Monthly Archives: January 2013

Office 2013 Is Here

It’s finally official. Microsoft is launching the new Office, aka Office 2013, today – January 29.

There have been lots of rumors that January 29 would be the day that the latest version of Office would be generally available via retail channels. But thanks to a tweet from the Office team, and a #Timeto365 campaign/hashtag — we now know Microsoft is “launching” the new Office product today in Bryant Park in New York City.

Microsoft released Office 2013 to manufacturing on October 11, 2012. The company made the final release available to MSDN and TechNet subscribers, as well as volume-licensing customers, before the end of last year. Recently, Microsoft made $10 versions of the final Office 2013 available to volume licensees with Software Assurance as part of its Home Use Program.

Microsoft officials have been saying for a couple of months that Redmond planned to make the final release commercially available in the first calendar quarter of 2013.

The company has already taken the wraps off some of its Office 2013 SKUs. Microsoft will be pushing a new, subscription-based version of Office that it has named Office 365 Home Premium. This product name could lead to some consumer confusion because, unlike the other Office 365 SKUs, the Home Premium version isn’t a Microsoft-hosted version of Office. Instead, it’s a downloadable, locally installable versions of the Office 2013 product for which users will be charged a monthly or annual “rental” fee. For that subscription fee, users will have the right to install Office 2013 and/or the Office for Mac 2011 programs on up to five PCs and Macs in total. The “home premium” version is slated for consumers and small business users. See additional information here:

Office 365 Home Premium: In a nutshell, instead of paying for a boxed or downloaded copy of Office, you can “rent” it for $99.99 a year. Why on earth would you pay every year to use the software you can buy just once? For one thing, Office 365 Home Premium includes not just the four “core” programs offered in Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote), it adds Publisher and Access. The equivalent Office 2013 suite with Publisher and Access–Office Professional–will cost $399.99 if purchased outright. The Office 365 subscription also gives you 20GB of extra SkyDrive storage and 60 minutes of Skype calls, plus the license is good for five users across a mix of five PCs or Macs.

Microsoft officials have also said that the “real” Office 365 update should be available around the time of the client launch. Microsoft Office 365 account managers have been busily prepping reseller/integrator partners for the Office 365 refresh for the past couple of weeks.

 There’s still no official word on what version will follow up the Mac 2011 version currently available.

There are TONS of posts covering this release – just Google Office 365 Home Premium.

Why Buy Software When You Can Rent It

Hulu did it for video, and Spotify did it for music. Now Roozz is hoping to do the same thing for software: bring it to the cloud, in a hosted, pay-as-you-go format. The Roozz End User version is slickly designed and mostly easy to use, but, for now, at least, it’s a bit hindered by the limited selection of applications.

To use Roozz, you simply point your browser to The company says it works with all available browsers.  You’ll need to go to Roozz End User tab (as opposed to Roozz Developers, which is for software vendors who want to rent out their wares). From there, you install a small plugin, and you’ll be able to run any of the available applications right in your browser. You can scan Roozz’s list of available applications at the site, where they’re neatly listed by category. Hovering your mouse over the titles shows you a brief description of the application, and the rental fee if there is one.

Many of the titles on Roozz are available for free, but some are available for rental only. The prices, which are set in per-day, per-week, or even per-year fees, seem very affordable. Some titles cost 99 cents for a week, while others are less than $4 per day. The most expensive title I saw in a quick scan was a game demo that cost $25 for a three-month rental. Prices are determined by the software publishers, but Roozz says it has offered input on pricing, as this rental model is somewhat new.

Roozz’s selection is somewhat limited, but it does include a good number of titles you’d be better off renting than buying. As of this writing, the company claims approximately 160 title. for rent and is planning to expand its catalog, saying it expects its library to reach 300 titles in 2013 and “upwards of 1000” in 2014. The current library includes a whole host of titles I’d never seen or heard of, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t include some worthy applications, including titles like Audacity, Irfanview, and Xmind.

Roozz features several apps that fit with its rental model, as they’re the kinds of applications you may only need to use once or twice, so renting them makes more sense than buying them. For example, you can rent ConvertXtDVD, an application for burning videos to DVDs, for $12.38 for a one-week rental period. If you’d like to buy the application, it will cost you $45. Similarly, you could rent Able2Doc a PDF to Word Converter for $6.61 per day. If you’d like to buy the application, which converts PDFs to editable Word documents, you’d have to shell out $50.

If it was not for the Web browser address bar, you might never know you were running software in the cloud, not on your desktop. Launching an application involves little more than double-clicking a title, accepting the EULA, and paying for the software when necessary. (Payments are made through PayPal or a credit card.) In all, the process is quick and easy, much more so than downloading an application and installing it on your hard drive.

Overall, using the applications in my browser window felt no different from running similar titles on my desktop. The response time was quick, with no noticeable lag—a far cry from when I first tested software-as-a-service products years ago, when many applications seemed to run at dial-up-like speeds even over broadband connections.

Roozz and its current business model shows plenty of promise. It’s a bit hampered right now by its limited application selection, but that should improve with time. If it does, Roozz could be a software force to be reckoned with.

Snapchat Real Time Picture Chatting

You may not have heard of Snapchat. But if there are teenagers or 20-somethings in your life, it’s a safe bet that they have.

Snapchat is a mobile app which lets users share images or videos that disappear after a few seconds. That’s right — they vanish forever in the time it takes you to read a tweet.

In a little over a year since it was released by a Stanford student and his recently graduated business partner, Snapchat has quietly amassed millions of users and now claims to process more than 30 million messages a day. Some bloggers have called it the “next Instagram.”

Not bad for a mobile tool which, rightly or wrongly, is often cited for one very specific ability — the “sexting” of naughty images to other users.

Combining cameras; young people; and secret, self-destructing messages could only lead to trouble. In an age when young people are constantly being warned not to post inappropriate things online, Snapchat offers a degree of freedom by letting users share unfiltered thoughts or images without much fear of reprisal.

In some cases teenagers are using the app to safely explore the sort of silly, unguarded, and sometimes unwise ideas that have always occupied the teenage brain … in a manner that won’t haunt them forever. In other words, they’re chatting with Snapchat precisely because it’s not like chatting with Facebook.

Not to be outdone, Facebook last month actually launched a virtually identical social app called Facebook Poke, a mobile re-imagining of one of the site’s earliest, and ultimately most ridiculed, features. Both apps let users send images or short videos and messages via their smartphones. The sender can choose how long the message will be visible — up to 10 seconds — before it self-destructs.

If Facebook was looking to flex its billion-user muscle to take over the instant-chat market, it doesn’t appear to be working. Last Thursday, Snapchat was the sixth-most popular free app for Apple’s mobile devices. Facebook Poke wasn’t even in the top 100. A look by analytics firm Topsy showed that mentions of Snapchat on Twitter spiraled to more than 212,000 on New Year’s Day, up from about 16,000 on December 20, the day before Facebook introduced Poke. Facebook Poke got 1,822 mentions on January 1. Instead of siphoning users from Snapchat, Facebook’s move appears instead to have launched the Snapchat app to new heights

So, does that mean young, socially savvy users are sending millions of racy pictures of themselves through cyberspace every day? It’s difficult to say. Technological advances and nudie shots have shared a strong, if secretive, relationship for centuries. From the printing press to pay-per-view to VCRs, to new tech (particularly the kind that creates new levels of privacy) has always been followed closely by folks figuring out how to personally or professionally profit from this type of questionable usage.

There are clear, and sometimes ugly, signs that sexting is common on Snapchat. A Tumblr blog full of nude and semi-nude images, was started up last month by a “party photographer” who says he put out an open call for salacious shots on Twitter and was overwhelmed by the response. Another Snapchat-themed blog on Tumblr is filled with complaints about male users sharing unseemly photos of themselves.

Snapchat users may think their naughty images will never come back to haunt them. But people can still grab screenshots from their phones, even though both Snapchat and Facebook Poke notify the sender if the recipient of an image takes a shot of it.

And last week, Buzzfeed exposed an apparent security flaw that it says lets recipients retrieve videos sent via Snapchat. All of which should be bad news when young people and questionable decisions collide amongst the dark portals of the Internet.

So, if not for naughty bits and bytes, what exactly is the purpose of sending images and videos that rapidly disappear? In a blog post celebrating its first anniversary, Team Snapchat shared a vision that tries to come off as downright wholesome. “We believe in sharing authentic moments with friends,” it read. “It’s not all about fancy vacations, sushi dinners, or beautiful sunsets. Sometimes it’s an inside joke, a silly face, or greetings from a pet fish.”

Bottom line – if you have teens or tweens with smart phones, perhaps you should have a look at the Apps they use and get ready to share your parental guidance and wisdom. If you wand additional information about this app just “Google” Snapchat.

If you want additional information about this app “Google” Snapchat

Does Your iPhones Battery Life Stink

iPhone battery life got you down? How about 2 weeks between charges?

One of the most often heard complaints about iPhones is the short battery life. I know that I have to re-charge my iPhone 4 every night and depending upon that particular days usage sometimes even mid-day to stay connected.

Now a Wilmington, Massachusetts based company, Lilliputian Systems, headed by a handful of MIT researchers may have developed a solution for us all. Nectar, is the first product launch based on the revolutionary Silicon Power Cell technology.

Nectar is a compact, lightweight and portable “plug-less” charger that powers and charges a variety of Consumer Electronics (CE) products, such as smart phones, tablets, mp3 players, eReaders, bluetooth headsets and digital cameras – virtually any USB compatible device.

This game-changing product has the capacity to power/recharge CE devices for several weeks on a single Power Pod without the need for traditional wall outlets. To the consumer, it is like having a wall outlet in their pocket. The Power Pods are safe, easy-to-use, inexpensive and recyclable. The extended run-time and “instant recharge” features of the nectar™ provides long-lasting power for CE devices users, and its ability to work with multiple devices reduces the need for consumers to carry multiple cables and power adapters.

Nectar has been engineered to be environmentally friendly – six times more efficient than a traditional charger that is plugged into a wall outlet. Equivalently stated, the nectar can cut the consumers’ carbon footprint by 83% when charging their CE devices. The product has been approved for international shipping, and for carry-on and use aboard aircraft by the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Pre-orders for this device are available starting today – Tuesday January 8th, 2013. Go to their website to get on the list or you can expect to see Nectar show up in Brookstone stores shortly after launch. Expect the device to hit the market at around $300.00 ($299.99) with Nectar Pod cartridges to retail for $9.99 each.

Current press release

3 Simple Tricks To Get More Done Every Day

In today’s crazy-busy world, who doesn’t want to cram more “done” into your day? We’ve got 3 really simple things you can do to get more work done for the hours you’re putting in.

Use dual monitors.

According to a University of Utah study, you can increase your efficiency by 25% just by adding a second monitor. Performance measures included task time, editing time, number of edits completed, number of errors made, as well as usability measures evaluating effectiveness, comfort, learning ease, time to productivity, quickness of recovery from mistakes, ease of task tracking, ability to maintain task focus, and ease of movement among sources. All of these factors combined show truly increased productivity.

Block social media sites and/or other non-work related content online.

THIS one won’t be popular for a lot of people, but if you want to get more done, then take the distractions out of your day. Of course if your job is “social media director” for your company, this doesn’t apply; for all the other workers in your office who don’t NEED to go on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to do their job, this will remove the temptation to “snack” on social media sites throughout the day, which add up to hours wasted on entertainment surfing. Content filtering software can easily manage which sites you can and cannot go online to view, also keeping employees from gambling, searching for jobs, reading the news or visiting sex sites.

Set up remote access.

It’s incredibly easy to access files, e-mail and programs from home (or while on the road) these days using cloud technologies or other remote access applications. Not only does this allow people to keep working when forced to stay home with sick kids or to wait for the plumber to show up, but employees would also put in several more hours of work on their own initiative if they could easily jump on their home PC and put in a few hours.

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