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    August 19, 2014
    Verizon Tops Speed And Reliability Measures Yet Again

    Once again, Verizon is the king of cell service providers.  According to RootMetrics, Verizon bested the competition in all categories except text messages, where it came in second to AT&T.  However, the gap between Verizon and AT&T is very narrow indeed, so it’s looking like a real war of attrition between the two top providers, with everyone else fighting for third place.  Speed, performance, call performance, data performance, reliability… everything but texting was Verizon’s category to win, with AT&T nipping at their heels the entire way.

    Interestingly, T-Mobile is making a big push as well, improving its coverage in several big cities and states and making big strides in ratings from where it once lingered at the bottom of all the rankings.  Of course, performance in a few locations isn’t performance everywhere, and if you’re going to be doing any kind of traveling, Verizon is probably still your choice to get coverage in areas in the hinterlands, as well as a performance leader in big cities and most states.  Any improvement is a good sign, and it’s nice to see that T-Mobile is teaming its renewed push for customers with a renewed interest in improving service.

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    August 15, 2014
    Microsoft: Give IE Another Shot

    Would you ever go back to Internet Explorer after having left the browser monolith for one of the new kids on the block?  I’m not sure I would (though I don’t have any terrible stories to report about using IE), but Microsoft is trying an unusual tactic to boost IE’s browser share back to the heights it once enjoyed in the 1990′s:  asking politely.  In a thread on Reddit, Microsoft employees asked users to give IE another shot.

    “Often times the decision to not use Internet Explorer is largely based on experiences from a decade ago, and a much different IE,” argued Microsoft’s Jonathan Sampson during a Reddit AMA.  ”That being said, we know it’s our job to change the public perception, and to win the hearts of users everywhere.  Each [person who] opens IE, and downloads another browser, is another person we’ll be working even harder tomorrow to win back.”

    I’ve used IE at work here and there, and I have to admit that after the clean interface of Google Chrome, it’s really hard to go back to IE (though admittedly I may not be using the latest version of IE given how slow things to move in the real world when you’re dealing with tens of thousands of computers spread across hundreds of locations).  Still, it hasn’t been all bad.  It seems functional enough and I don’t have any major complaints that don’t stem from it not being the Google Chrome I’m used to.

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    August 8, 2014
    Russia: Show ID To Use Wi-Fi

    The Russian government isn’t exactly the most friendly organization when it comes to embracing democracy.  After all, this is a country that basically has invaded another country using proxy fighters, so they’re not big on respecting, well… any sorts of rules that don’t benefit them.  It’s very hard on the people of Ukraine, but the people of Russia are suffering under the yoke of their government as well.  Censorship is increasing, and public protest is getting bottled up, and even free public Internet isn’t so free.  Russia now requires public Wi-Fi users to show ID to log in.

    Not only does the law change how people use Wi-Fi, it also changes how website operators will do business.  If a website is read by more than 3000 people, the operator must publish under his or her real name.  If the government asks, then that website operator must register with the government to continue publishing.  Talk about a way to chill public protest.

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    August 7, 2014
    Microsoft To Open Windows Store

    The Apple Store experiment has been a huge success for Apple.  It’s given them a great place to push their products, an extra layer of coolness, the excuse to sell tech support to folks whose products don’t really need a lot of tech support, and it’s been kind of a valuable piece of public relations that Microsoft has never really been able to match.  Sure, Microsoft puts up the occasional pop-up shop, but that’s not like having a giant glass cube in the middle of some of the most expensive real-estate in the world.  Microsoft probably can’t do that, but they can land a pretty awesome address for their first Windows Store.  Microsoft is opening a Windows Store in midtown Manhattan, right on Fifth Avenue.

    The building is an 8700-square-foot, two-story building that once housed a Fendi store, but will now sell Windows-based devices to the eager public, as well as being a great public relations story for Microsoft.  Expect a lot of Surface tablets, Nokia-based Windows Phones, and Xbox Ones on the shelves.  After all, Manhattan real-estate isn’t cheap, and Microsoft’s willing to take a loss, but only for so long.

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    August 6, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Let’s Go Viral

    Via Cheezburger.

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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 Forget.me is for.  Forget.me is a service used by people who want to make Google forget about them.  Forget.me 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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