How to Keep Your Phone Juiced Longer

Keeping your phone alive throughout the workday can be a challenge, especially if you are traveling on a continual basis. This past week Hurricane Sandy has taught hundreds of thousands of people how to keep their phone batteries running beyond its basic battery life.

USA Today has highlighted a few ways to keep your phone alive even after you’ve run out of traditional energy sources. Here are the two most effective ways suggested:

“The most important one among them is having an external charger that can replenish a phone’s battery multiple times, yet is light enough to carry to the nearest working outlet. Most of you already own one: a laptop computer.

Next, remember how to set your phone to sip power. The simplest way to do this is to disable as many of its built-in transmitters as possible: GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are all expendable when you only need mobile broadband service.”

There are hundreds of creative ways to squeeze an extra percent out of your phones battery life. What effective ways have you found that keep your phone running longer than expected?

Read more here/Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/2012/11/01/smartphones-storms-tips/1674461/

Save Money on Electricity by Unplugging

What would you do to save an additional $100/year on electricity. There are a few simple steps you can take to ensure your electric bills stay low, especially in the winter months when your bills are much higher.

USA Today has a few suggestions on how to fight these ‘vampire electronics’ who are continually sucking your excess electricity.

“The most obvious way to stop vampires from using electricity is to unplug them when they aren’t in use. If a plug isn’t in the wall, it can’t keep running up your power bill.

Of course, nobody wants to spend 10 minutes every night unplugging stuff and 10 minutes plugging everything back in the next morning.

Several companies sell inexpensive power switches that plug into your wall sockets. Instead of unplugging the gadget, you simply turn off power to that socket with the flick of a switch. It’s a great way to control countertop appliances such as microwaves and coffeemakers.

Some socket adapters have built-in timers instead of switches. Use them on your rechargeables — smartphones, camera batteries, electric toothbrushes and cordless power tools.”

By changing your habits, you and your businesses can save money each year by maintaining a consciousness of your electronic devices.
Read more here/Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/komando/2012/10/26/komando-electric-bills/1649195/

Netiquette: Texting or tweeting, time may not be on your side

By Andrea Bartz and Brenna Ehrlich, Special to CNN, www.cnn.com

Editor’s note: Brenna Ehrlich and Andrea Bartz have been the sarcastic brains behind the blog and book ”Stuff Hipsters Hate.” Got a question about etiquette in the digital world? Contact them at netiquette@cnn.com.

(CNN) – Timestamps are all over the ever-loving place on the Web: on your tweets, Facebook posts, text messages, ill-thought-out, angry e-mails to exes, etc.

And let me tell you, true friends and trolls, those little numbers matter more than you think.

Let’s consider the aforementioned ill-thought-out, angry e-mail to an ex (because who hasn’t sent one of those): Send it at 3 p.m. on a Monday, and you come off as righteous and wronged. Send it at 3 a.m. on a Saturday, and you come off as dangerous and deranged.

And that’s just the tip of the numerical iceberg, kids. Read on for four instances in which timing is everything.

Texting a potential date

You’re a notorious night hawk, a rebel with a very good cause: monitoring the feeding habits of a very rare species of owl.

Consequently, you are mostly nocturnal. However, you still manage to meet a lovely “daylight person” (as you call people who adhere to the mainstream constraints of timekeeping) at jury duty one day.

A few nights pass, and you finally work up the urge to text her an invite to coffee, a missive you shoot off in between watching one owl rip off a mouse’s head and sorting through another owl’s freshly deposited pellets. Three nights later, she still has not responded, perhaps because the timestamp of your text read 3:30 a.m.

Look, we get that everyone is on a different clock and not all denizens of this thing we call Earth are 9-to-5ers, but let’s just get this straight right now: If you text a romantic interest after, say, 10 p.m., they’re going to think you’re (a) drunk, (b) horny, (c) drunk and horny. Save your declarations of like for the daylight hours — or else seek out a mate with similarly night owl-esque tendencies.

Sending a business e-mail

It’s Saturday afternoon, and you have the bestest idea ever about how to totally and completely revolutionize the company’s overall productivity — and it includes five rubber bands, two clown masks and roughly 15,000 bobblehead dolls.

Practically sweating glee, you fire up your work inbox and shoot off an e-mail to your entire department, outlining the plan in great detail. Almost as an afterthought, you scrawl, “No need to respond to this right now. I know that it’s the weekend.”

You’re right, o genius of productivity, it is the weekend — which means the only people who will see your e-mail are (a) people with no lives, (b) people who are paranoid and anxious, or (c) people with no lives who are paranoid and anxious.

Must you stress said people out even more with your idle ruminations? Plus, when everyone else gets to work on Monday, faced with the grim task of sorting through all the e-mail that has accumulated over the past few days, there your message will be, buried among the rubble and, consequently, forgotten.

When struck with lazy day inspiration, we suggest dashing off your e-mail and then scheduling it to be sent out on Monday morning — there are plenty of apps, like Boomerang, that will let you do so. That way, your idea will shine through the tempest of weekend missives like the glorious beacon that it is — plus, everyone won’t hate you.

Calling a family member

You’re at the local thrift store, and you happen upon the most darling china doll with a lovely, delicate face reminiscent of your treasured only son, who now works so, so far away in the crumbling asphalt jungle that is the city.

He’s a high-powered man, you know, the founder of an ingenious app that promises to revolutionize the shambles that is modern-day romance (or so he tells you; in actuality, it’s a mobile tool that catalogs all the best public restrooms for hooking up with randoms).

As you gaze into the oh-so-sweet face of Francis the Goatherd — as his tag reads — you feel the overwhelming urge to call up your own china doll and tell him about his dolly doppelganger. You pull out your ancient cracked flip phone and dial his number … and recoil in horror as your loving son answers on the first ring with an enraged, “What, Mom? Who died?”

Although it would be easy to blame the broken doll shards — you dropped Francis in your frenzied distress — on your ungrateful son, one only has to look to one of the many synchronously ticking clocks on the thrift store wall to realize that 2 p.m. on a Tuesday is not exactly the best time for a check-in call with your pride and joy. Especially if he or she has lived up to that title by securing him/herself a cherry job.

Unless Francis the Goatherd has been possessed by the devil and is currently choking you to death, save any and all ruminations about his porcelain fingers for after work hours.

Tweeting about your super rad beach day …

… after calling in sick. Unless they’re utter Luddites, your bosses know how to use Twitter, too.

Apple CEO ‘Extremely Sorry’ for IPhone Maps Frustration

By Adam Satariano, www.Bloomberg.com – Sep 28, 2012

Apple Inc. (AAPL) Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook apologized for the iPhone mapping software released last week that has been criticized for flaws such as misrouted directions and inaccurately located landmarks.

The new Apple Inc. Maps app icon is seen on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5 in this arranged photograph in London. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) — Bloomberg’s Rich Jaroslovsky talks about Apple Inc.’s mapping application, released last week on the new version of iOS, the software that runs Apple Inc.’s iPhones and iPads. Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook apologized for the mapping software that has been criticized for flaws such as misrouted directions and inaccurately located landmarks. (Rich Jaroslovsky is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. Source: Bloomberg)

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

“We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better,” Cook said in a letter to customers posted today on the Cupertino, California-based company’s website.

Apple’s decision to build its navigation application reflects a widening rift with Google Inc. (GOOG), which had provided its Google Maps program since the iPhone debuted in 2007. While the new software adds features such as turn-by-turn navigation, it is widely faulted for unreliable landmark searches, routes that get users lost and a lack of public transit directions.

“An apology is never bad,” Carl Howe, an analyst at Yankee Group in Boston, said in an interview. “But notice they didn’t say that they are going to reinstate Google Maps. There is no impact, there is no change in philosophy or direction.”

Apple’s mapping application was released as part of the new iOS 6 software, which runs the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Cook said that the feature will improve as the company collects more data. In the meantime, he said people who are frustrated with the experience could download mapping applications such as Microsoft Corp.’s Bing, Waze and MapQuest from the company’s App Store. He said customers also could use the iPhone’s Internet browser to use Google’s mapping application.

‘Their Call’

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said on Sept. 25 that Apple should have stuck with Google Maps. “It would have been better if they had kept ours,” Schmidt said at a press event in Tokyo. “What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It’s their call.”

Nate Tyler, a spokesman for Google, declined to comment beyond an online post explaining how to access its maps through the iPhone Web browser. The company hasn’t submitted a mapping app to Apple for the approval needed for it to appear in the App Store, a person familiar with the matter said on Sept. 25.

Google has been building out its online mapping software since 2005, using cars and satellites to accumulate data that helps improve its accuracy and reliability. To catch up, Apple can use location data collected from customers using its maps to improve the service. Apple’s map software includes a feedback feature for users to report inaccurate directions and other bugs.

‘Fell Short’

“At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers,” Cook said. “With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment.”

In the past few years, Apple has acquired small mapping companies including C3 Technologies, Poly9 and Placebase. The location information that Apple licenses from TomTom NV (TOM2) and OpenStreetMap isn’t as good as Google, said Noam Bardin, the CEO of Waze Inc., which makes an iPhone mapping app.

“The big problem is they’re 100 percent hostage to the quality of their data — Apple is stuck,” Bardin said. While the quality will improve, it will be very expensive to match the billions Google has already spent on maps, he said. “The tactical challenge is they bit off what Google does really well and tried to do it themselves.”

Record Sales

Apple had to have known the application had problems during the testing period and decided to move ahead nonetheless, Bardin said.

The mapping fiasco is a product of Apple’s growing rivalry with Google, the maker of the world’s most popular smartphone software. Google’s Android operating system runs on devices from manufacturers including Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC Corp. (2498) that compete with the iPhone.

Apple built the replacement app because it wanted to scale back its relationship with Google, not because of any glaring product flaws, two people familiar with Apple’s development of the mapping features said last week.

The feud also extends beyond maps. For the first time since 2007, Google’s YouTube video service isn’t preinstalled on the new iPhone. Schmidt exited Apple’s board of directors in 2009 as tensions escalated between the competitors.

Apple took a strategic risk releasing its own maps app before it was ready, said Barbara Kahn, a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

‘Competitor’s Brand’

“Maps is a very critical Google brand,” Kahn said in an interview. “Apple doesn’t want their competitor’s brand all over their phone.”

That said, defects with the maps isn’t likely to crimp sales of the iPhone 5, said Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos. Apple sold a record 5 million iPhone 5s during the handset’s debut weekend. The device, which has a bigger screen and is lighter than previous models, went on sale in another 22 countries today and will be in 100 by the end of the year.

“Consumer sentiment on the iPhone remains high,” Munster wrote in a research note today. “The maps product is not causing a user backlash.”

The maps software joins a list of other faulty services Apple has introduced in recent years. It recently discontinued the Ping music social network after it failed to attract users. MobileMe, a product for e-mail, calender and other online services, was also plagued by defects and recently transitioned into Apple’s iCloud service.

Prior Apologies

This is also the third time Apple has had to apologize or reverse course during the introduction of a new iPhone.

Following the first iPhone release in 2007, Apple co- founder Steve Jobs offered users rebates and an apology because early customers complained about a price cut two months after it went on sale.

In 2010, Jobs apologized and gave out free cases to customers because of antenna defects for the iPhone 4. After Consumer Reports and other publications showed the device would lose its signal if held a certain way, Jobs called a rare press conference to explain the issue.

The mapping application has made the company a target of ridicule. A website was created to chronicle various snafus, including one where a huge swath of Portland, Oregon, is shown as a park and others where bridges are labeled as being on land. In one New York example, Lexington Ave. is listed as being in Brooklyn, not Manhattan.

“Maps is an appalling first release,” David Pogue, the technology critic for the New York Times, said in a review this week. “It may be the most embarrassing, least usable piece of software Apple has ever unleashed.”

Apple fell 2.1 percent to $667.11 at the close in New York, paring the gain for the year to 65 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Satariano in San Francisco at asatariano1@bloomberg.net

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

Siri is your new customer service rep

By David Goldman @CNNMoneyTech

Nuance’s Nina software uses the technology behind Siri for third-party apps.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Siri could be getting a new job soon at your bank.

The folks behind some of the technology in Siri, the iPhone’s virtual personal assistant, are bringing their voice recognotion technology to customer service applications, including bank, cable and credit card smartphone apps.

Nuance Communications (NUAN) last week announced the creation of “Nina,” a natural human language input software that is designed to understand customers’ questions about their accounts. Think of Nina as Siri’s cousin who lives inside your credit card app instead of your iPhone.

Nina could be molded to suit any customer-focused application, but in a demonstration with CNNMoney, Nuance chose a banking app to illustrate the technology’s capabilities. Just as Siri understands that “Do I need an umbrella today?” is a question about weather, Nina can field contextual questions.

For instance, an order to “Pay my bill” brought up Nina’s response — in Siri’s familiar voice: “How much would you like to pay?”

Nina understood the reply of “my statement balance,” and asked whether she should go ahead with the payment right now.

“No, let’s do it on Monday,” got a response of “Okay, I’ll set up your payment for this Monday.”

Related story: Siri’s father comes to her defense

The software can also check balances, transfer money, and troubleshoot problems, among other tasks. Nuance said the idea is to make Nina smart and fast enough to encourage users to go to the app first, before dialing a human customer service representative.

If a customer’s issue needs to be handled by a human being, Nina comes with a neat trick: The software can call a rep and provide the company with all the details of what the customer has been trying to accomplish. That means no more sorting through an endless series of call center menus and then having to explain the problem again when you finally get a human being on the other end of the line.

Nina also comes with an analytics engine that informs companies about how customers are using their apps.

“People will ask their phone different things than they would a representative on the phone,” said Robert Gary, general manager of Nuance’s mobile care unit. “Knowing what people ask Nina will help them determine what should be automated and what shouldn’t.”

Nina is extensively customizable to work with any app that has customer service features, and it’s available on multiple platforms, including Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone. Companies can choose their own voice talent if they don’t like the stock “Siri” or any of the other computerized voices.

Nuance built a nifty security feature in as well: To login to an app that incorporates Nina, users can say their password into their phone, and Nina will run a voice biometrics engine to determine whether it’s really the customer trying to get in.

USAA has announced that it will integrate Nina into its app. Nuance says it expects other financial institutions to come on board soon.

Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) may have chained up Siri, but the technology’s creators working to let her features loose on other platforms

Tablets Join The Long Race To The Bottom

Tablets Join The Long Race To The Bottom

John Biggs - techcrunch.com

tablet-lemmings

Remember netbooks? Exactly. Two years ago netbooks could do no wrong. They were the future, a way to get work done on the go on a laptop the size of a paperback book. In the end, manufacturers saw them as a great way to squeeze profit out of a moribund product line.

Sadly, I fear that’s where we’re headed in the tablet market.

For a long time it was a few horse race. Motorola, Apple, and Samsung were pumping out top-of-the-line tablets and selling them at a premium, because that’s what the market could support. However, with the launch of the $199 Kindle Fire, and more recently the Nexus 7, the floodgates will soon open, driving down prices, quality, and value.

Here’s the pattern: a product group becomes popular. Major players make comparatively expensive products with good QA and designs. Early adopters gobble them up, then there’s a brief period of popular adoption. Then everyone who was going to buy a tablet has a tablet. Positions are taken regarding the various advantages of each type. Flame wars are fought.

Then people stop caring.

As evidenced by the mediocre reviews of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and the many reports of broken Nexus 7 devices, it’s clear that the tablet segment is losing profitability. Build quality and design dedication are falling and the tablets of yesterday, the tank-like Xoom and the rough and tumble Kindle, are ceding to chintzier, cheaper devices designed to entice bargain buyers. As manufacturers realize they have to hit that magical $199 price point, the quality will fall even further as more corners are cut. This spiral will continue until OEMs start shipping barely upgraded devices for under $200.

Sure, it’s nice to have low-priced options on the market but low price without intrinsic value is bad for the consumer. Resale value, for example, is an excellent indicator of overall demand and no models in recent memory hold their value over a few months. A new Toshiba Excite costs costs $400 while a used one tops out at about $250. Similar price drops can be seen in nearly every other “value” tablet.

I don’t think we’re going to see the death of tablets the way we saw the death of netbooks. Netbooks were so wildly niche that they just couldn’t survive. Tablets, on the other hand, will be with us for a long, long time. The problem is that we’re about to see tablet stagnation and the quality and value will go down exponentially. The danger is that as profits fall, tablet makers will build cheaper and cheaper hardware while maintaining premium prices. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting there.

Prognoses like these are tough to take early on in a product life cycle by the tell-tale habits of entrenched products are clearly at work here. Manufacturers can either take a huge hit vs. costs – consider the rumors of a $199 Surface – or drive down costs. The tendency, of course, is just to go cheaper and cheaper until the product is irrelevant.

iOS Olympics apps: which ones to try and which ones waste your time

 

By: Jacqui Cheng

 

If you watch any kind of network TV, you’re probably well aware that the 2012 Summer Olympics are about to start. Yes, it’s that time again for each country to pull it together and rally behind our national athletes as they compete with one another for glory, medals, and delicious sponsorship dollars. The start of this year’s games is less than two weeks away—July 27, to be exact—but preparations are already in full swing as the potential Olympians go through their qualifying rounds and TV networks milk every drop of pre-game excitement they can get.

If you’re an Olympics fan but aren’t one to sit around and watch TV, there are a handful of apps that allow you to follow the goings on via your smartphone. We took a look at a few of them to get an idea of which features are available, and threw in a few suggestions for those actually traveling to London to see the Olympics in person.

To watch

(It’s worth noting that all of the following apps for following the Olympics are also available on Android, but we tested the iOS versions for this piece.)

BBC Olympics (free)

 

 

The main goal of the BBC Olympics app is to give you a text-based rundown of the current Olympics events. This includes real, live text commentaries from BBC journalists as well as a regularly updated medals table for each country and a schedule of events. But the BBC also spices things up a bit by including video interviews with various athletes. The app even tries to target the headlines that are most interesting to you based on your current location—if you’re checking the app from the US, the app will try to give you headlines for US competitors. There isn’t any exciting live video in this app, but it’s one of the most straightforward and easy to use. Plus, it’s free.

NBC Olympics (free*)

 

 

The NBC Olympics app is kind of like the BBC Olympics app, but with a more video-heavy focus through video-on-demand highlights and featured videos. It still offers you a way to look at results and schedules (which are updated in realtime), but also tries to up the ante by offering a social media connection (you can use the Twitter Tracker to see which athletes are being discussed on Twitter, along with “interactive heat maps”).

Those VOD features are available now before the games start on July 27, but there are a couple major caveats to this app. For one, full access to the video features isn’t free—your ability to watch them depends on your cable or satellite subscription. Users must verify this before watching videos. Another caveat is that there’s apparently no AirPlay support. So if you do have access to the videos, you must watch them on your iOS device. At least they work over 3G and 4G, right?

NBC Olympics Live Extra (free*)

 

 

NBC has confusingly released two separate apps for the 2012 Olympics—the second being NBC Olympics Live Extra. The difference between this and NBC Olympics (above) is that here you can actually watch live video of the events as they are happening, as well as full event replays. The downside, however, is the same—your ability to watch the live events and event replays is dependent upon your cable or satellite subscription. This leads us to wonder why NBC bothered to split it into two apps at all. But if you do have a qualifying cable subscription and you’re just crazy about men’s swimming, this could be a good one to download.

Team USA Road to London (free)

 

 

The 2012 Team USA app is the official one released by the US Olympic Committee. It offers a number of similar features as the previous three apps (schedules, video clips, daily news updates), and the same limitations apply. Live streaming of events requires an active and valid cable/satellite subscription. What this app offers that the others don’t are some kitschy but fun features, like the “cheer” button that lets you send personal messages to athletes on Facebook and Twitter. You can also use the app to buy Team USA merchandise and donate to Team USA.

When I used this app briefly in order to write this piece, however, I wasn’t particularly impressed by its functionality. There were many times in which I tapped on a button, only to have it bring up a blank white screen with a red “MENU” banner hovering over the top. And when I loaded up the news tab (before the white screens started becoming a permanent occurrence), there was post at the top that was clearly marked as a test post dated for November 2012. Perhaps Team USA has spent all its effort and funds on preparing the Olympians. This app feels more than a bit rough around the edges.

To get around

If you’re crazy enough to actually attend the games in person, you may need some help navigating London while you’re not waiting in line for bag inspections or buying $8 bottles of water. (I went to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta—can you tell?) London is a fun city to visit regardless of the Olympics, so here are a handful of apps that could be useful when you’re making your way around town.

OffMaps 2 ($0.99)

 

 

We’ve recommended OffMaps 2 before in a post about our favorite iOS travel apps. It’s a popular choice among travelers because the main app can be used for a variety of cities. Each city’s maps are accessible via in-app purchase (so you’ll most likely have to spend more than the initial 99 cents). Once you do, you can use those maps offline in order to avoid having to rack up roaming 3G charges. OffMaps 2 also gives you easy access to Wikipedia articles with images—again, all accessible offline if you download in advance—for the places you plan to visit, and there are plenty of public transit maps, too.

Lonely Planet: London Travel Guide ($5.99)

 

 

Lonely Planet’s app strategy is basically the opposite of OffMaps 2—the company releases a new app for each city instead of one app that can load in data from different cities. So, while I have not used the London app in particular, I have used Lonely Planet’s apps for other cities and have always come away happy with my purchase. Again, like OffMaps 2, Lonely Planet’s app allows you to view offline maps with plenty of listings for places to eat, things to see, and other activities, along with any relevant background information. I particularly like Lonely Planet’s “Neighborhoods” and “Practicalities” features, which offer you extra tips for traveling to that particular part of the city—useful for the tourist trying to look like an experienced patron.

Tube Map (free)

 

 

If you like to be adventurous and don’t like paying for maps, though, you may still benefit from a basic subway map. Tube Map is a popular one for navigating London’s tube system, and its functionality is extremely straightforward. The app offers subway maps and lets you plan routes. It can also show you which stations support Oyster cards or pay-as-you-go. There’s also live departure information for each line, so you can know whether to skip to another line or just hang for a few more minutes. It’s basic, but it works.

How to Lock Down Any Data on Your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

By: Adam Dachis

Hopefully your iPhone (or other iDevice) will never be lost or stolen, but in the event it happens you’d probably feel better if the finder or thief didn’t have full access to all your private data. There may also be a few things you don’t want friends to accidentally discover when they borrow your mobile for quick use. Here’s how to lock down all your private data so you don’t have to worry about it.

When it comes to locking down your iPhone, you basically have two options: standard and jailbreak. There’s a lot more you can do with jailbreak apps and tweaks, but you can still keep private data private with options available to every iOS user. We’ll talk about the stuff anyone can use first, and then get into the jailbreak options.

How to Lock and Encrypt Data on Your iPhone

Keeping data private on a regular iPhone is pretty simple, though it involves making a few compromises. The obvious option is adding a password to your device, but that means your data is only protected when the phone is locked. Resetting that password isn’t impossible, and some data can still be accessed through apps like iExplorer. If you want to really keep your data secure, you need to use apps that encrypt it.

One app we like for the job is Ben the Bodyguard ($5). It not only keeps a collection of private data encrypted on your iPhone, but it’s also a lot of fun. It features a fictional bodyguard named Ben who has a complete backstory and a charming accent. If $5 is a little too rich for your blood, Private Data is a decent and free alternative.

Not all data can be relegated to a private app, however, as you likely send text messages and emails that you might want to keep away from prying eyes. Unfortunately there is no solution to the email problem (that we’re aware of), but a handy, previously mentioned app called Black SMScan send encrypted text messages. (The app is also required for decryption). The process is a little tedious, but it’s worth a download if you have anything private you want to say on your phone.

How to Lock Just About Anything with One Jailbreak Hack

As it generally goes, you can do a lot more if you jailbreak your iPhone(or other iDevice). Data privacy is no exception. If you don’t want to make any compromises, there’s a very simple way to selectively lock down pretty much anything on your device. It’s a jailbreak tweak called Applocker.

Applocker ($1) is a very simple tweak that will pretty much provide you with the security you’ll need, easily and on-demand. To install it, just search for it on Cydia, pay the $1, and open up your Settings app to set it up. If you swipe down the main settings page, you’ll find Applocker’s settings tab. Tap it and you can start locking apps, folders, and pretty much anything else on your iPhone. If you turn on the jiggle-mode setting, you can lock any single app from the home screen so that it requires a password to be opened. The process is very simple: you just tap and hold down in the same way you would to delete an app or rearrange it on your home screen, then tap the lock icon in the app’s bottom-left corner. You can even have apps automatically unlocked on certain Wi-Fi networks, if you’d prefer not to bother entering your password frequently at home (for example). Basically, you pay a dollar and have incredible control over when and where pretty much anything is locked down (or not).

 

Technology Summit June 14th

Please join us June 14th to hear Mike Klein, President and COO of Online Tech, as he will be presenting on Cloud Computing and its benefits for your business.  For more information and to RSVP check out our Facebook Event

 

The Six Benefits of Cloud Computing

I recently attended Internet Evolution’s webinar on cloud computing where the benefits of cloud computing were defined as leveraging economies of scale in computing.  This makes a lot of sense. Rather than build your infrastructure one hardware server at a time, you can leverage a pool of resources to maximize efficiency and lower your overall operating costs.

NIST defines Cloud Computing as:  Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.  NIST is implying the economy of scale that goes with cloud computing when they talk about a pool of configurable computing resources.

In my opinion, the benefits of cloud computing clearly include the cost savings that come with economy of scale, but also include a number of other benefits.  Here are the Six Benefits of Cloud Computing as I see them:

1)      Lower Costs – Cloud computing pools all of the computing resources that can be distributed to applications as needed – optimizing the use of the sum of the computing resources and delivering better efficiency and utilization of the entire shared infrastructure.

2)      Cap-Ex Free Computing – Whether you go with a public cloud or outsourced private cloud computing option, cloud computing delivers a better cash flow by eliminating the capital expense associated with building the server infrastructure.

3)      Deploy Projects Faster – Because servers can be brought up & destroyed in a matter of minutes, the time to deploy a new application drops dramatically with cloud computing.  Rather than installing and networking a new hardware server, the new server can be dialed up and imaged in through a self-serve control console.  Or better yet, with a private cloud, your service provider can dial up a new server with a single call or support ticket.

4)      Scale as Needed – As your applications grow, you can add storage, RAM and CPU capacity as needed.  This means you can buy “just enough” and scale as the application demands grow.

5)      Lower Maintenance Costs driven by 2 factors:  Less hardware and outsourced, shared IT staff.  Because cloud computing uses less physical resources, there is less hardware to power and maintain.  With an outsourced cloud, you don’t need to keep server, storage, network, and virtualization experts on staff full time.  You get economy of scale of those expert resources through your cloud provider.

6)      Resiliency and Redundancy – One of the benefits of a private cloud deployment is that you can get automatic failover between hardware platforms and disaster recovery services to bring up your server set in a separate data center should your primary data center experience an outage.

Cloud computing provides some strong benefits.  Selecting a public or private cloud implementation will depend on your application, performance, security and compliance requirements, but with the proper deployment cloud computing can provide significant savings, better IT services, and a higher level of reliability.