Author Archives: cstechplus

A Basket to Catch the Apple

For as long as there were personal computers, Microsoft had been the leader in software development and engineering for operating systems, and they stood firm on that belief. Today they are going to build a basket to catch the apple.

This week, Microsoft is expected to introduce a tablet computer to run their new Windows 8 operating system. It is the first time in the company’s 37-year history that it will offer a computer of its own. Google also has made waves in channeling the same plan as it announced plans to pay $12.5 billion to acquire Motorola Mobility, a maker of Android’s smartphones and tablets.

With the tremendous success of Apple, now the most highly valued company in the world, has shown rivals that in order to create superior technology was to “make the whole widget”. In the most recent  quarter, Apple’s revenue from iPad was $6.59 billion, more than Microsoft’s sales of Windows.

For Microsoft, making a tablet is a risky venture. Windows has a steadfast relationship with its hardware partners. The plan could erode the commitment those partners have to Windows since Microsoft will effectively be competing with them for sales.

Also, Microsoft has a mix track record. It makes the Xbox 360, but took years of losses due to manufacturing problems. They also failed with the Zune, which is a music player that was designed to compete with the iPod.

The Microsoft tablet is expected to use Windows 8 RT, based on a class of microprocessors called ARM chips. That is the same class of chips inside the iPad.

Let’s hope Microsoft will be successful in catching the golden Apple. Competition is always a good thing.  All comments are welcome for discussion!

Chrissy Le, Technology Marketing Specialist

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Tech and Pseudo Invasion of Privacy

We hear a lot about our privacy being invaded by such modern technologies as cell phones, Twitter, FaceBook, credit and debit card usage tracking, etc. I wonder, though, did we ever really have the privacy we’re claiming to have lost?

An immediate example that comes to mind is the telepathic communication between parents living in small communities and close-knit neighborhoods when their children do something wrong. I know I never got home before the news of my disgraceful behavior did. This happened even when we were living with no telephone.

Then there were the party lines. Do you remember them? Anyone could listen in. (How many times did you drop a handset when someone yelled, “I know you’re there listening, you get off right now or I’m telling your mother!”)

Of course, the parental communication zone had nothing on the school gossip-rumor incubation zone. Age never mattered. It began in kindergarten. I don’t think it ever stops. The topics may change over time – from who got a new bicycle to who was dating who or who got what job – but it is still gossip and rumor.

It’s a very active part of society. From co-workers talking to each other to the people who you see publically, news of what you think, do, say, wear and dress gets around quickly….although not necessarily accurately. I’m convinced when they complete translations of cave paintings, they’re going to discover they were the tabloids of the day.

What technology has brought to the mix is just a function of speed and distance. While it may have taken news of bad behavior about 15 minutes to reach your folks, today that same behavior announcement can travel around the world twice in about 10 minutes – in multiple languages – with multiple twists on hairstyles, companions, clothing, locations, money spent, and/or drugs consumed.

It’s still the same old same old gossip/rumor mill.

Only now it’s on steroids.

And satellites.

Carol Smith / Training Manager

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Holey Magnolias

Blogging this week about FotoFlexer, another online photo editing website. www.fotoflexer.com With FotoFlexer you can edit photos from photobucket, myspace, facebook, flickr, Picasa Web Albums, or by uploading a photo directly from your computer.
I uploaded a photo of my mom and dad’s Magnolia tree to FotoFlexer. Here is what the photo looked like before editing.  I love, love, love the pink and when the Magnolias are in full bloom, they are magnificent to look at. A true sign of Spring.

After checking out all of features of FotoFlexer, I decided to edit the photo making just a couple edits, I added the “Lomoish” effect to the photo and I then decided to turn this photo into a poster (which is a feature in FotoFlexer). Then I simply added a title to my poster and some text. Well now what do you think? This all took a matter of virtually minutes. How fun!


When you are ready, give FlotoFlexer a spin (be sure to experiment) and let us know what you think! We didn’t see any pricing on their website, so we will assume that this editor is free for the time being, but just note that could change at any time.

 Since we are on the search for photo editors that are as good as the retired Picnik, be sure to share any you are using with us, so we can in-turn share them with all of our followers. 

Happy Photo Editing!
Have fun and be creative!

-Holly Berlin, General Manager

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Well I’ll Be A Monkey’s Uncle!

Picnik pioneered online photo editing, but recently closed its doors. It did not take long for another online photo editor to be developed.

PicMonkey is a  new online photo editor which does a great job, if not better than what Picnik could have done.

The user interface is very intuitive and loads fast. The features range from the basic crop and sharpen to applying advanced effects, all with a click of a button. I decided to try out this new editor to see what it can do.

This is the control panel where you do all your editing. The creative options are located on the left hand side. I loaded a photo (taken by my manager, Holly Berlin), and played with some of the features.

In the Basic Edits, I tried my hand at recoloring this photo.  I tested out the saturation and temperature feature.  Next I worked in the Effects panel, which gives you a one-click effects ranging from Urban effects to Polaroid style coloration.  I decided to work with the “Orton” effects, which gives the photo a soft magical feel.

Here is the result:

According to PicMonkey, certain features are free for the time being, but may have a cost applied to them in the future. If you would like to try out this great new online photo editor, go here: http://www.picmonkey.com/.  Tell us what you think!

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You are NOT Attention Deficit, Your Head is Just in the Cloud

My gamer daughter-in-law has the word DERP as her Facebook Timeline picture. I decided it was time I learned what that meant. A-googling I went. In the process of finding DERP, I also came across a notification that new words are to be added to the Oxford English Dictionary in June.

(Did I mention I love words? I do, shamelessly, unabashedly. I personally own TWO unabridged dictionaries; each of which weighs in at about 50 pounds. I love them.)

So, now instead of finding the definition of DERP, I’m googling new dictionary words.

Meme is being added with a new definition for cloud , and webster will no longer only be a proper name. BUT, dictionaries are also adding OMG and LOL, – which reminded me I wanted to look up O_O.Image

Now I’m googling OMG, etc. and find an entire online dictionary of textspeak (also being added to the dictionary). Did you know that 5 is the equivalent of lol, because in binary 101 stands for the number 5? And that while <3 stands for a heart or love, 3> stands for hate?

6_6 is looking down (usually with suspicion) and 9_9 is to roll your eyes.

BTW (see dictionary), heart is now officially a verb. You can ‘heart’ NY and the Steelers to your heart’s content and be grammatically correct…HUGE relief, isn’t it?

But WAIT! What’s that link to a game called Click Click Click that states the US is in 4th place? (click) Ah, it’s a game where all you do is record what country you are from and then click the mouse button until your finger falls off and record that score. I added 118 clicks to the US score before I noticed a SPACEBAR game (could it be similar?).

I wonder if there’s a list of truly  stupid games.

Yup, another googling event. And yes, there is a list. One of the games listed is Press The Spacebar, there’s Avoider (a Chinese game that is very difficult), and an Idiot Test. You know I had to do the Idiot test, right?

Also Idiot Tests 2 through 4, I haven’t done 5 through 7 or the Ultimate Idiot Test because I saw the word Neek when taking test four… NEEK?

Seems a nerd is an intelligent, socially inept individual and a geek is a computer enthusiast, so a NEEK is an intelligent, socially inept, computer enthusiast. Who knew?

Hey, wasn’t I originally trying to find the definition of DERP?

Carol Smith

Training Manager

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Tech Moments?

Is there such a thing as Technology-Induced Alzheimer’s (TIA)? Because I think I’ve got it and I’m pretty sure some of my friends show symptoms. Even more problematic, TIA seems to come in two forms. I think I have both.

Which button do I press?

The first is the refusal of your brain to remember how to do anything differently. I mastered the original remote controls for televisions and CD players. You had an on/off button, two channel buttons and two volume buttons. If you were going ‘high tech’, you also had a button that allowed you to choose between cable and CD player.

Remotes now look like they belong in a cockpit. There are still the original five buttons, but they are hidden among those allowing you to select a program guide, start/stop/fast forward/reverse a CD or DVD, select a channel by pressing button combinations, save channels you like, password protect channels, tilt your recliner to your preferred position, and ask if you would like a soft drink and popcorn.

Each time I babysit for my daughter and son-in-law, she has to show me where the ON button is on her TV remote since I get totally lost. Worse, they have three of the gadgets. At least now, when I babysit, she hides two of them.

The other form of TIA is the inability to remember how things got done before technology. I’ve been caught sitting in the driver’s seat of someone else’s car and been asked why I hadn’t started it up. Was something wrong? No, I was patiently waiting for the seat to move to my preset preferences. Oh, right, that only works in my own car.

I remember having to pass a test on reading PAPER maps before I could get my original driving license. I’m sure I couldn’t even fold one back up now. Heaven forbid that I have to remember how to adjust outside rearview mirrors manually!

My most embarrassing TIA moment was standing behind a set of doors waiting for the automatic door opener to open the doors. This experience was enhanced when I mentioned to my daughter that stores should put signs on non-working doors. She seemed to enjoy informing me it wasn’t an automatic door. 

So, what do you think? Is there technology induced Alzheimer’s? We’d love to hear your stories.

Carol Smith
Training Manager

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More than Gaming

When news media talk about computers/smart phones/tablets/etc. it’s usually a discussion surrounding one of two topics: 1) games or 2) virus issues. I have rarely listened to a news report that highlighted personal benefits of these devices. So I conducted a mini-survey to find out if there was at least one non-entertainment benefit to computing. I found a huge one: Genealogy.

My source has been researching her family for a good 30 years. When I asked her if having a computer helped her with her research, she started laughing. In the past, she spent weekends travelling to libraries, courthouses, and cemeteries. She would pack a lunch and head out. Her excursions often took her to Harrisburg, Washington D.C., and neighboring counties or states. There was no guarantee of success.

When I asked her how technology has changed this, she said that people interested in genealogical research have taken it upon themselves to make local records available online. Her research costs have dropped considerably and time-per-success ratio also improved.

The jackpot is all the federal information now online, starting with the US Census records. They are available from 1790 to (as of this week) 1940. Depending on the census being taken at the time, it can be a treasure trove of information. Civil War/WWI/WWI draft and/or service records and some ship passenger lists can be tracked down online and paper copies of the data ordered.

There are genealogical websites that provide subscribers with the ability to create their family trees, (complete with photographs and historic documents), as well as conduct research through online documents and post ‘looking for’ messages. In addition, you can sign up for access to world-wide family records. If it’s a public document, it is (or will be) online.

One of her favorite things is the connections she made with other people who are involved in the same or similar research. She still does a lot of travelling, but instead of research, it’s usually to take pictures of headstones, residences or records she has tracked down online. As she said, “Genealogy used to be limited to family bibles or Historical Societies.  That’s not the case anymore.”

Your comments and 0ngoing discussions are always welcome.

Carol Smith, Training Manager

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Square Up

If you are a small business owner and are wondering how you can accept credit cards, I have a mobile application for you. This tiny square device allows you to process Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover  transactions on your iPad, iPhone or  Android device.  Sign up for a Square Account at www.squareup.com – and they will send you a “FREE” card reader.

Once you receive the Card Reader, download Square to your mobile device from the App Store or Android Market. Sign into your account, setup your bank information and plug in your card reader.  You’re ready to start processing credit card transactions. It is just that simple.  Payments are sent nightly to your bank account.
Just a few highlights that you should know:

  • The credit card reader is “FREE”.
  • Fast Setup, Signup and install the application and you will be accepting credit cards within minutes.
  • Only 2.75% per swipe for Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.
  • Next day deposits, take payments during normal business hours and Square will deposit your funds the next business day.

Increase your business!

Improve customer support!

Speedy transactions!

It’s all right here: https://squareup.com/square

 
Happy Credit Card Processing.  If you are using Square, we would love to hear from you!

Holly L Berlin
General Manager

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Let’s “Talk” Texting

I might be the only living human being on the planet who doesn’t do texting. I know many people who text religiously. It’s part of their everyday routine, much like a having cup of coffee in the morning or reading the newspaper. I wonder if anyone remembers the time before texting existed. I use to be very proud of the fact that I can “LOL” via Instant Messenger. But now I found out that’s very passé. You don’t do the IM thing, now instead of “LOL” you can “ROTFLMAO” and “RUUP4IT” with you friends. Oh I forgot, it’s not “cool” but KEWL. I better get my texting together!

I did try to download a texting program for the iTouch.  Unfortunately I did not find anyone I can text to. Is there a chat room for texting??

Now texting has gotten so main stream that I’ve seen texting within regular emails as well. For instance, I wrote a “Thank You” letter and all I got back is a “YW!”.  I think I should have typed “TY, L8R”!, this would have increased my coolness factor quite a bit.

All kidding aside, texting does have many benefits, allowing us to live out our busy chaotic days with short spurts of communication. Also there are times when a conversation should be private. Texting becomes quite a blessing compared to the loud discussion via the cell phone. Texting also provides “simple” quick communications to get messages across. Another benefit is that texting can reach its destinations more often than not, even in places with very low cell reception.

The disadvantages of texting has stemmed from serious accidents involving texting while driving. Some have raised the issue of too much text can affect interpersonal skills in the younger generation. The State of Pennsylvania has just enacted a law to make it illegal to text while driving.

Ironically texting can be quite a conversation piece with the little toddlers. I can spell out “O M G!” to my 5 year old when I’m excited about something, and she giggles to no end. HCIT?

All comments are welcome for discussion!

Chrissy Le, Technology Marketing Specialist

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QR This…

Why might you use a QR Code?

Scanning QR codes can reduce customer frustration when typing in long URL’s.  QR Codes – abbreviated from “Quick Response Code” – is a trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two dimensional codes) which allow people to connect people with each other and to multimedia digital content via a mobile application loaded on their smartphone.  QR codes allow the digital world to come into the real world. Once scanned, QR codes take you from the real world back into the digital world. There are a lot of different free QR code generators out on the Internet; here is a link to a blog post about “10 Free Online QR Code Generators”: http://freenuts.com/top-10-free-online-qr-code-generators/

Microsoft QR Code Cookies? Really?

QR codes work like this:       

  1. Place the QR Code at eye-level when scanning.     
  2. When designing: QR Codes should not be smaller than 5/8 inches by 5/8 inches when they are printed.
  3. Besides text, you can turn phone numbers, maps, business cards and other information into QR codes.

The QR Code generator that I use is QR Stuff  –   www.qrstuff.com – an easy to use website where I can select my data type, my URL content, pick a color and preview my QR Code before I download the image (pretty simple huh?). 

Things you should consider with QR codes:

  1. Place the QR code at eyelevel when scanning.
  2. When designing; QR codes should not be any smaller than 5/8-inches-by-5/8 inches when they are printed. 
  3.  Besides text, you can turn phone numbers, maps, business cards and other information into QR codes. 
  4.  Use a URL shortener for faster loading:   https://bitly.como   or  https://tinyurl.com

Check out this video on Advertising with QR codes:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYDbFTai0iE

Are QR codes the way of our future? Be on the look-out for QR codes in your magazines, on products in the grocery store, on video games, on marketing literature, or on your local TV station – I am positive you will see them. Stop back and post or tell us where you are seeing QR codes appear in your life? How many QR codes do you think were scanned across the world, during the time you read this blog post – kind of a fun way to market isn’t it?

Check it out, I even found a QR code attached to a recipe.

Who does't like General Tsao's Chicken?

 Check out our website and our blog and tell us how many times you can find the CS Technologies Plus QR code? As always, your comments and ongoing discussions are always welcome.

Happy Scanning!
Holly Berlin, General Manager

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