Is Office Mobile a good buy?

Excited that Microsoft has finally developed a mobile version of its Office suite of products for the iPhone? Temper your enthusiasm. As Jill Duffy, a tech reviewer for PCMag.com writes, Microsoft’s Office Mobile is probably not worth the money.

Not free

Duffy writes that Office Mobile is an elegant piece of software, one that’s simple to use and understand. The issue, though, is that accessing the program makes it necessary that you get a subscription to Office 365. That will run you a minimum of $99 a year. And that price is way too high, Duffy writes.

Subscription

As Duffy writes, most smartphone users can make use of a collection of free options to handle everything from word-processing to spreadsheets. So why, then, should a consumer invest nearly $100 yearly for Office Mobile?

Shopping

Duffy recommends that users search the Internet for free apps that handle such tasks as word-processing and spreadsheets. Users will probably discover something interesting: The free apps are often just as effective as Office Mobile. And, needless to say, they come at the low, low price of nothing.

Do you think Microsoft is going backward with its new logos?

People say that everyone is a critic. You can see this firsthand at the Quora knowledge-sharing Web site. A short time ago, a Quora user took Microsoft to task. This user wasn’t annoyed that Windows 8 was clunky and counter-intuitive. The user wasn’t mad, either, that Internet Explorer didn’t return the best search results. No, this user took Microsoft to task for its lack of artistic ambition. Yes, that’s right.

A Quora Critic

This user believes that Microsoft isn’t putting sufficient time into designing artistic, aesthetically pleasing logos. Instead, the user writes, Microsoft is dashing off simplistic, minimalist logos. These logos, the assertion goes, look like graphics pros dashed them off in five minutes. The user adds that Microsoft is dumbing down their logos since introducing Windows 8 and Office 2013.

The argument

To no one’s surprise – at least to anyone who’s ever used Quora – the user’s argument immediately stirred up debate. A lot of fellow site users stood up for Microsoft, declaring that the logos are actually rather striking in their minimalism. And, indeed, when you look at the logos lined up side by side, the effect is a bit striking. Microsoft’s new, simpler icons, instantly tell you what program you can open by touching them.

A Growing Trend?

The fans of Microsoft’s new logos might be right. The purpose of the icons is to let users know what program will pop up after they click on the icon. And the logos convey this information well. You immediately can recognize which icon will open Microsoft Publisher and which will open Microsoft’s new cloud services. And if a logo does that? Then who cares if it’s simple?

These apps make sharing your screen on a tablet a breeze

This has become a tablet world. And why not? Consumers are able to use these nifty and highly portable devices to watch movies, surf the Web, listen to online radio and send and receive e-mail messages while on the go. It’s no wonder that tablet sales have eclipsed the sales numbers of traditional laptop computers. But that doesn’t mean that tablets are perfect. Many users have complained that these particular devices falter when it comes to sharing screens with other people. However this, too, is changing, thanks to several high-end screen-sharing apps for iOS now on the market. Miguel Leiva-Gomez, a writer with the smallbiz technology Website, took a look at three of the best. Start using these apps and you’ll soon be sharing screens easily, even on a tablet.

Join.me

Leiva-Gomez starts his review with join.me for a good reason. To put it simply, it’s one of the better screen-sharing apps for iOS currently out there. You will, though, need to pay for the program’s “pro” version to use it. After you pay out the monthly fee of just under $20, though, you’ll be able to share your screen with co-workers and friends with ease. The program also comes with such goodies as Internet calling, instant chat and file sharing.

Air Sketch

Leiva-Gomez says that this app will turn your tablet into a whiteboard with such features as multiple pages. End users are able to use images from their own libraries as the background of their whiteboard and they can rely on one of five different drawing tools. Users can also use Air Sketch to open PDFs. The application displays everything in real time, creating an environment well suited to collaboration.

Conference Pad

Conference Pad is a simple but effective screen-sharing program, one that Leiva-Gomez gives high marks. Users can open and present PDFs and documents with simply a few taps. The application also provides some impressive zooming features, allowing users to zoom without having to sacrifice any image quality.

Simple steps to protect your privacy

Smartphones, tablets and laptops are wonderful tools: They allow us to search the Internet, answer e-mail messages and watch video whether we’re on the train or waiting for our flight at the airport. But these devices can be dangerous, too. If they fall into the wrong hands, your private information, from your online banks accounts to your e-mail messages to your Facebook pages, can fall prey to cyber thieves. And there’s little limit to the problems they can create. Luckily for us, there are steps that you can use to protect your privacy even in today’s age of mobile computing, and as Forbes says, these steps are very easy.

Password Protect

Forbes recommends you always password-protect your mobile devices. This way, if you lose your tablet or someone steals your smartphone, the thief won’t be able to effortlessly access your device and the private data stored on it. Forbes compares password-protecting your devices to locking your home’s front door; it’s just common sense.

Online Google Alerts

Do you know what people are saying about you online? You might like to. You don’t want any of your secrets sailing around the Internet. Forbes recommends that you create a Google Alert on your name. That way, each time anyone types it online, you’ll receive a message alerting you. Then you’re able to take a look at what’s being said about you. Consider this to be a very easy way to track your online presence.

Signing Out

You just completed changing your Facebook page. You’ve just transferred money electronically to your PayPal account. What do you do now? Make sure, before leaving the site, that you simply sign out. This is especially important if you’re using a computer at a library or any other public space. You don’t want the next user to see your accounts and gain instant access because you’re still signed in. We’re all busy. However you are not too busy to remember to sign out.

These IT projects will boost your business in 2013

If your business isn’t growing, it’s dying. That’s why it’s important to stay on the lookout for new ways to grow your small business. There is one area, though, where small business owners often fail to look for growth strategies: IT. Yes, you can grow your business’ revenue by investing in IT. Small Business Computing.com provides a roadmap, listing several IT projects to help make your business and employees more efficient and productive.

Bring Wi-Fi to your business

A growing number of businesses permit their staff to bring their own electronic devices – everything from laptops to tablets – to their cubicles. The reasoning driving this movement: When people work on laptops and tablets that they know well, they work more proficiently. But allowing your employees to participate in the bring-your-own-device movement doesn’t mean much if your office isn’t prepared with a reliable Wi-Fi network that allows your workers to access the internet, send e-mail and post to social media sites while at their desks. Make installing a powerful Wi-Fi network in your office a top priority for 2013.

Ultrabooks

Ultrabooks are outstanding tools. They’re not as cumbersome as traditional laptops and far more powerful than Netbooks. They can also help your salesforce bring in more business: They can take their Ultrabooks home with them or on the road when they’re traveling to work on reports and presentations. They can run multimedia presentations for potential customers. And Ultrabooks are more affordable than ever today. If you want your employees to reach their full potential, equip them with Ultrabooks.

No more Windows XP

Do you still have computers running the Windows XP operating system? That’s a mistake. As Small Business Computing.com highlights, Microsoft will not provide technical support for this operating system as of early April 2014. The company will also no longer distribute regular security updates for the system as of this time. Running Windows XP, then, means that not only will your employees be working on a decade-old operating system, but their computers will also be highly susceptible to virus attacks. Make the smart move and upgrade to a more current Windows operating system.

Is the U.S. government driving a black market in zero-day bugs?

Stuxnet made big headlines in 2010. That’s when online security experts first discovered this new piece of malware, one strong enough to attack and control the industrial systems used in the nuclear program being developed by Iran. As a newly released story by the MIT Technology Review says, most people today believe the intelligence departments of Israel and the United States collaborated to develop Stuxnet. And that, to many, is troubling news. It’s evidence of a new from of electronic warfare, one in which countries create powerful malevolent software to unleash on their adversaries. And the United States seems to be leading the charge.

A developing industry

What is the long-term impact of malware weapons? The Technology Review story fears that governments, by investing a great deal of research and dollars into creating these virtual weapons, is making an ever-more hazardous Internet. And it appears these fears are justified. Since Stuxnet was unleashed in 2010, it’s clear that governments have invested a lot more money producing malware weapons. No one knows, in fact, how frequently such weapons have been deployed. It’s almost certain many of these weapons have already been unleashed without the public’s knowledge.

A mobile attack?

Even more alarming? Smartphones and tablets are far from safe from this kind of government-created malware. It’s indisputable that consumers are leaving desktop computers and latching onto smartphones, tablets as well as other mobile-computing devices. As this trend gains momentum, governments are focusing their efforts on the mobile market. The Technology Review story says that exploits that focus on mobile software are prized because manufacturers so rarely send updates to their mobile operating systems. As a result these systems are especially susceptible to malware attacks.

An old story?

The Technology Review story ends on this chilling thought: Maybe malware weapons are nothing new. After all, countries are always developing new and more damaging weapons. It ought to come as little surprise, then, that governments are taking to the online world, too, with regards to crafting new weapons. It’s unfortunate, though, that this newest round of arms building is creating a more dangerous Internet.

Internet research made easy

You need to research Einstein’s life for a school paper. You must look into the history of your company’s biggest competitor. The Internet is there for you. After all, the online world is full of just about any stat, study and research paper that you’ll will need to find out about any subject imaginable. But exactly how do you know if the information you’re finding online is actually true? Online research is convenient, but the Internet is also full of half-truths and outright lies. Fortunately, the Lifehacker Web site has come up with a few useful tips for doing accurate research online.

Is that a bias?

No one is free from bias. Everybody has their own strong opinions. These beliefs, though, can alter our online research. For this reason, Lifehacker recommends that researchers first recognize their own biases before performing online research. For instance, if you believe that life starts at conception, you may not be willing to acknowledge studies or opinion pieces taking the opposite side. This can ruin your online research even before you start. Make sure, then, to take what Lifehacker calls your confirmation bias into consideration before you commence scanning the Internet for your research.

Bad information

Once you’re searching online, be skeptical of articles that aren’t backed up with references or scientific facts. Lifehacker says that poorly researched articles, which regularly end up online, are the only things that can spoil your online research faster than can confirmation bias. So make sure you only incorporate articles that come from legitimate sources, such as government agencies, accredited universities and well-respected researchers, in your online research.

Scholarly searches

To discover the current and most comprehensive studies on your subject, you’ll want to expand your search past the usual suspects of Google, Bing and Yahoo! Instead, use customized scholarly searches that can yield more detailed information. Google Scholar and Scirus are powerful tools for academic research. So is PLOS, run by the Public Library of Science, and the United States Library of Congress.

What has caused the demise of the PC?

Is Web site Business Insider engaging in hyperbole when it declared the end of the era of the PC? Maybe. But there’s no question the boom days of the personal computer have ended. Just look at the growing demand for mobile computing. Consumers today are switching to their tablets and smartphones in increasing numbers to access the Internet. That is the primary reason why Business Insider’s editors aren’t too far off in predicting the end of the PC’s computing dominance.

Consumers lukewarm toward PCs

It’s not that people will no longer buy PCs. They will. They just aren’t going to be buying as many. And when they need to check their e-mail messages, update their Facebook pages and search for the phone number of that new Thai restaurant, they’ll be much more likely to punch up the Internet with their smartphones or tablets. Business Insider relies on data from IDC and Gartner showing that PC sales have been flat since 2009 while the quantity of smartphones sold has now overtaken the number of PCs sold.

Tablets are Hot, Not PCs

And what growth that’s coming in computer sales is not from PCs but from tablets. Based on the numbers from Gartner, IDC and Strategy Analytics, tablet sales are now higher than PC sales, too. In a rather amazing result, Business Insider has found that U.S. consumers so love the iPad that they’re buying more than one per household. In July of 2012, 32.3 percent of consumers said their households had two iPads. Another 10.1 percent reported that they had three, while 4.9 percent said they had greater than four.

No young love for PCs

The future doesn’t look any better for PC makers. Business Insider, relying on numbers from Nielsen, found about 40 percent of consumers 13 and older want to purchase tablets in the next half-year. Not as impressive is the number who want to buy PCs. Only 19 percent are interested in computers. And the news is even worse for PC makers when considering young consumers. Business Insider reported that a massive 75 percent or so of young consumers are interested to buy tablets in the next six months, compared to just 30 percent who wish to buy a PC.

Hackers now targeting smart phones

Cyber criminals have long centered on running their swindles on PC users. And they have been tremendously successful in stealing personal data and stealing funds from countless people. Now these cyber criminals are unleashing their malware attacks on smartphones, tapping into another huge potential market of gullible users. This should come as being a surprise to nobody. Smart phones are booming in popularity. And many users treat their mobile devices as miniature computers. They surf the Web, send e-mail messages and bank online using their smart phones. Fortunately, you can take measures to ward off mobile malware. It mostly requires that you employ good judgment when navigating the internet using your smart phone.

Scary Numbers

The security firm F-Secure offers rather frightening numbers: According to the firm, the volume of malware attacks directed at mobile Android devices quadrupled from the first quarter of 2011 to the same quarter in 2012. That’s one among the numerous unsettling statistics regarding mobile malware. CNN Money writer David Goldman, for instance, recently cited an article from security firm Lookout Security that four in 10 smart phone users will click or swipe a suspicious Web Link this year. Goldman also writes that mobile phone cyber attacks have spiked by a factor of six, according to numbers revealed from anti-virus company McAfee.

The Good News

There is some very good news, though. In spite of the surge in smartphone malware attacks, such cyber crimes continue to be relatively rare, particularly if when compared to the frequent attacks on PCs. Goldman writes that McAfee by the middle of 2012 had found about 13,000 mobile malware types. That sounds like a lot. But the same company found more than 90 million forms of malware attacks leveled against PCs. The reason for the discrepancy? First, smart phone code is relatively new. Programmers have learned from the many cyber attacks unleashed against PCs. Secondly, cyber criminals have done so well in attacking PCs, they haven’t had as much incentive to target smartphones and other mobile devices.

Protect Yourself

You can safeguard your phone from mobile malware attacks. Start by getting anti-virus software from reputable companies. Be cautious, though–cyber criminals could create bogus anti-virus software that doesn’t protect your phone but instead sends these criminals your information. Also, make sure to research any app before you download it. You want to be sure that it is offered by a reputable company. Finally, be equally as wary of phishing schemes as you would be while sitting in front of your computer. Never provide your Social Security Number, bank account numbers or other important information in an e-mail. Your bank will not ask for such numbers in e-mail.

Internet trivia for a new year

What do you actually know about the Internet? Sure, you know that the ‘Net helps you view your favorite TV shows, download the greatest hits collection of that hot new band and play word games with contacts who live on the other side of the planet. But did you know the way the Internet actually works? Probably not. Luckily for us, the editorial staff at Web site Business Insider are ready to help. The Web site recently produced a feature highlighting a number of the more unusual facts about the Internet. Here are some tidbits that will help you raise your Internet IQ.

Facebook is King

We know Facebook is huge. But the social network company is not only big. It rules cyberspace. Business Insider quoted data from Hitwise to discover just how big of a player Facebook has grown to be: Facebook accounts for one in every five page views on the Internet. Facebook also, in September of 2012, reached 1 billion users.

The Biggest Data Center is Rising in Utah

Business Insider also mentioned that the largest data center in the world is now being built in Utah. The National Security Agency is behind this center, and when the data center is finished, it will store a yottabyte of data. You might not know what a yottabyte is. But it’s big. It equals 1,000 zettabytes or 1 million exabytes, according to Business Insider.

Streaming is on the Rise

Do you stream movies or Tv programs to your TV, computer or tablet? Even if you don’t, the odds are high your neighbor probably does. Streaming has become one of the Internet’s most widely used features. According to the Business Insider story, quoting statistics from Harris Interactive, greater than 50 percent of U.S. residents are using the Internet to view TV. Streaming video has become a particularly desired service among the younger customers that are flocking to Web streaming. As stated by Business Insider, streaming is a big hit among consumers younger than 35.

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