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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Samsung reveals its Galaxy Note 2

Is it a phone?...Is it a tablet? - Well from what I've seen I guess you could call it a "phablet"!
It remains in a class of its own with the huge AMOLED bright 5.3" display and classy stylus.

In some ways it's design is familiar with the Galaxy S III, with the same rounded edges, glossy finish and extra software piled atop its Android base. Powered by a quad-core Exynos processor clocked at 1.6GHz it houses a 3,100mAh battery. There's also Samsung's reliable 8-megapixel camera sensor on the back, capable of 1080p video-recording. Of course Jelly Bean will be the Android version.

Just like the Galaxy Note 10.1, the Galaxy Note 2 contains a host of new S Pen gestures. The stylus device now enables a virtual pointer/cursor on the Galaxy Note 2's screen. This happens without the stylus touching the screen and functions almost as a physical laser pointer would.

More info on the device here:
(Video courtesy of Android Central)

Monday, August 27, 2012

10 Best free and open source

These days, you can quite easily buy a brand-spanking-new computer and install all the software you need for free, using applications offered under the GNU/Open Software License. 
You can get a free operating system, image editor, a free sound editor, office suite, media player, file archiver, PDF creator… the list goes on and on and on. The vast majority of them are cross-platform. 
Listed below are 20 invaluable and indispensable open source applications that you really should be using, if you’re not already.

Mail Client: Thunderbird
With its speedy searches, strong security and superb add-ons, Thunderbird has to be the best, free email application available. If you’re prepared to spend some time tailoring your email environment with add-ons, you’ll absolutely love it. Outlook users will feel right at home. Addons available from customization, themes, and importing VCF's (contact cards)

Photo editor: GIMP
As for most Photoshop users understand, image editing software is expensive for most people, but GIMP provides a free alternative. It performs every major function you could desire, including working with layers, image retouching and editing, transform, resizing, cropping. File formats include GIF, JPEG, TIFF, PNG, PSD, BMP...etc

Office Suite: Open Office
With the ability to create text documents, spreadsheets, presentations and databases, OpenOffice is an accomplished rival to Microsoft Office, which clearly influenced OpenOffice’s design. Microsoft Office users will feel completely at home and find that OpenOffice performs just as well, if not better.

Operating system: Ubuntu or Linux Mint
Ubuntu is a free operating system that’s quick and easy to use. Recent figures suggest that around 50% of Linux users have Ubuntu installed and was, until recently the number 1 choice for Linux ditros. Linux Mint has taken the top lead. Mint is actually based on Ubuntu but it adds a custom desktop and menus, and avoids the new Unity desktop which Ubuntu utilizes.

Accounting/Small Business: GnuCash
GnuCash provides a great, free alternative to paid-for accounting software. Designed for personal and small business use, it offers bank account, stock, income and expense tracking, in addition to double-entry accounting.

Music/sound editor: Audacity
Users can record and edit live audio; cut, copy, splice and mix sounds; and convert ageing tapes and records into digital format. Formats supported: MP3, WAV, MID, AIFF,
and Ogg

Zip Compression: ZipCentral
ZipCentral is a free and easy to use ZIP file manager with all the utilities you need to manage your zip files. It can also create Self-Extracting archives and archives spanned across multiple files. ZipCentral supports Drag & Drop to and from Windows Explorer Context menu.

FTP: FileZilla
FileZilla is a hugely successful, cross-platform FTP client. It’s also available as a server, for Windows only. Created in January 2001 by Tim Klosse as a class project, FileZilla has gone on to become the 5th most popular download of all time from

Windows users can consider PDFCreator a credible rival to Adobe Acrobat. Creating PDFs is as easy as printing, literally, as once installed, you can select PDFCreator as your printer, letting you create PDFs from practically any application.

Blogging/Website: Wordpress
WordPress is the world’s most popular blogging platform, used by a staggering 202 million websites. As simple or as complex as you want it to be, WordPress is supported by a wide array of plugins which can be used to transform a standard blog into anything you could possibly desire.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why Android rocks

I like the robot.                                    
He's user friendly, open source and based on the Linux kernel.

Back in 2005 when the search giant was only 7 years old, Google did a very smart thing. It bought out and acquired a small but little known company called Android Inc.
Larry Paige and company understood the potential for this Linux kernel OS on a phone and went forward creating the Open Handset Alliance, Android Open Source Project, and built from there.

Today we have the newest Android version "Jelly Bean" which contains several graphics updates to make the animations more "fluidlike and buttery".

More of the features of "Jelly Bean" include:
User-installable keyboard maps
Expandable notifications
Ability to turn off notifications on an app specific basis
Bluetooth data transfer for Android Beam
Offline voice dictation
Improved voice search
Improved camera app among other improvements.

Besides the customization, the availability of apps on the market is enormous. Applications are a major driving force when a customer chooses a phone. Apple still has the lead over at the App Store but Google is fast catching up and is expected to overtake iOS apps numbers in 2012.

One of the best things about the openness of the Android platform is that if you're unhappy with the stock OS, you can install one of many modified versions of Android (called ROMs) on your device. Installing a ROM can be tricky as the device must first be "rooted", then the ROM needs to be installed correctly. It's alot like installing a newer version of Windows with the bells and whistles. If you want more info about  ROMS head over to the pros at XDADevelopers forums.

Google encourages open source and developing of apps.This gives developers the ability to
create & develop apps and post them on the Market (Google Play).
Both the Windows Mobile and the IOS from Apple are closed source. Until recently Microsoft had shunned the open source world but now realizes the importance of collaboration.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Windows 8 RTM milestone reached

Last week Microsoft announced the RTM milestone has been reached. This means they've completed the development and testing phase of Windows 8 and is ready to release the code to PC Manufactures for OEM versions (Release To Manufacture). The OS will be available to the public beginning Oct 26th.

If you have Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7 you qualify for an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for only $39.99 in specific markets.

More information on the upgrade can be found here.

Microsoft has blogged that there are going to be three versions of Windows 8. This keeps it simple as opposed to previous versions which to say was confusing.

For PCs and tablets powered by x86 and AMD processors (both 32 and 64 bit), there is two editions: Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. For most consumers, Windows 8 will be the right choice. It will include all the features above plus an updated Windows Explorer, Task Manager, better multi-monitor support, and language support.

Windows 8 Pro is designed to help tech enthusiasts and business/technical professionals obtain a broader set of Windows 8 technologies. It includes Windows 8 standard features plus features for encryption, desktop virtualization, PC management and domain connectivity. Windows Media Center will be only available as an "add on" to Windows 8 Pro. If you are an enthusiast or you want to use your PC in a business environment, you will want Windows 8 Pro.

Windows RT is the newest member of the Windows family. This single edition will only be available pre-installed on PCs and tablets powered by ARM processors and will help enable new thin and lightweight form factors with impressive battery life. Windows RT will include touch-optimized desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

Monday, August 6, 2012

NASA/JPL Mars Curiosity rover landing

(Aside from the typical tech blog entry)
The Mars Curiosity rover landing caught my attention last week and I've been following it closely. Congrats NASA and JPL for the Curiosity Rover Landing on Mars! Just watching it on NASA TV it was a tense few minutes watching for the acknowledged from the rover.

 It had an unusual landing deployment. As the rover was 200ft in altitude the "skycrane" would deploy the rover by tether and lower it for touchdown. The skycrane would then fly away.
 Touchdown :)

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