Category: applications


Multi-ScreenWhen it comes to technology, the budget can quickly get out of hand.  Between buying the tech itself and content and subscriptions to make it useful, a trickle of money can soon grow into a river.

Techsnoop is here to help with tips on what to buy and not buy.  As a card-carrying geek, Techsnoop has trouble deciding what to buy and what to skip in the gadget world.  But one thing is a deal-breaker for tech Techsnoop buys.  Freedom.

This means that software, content and apps are the choice of Techsnoop, not the manufacturer.  Techsnoop is a control freak and cannot be held hostage to specific sites or fixed prices for content and tools.  For example, the HTC EVO 4G LTE smartphone allows you to install apps from Google Play, Amazon app store and even copy books from a computer to the phone all while offering superior phone service.

To Stream or Not to Stream

For streaming, decide what content you view most frequently, then review the offerings of each service.  Don’t buy separate streaming boxes unless you ditch your cable box.  The cable box and wireless router allow you to stream directly from each site so no extra device is needed.  Generally Netflix offers movies and older TV episodes, Hulu focuses on newer TV.  Each comes with a trial period to test out the offerings.  Due to the full Star Trek content and new Disney deal, Techsnoop is a Netflix junkie.

Mobile devices on the Android platform have many free options.  For instance, Amazon offers one free app a day on the App Store and many free books from new and established authors.  Visit the App Store each day to get the free app.  Google Play also offers free books, apps, music and more.  Sign up to receive email notifications of specials.

Multi-Tasking Monster

Whenever possible, purchase items that are multi-functional.  Don’t walk around with a Bat-belt or people will take pictures of you and post them on social media.

If you need a tablet mostly for reading, email and low powered game apps, consider a large screen smartphone and great bluetooth headphones.  A good set of headphones coupled with voice service allows you to make and receive calls hands-free as well as listen to music while reading or checking email.  Spending an extra $50 to $100 on a phone can save you the whole “which tablet” question.  Check out some great deals and options here.

For more high-end computing, try one of the newer tablets.  Some are heavier than a regular tablet, but lighter than a laptop.  The Microsoft Surface Pro comes with full Windows 8 and has lots of power for updating and collaborating on the go.  Samsung has just released a slew of new tablets that justify a look over.  From serious gaming to business applications, the new tablets may have you leaving your laptop at home.

CNET’s video on the top 5 money sucking tech should help you decide which services to keep and which to ditch.  Let us know in the comments what you tossed overboard.

 

 

 

socialmediaIf you are a small business owner, reaching the maximum audience is critical to success.  Without the budget for splashy TV ads and mass mailings, social media is the great equalizer.  Developing a laser targeted social media strategy is the key to leveraging this powerful tool.

First decide what audience you want to reach, then research the metrics for the various platforms.  Google has a wealth of website tools to track traffic and research SEO.  Create a message that can be communicated quickly and easily but encourages interaction and follow up.  Choose a tool that can manage your messages and your interactions without taking all your time.  After all, you have a business to run.

Equally important to your marketing efforts is your digital footprint.  How easy is it for customers to find your business and are the search results accurate?

  • Track your digital reputation by making frequent internet searches for your business name.
  • Note how many links come up and what rank they are.
  • Make sure all links are yours and are positive.

If your customers can’t find you, you lose sales.    Contact the search engine to remove any that are not you.  Yes, spammers will hi-jack your business name to re-direct traffic to their sites.

One great tool is Brand Yourself a web app that allows you to control what links appear in search listings for your business.  By following a number of steps, Brand Yourself walks you through getting useless links away from your search results.  This allows your positive links to rise higher on search rankings.

With both free and paid versions, this is the must-have app for small business and freelancers.

Next, choose one or more management tools to keep up with your social media news, followers and postings.

communit2Commun.it is a good product if you are unfamiliar with Twitter and trying to get the hang of who to follow, who to engage, who to list.  The dashboard gives views of your followers, engaged Tweeps and groups.  Recommendations are made for follows, unfollows, thank yous and engagement.  There are free and paid versions so you can try it out to see if it meets your needs.

Crowdbooster is a good tool for managing both Twitter and Facebook pages and multiple accounts.  It tracks growth, engagement, allows you to schedule tweets and posts and stats can be exported.  There is a free trial period, but no free version.

Let us know in the comments if you have a favorite tool so we can check it out.

Multi-ScreenIf you are an avid eBook reader like Techsnoop and use several sources, it can get very frustrating trying to find a particular book.

Well along comes Calibre an eBook reader, manager and converter.  The Calibre application can read nearly any format of eBook and even convert from one format to another.  This works for books, comics (yah!), news and magazines.  If any of your books is missing data or covers, you can edit the metadata to add this information.  But the best thing of all is not having to search through 3 or more applications for a book.  You can add them all to Calibre and browse in one window for your next great read.

Calibre works with all readers, PCs, phones and tablets.  Calibre has all the usual functions such as resizing text, but it also allows you to tag books for even more searchability.

And the most important, it is FREE.  But consider donating to the creator as this is too great to lose out on.

Happy Reading!

social mediaIf Social Media has your head spinning, Techsnoop is here to help sort out some of the mystery with a list of what to use to keep up.  Social Media strategy depends on your small business goals and niche.  Review here and on the previous post to determine what will work for you.  And all apps are FREE!

Google+ is gaining in popularity, but still finding it’s social media footing.  While used by bloggers, news sites and small business is gaining, widespread audience is not as compelling as most forums.  It is however, important to be found on this site as having a Google+ presence guarantees rankings in the search engines.  Think of Google+ as a posting board to get information out and share stories.  Don’t devote excessive time to it unless you are a blogger.

LinkedIn is the choice social media site for businesses and professionals.  The site and its groups have little tolerance for spammers and fakers.  If identified as one of these, you will be ousted quickly.  Join groups and make sure you like and post on topics of interest.  You can make connections with group members, but have a follow-up or thank you note policy in place when they accept you.  Manners are KING in this group.  Don’t spam, use poor grammar and spelling or make negative comments.

LinkedIn has recently added new features and functionality that allow small businesses to post fan pages that look remarkably like the FB timeline pages.

Businesses and recruiters check this site for you above all others.  Keep your reputation clean and make sure you have a company page.  Post updates of informative articles or company milestones every week to keep current.

Techsnoop’s latest favorite Social Media tool is BufferApp.  This little plug in for browsers allows you to instantly tweet content as you browse the web, but schedules it so you are not spamming followers.  For example, you can tweet this article and use the buffer button to have it automatically listed in a que you set up.  You set the times of day for your tweets and BufferApp sends them out at the next available slot.  There is also a chance to add hashtags and notes to the tweet and it works with Facebook.

A little simpler than TweetDeck, you don’t have to leave your current page or specify times, they are preset and can be updated by logging into your online account.  Nothing to download or install.

If you are a small business person or freelancer, you may want to re-think Instagram.  They have changed their privacy policy to allow them to use and sell your photos to advertisers without compensating you.  This is a copyright violation for small business owners.  You may want to switch to Flickr.

If you have other useful tools to keep your social media organized, please share it in the comments.  Happy surfing!

Hacker“Aw, Crap”.  You may find yourself using this phrase or something stronger if your website or blog gets popular, and you find yourself hacked. Hacking can take many forms from phishing (spoofing your URL), to redirects where the hacker uses your site to direct traffic to their own, or spamming where the hacker inserts their own keywords on your site to boost their own Google rankings.
Google is aware of these tatics and will flag your site in search results if you are hacked.

DO NOT ignore these flags. Click the instructions and check your site for malware. If there is no malware, you may have one of the hacks mentioned above.

Since most bloggers are not web developers, Techsnoop has a quick and simple fix.
Find out when your site was hacked and restore all files from a date prior to the hack. Then change all passwords. Your blog and web host passwords. Make them completely different and stronger.  It is OK to write down your website passwords as long as you keep them offline and somewhere secure.

Techsnoop was recently hacked with a “Pharma” attack.  This code was placed in my site, invisible, but searchable by Google and making my blog look like spam (links & inappropriate words removed);

One italian study looking at the Levitra Online.. diagnoses of wall street. Representation appellant represented order to give Insight Into The Payday Loan Process .. them major pill viagra. As noted the size locations presence or by Generic Cialis Online .. dewayne weiss psychiatric pill communications. Service connection on and are addressed cash loan .. in treating erectile mechanism. Eja ..medicine of disagreement nod Viagra .. in adu ..problem? Isr med assoc j montorsi giuliana meuleman e ….Unsurprisingly a long ..in place by Cialis .. an ..devices have obesity. Effective medications it can be attributable to Viagra .. change your doctor may change. Thus by tulane university researchers published in july the secondary condition the two matters the arteries.

WTH?  My blog is on technology, design and movies.  But spammers use your search rankings to get their own increased.  Since Google is on to them, it doesn’t work long, but it makes your rankings suffer.

If you catch this right away, you can preserve your standings.  So,

  1. Search your sites every week and check your Google Analytics to make sure your site is not going down in the standings.
  2. Use the “remember your password” function of your browser so you are not typing in your password every time.  This makes them accessible to keylogger viruses.
  3. Scan your computer frequently to clean out any malware or viruses that may be dormant but sending out your information to hackers.

Because Techsnoop checks search rankings and Analytics every week and so only had this for one week.  Imagine if you are hacked and don’t find out for months?  The damage to your rankings would take months to repair.

So, as Techsnoop blogged earlier this week, Security is critical for small business.

If you like to be on top of the latest in technology, here is a round-up of the most useful items coming out soon.

Human-technology interfaces are undergoing upheaval.   The mouse is dying and the physical keyboard may be next.  Touch screen and gesture based technology is growing fast.  Now LuminAR has developed the light bulb as touch screen interface to be placed anywhere.  The projection creates an instant display that interacts with user gestures.  It can be used as a display or to scan and send documents.  The bulb will be able to be placed in any lamp as plug and play with your wireless network.

For on-the-go pet owners Pintofeed lets you feed your furry family from your smartphone.  There is a feeder that can be programmed manually or, with a downloadable app, can be remotely programmed to kick out a half-cup of food for Fido or Felicity.

 

More human-machine interface technology comes from the portable, virtual keyboard which can be used with any device;

 

Samsung is on fire with great tablets, smartphones and now the man-cave dream; an 85″ ultra HD TV with 8 million pixels.  Yes, 8 million.  If money is no object, treat your hubby to ultimate bragging rights this Christmas.

Parents everywhere will appreciate the Owlet baby monitor which straps onto baby’s foot and monitors heart rate and blood oxygen levels.  An alert is sent to your smartphone if there are changes.  Created to give parents extra response time in case baby stops breathing.  Not yet ready for production, it will bring huge peace of mind to parents everywhere.

Happy Holidays from Techsnoop.  If you are a freelancer or small business owner, you probably have an extensive online presence.  Take the holidays as an opportunity to review your security procedures.

Many small business owners treat their business security like their individual security.  This can be risky because the business has more online exposure than individuals and there are more people accessing records and clicking links.  If you sell online, my friends at Garage Sale Academy.com can give you great tips on selling safely.

We live in the age of the Cloud and most business is conducted at least partly through cloud-based services or applications.  These transactions generally happen smoothly with no issues.  But, one tiny mistake can cost you your business or online life.

According to Wired.com,

“Hackers are increasingly going after small businesses,” says Jeremy Grant, who runs the Department of Commerce’s National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace. Essentially, he’s the guy in charge of figuring out how to get us past the current password regime. “They have more money than individuals and less protection than large corporations.”

This puts small business owners in the hacker sweet-spot for targeting.

Staying Safe

First, passwords.  Use a combination of uppercase, lowercase, numeric and special (if allowed) characters in all passwords.  Make sure they are a minimum of 8 characters long and use a different one for each site.  Yes, it is a lot of work, but isn’t keeping your business worth it?

Set up password reset information or questions with answers that are not published anywhere online.  If the information is published online, chances are hackers can look it up and use it to guess your password or have it reset.

Links are the gold standard for “phishers”, those emails sent from businesses you know (or seem like it) and have a link to click to log in to your account.  Get around this by NEVER clicking links in the emails unless you requested a reset or other information.  Always go into your browser address bar or your bookmarks to get to a site that requires sign in.

Delete employees or partners who have left the company right away.  They may not mean any harm, but having an unused profile with access to your records opens the door for hackers.

Change passwords frequently.  This may seem a no-brainer, but most small companies do not have a password reset system in place.  Also, have common passwords blocked from your system.  In the year 2012 the word “password” is the most used password online.

Finally, get and use the strongest firewall, antivirus and security software you can afford.  This is not the place to skimp in your business.  If someone gets into your accounts, they can completely destroy your data and your life.

Have a safe and prosperous year.

 

 

(Credit: DKemp Designs)

Are you a web designer who needs to understand how to integrate jQuery into your web designs?

Techsnoop is here with timely tutorials on how to link jQuery files to your sites so they work smoothly.

The first tutorial is a basic one of how to add jQuery to your site so it works properly.  The second is a bit advanced, but it gives you a simple demonstration of how jQuery can jazz up your sites without using Flash.  Since many mobile devices do not support Flash, it is important to be device neutral in your designing.

Whatever your design role is, understanding how jQuery adds dynamic movement to the web is important.  Movement and interaction are key concepts that “sell” your site to customers.  Anything that results in higher conversions is a best practice for future of web development.

Have a great week and get your skills polished.

 

iPad mini

(Credit: Apple)

If the only thing holding you back from buying an iPad was the price or size, the iPad Mini is for you.  All the features and sleekness of an iPad with less price and bulk (7.2mm thick and only .68lb), make this a must-have for you.  Hurry, go get one now.

But if you are budget conscious, know that there several 7 inch alternatives to the iPad Mini.  Google has the Nexus with great features and reviews, Samsung has the Galaxy Tab 7.0 and of course, Amazon has the Kindle Fire.  Of this group, only the Galaxy Tab approaches the price of the iPad Mini.

Specs and usage for these products are similar so the decision comes down to what is the most important feature to you.  Personally, Techsnoop loves many Apple products, but has an aversion to being held hostage to software.  When you purchase a product, it should be yours to use as you wish without restrictions on where and how you get your software.

The maximum amount of price, features and software flexibility comes from the Nexus.

Angry Birds/Star Wars

(Credit; Rovio)

Yes, Star Wars fans, it has come to this.  Angry Birds is so popular it is now eligible to become a Star Wars spoofer.

Techsnoop for one is happy.  Star Wars is a favorite franchise and the Angry Birds games have become a favorite also.  The blending can only mean good, clean family smack-down fun.

In the world of mobile gaming, Rovio has hit another home run.  This game will use the physics of Angry Birds Space to provide the mindless mayhem the franchise is famous for.

According to TechCrunch, the birds play Jedi and the pigs play the evil Empire to no real surprise.  In addition, there will be board games, plush characters and costumes.

The actual game does not come out until November 8, but the toys and costumes will debut today at Toys R’ Us.