Category: Hardware

Keep Track of Your “Stuff”

We all lose stuff, even if only temporarily.  What if you could “tag” all your stuff with a tracker, so that when misplaced, you could locate it easily on your Smartphone?  That’s what Tile is for.  A Personal Asset Manager to help track one’s stuff.  It’s about time.

Currently, Tile only works with the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad Mini, iPad 3rd and 4th gen, and iPod Touch 5th gen.  And I can’t say it’s really cheap.  One Tile is $18.95.  The more you buy, the more you save per Tile.  Up to 10 Tiles can be put on one account.  You attach, stick or drop your Tile into/onto any item you might lose such as laptops, wallets, keys, guitars, bikes—you name it.

The good news:  The Tile app saves the last GPS location it saw your Tile.  It shows the location on what looks like a Google Map. Tiles come with a built-in speaker so you can easily hear it in close range.  You never need to replace the batteries or even charge your Tiles.

The bad news:  Tiles last a year. You’ll receive a reminder when it’s time to order new Tiles and you’ll get an envelope to recycle your old ones.  So think of it as an annual subscription cost for asset protection.  For an expensive electronic device, bicycle, or even a pet, the annual cost is well worth it.

If this takes off, it will no doubt expand to other operating systems.  I’m intrigued.  Are you?

BlackBerry Z10

In the past, I only used and recommended BlackBerry mobile phones for business use, because of the better security and business apps.  That was until I threw my 3rd BB out of the window of a moving car!  There has been just one too many frustrations with synchronizations gone awry and corrupting my dataset, an inability to respond to “dial by name” menu choices on telephone systems, and all too frequent inexplicable freeze-ups.  One day it froze up and frayed that final nerve.  I rolled down the window, and took great satisfaction in throwing it out.  My husband was astounded.  “You didn’t really do that, did you?”  By then my blood pressure was immeasurably lowered, my reptile brain gave way to rational thought, and I responded, “Yep, can you pull over?  I need to retrieve it and wipe the confidential data.”  After the data was wiped I put on glasses, took out my mallet, and gave it a sound and very satisfying whack.  It feels good just remembering it.

A lot of time has passed since then.  I became an iPhone user.  Now, let me assure you that I’m not one of those MAC-head fanatics.  In fact, I don’t even own an Apple computer.  But I DO have an iPad which I adore.  Here’s the thing about the iPhone.  It works.  Simply, intuitively (for the most part) it just works.  I’ve never had a synching issue.  I have had to reboot about 3 times in 5+ years, which has included 2 different models.

Using the touch screen for typing took some time to get used to.  Mostly that’s because of my beautiful long fingernails.  Great for hard keys, but impossible for soft keys which require heat from a fingertip.  It’s like trying to walk on stilts — my actual fingers are about 1/2″ away from the screen at all times.  I had to learn to use a stylus or the side of my fingers.  But aside from that, I have to say my experience has been great.  I even catch an occasional episode of my beloved HGTV on it when I am having lunch alone on the road.

The apps are all-inclusive in terms of what is available; virtually anything you can ask for.  Most are high quality, at least of the ones I have used.  So my long-term relationship with Apple has been very productive and pleasant thus far.  Yet . . .

There’s the new BlackBerry Z10.  Thus far it is disappointing analysts in numbers.  That’s because the market now has another major player in the form of Android, which makes a lot of other phones more desirable.  I predict that Android will eventually dominate the market in terms of operating system.  Windows has also started to take a bite out of the marketplace.  So the BlackBerry has lost a lot of momentum, and faces stiffer competition than before.  Yet . . .

BlackBerry Z10 is now marketing itself not as a business tool, which was always their niche.  They are marketing the BB-Z10 as “Fun re-invented.”  Huh?  BB was never known for being fun.  The Z10 features stuff like Time Shift for photograph improvement, and Video calls with Screen Share for on-the-fly face-to-face communications with sharing of documents and photos.  These are some seriously Apple-like innovations.  So UN-businesslike, and it looks easy.  (Look being the operative word!)  Who knows what the future holds?  It’s worth a look, and maybe more thought.  Wish I could take a test drive.

Are Your Apple Apps Crashing?

I have been having a lot of difficulty downloading and updating my iPhone software and apps.  I thought it was just me until I came upon a recent article in CNET Daily News pointing a finger at the App store.  If you’re having a problem, you may want to report it to Apple, instead of just assuming you’re the only one with the problem, or it’s just a temporary glitch.

Recently I received a survey from Apple to complete.  They may regret requesting my feedback, because it was far from positive.  Let me say that I unequivocally love my iPhone and iPad.  I never thought I’d say that, at least not publicly.  But I know a good tool when I use it.  I have never regretted that my “last straw” frustration with my Blackberry caused me to throw it out the car window.  My husband was astonished, to say the least.  I had been a loyal, but increasingly frustrated, Crackberry addict through three models in a row.  It was a mostly-reliable but frustratingly limiting business tool.  Everything beyond the usual was such a hassle to accomplish.  I felt like the phone was purposely interfering with my ability to be more productive.

My reticence to use the iPhone was mostly based on security concerns.  But I made the leap regardless.  From day one, without so much as a helpful guide to follow, I was more productive than all those years using a Blackberry.  Everything was faster, more intuitive, and more fun.  That being said, my frustration with the App store has been ongoing since purchase.  S L O W W W W W  That about says it all.  It is the slowest darned app to load, connect, navigate, download, update, and whatever else I need to do. 

If Apple is smart, it will take heed of the customer dissatisfaction in this area, and make some improvements.  Since there seem to be some quality issues, it’s time for an overhaul of it’s worst single point of failure.  Want to hasten the process?  Make sure you let Apple know if you’re experiencing similar problems.

What’s New in the New iPad?

Interesting that the new iPad, which one would think would be called iPad3, is called, simply, iPad.  Well, a rose by any other name may not boast the same stellar video and 4LTE speed.  Read this article from Law Technology News (reprinted on Law.com) which gives you a good analysis of what’s new, and why it may be worth your upgrade dollars.

I’m not rushing to relace my iPad2 based on the upgrades.  But I am fully prepared to be jealous of those who do get the new model.

Accessories for Your iPad

We all know about cases and keyboard accessories for the iPad.  But there’s a lot more available, and more coming all the time. A recent CNET Photo Review covers a number of new accessories, along with some we know about, and provides helpful links to explore the possibilities.

Smoking Hot News from Mobile World Congress

Today’s issue of CNET News is smoking hot.  It has a review of the 26 hottest phones and tablets shown at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.  There’s an article about the new Nokia 41-megapixel camera phone with digital zoom.  And there’s a great video offering a sneak preview of the new Windows 8 beta operating system.  Touch screen is but one new feature.  Wholly molly, this tech addict needs to start breathing into a paper bag to calm down.

Kudos to Best Buy for Making E-Waste Disposal Easy

We are all drowning in electronic trash.  Ok, maybe not all of us, but most of the people and businesses I know.  Old routers, cables, telephones, discarded laptops and CPUs.  Oh my! I had three big boxes filled with just cables, routers, headsets, and other paraphernalia.  On top of that, 3 dead laptops, 2 laptop cooling stands, and 4 dead CPUs crowded a corner of my office.  I wanted to dispose of these items in some responsible, environmentally-friendly manner. 

I didn’t want my old equipment tossed in a landfill.  In addition, I was under the distinct impression that I was required to dispose of my e-waste responsibly.  In fact, I was pretty sure I had blogged about new e-waste disposal rules years ago.  So I did some digging in my blog archives, and found out that, sure enough, I did blog about it back in November, 2005 in a post entitled “Disposing of Unwanted E-Equipment.”  What I had forgotten is that the EPA regulations applied only to businesses, and not to residences.  Since I operate on a virtual-office basis out of my home, it seems I have no requirement, at least Federally, to recycle electronic waste. 

The Federal eWaste site indicated that individual states may have requirements of their own.  That seemed to jog my defective memory a bit, so I looked to the National Electronics Recycling Infrastructure Clearinghouse to determine what is required in my native state of Pennsylvania.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see from the map above, PA does not have any state-specific e-waste disposal requirements.  So it’s up to the conscience of each individual to do the right thing.  And that includes all those of us who have home-based business.  According to one resource, “The home office market will add nearly 2.0 million home-based businesses by 2015, with over 450,000 net new home-based businesses per year in 2013 and 2014. “  Folks, we’re looking at a lot of e-waste here!

There are a lot of choices for e-cycling and disposal.  I know because I did a Google search to find them.  And while many are good solutions for business, most didn’t work for me.  But I finally found a convenient solution at the local “big box” store.  I walked into my local Best Buy, just minutes from my home. Right in the foyer were several recycling bins.  Each was labeled for appropriate content: batteries, cables, and so forth.  Intrigued, I went to their web site to find out more about their e-cycling program.  I was amazed to find that I could recycle almost everything I had, regardless of where or when it had been purchased.

By coincidence, my old Sony 27″ TV died right after I became aware of this service.  So with much labor, hubby and I managed to get it into the car, along with all the other “stuff” I had piled around the office.  They took everything with a smile and a thank you. I was back home within 15 minutes with a good feeling, and a lot of regained space in the office.

Kudos, Best Buy, for making my e-disposal quick and painless.  Keep up the good work.

New Laser Printers and Multi-functions Coming from Brother

Brother International Corporation is one of the premier providers of products for the home, home office and solo or small law firm office.  They are also one of the favored brands which has stood the test of time with lawyers.  And we know that isn’t easy.  Demonstrating its ongoing commitment to delivering the ideal combination of performance features and a great overall value, Brother announced today three new laser printers (HL-5300 Series from $199 to $299) and two new laser all-in-ones (MFC-8000 Series from $399 to $499), each including key enhancements over the current model it replaces. Each model is designed to provide fast print speeds (up to 32ppm), automatic duplex printing, and optional high-yield replacement toner cartridges. All new models will be available beginning in April, 2009.

If you’re looking to upgrade or expand your hardware capability, or if you’re one of the hundreds of lawyers who are currently giving up the brick and mortar office to work on a virtual office home-based basis in order to save on overhead, these new models deserve a good hard look.

Here’s a rundown of the key new features, outlined in the Brother news release:

New HL-5300 Series

  New Models: HL-5340D, HL-5370DW & HL-5370DWT

  Replaces Current: HL-5240, HL-5250DN, HL-5250DNT & HL-5280DW

  New HL-5340D key features:
  –  Up to 32ppm print speed
  –  Built-in automatic duplex capability for two-sided printing
  –  16MB memory
  –  Increased high-yield replacement toner cartridge available (up to 8,000 pages)
  –  300-sheet paper capacity, expandable up to 800-sheet
  –  Estimated Street Price: $199

  New HL-5370DW key features:
  All the features of the HL-5340D, plus:
  –  Built-in wireless (802.11 b/g) network interface
  –  Built-in Ethernet network interface
  –  32MB of standard memory, expandable to 544MB
  –  Estimated Street Price: $249

  New HL-5370DWT key features:
  All the features of the HL-5370DW, plus:
  –  Second 250-sheet paper tray that boosts total input capacity to 550-sheets
  –  Estimated Street Price: $299

  New MFC-8000 Series

  New Models: MFC-8480DN & MFC-8890DW

  Replaces Current: MFC-8460N, MFC-8860DN & MFC-8870DW

  New MFC-8480DN key features:
  –  Up to 32ppm monochrome print speed
  –  Built-in automatic duplex capability (for two-sided printing)
  –  Up to 1200 x 1200 dpi print quality
  –  300-sheet paper capacity, expandable up to 550-sheets
  –  USB Direct Interface, allows users to print from or scan to their USB Flash memory drive (PDF and JPEG)
  –  Increased high-yield replacement toner cartridge available (up to 8,000 pages)
  –  Estimated Street Price: $399

  New MFC-8890DW key features:
  All the features of the MFC-8480DN, plus:
  –  Built-in wireless (802.11 b/g) network interface
  –  Full duplex capability (print/copy/scan/fax)
  –  Estimated Street Price: $499

This post is not an endorsement of  Brother or it’s printers or multi-function devices.  However, I can say without reservation that their equipment has always enjoyed a good reputation among lawyers who use it.  In today’s economic climate, it’s important to be aware of all the options before spending your hard-earned dollars.

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How Much Hard Drive Storage Do You Need?

For some time now I have been advocating the use of portable hard drives for back-up, with a rotation scheme like in the old days of tape back-up devices. Prices just keep on dropping. There is no greater evidence than the recent offering listed at DealUniversity for a 1TB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive, available at Buy.Com at an unbelievable $249.95, including free shipping. It looks like the deal is still good, based on this web page.

The unit Weighs just 5.1 pounds and measures 5″ x 3″ x 7.75″ . It works with Windows 98SE, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Millennium Edition as well as Mac OS 8.1 or above and Mac OS 9.0 or up. It is Vista compatible.

I don’t know how your math works, but I had trouble wrapping my mind around the concept of a terabyte, so stopped by Wikipedia to confirm that it is the equivalent to 1,000 Gigabytes of data. Yes, folks, that’s the motherload of data storage for any law firm I know. Even if it’s just used for image or file storage of old client files, it’s an amazing deal.

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A Compendium of Vista Resources

Here is a useful conglomeration of resources for those who have decided to upgrade now, or just want to get up to speed . . with gratitude to blogger Jody Gilbert and TechRepublic for the first ten in the list. Does this list seem too long? Keep in mind that a Google search for Windows + Vista + information resulted in over 210 MILLION hits. So you’ll have to forgive me if I had trouble narrowing it down. :-)

10 reasons you should upgrade to Vista (and 10 reasons you shouldn’t)

10 things you should do before installing Windows Vista on a computer

10 things you’ll miss when you upgrade to Vista (and how to get some of them back)

100 things you should know about Windows Vista

How do I… Install Windows Vista in a dual-boot configuration along with Windows XP?

Mini-glossary: Windows Vista terms you should know

10+ tweaks, tricks, and hacks to make Windows Vista fly

Feature guide: What you need to know about Windows Vista

CNET.com Complete Guide to Windows Vista

Windows Vista: Is it secure enough for business?

Using Windows Vista on a Corporate Mobile Network

Ensuring Application Compatibility in Vista

Why Not Vista Right Now?

Will WordPerfect Run Under Vista?

Want to Learn More About Vista?

A Dubious Christmas Gift for Microsoft

Free Upgrade Vista Coupons

Preparing for Windows Vista

Vista May Leave You Exposed

Purchase Your PC With Windows Vista Requirements in Mind

The 2007 Microsoft Office System – Learning Portal

Answers.com blog: Windows Vista assembled resources

The Elder Geek on Windows Vista

National Instruments: Getting Ready for Microsoft Windows Vista

Petri IT Knowledge Base: Windows Vista Information, Tweaking, Tips and Tricks

For those of you familiar with Drexel University, you know that they produce a new class of top-flight geek-heads every year. Here is their current recommendation to students for computer purchase:

computers should meet the following specifications to perform optimally with Windows VISTA:

* Dual Core 2.0 GHz Pentium 4 with 800 MHz data bus speed or higher
* 2 GB of RAM or higher
* 80 GB hard disk or higher
* A DirectX 9 graphics processor with 256 Mb cache video RAM or higher

When running Windows VISTA, it is important to note that the more RAM that is available the better.

Remember that your monitor’s display quality also depends on the quality of your video card. If you purchase a high-quality, large screen, also buy a video card that has high resolution and refresh capabilities. To utilize the high-graphic capabilities in Windows VISTA it is imperative that you purchase a discrete video card that has at least 128 MB of RAM. A discrete video card is recommended because they have their own high speed memory allotted for their use and are usually separate from the motherboard.

Windows VISTA is designed in such a way that the operating system itself can realize a real performance gain from a dual core processor.

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