Tag Archives: applications

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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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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Google Chrome’s Password Generator

Everything we do via technology requires some sort of password protection. Whether we log on to a computer, check email, online banking, smart phones, or any kind of account management, we need passwords. How do we remember them all? I certainly can’t. I’m constantly fighting with myself when I need to recall a password for a particular website. Then when I think I finally have a password remembered, the system requires me to change it!

Google is in the process of working on a password generator for its  Chrome browser, to create strong passwords for its users to safeguard against hackers. When a user visits a page that Chrome thinks is going to set up an account, it will place a key icon in the password field. If the key icon is pressed, and confirmed, Chrome will generate a password that include letters, numbers, and characters to make it difficult for hackers to crack, and impossible for the user to remember.

photo credit: PC Magazine

Once the password is accepted, Chrome will sync it with the user’s other devices running the browser. Why does Google thinks it’s a good idea? They speculate that if a person doesn’t remember his or her password, then it can’t be given away to phishers.

Google’s goal is to have the browser authenticate the user’s login and identity. Currently you can achieve this through password managers, but users still know their passwords. By having Chrome generate passwords for users, this can remove the problem of phishing.

So what if the user would like to see their password from time to time? Google stated that they will create a secure website where users will be able to see and possibly print the passwords. Another problem would be, if someone cracks into the user’s Chrome account, they would have access to that person’s passwords.

We just can’t win can we? My solution would be to have a password that you will always remember, but spelled backwards, with the first letter in capital case, and the last as a digit and a symbol. Either that or we can just tattoo the password onto ourselves, and when we want to forget it, just add a flower tattoo over it. It works for the celebrities…

Will you be using this service once it’s available? Tell us what you think, all comments are welcome!

Chrissy Le, Technology Marketing Specialist

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Remote control of your Security System? Yes, there is an App for that too!

With the arrival of the Internet, electronics manufacturers have leapt into the world of connectivity by incorporating user interfaces with their devices via a network connection.  We live in a fast-paced, electronics world and we want to be connected to it.  The Security Alarm and Home Automation world is no exception.

Traditional alarm systems had utilized a landline phone connection to send signals to a central station.  This signal was sent over a slow POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) line.  An incorporated digital modem in the control panel allowed communication in the event of an alarm. 

With the success of the Internet and cellular technologies, new possibilities have arrived for the alarm industry.  Now, a cellular or IP device could be utilized alone, or in conjunction with a landline for redundancy, to send digital signals to a central station.  With digital high speed connections, not only can we send alarm signals, but we now have two-way high speed communications with our equipment, giving us full management and control of our security system over the Cloud.

Do you own a Smartphone, iPad or similar hand-held device?  When it comes to security systems, yes, there is an app for that too!  With the tap of a finger, the remote services apps let you control your security system, receive text messages and e-mail alerts.  You can even view live video, event-driven video clips and pictures on your iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch®, BlackBerry® or Android™ devices.  

Enable the virtual keypad and you can arm or disarm the system remotely. And with integration of Home Automation, you can control your lighting, HVAC, door locks, garage door openers and most anything electronic from any place in the world!

As Smartphones and other hand-held devices evolve, the security system manufacturers will race to stay integrated and quickly bring complete home automation into our lives.

For more information, call.

-Jim Welch

Technology Specialist

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From Rearview Mirror to the Horizon Ahead

As I write, we are on the verge of a brand-new year. Christmas has passed and our new socks have found their home in the drawer with our holey (as opposed to holy) old friends (my socks definitely aren’t holy!!!). This is the time to reflect on the year that was and look ahead to the year to come.

As I look back, my thoughts go to the tech news-makers of the year. This is, after all, a tech blog. So, who made news in 2011? Well, once again, there was much attention focused on Apple at the release of the iPad 2 in March. Throughout the summer, rumors and imaginations grew at the anticipated fall release of the iPhone 5. Instead, we were introduced to the 4S. Initial disappointment turned once again to excitement as the world had its first conversation with Siri; the voice recognition app that came standard with the iPhone 4S. I say “conversation” because Siri is much more than the voice recognition of the past. “She” is intelligent. So much so that MacLife magazine featured an interview with Siri in their latest issue (http://www.maclife.com/article/features/chat_siri). Siri is quite amazing.

In the midst of all of the Apple excitement, the world lost one of its truly innovative minds when Steve Jobs passed away on October 5, 2011. We will never forget Jobs’ keynotes, wearing his signature jeans and black turtleneck as he casually walked the stage, revealing to the world the next big thing.

While there were many innovations in 2011, we saw one thing remain a constant; Facebook users continued to be moved to uproar over the occasional random changes that are forced upon them. Many of our “friends” threaten to kiss Facebook goodbye every time the change comes, but yet they remain. Why? Well, although there have been competitors rise up, none can compare to the connectivity of the giant. It seems that everyone is on Facebook!

As we consider the pivotal time of year at which we now stand, I have two questions for your comment. Here’s question number one: What was your favorite tech news of 2011?

Now, let us turn our attention toward 2012. Put on your special future-seeing glasses and let’s gaze into the months to come. What do you see? One of my Twitter followers, Cinnamon, says, “I think the iPad 3 is going to take the world by storm… I know I am waiting for its launch in spring 2012.” I’m with her on that one! While the iPad 2 was thinner and lighter than the first generation, I believe that the third offering of this tablet will be another forward leap. Some of the buzz is in anticipation for a smaller, perhaps 7” model. Fellow-blog-writer Chrissy is hoping that the next generation iPad will finally get the Retina display that iPhone and iPod Touch users enjoy. One thing is for sure; we techies will be on the edge of our seats the day of the spring Apple event.

I am feeling that 2012 will also be the year of Microsoft as the much-scrutinized Windows 8 is released. Some are excited to get their hands on this new tiled version of Windows and others are dreading its release. As I mentioned in a previous article, I also think we will see a major wave in the tablet market as the mobile version of Windows 8 leads the way for greater convergence between desktop and mobile computing.

This all leads me to my second question for your consideration: What tech advances do you see coming in 2012? What’s the next big gadget that we won’t be able to live without? Let’s dream a little.

It will be interesting to look back on this article at the end of 2012 to see if our predictions came true and perhaps laugh about those big things that we never saw coming. Just remember to take off those funny-looking future-seeing glasses after you finish dreaming. You really shouldn’t wear them out in public.

Randy Kightlinger

Computer Service Technician

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Your Safety – Technology at your Fingertip

At CS Technologies, we provide security and life safety solutions in a variety of packages. We provide security and video surveillance systems for both businesses and home, in addition we carry a line of 911 life safety pendants.  You can call us any time to see what product might suit your needs.

Below are two simple tips for using common technology (that we may already have) at our fingertips. Some newer cell phones now have “In Case of Emergency” at the top of the contact list.  This is your ICE person.  Be sure you have at least one ICE contact listed.  If it isn’t designated on your phone, simply add a contact “ICE – Dad”.  If you lose your cell phone, the finder could call your ICE contact who hopefully, can quickly identify you as the owner of that phone.

There are also “In Case of Emergency” applications that you can download to your  phone and some of those applications will permit you to add more than one ICE contact. You can also add family members along with their allergy, medication list with basic information about each family member such as blood type etc (information that emergency personnel need during a crises). The application I downloaded on my iPhone allows me to add wallpaper to set my lock screen and/or my home screen or both that identifies my emergency contact name along with my allergies.

An important benefit of ICE is that emergency responders may be able to quickly contact your emergency contact if something happens to you and you cannot make a call.

Here is another precaution you can take to be safe:  Most of us carry a security alarm with us and we don’t even realize it.  Our car remote has a “panic” button.  As you are out shopping, walking across large parking lots, have your keys in your hand.  A honking horn gets attention if you need it. Test your car remote to see if it works from your bedroom.  If so, carry that remote to bed with you.  Make a  safe neighbor pact to call police for each other if your horn starts blowing in the middle of the night. 

As we enter into a new year we will blog about tips on keeping you and your family safe. Your comments and ongoing discussions are always welcome. If you have any safety tips that you would like to share with us, don’t be shy, we would love to hear from you.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Holly Lynn Berlin, General Manager

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