Category Archives: Computing

Apple iOS7 Is Here

ios7Apple, Inc. recently released the newest operating system for its mobile devices, including the iPhone, iTouch, and iPad. The new OS is a major overhaul to its predecessor. Long gone are the skeuomorphism design of the Steve Jobs era. The new iOS7 utilize the “flat” design UI to guide users through its new “swipe heavy” navigation. There’s also a new layer of transparency at different stages of the menu, allowing you to make sense of where we are at within the context. The 3D feel have also been replaced with flat colorful buttons.

The lock screen has been revamped to support a new control center and notification agendas. Double-clicking on the home button now launches a carousel of recently used apps. With a flick of a finger, you can effectively navigate between opens apps or swipe upward to close them.

Brand new is the iTunes Radio, which is very similar to Pandora Internet Radio. You can choose radio stations according to genres, and while the songs are streaming for “free” with limited skips, there’s always the $1.29 BUY button for you to download onto your device to listen offline.

This is only a few of the new features in iOS7, visit http://www.imore.com/ios-7-review for a thorough introduction. People who are used to the look and feel of iOS6 may need some time to get adjusted to the new interface, as it is a drastic change to the look and feel of the operation system. If you already upgraded to iOS 7, what’s your favorite new feature? Like it or Meh? Let us know!

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IT Devices as Accessories?

I felt so totally stuck in nineteenth century technology during my trip to Seattle three weeks ago that I almost threw my business cards away. I didn’t want to admit I worked for a tech company. I now know that my next IT purchase has to be a tablet device. Seriously.

I expected to see a lot of new tech devices in Seattle, but the number in the Akron/Canton airport was amazing. People were walking around talking to their Bluetooth connected smartphones or tablets things. The only individuals who were lugging full sized laptops were the ones in business suits, looking both uncomfortable and out of place. And me.

Then there’s the issue of weight of device. This is a huge thing when travelling. I don’t care how light that laptop is, it’s still 42 times as heavy as a tablet when you finally manage to get to your boarding gate.

And the room it takes up in your carry-on? That’s the equivalent to two pair of sandals or seven souvenirs. I could have three different brands of tablets for the weight and room needed for a single laptop. (This is calculated without factoring in the weight of the power pack or battery.)

Mind you, I don’t expect a tablet device to have the capability of my desktop or even my laptop. That would be like purchasing a Smart Car and expecting it to carry the load of a half-ton pickup.

I do expect to look like I embrace technology, get online and never   miss a play in Words with Friends or check-in on FourSquare.

Yes, people, your IT device of choice now determines your level of tech literacy. People look with envy at the latest (but not necessary greatest). Once again, appearance is everything.

Past generations were advised to dress for success. In the 21st Century, we need to pick our IT items for success. In an era where your car can be started by your smart phone, open your garage, parallel park for you, and call for reservations at the George V in Paris, choosing the ‘right’ IT device to travel and be seen with is critical.

Oh, and for those of you who participate in dating? Tablet devices are the new pickup tools, better than babies and dogs.

Carol Smith, Training Manager

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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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Life in the Slow Lane?

Is your computer running slow? Is it taking longer than it used to take to do the routine tasks you like to perform? Are you wondering if it’s time to retire your PC and buy a new one? These are the questions that plague users young and old. Perhaps we can be of assistance here.

First off, your computer may not need to be replaced. There are many things that can slow you down. Here are some things to consider:

SOFTWARE – Have you purchased or updated your software with new versions that require greater system resources? It is important whenever considering software purchases to look at the system requirements that are usually printed on the side of the box or listed in the product information if you are purchasing online. These requirements may list such things as how much available hard drive space you need or how much RAM memory you should have to run the software. Oftentimes there will be a minimum number, and a recommended number. You should always go with the recommended numbers as the minimum may be setting you up for disappointing performance.

If your computer is fairly recent, there are upgrades we can install to make it last a few years longer. We can boost your RAM memory or upgrade you to a larger hard drive and you may see immediate results.

INFECTIONS – Is your computer infected? We see many cases every month of computers that are infected with various malicious attacks. Sometimes the effects of malware do not present themselves in visible ways (pop-up windows, etc.) but they go about their business of worming their way through the background processes of your computer, leading to poor performance. While a good anti-virus software package is a good idea, you must be proactive in getting the latest virus definitions and be persistent about scanning on a regular basis.

If you think you may be infected, we are able to help. We have resources available to dig out those deeply embedded malicious programs and restore your PC to a cleaner state of being.

HARDWARE – The hardware components of your computer can wear out. Sometimes you may need to replace a hard drive; not because it is filling up with data, but because it is starting to fail. Your drive may still be working, but it may be causing errors due to bad clusters. Whether your hard drive is performing 100% or showing signs of failure, it is always a good idea to have a regular practice of backing up your data. We also see RAM memory fail occasionally, as well as power supplies, fans, and CPU’s.

Oftentimes, we are able to replace faulty components and get you back on track.

Having said all that, there does come a time when you would be better off to bite the bullet and replace your entire system with a new one. Along with getting you a clean slate of all new components, you will also get the latest version of the Windows operating system. Our service technicians are here and available to discuss your issues with you and help you determine your best course of action.

Computers are like anything else. They are great when they are working, but frustrating when they aren’t. But, like anything else, with occasional check-ups, you can experience years of happy computing.

Please let us know if we can be of assistance to you. We are here to answer your questions and help you get back a smooth computing experience!

As I close, I must share with you that this is my last blog article for “Tech Talk.” As many of you know, I am also a pastor. I will be departing to continue my ministry career as chaplain at a local agency. I have enjoyed my time with CS Technologies Plus and have really enjoyed the blog as writing is something I love to do.

See you on the web!

Randy Kightlinger

Computer Service Technician

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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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Case Study: Tech in the Church

This weekend, churchgoers around the world will be flocking to their local houses of worship for the annual Easter Sunday service. This is the most-well-attended service of the year for the Christian church and a growing number of churches have expanded their use of technology in a big way with the integration of computer and projection systems. That means that this year’s Easter service will look much different than the service of our youth. As with most other applications of technology, video projection systems in the church are there to enhance the worship experience. Technology should never be a distraction, but rather should be a tool that is used to aid the delivery of the presentation in such a way as to almost disappear from the forefront of our minds. The key is to draw attention to the message and not the technology. This is true for the church, for the college classroom, for the Wall Street boardroom, and for most other applications of technology.

Think about it. When was the last time you picked up your television’s remote control, held it in your hand and just marveled at the awesomeness of that piece of technology? We don’t do that. We pick up that tool and use it for its purpose without giving thought to how it works. The technology disappears as long as it is performing the duty for which it was created; to find us an episode of American Pickers we haven’t yet seen… or maybe that’s just me.

The purpose of projection technology in the church is to eliminate as many distractions as possible in an effort to allow the worshiper to focus on the singular object of their worship rather than anything else. Think about it; the words projected on the screen with a relevant illustrative background even eliminates the distraction of finding the hymnal in the pew in front of you and leafing through to find page 435 before the worship leader begins to sing. Many churches are installing a second (or third) screen on the back wall of the sanctuary so that the worship band and choir can sing without having to keep their eyes in a songbook.

These projection systems are also handy for the pre-service announcements, for slide shows of the youth group’s recent mission trip, for video clips to help illustrate the pastor’s sermon, attention-holders for the kids at Vacation Bible School, and much more.

While Microsoft PowerPoint could arguably be declared the software of choice for the business and educational communities, there are some worship presentation packages available that are purpose-built specifically for the church setting. Software such as MediaShout (www.mediashout.com) and Song Show Plus (www.songshowplus.com) have become invaluable tools for thousands of churches. What makes these packages attractive to churches is the “extras” they include that are geared specifically toward worship. For instance, they ship with a built-in song library and offer the opportunity to expand on the number of songs that come included. Another useful tool is the integration of the Bible. A pastor can mention a particular Scripture reference in a sermon and by the time he turns there in his Bible, the MediaShout operator can have that verse on the screen for all to read along. It literally takes just a few seconds to find chapter and verse and “fire” (MediaShout’s terminology) it to the screen.

One very useful feature of these worship applications is that they are built for a dual monitor system, meaning that the operator has a control screen that is separate from what is displayed on the screen for the congregants to see. This feature is extremely useful as worship leaders sometimes change the pre-arranged order of the songs. As the Spirit leads, for instance, they may decide to go back to do a verse of a song again. This does not present a problem for the operator as all of the slides for a song are presented in a list form along the edge of her screen. She simply selects the appropriate slide and fires it to the screen. This all takes place in less time than it took for you to read about it.

Next time you go to a church that uses a projection system for worship, take a few moments after the service and ask the operator to give you a tour. Most would be happy to oblige.

Happy Easter!

Randy Kightlinger

Computer Service Technician… and Pastor

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A Fresh Apple and Some New Windows

Apple is in the news… again!

On Tuesday morning, February 28, Apple sent invitations to the tech news media inviting them to come to San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on Wednesday, March 7 for one of their famous “events.” All eyes are on Apple to announce the iPad 3. That is evidenced by the nature of the image submitted with the invitation; a definite iPad-looking photograph of a finger on the calendar app.

There is much conjecture about what new features might be released with the third generation iPad. The most prevalent is that it will include a tablet-sized version of their Retina display, offering the high resolution that can currently be seen on the latest generation iPhone and iPod Touch.

Another circulating rumor is that there will be a 4G version available for both the Verizon and AT&T cellular systems. While this is a nice convenience, it is one that comes with a cost as you would need to enter a contract to use the service. While some may need that kind of connectivity, my own personal style is happy with the Wi-Fi version. With the expansion through the years of free public Wi-Fi hotspots, I find that I am never disappointed that I didn’t splurge for the cellular model.

One thing is for sure; with Apple, we will never have things fully figured out prior to their event. They always seem to pull some unanticipated surprise from their hat. Does anyone remember when the iPod Touch was first announced? Everyone thought Steve was winding down to close the event when he said, “We’re not done yet…” and unveiled for us that slick, new media machine that fits in your pocket. Jobs was famous for his “one more thing” announcements that preceded some great new Apple products. So, whether the iPad 3 comes next week or not, you can still expect the unexpected from the post-Jobs Apple.

And more from Microsoft…

As we turn now to Microsoft, I am feeling more and more sure of my early predictions that this will be a good year for that company. This week, a public preview of Windows 8 was released for anyone to download. While it is readily available for anyone to test-drive; it may be wise to not jump in without exploring the ramifications. Microsoft was careful to emphasize that this is still a beta (test) version and there may still be issues with drivers and software compatibility. So, proceed with caution. Also, if you overwrite your Windows 7 OS, there is no option to turn back. You will have to continue to use the beta until the official launch at which point you will have to buy the new OS.

When the official release date is announced (expect it to be in the fall of this year), I anticipate a media publicity blitz as the folks at Redmond, WA promote the cross-platform convergence between desktops, laptops, tablets, and smart phones.

We’ve only just passed the two-month mark in 2012 and it has already shaped up to be a very exciting year for technology-minded people. Stay tuned for more as the year continues to unfold.

Randy Kightlinger

Computer Service Technician

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