Google+ August 2014 ~ High Tech House Calls

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Intuit's Quicken 2015 for Mac revamps interface, expands investment features by Dan Moren

Venerable financial software Quicken is ready to help you with all of your newest accounting needs. Intuit on Thursday announced the release of Quicken 2015 for Mac, the latest update to the long-running app for tracking your personal finances.

Highlights of the new version are a simplified interface designed ground-up for the Mac and ne
w features related to keeping track of investment portfolios. The latter allows for users to create Schedule D tax reports for capital gains, making things easy when April 15 rolls around.

Lest you think that finances haven’t yet entered the 21st century, Intuit is also offering a free mobile app for iOS and Android that works with Quicken for Mac, allowing you to photograph and keep track of your receipts while you’re on the go. You can also use the mobile app to keep tabs on your finances, check account balances, view budgets, see transactions, and more.

Quicken for Mac 2015 supports more than 14,500 banks, credit cards, and loan and investment accounts, presenting them all in a unified interface that lets you get a single top-down view of your finances. And, if you’re a user of Quicken Essentials for Mac, Quicken Mac 2007, or Quicken 2010 for Windows or later, you can easily import your data from any of those apps into Quicken for Mac 2015.

That’s not to say that the app has complete parity with either its predecessor, Quicken 2007, or with Quicken Premier for Windows. Among the missing features in Quicken 2015 are native bill payment, a calendar view of bills and transactions, paycheck deduction tracking, and more. Intuit has posted a feature comparison along with an opportunity for users to vote on which feature they’d most like to see added. (Apparently “all of them” is not currently an option.)

Intuit earned some ire from its customers a couple years ago: The company was slow to adapt Quicken 2007 to Intel Macs, leading to problems when OS X Lion removed the Rosetta compatibility system that allowed PowerPC-based apps to run. The company eventually released a patch to update the software. 

The new version, which is available from Intuit, the Mac App Store, and Amazon is available for $75; it’ll go on sale at retail locations in October. 

6 million laptop power cords recalled under fear of fires by Kim Komando

Do you have a Hewlett-Packard or Compaq notebook and mini notebook?

It's time to check and see if you're one of the 5.6 million people with a defective power cord that has
just been recalled by HP.

The faulty chargers are said to be able to cause fires and burn hazards.

Affected cords will look like the photo below and will have LS-15 embedded on it.
However, note that not all cords with this label have been recalled, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

PowerCord, HP, recall
Here's the official statement from HP:
On August 26, 2014 HP announced a worldwide voluntary recall and replacement program in cooperation with various government regulatory agencies, for affected AC power cords distributed worldwide with HP and Compaq notebook and mini notebook computers, as well as with AC adapters provided with accessories such as docking stations, sold from September 2010 through June 2012.

HP customers affected by this program will be eligible to receive a replacement AC power cord for each verified, recalled AC power cord at no cost.

HP believes that certain power cords shipped with notebook PC products and AC adapter accessories may pose a risk of a fire and burn hazard to customers. We are taking this action as part of our commitment to provide the highest quality of service to our notebook customers.

Note: Not all HP and Compaq notebook and mini notebook PCs were sold with an affected power cord. Please validate the power cord shipped with your notebook PC or purchased with an accessory, or as a spare.

The good news here is that HP is being proactive in this situation. In order to get a replacement power cord, click here to contact the company for your replacement. 

The top iOS 8 features for business users by Ryan Faas

When it shows up in the coming weeks, Apple’s iOS 8 is set to bring several new features, including its HealthKit and HomeKit platforms, to the iPhone and iPad. Many of the advances are consumer-oriented and focused on creating a seamless experience across iOS devices and Macs running the forthcoming OS X Yosemite. Even with that consumer focus, however, there are some incredible features for business users in iOS 8.

Better keyboards

When Steve Jobs announced the iPhone in 2007, the feature that stood out most from competing phones was its whole-device display and onscreen keyboard. Although Apple pioneered that keyboard, other platforms have improved upon it as well as the associated auto-complete and auto-correct capabilities. Every other platform offers users a choice of auto-complete guesses to choose while typing a word—delivering much better productivity and avoiding the occasional embarrassing gaffe of iOS inserting the wrong word (many of them shared on Damn You Autocorrect). Similar functionality will debut in iOS 8. 

Another feature, long touted by Android users, is custom third-party keyboards. These too will be available to iOS users thanks to the new extensions system that Apple has developed across both iOS and OS X. That system allows apps to extend their functionality into other apps and system events.
wwdc ios8 text
Advanced auto-complete (long available on Android phones) could make iPhone text-input a whole lot more efficient

Extensions for storage and collaboration

Extensions aren’t limited to keyboards. They also allow apps to insert options into the standard share sheet of other apps, and Apple has promised more traditional file management in iOS 8 as well.
Although some apps already have the ability to send content to another app (typically the standard iOS apps from Apple) or to a third-party cloud service, such functionality is far from universal and when even when available, there are often limitations. The result is often a multi-step process to create, edit, save, and share content across multiple apps or services.
Streamlining these workflows will be significant for mobile collaboration and productivity. Removing the barriers between apps and services that can access the same types of content will make it much simpler to accomplish tasks that require more than one app or that access multiple data stores—on a device, cloud service, or enterprise storage solution.
In addition to streamlining workflows, extensions will make it easier to multiple people working with the same set of content—a report, project, or information for a specific client or manager—to share information and collaborate. Easy access to third-party and external services should also ease syncing of information across devices and systems as well.

Better mail management

Although there are third-party email clients for iOS, most of us stick with the built-in Mail app. Doing so offers a range of options for businesses, not the least of which is the ability for organizations to secure email using Exchange ActiveSync or the managed account capabilities that Apple introduced in iOS 7.
Mail has gotten improvements in every iOS release and iOS 8 is no exception:
  • New gestures will make it easier to flag messages for later follow-up.
  • The ability to designate specific emails and email threads as VIP (in addition to the existing ability to set specific Contacts or email addresses as VIP) allows you to look for and receive notifications of important responses.
  • Exchange users will finally be able to set auto-reply messages from within Mail.
  • Messages from external addresses will be able to be marked in red, making them more obvious and increasing message security.
  • Secure email using S/MIME will also be able to be enabled on a per-message basis.

Meeting availability

One of the most convenient features of Exchange and other corporate calendaring options is the ability to see the whether or not individuals will be available for a meeting or event when creating or modifying it. This ability has been a standard feature on the desktop, but not in the standard iOS Calendar app—until iOS 8.
Calendar is also gaining the option to notify attendees of a meeting that you’re running late by email without needing to launch Mail.

Touch ID makes security easier

iOS 8 expands the capabilities of Touch ID, which is available to iOS devices with a fingerprint scanner. Currently this means just the iPhone 5s, but new iOS devices expected this fall will probably include Touch ID sensors and supporting hardware.
In iOS 8, developers can leverage Touch ID as an alternative to passcodes and username/password combinations. This includes apps for accessing cloud services and other secure public resources, password managers (1Password has already announced and demoed support for Touch ID), and accessing secure on-device storage. This feature is also available to enterprise app developers, meaning businesses can build Touch ID into enterprise apps as a security or authentication option. In all, it will be easier for users to secure sensitive content, apps, and services.

Actionable notifications and widgets

Notifications in iOS have always left something to be desired. Although the current Notification Center feature is a vast improvement over the early days when notifications would show up as alerts and then vanish once you’d seen them, there’s room for improvement, particularly as notifications become a more common way of handling business tasks and communication.
iOS 8’s Notification Center will expand in two major ways. First, it will let users respond or interact with the app that generated a notification directly in Notification Center—deleting or marking emails, responding to messages, accepting meeting invitations, and other quick and common tasks—without leaving the app you’re working in. That streamlines many tasks and reduces the impact that notifications can have on mobile productivity.
Second, developers will be able to create custom widgets that appear in the Notification Center’s Today page, much like weather, stocks, and calendar items appear on it in iOS 7. Those widgets may include static content or provide an interactive experience. The advantage here for business users is that apps that key information from specific apps can be made available at a moment’s notice for review without needing to launch an app or two switch between multiple apps.
iOS 8 handoff safari
Handoff will let users start a task on an iOS device and finish it on a Mac, and vice versa.


Apple’s so-called Continuity features that enable seamless integration between Macs and iOS devices could also have a major impact on those that use both a Mac and iOS device(s) for work.
The first is Handoff, the ability for a task to be started on an iOS device and then finished on a Mac and vice versa. This ability could have significant impacts on common tasks like email and messaging.
Second is the ability to send and receive both texts and calls on a Mac paired with an iPhone.
Third, and probably most significant, is the automatic hotspot feature that allows a Mac to use an iPhone or iPad’s cellular connectivity to access the Internet. This feature offers ease of use and has the potential to offer greater security and performance than public Wi-Fi networks. It’s also worth noting, however, that business users could find features like Handoff blocked on managed devices as a security measure, particularly if those devices are corporate-owned.

Microsoft: Fix for Surface Pro 3 overheating issue coming soon by PC World

After several weeks of user complaints, Microsoft has acknowledged heat issues in the Core i& version of its Surface Pro 3 tablet.

In a statement sent to PCWorld, In a statement sent to PCWorkd, Microsoft avoided using the term “overheating,” but said users should expect the Core i7 model to run warmer than its less-powerful siblings. 

“The i7 version of Surface Pro 3 is a first-of-its-kind tablet delivering i7 processing power in a thin and light package,” Microsoft said. “As such, the increased power calls for the fan to spin more regularly and at higher speeds—and for the unit to run slightly warmer.” 

But what about users who've experienced a temperature warning icon on the screen? Microsoft said a software bug is actually triggering this warning by accident, and only on a “very small number” of Core i7 models. 

“Our investigation reveals that the system is triggering this event sooner than it should for some people, only when the device restarts, and this does not occur when the device is booted and running,” Microsoft said. “We have an update that will address this that will be ready for our customers as soon as possible.” 

It's possible that some of the heat issues—which users said would occur even during light computing tasks—are related to Windows updates that Microsoft applies in the background. As Neowin reported earlier this week, some users managed to cool the system down by killing Windows Installer Module and Windows Installer Module Worker in the Task Manager. One user told me that his Surface Pro 3's heat issues went away after the system installed its initial batch of updates. 

Still, if you'd rather have a Surface Pro 3 that's cooler to the touch, and don't mind sacrificing some computing power, you may want to stick with the Core i5 model, which is considerably cheaper anyway.

The 10 apps every college student needs to have by Jasmine France

Going off to college for the first time is an exciting experience, but it can also be a stressful one. There are books to buy, exams to take, friends to make—the list goes on. The life of a high schooler living at home is quite a bit different than that of a college freshman living on his or her own for the first time. The good news is that you can make the transition a lot smoother with some useful digital tools. The apps below will help you with everything from saving money to finding food to getting to class on time.

Save on books

amazon student
Amazon Student can help you save on tons of college gear.
The first thing any freshman needs are the textbooks required for each class, and the price of getting new ones is enough to break just about any budget. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to get discounted books these days, one of which is Amazon Student (free; web only). The retail giant offers students free membership for six months, which includes free two day shipping and exclusive deals and discounts for students—and not just on books. Collegiates can also take advantage of promotions on storage items, bedding and other essentials.
Plus, Amazon has a textbook section where you can buy, sell, and even rent books. After six months, students get half off Prime membership, which includes free music, TV and movie streaming—a good bargain over paying for cable and a music subscription service.

Study buddy

Once you’ve cracked open your textbooks and read all of your assigned chapters—which, ahem, of course you are going to do, and well before midterms roll around—you may find it useful to have a study aid. Believe it or not, the good old flash card is still useful beyond SAT prep, but who wants to waste all those trees? Enter StudyBlue (free; iOS and Android), an excellent flash card app that lets you simply input your school and courses, and then provides an extensive list card sets. User-populated study guides are free, while those provided by StudyBlue cost $9 a pop (or you can subscribe to the pro version for $48 per year).
Flash cards are a classic way to prep for a test.
You can also create your own flash cards—ideally using the web version, since who wants to type all that on their phone? While studying, you can use the app’s thumbs up and thumbs down buttons to indicate what you get right and wrong, and then you’ll get a score at the end of each session. 

Crunch time

For those who want to dive beyond flash cards, there’s ExamTime (free; web-only), a study tool that’s populated with notes, quizzes, and mind maps created by students and teachers across the globe. The idea is to make studying interactive, which helps with learning and retention. In addition to the activities, you can study with groups online and set study goals.
ExamTime's study planner is an excellent tool for staying on track.
There’s also a handy built in study planner where you can enter classes, exams, homework, studying, and free time on a calendar. You can save the calendar as a PDF or in iCal format; it would be nice if you could export it directly into Google Calendars. The free version of ExamTime allows you to schedule up to three “subjects;” upgrading to Premium ($4 per month) or Premium+ ($5 per month) gets you nine or 25 subjects, respectively—plus access to more study resources. 

Don’t even think about sleeping in

Of course, all that handy-dandy scheduling will be for naught if you can’t make it out of bed in the morning. If you’re a repeat snooze offender, Alarmy: Sleep If You Can ($2; Android and iOS) is a worthy download. This simple app requires that you either take a specific photo or shake your phone an annoying number of times in order to turn off the alarm. The trick is to make the photo of something not right next to your bed. Once you’ve managed to silence it, Alarmy pops up a handy snapshot of the weather so you can properly attire yourself for the day.
This annoying alarm makes it impossible to snooze through.

Perfect paper

Writing a bibliography can be a tedious process, particularly since it usually must be done right after finishing a lengthy term paper. Mercifully, the advent of barcode scanning via smartphone has made this much easier. With EasyBib (free; iOS and Android), you simply scan the barcode of each book you’ve referenced, and it will populate a bibliography in MLA, APA or Chicago style. You can then email the citations to yourself and simply copy and paste at the end of your paper.
Use EasyBib to help you properly cite your paper.

Don’t forget to call Mom 

Even for the most socially adept of us, going off to college for the first time can cause bouts of homesickness from time to time. Skype (free; iOS, Android, Amazon Fire OS) is an integral tool for keeping in touch with friends and family back home, especially if your school is not within easy visiting distance. Make all your contacts sign up for the service as well and you can all video chat for free as often as you want. There’s even a group video chat feature that supports up to ten callers at once. For a small fee, you can make calls to cellphones and landlines from the app, which is particularly useful for those who are studying abroad.
Skype is a handy app, even if you're not a student.

Make new friends 

Of course, you don’t want to spend all your time locked in your dorm room tethered a digital communication device. Making new friends is a huge part of the college experience, and while you might luck out with an awesome roommate who becomes your BFF, likely you’ll want to branch out. For that, there’s Skout (free; iOS and Android), a social app that’s aimed at getting people together in person for fun activities. The app uses the GPS on your phone to find other users near you, and you can browse profiles to look for people with similar interests. Just remember: whenever meeting someone for the first time, do it somewhere public and safe.
Use Skout to connect with other students you might not meet otherwise.

Drink responsibly

Let’s be real: although the legal drinking age in the United States is 21, there’s still an awful lot of alcohol consumption by first-year college students. No matter what your age, it’s important to be smart about drinking. That’s where Wise Drinking (free; iOS and Android) comes in. A team from French wine and spirits company Pernod Ricard created this well-designed app with the aim of helping users moderate their drinking and making them aware of when it’s time to call a cab.
Watch your drink intake, people. 
The app uses your gender, weight, and height to calculate blood alcohol content (BAC) levels according to alcohol amount, type, and timing of consumption. It also prompts you to enter the last time you had a full meal. Of course, the BAC provided is just an estimate—and entirely dependent on user input—but at the very least, it can help keep you aware of your consumption. Also nifty is the built-in transportation map, which shows you the closest transit and taxis. There are even buttons for contacting a friend or making an emergency call.

Get your grub on 

Unless you go to school in a major metropolitan area, chances are popular delivery apps like GrubHub and Eat24 won’t be available to you at school. And let’s face it: food delivery is a necessity. Luckily, there’s Crunchbutton (free; web-only), a service just for college students. Currently, this web-only app is offered for about 20 schools, most of which are located on the east coast, but the company is planning to add many more schools throughout the year. For now, students attending the likes of Georgetown, Brown, and UNC Chapel Hill can use the site to order grub delivery from a handful of local restaurants and even fast food favorites like Taco Bell and Mickey D’s. 
Late night munchies? No problem.

Work it out

With all of those late night snacks, unlimited meals at the dorm cafeteria, and free-flowing drinks, consider a fitness app to balance things out (and stave off the dreaded Freshman 15).
If you want to focus on bulking up and “getting ripped,” JeFit (free; Android, iOS, and Amazon Fire OS) is a good option. This app offers a plentiful array of free routines designed for men, along with a handful of general cardio and yoga workouts for mixing it up. 
JeFit and Nike Training Club (shown here) can help keep you in shape.
For the ladies, check out Nike Training Club (free; iOS and Android), a female fitness community app that focuses on three training categories: Get Lean, Get Toned, and Get Strong. You can then select between beginner, intermediate and advanced levels—and choose whether or not to add running to your routine—and the app will populate a four-week training program. Each workout includes a video (download is required) and lets you set your own music.

Apple launches free iPhone 5 battery replacement program for defective units by Ian Paul

Apple is offering a second replacement program for iPhone 5 users after offering to replace the sleep/wake button on some models in April. This time around it's the phone's battery that's giving users headaches. Apple says that a "very small percentage of iPhone 5 devices" may be experiencing poor battery life, requiring users to charge the device more frequently.

Affected devices were sold between September 2012 and January 2013 and are within a specific serial number range, Apple says. You can check your serial number on Apple's site to see if your phone qualifies for a free battery replacement.

If you have an affected device you'll have the choice to replace your battery free of charge at the Apple Store, an Apple authorized service provider, or you can send it off to Apple Technical Support.

Before bringing your phone in, Apple advises you to back up your data to iTunes or iCloud, turn off Find my iPhone, and do a factory reset. You can do that by navigating to Settings > General > Reset > Erase all Content and Settings.

Apple won't replace broken screens, cracked backs, or other physical problems free of charge. But the company also won't replace the battery for free until any damage that impairs battery replacement is fixed—including cracked screens.

Once your battery is replaced, Apple will guarantee the battery for two years after the device's initial retail sale or March 1, 2015, whichever is longer. The battery replacement will not extend your iPhone 5 warranty.

Apple's battery replacement program began on Friday, August 22 for iPhone users in the U.S. and China. Other countries will start seeing a replacement program this upcoming Friday, August 29.

But if your phone is getting close to its second birthday anyway, it might be time to ditch your handset for something newer. Rumor has it the iPhone 6 is set for a debut in the coming weeks.