Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It’s been a while, and I’m glad to be back

I just checked my Linked-In account, and for some strange reason I clicked on my blog link.  OMG, my last blog was in 2009!  Where did the time go?  It seems like yesterday when I decided to write this blog…but yesterday, was three years ago.
So here I go again.  I like to think I’ve learned a lot in those three years…and maybe just maybe I’ll get it right this time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

3D Television in the Works.

Just the other day I was doing a little Christmas shopping at Wal-Mart, and I was happy to see the cost of LCD and Plasma TVs are almost in my comfort zone. Maybe I’ll get a nice HD TV in the near future…or maybe I’ll wait….

It looks like 3D TV is on the way! I can’t wait to see what 3D TV looks like. I was “wowed” when I first saw HD TV, so 3D TV should be great.

Unfortunately, you still have to wear those 3D glasses. I have a hard time finding the remote…imagine looking for those glasses. The good news is technology to view 3D without wearing glasses is already in progress.

Keep your eye out for Sony and Panasonic 3D TVs.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Books, we don’t need no stinking books!

Say it ain’t so…is this the beginning of the end of books? I hope not, but Amazon.com’s Kindle 2, and Barnes & Nobles’s new Nook e-book reader (scheduled to debut late 09) is making book lovers (maybe better to say avid readers) take notice.

Watching the evolution of e-book readers has been interesting. The improvement from Kindle 1 to Kindle 2 has been well received. However, Barnes & Noble’s e-book reader called Nook will make e-book readers more appealing.

First of all the Nook will feature 2 stacked color displays. The top display will be for reading, and the smaller bottom touch screen will be for searching. The best feature is the Nooks ability for users to share e-books (for 14 days at a time). E-book sharing can happen between Nook, iPhone, iPod touch, and other smart phones. The Nook will also play music, audio books, and pod casts. The nook will also have Wi-Fi and AT&T wireless connectivity. The Nook also has a Micro SD expansion slot where you can add a 16 GB card increasing your personal library to 17,500 e-books.

I personally never really considered e-book readers as a legitimate replacement for books, but after learning more about the Nook, I will be taking a closer look at the device. However, I still have some concerns.

First of all the price tag of $250.00 is a lot, especially if the Nook is not durable. The Nook would have to be able to take a trip down a flight of stairs into a pool of water and survive for me to be convinced it’s durable enough. Alright I know that’s asking a lot, but you get the point, I need to know the Nook can handle average bumps and bruises. My other concern, about the Nook, is will I love it enough that it will not end up in a drawer with all my other rejected gadgets…I just don’t know.

Personally my e-book reader has to be as valuable to me as my I-pod. I never leave the house without my i-Pod. I would never consider buying another MP3 player. When my i-Pod breaks, I will just go out and buy another i-Pod. Can the Nook or any e-book reader make me feel the way I feel about my i-pod?

The good thing about the Nook is Barnes & Nobles will have the Nook available for use in their retail stores. So people like me who are on the fence can experience the device and make a decision.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Google’s Promise to deliver simplicity in Chrome OS

Google makes the bold promise that all “Web-based applications will automatically work.” Sounds great, but it won’t be as easy.

Digging deeper into the problem of a Web-centric OS begs the question, how will Chrome OS handle the chore of managing hardware resources? Although Chrome has simplified the way applications are accessed, the real issue is how will Chrome OS bridge the gap between Web software and device hardware? Another problem Chrome OS will need to overcome is working with legacy applications.

The hardware issue could be solved by Google working closely with vendors, and developing “official support “ for their OS. As for Legacy applications, and standalone applications the answer is unclear.

I personally believe that Chrome OS will be awesome on net-books, and laptops, but may not fare as well on desktops.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Does Microsoft need to worry about Google’s Chrome Operating System?

The short answer is no. It’s my opinion that Microsoft will most likely benefit from Google’s new OS. Most of Microsoft’s advances have been driven by its competition. Take a look back at the browser wars. Internet Explorer had enjoyed a virtual Internet browser monopoly. After Microsoft’s attempt to block Netscape from being installed on Windows failed, other Web browsers began to emerge…specifically Mozilla’s Firefox. Firefox introduced some cool plug-ins, and the convenient tabbed browsing experience. To compete with Mozilla, Microsoft started to make improvements to Internet Explorer…this is the Microsoft way. The bottom line is Internet Explorer improved enough to be considered “as good” as Firefox.

Need more proof? Look at how Microsoft has responded to Apple’s competitive advantage regarding security. Apple is just known to have better security against virus, and spyware attacks, while Windows is well…Windows. In response, Microsoft beefed up its security by adding a security console, which has a built in Firewall, and provides automatic security updates. Vista improved on the concept by adding malware protection to the security suite. Internet Explorer 8 added a phising filter.

Microsoft’s reputation of being an imitator instead of an innovator is one of the reasons people dislike Microsoft. However, Microsoft’s strategy to incorporate the competitions innovations could work well against Google’s Chrome OS.

Google is making the case that cloud computing will be the way everyone will access applications. In other words, the Web will become the platform for almost every application. Based on the popularity of cloud computing in public and private sectors, Google has a valid point.

The question on my mind is what can Google offer that Microsoft can’t? If Chrome’s emphasis is to develop a web optimized operating system, Microsoft’s response will be to simply beef up Windows so that it too will be more optimized for the web.

One scenario Microsoft would hate to see would be a hugely successful Chrome OS that creates a revolution…a revolution that cannot be stopped by mere imitation. Think of how the I-pod has revolutionized the MP3 player...now wouldn’t it be awesome if Google could pull off an OS revolution?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Computing in the Clouds

I was watching an old episode of Star Trek on late night Cable…another bout of insomnia.  This particular episode was about advanced aliens who lived in the clouds.  Have you seen this episode?  I started to think about clouds and then cloud computing, and thought maybe I should write a basic blog about cloud computing.

So you’ve probably heard the term cloud computing, and thought cool, this cloud computing must be superior to regular computing.  Well cloud computing is really just a cool name for computer sharing.

Think of a data center with thousands of servers available.  Cloud computing allows businesses to purchase a portion of that computing power from the data center to run their applications over the Internet.

An example of a cloud application would be Google docs.  You can get a Google account and have access to Google docs (among others).  With Google docs you can create presentations, spreadsheets, and text documents without downloading and installing any software on your personal computer…very cool.  So as an end user, cloud computing means that if you have an Internet connection, and a web browser, you can have access to applications without the hassle of downloading and installing software.  Google docs is free, but some applications may require a fee. 

Cloud computing, big deal, so I don’t need to install software.  I guess you’ve never had a hard drive crash, and had to re-load all your applications.  The biggest pain I guess isn’t loading the applications, but finding the disks and locating the software key.  What about that application you wish you had access to on any computer you touch?  Cloud computing fits the bill, any computer with an Internet connection will get you to your cloud application (unless the application is blocked in the firewall).  Some cloud applications allow for collaboration with others.  You can share your Google docs with your business partners.

Some cloud applications may be dangerous because you may be putting confidential information in the cloud.  Consider a financial cloud application that you use to track personal finances.  A cloud data breach will compromise your personal information.  Keep in mind what information you are putting in the cloud, and make sure that whatever you do, leave your personal information on your personal computer.

Overall cloud computing is a great idea, but it does have some disadvantages.  If there is a data breach, any information in the cloud will be compromised.  Working in the cloud takes longer, and quite often the cloud application features are limited in scope.  A locally installed word processor will have many more features than a cloud word processor. You need to have access to the Internet to get to your application.  Lose your Internet connection, or the cloud site is down and you won’t be able to work until the problem is fixed.

Depending on your workload, and your computing style, you can easily leverage cloud applications to increase your efficiency.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Getting security under your thumb

I sure love thumb drives.  My buddy just handed me a thumb drive with a couple of movies on it…sweet.  I just plug the drive in and watch my movies from the thumb drive.  Almost everybody owns a thumb drive, and on those thumb drives we keep all kinds of information…some information may be more sensitive than a movie or music.

Consider someone who needs to import, or store customer data onto a drive.  Depending on the customer and the sensitivity of the data, a simple password might do the trick.  But if you’re paranoid like me, you might want to take your security to the next level…encryption.

There are plenty of programs that will encrypt your thumb drive, but we’re talking about taking thumb drive encryption to another level.  Enter the Kingston’s Data Traveler Vault and Data Traveler Vault –Privacy series thumb drives.  Kingston installs advance encryption onto the thumb drive as software and in the thumb drive hardware…which makes it extremely difficult to hack.

The Kingston Data Traveler is password protected.   The password is entered when you plug in the drive, and click on the DTFaultLock Format console.  The Console allows you to change passwords as well. When the password is entered and confirmed you can read and write data to a “private” area or a “public” area.  The private area is encrypted, while the public area is not.  The Kingston Data Traveler Vault – Privacy edition only has a privacy area.   Decryption happens after the password is confirmed.

The Data Traveler Vault uses AES-256 (Advanced Encryption Standard, 256-bit) encryption.  AES encryption requires the same exact key must be used to encrypt and decrypt the data, otherwise the data remains unreadable.  After 10 failed login attempts, the drive is locked down.  Locking the drive down after 10 attempts will prohibit the use password guessing programs.

Another benefit of the Kingston drive is that it works on both Windows and Mac.  Linux is not yet supported.
The Kingston Data Traveler Vault is between $200 and $220 for the 8-GB drive.  If protecting your data is extremely important, and your data cannot fall into the wrong hands, then this is the device for you.