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April, 2011

Google Docs for Android review: first look

Friday, April 29th, 2011

I still haven’t seen a “killer app” for tablets; but I’m coming round to the idea that if a tablet does enough things in nice enough ways, perhaps that’s enough.

So I was interested to read today of the launch of Google Docs for Android. Though it runs on both smartphones and tablets, it sounded like a newly ticked box for tablets in particular, since their screens and keyboards are better suited to casual document editing.

device2

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The unedifying arrogance of Apple

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

iPhone 4 back

There are many things to admire about Apple (and its products), but its attitude isn’t one of them.

When customers discovered reception issues with the iPhone 4, did the company hold its hands up and immediately apologise? No, we were “holding the phone the wrong way” and offered a conciliatory piece of rubber.

When researchers discovered that the iPhone had been tracking your location and leaving that highly sensitive data unencrypted on your PC, did Apple show even an iota of regret? No, it waited several days before issuing a confrontational Q&A that claimed we weren’t smart enough to understand the “complex technical issues” involved.

Apple is displaying arrogance bordering on contempt for its customers, and here’s why.

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Posted in: Newsdesk

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Small businesses need more than mobile phones

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Motorola Atrix 4GAn interesting piece of research landed on my desk this week which claimed that small businesses were missing out on new sales opportunities because they were simply unable to respond fast enough in a changing commercial world where 24/7 means just that.

I have to admit to being a little surprised at this notion, and the press release headline which screamed “slow customer response times costing smaller enterprises crucial new business”, as I was under the impression that pretty much everyone had heard of this thing called the internet by now.

I wouldn’t argue with the hypothesis that responding quickly to customer demand is both key to business success and a challenge facing many at the smaller end of the SME scale. Nor would I take offence at the suggestion that social media uptake and a 24-hour society culture is driving customers to expect instant commercial gratification. Indeed, much of the research is a fascinating confirmation of the changing face of the small business today:

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The perils of being an irrational Motorola fanboy

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Cassidy Motorola kit

As you can see from the picture above, I have a deep dark secret to share with you. I am an irrational Motorola fanboy. Here in the picture is the Motorola Xoom tablet and my recently purchased, thoroughly huge and dorky looking Motorola S805 A2DP headphones.

The A2DP bit is what makes them so much fun. Like the HT820, which I also own, these headphones will stream music wirelessly, for a sensible amount of time, over Bluetooth, all the way to the outside world while the Xoom is sitting on my basement desk. That’s 25 feet away in a concrete-walled building.

I think they’re huge fun, and a seriously accompaniment for the Xoom, because you surely cannot be carrying that around in your top pocket when you’re working. The S805 takes the concepts found on the HT820 a bit further, with rings on the unfeasibly huge ear-pads to change the sound level (left ear) and to jump back and forward a track (so that would be the right ear then – I am getting the hang of this consumer electronics review game you know!).

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The time’s right to start your online business

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

retailsales

The Retail Sales Figures for March have been published by the Office for National Statistics, showing a tiny rise in sales over the past year. Some industries were up (mainly non-food) and some down – perhaps surprisingly including DIY sales. All very ordinary, very boring and slightly depressing. Except that hidden within the numbers is a very surprising statistic.

You see, I’ve got only a passing interest in the overall figures. It matters not a jot to me whether B&Q is doing better or worse than last year. I mainly focus on my own companies’ turnover, but I’m also interested in the overall trends in online sales. Fortunately, the ONS presents these figures at the end of its Statistical Bulletin.

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Webuyanylaptop – but not for very much

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

WeBuy AnyLaptop 1

If you’re looking to get shot of an old laptop, then you’re faced with a decision. You could advertise on eBay – if you can stomach the fees – or resort to the cheapskate’s site of choice, Gumtree. Alternatively, you could point your browser at www.webuyanylaptop.co.uk.

It’s gloriously simple. Use the web-based wizard to select the brand and model of the laptop in question, then enter details about its processor, RAM, hard disk and general condition. Once you’re happy with the offer, the company sends you a box, postage pre-paid, and in goes the laptop. Then all you have to do is wait for the cash to appear in your account.

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RockMelt: Google Chrome, only better

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

RockMelt Home

When we last looked at the alternatives to the well-known web browsers, we weren’t particularly impressed by any of them. Now there’s a new kid on the block, RockMelt, that’s coming mighty close to replacing Google Chrome as my default web browser.

When I say replacing Google Chrome, that’s a little disingenuous, because RockMelt is built on the same Chromium browser core as Chrome. It’s Google Chrome with knobs on. But for social networking and news-feed fiends, they are very useful knobs indeed.

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Test

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Posted in: Random

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The nightmare of Patch Tuesday for small businesses

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Windows Update

More and more businesses are dreading that Tuesday every month when Microsoft release a bunch of security patches and updates.

Patch Tuesday should be a thing to look forward to, of course, seeing as it’s when the latest round of application and operating system vulnerabilities get a nice big sticking plaster to protect your systems and data from exploit. The trouble is that when, as with the latest Patch Tuesday, there are no fewer than 17 security bulletins (nine rated as critical) covering a whopping 64 vulnerabilities –  many of the patches requiring a full system restart – it all starts to become something of an IT management nightmare. Especially for the smaller business where there isn’t an IT manager or even an IT department to handle such things.

The vast majority of smaller businesses that I talk to are not IT savvy, they get by and rely upon the systems and software they are supplied to do their job. They don’t switch browser to Firefox or Chrome, they run Internet Explorer because that’s what everyone else uses and it came with the box. What’s more, they often run an older version of Internet Explorer as they apply the “if it ain’t broke” rule. Wrongly in the case of older versions of IE, of course, which are broken from a security perspective.

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The big tablet debate: 3G or Wi-Fi-only?

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Asus Eee Pad TransformerUpon reading my review of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, our picky editor Barry Collins turned to me with a criticism. “The fact that there’s no 3G version,” he argued, “should surely count against it, shouldn’t it?”

Should it? We tend to review the Wi-Fi-only models of tablets, because that’s what we’re usually sent. We’ll mention the 3G options in the review, but it’s up to manufacturers to decide whether to offer them or not, and up to consumers to buy them.

It started a debate, one which began in the office and spilled over to the PC Pro podcast as well. Then I posed the question – to 3G or not to 3G? – on Twitter, and it generated an unexpected level of response. (more…)

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