Welcome Andrew Sharrah

Andrew Sharrah, an enthusiast of everything technology, joins Kraft Business Systems IT Department as an IT Technician. Prior to working at Kraft, Andrew worked as an IT Manager/IT Specialist/IT Intern at Precision Aerospace Corporation for roughly three years. Andrew obtained his Associates degree from Lansing Community College in the area of Computer Networking and Information Security back in 2008 and also obtained his Bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University in the area of Information Systems last December 2012.

In his free time, Andrew enjoys watching and playing his favorite sports, exercising, spending time with family and friends, learning about/fixing/tinkering with computers, playing the occasional video game, and listening to music.

Information Technology: As Easy As IT

With mobility, cloud, converging voice, video and data services and other technology innovations helping drive end-user productivity and business results, Managed Workplace from Level Platforms solves your increasingly complex IT network and device management issues.

Managed Workplace is a next-generation remote monitoring and management software platform, which delivers end-to-end visibility into the networks, cloud, applications and devices relied on by your end-users.  See everything that is happening in your IT environment through a unified web-based dashboard, with automatic discovery and monitoring of existing and new devices.  Use alerting to proactively address performance and security concerns.  Automate configuration and network settings to increase productivity, enforce usage policies and improve security.

For more information about Managed Workplace, visit: www.levelplatforms.com

For more information on how you can use this and similar tools to grow your business, contact Kraft Business Systems at (616) 977-2679.

Wal-Mart slashes prices on iPhone and iPad

Looking for the lowest prices on the iPhone and iPad, look no further than Wal-Mart.

“The retail giant announced plans Friday to offer the 16 GB iPhone 5 for $127 (normally $189.97) and the 16GB iPhone 4S for $47 (normally $87.97), along with a two-year contract. They’ll also sell the third-generation iPad for $399″

Read more here:  http://money.cnn.com/2012/12/14/technology/mobile/walmart-apple-iphone-ipad-sale/index.html

FTC probes mobile apps firms over child privacy concerns

The Federal Trade Commission said Monday it has launched multiple investigations into mobile apps companies that have potentially violated child online privacy laws.

The action comes after the agency completed a comprehensive survey of Apple’s and Google’s mobile apps stores, where the agency found the vast majority of developers of kids’ apps fall far short of protecting children’s information.

Click here to find out how the FTC is finding over 400 apps are collecting data.

 

Source:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/ftc-probes-mobile-apps-firms-over-child-privacy-concerns/2012/12/10/c54c45e6-40c0-11e2-a2d9-822f58ac9fd5_story.html

Native Apps vs. Mobile Web

Many people wonder what the difference between native smartphone apps and mobile web apps is specifically. Max Katz at Wired.com explains how each has its pros and cons. But can there be a perfect balance between the two, or is there a clear winner?

“A native mobile app can produce the best user experience — fast and fluid, can give you the best access to device features, and can be discovered in the app stores. On the other hand, building a native app on every major platform requires more socialized skills, a longer time to market, and a bigger budget to build and maintain. For this reason many apps get built as web apps or hybrid apps.

A mobile web app can produce a good user experience that is consistent across a broader range of platforms. As browser and JavaScript engines get faster with every release, the user experience gets better and better and the apps run faster and faster. Once created, this kind of app can be run on any platform, device, phone, or tablet with a browser. On the other hand, browsers on different platforms do not uniformly support all the latest HTML features and API, which can make developing and testing challenging.

A hybrid app offers many of the advantages of both approaches: discoverability in the app stores, access to the most common device APIs, and broad device coverage while not requiring the specialized skills, bigger budgets and longer time to market that are more typical of fully native apps.

Source: http://www.wired.com/insights/2012/11/native-apps-vs-mobile-web/

The end of the smartphone?

“It turns out Microsoft is working on something similar. It filed some patents on the project and Unwired View dug them up.

There’s a big difference between what Microsoft is working on and Google Glass, though.

The most recent word out of Google is that Google Glass isn’t going to use “augmented reality” – where data and illustrations overlay the actual world around you.

Google Glass is actually just a tiny screen you have to look up and to the left to see.

Microsoft’s glasses seem to utilize augmented reality. In a patent illustration we’ve embedded below, you can see that the glasses put data on top of a live action concert and a ballgame.”

Could the smartphone be replaced by something even greater? We hope so, but it is never easy to know how long it will take. Eventually, the smartphone will be phased out for something greater, glass technology may be the replacement product.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-end-of-the-smartphone-era-is-coming-2012-11#ixzz2DLAdRgzf

The 10 Best Features in Windows 8

120228-windows_semanticzoom

 

The wait is over: Windows 8 has arrived. After many, many months of talking about Windows 8, Microsoft officially releases the new operating system on Friday. You can buy an upgrade pack or a new Windows 8 device (including Surface RT) on Oct. 26.

With the exciting new era for Microsoft comes a huge list of changes to Windows. Not only is the interface totally different, there are several new features and capabilities. Here are our 10 favorites, plus one that gets honorary mention.

Easy Gestures

Windows 8 is the first truly gestural version of Windows. The OS supports intuitive simple touch gestures like swiping in from the left to switch apps and swiping in from the right for the Charms menu. Semantic zoom is another big winner. Whether you’re in the Start Screen or a specific app, like the People hub, you can navigate using the pinch-to-zoom gesture to get a high-level view. For example, you can use semantic zoom in the News app to see all of the news sections available, instead of having to scroll through the app.

Other useful gestures include swiping in from the top of the screen for app-specific commands and settings and dragging an app from the top down to close it out.

 

live tiles

 

Live Tiles and Lock Screen

The apps you use in Windows 8 can feed you information without you even having to open them. This is especially helpful with home-bred Microsoft apps like Mail, Calendar, Photos and News, for viewing new e-mail, upcoming events, thumbnail images and the latest headlines. Third-party app developers can also take advantage of the Live Tile feature. For example, LivingSocial shows you snippets of new deals in your area.

If you’re sick of a specific app’s constantly changing tile, you can always turn the Live Tile feature off.

Microsoft has also given more life to the lock screen in Windows 8. You can select up to seven apps that will constantly run in the background and send notifications to the lock screen. You can also select between the Weather and Calendar apps to show information on the Lock Screen at all times. Got a meeting coming up? Your Lock Screen can tell you.

 

search

 

System-Wide Search

Windows 8 offers a great tool for searching for files, apps, and specific settings directly from the Start Screen, just by typing. If an app comes with built-in search, you’ll also be able to quickly search within that apps from the Search charms bar. For example, say you want to search for “food trucks.” The Windows 8 search will be able to look through any apps or files related to food trucks, but you can also just tap Bing to jump into that app’s search functionality.

 

refresh restart

 

Refresh and Reset

With Windows 8, Microsoft now offers a very easy way to refresh or reset your PC. The refresh option is especially useful when you find your PC acting slow or buggy. In a one-click or one-tap move, you can refresh the PC without changing any of your files, Windows Store apps, or personalization settings. All of the PC settings will be changed back to the default, and you will lose any desktop programs since those are not synced with your Windows Account. Still, if it comes down it, it’s a easy fix.

Reset, on the other hand, is great for when you want to hand off your old PC to a new owner. If you want to make sure that everything is wiped, this is your go-to button. No more having to delete individual files or go through manufacturer-specific programs to figure it out.

You can find both features in the Charms bar: Click Settings, choose “Change PC Settings” and go to the “General” section.

 

syncing

 

Settings Sync

No matter what PC, tablet or notebook you use, you’ll be able to sync your personal settings. Thanks to the Microsoft account and Windows 8’s cloud-friendly platform, your personalizations can travel with you. The “Sync your settings” option within your PC settings lets you sync personalizations (background, colors, lock screen and account picture), passwords, language preferences, app settings, browser settings, and more. It makes using a new device much easier and makes borrowing a friend’s tablet or notebook a more personal experience.

 

snap view

 

Snap View for Multitasking

Windows Store apps, which default to full-screen mode, can also snap next to each other for super simple multitasking. When you snap two apps side-by-side, one occupies a small sliver of the screen (about one-fourth) on the right or left. A second app takes up more space for a larger view. This is especially useful for times when you want to, say, chat with a friend while browsing the web. Or perhaps you want to view Map directions while your road-trip partner (or kid) watches a movie. It’s a quick and simple way to do two tasks at once, without having to constantly switch through apps, tabs, or windows.

 

pinning

 

Pin Anything

The Start Screen isn’t useful only for its Live Tiles and customization. It’s also a virtual bulletin board where you can pin specific websites and particular sections from apps. For example, you can pin individuals from the People hub directly to your Start Screen for quick access. If you’re a big fan of the Travel app but you only want to look at certain destinations, you can pin them for convenience. Pin Shanghai to your Start Screen before your big vacation, and switch it out for your next destination at a later date. You can always pin and un-pin items from your Start Screen.

 

sharing

 

Share Everything

Windows 8 brings sharing to the fore. If something is shareable, Microsoft wants you to share it, and not only with friends, but with other apps. When you’re in an app, open up the charms bar and tap the Share button (or hold the Windows key and the H key on your keyboard). You’ll see exactly where you can share your item, whether it’s an image, link or section within an app.

The Share menu will let you post to your social networks and e-mail, but you’ll also be able to share between apps. For example, you can share a link for the weather in New York from the Weather app to the Clipboard or Sticky Notes 8 (a third-party app I downloaded). The Share charm will even start to recognize where and with whom you share the most.

 

task manager

 

Task Manager

Not all of the best features are limited to the new Start Screen environment. The Task Manager in Windows 8’s desktop environment is much improved. The tool has several new features and is much more intuitive to use. Once you launch the program, you’ll see a complete list of everything that’s running on your device, separated by section: apps, background processes, and Windows processes.

You can see how much of your device’s resources each app or process takes. You can also drill down even further. For example, you can open up each window in a browser app or right click a process and choose “search online” to understand what it does.

The Performance tab gives you an at-a-glance status update on your CPU, Memory, Disk, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi usage in moving charts. App history shows you how much CPU and bandwidth your apps have used over time, making it easy to identify which apps take the most resources. The Startup tab lets you manage which apps will start automatically when you turn on your computer. The Users tab shows you usage based on the devices various users, while the Services tab lets you go through your services to restart services.

In short, the Task Manager adds much more functionality in a far more attractive space.

 

interface

 

The Interface

OK, this is a cop-out, but Windows 8’s best feature is its radically new interface. Without it, you wouldn’t have all the other features mentioned here. The stunning Start Screen UI enables a completely new Windows experience. While you might have complaints about how it doesn’t work as well with a keyboard and mouse — or on a desktop PC — it’s hard to label Windows 8 as anything but a step forward for Microsoft. The chromeless, full-screen Windows Store apps are incredibly slick, and navigating the Start Screen is quick and seamless. Windows 8 is speedy, and the new look only enhances this.

 

keyboard commands

 

Honorary Mention: Keyboard Commands

Yes, Windows 8 does work most naturally in a touch- or gesture-based environment. But if you’re using a traditional mouse and keyboard, Microsoft has enabled tons of new keyboard shortcuts to let you access the best Windows 8 tools. Here’s a list of some of the most useful commands (courtesy of Microsoft):

Windows logo key + start typing: Search your PC

Ctrl+plus (+) or Ctrl+minus (-): Zoom in or out of many items, like apps pinned to the Start screen or in the Store

Ctrl+scroll wheel: Zoom in or out of many items, like apps pinned to the Start screen or in the Store

Windows logo key + C: Open the charms

Windows logo key + F: Open the Search charm

Windows logo key +H: Open the Share charm

Windows logo key +I: Open the Settings charm

Windows logo key + K: Open the Devices charm

Windows logo key + O: Lock the screen orientation (portrait or landscape)

Windows logo key + Z: Open commands for the app

Windows logo key + PgUp: Move the Start screen and apps to the monitor on the right (apps in the desktop won’t change monitors)

Windows logo key + PgDn: Move the Start screen and apps to the monitor on the left (apps in the desktop won’t change monitors)

 

Windows logo key + Shift+period (.): Snap an app to the left

Windows logo key + period (.): Snap an app to the right

PC Sales Slump as Kids Say No to Computers

PC classroom

Classroom scenes like this could fade from campuses as PC sales slacken. Image: DeSales University/Flickr

Kids don’t want computers. That’s one of several striking data points from worse-than-expected figures showing the global PC market is in decline. Since young people tend to drive technology trends, poor back-to-school sales of PCs say more than a drop in overall sales alone. We already know PCs aren’t cool (are college freshmen more likely to show off their new iPads or their new Dells?), but it’s starting to look like they’re also not needed.

Shipments of PCs in the U.S. shrank during the most recent quarter by more than 12 percent, according to IDC, and by nearly 14 percent, according to Gartner Inc. Meanwhile, analysts at IHS iSuppli predict global PC shipments will contract this year for the first time since 2001.

All three research firms agree that sluggish back-to-school sales — traditionally the time of a Christmas-like sales spike for the PC industry — are largely to blame.

“There was great hope through the first half that 2012 would prove to be a rebound year for the PC market,” analyst Craig Stice says in IHS’s report. “Now three quarters through the year, the usual boost from the back-to-school season appears to be a bust.”

While some PC buyers might be postponing purchases until Windows 8 comes out in just over two weeks, it’s hard to believe students would wait until after midterms to buy that new computer. Analysts say businesses might start buying more PCs again after Windows 8 comes out, but many corporate customers aren’t expected to be early adopters as they wait to see whether the new operating system comes with any glitches. As for students, even a wildly successful reception for Windows 8 won’t likely renew their interest in PCs. They’re more likely to want the version they can put in their pockets.

In a side note, struggling Silicon Valley giant HP was miffed at Gartner’s report that China’s Lenovo had usurped its title as the world’s largest PC maker. Gartner says Lenovo shipped nearly 13.77 million PCs this past quarter, while HP shipped 13.55 million. According to IDC, however, HP retains the top position with 13.95 million compared to Lenovo’s 13.82 million, which HP was quick to point out in a statement:

“While there are a variety of PC share reports in the market, some don’t measure the market in its entirety. The IDC analysis includes the very important workstation segment and therefore is more comprehensive. In that IDC report, HP occupies the No. 1 position in PCs.”

What HP doesn’t point out in its statement, however, is another IDC stat that the 73-year-old company might want to note, since its shareholders probably have. Lenovo’s PC shipments were up last quarter by more than 10 percent compared to the same time last year, or almost 1.3 million more computers. HP, on the other hand, shipped upward of 2.7 million fewer computers, according to IDC — a drop of more than 16 percent.

“Clearly Lenovo is gaining in the market, while HP is losing the market,” says Mika Kitagawa, Gartner’s lead PC analyst. Kitagawa says the quarter-to-quarter horse race among companies isn’t as important as the clear trend that shows Lenovo’s low-margin, high-volume business is trumping HP’s broader approach: “The question is whether HP can adjust its business model to fit into this difficult market.”

Survey: How Mobile Will Change Business

 | Inc.com | staff

Sep 25, 2012

In the near future, developers say car apps will be big and Facebook may be the social network of the past.

mobile

How do you unseat a Goliath like Facebook? The strategy in a nutshell: Think mobile.

According to a survey conducted by Appcelerator and research firm IDC, more than 66% of mobile developers believe that start-ups have a fighting chance against Facebook–if they go mobile first.

“Developers are highlighting a cautionary note that all businesses should pay attention to: Mobile has the power to reshape entire industries and these changes will be swift,” the survey reads. “It is not enough to port elements of your existing business model over to mobile. Staying competitive in the era of mobility requires fundamentally re-envisioning traditional business models through a mobile-first lens.”

It’s worth noting that there have been some attempts already to chip away at Facebook’s dominance via mobile apps: fast-growing social network Path is one, which the survey doesn’t mention. But these are still early days. The survey’s larger point is that every business–not just those in the social media space–will need to take a mobile-first approach in the coming years.

The report surveyed 5,526 mobile developers from August 22-28, 2012 on their perceptions of the mobile space and its future integration with social media and the cloud. According to Appcelerator and IDC, this report compiles the world’s largest mobile developer survey conducted to date.

Respondents also weighed in on future mobile predictions: 84% believe they will be building apps for television by 2015 and 74% of developers say they will be building apps for cars by the same date. Above all, most respondents acknowledged the speed at which mobile development is growing and highlighted its importance in the small business community.

“Mobile provides enterprises with an unprecedented opportunity to transform their relationships and build towards competitive advantage–even faster than was possible when Web technologies emerged,” the survey says.

But be warned: Mobile “will also leave a wake of casualties among companies that underestimate the speed of disruption.”

RIM’s fate hangs on BlackBerry 10

By Julianne Pepitone@CNNMoneyTech

September 27, 2012: 11:04 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Research in Motion will reveal its second-quarter financial results late Thursday, but here’s what most BlackBerry investors really care about: What the heck is going on with BlackBerry 10?

RIM shocked the industry in June when it said that the BlackBerry 10 operating system, meant to be the crown jewel of the company’s turnaround, won’t hit the market until the first quarter of 2013. The software had previously been slated for release later this year.

The news was so damning that critics wondered aloud if RIM (RIMM) will even survive long enough to launch BlackBerry 10.

Fast forward three months. RIM spent this week at its BlackBerry Jam Americas developer conference trying to prove those naysayers wrong. The company released a new update to the developer tools for BlackBerry 10 and revealed that the number of BlackBerry subscribers grew 2 million over last quarter to 80 million worldwide. (It also released a cheesy music video that several writers declared the worst corporate video ever made. Fortune‘s Dan Mitchell called it “slightly creepy on a few different levels.”)

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins devoted much of his keynote speech at the conference to BlackBerry 10, saying that the OS is on track for launch in early 2013. He ended his talk with a statement that highlights just how heavily RIM is depending on BlackBerry 10 to be its savior: “We are convinced this platform will shape the next 10 years as profoundly and as positively as BlackBerry shaped the last decade. To do that, we are listening. We are focused. We are excited about our future.”

Until that future arrives, RIM is stuck in a holding pattern. Everyone from Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) to Nokia (NOK) to Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) has released shiny new gadgets recently, but RIM is essentially forced to wait for the BlackBerry 10 software before it can unleash any significant new hardware.

Early reviews of BlackBerry 10 have generally been positive — but if RIM’s future rests solely on the success of this OS, it has a lot of ground to make up.

RIM’s main problem is its lost stronghold in the corporate market, where it once dominated. Rather than issuing company BlackBerries, many employers now have workers bring their own devices into work. Those workers usually choose Apple’s (AAPL, Fortune 500) iPhone and Google’s (GOOG, Fortune 500) Android devices.

Meanwhile shipments of BlackBerry phones fell a staggering 41% over the year to 7.4 million last quarter, according to an IDC report. That represented less than 5% of the market — the lowest level since 2009, IDC said. On the financial front, RIM still has over $2 billion in cash on hand. But it lost $518 million last quarter, when sales  slumped 43% from a year ago.

The near-constant barrage of bad news from RIM over the past year has tarnished the company’s image. In the tech field, it takes a certain amount of cachet to convince consumer and companies to choose your gadget over all the rest.

Investors are also worried. RIM shares have lost 54% of their value in 2012 alone.

Still, with its large purse and growing subscriber base, RIM isn’t dead yet. BCG Partners’ Colin Gillis included a cautiously optimistic “investment haiku” in a note to clients late Wednesday: “There is still a chance / RIM finds a market foothold / although it looks bleak.”

How good that chance is now rests on BlackBerry 10. To top of page