Archive for November 2011

In the Cloud, TecWhat’s 4 Favorite Online Storage Services

So you’ve got data and files scattered across your computer at work, your laptop at home, your tablet, and your smartphone.  You decide it’s time to upload everything to the cloud and get it all in one place yet accessible from all your devices.  Your first question is where to start? There are so many cloud services out there it’s hard to figure out which one will work for you and which one will give you the most.

Here at TecWhat, we have several favorites that allow us to upload, download, share, exchange, and sync files. When choosing a cloud service, we look for integration to all our devices and operating systems, how much storage is free, and which offers the best and easiest desktop solution and smartphone app.  Additionally, other considerations are complete accessibility from anywhere, the ability to share our files with others, and ease of use.

4shared– 10GB Free with the ability to go to 15GB with email verification. For the storage allotment, this is the best we’ve found.  A free 15GB is hard to come by.  In addition to the desktop app which allows you to upload and download files in batch, you can configure various folder locations to access from Windows Explorer, where you can add files that are synced immediately.  This integration with Windows Explorer makes things simple without the need to open the desktop app.

The web app looks a little clunky, but is easy to use because of this. You can upload and download, in batch if needed, from the web app so you don’t need the desktop app installed on every computer you use.

The iPhone app is simple and easy to navigate. Files and photos can be uploaded but only one at a time. On the iPhone, 4share offers a secondary app called 4photo that allows you to manage your photos.

üWindows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Symbian

CX– 10GB Free with up to 16GB with friend referral. I have just recently started using CX and have found it to be quite user friendly. When installing the desktop version, it places a folder, CX Sync, on your desktop by default and you add files or folders to it as you would any other folder in Windows Explorer.  Sync is automatic.

The CX website seems more Web2.0, including a dashboard to gloss over all your latest activity and a social profile to paste your picture and your top social media sites.

The iPhone app is easy to navigate and allows for tagging and favorites.  Unfortunately, you can only upload one file or photo at a time.

üWindows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, and coming soon for Android

Dropbox – 2GB Free with the ability to go to 8GB with friend referral. Dropbox is one of my favorites; it integrates seamlessly into my everyday life on my Windows PCs and my iPhone. I have a single Dropbox folder that I can fill with countless folders and files, at least until I’ve reached my storage capacity.  Like CX, it’s just like working with files and folders in Windows Explorer.  It’s this kind of ease that make is so wonderful and popular.

On the web, Dropbox is simplistic yet elegant.  The clean look of it makes it easy to use and share your files.

What sets Dropbox apart from the others it that it readily integrates with other iPhone apps allowing you to add files from those apps directly to your Dropbox account.  Additionally, you can upload multiple photos in one batch.

üWindows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry.

Windows Live Mesh & SkyDrive – 5GB of synced storage on the 25GB SkyDrive. Even though these are actually two products, I only count it as one because they work together.  Now, I miss the original Windows Live Mesh beta, which gave you an astounding 50GB free (If I remember correctly,) and would sync between any Windows PC and the Mesh cloud. Windows Live Mesh 2011 will sync any folder or set of folders of your choice, on your computer up to 5GB and store it on your SkyDrive. I like this because it offers a good backup of my files and I can easily edit my Microsoft Office files online.  Unfortunately, this is primarily a service for computers, not smartphones or tablets.

üWindows, Mac

Honorable mention,

GoAruna – 2GB Free with ability to earn bonus storage via friend referral. The only reason GoAruna did not make it into our top 4 is because it has desktop app that reminds us of the File Explorer from Windows 3.11. It doesn’t have the same integrations into Windows Explorer that the above services have. It does offer integrations with more devices though.

üWindows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Symbian, Palm, WindowsPhone, Nokia

üMaximum file size: 100MB

Thanksgiving 2011

As it is the Thanksgiving holiday, I’m stepping away from the tech side of things to write on a more personal note.

Each year on this day, the fourth Thursday of each November, I spend the day with family and friends.  We give thanks for the things we have, big or small, we are thankful for our cherished friends, and grateful for our loving family. For me, this year is quite different as there is someone missing from our table. As much as I’d like to pretend that this person is not truly absent, I can’t ignore that fact that there is a laughter missing, a smiling face that is not lighting up the room.  It’s a sad fact of life that loved ones come in and out of your life. Sometimes if you are lucky, they are around for a very long time, and sometimes they are only here long enough to brighten your day.

On this day take the time, as you should everyday too tell those friends and family how important they are to you, tell them how much they brighten your life and that you love them and are happy they have entered your life. Don’t let the moment pass you by, don’t let time slip through your fingers, tell them now while you can. Tomorrow they may not be here.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Posted November 24, 2011 by Scott in Uncategorized

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The Future of Technology

Because this week has suddenly become crazy with holiday tasks, I’ve decided to show you some videos of what technologies we may see in the near future.  Corning, an innovator in glass technology will change the way we see and use our technologies in our homes, cars, and everyday life.

This Living Tomorrow video shows the house of the future in Brussels. A little pricey right now, but another ten years and new homes will have most of this technology.

What new technology would you like to see in your everyday life?  Leave us a comment and let us know.

Posted November 22, 2011 by Scott in Technology - General

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Earth Alerts 2011

Earth Alerts 2011, the free software that gives you an overall view of the weather events in the world around you.

Several years ago, I was sitting at my desk in the IT department working on some computer issue that I can’t remember anything about when the building began to shake. That I remember.  I turned to my boss and he turned to me.  We stared at each other, coming to the same conclusion.  A large truck must have just hit the building.  We ran to the windows, but saw nothing, no truck, no damage.  Then it occurred to us, earthquake.  After all, we do live in Southern California.

In the next few hours, as the local news stations declare a 4.5+ shaker just south of the California-Mexican border, I am searching the Internet for a software package that can give us info on earthquakes.  What I found was much better.

Earth Alerts; an easy to use, free Windows based software application that gives you information on the weather conditions  and natural hazards around the world or in your neck of the woods, in almost real-time.  In fact, I have received emails from my copy of the Earth Alerts just minutes after I felt the quake. This is not to mention all the other information I get from the software.

How it works, at least basically.  Once installed and running on your computer or server, Earth Alerts checks with various websites and other online resources, collecting information and data on weather conditions and natural events, including  Severe Weather, Tropical Cyclones, Tsunamis, Volcanoes, Wildland Fires, and of course Earthquakes.  After setting up your locations, on the main screen you will have three location overviews, Global, United States, and your local area.  You will also be able to add more locations, both locally and globally.  After your first update, you will start seeing events for each of the overviews. Besides your local weather, other natural hazard events will be available for viewing.

What is really cool is the ability to configure Earth Alerts to send emails and MMS messages, including maps of the locations affected by the event.  You can set the desktop application to message you at different event levels, say you only want to receive emails when earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or larger occur, or Tropical Cyclones of Category 3 or above.  You can have these messages sent to your smart phone and get your updates on the road.

For the messaging feature, you will need to have an SMTP Outgoing Mail Server and a sending email address as a username, though it is not necessary for the desktop application to continue functioning and gather the event data, only for sending messages.  I created an email specifically for this using one of the several my Internet provider allots me and use their SMTP server settings to configure the messaging feature, you can also use a Gmail address and Google’s SMTP ability.   Additionally, I have Earth Alerts installed on my server, which runs 24/7, so I never have any down time and never miss an alert.  Also, I have created a Windows Live Groups email so that anyone in the group can receive the alerts, as you can only configure the software to send to one email address.  Google also has the ability to create groups as well. The only drawback that I’ve found is the software does not work behind a proxy and needs to have direct access to the Internet.

Unfortunately, this software does not give you advanced warning to earthquakes, only Mother Nature has that information, but it does give you advanced watches, warnings, and advisories with other natural hazard events, allowing you to monitor the situation of storms, tornados, and tsunamis which makes it a very useful tool in your toolbox.

Earth Alerts is Freeware, however, I urge you to donate to the creator if you find it as wonderful a program and asset as I do.  Download your copy and find the system requirements at the link below.

Also, check out the Google Maps version of Earth Alerts.  It’s very cool.

Posted November 18, 2011 by Scott in Software

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iPhone 4 vs. 4S

iPhone 4S

Okay, so the hype is over! Kind of. The iPhone 4S has been released and all your friends have one but you’re still stuck in a contract with your mobile carrier and it’s going to be awhile before you get that upgrade for your old iPhone 4.  The question is: Do you upgrade or stick it out until the iPhone 5? Well here are some things to consider.

The iPhone 4 is only a little over a year old. According to Apple the iPhone 4 was released on June 24th 2010 here in the US, the UK and elsewhere. I actually got mine about five weeks later and two weeks after I ordered it.  While you may feel the need to jump to the next model, the iPhone 4 technology is not so old. I find that my own iPhone 4 is more than capable and sufficient for what I use it for. Granted the 5 mega-pixel camera is a little lame, but beyond that, I am happy with it. It’s still useful to me.

So what’s new in the iPhone 4S? Well, notably the dual-core A5 chip, which definitely speeds things up a bit. The iPhone 4 only has the A4 chip, which is not dual-core, but is still speedy enough for most people.  What the A5 chip will do is give the 4S the ability to run faster graphics, up to seven times faster, which means faster games. Also launching apps, surfing the web, and basically anything else you might be doing will be quicker.  Though, if you are my age, then you know any 14 year old is going to smoke you in a texting contest.

Siri, the on-again-off-again assistant is amazing, even with the troubles she’s had recently with server issues. That aside, I’ve seen her in action, “Find the closest park” or “Call Sam” or “Text Heather.” She answers and does almost everything you tell her. She appears to be the info genius she is purported to be.  On my iPhone 4, I use Vlingo which does similar tasks without the sexy female voice talking back to you. If you can live with the silence, then you’re good to go. It’s also available for other mobile devices. Unfortunately, rumor has it that Apple will not be making Siri available for older iPhone models as the A5 chip is needed to run it.

Apple has completely redone the camera for the iPhone 4S. An 8 mega-pixel camera with newer, more advanced optics, including a lens with a larger  f/2.4 aperture. No, it’s not for the professional photographer, but for your family get-to-gathers it’s a step in the right direction. The 4S even comes with a few editing features such as cropping, image rotation, red-eye removal, and image enhancement. In addition to the camera features, you can record video in 1080p HD, yes High Def! Edit and send your Spielberg-like creation on the fly.

Of course, the iPhone 4S comes with iOS5; however you can upgrade your 4. I love the 200+ features added to iOS5. The pull-down Notification Center is something I’ve been wanting since I bought the phone, and I can see it on my locked screen. Other new features in iOS5 are iMessage, Reminders, and my favorite Twitter as part of the OS. Apple’s online storage, iCloud, which gives you 5GB of storage for free, is also available with iOS5 so you can manage and store all your files in the cloud.

This is just a small sampling of what you get with the iPhone 4S. So do you upgrade or do you wait for the iPhone 5? Well, this is Apple, even without Steve, I think it’s safe to say that they will introduce some amazing new features when the 5 is released.  If we are lucky, the iPhone 5 will be released in 2012. But really can I wait that long. I’m trying but it’s getting harder and harder. I’m up for an upgrade next month.

I’ll let you know.

Posted November 17, 2011 by Scott in Mobile Devices

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So here it is, our first post!

If you are reading this you are one of the first to find TecWhat?  We are here for you, to give you reviews of products, answer technical questions, and have fun. We are nerdy geeks who love technology and everything it does. Feel free to join in the conversation, leave a few comments, correct us when we’re wrong, and enjoy the tech with us.

If you are interested in a no-pay gig, writing for us, feel free to submit a technology related article, we might just publish it. If we get rich doing this, then who knows, you might get money for it.

Tecwhat? Get in the Know!

Posted November 16, 2011 by Scott in Technology - General

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