Technology

Facebook + WhatsApp; Good Deal, Bad Move

Someone might as well scream at the top of his voice, “What is wrong with Zuckerberg?” Facebook has struck a deal with WhatsApp in a move aimed at increasing competitive edge in a flooded market. Facebook shares went down by more than one percent following the announcement. The deal is not bad for WhatsApp, a company with around 55 employees, as the developer’s portfolio will subsume some Facebook shares and his bank statement will contain more digits than before. The question is not whether or not Facebook is reaping yet another mobile app developer off his innovative ideas. The main issue is whether Zuckerberg’s growth strategy is sustainable compared to other social sites such as Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

You could say that Mark Zuckerberg has slept on his laurels and has forgotten what it means to be innovative. When a company buys out its rivals, it only postpones the need to launch an innovative move that will match with the fast-paced technological advancements and the ever-increasing expectations of the consumers. This implies that buying out WhatsApp is not a solution for Facebook’s problems in itself. It is not contestable that Facebook needs to attract more users and advertisers, but buying out other people’s ideas is not the best way to go about it. Zuckerberg is stealing from consumers. Yes, stealing, because WhatsApp, in a few days, will lose its main appeal, absence of adverts. But for now we just have to hope that the next Facebook is expanding it won’t buy out LinkedIn or Google+ (if that is even possible).

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Some of the Top Android Apps

You might want to consider the following applications if you just bought a new android based smartphone and want the best from it:

1.    Documents To Go Install this app and turn your phone into a mobile office. This app will enable you to open, edit, and generate office documents (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel). In addition to that, Docs To Go, will allow you to view any pdf document that you download or transfer to your phone. Besides that, docs to go premium version contains amazing functionalities such as desktop and Google drive synchronization. Image

2.    Swiftkey There are several keyboards on Play Store, but none of them makes tapping words on android glassy screens pleasurable as Swiftkey. The app that retails for less than $5 is better than most keyboards that are available for Android users. It even proves better than iOS and Windows Phone keyboards. It exploits Android’s openness and replaces the existing keyboard that comes with Android phones giving you a better typing experience through its smart predictions and slide function. Imagine sliding your finger to form words instead of typing them, it’s just amazing.

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3.    TrueCaller Everyone hates receiving numerous spam or sales-oriented calls. Fortunately, this excellent app is developed to ensure that phone users don’t experience such frustrations. TrueCaller allows users to search any publicly listed number within their locality or even internationally. The app also comes with a simple call-block method that allows users to allow only certain calls. The app can locate the caller, display names of unsaved contacts, and offer social features. Besides that, TrueCaller also informs users of spam calls that target the database of the application.

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4. Olive Tree Bible The Bible stands as the bestselling, and probably most read book, in the entire world. Olive Tree makes this important life-giving book available and portable for Android, iPad, and iPhone users. This Bible, unlike others, is packed with amazing features, rendered in a gorgeous manner, customizable, and runs smoothly in Android devices. The app supports in-depth bible studies as it comes with several inclusions — commentaries, maps, and dictionaries — that are all available offline. Readers can take notes, highlight verses, bookmark texts and verses, and sync this information with other android devices. Now, Olive Tree Bible comes with free KJV and ESV Bibles.

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5. MyPhoneExplorer Managing Android phones can never be easier than when it is done with this powerful management app designed for PCs. Users install the desktop management software on their PCs and a similar app on their Android phones (accessible from Play Store) to enjoy outlook syncs, management of calls, SMS, Apps, backups, calendar, and so on and so forth. The management software connects to Android devices through WiFi, USB, or even Bluetooth. This is one client that you don’t want to miss in your phone. Download the desktop management application from http://www.fjsoft.at.

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6. Seesmic Seesmic is a good application for social sites frequenters. It offers users the ability to access multiple accounts – Facebook, Twitter, and others, and provides a widget on the homepage that provides users the latest tweets. Besides, it is slick and professional in design. It serves as the one of the best example of innovation in app development.

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7. WordPress for Android I wasn’t going to skip Android’s WordPress. This app began as an independent development of wpToGo, and then WordPress loved it so much that it hired its inventor to be an in-house developer. Now writers, readers, or even lovers of web logging can access all WordPress functionalities on their devices. Besides good integration, WordPress for Android allows users to write and post material at the touch of a button.

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8. WhatsApp WhatsApp grants users free texts letting them communicate with other WhatsApp users, regardless of the associated platform. It also comes with cool features that make it easy to customize, chat with groups, and add a location to chats. This app is an excellent choice for communication across platforms for use with both local and international contacts.

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9. Dropbox for Android As your love for Android escalates, you will find that you need, or simply have, more than one device. You obviously also own a PC somewhere. This makes syncing a need. Dropbox satisfies that the necessity nicely with a robust app that complements the desktop version. The app has a friendly interface, similar to the desktop Dropbox, allowing easy uploading and hasty syncing across all connected devices and computers, if any. Overall, Dropbox for Android is an outstanding and well-priced app (if you need more space than the 2GB that is given freely) for business minded Android users who are on the go.

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10. Evernote After Android’s Dropbox, Evernote stands as the next best option for managing business information in one place. This app lets you sync and stash text notes, files, and voice memos on the phone and gives you access to them through other devices or even a computer. This app is a sure blend of a cool interface, abundant features, and almost-limitless note variety. For this reason, everyone who uses it croons its praises. It is phenomenal and productive regardless of what you need it for.

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Cyber Ratting and Fake WAPs

The term “ratting” is gaining popularity all over the world for all the wrong reasons. No, it is not related to murine rodents in any way. Instead, the term emanates from Remote Administration Tool and refers to the cyber-attacks that take advantage of a victim’s webcam. Ratting actually gets further than just that. Hackers, through the aggressive malware – Remote Administration Tool, can get access to the entire computer of a victim. What’s more, ratters can attack computers that don’t even have webcams. Attackers can see everything in your machine from files, archived passwords to typing histories. These are the last category of people you want to give unmitigated access to your computer. The case is even worse if the slave, another name for a victim, is a female, given that the most distinctive feature of Ratting is the ability to control webcams. Although modern laptops blink while the webcam is in use, ratters have developed a way to disable this notification and access to computers silently.

If you think that ratting is the worst form of hacking that we have today, you are misled. Hackers can also gain unmerited access to your PC by posing their laptops as counterfeit Wireless Access Points. Hackers can use a wireless network card and some software to publicize their PCs as available WAPs that then connects to a legitimate access point in some public place. Think how much you often try to connect to access points that appear on your device’s available list in some airport, coffee shop, or even public gathering. We all want free wireless, but that could come at a high cost at times. Hackers who call their fake WAP legit names have all sorts of people trying to access them. Once connected, hackers can then access unprotected data that is conveyed from the unwitting to the remote hosts that the hackers intend. Hackers misuse the information they get to access Emails, Facebook, and other important accounts belonging to victims. The victims may never get to know who did what or when it happened.

So there you have it, question is, what should you do to prevent these things?Image

Android or Windows?

The song has always been about Android, iOS, Blackberry, and, recently, Windows, when it comes to phones. Consumers truly have a lot to weigh when it comes to choosing the best OS for their mobile phones. Some, however, and it’s sad to say, just buy whatever is available. Well, you have got to choose what is best for you, at least if you have the money to play around with and make a few decisions that are independent of financial status. You have to consider if the pixels, processing power, RAM, internal space, and supported apps truly serve you or regrets will follow shortly after leaving that shop.

Let us begin by looking at Android. What are the pros and cons? Why should I or shouldn’t I go for Android? Well, it is the most famous OS world over. Even the lowliest paid person on earth can afford a handset that runs on one or the other older versions of Android. Android-based handsets simply suit the wallet. This has led to widespread support and myriad apps for Android phones. Every possible app you can think of is available in Google Play. What’s more, you can purchase movies and music using Android phones from various sources. The level of customization offered by Android, both to hardware manufacturers and end users is high. Not all devices that run on the OS are the same. However, the mere popularity of the devices means that consumers can get accessories and third party apps quite easily. Importantly, the ‘Android experience’ has gotten better with every update release. It is now highly intuitive, good looking, and it has a wide range of variety.

Android’s open source OS comes in various versions: ice cream, froyo, and jelly bean. The system is developed by a huge community of programmers who are devoted to releasing new and friendly applications into Google Play on a daily basis. The code keeps the developers hooked and devoted. Google had over 700,000 apps in 2012, competing closely with Apple, which was also bragging of the same number in its store. At this point, I just have to compare what Windows has managed to accumulate in its store, some 200,000 apps. Only. So in terms of software, Android is leading. However, vulnerabilities are high because of the high number of apps. In fact, some claim that Android is leading the race towards the wrong direction. Critics also suggest that Android stands as the most vulnerable OS to mobile malware. If that is a threat or not, I will you to decide.

By now you already know that Windows has an uphill task before it can beat Android, or even iOS, at least in terms of apps and software sleekness. However, it will not be fair to leave it at that, because the PC tech giant is not doing badly when it comes to hardware, especially considering that Nokia develops its hardware exclusively for Windows, not Android, or iOS. The latest Lumia, 1020, has a quad-core processor, good screen, and quite frankly the best camera that worries Google and Apple. Interestingly, Windows has a big AMOLED screen that is further furnished with Nokia’s Clear-Black technology leaving the phone to stand out above the rest. I think you are now seeing where my phone analysis and opinion poll are leaning. Lumia 1520 is dazzling compared to 1020. The best thing about Lumia, that leaves Android to be runners up is the fact that the phone won’t slow down or require you to keep on clearing the cache and list of previously running apps for it to be fast. In fact, Lumia will not even drain your battery for leaving apps running in the background. Without saying much, Windows, ahem, Lumia is greater than Android, but it needs to do more to woo developers to develop Windows-based apps. Till then, let me keep juggling with my not too fast phone that supports too many apps.

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Maintaining Your PC While in Hot Areas

Hot areas such as Turkana call for extra knowledge on computer maintenance. Turkana is hot and your computer is bound to protest too. Laptops or any computer for that matter can get hot leading to several things from slow performance to serious damage. I bet you have experienced overly high temperatures on your machine, especially if you have been on it the whole day. Whether or not you have noticed, it is essential to make sure that the computer is not straining, and danger signs do not result in actual danger. Some simple and cheap measures will keep your running without any worries.

It is highly unlikely that you will not be using your computer for gaming or intensive work that demand your machine to operate at high performance settings. Therefore, adjust your power settings from “high performance” to “power saver” or another balanced mode. This will instruct the computer to engage on a lower gear and reduce the speed of the processor. You can switch back to high processing power through the power settings when in need.  Moreover, you can also customize these settings to suit your needs. Be advised that changing power plans may affect performance and consumption of power. For instance, increasing the brightness of the screen will lead to high power consumption.

Clean the vents of the laptop’s cooling system from time to time. Hot regions such as Turkana are also full of dust. Dust can block or fill the fan vents of your machine. Dust blowers come in handy and will help you solve this issue with ease. If the temperatures still bar you from maximizing the potential of your computer by now, you should consider buying a cooling pad that comes with a fan or two. Some laptop pads that are fitted with vents but can also help in cooling off the laptop by increasing airflow. In addition to that, they are highly portable. However, if you want maximum benefits, go for laptop fan cooling pads. I was contemplating on buying Belkin F5L055, but my paycheck wasn’t ready yet. Maybe next time.

Turkana women examine photos of a festival rehearsal on a laptop in Loiyangaleni, Kenya.

The Android Experience

I switched to a basic phone today in the place of my sophisticated android powered smartphone. I found it to be quite hectic. In fact, I couldn’t function normally without my small, powerful gadget that runs on android 4.0.4. The frustration began barely some minutes after arriving at work. I could not access some of my numbers because my contacts are either saved in my Google account or the phone’s memory. I also have to admit that switching back to a phone with hard keypads was a challenge. By 10 am, I had gone without replying a couple of SMSs owing to the hard-to-type multi-tap keyboard that I have stayed without using for years. I missed the sleek menu that comes with my phone, which I also refer to as my digital companion.

Android smartphones have revolutionized the lives of many, not just mine. It is common to find young people glued to small, sleek devices that are running on one or the other form of the android operating system. Ardent android users are always on the lookout for updates that will add new features to their android phones. The recent announcement of android 5.0 has caused massive exhilaration among many. Those who tout android as a preferable operating system to iPhone, Blackberry, or Windows 8 are saving in preparation for the first device that will enter the market with android 5.0 to be announced. I am also earnestly and anxiously waiting for this mammoth operating system that can engulf in a physically small electronic device. I am willing to purchase the first device that will meet my eye with android 5.0 – be it HTC, Samsung, Sony, Huawei, or even Tecno.

Come evening, I hurriedly left work. I couldn’t wait to have my SIM card back into where it rightfully belongs – behind my sleek android phone. When my android finally powered, I felt some changes in my mind, heart, hands, and the whole body. My fingers started browsing the menu briskly, and I stopped once or twice, not sure which app to open first and which one to leave for later. I had not read my daily verse, so I started with Daily bible app. I then proceeded to setting a new record in racing after opening the Fast racing app. Facebook, oh, how I had missed commenting on my favorite stories with ease. Ten minutes with my android and I am wondering whether I am a victim of technology overload. Evidently, spending a day without my smartphone, my android, and my personal digital partner (PAP) seem a lot like hell than staying for a week without watching TV, or a movie, or spending time with a buddy I like.Image

Microsoft-Nokia Deal

Microsoft took a bold move on 3 September 2013 that could change its view completely. Microsoft wants to recreate itself as a company that offers ‘devices and services’ and it has a built an important step towards that direction. Board of directors of both companies decided to take part in a transaction that will see Microsoft purchasing all devices, patents, licenses, and service businesses owned by Nokia. Microsoft made this move in line with their partnership promise made in February 2011 as well the increasing popularity of Nokia’s Smartphones. This acquisition, unified branding, increased synergies, and faster innovation will allow Microsoft to grow its profits and share in small devices. On the other, this transaction will allow Nokia to gain better sales, a strengthened financial standing, and a solid foundation for forthcoming investments.

The transaction, under the agreement made between the two companies, will cost Microsoft a total of $7 billion. Microsoft hopes to draw cash from its foreign resources to fund this transaction, which forecasts purport will close in 2014’s first quarter. However, shareholders from Nokia’s side, regulations, and other conditions may affect the transaction closure dates. Although Microsoft will bring Nokia, its design, manufacturing rights, and distribution privileges into its fold, it will not submerge all aspects of Nokia. More specifically, this transaction involves Nokia’s Smartphones and devices unit. This unit includes the Lumia Smartphones, a brand that operates on Microsoft’s windows eight operating systems, as well as the Nokia’s Asha phones.

Microsoft will benefit from the acquisition significantly particularly in the Smartphones and devices market. The benefits that the company receives from Nokia present equal importance as the resources it offers. The action made by these two companies will help consumers, shareholders, and employees from both sides. Merging these two teams will improve Microsoft’s profits, share in mobile devices, and strengthen opportunities for both Nokia and Microsoft. Additionally, Microsoft will benefit from Nokia’s talent and proven capability in essential areas such as engineering and hardware design, manufacturing, and supply chain management.

Ballmer, Microsoft’s Chief Executive Officer, states that the Microsoft family will receive Nokia’s incredible party with joy and honor. The two companies have collaborated in many instances for a long time and leaders from both sides anticipate a high execution that will also involve a smooth transition. Microsoft’s forecast expects the acquisition to result in increased share earnings as from FY2015. As for Nokia, the acquisition will give it another chance for reinvention and strengthening of economic grounds. Top management from Nokia believes that the acquisition stands as a safe path that will help the business as well as its shareholders. Additionally, becoming part of an innovative company will benefit Nokia and its employees. Microsoft has vast financial resources, strategy, and a great determination to make it in the mobile industry.

Some of the significant questions about Microsoft’s Nokia acquisition:

  • Should consumers expect new phones with Microsoft’s branding?

Microsoft will receive a ten-year license to make use of the Nokia brand on phones, which includes the Asha and Lumia brands. The company will seek to come up with a unified brand across windows and Lumia. However, Microsoft will maintain the same branding on the Asha phones.

  • Will Microsoft develop products with high and reliable quality after the acquisition sufficient to rise in the Smartphone market?

Nokia and Microsoft have almost similar vision and mission statements that ensure quality in their products. These similarities have made Microsoft and Lumia form good collaborations in the past. Further, Microsoft values seamless integration and hardware experience greatly. Therefore, consumers should expect great results from Microsoft.

  • Will Nokia’s acquisition lead to Microsoft’s breakup?

Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia as a corporation comes as a defensive step. Nokia accounts for more than eighty percent of Microsoft’s phone operating system purchases. Additionally, the purchases stopped a possible merger between Nokia and Android. Microsoft cannot allow the best company using its windows platform to fail or add new platforms.

  • Will Microsoft’s deal with Nokia produce a significant impact the Smartphone business?

The Nokia-Microsoft deal will probably mean a good thing for consumers. The acquisition will mean that the Smartphone market will have three viable choices instead of the current two, Android and Apple’s IPhone. Additionally, many people expected Nokia to run out cash sometime in 2015, and thus Microsoft will serve as its lifeline increasing its stake in the smartphone’s’ business.

Technology Overload

Are we becoming inefficient because of too much technology?

Over the recent past, technology has taken an important place in our lives. I remember the first time I owned a black and white blackberry; I could not let it off my sight or hands. A few years down the line, you cannot look around without spotting a young man or woman, for that matter, fidgeting with a touch sensitive device; could be a smart-phone, iPad, or one of the trending tabs. We cannot miss noting how much technology has changed our lives. We can share information more easily, store huge chunks of information with little or no worry about space, and search for the same information at lightning speeds. However, technology has brought many distractions, so it is more like a double-edged knife.

With technological advancements, the temptation to multitask has increased. A person working on a document can switch to Google search or email by just clicking on an easily accessible icon, and suddenly he or she starts to switch between two tasks. Very few people have ever looked at the bigger picture to understand the influx that comes with these new devices like the iPad, iPhone, androids, or even laptops. A study in conducted recently that involved cutting off access to electronic mail in a place of work for five working days showed amazing results. The results of that study revealed that the employees multitasked less, spent more time on relevant tasks, and had lower levels of stress.

Spending more time on a single task, as opposed to switching from one application or gadget to another, is better. Switching from one task to another leads to cognitive switch, which normally comes at a cost. While we cannot switch off all our smart gadgets off and go back to operating manually, we can make some adjustments that will reduce the technology overload that clouds us. For instance, batching emails, which entails sending several emails at specific times instead of continual emailing, can help a bit. Batching emails can also decrease the overload by reducing the anxiety brought by expecting certain emails. In short, balancing between the e-world and the physical world stands as the best way to increase efficiency and organization.