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    July 19, 2014
    Facebook Rolls Out App For Celebrities

    If you’re a famous person, you have a lot of demands on your time, but there is no demand so great as the demand to interact with the fans.  Thanks to social media, a good celebrity is one who talks to his or her fans, and that’s a lot of pressure.  Not on the celebrities, but on the social media services.  Facebook has been pushed to its limits by Twitter, which offers instant ability to interact with fans.  To respond, Facebook has launched Facebook Mentions, a special celebs-only iPhone app for the famous to interact with us poors.

    “With so many people connected to public figures, it’s really hard to manage those interactions,” said Facebook product manager Allison Swope.  ”We realized we could create a way to make that easier.”

    Mentions is a great help to celebrities, as it helps them keep track of fan trends, keep up (and follow) other famous people and media influencers, and even host a live Q&A session from their iPhone directly.  According to the celebrities involved, it has made interacting with fans a lot easier, and Facebook says that it has improved celebrity use by 50 percent, though it’s still a very new service.  Facebook expects to roll it out internationally in the coming months; for now, the service is US-only.

    “My fans are so important to me,” said singer Austin Mahone.  ”They’re the reason why I make music, and I love sharing my life with them.  (Facebook) Mentions has made it even easier to keep my fans updated on what’s going on in my world, and to respond directly to their posts.”

    Feel free to check out Facebook Mentions, if you’re famous.

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    July 15, 2014
    Microsoft Pushing For $199 Laptops

    The Chromebook isn’t the best computer out there, but for the price point, it’s a pretty top notch device.  It can’t do everything, but it can enough to take care of the needs of most users.  Of course, that is what’s going to cause some issues for Microsoft, the company behind Windows and one of the biggest software providers in the world.  Chromebooks are an attack on their partners, and that’s an attack on Microsoft’s operating systems.  Microsoft is fighting back, cutting prices for OEM software and pushing for $199 laptops.

    “We are going to participate at the low-end,” says Microsoft COO Kevin Turner.  ”We’ve got a great value proposition against Chromebooks, we are not ceding the market to anyone.”

    HP has been the first company to announce their $199 laptop, the HP Stream device.  They didn’t announce much about it, but the fact that it even exists–alongside a couple of other $99 table-style offerings–is great news for the lower end of the marketplace.  The more inexpensive computers in the world, the better off everyone will be.  .


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    July 15, 2014
    Clogging The Tubes

    Posting has been a bit slow around these parts, but it’s been for a very important reason.  Or rather, for a very irritating reason.  Right now, there are seven different devices around me that either can connect or are connected to the Internet:  four laptops, two tablets, the cable box, and my Blu-Ray player (that streams Netflix).

    Not all of these devices are currently on or currently drawing bandwidth, but when there are two or three of them running at one time, there’s a little problem.  When I moved to my house, we had to downgrade from high-speed Internet to DSL Internet connectivity.  Normally, that’s fine; 6MB is enough to do most normal activities online; however, the purchase of a new laptop means there has to be a backup of iTunes from the ancient MacBook Pro, which is too old to connect to the cloud.  So the files from iTunes have to be moved from the MBP to Google Drive, and that means that my bandwidth is all gone whenever those files are being moved.

    It’s not as though I can free up more bandwidth just by willing it, and we can’t get any non-Time Warner high-speed Internet at our house, which means we can’t get any high-speed Internet service at the house.  So that means for vast swaths of time, I haven’t even been able to connect to the Internet, let alone do my usual writing and blogging work.  It’s very frustrating, and it’s a good example as to why you should get as much broadband as you think you’ll need, because too little is not good.

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    July 3, 2014
    Fox Borrows Bioshock Logo

    Video games cross over with the general world in some very strange ways.  Once upon a time, World of Warcraft was a phenomenon on every television thanks to the South Park episode featuring the game.  Other games, from the Super Mario Brothers to Halo, routinely pop up on television or in movies, too.  However, it’s pretty rare that you outright get someone to borrow a video game’s logo for their own purposes.  Not so much anymore.  Fox News was apparently inspired by the logo for Bioshock Infinite.

    “Glad to help, Fox.  Glad to help,” said Bioshock creator and Irrational Games creative director Ken Levine in a Facebook post about the incident.

    Of course, the logo being so similar to the television graphic might be just a coincidence, but both the Fox News report and the game Bioshock Infinite have a strong political component, so perhaps there’s more cross-over than you might expect between the two.  Either way, I’m sure Fox will be either making sure this doesn’t happen again or making sure it happens again, depending on how much they like the publicity.

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    June 25, 2014
    Forget.Me Helps You Be Forgotten

    To their credit, the European Union has been very progressive in fighting for the right of people to be forgotten.  To that end, they’ve managed to convince Google (via the power of a lawsuit) to be persuaded to forget people in its search results.  The EU calls it the Right to be Forgotten, and Google now has a form online for people in the EU to use to try and get search results removed.  However, it’s not all that easy to get Google to cave to your demands, and that’s what is for. is a service used by people who want to make Google forget about them. launched on Tuesday and apparently it was a huge success.

    According to ReputationVIP CEO Bertrand Girin, whose company is behind the service, said by Wednesday “we have had 700 people register and about 80 forms sent to Google.”  He added, ”If we say out of every 100 people in Europe, one person has a problem with a Google search result, and if one in ten of those do the submission, that’s 500,000 people.”

    Of course, just because the service exists, that doesn’t mean it is needed.  After all, the Google removal forms are online and available for free, but there’s the matter of making your attempt as successful as possible.  If Forget.Me is as good as they say they are, it might be worth the money to get the offending search results removed sooner rather than later.

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    June 24, 2014
    Microsoft Outlook Suffers 5-Hour Outage

    If your office is like mine, you depend a lot on managed provider solutions.  Namely, the organization I work for no longer uses locally-hosted email service; our email is provided by Microsoft as an online-only system provided through the state.  Fortunately, it’s controlled by someone in the state organization, using servers that aren’t local, but at least are in the state.  However, people who depend on Microsoft’s own cloud service weren’t as lucky.  Microsoft Outlook was down for 6 hours or more today, leaving thousands of people without email service.

    If you were one of those who suffered through the outage, you have my sympathies.  Our email goes down periodically, and it’s miserable because so much of our communication is done via email.  Lots of folks also depend on email to send documents back and forth, or perhaps they use Microsoft’s cloud storage solution.  Either way, when Exchange does down, everything grinds to a halt.  Hopefully they were able to manage without email for a day.

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    June 1, 2014
    The FCC May Change What Broadband Means

    The word broadband gets thrown around quite a bit, and most people would say that they have broadband internet if they don’t have dial-up modem access to the world wide web of internet information.  However, there are government standards that determine just what constitutes broadband internet.  According to the FCC, “broadband” means 1mbps upload speeds and 4mbps download speeds, but that my be changing.  The FCC may be increasing the speeds needed to be broadband Internet.

    The issue is that 4mbps is almost nothing in this day and age.  If you want to have HD streaming Netflix, you need at least 5mbps, and that’s if that’s ALL you’re doing.  Most people are Tweeting and downloading and streaming several different things at once, which means you need a whole lot more bandwidth just to get by these days.  As someone on a pretty slow broadband connection myself, let me tell you, you miss the extra speed when you don’t have it.

    Here’s hoping that higher requirements for broadband means faster broadband speeds for the end-user customers.

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    May 29, 2014
    Dish Network Will Take Bitcoins

    Are you the sort of person who has a virtual wallet full of Bitcoins with nothing to spend them on and increasing difficulty converting them to US dollars?  Well a great idea would be to spend your Bitcoins on goods and services; unfortunately, there are not too many types of retailers that will take Bitcoins for a variety of reasons.  Dish Network is no longer on that list.  Dish Network will now take Bitcoin.

    That’s a pretty big deal, if only because Dish Network is the largest retailer that will take Bitcoins.  The company will use Coinbase to convert the Bitcoins from digital currency to US Dollars, thereby cutting out a lot of the pain of having and using Bitcoins, as well as minimizing any risk of Bitcoin price fluctuations.   Apparently, some of Dish Network’s employees were vocal Bitcoin advocates, which pushed the company into that marketplace.  Dish already targets tech-savvy consumers; this is another great step in that direction.

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    May 22, 2014
    Chattanooga’s Publicly-Owned Internet

    If you live in a city, odds are your city provides a lot of public utilities.  Where I live, the city owned the power company for decades and it continues to own the water company and the sewer system.  However, one of the things my city doesn’t own is a high-speed Internet provider, because I don’t live in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  I kind of wish I did, because Chattanooga has one of the fastest Internet providers in the United States.

    When Chattanooga’s Electric Power Board was researching a smart electrical grid, they came upon a great idea.  While upgrading the power grid, why not go ahead and install high speed Internet networking materials?  Well after a few lawsuits with Comcast and a grant from the federal government, Chattanooga’s got a high-speed Internet service owned by the city itself.  A connection with 1GB speeds costs $70 a month; while 100MB speeds runs $58 a month.  Customers have access to a triple-play bundle, but more importantly, they have access to Internet significantly higher than the American average of 9.8mb a second.

    “It’s really altered how we think of ourselves as a city.  We’re a midsized, southern city — for us to be at the front of the technological curve rather than at the tail end is a real achievement,” said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.  ”People understand that high-speed Internet access is quickly becoming a national infrastructure issue just like the highways were in the 1950s.  If the private sector is unable to provide that kind of bandwidth because of the steep infrastructure investment, then just like highways in the 1950s, the government has to consider providing that support.”

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    May 22, 2014
    eBay Users Told To Change Passwords

    If you’re an eBay user and you haven’t already changed your password, stop what you’re doing and head over to eBay and immediately change your password.  On Wednesday, eBay suffered a huge security breach and the website’s estimated 145 million customer passwords may have been compromised.  So yes, eBay users, change your passwords now.  eBay apparently has yet to say how many customers were affected, and not all customers have been notified about the security breech, so if you’re concerned about your eBay safety, make a change now.  If you use the same password for more than one thing, well… change all those passwords (and change them to something different for each site).

    “We take security on eBay very seriously, and we want to ensure that you feel safe and secure buying and selling on eBay. So we think it’s the right thing to do to have you change your password. And we want to remind you that it’s a good idea to always use different passwords for different sites and accounts. If you used your eBay password on other sites, we are encouraging you to change those passwords, too,” said a statement from eBay.

    Image:  Telegraph

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