become a sort of "Geek Appreciation" day as well for all of those out there that rely on us geeks in some form or fashion. So make sure that geek in your life knows you appreciate him or her.

While I will be on a camping trip on Friday, I will be celebrating by wearing this shirt:

Here's a few more of my geek shirts:

Happy Geek Pride Day!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tools now available to pull all your data from Apple's iCloud

This article from InformationWeek outlines a new digital forensic tool that can be used to pull down all your data from Apple's iCloud - including all your iPhone & iPad data if you backup to iCloud like Apple would like you to.  While this tool from Moscow-based ElcomSoft, is most likely to be used by some type of law enforcement entity, that does not mean it could not be used in a harmful manner.  And the tool does require a valid iTunes/iCloud account username & password to gain access, which means the tool is not "hacking" it's way in to a users files.  That sounds nice, but over the past few years there have been a large number of iTunes accounts targeted for attack by hackers & identity thieves - most recently documented in this ZDNet article "Anatomy of an iTunes Store Account Hack".    Since most users are using the same credentials for their iCloud account as their iTunes account, it would not be much of a stretch to see these same hackers to begin going after both the iTunes and iCloud accounts for their valuable data.

iCloud accounts can store your music, track your device (and you if you're carrying it), and have email setup on it, but it can also be used to backup your iPhone or iPad.  Prior to iOS 5, users had to utilize iTunes to activate, backup and restore their devices and were provided with an option to encrypt these backups.   These encrypted backups would make it nearly impossible for anyone that gained physical access to your computer. With iOS 5 users can now go "PC free" and perform their backup and restores via iCloud, but these backups apparently are not encrypted on Apple's servers.

Why should you be concerned about where your backups are stored and who has access to them?
ElcomSoft  marketing director Olga Koksharova explains in his blog post: "iCloud backups hold essentially the same information as stored in offline backups, which includes accounts and passwords , call logs and text messages, calendars, appointments, contacts and organizer information . Pictures and Web browsing history including URLs of recently visited sites are also included."   Who would really want all of that information on any remote backup service without being encrypted?  Not me.

While there is a setting on your iDevice to change your iCloud backup options, the easiest way to do this is from the iTunes summary screen for your device that shows up when you have it plugged into your computer.   This setting is about halfway down the screen and is very easy to locate (see below):

Just make the change to backup locally and then select the option to encrypt your backups and choose your password.  Once this is complete,  iTunes will backup your device when you Sync it with your computer or you can just right click on your device and select backup.    Your iDevice may no longer be "PC Free" but your data will be quite a bit safer.

Source:  Information Week

Friday, May 11, 2012

Microsoft Office & Sharepoint for the iPad

Microsoft may be missing the boat by not developing iPad versions of their enterprise applications.   While there have been rumors of Office for the iPad, this has yet to materialize.   This is where CloudOn stepped in and began offering a "desktop in the cloud" that provides access to full versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint via a free app for both the iPad and Android tablets.  CloudOn's  "office" product integrates with Dropbox, Box & Google's Drive to allow you to create and edit documents and have them sync down to your laptop or desktop.

There are other apps that will allow you to create and edit Microsoft Office documents directly on your tablet that also offer integration with cloud storage services, but none of them offer the full native desktop application experience that CloudOn's service provides.  CloudOn also has paid subscriptions to their service to provide more features and functionality.

Things brings us to SharePoint.  Viewing SharePoint sites via Safari  works, but if you need to interact with them in any way, problems begin to become quite evident.   Two companies are working to resolve this issue by bringing iPad apps to the market:  SharePlus: SharePoint Mobile Client by SouthLabs  and SharePoint Mobile Client by   Each apps costs $19.99 and will work on both the iPad and the iPhone making the market for these much larger than if they just supported Apple's iconic tablet.  And while that's considered a relatively hefty price for a mobile app, this would be considered average for an enterprise level app.  The makers of such apps understand that individuals and companies may be reluctant to spend more than a few dollars per app and tend to offer free or low cost "lite" versions of their apps that provide basic functionality.  SharePlus Lite: SharePoint Mobile Client  and Lite: SharePoint Mobile Client are both free and I highly recommend all of you out there that need SharePoint access on the go, to download both free apps and see which one works best for you.  If you are an Office 365 user, the SharePlus apps will more than likely be the best choice. 

So you see, the demand is there for native access to Microsoft's Office & SharePoint on the iPad and companies are stepping up to meet this demand.   Is Microsoft ignoring the needs of its users?  I do not know, but as was seen in the handling of the rumored Microsoft Office on iPad reports earlier this year, Microsoft does seem to be missing the fact that users want access now and could be very reluctant to spend more money on an "official" app if they already have a solution that works.