Data Doctors: Tips for online backup of photos – East Valley Tribune: Data Doctors

August 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

Q: after hearing about the reporter who had his entire laptop wiped by hackers, I’m wondering about the best way to backup all my photos to the Internet. what Internet photo storing sites do you recommend? – Greg

A: For those that haven’t heard the gut wrenching details of tech journalist Mat Honan’s epic hacking incident ( ), it’s a cautionary tale well worth reading about so you can avoid the basic missteps that he made.

One of the many actions taken by the hacker was to use the remote wipe feature of the ‘Find my MacBook’ utility, which resulted in Mat losing all of the precious photographic memories of his new daughter and family members.

As is common in these cases, Mat hadn’t got around to backing up what was on his laptop, which is causing lots of folks to think about all the precious images they have accumulated that only exist in one place.

Photo storage/sharing sites abound on the Internet, but since they all differ in one way or another, it’s important that you research those differences before you commit to any of them. making a change to another site after you have uploaded a year’s worth of photos is something you want to avoid!

Most of us have a Facebook account and upload pictures to our profiles, but that is far from a comprehensive backup of your photos. Facebook also compresses your uploaded images to save space, so you can’t ever download them in their original resolution should you need to.

Straight forward backup sites such as Carbonite ( ) and Mozy ( ) are a great way to automatically push exact copies up to the cloud, but if you want to share or make use of your photos via the storage site, you may want to consider additional options (remember, there is no such thing as too many backups).

For most casual photographers, Google’s Picasa software ( )combined with their Picasa Web Album online service is a great solution for cataloging, editing and backing up your photos.

When you install Picasa, it automatically starts to scan and catalogue (by date) all the photos it can find in common picture locations (you can manually tell it to search other folders if you have them stored elsewhere).

Once they have been catalogued, you can use the built-in backup utility to burn DVDs or to back up to an external hard drive or upload them to your Picasa Web Album or Google+ accounts.

You have the option to upload them in ‘Best for sharing’, which compresses the photos or original size which will take longer to upload but creates a true backup of the original photo.

You get 1 GB of free Picasa storage or for $2.49 per month, you can increase it to 25 GB or $4.99 per month for 100 GB of storage.

Android smartphone users can also configure the Google+ app to automatically upload images taken by the phone to the Picasa Web Albums.

If you are a hardcore photographer with a lot of images, you should consider getting setup with a Flickr Pro account ( $24.95 per year). Not only can you store images in their original size, you get unlimited storage space and support for more file formats.

If you choose to share your photos, you can choose to only allow them to be seen in lower resolution and deter casual downloaders by disabling the right-click option for downloading.

Another option that my wife loves is Shutterfly ( ) because of its free unlimited storage, easy sharing of albums (publicly or privately) and ability to design photobooks and send personalized postcards using any of our pictures.

Although you can upload images in full resolution, sharing or downloading them in the original resolution can’t be done, unless you are willing to pay to have them transferred back to a DVD by Shutterfly.

In fairness, you can download images at 1600×1200 which is sufficient to print a decent image up to 8×10, but if you want total control of your images at full resolution, you should avoid Shutterfly.

Remember, moving your life’s work in photography from one site to another isn’t easy, so don’t take this decision lightly.

iCloud: security risk?

August 18, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

Computerworld Hong Kong – Apple’s iCloud service, which was recently forced upon former-users of (including myself), has not proven to be a shiny seamless service. Many tech journos complain that iCloud doesn’t represent the user-experience associated with Cupertino’s decades-long tradition as a quality-brand.

Since being migrated, my calendars have sprouted duplicates, along with other mysterious phenomena. Apple gives all iCloud users 5GB free storage, which is nice as I’ve been a user of their cloud-based service since 2001.

But I don’t store my media-content in the cloud–sure, it’d be great to have all my photos in Photostream, but an ever-growing blob of data in the sky will likely burst the surly bonds of any arbitrary data-limit and “upgrade” me to a higher tier. I prefer manual control over my own data. is that too much to ask?

But security is no luxury add-on for any cloud service. Mat Honan, writer for Wired Magazine, found out the hard way–his horrific tale of social engineering/hacking is detailed in his Wired article.

It started with some unknown teenager(s) liking Honan’s three-letter Twitter account. That was all: they wanted that Twitter-handle. It was cool. to get it, they ended up doing a lot, a LOT of seriously evil activity (again, please read his full account–if it saves one single CWHK reader from suffering the same fate, I’d be grateful). Anonymous strangers savaged his digital existence.

How bad was it? Honan sums it up: “In the space of one hour, my entire digital life was destroyed. first my Google account was taken over, then deleted. Next my Twitter account was compromised, and used as a platform to broadcast racist and homophobic messages. And worst of all, my AppleID account was broken into, and my hackers used it to remotely erase all of the data on my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook.”

Imagine that happening to you, your Twitter account, and your devices.

True, Honan made some errors in his personal security and backup-planning which he regrets and details in his informative and often heart-rending article. but like us, he’s human. what tripped him up (along with his own less-than-best practices) were security-measures built into Apple and Amazon’s online services which, combined with clever social engineering on the part of the bad guys, including compromising his Gmail account.

Honan details the process precisely–using phrases I hope I’ll never have to write. I cover security and advise people on how to handle their personal security perimeters. After reading Honan’s article, I’ve gone in and changed a few things. It’s that critical.

Honan contends that in a cloud-centric environment, passwords no longer provide adequate security. “Cloud-based systems need fundamentally different security measures,” he wrote.

The man has a point. And while he mostly blames himself for failing to back up critical data, he reserves bitter ire for Apple’s evolution into iCloud. “I bought into the Apple account system originally to buy songs at 99 cents a pop, and over the years that same ID has evolved into a single point of entry that controls my phones, tablets, computers and data-driven life,” wrote Honan. “With this AppleID, someone can make thousands of dollars of purchases in an instant, or do damage at a cost that you can’t put a price on.”

As we have sown, so have we reaped. the iTunes store that gleefully sold us catchy pop-tunes has morphed into a multi-armed octopus with a permanent target painted on it. a single point-of-entry is also a single point-of-failure. the two-factor authentication mandated for banks by the HKMA is available on Gmail, but Honan didn’t use it (do you?).

We can only hope that the folks at Apple–now the world’s largest technology company–are putting security-systems in place to help prevent what happened to Honan to the rest of its users. In the wake of this incident, both Apple and Amazon have hardened their security procedures and no longer allow password-changes over the phone (this was part of the social-engineering hack that allowed strangers to remote-wipe Honan’s phone, tablet, and laptop). Apple details its iCloud security here.

Security Asia has another account of the Honan incident and more tips to help you improve your own security-profile.

Is Maintaining Your Mac Really Necessary? Speed Tips for Your Mac Computer

July 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

Mac Computers belong to the most up to date computers running in a stable and reliable environment. many problems you might have had on a Windows computer you will most probably never experience on your Mac. there are several reasons for this:

  1. The Mac OS comes with lots of already included programs, which work perfectly together with each other and do not cause problems
  2. There are not too many viruses for the Mac OS
  3. Since 2011 most available software for the Mac is sold over the Mac App Store and tested by Apple so it won’t cause problems

There are most probably many other reasons to buy a Mac computer but that isn’t the topic of this article. The main question is if you need to maintain your Mac computer – clean file entries created by the operating system, remove leftovers of uninstalled programs, protect your Mac from viruses, and identity theft.

Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Protecting and maintaining your Mac isn’t as insane as it is protecting your Windows computer but there is no way the Mac computer can do it all itself.

There are various tasks you can do manually, also recommended by the Apple service.

This list includes maintenance tasks such as:

  1. Reset hardware
  2. Cleaning Cache in various areas
  3. Reset your Ram
  4. Repairing disk permissions
  5. and resetting Spotlight

But you can do more to keep your Mac clean and healthy. there are various programs available to help you doing this with one click:

  • Clean my Mac
  • MacKeeper
  • MacCleanse2
  • Macaroni
  • MacPilot
  • Cocktail

Some are available free on the Mac App Store.

The best program, however, to keep your Mac clean and healthy is MacKeeper.

It is an all in one tool – it does not just protect your Mac from viruses but also cleans up Binaries, Cache and Language Clutter. The most important is definitely the Antivirus you get free and the Fast Cleanup – you just click scan and it scans the whole computer and finds the junk.

But there are more great tools – Anti-Theft is one of them. When you install it and your Mac gets stolen you can locate it and you even get a snapshot from the thief.

Another great tool is Onyx. A free program to repair disk permissions.

There are many tools available to keep your Mac Computer clean and healthy – and it is necessary to keep an eye on the maintenance.

Amazon Black Friday Computer Sales and Deals – Apple, Dell and Netbooks at Low Prices in 2010

July 18, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

Every single year Americans look to save money on Black Friday and one way to do this is to find the best deals and sales on computers from Amazon. Over the last several years Amazon has expanded their merchandise to almost everything under the sun but they have done a great job of promoting the sale of computers, laptops and netbooks. When looking for a computer this year many people will likely consider Apple and Dell along with some of the other makers of computers.

If you are thinking of a laptop or netbook as a Christmas gift idea then you will want to make 100% certain that you know exactly what you are looking for. Some people are very particular when it comes to the computer they are going to use. It might be the case that the loved one in your life wants a MacBook or an iPad. if this is the case then they will probably not want a netbook from another company. There are many people that do not use an Apple at all and this would mean that you might want to consider a computer that runs the Windows operating system.

Over the next several weeks it will likely be the case that many people begin to think about 2010 Christmas gift ideas. before coming to any final conclusions it might be smart to wait a little while and see what types of products are going to be on sale when the Friday after Thanksgiving rolls around. There could be some opportunities that you do not want to pass up when it comes to desktop computers, laptops and netbooks.

Blow it up, Ballmer: Give away the Surface for free

July 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

When Hewlett-Packard killed its TouchPad tablet earlier this year, it held a fire sale, pricing the WebOS-based tablets at $99. They flew off the shelves. there are many reasons why the TouchPad failed, but the success of the drastic markdown suggests a strategy that Microsoft should adopt as it launches its Surface tablet this fall: Seed the market by selling it far below cost, or as analyst Trip Chowdhry suggests, simply give it away.

The traditional approach of spending $200 million or $300 million to market the Surface will not succeed, he says. Chowdhry’s advice: “Instead, use that money to give them to developers, educators, and users to let them created the buzz,” he tells me.

[ InfoWorld’s Galen Gruman explains where Apple and Microsoft are leading us in the post-PC future. | get the latest insight on the tech news that matters from InfoWorld’s Tech Watch blog. | keep up with the key tech news and analysis with the InfoWorld Daily newsletter. ]

It’s no news that Microsoft is in the midst of a crisis as the world moves further and further away from the traditional desktop-centric model of computing and IT becomes more consumerized. although Microsoft bashers have long since relegated the software giant to irrelevance, CEO Steve Ballmer isn’t about to let his company go quietly into the night.

Ballmer has been breaking all the rules, from ending reliance on the traditional PC makers to push Windows 8 via the Surface tablet to the radically different Windows 8 UI — and it’s about time. I don’t know if Windows 8 or the Surface will succeed, but there’s no doubt that if Microsoft continued to merely tweak its traditional business model and products, it would gradually fade away.

Let’s hope Ballmer finds more rules to break.

Will Surface wake up the hardware makers? Which PC manufacturer has taken the most radical action in the last 10 years? Easy: IBM, which exited the business and sold it to Lenovo. what a sad statement that is.

Microsoft, Intel, and the hardware makers built an incredible machine over the decades, one that practically fulfilled the dream of Microsoft co-founder bill Gates to put a PC on every desk in the world. But to stay great, industries have to innovate and change. In the PC market, that has not been happening.

Consider the laptop on my desk, a Lenovo ThinkPad X220. It’s the best PC I’ve ever owned, but in many ways it’s no different than computers I used a decade ago. sure, it’s lighter, faster, smarter. But those are incremental changes.

Compare that pace of innovation to the cellphone market. It wasn’t too many years ago I was carrying around a soap-bar-size “feature phone” that made calls and told the time, but that was about it. now I use an iPhone, a pocket-friendly tool that gives me as much computing power as a 20-pound desktop PC did in the not-so-distant past.

What went wrong for PCs? the PC makers opted to leave innovation to Microsoft and Intel. It was a decision that helped make the Windows PC the dominant computing platform for years by ensuring Windows PCs were compatible and, thus, easy and safe to adopt. indeed, one of the first business trips I ever took as a tech writer was in the mid-1990s to Austin, Texas, then the headquarters of Dell. there, an exec explained to me why his company’s research budget was zero: Microsoft and Intel did all the actual platform development. Dell instead focused on manufacturing prowess and, later on, supply-chain efficiency.

That doesn’t work anymore. Selling the Surface as a Microsoft-branded hardware is more than an “f– you” to the PC makers. It’s a punch to the gut and a strong message that if they don’t start to innovate, Microsoft will find another way to do business.

Gigabyte will release 3 motherboards supporting Thunderbolt

July 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know


MSI just released their Z77 GD 80 with Thunderbolt, we have one on the lab actually. Gigabyte will release 3 new models of motherboard supporting Thunderbolt. for those who have been waiting, Thunderbolt will finally appear on PC desktops.

For those unfamiliar with Thunderbolt, it is a technology existing on Apple and it is by Intel. Although it didn

Apple’s Siri trounces Samsung’s S Voice (hands-on)

June 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

Samsung's S Voice assistant (L) takes on Apple's Siri (R).


Samsung’s answer to Siri has been getting a bad rap ever since the Galaxy S III (S3) landed in reviewers’ hands. CNET UK and CNET Asia both slammed the Siri-wannabe before the Galaxy S3 arrived in the U.S., but I had to try the dueling assistants for myself.

While Siri and S Voice can perform many of the same tricks, there are also some differences that I looked at on their own. I repeated 10 commands that span the breadth of their shared cpabilities, at the same time and in the same location. Since my test phones were on different data networks, I factored accuracy only, not the time it took to complete an action.

One thing I’ll point out isn’t something I could capture in screenshots — for every time S Voice misinterpreted, I repeated my command multiple times until either the I got the right syntax, the app interpreted me correctly (like if I spoke much slower), or S Voice continued to miscompute.

Although Siri performed better than S Voice overall, Apple’s assistant is hardly a dream. In fact, I’ve been officially and casually testing both programs side by side for an entire week, and both induce headaches. I love the concept of voice-recognition software — especially when I’m hands-free — but many times, I find that it’s simply faster and more accurate to just type in your query myself.

Of course, Siri in iOS 6 will also be able to do more, like open apps,pull more Web content, and talk to yourcar, but since that won’t comeuntil fall, these tests apply to the current version.

1. Place a callBoth assistants heard my command and launched the dialer.

2. Send a text

Both Siri (L) and S Voice (R) interpreted and texted my message.

(Credit:Jessica Dolcourt/CNET) Siri had no problem executing my whim. When I first asked S Voice to “text Jason Parker Hi,” it tried calling him. You’ll have to teach yourself to say “Text So-And-So message Hi” if you want to text with your voice. I also recommend keeping texts short and sweet. S Voice continually botched longer messages throughout my testing period.

3. Set an alarm

Siri (L) required less confirmation to set the alarm than S Voice (R).

(Credit:Jessica Dolcourt/CNET) S Voice and Siri both set my alarm for the following morning. however, Siri was more confident, setting the alarm and offering me an out to cancel. S Voice required time-wasting confirmation before saving the alarm.

4. get directions

Both assistants quickly opened to the maps and navigation apps, respectively.

(Credit:Jessica Dolcourt/CNET) S Voice opened driving navigation to get to Google (just not the office I wanted; this is not Samsung’s fault) while Siri opened driving directions to Apple’s Cupertino, Calif. headquarters.

5. Check the weather

Both assistants fetched the correct information.

(Credit:Jessica Dolcourt/CNET) both Siri and S Voice returned similar results for London’s weather, just not exact forecasts.

6. Play a tune

Siri began playing the song I bought over iTunes. S Voice didn't.

(Credit:Jessica Dolcourt/CNET) Siri was able to launch a Nicki Minaj song I downloaded from iTunes (it was Starships, if you must know), but S Voice struggled to launch the same song that I purchased from Google Play. It was also unable to launch Google Play. Since I only have downloaded Google tunes on the GS3, this feature didn’t work for me.

7. Set a calendar event

Siri got a lot closer with my request, since I wasn't trying to invite anyone to a meeting. they both nailed the separate dates.

(Credit:Jessica Dolcourt/CNET) the name of my salon is a bit unusual, so I can’t blame either assistant for tripping over it, but Siri alone captured the right appointment time and name of my stylist. S Voice branched off in the effort to include a contact from my address book, which took up my time and wasn’t what I wanted. the reason you see two separate appointment days was a personal inconsistency, not any fault of either voice assistant.

8. Search the Web

Siri got much closer to my actual request. S Voice just needs a hearing aid.

(Credit:Jessica Dolcourt/CNET) I searched on multiple topics on both Siri and S Voice. while both did fine with the basics, there were problems with more complicated requests, or even with requests it found simple enough to understand, but didn’t correctly execute. Siri was able to sound out something close to “kookaburra,” but S Voice tripped up and just set my search term to “cook.”

Um, no. That'd be Pixar's new movie, brave.

(Credit:Jessica Dolcourt/CNET)

Neither one understood my devotion to Pixar films. In S Voice’s case, the blunder illustrated my user error in incorrectly structuring my commands. however, the app’s rigidity once again got in the way and completely tried my patience.

9. ask: When was Abraham Lincoln born?

Expand S Voice's response (right) to see more. Wolphram Alpha sources both assistants.

(Credit:Jessica Dolcourt/CNET) both S Voice and Siri tap Wolphram Alpha for this type of information. S Voice returned the short answer, with a choice to expand for more. Siri expanded by default. I personally prefer S Voice’s bottom line with the option to dig deeper. “Date formats” and “time differences” don’t make any sense to me.

10. ask: How far is it from here to Siberia?

Siberia: nowhere on Earth or closer than you think?

(Credit:Jessica Dolcourt/CNET) Now, I know they both heard me, and in truth, I expected Wolphram Alpha’s database to take over. instead, S Voice (left) played dumb and Siri (right) gave me driving directions. however, there’ s really no need. Apparently, Siberia is within walking distance.

S Voice-only

Tweeting with S Voice breaks down with complexity. S Voice smoothly launched native apps.

(Credit:Jessica Dolcourt/CNET) S Voice is programmed to do a few things that Siri can’t, like turn on and off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and driving mode. These commands worked great. S Voice can also update social networks and launch some native apps. Simple tweets worked fine, like “Testing S Voice on the Galaxy S three.” however, the more complex you get, the harder it garbles. “Testing out the functionality of tweeting on the Galaxy S3″ became “Testing out the functionality of the athletes on the galaxy s three.”

On the plus side, S Voice swiftly opened the native apps I threw at it, like the calendar, YouTube, and the calculator. It still didn’t open Google Play.


Siri took simple e-mail voice dictation well.

(Credit:Jessica Dolcourt/CNET) one of my favorite Siri tricks is dictating e-mail. try it on S Voice if you’d like, but all you’ll get is an apology that S Voice is unable to send e-mail. Siri did well enough with this simple message, but I’d hesitate to compose something much longer, especially without automatic punctuation control (you can vocally punctuate, which is good, since you know, I’m a writer and stuff.)

Verdict: both have a long way to go, but S Voice has longerIt’s only a matter of time before voice-command software becomes more accurate all around. In the meantime, Siri offered a hands-down better experience, since it better interpreted my commands, and without as much repetition.

I noticed while I used it over the past week that S Voice struggles more than Siri to filter out sound, even when I’m attempting to enunciate (which just makes me feel like an idiot while in public: “GOO-gl-PLAY.”)

Even when I tested S Voice in a quiet area of the office, I noticed that the GS3 recorded the sounds of closing doors, conversation floating down the hall, the click of the screenshot, and in one instance, a more forceful breath.

With some fine-tuning and a broader command vocabulary, S Voice 2.0 will be able to close the gap with Siri. however, both programs need to work out enough kinks that I’ll probably wait a few generations more before relying on either one to operate my phone.

Updated, June 22:We added that you can vocally punctuate with Siri, as well as the fact that Siri in iOS 6 will bring some more capabilities.

Cheapest International Calls

June 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

HP is the Leader Now

The fastest growing and most profitable market in the world is the one of the mobile technologies. It defines the modern business and there are big players on it which can hardly be moved from their leading positions. However, the statistics are something that can be changed and this is exactly what we see in this case. in the beginning of the year Apple was the company that leaded the statistic for most sold computers but at this time the tablets were also considered computers. Today however, the statistic does not include tablets and Apple’s results fall from 12 million to 400 000.

Today the biggest manufacturer of computers is HP with over 15 million devices. The top 5 is closed by Apple, Dell, Lenovand Acer.

What Carmelo Anthony Will Do For The New York Knicks

May 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

Carmelo Anthony finally got what he wanted. instead of staying with the stagnant Denver Nuggets, he took his talents to MSG. the era where franchise players stay on the same team for their whole career is over. Ever since the Boston big 3 was formed in 2007, a few NBA teams have been stocking up on superstars; you no longer need 1, but 2 or 3 elite players to win a championship. whether this is good or not for the league is debatable.

So Melo’s wish was granted and now he will play alongside Amare Stoudemire in the big Apple to bring glory back to the Knicks franchise, which hasn’t had a winning record in 9 seasons. Anthony has played with a scoring superstar in the past, Allen Iverson, and it worked out pretty well. So why wouldn’t it work out now?

Mike D’Antoni’s offense is the complete opposite of Melo’s. the Knicks coach teaches run and gun, fast paced and high volume shot offense with less defense. Anthony tends to slow down the game, run lots of iso plays and take many shots which will affect Stoudemire’s number of touches. Even if the two can work out who gets how many shots, it will be hard to work the coaches offensive tactics. Plus point guard Chauncy Billups isn’t getting any younger, so pushing the ball may not be the best option.

Then there’s of course the lack of defense. Anthony isn’t a reputed defender, although he has improved this year. they have to play lock down D to beat teams like the Celtics or Heat.

Still, one can’t focus on the negative aspects of this trade. A team with 2 of the top 10 scorers in the league is bound to have some success. Melo will take some scoring pressure of of Stoudemire and draw double teams to free shooters like Billups or Fields.

Expect to see some changes this offseason to sign an elite point guard and a better supporting cast to try and bring the Knicks back to the finals.

Mac OS X Finder Keyboard Tips

May 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

One thing that’s cool about Mac OS X is that the more you use it, the more you find hidden nuggets of cool things you can do with it. for instance, you can handle many Mac Finder tasks directly from your keyboard, without having to use your mouse. in this Mac Finder tutorial I’ll demonstrate several of these keystrokes.

Creating a new folder

If you’re in a folder, and want to create a new sub-folder there, just type [Apple][Shift][n]. as you’ll see, this creates a new folder with the name Untitled Folder. the Mac also puts input focus on that folder, so you can easily rename it.

Move into a folder

If you have a folder that you’d like to open, you don’t have to reach over to the mouse and double-click it. just move to that folder in the Mac Finder using your up and down keys, and then type [Apple][o] when you are focused on the folder you want to open. as you’ll see, this takes you into that folder.

Move up a folder

Conversely, if you’re in one folder, and you want to move up one level in the directory hierarchy, you can just type [Apple][UpArrow]. I find this much, much easier than using the mouse.

Opening a file

If you’re looking at a file in the Finder and want to open that file, you can again use the [Apple][o] keystroke. for instance, imagine you’re looking at a PDF or image file in the Finder, and you want to open it in the Mac Preview application. normally you might double-click that file, but usually it’s easier to type [Apple][o] when you have that file selected, and this will do the exact same thing, just faster.

File or folder information

Finally, if you’re looking at a file or folder in the Mac Finder, and you want to see more information about that file, you can always type [Apple][i]. for instance, if you have an image file selected, and you want to see more information about that image, just type [Apple][i], and an Info panel will be displayed that shows a lot of information about your file.

Once you’ve seen everything you want to see on this panel, you can close it with your mouse, or you can use my final Mac Finder keystroke example: [Apple][w]. This keystroke closes the current window, and works in all native Mac applications, including the Mac Finder.

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