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.

Can you guess which mobile device is hacked most often?

Apple’s iPhone collection of smartphones remains loved by consumers. Unfortunately, they’re also well-liked by a less savory group, hackers. Business Insider recently documented on a new study that found that the iPhone stands as the most hacked mobile device. And most stunning? It’s not even close – the iPhone is the most hacked by a lot.

The most hacked

Business Insider reported on the latest figures from Web security company SourceFire, which released the report “25 Years of Vulnerabilities.” This report charted the Critical Vulnerabilities and Exposures — better known as CVE — of a host of software and mobile devices. The CVE is the standard that security companies use when charting cyber-exploits. SourceFire found that 210 CVE reports had been filed on the iPhone. For comparison’s sake, Android only had 24 CVE reports.

What’s behind it?

This begs the question: Why have iPhones been hacked so many more times than have Android mobile devices? Just as with so many other big questions, there aren’t any easy answers. Business Insider ponders whether part of the reason could be the iPhone’s popularity. The devices, after all, remain a top seller. But the SourceFire report states that Android has received fewer CVEs in 2012 than it did in 2011. This drop happened even though Android enjoyed a big rise in market share last year.

Going after the king

A recent interview with the SourceFire report author on the ZDNet Web site proposes another excuse for the high number of iPhone hacks: Hacking the iPhone might present a challenge worthy of the most talented hackers. Consider how Android devices work. They make use of an open platform. Consequently developers could create malicious third-party apps that users can download onto their phones. That’s not very much of a challenge for hackers. But hacking the iPhone, which does not boast an open platform? That’s a true test of a hacker’s skill.

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.

Smartphone switching and why to do it

Are you like technology writer Andy Ihnatko? The writer never imagined he would ditch his iPhone. As he writes in a recent column for the Tech Hive Website, he obtained his first iPhone when Apple was launching its first-generation versions. And he has raved about the gadgets in his tech writing. Nevertheless that didn’t stop Ihnatko from switching just recently to a Samsung Galaxy S III. The reason? The Android operating system that powers the phone. In Ihnatko’s opinion, this operating system has grown to be more efficient, powerful and intuitive compared to the system powering iPhones, iOS.

Making the move toward Android

Ihnatko writes that he’s long been considered an Apple fanboy. He purchased the first-generation iPhone long ago. And stayed with the iPhone brand until switching, very recently, to a Galaxy S III smartphone from Samsung, a phone powered, of course, by the Android operating system. And just why did Ihnatko decide to switch? Put simply, he considers the Android operating system of today to be the superior choice.

A great operating system?

Ihnatko writes that the Android operating system has simply grown into what he calls a great operating system. Simultaneously, the hardware that runs this system – the smartphones themselves – have become more powerful, too, he writes. That combo has steered him away from iPhone and toward Android-powered smartphones. Ihnatko is so enamored of his Galaxy smartphone, he has even given up on the unlimited data plan he held with his iPhone, a plan he had since he had joined iPhone nation so early.

Two crucial factors

So, what makes Android better, as stated by Ihnatko? First, Android phones come with better keyboards, he writes. This is very important for someone who answers several e-mail messages and sends out several Tweets every day. Then there’s screen size. Ihnatko states that the screen on his iPhone now seems tiny in comparison to the screen on the Samsung Galaxy S III. In today’s mobile world — when we spend a lot of time watching video and accessing the Web with our smartphones, that larger screen means a lot.

Manners matter when you’re sending e-mail

How many e-mails did you send out today? You probably lost count at some point shortly after lunch. The odds are that you sent over a dozen messages to family members, friends, clients and co-workers. Here’s the big question: Were any of these e-mail messages rude? Were any overly brief? Would any one of the messages you sent today make their recipients wonder if they had done something to offend you? Yes, there is such a thing as e-mail etiquette. Here’s a short primer regarding how to mind your manners when sending e-mail.

Brevity can be off-putting

How many times have you gotten an extremely brief e-mail message? It’s not hard to think that the sender is angry with you for some reason. However, let’s suppose the sender was sending the message via an iPhone or iPad? It isn’t a simple task to type on small mobile devices. And for that reason, a lot of us keep our messages short when typing on those irritatingly constraining pop-up keyboards. To let readers know that this is the cause for the brevity, create a specific signature for any e-mail accounts you use on smartphones and tablets. As per the Web site Mashable, this signature should tell folks that you’re e-mailing from a mobile device, which is the reason your message is very short. For example “Excuse my brevity; I’m typing this on my iPhone” should do the job.

Always answer

When your inbox is back logged, it’s very easy to let some messages languish without response. You’re simply short on time. But not responding to an e-mail message from a co-worker, friend or family member is fairly rude. Even if you can’t yet address the actual question in an e-mail message, make sure you send back a quick reply explaining that you’re flooded with other tasks but will get to the question as quickly as possible.

Take your time

CBS News also advises that you take time to actually proofread your e-mail messages before sending them. It’s tempting to quickly dash off a message and hit “send.” Doing this, can leave you with a message that’s loaded with typos. Worse yet, you might forget to include a key attachment. Don’t rush. It’s respectful to make sure that you are sending out a competent e-mail message.

Keep your voice down

You wouldn’t shout in a normal conversation. Don’t do it in an e-mail message, either. If you don’t know, shouting in e-mail means typing your reply in all capital letters. This is glaring to the eye, and a big e-mail no-no. So stick to the normal rules of capitalization when penning your e-mail messages.

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.

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.

Enhance your Windows 8 experience with right peripherals

Windows 8 represents a dramatic change for Microsoft’s venerable operating system: It’s created to work not just with mouse and keyboard but also with a touchscreen. But many users who upgrade to the new os aren’t going to be running Windows 8 on a touch screen. They will be relying on older computers that still operate the old-fashioned way, with mouse and keyboard controls. Then there are tablet users, users running Windows 8 only on tablets are not receiving the full Windows 8 experience. There are some functions that run better with mouse and keyboard control. That doesn’t mean, though, that owners who rely either on tablets or traditional computers won’t be able to use the many features built into the new operating system. They can. They only have to buy the right peripherals. PC Magazine recently ran an article outlining exactly what these peripherals are.

Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard

PC Magazine points out that the Microsoft Wedge is not merely a portable keyboard. It’s also an indispensable tool to allow tablet users to get the most of the Windows 8 experience. For one thing, the keyboard provides a better typing experience than your tablet’s onscreen keyboard. Secondly, Windows 8 features are included in the keypad. The cover becomes a tablet stand, allowing you to approximate the desktop experience.

Logitech T650 Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad

Want to access all those touch-screen features incorporated into Windows 8 without having to get a tablet or other touch-screen device? Try the Logitech T650 Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad. The product works so well the editors at PC Mag have made it their top choice for Windows 8 computer mice.

Kingston DataTraveler Workspace

The Kingston DataTraveler Workspace is a truly impressive device. It looks like a typical USB drive. However actually holds Windows To Go, a portable Windows 8 operating system. You heard that right, using this device you can now boot up Windows 8 on any PC. It’s a easy way to enjoy the Windows 8 experience while you’re on the road.

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.

Hate your e-mail app? Try Mailbox

Here’s a simple truth: Most everyone with a smartphone uses it to view and send e-mail messages. But no one appears to like their mobile e-mail programs. Tech company Orchestra, though, hopes to change this. The company recently published Mailbox, its new e-mail client for your iPhone. The iphone app is receiving great reviews.

Features

Tech writers happen to be enthused about Mailbox for iPhone for one primary reason: It is easy to tell it’s designed specifically for a smart phone. This represents a big difference from most mobile e-mail programs. Too many of them operate as though they were designed for desktop and laptop computers and then imported, with few changes, to mobile platforms. Mailbox for iPhone doesn’t feel as if it’s designed this way. That’s because to delete messages, archive them, save them for a later date or respond to them, you apply the swiping motion so common to today’s smart phones and other mobile computing devices. This straightforward change gives Mailbox for iPhone an advantage over its rivals.

Viewing

Supporters of the new Mailbox app point out that sending e-mail messages feels a lot more like Tweeting or texting. This is a pretty heady compliment; after all, most smart phone users prefer texting or submitting quick Tweets to depending on traditional e-mail programs to send messages. Mailbox also configures e-mail messages so they are easy to read on a typical smart phone screen. When messages are first displayed, for example, Mailbox does not show unneeded information like signatures. It’s only when users tap on messages that more info — such as the “To” and “From” features — are displayed.

To Do

Mailbox for iPhone also acts as a handy to-do list for replying to e-mail messages. For example, when you read an email, it is easy to assign it a priority. You could choose to have the message reappear in your e-mail inbox, for action, two days later. Should the message carries a lower priority, you can ask for it to appear again in a month. This supplies users with a simple way to gain some control over their incoming e-mail messages. For anyone who is frustrated by your present mobile e-mail program, it might be the perfect time to explore the iPhone version of Mailbox. You just might discover that it’s the perfect e-mail application on your smart phone.