Google+ November 2010 ~ High Tech House Calls

Do Dogs Really Miss Us?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Should You Buy an iPad?

Many of my clients that have an iPhone and an iPad are having buyer's remorse.

The major difference between an iPhone and an iPad is the size of the screen and the ability to act as a cellphone and folks who have bought both are finding that this may not be enough to justify having both an iPhone and an iPad.

Read books
Browse Internet
√ (larger display)
Add Additional Storage Capacity
USB Port
Connect to Internet via WiFi

If you have an iPhone, you might consider deferring your purchase of an iPad-like device until major players such as Samsung and Blackberry unveil their offerings. It is possible that non-Apple iPad-like devices may have additional features that will make it worthwhile to purchase a different vendor's product.

Here is a an link reviewing non-Apple iPad-like devices:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bad News for Blackberry Users and Syncing to Entourage

If you install Microsoft Office for Mac 2011, your ability to sync with Entourage using Pocket Mac will break.

Here is an email send to me from Pocket Mac:

     First of all, I wanted to let you know we're hard at work on our update for Microsoft Office 2011. 

     On December 15, we'll be shipping free MS Office updates for PocketMac for BlackBerry. Again, this update will be completely free and available to all PocketMac for BlackBerry customers. That's the good news. Now for the not-so-good news...

      ...Microsoft has decided, for reasons not completely clear to me, to limit what Outlook 2011 syncs. This means with the latest release, they're allowing only contacts to sync. This means for the foreseeable future:

      (*) no calendar sync
      (*) no tasks sync and
      (*) no notes sync. 

      For more on their decision, you can check out this MS Office for Mac blog post. The post specifically says, "’ll find sync support for your contacts through Sync Services. We do understand that Calendar sync is important and are working on it now." Not the best news, I know. With that in mind, though, here's what I'd recommend:

      1) Hold off on upgrading until Microsoft launches calendar synching or full synching capabilities.

      2) Download our update on December 15 with the knowledge that it will only sync your contacts. 

     Know this though: whenever Microsoft releases their updates and allows the synching of more items, we'll support them. We will provide a contacts plugin for Outlook 2011 initially, and, if/when Outlook supports calendar, etc. sync, we will provide free updates for that data, too. 

     And of course, we still have rock-solid support for Entourage 2008 included in the current version of PocketMac for BlackBerry. 

Thank you,

Tim Goggin

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Does Your Blackberry Freeze Sometimes?

Here are a couple of things you can try to fix the problem:
  •  Did you lock your keyboard by pressing the lock button? When you press the lock button again, does the screen remain blank? Try pressing the escape key (it looks like a u-turn) to force the display to re-appear. Then try pressing the lock button again.
  • Do you see an error message about an uncaught trap? In the body of the message may be a cryptic reference to the program that caused the problem. In my case it was the Blackberry Messenger Application. I deleted the application, the uncaught trap message went away, and my Blackberry stopped freezing. Re-loading Blackberry Messenger should fix the problem.
  • When you move from one application to another do you "exit" the application or use the escape key to move to the next application? If you do not select "exit" from the drop down menu, that application is still running in the background when you switch to the next application. Applications that are running in the background are using memory. If you use too much memory, your Blackberry freezes. Practice "exiting" an application when you are done with it.
  • When all else fails, your cellphone may need to be rebooted. Remove the battery and re-insert the battery. If re-booting the cellphone is becoming a daily occurrence, the next fix is wiping out your cellphone's operating system and re-installing it along with all the applications, themes, music and pictures you added since you bought the cellphone. Before attempting this, you must make a current backup of your cellphone by using the Blackberry Desktop Application. This can be a complex, time consuming process. I would suggest having an IT Professional do this for you.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Carbonite - Friend or Foe?

Is installing Carbonite the best backup and recovery strategy for your computer?

What do you want to back up?
  • Pictures
  • Documents
  • Emails
  • Address Book
  • Memos
  • Tasks
  • Calendar
For the first two items on the list, pictures and documents, Carbonite does a pretty good job.

For the rest of the items on the list, however, their integration with Outlook can present a problem. If you are like me, Outlook is always up and running. Unless Outlook is shut down, Carbonite cannot back up the rest of the types of files on the list because Outlook is using them and has them "locked".

To ensure Carbonite or an other backup program you use is able to access all your Outlook stuff, you need to export the contents of Outlook to a .PST file and that .PST file needs to be in a place where Carbonite will back it up. Since different versions of Outlook will go about the process of exporting a .PST file differently, I suggest a Google search of "Outlook export .PST" and follow the directions.

Another problem with Carbonite shows up during file recovery. Let's say your computer needed to be re-loaded because of a hard drive failure or a virus attack. Where will Carbonite load your backup files? The short answer is all over your desktop. You are expected to cut and paste the individual files to their proper locations. If you don't know what you are doing, this is a very time-consuming and tedious process. It is not recommended for the faint-hearted.

Here is another scenario where Carbonite fails. You have a windows based laptop that you have been backing up with Carbonite. You decide to replace the windows computer with an Apple laptop. When you try to restore to your new Apple laptop, you find out that you cannot restore from windows to your Apple laptop. You must find a windows computer that you can restore to and then copy the restored files to the Apple laptop via an external hard drive or cd's that you created.. 

Given these three areas of concern, I would not recommend Carbonite. There are better solutions out there that can backup your system safely if they are used properly. I would suggest engaging an IT professional to design, implement and test a back up and recovery strategy for you. The small cost you pay will be worth it when you have peace of mind knowing your important files are backed up and can be recovered, with a minimum of effort.

Is Your TV Connected to the Internet? How to Stream Movies from Netflix

Instead of renting movies from a store, the world seems to have gone to downloading and playing movies over the Internet; the major player in this market is Netflix. What equipment is necessary to download and play movies from Netflix?

If you only want to watch movies on your laptop or desktop, all you need is a high speed Internet connection.
If you prefer to watch movies on your TV, you must enable your TV-Internet connection. Here are three ways to do this:
  • If your television has a built-in network interface card, connecting a cable (Cat5e) from your DSL/Cable Modem or router is a matter of finding a cable long enough to reach the television from the DSL/Cable Modem or router.
  • If your television supports WiFi, you will need to plug an approved WiFi Adapter into the television's USB port. See your televisions owner's manual for more details.
  • If your television cannot connect to the Internet via a built-in network interface card or a WiFi Adapter, buying a DVD Player that has the ability to connect to the Internet will allow your television to stream movies from the Internet once the DVD Player is connected to your television. (Note: WiFi enabled Blu Ray Players do not include a WiFi adapter. They must be purchased separately. So far, the only approved adapters are the ones sold by the Blu Ray Player manufacturer. If you need your Blu Ray Player to be connected via WiFi, plan on spending an additional $70-$80 for a manufacturer specific WiFi adapter.)

Can I Really Make My PC Run Faster, Like it Says on the TV Commercial?

Can downloading a program from the Internet make a slow computer run like new?

Here is what happens when you download and install the software for free
  • A scan uncovers hundreds, if not thousands of problems.
  • To fix the problems, you must get your credit card out and click the link in order to purchase the debugging software.
  • After purchasing the software and running another scan, all your problems are fixed.
When running the software on a brand new computer, I would expect few, if any problem. A scan uncovered hundreds of problems. Running software packages I recommend and trust, no errors were uncovered.

The Droid - Better Than an iPhone?

With three months' experience using a Droid 2, what have we learned?

The Droid platform is for users who like to browse the Internet. The  phone has the same iPhone feature of changing from portrait to landscape display by rotating the phone. With the lack of a  method of syncing your calendar, contacts, memos and tasks with Outlook, the phone is not suited as well for business users. 

Here is a list of specific issues regarding the Droid phone:

            The Droid platform is very iPhone like, but lacks the maturity of the iPhone. We would describe the phone as having been developed by a group of smart engineers who didn't get together and talk. 

             Are you an Outlook user? There is not a straight forward way of synchronizing your calendar, contacts, tasks, and memo with Outlook and the Droid. Synchronizing data is through your Gmail account. Unfortunately, the free program that used to sync Outlook with Gmail does not work with non Outlook Exchange Server email accounts. Most businesses that use Outlook, deploy Outlook using Microsoft Exchange Server. If your email account is not a business account, there is no straightforward way of syncing Outlook and your phone.

            The Droid phone does not have built-in task or memo software. 

            Do you want a particular ring tone to ring for different people like your wife or boss so that hearing the ring tone tells you who the call is from? This is a great feature if it works consistently. There is a problem with the current Android Operating System software for the Droid where the phone sometimes plays a different ring tone than the one specified by you. The current solution is to reboot (pull the battery out and put it back in) your phone occasionally.

    Which Cellphone Should You Buy?

    There basically are two types of cellphones:
    Smartphones and standard cellphones
    • Smartphones can access the Internet and can send and receive email.
    • Standard cellphones can initiate and receive phone calls and send and receive text messages.
    If you don't care about email or browsing the Internet, a standard cellphone is right for you.

    If, however, you need a Smartphone, be aware that there are two basic Smartphone types:
    • Smartphones that browse the Internet well (iPhone, Droid).
    • Smartphones that send and receive email well and synchronize your email extremely well with Outlook (Blackberry).
    • iPhones and Droids can send and receive email, but do not integrate as well with Outlook as a Blackberry does. A Blackberry can browse the internet, but not as well as an iPhone or Droid. 
    These distinctions will change over time as each cellphone manufacturer tries to make its Smartphone the best for all types of users.

    Once you have selected a Smartphone type (Internet or email), the next choice is between a virtual keyboard and a traditional keyboard. 
    •  Most Smartphones have either a virtual keyboard that is displayed on the screen that you tap with your fingertips or a miniaturized keyboard which is similar in layout to your laptop desktop keyboard. Which keyboard is best for you depends on how well you can type on a specific Smartphone with a specific keyboard type. It is important to spend some time in your cellphone provider's store to try out the "feel" of a particular keyboard before your pick a specific Smartphone.
    • Some Smartphones have both types of keyboards integrated into the phone. Droids and Blackberrys are two that have traditional keyboards that slide out of the phone, but also have integrated virtual keyboard that work from the screen. You may find that some applications on the Smartphone work better with a virtual keyboard, while others are easier with a keypad; getting a Smartphone that has both can make sense.