November 3rd, 2013
Need to view and edit Microsoft docs on your iPhone or Android mobile device? Don’t want to pay a small fortune to acquire an app that enables you to do it? Google’s got your solution. As writer CJ Arlotta affirms in a recent story on the MSPmentor Web site, Google is now providing users free access to its Quickoffice app, one that allows them to view and edit Office documents on their smartphones.
A big change
The Quickoffice app was formerly offered only to Google Apps for Business users. That’s now changed, with anyone able to get the app free of charge. The app will allow users to view and edit Office documents on everything from their iPads to their Android-fueled smartphones.
We all like free
Arlotta’s story quotes a Google vice president who claims that Google made the move because consumers like free stuff. That’s true. But it’s hard to believe that this is Google’s only reason behind making Quickoffice free. Some wonder if the move is Google’s step toward trying to plunge into the lucrative Microsoft Office business.
Obtaining Quickoffice Light is easy: Just visit either the App store or the Google Play store. You can download the app at no charge. To work with the program, though, you’ll have to either sign in or create a new Google account.
October 31st, 2013
Microsoft and Apple have long been rivals. Now Microsoft is going after consumers who already have iPhones, offering them a $200 trade-in if they bring in gently used iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 phones to a Microsoft store, according to a recent story by CJ Arlotta for MSPmentor.
Will it work?
According to Arlotta’s column, consumers who turn in an old iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 to a Microsoft store will receive a gift card worth $200. Consumers can then use the cards like cash at the store, buying whatever items they’d like.
Not a first
Of course, this isn’t the first time Microsoft has encouraged Apple customers to trade-in their gently used hardware. Microsoft earlier offered consumers the same $200 trade-in offer for turning in gently used iPad devices. These customers also received a $200 gift card that they could use at Microsoft stores.
If you would like to get in on the offer, you will have to follow some rules, Arlotta writes. First, you’ll need to make sure that your devices aren’t password-protected. Secondly, you’ll have to meet a time limit; the offer is only good until Nov. 3. Finally, Microsoft prefers that you turn in your device’s power cord along with the phone itself.
October 28th, 2013
How secure are your online accounts? If you log in with just a password, the unfortunate truth is that your accounts are at risk of being hacked. Microsoft, though, has taken steps to secure your Microsoft online accounts. That’s due to the fact company now offers two-step verification, a procedure where you must log on not just with a password but with a security code, also. Ed Rhee, a writer with CNET, recently detailed how this process works and why it’s important in a newly released column.
Why two-step matters
Rhee writes that Microsoft rolled out is two-step verification system on April 17. If you enable Microsoft’s two-step verification you’ll first have to enter your password to log onto your Microsoft accounts. Next, though, you’ll have to enter a security code. Only then will you complete the log on process.
Personal security code
The security code is the key. It will make it far more challenging for hackers to break into your online accounts. In Microsoft’s system, the company will send you a security code either through e-mail or through an automated message sent to your mobile device. Rhee writes that you could also download and use a Microsoft app to access your security code.
This may seem like a lot of hassle to log onto an account. But two-step verification is worth it. It’s relatively simple for skilled hackers to crack your password and log onto your Microsoft accounts. However with the addition of a security code you dramatically lower the odds of suffering a hack.
October 22nd, 2013
It seems like so long ago, but there was a time when your Mac ran fast. Today, though, using your favorite computer is a slug. Your Mac has slowed down with age. A part of the problem might be the apps you’ve downloaded on it. The good news is, writer Matt Elliott with CNET offers a solution: It’s time for you to download System Lens, an app that lists the apps running on your device and the amount of energy they are devouring.
Apps are excellent tools. They are able to keep you organized, balance your budget and help you lose weight. But they also consume a lot of resources. If you’ve got too many apps running on your Mac, they could slow down what was once a fast machine.
How System Lens helps
This is where System Lens will come in. Elliott in his article says that this app will list all of the apps that are currently running on your Mac. The app will even give each app a ranking — low, medium, high — for the level of resources it is consuming. Finally, the app will show you how strained your entire Mac is overall.
What happens next is up to you. You could opt to close or erase some of the apps consuming the largest amount of resources on your Mac. Doing so might provide a surprising, and pleasant, boost to your Mac’s speed.
October 17th, 2013
There are plenty of portable hard drives out there. But which hard drive is best for you? Seamus Bellamy, a writer for The Wirecutter, has a recommendation: Western Digital’s 2TB My Passport Ultra. In a recent review Bellamy said that this portable hard drive has all the things a computer user could want.
Affordable and powerful
According to Bellamy, the My Passport Ultra is both affordable and powerful. It retails for $150 and, Bellamy writes, boasts a nice mix of features, warranty protection and storage space.
Storage space is a key for any portable hard drive. And the My Passport Ultra offers tons. In fact, Bellamy writes that you can’t get more storage on a portable drive than what the Ultra provides.
What else does a top-ranked portable hard drive need? Speed. And, as Bellamy writes, the My Passport Ultra is as fast of a portable hard drive as there is on the market today. If Bellamy is accurate, you’ll be very impressed once you plug this hard drive into your computer.
October 15th, 2013
Think you’re tech savvy? Well, you’ve probably fallen for more tech myths than you think. For instance, Mac computers aren’t really virus-proof and emptying your recycle bin doesn’t completely delete the files it once held. And also if you’re using private browsing you’re still not surfing the Internet anonymously.
A more vulnerable Mac
Caroline Moss, a writer with Business Insider, recently covered some of the more widespread technology myths. One of the most persistent? The thought that Mac computers are immune to viruses. The reality is that they’re not. Now that Macs are gaining popularity, you can wager that a growing number of hackers are lining up to aim viruses at Apple’s operating system.
Many users believe that emptying their recycle bins will permanently destroy any files in it. This isn’t always true, Moss said. Deleting these files will liberate the space on your hard drive that they once used. But even emptying the recycle bin leaves behind fragments of files that can subsequently be retrieved.
You can tell your browser to go incognito. This will make sure that it doesn’t save any info on where you browsed. However, Web sites can certainly still record your visits. And, as Moss writes, any files you downloaded while private browsing will stay on your computer.
October 10th, 2013
Maybe all of those youngsters are right: Video games aren’t so detrimental, after all. The New York Times recently reported on new research showing that old-style video games might actually help old brains act younger. It’s compelling evidence for all those who’ve long suggested that video games can make us smarter.
According to the story, a fairly easy video game requiring players to swerve around cars and pick out road signs can increase the short-term memory and long-term focus of older adults. Amazingly, the story says, some players as old as 80 began showing the same neurological patters of people in their 20s.
Researchers found, too, that these features continued after older adults shut off the video games. Which means that older adults again exhibited the neurological patterns of much younger adults when undertaking their everyday tasks.
Space Invaders for life?
So, it could be time for our older readers to break out their long-abandoned copies of Pac-Man and Space Invaders. Something helps build a younger brain needs to be embraced. And if it takes a few hours of shooting down aliens or gobbling dots to get it done? That’s better still.
October 8th, 2013
Want to become a more productive employee? It’s time for a nap. Of course, have it approved by your boss first; you don’t want to unexpectedly become unemployed after getting some shuteye. But Lifehacker writer Melanie Pinola in a recent feature story took a look at the productivity benefits associated with work-time napping. You might be amazed at how a quick nap can boost your energy and brainpower.
A Short One
A power nap of 10 to 20 minutes can supply you with a boost in alertness and energy, Pinola writes. And because this is a lighter nap, you are able to more readily jump back into action once this snooze is over.
Not Short Enough, Not Long Enough
On the other hand, a 30-minute nap could cause more bad than good. That’s mainly because you’ll wake up from a nap of this length still groggy. You’ll fight to focus. And the sluggishness could last for another 30 minutes.
The Best Choice?
Instead of taking an hour for lunch, maybe you should take a 60-minute nap break. Pinola writes that a nap of this length leaves you feeling refreshed and energized. You’ll also find it easier to remember facts and names. The problem? Getting your boss to agree that you really need that 60-minute power nap.
October 3rd, 2013
Does it take your iPad ages to play your favorite videos? Does your iPhone’s Web browser crawl through the Internet? The chances are that your iPad or iPhone are old. And when these products get old, they get sluggish. The good news? You don’t have to spend the big bucks on a new iPhone or iPad. As an alternative, you can take some simple actions to boost the speed of your devices. Lifehacker writer Whitson Gordon recently provided some tips.
We know that you want to keep your iPad or iPhone up to date. But Gordon in his Lifehacker story says that the owners of older devices should avoid the lure of Apple updates. The reason? Those new versions of iOS or those latest upgrades can prove too powerful for older devices. And they could make those older devices run even slower.
Avoid Third-Party Apps
You might like third-party apps, too. But Whitson again gives some advice: Rely wherever possible on Apple’s own apps. They’re the ones created to work best with your iPhone or iPad. And if you instead rely on outside apps, you might exacerbate the sluggishness of your device.
Freeing up Storage
Your iPhone or iPad may just have way too many programs stored on it. Gordon recommends uninstalling any apps that you seldom use. You can also remove music or videos that you no longer use.
October 1st, 2013
Are you itching for a smartwatch? If so, you’re in luck. The Samsung Galaxy Gear is available and rumors are circulating that Apple is planning its very own iWatch. But what features should a smartwatch boast?
Thomas Claburn, editor-at-large with InformationWeek, recently explored the issue, writing his own story on just what he considers the most important features that smartwatches need to have. First, he writes, smartwatches must act as sensors. Which means they ought to be able to tell us the temperature, tell us where we are at any moment and let us know if our hearts are beating too quickly.
A smartwatch shouldn’t be a hassle to charge, either, Claburn said. Ideally, smartwatches would charge themselves as we walk move about our day. Otherwise, we should be able to charge them merely by setting them on a charging plate.
And here’s a suggestion near and dear to every consumer’s heart: Smartwatches need to be affordable. They’re not at this point, considering the Samsung Gear smartwatch retailing for a high $299.