Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Walking Surface

OK - I admit that there is no reason to post this other then I really love my Windows 8 Pro Surface Tablet & "The Walking Dead". I also respect Microsoft for trying so hard to grab some attention for their new tablet.
 

Microsoft Surface Pro - Review

The Microsoft Surface was the biggest new tech of 2012, at least for me. Its first iteration—Surface RT, a confusingly named and marketed tablet-with-a-keyboard—bombed and I predicated that. The RT version was a bad idea, A Windows tablet.... without the power of Windows. What I was waiting for was the full-powered Surface Pro? Why? Well it is a braver and more divergent take on the laptop-tablet convergence than anyone else has risked so far.


But while the Pro improves on the RT in nearly every measurable way, it presents a whole different problem set for Microsoft. Where the RT was aiming at Tablet Plus—an ambitious enough goal—the Pro cannot afford to be Laptop Minus. In this strange new world of hybrid devices, is that even possible?

The Surface Pro is the fullest expression of the Windows 8 ethos. It has the face of a tablet & the guts of a laptop. Where other convertibles have struggled to contort old world design into now-world needs, the Surface starts fresh. This is the best chance we have to prove we might finally be ready to move past traditional, tired designs and interfaces.

But the Pro is also a reality check for Windows 8 itself. Defenders of the new OS insist that it just hasn't been given the right vessel to showcase it yet. Well, there will never be any better hardware for Windows 8 than Surface Pro. If it doesn't work here, maybe there's a problem.

Like the Surface RT before it, the Surface Pro is gorgeous. The Pro is a bit thicker than the RT, but keeps the same design principles. Trapezoidal angles, sure-footed kickstand, snap-in keyboard cover.

At first blush, the Pro looks thick for what it is—a slate—and that can give the impression that it's bigger than small-for-a-laptop machines like the MacBook Air. Don't be fooled; it's actually lighter and thinner than the 11.6-inch Air. Along with the Surface, Microsoft will happily sell you either a Touch or Type cover, both of which function as the Surface's keyboard and trackpad. The Type cover has a traditional keyboard that's basically full sized, while the Touch cover is a flat surface that detects your keystrokes with no moving parts. I personally have used the type cover keyboard and really like it. While these were purely optional on the Surface RT, they're essential to approaching the Surface Pro's full-PC potential.

The Surface Pro runs Windows 8 Pro, meaning it plays nice with all of Surface RT's Metro apps as well as all your old desktop apps. If you want to use Surface Pro as a laptop? Simply snap in a keyboard cover, pop out the kickstand, set it down on a table. If you want to use it like a tablet, remove the keyboard and you have a great tablet - with the power of a real operating system.

As a tablet, the Pro has significantly more weight to it than the iPad . But the build quality is so strong—everything feels like it just fits—that you don't really mind, unless you try to use it one-handed. It's a little too heavy for that.

One of the Pro's fundamental problems is almost tragically ironic. Its screen is too good. Which is to say, its 1080p resolution is so dense on the 10.6-inch screen that desktop programs seem too small, too cramped. Since you're already going to probably be hunched over your desk and squinting while using this 10.6-inch screen, teeny tiny text isn't much of a help. To offset this, Microsoft has made the default Magnification setting 150 percent. That helps a bit by enlarging icons, text, and some apps, but results in many third party apps looking like fuzzy eyesores.

There is zero difference between the keyboard covers that come with the Surface RT and the Surface Pro. They're identical, and interchangeable. But unlike RT, Surface Pro needs a real keyboard if it has any chance of fulfilling its potential.

Both the Touch and Type keyboards are totally usable. You'll need more time to get used to typing on the Touch, with the biggest difference being the lack of tactile feedback when you miss a letter. It's also a little harder to reliably hit the bottom row of function keys, because they bleed into the palmrest instead of being clearly delineated. Annoying, but manageable, mostly. You'll be able to type at basically full speed with the Type keyboard, and after a week or two, pretty confidently on the Touch cover as well. As I stated earlier I have the type keyboard and for about 10 bucks more than the touch I very much recommend the touch.

Should You Buy This?

If it fits your professional needs, you'll at least want to consider it.

The Surface Pro is ultimately the best tablet on the market right now if you truly are trying to get work & play done at the same time on your mobile computing device.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Keep Your Web Browser From Crashing


Nothing kills productivity like that dreaded message from your web browser that it has encountered and "unexpected problem". Or in many cases you simply can get stopped in your tracks by a web browser that simply will not respond.



There are many reasons why this can occur and here are four of the most common reasons and some advice that can help you prevent web browser disaster from striking.

1. Uninstall Java. We talked about this before and although there can be an argument for keeping it there is no arguing with the ongoing security risks Java has been responsible for. You can try going without it to see if you actually miss it.

2. Update Flash. yes - Flash must be updated constantly and it can be a pain when you are asked to do so several times a month. However if your Flash is updated your web surfing will go much more smoothly.

3. Get rid of toolbars. This drives me crazy. Many times when users ask me for help with their "slow web browsing" the first thing I find is several toolbars installed in their web browser. Get rid of them! Also be aware that many programs today will "ask you" if you want their toolbar when you install their application. Always say no! Be careful however - the default answer is almost always, "yes please install your toolbar".

4. Update the browser. This could be the root cause of your problems. Keep your browser up-to-date and you will almost always be surfing the internet faster.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fine Tuning Your Facebook Profile

The popularity of Facebook cannot be questioned. Since its launch in 2004 it has grown to over 1 billion users (as of October 2012). Almost 50% of the US population has a Facebook account. It is because of this popularity of Facebook and our comfort with the service that can lead to trouble from time to time. Countless people have lost their jobs over something that they posted on Facebook. There is no doubt that marriages have collapsed as a result of Facebook postings and I wonder how many people did not get a job because of something on Facebook. Did you know that one of the first places employers go now when conducting backgrounds on applicants is Facebook?



All this being said there are several things you can do to protect yourself while engaging in the world of social media. Here are 3 recommendations.

1. Limit Who Can Find You 

Your security protection starts here.
Make sure your Facebook profile stays private by clicking the blue gear in the top-right corner of the Facebook website and selecting Privacy Settings. From there, the best thing you can do is make it harder for strangers to find your Facebook profile in the first place by blocking search engines from linking to your profile and limiting who can look up your profile using the email address and phone number you gave to Facebook. That being said it’s probably a good idea to grant lookup access to Friends of Friends. That way, you can get some mileage out of Facebook's social network by connecting with people your friends trust.


2. Stop Posting Public

Check your Facebook Privacy Settings. Make sure the 'Who can see your future posts?' option is set to Friends.

3. Secure Your Timeline

You can prevent the threat of embarrassing photos or video popping up in your Timeline without your knowledge by adjusting Facebook’s Timeline Review.

To  do this go to the Timeline and Tagging Settings menu. Here you can review and adjust your Timeline Settings. Turn the option titled 'Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline' to On.

These three simple changes will help secure your Facebook privacy. If you take some time to explore the Facebook’s Account Settings menus you will find even more privacy settings. Take the time to read through the various setting options. 

Facebook is now so popular that it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore its success. It can actually hurt you in a job search to NOT have a Facebook page. This is because some employers will actually think you are "hiding something about yourself" if you are not engaged socially. Therefore take the time to make sure your Facebook profile only presents you as your best (at least in public).

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Surface in Public


There may be hope for Microsoft's Surface after all. This evening while waiting for a seat at out local watering hole, Victory Brewing Company I took notice of a guy checking in and waiting next too me. It looked like he was holding a Microsoft Surface tablet and I walked up and asked, "Hey is that a Microsoft Surface Tablet" you have there? He responded that "Yes - indeed It was'. We then had a great conversation comparing it to Apple's IPAD. It was quickly established that we were both in the technology field and we both believed it was far superior to the IPAD in many ways. In fact I asked him if he "missed his IPAD" at which he responded that he lost track where "his IPAD even was at this point". We both agreed that the small sleek form factor with the ability to install and run any Windows application made the surface the best tablet on the market at this point.

In addition we both agreed that the Surface tablet had enough computing power to - in many ways replace both the tablet and the laptop, resulting in a much easier life for many of us.

Our conversation sadly ended when our table was ready and I could see the wife walking off into the distance.. looking back and me... after which I said goodbye and followed Mrs. Mann.

You can learn more about Microsoft's new Surface tablet here.

How To Know If Malware Has Invaded Your PC

How do you know if you computer has been compromised by Malware? I am often asked the question. Malware can make your computer do really weird things all of which work to either make your computing life miserable or in the worst case scenarios actually steal your information.

Here are some signs that your computer may be infected.

1. Popup ads appear even when no browser is open. While not as common as they used to be, adware programs bombard their victims with advertisements.

2. Browser navigation gets redirected. Not every site redirect is malicious, but if you find that trying to reach Google takes you to an unfamiliar search site, you've almost certainly got a problem.

3. A security program you never installed pops up scary warnings. This one could almost be #1 on this list. Creating and distributing fake antivirus programs is a growing business. The perpetrators use drive-by downloads or other sneaky techniques to get the fake antivirus onto your system, then display scary warnings about made-up threats.

4. Posts you didn't write appear on your social media pages. Malware focused on Facebook and other social media sites propagates by generating fake posts.

5. A program holds your PC for ransom. I have discussed Some malware programs literally hold your PC or data for ransom. Overt ransomware threats may encrypt all your pictures and documents and demand that you pay to get them back. Others try to obscure what they're doing. For example, they may display a warning supposedly from the FBI stating that your computer was used to send spam and demanding that you pay a fine before you're allowed to use it again. Of course, even if you do pay, you will not get your system back.

6. Suddenly you can't use common system tools. A smart user, suspecting the presence of malware, might launch Task Manager to investigate, or check settings using Registry Editor. If you suddenly find that trying to use these or other system tools triggers a message saying your Administrator has disabled them, it may well be an attempt at self-defense by malware on your system.

If you think that malware has taken control of your PC, install a powerful antivirus utility immediately. Already got one? Then the malware got past the protection. This is much more common then you would think. This is simply because many times anti-virus company's must respond the new virus threats after they are in the wild. This leaves your computer open to the threat - until you have updated the software which is why keeping your security software update is so critical. Nevertheless make sure your security software is up to date and run a full system scan if you think your PC has been compromised. If the scan does not eliminate the infection contact a technology professional as soon as possible. You definitely want to get that nasty, malicious program out of your system as soon as possible.  

One of my favorite free security software solutions is Microsoft's Security Essentials. I wrote an article about this back in October 2012. You can read my review here.
 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cyber Attack in South Korea

Cyber Security has been in the news recently and it seems the threat of cyber crime is increasing every day. As Cyber Security concerns were being reported last week a new cyber attack occurred, this time in South Korea.

Investigators today, March 21, 2013 traced a coordinated cyber-attack that paralyzed tens of thousands of computers at six South Korean banks and media companies to a Chinese internet protocol address, according to authorities in Seoul.

IP addresses, which are unique to each computer connected to the internet, can easily be manipulated by hackers operating anywhere in the world, and the investigation into who was behind Wednesday's attack and whether they were in China will take weeks.

Suspicion for the simultaneous shutdown is focused on North Korea, which has threatened Seoul and Washington in recent days over UN sanctions imposed for its nuclear test conducted on February 12, 2013.

The attack did not affect the government or military, and there were no immediate reports that customers' bank records were compromised. However the cyber attack did disable scores of cash machines across the country, disrupted commerce and renewed questions about South Korea's internet security and vulnerability to hackers.

If the attack was carried out by North Korea, the purpose would seem to be to send a message – and a warning – to South Korea that Pyongyang is capable of breaching its computer networks.

On Thursday, only one of the six targets, Shinhan Bank, was back online and operating regularly.

This proves that Cyber Security is only going to continue to rise in it's importance as land armies begin to become less relevant and cyber war grows in it's importance.

Star Trek's New Trailer Arrives

Not really any tech news here but I just had to post the new Star Trek movie, "Into the Darkness" trailer here for all of my readers to see. I for one have some mixed emotions about this one but I am looking forward to it regardless.


Star Trek: Into the Darkness opens worldwide May 15, 2013, one day before my birthday.

Voyager 1 Enters Intersteller Space

Space the Final Frontier.... These are the voyages of the Voyager 1, launched back in 1977.


This depiction of Voyager 1 hangs in my office
Thirty-five years after its launch, Voyager 1 appears to have travelled beyond the influence of the Sun and exited the heliosphere, according to a new study appearing online today.

This is really big news because the heliosphere is a region of space dominated by the Sun and its wind of energetic particles, and which is thought to be enclosed, bubble-like, in the surrounding interstellar medium of gas and dust that pervades the Milky Way galaxy.

On August 25, 2012, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft measured drastic changes in radiation levels, more than 11 billion miles from the Sun. Anomalous cosmic rays, which are cosmic rays trapped in the outer heliosphere, all but vanished, dropping to less than 1 percent of previous amounts. At the same time, galactic cosmic rayscosmic radiation from outside of the solar systemspiked to levels not seen since Voyager's launch, with intensities as much as twice previous levels.

It is these observations that have many in the scientific community believing that Voyager 1 has actually entered interstellar space. If this is true this is amazing. A man made object leaving the solar system, and beyond the influence of our very own sun. This makes me want to watch some Star Trek for sure. In fact if you recall the plot of "Star Trek - The Motion Picture" from 1979 the USS Enterprise does find the Voyager Spacecraft and it's not happy. But that's a story for another day. 


 Captain Kirk & Crew try to persuade Voyager from destroying it's creator... namely us. 
Sadly, we probably are not going to learn much about what lies beyond our solar system. This is because Voyager will begin shutting down its instruments in 2020 and at some point after 2025 its power supply will be exhausted. After that, we just have to hope that it doesn't someday come home with a head full of questions and an existential void in its soul, which is exactly what happened in the first Start Trek motion picture.

This is quite amazing for a piece of technology that was launched by NASA way back in 1977. This is also the spacecraft that Carl Sagan's "Golden Record" and much debated "road map" to Earth was included. The disc carries photos of the Earth and its life-forms, a range of scientific information, spoken greetings from people (such as the the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the President of the United States) and a medley, "Sounds of Earth", that includes the sounds of whales, a baby crying, waves breaking on a shore, and a collection of Earth music, including works by Mozart and Chuck Berry.

A BAD FRAC Job Rears Its Ugly Head ~ Trinity East's "Fracking" Failure on THIS Dallas Lease's Well in 2009. *UPDATE*

















Scroll Down to Page 11 in the Document Below for an Explanation of the (previously unknown) Dallas Well's FRAC Job FAILURE in 2009:










On today's Agenda for the Dallas City Planning Commission is a FINAL Decision on three (3) 

TRINITY EAST Permits Including a Massive Polluting Processing Facility at the Northwestern Entryway to the City of Dallas, Texas. 



*****



Thursday, March 21, 2013. Dallas City Hall. 1:00 PM

1500 Marilla. 6th Floor.  Amen.




*****



*Update*  So, here's what Trinity East wants to do next!! What kind of madness is this?! If someone does a bad job do you continue to do business with them just because you have a contract? Isn't there a way out of this bad business deal?? What the He**??










Click here to view the CPC Agenda for March 21, 2013.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Downgrading IE10 to IE9

Just yesterday I wrote an article reporting that Microsoft was now pushing out Internet Explorer 10 to Windows 7 computers. While there are many real improvements in IE10 some users will no doubt run into some problems running IE10. Indeed I ran into a problem with one of my office computers that had been upgraded yesterday. A program that I run at least once a week would simply not work with IE10.

Luckily there is something you can do if IE10 is causing you problems. You can downgrade to IE9 which should get you back up and running if you experiencing issues with IE10. To do this follow these simple steps.

1. Open the "Control Panel".
2. Open "Programs and Features".   



3. On the left panel select "View Installed Updates". This may take a moment as the programs listed refreshes to include programs and updates, which by default this application does not do.
4. Browse until you find "Internet Explorer 10". Select Uninstall and when it has finished reboot.

Be aware that this downgrade can only be done with Windows 7. If you have Windows 8 you are stuck with IE10. Hopefully the providers of software that rely on Internet Explorer can update their programming to deal with IE10 in the near future.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


2 Great Opportunties:


ROCK CLIMBING
Homeschoolers are invited to a FREE open house just for you at Philadelphia Rock Gym in Oaks (near the Target/Lowes/Movie Theater plaza) on April 6th 1:00 – 4:00.  All gear is provided and lots of help for those who have never climbed before.  This is for all homeschooled children up to age 13 and it’s FREE!   Very young children are welcome but they must be able to walk in order to climb.

Philadelphia Rock Gym
E-520 122 Mill Rd
Oaks, PA 19456
P: 877-822-7673


CHILDREN'S THEATER - Missoula Children's Theater casting at West Chester University
LOVE TO LAPBOOK!!!

Thanks, Zabrina, for all these great lapbooking suggestions!

Music lapbook sites:
http://anna.xanga.com/758388270/item/ (music theory)
http://www.squidoo.com/musiclapbook (good resources for books and the orchestra)
http://www.123homeschool4me.com/2012/05/kids-learn-music-free-lapbook.html (formerly living life intentionally...very good orchestra and music theory lapbook - free)
http://www.homeschoolshare.com/index_lapbooks_master_list.php  (M is for melody for music, good Presidents lapbook here as well)

Other lapbooking sites:
http://www.handsofachild.com/lapbooking/  (most lapbooks here are sold, freebies available at times)
http://www.squidoo.com/lapbooking  (good info on lapbooking)
http://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/teacherslounge/lapbooks.php#sthash.YSsXMHsN.dpbs
(lots of lapbook sites suggestions and freebies)

SOTW free lapbook
http://runofthemillfamily.blogspot.com/
runofthemillfamily.blogspot.com/2010/04/story-of-world-lapbook-for-volume-one.html


Want to see how it's done? Here is a good example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFVJ2OBMICM (Apologia lapbooks)

Get Ready for IE 10

If you’re one of the 50% of PC users with Windows 7, be prepared for an essential update coming your way very soon. Internet Explorer 9 has been officially retired to make way for IE10. The new browser will be installed as part of the standard Windows Update unless you explicitly prevent it.

This is also an an important milestone for web developers. While IE9 was a radical step up from IE8, it was missing features that many of us take for granted in Safari, Firefox, Chrome and Opera: CSS3 gradients, text shadows, animations, transitions, column layouts, flexbox, ECMAScript strict mode, media query listeners, the file API, web workers, local storage, etc. IE10 plugs many of the HTML5 gaps.

There’s another vital feature in IE10: automated updates. While Microsoft has yet to use it, IE10 can receive smaller incremental tweaks over time. I’m not expecting a Chrome or Firefox-like six-week delivery schedule, but two or three times per year would be significantly better than the current 18-24 month delay.

IE9 is likely to die rapidly especially since system administrators will not experience the upgrade issues which dogged previous versions.IE9 will remain the default browser on Vista but that OS currently holds only 6% of the PC market and it is dropping fast.

IE6 and IE7 are dead. They still roam zombie-like across certain sectors of the web but, for most of us, the days of IE-specific hacks and fixes are long gone.

It would have been great had Microsoft released a version of IE10 for XP and Vista but it’s probably not worth their effort. IE8 will die a natural death regardless of Microsoft’s aging OS platforms.

Be assured that IE10 does much to catch up with the competition. As is typical with Microsoft it has taken too long to arrive but now that it is here I believe it will become the most dominant version of IE within a few short months.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Guard Against Trojans, Worms & Viruses

Today was yet another reminder - smack right in the face. You must always be alert when reading email messages and browsing the internet for trojans, worms and viruses. This past weekend a couple "trojan horse" viruses tried to get loose in our network. The bad guys were namely "Trojan.Gcoder.E", "Trojan.Gen" and "Trojan.Zbot". It should be noted that the way in which most of these spread from one computer to another is first through an infected email. Because the email itself does not include an actual attachment with it these messages will sometimes get past the best of firewalls. Once this happens there is still hope for those of us who only desire clean and unaffected computers.

It should also be remembered that every virus protection company from Symantec to McAfee must respond to these evil programs after they are loose in the wild. Therefore even having the best and updated security software is often not enough. That is where we human beings need to be aware of the situation and act accordingly.

The first and best rule you should apply is "common sense". The various forms of infections often start with email messages promising something you want, if you would only click on the link in the message. Do not do this - no matter how inticing the message may sound. Offers of most anything free are almost going to lead you to a bad place on some darkened corner in the internet. As an example about a year ago I received a suspicious email offering me all 720 episodes of Star Trek on DVD for free. All I was asked to do was click on the link in the email and fill out the "registration form". Even though I really wanted those amazing DVDs I did not click on the message. If I can do it - so can you!

The second rule is if you do not know who sent the email do not feel like you must click on the contents. If you think it might be a ligitamate message, do yourrself a favor and pick up the phone and call the person (sender) before clicking on the contents.

These simple rules will go along way in securing your personal information as well as your organization's information. In addition it can be very expensive to have a technology professional fix your computer.

The virus that impacted our organization was destroyed but I will never get those 6 hours back...

Friday, March 15, 2013

RIP Hotmail - Hello Outlook.com

If you are a Hotmail user read up and get ready for Outlook.com.

Outlook.com will fully replace Hotmail as Microsoft's webmail service. The company will begin to auto-update accounts, and hopes they will be fully migrated from Hotmail to Outlook.com by this summer.

Microsoft's move was spurred by surprise growth in the Outlook.com mail service, which has amassed 60 million active users in just six months. Microsoft has also removed the "customer preview" label on the product. I have been using Outlook.com for my personal email since last fall and I for one am glad to see the "customer preview: label gone.

I know the first thing you're thinking: "Does this mean my Hotmail address will just go away?" No. It just means that when you go to hotmail.com, you will be re-routed to Outlook.com, and when you log in on the Web, you will get the Outlook.com experience. You can keep your @hotmail.com email address forever, but you can also use that account to create multiple new @outlook.com email addresses, too, if you so desire.

But I recommend that you don't wait for Microsoft to switch your old Hotmail service over to Outlook.com. Do it as soon as you have time. You will not be disappointed. (Switching your account over takes almost no effort: Just log into Hotmail then click Settings at the top right — you will see the option to convert to Outlook.)

If you are a SkyDrive user Outlook.com nicely integrates with this as well.

I believe that Outlook.com can give Gmail a run for its money. It's a very smart service with a very streamlined design, tasteful social integration and auto organization features such as inbox "sweep" and scheduled cleanup. Because of this last bit, it's ideal for use either as a main email or as a "spam account," the kind you provide to online retailers and other data collectors.

Windows 8 on the Road - Final Report (for now)

Looking back on my recent Disney World trip and my experience with Windows 8 I must say that for the most part I am happy with my smartphone and tablet. However if you read my previous 3 posts straight from Orlando you will also know that all was not peaches & cream with me & Microsoft.

Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet

The only problem here was using the tablet in very crowded places. The flight into Orlando was especially tough. I was sitting in the middle of three seats and the passenger on my right (not the wife) was crowding me. The Surface tablet is much heaver and bulkier then a IPAD and it was difficult to really get comfortable with it on the flight. However once arriving in Florida the Surface tablet was a delight to use. Each morning I was able to actually get a little work done, read the newspapers (just like my IPAD) using the Press Display app. There are still some much needed apps like Zite & Flipboard missing but I will give Microsoft a little more time to get these. I could also easily write blog articles, browse Facebook as well as the internet in general. Doing all of these tasks on an IPAD would be difficult at best.

Windows 8 Phone

First and foremost. For the most part my Nokia Lumia 822 worked just fine. As I have been reporting Microsoft Office, Lync, SharePoint & SkyDrive integration cannot be over valued, that is, if your goal is to get work done no matter where you are.

The main problem I experienced was the phone losing connectivity to the internet. From time to time I would have to restart the phone to get it to connect to the internet. This occurred about 4-6 times and I must admit I was a little flustered by this. I had status updates to do after all! This was very strange indeed because with the 2 months I have been using this phone the only time this problem occurred was during my trip. No problems with this, before or since. I will keep an eye on this particularly.

My Photo Tile
It also took a little practice to get used to the 8mp camera but once I did it was fine. Pictures can be setup to immediately upload to your SkyDrive account which is really a great feature. It's also very cool to have a live "Pictures" tile (pictured right) displaying your camera roll.

I am a music lover. If you enter my office you will probably hear Classic Vinyl, Classic Rewind or Deep Tracks playing. If you are an honored guest at my home there will probably be music playing. If I am outside working (hurry up Spring) I am giving my ear buds a work out. Here is another area where the Windows Phone 8 OS is weak. The music player and interrogation is worlds behind Apple. So I did no expect anything here and in fact brought my IPOD for music.

All in all I will be continuing to use my Windows 8 Phone while watching closely for continued updates and enhancements from Microsoft.

Both of these devices offer hope for those us wanting the best of both worlds. Devices that truly integrate home and work life.  Only time will tell if Microsoft can improve where necessary while keeping their eye on the prize.

DST - Fooling with Mother Nature?

I have never been a fan of Daylight Savings Time. Changing our clocks by one hour in the fall and again in the spring always seemed like man's arrogant attempt to conquer and disregard mother nature to me. Don't get me wrong, I love technology but is always seemed a little foolish (to me) to play with the official clock twice a year. I did a little research into what exactly Daylight Savings Time is, how long it has been around and why we continue to push our clocks up and down an hour every 6 months.

Quite simply Daylight Saving Time (DST) is a change in the standard time with the purpose of getting better use of the daylight by having the sun rise one hour later in the morning and set one hour later in the evening. 

The Origin of Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Saving Time (DST) has been a subject of recurring debate in the United States, the United Kingdom, and many other countries around the world for about a hundred years. I am glad to hear this because I have never been a fan of DST. Ancient civilizations were known to practice a similar process of the concept of DST where they would adjust their daily schedules in accordance to the sun, such as the Roman water clocks that used different scales for different months of the year.


The idea of daylight saving time was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin in 1784 during his stay in Paris. He published an essay titled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” that proposed to economize the use of candles by rising earlier to make use of the morning sunlight.

Inventing Daylight Savings Time

The invention of DST was mainly credited to William Willett in 1905 when he came up with the idea of moving the clocks forward in the summer to take advantage of the daylight in the mornings and the lighter evenings. His proposal suggested moving the clocks 20 minutes forward each of four Sundays in April, and switching them back by the same amount on four Sundays in September.

Willett’s daylight saving plan caught the attention of Robert Pearce who introduced a bill to the House of Commons in February 1908. The first Daylight Saving Bill was drafted in 1909 and presented to Parliament several times and examined by a select committee. However, the bill was opposed by many, especially farmers and thus the bill was never made into a law. Willett died in 1915 without getting the chance to see his idea come to life.

The Adoption of Daylight Savings Time

DST was first adopted to replace artificial lighting so they could save fuel for the war effort in Germany during World War I at 11:00pm (23:00) on April 30, 1916. It was quickly followed by Britain and many countries from both sides, including here in the United States. Many countries reverted back to standard time post-World War I, and it wasn’t until the next World War that DST would make its return to many countries in order to save vital energy resources for the war.


President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted year-round DST in the United States, called “War Time” during World War II from February 9, 1942 to September 30, 1945. The law was enforced 40 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and during this time, time zones were called “Eastern War Time”, “Central War Time”, and “Pacific War Time”. After the surrender of Japan in mid-August 1945, the time zones were relabeled “Peace Time”.

Daylight saving was first recognized as an energy saving aspect during World War II when Double Summer Time was applied in Britain which moved the clocks two hours ahead of GMT during the summer and one hour ahead of GMT during the winter.

Daylight Savings Time in the United States

DST caused widespread confusion from 1945 to 1966 for trains, buses and the broadcasting industry in the US because many states and localities were free to choose when and if they would observe DST. Congress decided to end the confusion and establish the Uniform Time Act of 1966 that stated DST would begin on the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday of October. However, states still had the ability to be exempt from DST by passing a local ordinance.

The US Congress extended DST to a period of ten months in 1974 and eight months in 1975, in hopes to save energy following the 1973 oil embargo. The trial period showed that DST saved the equivalent in energy of 10,000 barrels of oil each day (that's a lot of oil). bHowever DST still proved to be controversial. Many complained that the dark winter mornings endangered the lives of children going to school. After the energy crisis was over in 1976, the US changed their DST schedule again to begin on the last Sunday in April. DST was amended again to begin on the first Sunday in April in 1987. Further changes were made after the introduction of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Daylight Savings Time - Today

Daylight saving time is now implemented in over seventy countries worldwide and affects over a billion people each year. Although many countries observe DST, the beginning and end dates are often different than the US. The European Union adopted the summer time period that was used in the United Kingdom for many years which begins on the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday in October.

The DST schedule in the US was revised several times throughout the years, in which the DST schedule period lasted for about seven months from 1987 to 2006. The current schedule began in 2007 and follows the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which extended the period by about one month where DST starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. Currently, most of the US observes DST except for Hawaii and most of Arizona.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Riddle Me This. *Update Clue #3* on the Dallas, TX Drilling Debacle


What's wrong with this picture?




  Clue #1:  Click Here 




*Update*   Good guess by Fish Creek Neighbor in the comments. 




  • Acreage is Missing from this Signage. (Texas law requires acreage to be accurately listed on the sign ~  if you read all about it at the link above.) 







 
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Clue #2: Click Here










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Clue #3:  





Monday, March 11, 2013

Windows Observations Continue @ Disney

First the good news. The Microsoft Surface Pro has proven to be a big winner with me. Other then some difficulty using it in crowded places like airports and airplanes it has worked as I had anticipated. Once you have some space, like at the resort (and of course at home or at work) there is not much that you cannot accomplish with this tablet. For example while sitting at the resort having my morning coffee in the lounge I was able to remote into work and complete two (2) work orders,write this article, browse my pictures from yesterday, read the newspapers via an app and simply surf the internet as we tried to decide what Disney park to hit first.

Now the not so good news. The Windows phone does a lot of things OK. The only thing truly exceptional with it at this point is it's excellent integration with Microsoft Office, Skydrive and Sharepoint. Once you get past this there is work that need's to be done by both Microsoft and their phone manufactures.  If you recall I reported that the phone on day 1 lost it's cellular connection twice and had to be restarted to reestablish it. Yesterday it failed to connect to the internet at least 5 or 6 times. I had to restart the phone on most of these occasions to reestablish the connection. Very strange. The camera is weak in performance. It can take several moments for the shutter to work, even when using the physical shutter button. The Facebook and FourSquare apps are not as neatly developed as their counterparts on Apple or Android. Everything in these apps seem to take longer then what is necessary with Apple and Android phones. This must change if Microsoft truly wants to get a piece of the consumer smartphone pie.

Well the testing continues and I must head out to the parks.

Have a magical day. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Wiindows @ Disney - First Impressions

This is only my first impressions of what I have found with my 2 Windows 8 devices on our short trip to Walt Disney World however I wanted to take a few moments to write this report.

Microsoft Windows 8 Pro Surface Tablet

First - the Microsoft Surface Pro is a great device. It has for the first time in about a decade given me the confidence to travel without a laptop. For me a laptop has always been a must when travelling. I have probably had to "remote in" to handle problems at work, write reports and more tasks dozens of times. Without a laptop this would have been impossible. I know that the Surface has enough power to handle most if not all laptop tasks, with the possible exception of video editing. However to get to most of these destinations I must fly. Airports and Airplanes are often very busy and crowded places. Personal space is often difficult to find. Maybe it's just me but I often think of the Star Trek episode, "Mark of Gideon" whenever I am in these crowded places. I found that the Surface tablet is bigger and bulkier then is necessary if you simply want to play games, listen to music, surf the internet, read a book etc. The IPAD is a much better device for these tasks, It is lighter, smaller and handles those simple tasks just fine.

I have been suggesting for months now that the Surface or other Windows 8 devices are better "professional" devices for those on the move. Here the Surface shines. Once at the resort I was able to truly read email through a Outlook 2013 client, open documents in Word and Excel and even write this fine article with great ease. None of this could have been done on my IPAD.

Also once at the resort and with personal space I was able again to use the Surface to read the newspaper and other tasks normally handled with my IPAD.

In fact after writing this article, I will unsnap the magnetic keyboard, flip the tablet vertically and finally sit back, relax and read the online versions of my local newspapers before heading back to the parks!

Windows 8 Phone

My biggest problem here was the camera on the Nokia Lumia 822. I found that the shutter speed was often very slow and clunky. Snap the picture and sometimes you need to wait a few seconds for the shutter to kick in and sometime it kicks in and takes 3-4 pictures at once. As our first day went on I discovered that if you use the physical shutter button things work a bit better. In addition it is important to remember that this problem probably rests with the physical phone and not Windows itself. Verizon Wireless currently only has 2 Windows 8 phones so here is hoping that more models are released soon.

The other problem I had on day 1 was that twice, once in Philadelphia and once in Orlando the phone lost cellular service. I was able to fix this both times by powering it off and back on. I am also hoping that this was a fluke as well.

A nice feature of the Windows 8 phone is that all photos (and videos) you take can be set to automatically upload to your SkyDrive account. If you were to lose you phone this would indeed be a life saver. Once back at the resort I was able to browse my photos immediately on my Surface tablet through SkyDrive. From here you can easily view, edit and organize your new photos.

Well my journey with Windows 8 at Disney World continues so I must go.

Have a Magical Day!

Friday, March 8, 2013

17th Annual Homeschool Curriculum Used Book Curriculum Sale!

Mark your calendars. The book sale March 18, Monday in less than two weeks.


17th Annual Homeschool Used Curriculum Sale
Sponsored by Church of the Saviour Homeschoolers

Monday, March 18, 2013
Church of the Saviour
651 N. Wayne Avenue
Wayne, Pennsylvania 19087
Building F

6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Mounds of used curriculum
No admission fee!
Open to all parents
Used school-related children’s books & novels
Puzzles & games
Math manipulatives
Posters & maps
Educational DVDs & videos
Flash cards
Science kits


Bring small bills to pay for items & bags to carry your purchases.
Passing along some great opportunities for you and your family!

Homeschool day at Longwood Gardens:
http://www.longwoodgardens.org/HomeSchoolDays.html

Homeschool days at Black Rock Christian Retreat Center (comes highly recommended by our wonderful Masters tutor!)
http://www.blackrockretreat.com/index.php?pID=68

The Philadelphia Orchestra has some great upcoming concerts and opportunities for kids to see instruments up close: Check out their website at:
http://www.philorch.org/

Here's a FREE family fun day at the Opera at Philadelphia!
http://www.operaphila.org/familyday

The First State Ballet Theater is presenting "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in April:
http://www.firststateballet.com/news.html

Marionettes Show at the Grand Opera House in DE:
http://www.cashoremarionettes.com/schedule.php

Thanks to our CC campus for these ideas!

Travels with Windows 8

Now that I am using a Windows 8 phone and Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet exclusively I find myself hoping that these devices travel well. Earlier this week I had my first experience away from the safety of home with my 2 Microsoft devices. This was only a one day conference so I don't want to rely to much on how great things went.

The conference had power sources available so I was able to plug my Surface tablet in the entire time so I had no problems with the limited battery life of 4 hours. I was able to access my Outlook account and my files via SkyDrive. I also had to remote into 2 computers to provide "help desk" support. This was very easy to do on the Windows 8 tablet.

With the Surface tablet it was like have a tablet sized powerful PC in front of me which was really great.

Power Concerns

Microsoft's new Magnetic Cable
The bigger challenge is going to be my upcoming trip to Florida. My primary concern revolves around power. This is because the Surface tablet has a battery life of only about 4 hours so I am hoping I will be able to find power sources from time to time at the airport to keep it charged. If I want to watch a movie, listen to music or even play a game I am going to need a full charge on the airplane. To add to my concern is Microsoft new magnetic power cord. The power cord does not use USB but a new "magnetic click" connection. This means I will not be able to use my Mophie external charger on the tablet. The Windows phone will not be a problem because the (phone) battery lasts much longer and my Mophie will connect with it's standard USB port for charging power.

Limited Apps
The primary concern here is involving my Windows 8 phone. This one is not as big a concern for me as the power challenges of the tablet but I am concerned regardless. Windows 8 phones do not currently enjoy the app store inventory of their rivals at Apple or Android. Will the limitation here bother me while on the road? Only time will tell.

Stay tuned friends. I will report my experience as I travel with these devices.

Residential Uses: Gas Drilling as of Oct. 23, 2007 (Arlington, TX) **Update**




Thank you for this video, Fish Creek Monitor.




Residential ZONING


Gas Drilling


Arlington, TX


 



We're wondering how that vote went down? Did all City Council members (at that time) vote FOR this Amendment to the Ordinance?? Stay tuned...



Click on the Links below for More Information:





From the comments...So, now we know. Thank you, Fish Creek Monitor!




**Update** ~ Click Here to Read the Shocking Results for How It All Went Down.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

More Java Flaws Discovered

During our technology training last month we talked about the ongoing problems with Java's security. We also reviewed our options for dealing with this never ending problem. In fact I posted my recommendations in last month's technology newsletter.

Well Java is back in the news and here is the scoop on Java's latest flaw.

This latest flaw was first discovered by security firm FireEye, which says it has already been used “to attack multiple customers.” The company has found that the flaw can be exploited successfully in browsers that have Java v1.6 Update 41 or Java v1.7 Update 15 installed, the latest versions of Oracle’s plugin.

This confirms the flaw is indeed a 0-day. For those who don’t know, “0-day” or “zero-day” this refers to a security hole that has not been publicly disclosed yet, and so doesn’t have a patch available.
Oracle released Java SE 6 Update 41 and Java SE 7 Update 15 on February 19, addressing five security fixes. This was a scheduled release, but it succeeded a previous emergency update that addressed 50 (yes 50) vulnerabilities. In February, Java exploits have resulted in computers being compromised at multiple companies, including Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft.

Since the release of Java 7 Update 15, there has been at least one new vulnerability found in Oracle’s software. Unfortunately, it’s not clear if this exploit discovered by FireEye is related or not.
On February 25, Security Explorations, a Polish security firm responsible for identifying the majority of the latest Java security holes, sent Oracle yet another vulnerability notice, including proof of concept code for two additional flaws. Oracle began investigating the same day. On February 27, it declared the first alleged issue was not a vulnerability but confirmed the second issue.

Security Explorations disagreed with Oracle’s assessment regarding the first issue and provided Oracle with further examples as part of its argument. On February 28 (the same day FireEye discovered the latest version of Java was being exploited in the wild), Oracle said it would investigate the first issue again.

I recommend that regardless of what browser and operating system you are using, you should uninstall Java if you don’t need it. If you do need it, set your Java security settings to “High” so that it prompts you before loading an applet. Check out last month's tech newsletter for more information.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Browsing on a Surface

When iPads were first introduced way back in 2010, Apple promised that the “iPad’s revolutionary Multi-Touch interface makes surfing the web an entirely new experience, dramatically more interactive and intimate than on a computer.” Yes that is an actual quote. The implication was that the web via the tablet would be unrecognizable and vastly superior then what users had come to expect from their desktop computers and laptops.

Well here we are three years on, and we’re still waiting for that “interactive and intimate” browsing experience on iPads. I actually become acustomed to the weak internet browsing experience on my iPad. Then last week I started using the Microsoft Windows 8 Pro Surface tablet.

Reportably an astonishing 98 percent of tablet traffic is on on websites. Despite this, the actual experience of surfing the web on an iPad is underwhelming at best and often infuriating (at least to me). Simply put, today’s state-of-the-art tablet browsers, especially Safari, don’t do the Internet, the user, or the iPad justice. Apple wasn’t totally wrong back in 2010. The iPad has indeed proven itself to be a revolutionary device in many ways. Just not browsing the internet, outside of the pre-approved Apps. 

Getting back to the Surface tablet. Microsoft's new device comes with Internet Explorer 10, which is the exact same version that is installed on Windows 8 desktop computers. Just think, a nice small mobile tablet with a fully functional internet interface. This has been one of the highlights for me in respect to using the new Windows 8 tablet. Don't worry IE haters, there is indead a Chrome Browser for Windows 8. 

One final observation here. It's great to have Flash working on tablet.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Microsoft's New Approach to the Home Screen

Windows Phone takes a markedly different approach to homescreen management. Both Apple’s and Android use basically the same old the app icon grid. However Microsoft relies on Live Tiles. Both approaches come with their fair share of frustrations, but after my experience with a Windows 8 phone I must say I think the Windows model is far superior in many ways.



Apps can take one of three sizes on the Windows Phone home screen: small squares, large squares, or wide rectangles. And not every app needs to be on your home screen. You can arrange only the apps that you use the most frequently on the homescreen. All of your apps are discoverable from a second screen, accessed by swiping across the main homescreen, where they’re alphabetized and searchable. Apple & Android can do the searchable part, but the surprisingly handy alphabetical list feels like an obvious omission now that I have been using it.

Windows Phone’s Live Tiles add a degree of intelligence that the Apple home screen simply does not have. Instead of simply badging app icons, many app icons (tiles) can instead show actual data pulled from the apps in question: For example your Facebook & Twitter tiles can cycle through recent messages while a weather app’s tile can show the forecast and current conditions, and the calendar tile can show upcoming appointments. Though limited by space constraints, the feature is clever, and it works well.

While you can choose various themed colors for your Windows Phone as well. The Windows phone, with it's 3 sizes of tiles and endless ways in which to organize your home screen is fun and can really make your phone stand out from your friends, family and work mates.

Try this as an experiment if you have the time. If you have an iPhone and look around probably several others will have one as well. If you then find a couple of people with the same model (4, 4S or 5), mix them up and throw them on the floor (lightly). It will take a few minutes of looking at each one to figure out who's is who's. However if you have a couple Windows 8 phones (not a good bet just yet), and even if they were the same model and color, the same experiment will no doubt demonstrate that immediately each phone's owner will have no problem knowing which is his or hers.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Windows 8 Phone - Part 2

OK I admit it I was feeling a bit guilty. You see through January I had been using a Windows 8 phone and was really enjoying many elements of it, especially the seamless integration with Microsoft Office, SkyDrive, Lync & SharePoint. Shure many of the iPhone Apps I have grown used to were not there, but hey Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & FourSquare were available. As a matter of fact in the past couple of weeks YouTube was finally added. However I really did miss some of those apps I had gotten used to using such as Tivo, SiriusXM, Pocket and of course Apple's superior music player and in early February I switched back to my iPhone5.

OK Windows 8 Phone Let's Do This Again

Now that I am testing the Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet and I have a couple trips coming up I figured I should try out the Windows 8 phone again. With all of that being said I switched back to the Nokia Lumia 822 Windows 8 phone with a commitment to give it yet another month to test out.

I hope to report some good news to all of you during the next 30 days or so regarding my experience with this Windows 8 phone.  Wish me luck.... and stay tuned for more.

Microsoft Surface Pro Review

For the past week now I have been almost exclusively using a Windows 8 Pro Surface tablet. I have a few early observations I wanted to share here. First, the ability to run full Windows applications on a tablet has been something that many people, including yours truly have been waiting for. As promised, the Microsoft Surface Pro allows for this to happen. There is something liberating about having a tablet that can actually truly run any Windows program out there.
 
Windows 8 Pro - a fine mix of native tablet & Windows apps
 
Although not as powerful as most ultrabooks, the Surface tablet does include some impressive technical specifications considering it is a first of a kind device.

Intel Core i5-3317U Dual Core Mobile Processor
4GB DDR3 Memory
128GB Solid State Storage
10.6" WUXGA (1920x1080) Multitouch Display
1.0 Megapixel Front and Rear Webcam
Intel HD 4000 Graphics
802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, microSD, Cover Port, Pressure Sensitive Pen Stylus
10.8" x 6.8" x .53" @ 2 lbs.
Windows 8 Professional
The Surface Pro screen takes the 10.6-inch display panel up to a 1920x1080 resolution while and can fully support 1080p high definition video. Color and brightness are quite good and the viewing angles are very wide with little contrast loss.
The heart of the Surface Pro is the same hardware that would typically be found in most ultrabooks today. It is powered by the Intel Core i5-3317U dual core mobile processor that is matched up with 4GB of DDR3 memory. The result is that the system offers some outstanding performance that allows it to take on tasks that most tablets would not be able to. Of course the processor setup along with the full Windows 8 Professional means that it can run any of the traditional Windows applications on the market. The Surface requires active cooling which means that there are fans inside the case. There have been reports of loud fans although I have had no noise issues with mine.  In addition Microsoft did a good job of disguising the air intake and output slots.
The more demanding hardware of the Surface Pro meant that Microsoft needed to put a larger battery in the tablet. They wanted to balance the weight and size of the system as well. They eventually settled on a 42Whr battery pack. This is larger than the Surface RT tablet at just 31.5WHr and roughly the same as Apple's iPad 4. Average battery length is about 4 hours which is about half of other tablets on the market today.
Storage is a big subject with regards to the Surface Pro tablets. In fact, I am reviewing the 128GB model specifically because of the space constraints that exist within the 64GB model. After the OS and recovery partitions are taken up, there is just 29GB of space left on the 64GB model. That leaves little space for programs and data. In contrast, the 128GB version has 89GB which is much more functional. This does drive the cost up but should be something that anyone considering the tablet should take seriously. The solid state storage does help make the system extremely responsive with the operating system cold booting is just about twelve seconds and applications come up almost instantaneously. There are options of adding extra storage through an internal micro SD card slot for use with flash memory or external storage through a USB 3.0 port which is something not seen in any other table today.

My favorite network application, "Track-It" running on the Surface

I was able to log my Surface tablet onto the network at work with a secure SSID which connects to the AD (active directory) server. From there I was able to install networked applications, access network files and print to networked printers. This is where a Windows tablet is going to find it's success.
The Windows 8 app store still needs to grow but I am not really that worried about that. The store's inventory has grown alot during the past couple of months and I see no reason for this trend not to continue.
Finally, we come to price. The 64GB model of the Surface Pro retails at $899 while the 128GB model runs $999. This already places it at the premium end of ultrabooks and well beyond the cost of your typical tablet. However if you want a truly mobile device that can do it all this may be the mobile solution for you.

I will be travelling with the Surface a couple of times during the next few weeks so stay tuned for more evaulation... and please keep your fingers crossed.