Archive for December 2011

Are You Recycling Your Electronics This Year?

Christmas is finally over and you’ve mastered that new mobile device, Blu-ray player, wide-screen TV, or whatever other electronic piece of equipment you found under the tree.  Now, somewhere tucked away in the garage or a closet is all the antiquated electronics stacked in a precarious pile that seems to grow every year.  If it’s like my pile, then it’s time to do something about it.

Recently, I moved which gave me the opportunity to go through my ever-growing pile of electronic and clean house. I still had several Compaq DeskPro 4000s which are probably over ten years old, a few laser printers, some old digital cameras, and a DVD player or two, not to mention the few boxes of spare parts and small items.  I had to do something.  I didn’t want to carry all this old junk with me to my new house.

Unfortunately, I was unable to re-gift any of my electronics, they were just too old. However, if your equipment is still in usable and fair condition, it might be worth it to hand it off to someone else in your household or a relative to extend its life. My sister often replaces items before their lifecycle is complete, giving them to other members of her family.  Her children have laptops, iPads, and iPhones that were once hers.

It use to cost to have your electronic recycled but because of the money to be made and newer technologies that separate the materials more effectively, most recycling organizations and companies are doing it for free now.  Some companies have drop-off points where you can take your electronics and some offer free pick-up.  Free pick-up is great for businesses that have large quantities, especially after a recent hardware refresh. There are also many organizations that offer monthly or special occasion recycling.  Churches, schools, and waste disposal companies often have electronics recycling days.

Printer cartridges, like batteries often find their way into the trash because they are small. Unfortunately, the chemicals left in them and the plastic used to make them not good for our landfills. So if you are near an Office Depot or a Staples, they both offer printer cartridge recycling. Just bring in your old cartridges when you are purchasing your new ones and get $2.00 on your reward card. Office Depot also gives you a free pre-paid mailing label to send in your old toner cartridges. Staples allows you to bring in your old rechargeable batteries.

Recycling responsibly is more important than ever. We urge you to recycle your electronics for a safer and cleaner environment.

Here is a small list of electronics recycling resources for you.

http://www.allgreenrecycling.com/

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Global-Promotions/Recycling-Electronics/pcmcat149900050025.c?id=pcmcat149900050025&DCMP=rdr0001422

http://earth911.com/recycling/electronics/

http://www.electronicsrecycling.org/Public/default.aspx

http://greenergadgets.org/

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Happy Holidays!

From all of us here at TecWhat, Happy Holidays and may each of you have a wonderful New Year!

And just for a little fun, a classic from Burl Ives

PROTECT IP / SOPA Act Breaks the Internet

SOPA might shut us down for airing this video, so help fight SOPA!  Save the Internet as we know it!

http://fightforthefuture.org/pipa/

See the related articles below for more information on SOPA & PIPA

MapQuest 4 Mobile

Recently, I moved to an unfamiliar area and found that even common errands, like trips to the grocery store suddenly became more complicated.  After living in the same area most of my life, I had grown accustom to knowing where everything is, the post office, the gas stations, the little shops I frequented. Now, finding the closest 7-Eleven is a chore. Then to top it off, I have to get from here to there and all I have is an address.  Most of the time I can find all this information on my iPhone, even my bank has an app for that.  What I really needed was a GPS, one that could give me directions but I didn’t want to buy another device to add to the ones I already have with me all the time.

So begins my search for a GPS iPhone app that is both effective and economically smart, meaning I won’t get lost and it’s free. The latter being the most important.  My mobile carrier is AT&T and they offer the app AT&T Navigator for iPhone, which is probably a very good app because they send my repeated emails about it on a monthly basis.  Unfortunately, it has a $9.99 per month subscription fee. That is a little pricy for something I will only use until I become more familiar with this new area and then very sporadically after that.

My search continued and eventually I found it. MapQuest 4 Mobile. This has become my lifeline to discovering how to get there from here.  It is one of the more useful apps on my iPhone lately as I explore this new area. It’s the GPS without the GPS price tag.

Easy to use and well thought out, it gives me a list of twenty choices to find almost anything from movie theaters to hotels, banks, and restaurants.  Locating coffee shops near me is now a simple task. I’m no longer driving around searching for a good cup of Joe, I just select “Coffee Shops” and it adds them all to the map, giving me to names and addresses of each one.

The live traffic option updates every five minutes to give you a better idea about the road ahead and appears to be quite accurate in locating all the slow spots. So far I’ve been able to skirt a few traffic jams by taking an alternate route because I could see that slow moving red line. This is a real time-saver.

One of my biggest requirements was to have an app that speaks to me while I’m driving. I generally try to keep driving simple, no texting or phone calls.  The last thing I wanted was an app I had to look at every few minutes to make sure I was still on track.  MapQuest 4 Mobile speaks in a slightly mechanized female voice that allows me to drive safely, keeping my eyes on the road.

Another cool feature is My Places which is a great place to store your maps.  You must have a MapQuest account to use this feature, but signing up was quick and I was ready to go in seconds. This feature allows you to sync your maps from your online account to your phone.  I like this because I can find out where I’m going later in the day, map it online, then it’s ready to go when I am.

The only drawback is that it can deplete your battery fairly quickly although you can adjust the “Energy Savings” settings.  I suggest that you use your phone charger for your car while MapQuest 4 Mobile is running.

MapQuest 4 Mobile is also available on the Android Market.

The Samsung Galaxy SII, A Review

Its our pleasure to be able to welcome a guest review from our friends at My Social Agency a UK based Digital Marketing Agency.  Much thanks to them. Please give them a visit and discover how Social Media can change and enhance your business. You can also follow them on Twitter @MySocialAgency.

By Mark Mitchell / Cormac Reynolds, My Social Agency a UK based Digital Marketing Agency.

The Samsung Galaxy SIISamsung’s Galaxy SII has become increasingly prominent in the premium phone landscape and has topped Android best sellers and phone best sellers lists for most of 2011. The Samsung’s ability to be greater than the individual parts that it is composed of make it such a highly acclaimed device.

The phone’s diminutive size is one of the major factors in its popularity,; at 8.49mm it’s slimmer than the iPhone 4S, yet it still manages to offer a far larger screen area of 4.3 inches. The device is also extremely light weighing in at only slightly more than 100g and it is also quite an attractive phone, taking certain cues from the iPhone 4’s design. It’s only qualm would be the fact it is made of plastic and not aluminium like many HTC‘s and other devices and so doesn’t have the same quality feel aesthetically.

Of course power is also a factor with the Samsung and its 1.2GHz Tegra 2GPU as well as its powerful GPU ensure it is more than willing to give. The graphical processor is more modern and powerful than that of even the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The phone’s 1GB of RAM ensures it has enough short term memory to cope and its expandable memory can be extended to 32GB thanks to the micro SD card slot.

Running on Android 2.3, the device utilises its large processor to ensure it is far from sluggish and there is certainly little lag from the Samsung. Google’s operating system is a smooth one and offers most of what you would expect from even iOS 5. It’s a smooth and sophisticated operating system that combines well with the Samsung TouchWiz user interface and makes for a nice phone to use.

One of the strongest points on the Galaxy SII, one of many, is the Super AMOLED Plus display. The phone’s pixel resolution of 480x800p is no problem as the brightness of the screen overcomes and preconceptions about the displays ability. The Super AMOLED Plus screen is amazingly brilliant. Colours are extremely bright and dynamic and blacks are deep and whites are sharp. It is clearly evident that Samsung’s years of making top class screens for TVs has been put to use here. Watching video is extremely exciting and the size of the display, alongside its dynamic ration make it great for browsing.

The camera is one aspect of the phone that really cooperates well with the screen. The 8mp camera is excellent and the 1080p recording ability creates fluid, vivid pictures that show up well on the bright screen and really wow. Like many other Samsung’s the Galaxy SII is strong in the camera area.

Though the phone is 4G enabled, the high speed broadband network is not available in the UK as of yet (available in major markets in the US.) However, it does have a 14.4MBps connection for current broadband, meaning should you get the connection it is blisteringly quick. NFC is also available on a number of the current models of the device allowing you to pay for goods with your phone, thanks to the chip.

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy SII is an extremely capable device that doesn’t really let down in any area. Sure it is made of plastic, but it still feels very strong. Though, we’re sure the processor, screen and operating system more than make up for all of that.

Microsoft Office on iPad?

Yes, it’s true, or so says the rumor, I’m still waiting for the rapture, but that’s another story entirely.  According to The Daily’s Matt Hickey in an article posted on November 29, 2011, and several articles and posts referring to his Matt’s post, Microsoft is working on a version of its popular Office suite for use on the iPad, as well as an updated version of Office for OS X Lion. If rumors are true, Microsoft would release the Mac version at the end of 2012 and the iPad version possibly sooner.

Although, Microsoft has several apps on iPhone and iPad, none would be as useful as MSOffice which have been missing from both devices since their releases.  Realistically, this is an untapped market for Microsoft which could bring huge amounts of additional revenue as MS Office has been the dominating office suite since it toppled WordPerfect. Remember them?  If Microsoft uses the same price point of $9.99 each as Apple does for its office suite for iPad, Keynote, Pages, and Numbers, then the software giant could realistically make a killing selling Word, Excel, and Publisher in Apple’s App store.

What does this actually mean? Well for business this puts the powerful MS Office suite on a device that is becoming more popular in offices, schools, and even on the road.  This lack of MS Office has either kept businesses from using the iPad or searching for expensive third-party apps that let you make changes to and save files such as Word or Excel. If Microsoft actually does release MS Office for iPad, this changes everything.  Businesses running a Windows Enterprise environment will have the added power and portability that the iPad tablet offers with the combined productivity and functionality MS Office gives. This could truly be a marriage made in heaven as businesses begin to adopt this technology combination strategy.

Strangely enough, putting MS Office on the iPad could help save Microsoft, especially if Windows 8 fails to perform as hoped.  MS Office has traditionally been Microsoft’s bread winner with the Windows operating system pulling in second in their revenue. Not that Microsoft will fall apart, but a Windows 8 fail could definitely hurt them.  Adding MS Office to the iPad and iPhone would surely raise their revenue.

As a writer and blogger, and for personal use, this would raise my productivity tenfold.  Generally, I’m sitting down at my desktop (yes, I still have one,) or using my laptop, which has become a clumsy big device that I no longer want to carry around anymore.  I love the portability of the iPad and its simplistic ease of use but it’s not efficient to write with.  When I do write on my iPad, each article must be written on a third-party app, transferred via Dropbox, copied into a Word file, proofed, then saved and posted.  Using MS Word and saving directly to my SkyDrive would certainly streamline things a bit.

I’m hoping this rumor is true.  I could see the benefits businesses and personal users would gain from having MS Office on their iPads.  What’s you take on it? Do you use Microsoft Office?  Would you purchase the iPad version?

View Matt Hickey’s article: http://www.thedaily.com/page/2011/11/29/112911-tech-news-ms-ipad/

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The New Face of Twitter

I must say I love Twitter. I have a few accounts, personal, professional, and of course, our @TecWhat account, which I hope you are following. I use is daily to connect with friends and family as well as promoting TecWhat.  I follow the best people I know on Twitter and have made some really great friends.  You can often say just what you need in 140 characters.

In the past year, Twitter has been doing a lot of re-vamping of their site including better integration of photos.  Some of their upgrades have been a little disappointing and alarming for its users, but all that has changed.

Today, Twitter released a totally new layout for both the web and mobile phones. The new look and feel is quite different from what we’re all use to seeing, but in moments you should feel right at home.  So what’s changed? Just about everything, from the logon to the menu to the way you navigate the site.  The design looks cleaner and more thought out, placing everything in framed sections that allow for better and easier viewing.  It’s almost as if Steve Jobs had a hand in the renovation.

The Home page is distinctly different. The information side bar is now on the left side of the page topped with your immediate stats followed by “Who to Follow” and “Trends.”  A cool new feature is the pop-up that shows when you select someone. In the old version it would be a side-out that covered everything on the information on the right side bar.  Now, the pop-up gives you all the same info without covering up your side-bar.  The column of tweets gives you more information as well, such as “In reply to @Someone” instead of just the “Retweeted by @Someone”

The @Connect page is a little different too giving you the options to easily choose Interactions or Mentions right at the top.  The #Discover page gives you Stories and Activity. Both give you Who to Follow and Trends.

Viewing you own profile is better too.  It’s a clean feel unlike the busy page of Facebook. This is more Google+ inspired, Web2.0.  Information is readily and easily available in menus that right there instead of the clunky underlined links of past versions.

Basically, the only thing that hasn’t changed is the Settings page. It remains the same, useful and functional.

If you aren’t using Twitter or you’ve left for any reason, go have a look-see at the new design. Twitter is working hard to give you the best experience possible and they’re getting really close to it. If you’re already there, then enjoy the new design and let me know what you think!

Posted December 8, 2011 by Scott in Social Media

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