How to stream video to an iPad or iPhone using VLC Streamer

August 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

If your videos and music tracks are stored on a single computer, wouldn’t it be great to be able to stream them to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch without having to shell out for a full-blown media server? of course it would, and VLC Streamer is the app that will help you do this.

As its name implies, VLC Streamer is based on VLC Media Player, which means it’ll run most — if not all — video stored on your PC or Mac, without requiring conversion first. and if you’re prepared to put up with ads, you can even get all of this functionality completely free. Here’s how.

How to stream video to an iPad or iPhone using VLC Streamer: 1

First, open the App Store on your iOS device and search for ‘VLC Streamer’. Select VLC Streamer Free and install it in the usual way.

Now switch to your computer, browse to the VLC Streamer Helper download page and download the Windows, Mac or Linux version of VLC Streamer Helper. Double-click the setup file and follow the prompts to install the program. Once installed, Windows users should leave ‘Run VLC Streamer now’ ticked and click finish to configure the Helper. Mac users will need to manually launch it from the Applications folder.

How to stream video to an iPad or iPhone using VLC Streamer: 2

You can queue up video to stream from either your computer or your mobile. to do so using your computer, double-click VLC Streamer’s taskbar notification area icon (Windows), or click its menu bar icon and choose ‘Add movies’ (Mac). First, click the ‘Conversion quality’ drop-down menu and choose which resolution you’d like to stream the movie in. each setting, from ‘Low bandwidth’ to ‘Very high resolution’ comes with an explanation to help you choose the best one for your needs.

Once done, either click ‘Add movies’ to select the video to stream, or open a separate folder window and drag the movie you wish to watch onto the ‘Drag movies here’ pane (as pictured above).

How to stream video to an iPad or iPhone using VLC Streamer: 3

You’ll see the movie appear in the queued movie box, with its status marked as ‘processing’. while it’s possible to watch movies as they’re processing, I recommend waiting until it’s marked as ‘complete’ before continuing.

You can queue up as many movies as you like. while you wait, switch to the Settings tab and tick ‘Start automatically’ if you’d like VLC Streamer Helper to run at startup, so it’s always available when your computer’s switched on and connected. Now open VLC Streamer on your mobile, wait while your computer is detected and tap it under ‘Visible computers’ (pictured above left). your queued movie(s) should appear (pictured above right). Tap one to watch it.

How to stream video to an iPad or iPhone using VLC Streamer: 4

You don’t have to sit at your computer to queue up video to watch — you can also select content directly from your iOS device.

Just tap ‘Add a movie’, then browse your computer’s entire drive for videos to watch (pictured above left). Tap one to select it, then choose your conversion settings. you have the same four basic choices as found in VLC Streamer Helper, but switch to the Advanced tab and you can independently set the video width, video bit rate and audio bit rate from a series of choices (pictured above right). Select the Manual tab to input these figures manually. Tap Watch! to view the video — the save option only works with the paid version of the app.

How to stream video to an iPad or iPhone using VLC Streamer: 5

If you encounter issues with playback, check the VLC Streamer wiki for troubleshooting advice. Most problems can be resolved by tweaking the video’s conversion settings. Import the video again using different settings and if the problem persists, click ‘Advanced conversion settings’ in VLC Streamer Helper or tap Settings > Conversion Settings from the main menu in the iOS app to make further changes.

As school nears, kids crave latest gadgets

August 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

If you sell personal computers for a living, the next best thing to Christmas is back-to-school season. it means billions in sales for tech companies like Apple inc., Dell inc., and Microsoft Corp., as parents and their kids scoop up new computing hardware and software.

A good deal of that money will go to waste, as people spend needlessly on the next big, expensive thing. sure, that tablet computer looks cool. But is it what your kid really needs for schoolwork? and yes, a supersleek new laptop with an ultra-powerful chip will awe your favorite student’s friends, but that extra power won’t show up on a report card.

For homework, a laptop is the tool of choice. good machines running Microsoft Windows cost around $500 to $800, while an entry-level Mac from Apple goes for $1,000. Any such machine offers plenty of power for most students.

Tablet computers are a popular alternative. an April survey of 5,600 U.S. high school students by investment firm Piper Jaffray found that 34 percent already own a tablet computer, with 70 percent of those choosing the iPad.

That may be because so many kids are using iPads in classrooms already. Apple reported that it sold 1 million of them to educational institutions in the three months ended June 30.

In fact, iPads are superb teaching tools. They’re portable, they’ll run all day on one battery charge, and they can be stuffed with apps for every academic subject and age group. But students do a fair amount of writing. and while you can certainly find good external keyboards for tablet computers and decent word-processing apps like Apple’s Pages,the tablet is a second-rate device for serious typing.

Besides, a laptop’s hard drive can stash a lot more data, from homework assignments to a kid’s favorite music albums and movies. most laptops also give you an optical drive, handy for installing software or watching videos. and college students may need to run full-fledged software programs ranging from Microsoft Office to technical software like the mathematical programming language MATLAB.

That’s probably why college students overwhelmingly opt for laptops. A 2011 survey from the research firm Student Monitor found that of those who had bought some kind of computer in the previous six months, 89 percent had purchased a laptop, but just 6 percent had bought a tablet.

Choosing a laptop is fairly easy because today’s computers are so similar. even the traditional divide between machines that run Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system and Apple’s Mac computers doesn’t matter so much any more. Much of our work happens on the Internet, where the computer brand makes no difference. besides, today’s Macs can run Windows software, using a feature called Boot Camp.

Still, before buying anything, contact your school and find out about any special hardware requirements. Elementary and high-school parents should also inquire about the school’s bring-your-own-device policies. Are student laptops or tablets welcome on campus? A Boston school official told me the city lets principals decide on a case-by-case basis, so check with your school.

Once that’s settled, start looking for something with a comfy keyboard, a big hard drive and a bright screen that looks good at a variety of viewing angles. You may be tempted by the new Ultrabook laptops. They’re deliciously thin and light, making them much easier to lug across campus, but they generally cost $200 to $300 more than their thicker brethren. Suit yourself, but I’d rather keep the cash.

Most laptops, including Macs, use Intel Corp.’s Core processors. The entry-level Core i3 is fine for your average English major, but an engineering or graphic arts student might pick a beefier Core i5 or i7. The same goes for memory; the more demanding the tasks, the more you should buy. some more expensive laptops offer a special graphics processor chip; don’t bother unless there’s going to be lots of graphics work or video game play. some laptops run processors from Advanced Micro Devices inc.rather than Intel. Don’t worry; AMD chips work fine.

Look for sales and discounts. Apple is giving out $100 gift cards to buyers of new Mac laptops and $50 for iPads. Other majors, like Dell and HP, are running their own back-to-school specials online. if you’re strapped for cash, look into buying used or refurbished hardware.

Not so long ago, access to computers was a luxury for students; it’s a necessity now. But there’s no reason why it can’t be an affordable one.

Alleged iPad Mini Cases Hit The Web

August 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

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It’s interesting how over the past few weeks the rumor mill talks about iPad Mini almost as much as about the iPhone 5. Some alleged iPad Mini cases have leaked on the web, courtesy of an iDevice accessories maker.

Rumor has it that the Apple is readying a smaller, cheaper tablet, unofficially dubbed iPad Mini, sporting a 7.85-inch, that will be a rival for Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle fire.

While my inspiration tells me that there will be no iPad Mini after all, the whole web seems fascinated by the perspective of this product, especially be the idea of an Apple tablet that costs $250 or $300.

What you are seeing in the gallery below are a couple of iPad Mini cases, coming for Devicewear, a company Apple will probably never forget if the pictures are real. You can see for yourself the smaller dock connector on the bottom of the device an the way the speaker grills are designed, a reminiscent of iPhone 5, or what we call the iPhone 5 based on the recent leaks.

We’ve also spotted the volume buttons, the mic, a button that probably turns off screen rotation and a camera that doesn’t have LED flash. The lens of the camera mounted on the back of the alleged iPad Mini is pretty big, therefore it might use the same technology as iPhone 4S, even though the lack of LED flash will be a drawback.

Even so, these are only rumors, and without Apple’s confirmation we can’t be 100% sure that this is how the iPad Mini looks like, or that it even exists.

Wilmington Schools Open to iPad or Laptop Learning

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

Technology is ever changing. But just how much the technology inside Wilmington classrooms changes in the near future remains to be seen.

With high schools and colleges in the area turning to 1:1 programs that provide each student with an iPad, there are learning opportunities that go beyond textbooks. Burlington High School students received iPads last year and Regis College recently made the decision to turn into an all-iPad college.

Wilmington Superintendent of Schools Joanne Benton said the district is open to the 1:1 concept. Benton said that while iPads are strong pieces of equipment for receiving content, they do not allow students to create content and thus in a 1:1 program the district prefers laptops over iPads.

“The Wilmington Public Schools has considered and has in place a plan devised to get a device into the hands of every student in the district,” said Benton. “The iPad would be a great device as an e-reader or way for students to get their interactive content or their textbooks as digital media. I just would not suggest it as the primary or first device a student should have.”

Benton said the estimated base cost of $530 for an iPad, including a cover, does not provide the same processing power or functionality of even a low-end laptop that could be purchased for $300. a laptop could be used for spreadsheets, document processing, digital photography and more rather than just document reading, Benton said.

The district currently uses a limited number of iPads for assistive technology, speech and language therapies, classroom walkthroughs by principals and more.

Wilmington’s superintendent said there is a long list of reasons why the 1:1 program would make sense for the district.

“From a practical standpoint, 1:1 devices can make the life of a student much simpler,” said Benton. “Imagine not having to carry all of your books home every night. you wouldn’t need to if all of your books were on computer files loaded onto your device. there would be less paper to fill up your locker, since your virtual locker would be online. All of your homework could come in and out of an online storage locker and be handed in to the teacher electronically. The 1:1 device can make the leap to a paperless world much easier.”

But there are also drawbacks. if a student loses their device, their parents would be responsible for purchasing a new one, though Benton said it would be the same if a current student lost a backpack full of books.

Benton also said that cheating, copying of homework and respectful communication are also concerns, but each is a topic currently taught to students in the “digital and physical realms,” Benton said.

With the construction of a new high school will come a wireless infrastructure capable of handling a projected three devices per student. Benton said the infrastructure could handle each student at the school using a phone, tablet and laptop.

In preparation for a new school that Benton and other officials have said will bring Wilmington into “21st century learning,” current high school administrators have begun testing out new methods of teaching.

The district is constructing a 1:1 initiative wing of the current high school as a pilot group for 1:1 at the new school, Benton said. That way the school will devise methods of teaching and gain experience that will carry over when the school is finished in several years.

“A proposal has been written and will be brought before the School Committee (for a 1:1 program) on August 22,” said Benton. “The School Committee, the Director of Information Technology and I are still working out the details of a 1:1 initiative because it is such a grand undertaking. we will need to include students, teachers, administrative staff, and parents.”

Overall, Benton said it is critical for school administrators to be open to the change in technology, including the possibility of 1:1 initiatives.

“Technology itself is a tool and it is only really useful when it is applied to the subjects we teach,” said Benton. “I’ve heard people say that students “unplug” to go to school and then plug back in when they leave. for modern students, schools are behind in their ability to mirror modern life and times.”

The superintendent used an example to describe why the district must keep up with new technology.

“Imagine if you worked for a delivery company and drove a shiny new Ferrari to work every day,” said Benton. “When you arrive at work, your boss tells you to take a horse and carriage out of the stable and deliver packages around the city. Then at the end of the day, you get back in your Ferrari and drive home.”

Though the school is considering iPads or laptops, and not Ferraris, Benton said the story shows why it’s important for the district to keep up with the times.

“If this were the case, you would seriously start to wonder if your boss knew what he was doing,” said Benton. “So it is extremely important for schools to change and adapt to new technology.”

Windows 8, ultrabooks to get top billing at giant trade show

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

IDG News Service – Windows 8 and ultrabooks are expected to take center stage at the Computex trade show in Taipei next week, as industry giants Microsoft and Intel try to develop products that can compete better against Apple’s iPad.

Microsoft, Intel and local PC vendors such as Acer and Asus all are expected to show off tablets with the upcoming Windows 8 OS, as well as thinner and lighter ultrabooks running Intel’s latest processor, code-named Ivy Bridge, said Thomas Huang, the manager in charge of organizing Computex.

The Windows 8 products should be especially interesting to watch. This will be the first release of Windows developed for both x86 and ARM-based processors. ARM chips are used in most of the world’s smartphones and tablets and could help Microsoft compete better against Google’s Android software and Apple’s iOS, which dominate those categories.

Ultrabooks, meanwhile, are a type of thin and light laptop backed by Intel and introduced at Computex last year. They’re seen as the PC industry’s response to the iPad, which is eating into sales of more traditional personal computers.

Both Windows 8 and ultrabooks incorporate design elements intended to make them more mobile. Windows 8 has been optimized for touch and includes a new “Metro” interface that looks more like the current Windows Phone software than a traditional Microsoft desktop OS.

Computex officially opens its doors next Tuesday, but many of the big components and systems vendors are holding press conferences the day before the show. As well as being a launch pad for PCs and tablets it’s also a place to see the latest in digital TVs, displays, gaming systems, in-car computers and many other types of electronics.

Consumer cloud services like Apple’s iCloud may also be a theme this year. Acer announced an online storage service at last year’s Computex, and other vendors seem likely to follow suit.

But all eyes will be on Microsoft to see how the version of Windows for ARM devices, known as Windows RT, is progressing. a few ARM-based Windows tablets were shown at the Consumer Electronics show earlier this year, but for the most part they were behind glass.

Windows 8 faces an uphill battle in tablets, according to Bryan Ma, an analyst with research firm IDC.

Microsoft may enjoy some pull-through from business people who want a tablet that runs Windows, he said. but Windows 8 tablets are expected to be priced higher than the competition. “We estimate that Windows 8 tablets will be around US$600,” Ma said. In comparison, Apple’s newest iPad starts at $499, while Amazon’s Kindle fire Android tablet goes for $199.

Quickly measure rooms, create floor plans with MagicPlan

May 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

If you need to know the dimensions of a room in your house, there’s no need to retrieve your tape measure. more than likely, your iPhone or iPad is closer by. Install the free universal app MagicPlan and you’ll soon have your desired measurements. and if you are an armchair architect, property manager, or are planning some variety of project that requires a floor plan, MagicPlan can do that, too. Here’s how it works:

When you first launch the app, it shows you a brief video tutorial that covers the basics for capturing the dimensions of a room. Basically, you stand in the middle of a room and snap a picture of each of the corners. As you snap each shot, the app drops an orange cone in the corner. Once you take a second picture of the corner you started with, MagicPlan creates a plan for the room.

(Credit:Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET)

To get started, tap the New Plan button from MagicPlan’s home screen and choose Residential or Commercial. Next, tap New Floor to select your floor level, choose a room (Kitchen, Bedroom, Garage, etc.), and the app will go into camera mode. Standing in the middle of the room and holding youriPhone in landscape mode, align the green pointer in a corner and tap the button on the left (to denote the edge of a door) or on the right (to denote a corner).

(Credit:Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET)

After you have completed a room, tap the Assemble button to see the plan for the floor. Here, you can drag and rotate each of your rooms to fit them together just so. You can also double tap on a room to edit its dimensions or add a door or windows. and if you are creating a highly detailed plan, you can add items from major appliances and oil tanks to couches, beds, and the kitchen sink. You can also snap a photo with the app for each of your rooms.

(Credit:Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET)

The app frequently encourages you to calibrate it by using it to measure a wall whose width you know. In my tests, I found the app to be accurate without calibration.

After I mapped out two or three rooms, the app forced me to sign up for a free MagicPlan account. The process is quick and painless, requiring only an e-mail address and password. with an account, you can export your plans. The share button in the lower-left corner lets you share on Facebook and Twitter, as well as via, where you can create a plan in 3D. The latter allows you one free project before charging you $14.95 per year. The app warns you against taking screenshots on your iPhone of your plans, but I did so to illustrate this post.

Tap the blue Get Files button that looks like a banner ad at the bottom of the screen to e-mail yourself a PDF and a JPEG of your plan. The attachments will be heavily watermarked. to lose the watermarks or receive a DXF file to import into your CAD software, you’ll need to pay $2.49 (volume plans and monthly subscriptions are also available).

(Via AddictiveTips)

Skinny, Pricey PCs Timed for Windows 8: Rich Jaroslovsky

May 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

No question about it: PCs are gettingprettier.

The beige boxes and generic laptops of a few years ago aregiving way to new generations of sleek machines runningMicrosoft (MSFT) (MSFT)’s Windows 7 — and ready for Windows 8 later thisyear.

For evidence, take a look at Sony’s Vaio Z, a 13-inchnotebook potent enough to replace a desktop, and Samsung (005930)’slatest Series 9, the thinnest 15-incher you can buy. yes,they’re expensive, but they’re also beautiful.

A lot of the credit goes to Apple. The entire laptopcategory has been in a state of upheaval since the iPad’s launchtwo years ago. Meanwhile, the MacBook Air raised the bar ondesign and spawned a new class of Windows PC competitors, calledUltrabooks, featuring Intel microprocessors, speedy solid-statestorage and much faster boot-up and shut-down times than hard-drive-based computers.

Windows 8 may accelerate the trend. It’s being designed torun on touch-based tablets as well as PCs. Microsoft and itspartners say they hope to spawn new kinds of hybrid devices thatcombine the best of both. Maybe so. Still, it’s comforting toknow that the new operating system is promised to work on anyhardware running Windows 7.

Apple (AAPL) (AAPL)’s success has also shown that buyers are willing topay premium prices for features and style. and “premium”doesn’t even begin to describe the Vaio Z and Series 9. A betterword would be “breathtaking.”

The Vaio Z is one of the most adaptable ultraportables outthere, allowing you to add layers of functionality depending onyour needs of the moment. Closed, the Vaio Z is just .66 incheshigh, measures 13 inches by 8.27 inches and weighs a mere 2.57pounds. The tapered case further shrinks its footprint, makingit convenient to use in tight spaces, such as an airplane tray.

Compared to other laptops, less of the Vaio’s weight is inthe screen, giving it a springy feel when closed that makes itfeel less solid than it probably really is. (Sony (6758) says the extragive is deliberate, to help cushion the computer from the rigorsof travel.) when the screen is opened, its hinges prop up theunit’s rear, ever-so-slightly angling the backlit keyboard.That’s a good thing, because the low-lying keys had too littletravel for my liking. Tilting the keyboard helped.

The real power in the Vaio Z comes from its expandability.The unit comes with a compact external docking station fordesktop use that provides easy access to its high-definitionvideo and USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, with options for a DVD burneror Blu-ray drive. and a $150 screw-on sheet battery, augmentingthe Vaio’s minimalist four-hour life, provides enough juice toget through more than a full day’s untethered work while stillkeeping it less than an inch thick.

Here’s where the bad part of “breathtaking” comes in: Theprice may leave you gasping. Sony is currently selling the base-model Vaio Z — with an Intel (INTC) (INTC) Core i5 chip, four gigagbytes ofinstalled memory and a 128-gigabyte solid-state drive — for$1,700. That’s rich enough, but outfit it with an i7 processor,a more usable six gigabytes of memory and 256 gigabytes ofstorage, Blu-ray and the extended battery, and you’re suddenlyat $3,000.

A top-line model, with more memory and SSD storage, is astaggering $4,500. I’d like to meet the person willing to spendthat much on a PC.

The Series 9 weighs about 3 1/2 pounds and measures 14inches wide by 9.3 inches deep. But the number that jumps out isits thickness: .58 of an inch. how thin is that? really, reallythin. Crazy thin. Thinner than the already-impossibly-thinMacBook Air.

It’s so thin, in fact, that it can’t accommodate Ethernetor standard high-definition video cables, though it does havespace enough for, among other things, three USB ports and a slotfor an SD expansion card.

One of my complaints about last year’s 13-inch Series 9 wasthe poor, 4-hour battery life. The new model allows for a largerbattery that should give you six to seven hours, depending onwhat you’re doing. and the charcoal-gray aluminum alloy bodyfeels more solid than the Sony’s.

When I looked at the previous model of the Series 9 lastsummer, I described it as “gorgeous and capable.” Thedescription applies equally to this new, bigger version.

(Rich Jaroslovsky is a Bloomberg News columnist. Theopinions expressed are his own.)

Today’s Muse highlights include James S. Russell onarchitecture and the latest art auctions news.

To contact the reporter on this story:Rich Jaroslovsky in San Francisco at .

To contact the editor responsible for this story:Manuela Hoelterhoff at .

ASUS Transformer Prime more than meets the eye – but still no iPad

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

By ANDY IHNATKO March 23, 2012 2:06PM

Story Image

1) the Transformer Prime is probably the nicest Android tablet on the market. And when you lock it into its keyboard dock it becomes something special: a rock-solid metal-clad subnotebook with 18 hours of battery life.

storyidforme: 27849779 tmspicid: 10061504 fileheaderid: 4632597

Updated: March 23, 2012 2:20PM

I often make snarky and unkind comments about Android tablets. I know. It’s cheap humor.

I can only offer two explanations. first, I am an imperfect vessel for the perfection of the universe. secondly: come on. Android tablets kind of deserve it, don’t they? No Android tablet can offer a satisfactory answer to the question “Why would anybody want to buy one of these instead of an iPad?” If you buy a full-sized Android tablet you’re shunning the only comprehensive library of slate-optimized apps and the safest, most stable mobile OS in the world. You’re also buying second-generation hardware for the exact same price as a third-generation iPad.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I can go ahead and say that I’m very pleased with the ASUS Transformer Prime. It’s a fine concept. the Prime a 10-inch HD tablet that runs the latest version of Android. Its build quality is right up there and its basic features are in line with the new iPad’s.

(Apart from the display, of course. the Prime sports a 1280×800 screen. it looks great in every operational condition except for bright direct sunlight or close proximity to the new iPad’s 2048-by-1536 Retina screen.)

You also get onboard HDMI-out and a micro SD slot for expanding the device’s onboard storage.

The Prime actually costs $100 less than an iPad: it’s available in 32 and 64 gig flavors for $499 and $599, respectively. Still, $100 doesn’t seem like a lot of extra money to spend for the iPad’s kick-butt display and access to that app library.

So why am I pleased with the Prime, and why do I think it’s potentially a good choice for a specific kind of user?

The $149 mobile docking station that ASUS developed alongside it. the Prime locks firmly into a hinge and the combo opens, closes, operates, and totes exactly like a premium subnotebook computer.

The docking station adds many features to the mix. There’s a keyboard and a multitouch trackpad. They’re decent mobile input devices. I wish they were exceptional ones. the chiclet-style keys can’t provide the comfy positive snap of scissor switches, though I can type on this at a respectable speed. the trackpad buttons are mounted at the edge of the dock, where they’re a bit awkward to use.

You also get a standard USB 2.0 port (compatible with input and storage devices), an SD card slot, and an enormous battery that extends the life of the docked system to a whopping 18 hours.

Its best feature, though, is how well the duo works as an integrated unit. When you lock it into the mobile docking station, it’s not some sort of gimmicky hybrid. You can’t say that about any of the iPad keyboard cases I wrote about last week. each one of them is an iPad easel with some sort of Bluetooth keyboard in it; the end-result is functional, but clunky.

Nope. the keyboard docking station actually transforms the Transformer. it looks, feels, and travels like a rock-solid subnotebook.

It handles like a notebook, as well. This was my first experience using Android with a trackpad and the experience actually elevated my opinion of Android 4.0. the OS actually makes more sense as a notebook OS, where you’re pushing an onscreen pointer around with a trackpad and using keyboard shortcuts.

I also like the fact that I don’t need to travel with a little sackful of accessory dongles for the Prime, as I do with the iPad. Everything I need is built in. I could head out to the airport for an overnight trip with the Transformer in my bag and nothing else. thanks to that huge 18-hour battery, I wouldn’t even necessarily need to pack a charger.

Even if we compare the Transformer Prime plus its docking station with an iPad plus a keyboard case, though, the iPad still wins. I could list three or four reasons but the first one is “that library of tablet-optimized apps.” a sensible person feels no need to see the rest.

But to my eye, the Prime does represent a threat to Windows ultrabooks. the $749 combination of the 64 gig Transformer Prime plus docking station makes me wonder if the makers of , 11-inch ultrabooks are barking up the wrong tree.

No desktop operating system excels when it’s crammed down into a tiny screen. even MacOS seems like a tight fit on the 11-inch MacBook Air. an 11-inch ultrabook is meant to serve a specific kind of user: someone who values portability and long battery life so highly that they’re willing to sacrifice to get them. Further, a small computer is likely to be used as a supplemental computer that only needs to work well for a short list of specific tasks.

Doesn’t it seem wise for such a user to choose a machine that’s been optimized for mobility? This smells like an opportunity for a $750 (meaning: affordable) subcompact that runs an alternative to the big two operating systems.

The Transformer Prime plus its keyboard dock will last twice or even three times as long on battery as any of its direct competitors. It’s also much smaller and lighter. it won’t run Windows, but the Android Marketplace, limited though it may be, is still likely to have all of the apps that this kind of user needs.

If you must have access to Windows, it’s not like you’re out of options, either. a VNC client will let you run Mac and Windows apps by connecting to the desktops at your office. then there’s the OnLive service, which lets you run the desktop edition of Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer via virtual machines hosted OnLive’s servers. the Onlive Desktop service might not be around this time next year (Microsoft is making icy statements about the terms of OnLive’s license to use Windows and Office). But the point stands that a machine like the Transformer doesn’t need to run a desktop OS to have access to desktop apps. it works even better than VNC, and it doesn’t require you to keep one of your own computers up and running 24/7.

And let’s not overlook the obvious: you can slide a switch, give the screen a firm tug, and have a slate in your hands. You can read books and watch movies on an ultrabook, but it’s not the same experience. Particularly when you’re jammed in a middle seat in Economy Class.

I’m not sure that the Transformer Prime is strong enough to divert anybody from their plans to buy an iPad or even an ultrabook. That’s a shame because ASUS took a solid idea and they executed it extremely well. overall, it clearly illustrates Google’s fatal short-sighted failure in building Android: where the hell are the apps? the world-class apps that every mobile user needs if they’re ever going to justify spending $499 for a tablet?

If there were just six specific iPad-grade apps in the Android Marketplace, the Transformer Prime would be damned tempting. As-is, a consumer would need to examine his or her needs extremely carefully before picking any Android tablet over any iOS or Windows device.

Should Tech Teachers be in the Classroom or the Lab–Follow Up « Jacqui Murray

March 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

A couple of months ago, I posted an article called Should Tech Teachers be in the Classroom or the Lab? I got the question from a reader and wanted to see what the tech ed community

thought about what has become a hot topic among technology teacher, coordinators and integration specialists. I summarized the common thoughts on the subject and received quite a few thoughtful responses from readers.

I also cross-posted the article to LinkedIn and wanted to share those responses with my blog readers. You’ll find them an important contribution to your knowledge on this subject, with lots of anecdotal stories and varied viewpoints. enjoy!

Gail Flanagan • Using technology as a tool in all parts of the school day integrating it into the students and teachers day. We implemented 1:1 iPad for a 6th grade team and mini pilot of iPad carts for the rest of the school. Digital natives use the iPad intuitively for collaboration, organization, creativity, productivity and communication. Keyboarding, word processing, spreadsheets and multimedia presentation tools are still used with laptops and desktop computers. Lucky to be a teacher of Middle School ~ Allied Arts computer class. We reassess the standards to adapt to essential questions of what to know using technology in everyday lives and 21st century skills,

Dale McManis • Around classroom technology integration and professional development for teachers I really like the work of Dr. Karen Swan-Research Professor, Research Center for Educational Technology / College & Graduate School of Education, Health and Human Services, Kent State University.

Duane Sharrock • I like the idea of preparing the teacher with an overview of tech teacher’s goals and giving the classroom teacher input on how technology would serve the present unit of learning or teacher’s lesson. You will be able to target appropriate tech that way, making choices between concept reinforcement or tech skills learning for purposes of presentation, reporting, research, etc. in the K-3 grades, teachers can be a big help in this way as well. I think integrating the teacher into the tech instruction is an important goal. Work it out ahead of time so the teacher will know how to support you and their students, so you can avoid being the substitute (if you are pushing into the teacher’s class).

Bret Sorensen • As I see the trend, technology integration where the students are using technology as a tool to learn the content of whatever class they are in is the ideal. For many students, they can get the exposure to correctly using technology when it is embedded into the curriculum.

However, there are some students who may need to know the more advanced features of software, or how to use specialized software where it may be necessary to have a class that teaches specialized or advanced computer skills. but, these types of classes will probably diminish as technology becomes more integrated into the curriculum.

Michelle Warden • For primary, check out the software, Kidspiration. it can be used with students even in kindergarten. in their words: “the visual way to explore and understand words, numbers and concepts” it is installed on our computer lab computers. to the question: classroom or lab? I agree with those who say both is the ideal or at least a true collaboration with the classroom teachers on projects to be completed in the lab.

Teri Gallegos-Reynolds • Great discussion and lots of useful ideas. our private school in Santa Fe, NM is considering more integration, and less focus on teaching skills in isolation. I think Bonnie’s school is definitely a model to emulate. Alan November is always the progressive thinker, and his expertise should always be given thoughtful consideration.

Safirah Ibenana • if I had to choose one it would be integration. Teachers need professional development and administrators can’t provide it. Teachers and podcasts can assist with computer skills.

Carol Birnbaum • I think it depends on the level of computing skills being taught. At the middle and high school level, there are classes such as programming and web design that I think should be taught in a lab, as a standalone class. Everyday skills such as word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations should be integrated into the regular curriculum by the middle school level.

Jeff Ward • our district continues to have computer teachers who teach keyboarding and other computer skills in a lab setting. Classroom teachers often look to the computer teachers for help when their computer does not work or a technology question arises. the difficult part of this scenario is that the computer teachers are booked all day long for the most part and have little time to assist or help with classroom integration.

Carol Olson • Dale, you wrote that younger students are using the computer with headphones on and no connections to what they are learning. I have worked with kindergarten for 25 years and PreK for one year, their time in the lab has always been related to what they are learning in their classroom. There isn’t any reason why it shouldn’t be, We use Kid Pix, websites, web 2.0 tools,and cameras to take pictures. As tech coordinator I find this to be a great way for the children to help their classroom teacher to integrate more technology in their lessons when appropriate.

Lynn Ochs • As tech teachers are asked to move into the role of instructional coach, I thought this resource might be helpful.

Tom D’Amico • in our Board we are transitioning away from labs in elementary schools and moving towards smaller number of mobile devices to support differentiated instruction directly in the classrooms. in high school we are keeping one lab for higher-end tech applications and one business lab for application instruction. We are hoping to transition away from the older “cross-curricular” labs and instead moving towards mobile devices in classes and BYOD in all high school classes to supplement Board supplied devices. So the answer to the original question is yes keep a minimum of one dedicated high-end lab for H.S. but remove cross-curricular labs in favour of mobile devices directly in classes.

Mary Beth Gay • When this job was created five years ago, the focus was on integration. it took two years to get there but when I was hired three years ago, it was clear that my primary focus was to be on integration. it has evolved even further in that direction with the expansion of staff that addresses infrastructure, tech support, etc. We currently still have some instruction in our computer lab but even there the work is project based. Students learn to use applications within the context of the project. my day is spent working with faculty both in the lab setting and in the classroom setting. I facilitate, and the teacher leads. the amount of time depends on the grade level and technology used. We are currently trying to determine how much life is left in our computer lab but we will continue to use it in the near future as we evolve.

Penelope Lee • I am a part-time Instructional Tech Specialist in a middle school setting. We have multiple carts, but no lab. I do feel like the students are missing out on some basic computer knowledge, such as vocabulary and typing. I think a job that was 1/2 time lab with students and 1/2 time training with the teachers would be ideal.

Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-sixth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. she is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. she is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. she is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. she is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for, an ISTE article reviewer, an IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, ask a Tech Teacher.  Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for Kindergarten-Fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. she is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. she is webmaster for five blogs, a columnist for, an Amazon Vine Voice, Scribd Voice of the Week, and a weekly contributor to Write anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a tech-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office, WordDreams, or her tech lab, ask a Tech Teacher. Be sure to Follow her on Twitter or join her author communities on Goodreads and Scribd.


Google tracks Safari users

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

Internet-based software giant Google traced millions of Safari users without permission.

while everyone who set their privacy settings thought they were safe from intrusion, this was not the case with iPhone, iPad or Apple desktop users using the Internet browser Safari.

Safari is the supplied browser for all Apple computers and devices. Advertising firms in addition to Google have discovered a loophole in the system in which they have been exploiting personal information from users, The Wall Street Journal reports. The information being attained from these practices are user location and preferences from the electronic device.

according to the WSJ, “[Google and others] used special computer code that tricks Apple’s Safari Web-browsing software into letting them monitor many users. Safari, the most widely-used browser on mobile devices, is designed to block such tracking by default”.

Blogger Jennifer Valentino-Devries, in a separate occurrence, said “By default, Apple’s Safari browser accepts cookies only from sites that a user visits; these cookies can help the site retain logins or other information. Safari generally blocks cookies that come from elsewhere – such as advertising networks or other trackers.

but there are exceptions to this rule, including that if you interact with an advertisement or form in certain ways, it’s allowed to set a cookie even if you aren’t technically visiting the site.

Google’s code, which was placed on certain ads that used the company’s DoubleClick ad technology, was uncovered by Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer.

The news of a security flaw in the standard applications on Apple computers comes on the eve of Apple coming down hard on third party suppliers in their app store. these suppliers of applications were accumulating user data.

Competing software giant Ryan Gavin, Microsoft’s General Manager, and head of Internet Explorer Business and Marketing took a jab at Google saying

“This type of tracking by Google is not new.” The novelty here is that Google apparently circumvented the privacy protections built into Apple’s Safari browser in a deliberate, and ultimately, successful fashion.

If this type of behavior is alarming, then protective measures must be taken to protect confidential information and privacy while online. there are alternatives for such as Windows Internet Explorer is another browsing option that respects privacy. it all depends on the user choice.

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