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    April 7, 2014
    Surviving Windows XP’s Retirement

    Tomorrow, Microsoft will officially retire its 12-year-old operating system, Windows XP, after a long reign as the most popular and useful operating system in the history of operating systems.  No OS has had a run quite as long, or a run that has covered so many tens of millions of computers around the world.  Just because Windows XP is going by the wayside, that doesn’t mean your computer has reached the end of its life.  Here are some tips and tricks for upgrading and protecting your XP computer for the foreseeable future.

    Honestly, if you’re using XP, you’re probably doing a lot of these things.  Being careful about running attachments, updating your software regularly,  making sure to avoid sketchy online stuff… this is all pretty basic stuff, and since most antivirus programs are going to continue for the near future to support XP, you’re probably going to be okay milking the last of that laptop or desktop’s functional life.  Still, it might pay to be extra cautious from now on, just in case.

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    March 31, 2014
    Happy World Backup Day

    When it comes to computers, there’s one thing you need to do on a regular basis if you care at all about potentially losing all your information, and that’s back up your files.  If you don’t back up your files, well, then you take your chances with losing all your content, all your pictures, all your music and books, and so forth.  With the cloud, it’s even easier to make sure all your information is preserved in case of a disaster scenario, but not everyone is willing or able to walk that line hence the necessity of a day dedicated to backing up files.  It’s World Backup Day!

    I’m not sure why World Backup Day is on March 31.  I guess because if you don’t back up, you’re an April fool of the highest order?  I’m not sure.  Either way, if you haven’t backed up your files and information, make sure to do that as soon as you can.

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    March 12, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: The Magic Sign

    Via Failblog.

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    February 20, 2014
    The Engadget Tablet Guide

    It’s tax season, and if you haven’t filed your taxes, you’d better get on that as soon as reasonable.  If you’re getting a nice refund, and you’re looking to invest in a new piece of technology to get the most out of your couch and television time, why not consider a tablet?  It’s like a laptop but even more portable, and as tablets get more advanced, the line between them and a laptop continues to blur.  Whether you’re looking for a value machine or a top-of-the-line laptop replacement, Engadget has a great tablet buyer’s guide for the latest releases.

    I have to say, the tablets with keyboard attachments, like the above Nokia Lumia 2520, are the direction in which I’d go if I was buying a tablet.  They’re so much easier to type on than having to poke at a touchscreen with a single finger in an attempt to enter any text.  I’ve tried to do more productive things on my Kindle Fire (which I love as an entertainment tool that’s occasionally useful), and a keyboard would make that a whole lot easier.

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    November 27, 2013
    The Geek Gift Guide To DVDs/Blu Rays

    It’s not quite Black Friday yet, but if you haven’t gotten a jump on your holiday shopping, you’re probably waiting a bit too long.  However, if you’re taking the plunge this weekend to get a kick-off to the holidays, it’s time to be thinking about what to buy for the hard-to-buy-for folks on your list.  Well, when in doubt, some sort of movie or television show on home video is a pretty good idea.  Geeks of Doom has put together a Holiday Geek Gift Guide for 2013; it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re not sure what to get the dork in your life.

    Being a new home owner, the gift I need more than any other is probably money.  Money or drywall.  Either way.  However, if someone wanted to pick me up the Game of Thrones Seasons 1 & 2 Blu Ray with Funko Pop figures of Daenerys, Khal Drogo, and Rhaegal, I wouldn’t be too upset.  If only because I love the Funko Pop figured it comes with; I already have versions of Khal Drogo and Dany, but not these versions, and who wouldn’t want a dragon to guard their home theater system?

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    October 7, 2013
    Shakadoo’s Kathy Helbig To Speak At NYC Real Estate Expo

    Even if you think you know something about real estate, you could probably stand to listen to Kathy Helbig.  The owner of the Kathy Helbig Group, a RE/MAX hall-of-famer, a Lifetime Achievement award winner, and one of the best realtors working today; she’s also the founder and owner of the Shakadoo family of websites.  She’s a leading light in the field where real estate and technology meet, and that’s why she’s been selected to speak at the 2013 NYC Real Estate Expo.

    Kathy and partner Kevin Guy have started AppStar Media with one purpose in mind:  to revitalize the real-estate world with cutting edge app technology.  Kathy and Kevin will be delivering a 15-minute TED-style talk at NYCREE in the Technology Breakout room where they will discuss their new app, which is a customized and personalized real estate app branded to an individual realtor’s name and catered to a customer’s specific needs.  I’ll have more information on the app as it is revealed to me, but if you’re in the area, and you’re not checking out their talk or Kathy’s panel appearance, you’re sorely missing out.

    “Real estate agents are sometimes behind the curve when it comes to technology,” said Ms. Helbig in a press release.  ”So I am excited to be a part of developing for agents a new an innovated way to show, buy, and sell real estate.  The honor of being selected, and the opportunity to come together with all these major players in real estate, to help drive the direction in which technology is leading the industry is a true privilege.”

    If you can’t be there in person, you can follow along on Twitter via the @NYCREE feed.

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    October 2, 2013
    Technology And Travel

    It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to put up a post here at Shaktronics, and I have a very good reason.  As of about two weeks ago, I fled the country for the misty shores of the British Isles, specifically England and Scotland, for a much-needed vacation and a little chance to refresh and recharge my batteries.  During my travels, I made some interesting observations about technology and how things are different in the UK versus back home in the United States, which may prove to be pretty interesting to the readers of this lovely website.  I’m not a professional traveler, and I’m definitely not a big travel writer, but I’ll do my best to keep things interesting while sharing some tips, tricks, and complaints from my journey.

    One of the most interesting things I’ve seen in my travels concerns Internet access.  Here in the United States, pretty much every hotel I’ve ever stayed at, from a high-tech hotel near Houston’s technology center to a crappy week-long extended stay, there’s always been Internet access of some sort.  From blistering wireless to older-style hard lines, the Internet is everywhere.  However, while there are plenty of pubs with advertised WiFi in the UK, it’s not always as free as advertised.

    Interestingly, most places that should have wireless Internet aren’t quite as useful as you’d expect.  In a lot of places, the free WiFi comes with a mandatory app download of some sort.  In other places, the WiFi is achingly slow.  Specifically, the hotel I stayed at in London had free WiFi, but it was so slow and hard to connect to that there basically was no Internet at all, except for the lobby lounge–even there, it was two or three bars at best, and spotty.  In the room, the wired connection jack actually wasn’t connected to anything!  That makes it very useful, and when asked, the hotel staff said that it was a work in progress that would be activated eventually.

    That explains the posting drought.  Turns out, the free hotel WiFi was neither all that Wi and definitely not terribly Fi.  Even the places with free WiFi didn’t always have the free part of the WiFi sorted out.  Aside from that, England is awesome.  Just don’t expect to get a lot of work done from the comfort of your hotel room.

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    September 14, 2013
    ATT Catching Up To Verizon

    For years, AT&T has been taking a beating in both the poll of public opinion and pretty much every customer reliability and satisfaction survey conducted.  Since the launch of the iPhone, AT&T has struggled to keep up with demand but has poured a lot of resources into improving their services, or so the latest RootMetrics poll says. AT&T has a faster network than Verizon, and they’re catching up to them on reliability, too.

    Of course, the survey isn’t over yet, and it’s only being conducted in 60 markets, but it’s pretty impressive nonetheless.  Call failure rate has dropped 60 percent since last year, and AT&T maintains a faster 4G network than Verizon.  Sprint and T-Mobile continue to lag behind the others in reliability, though T-Mobile has a pretty fast network at its’ disposal in its HSPA+ network (slightly slower than LTE).

    “What we’re trying to do is put a stake in the ground and challenge the industry,” said Bill Moore of RootMetrics.  ”15 years ago, we were just happy that these phones worked.”

    I’m still pretty glad when my phone works as advertised, and I’m nowhere near the type of person who demands an amazing smartphone experience.

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    July 26, 2013
    Waterproof Headphones For Summer Fun

    Summer’s a great time of year.  The sun is out, it’s nice and warm, you can take all those indoor activities you’ve been doing and turn them into outdoor ones… but there’s a slight issue.  Most electronics don’t like water all that much, and accessories like them even less than primary devices.  It’s all well and good to have a thousand songs on your iPod, but what are you going to do when you find yourself getting rained on and your headphones fry?

    Fortunately, as the need grows, the technology improves.  There are a variety of waterproof headphones on the market, and PC Magazine has tested a bunch out and picked out six of the best waterproof listening mechanisms.  They have covered a wide variety of types and fits, from earbuds to stable wrap-around headphones to hybrids of the two, so there’s surely something on the list to fit your audio needs, your ear shape, and your favorite sound profile.

    And really, just because you’re not outside to use the phones, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t work great for listening to music in the tub (a safe distance from electricity) or working out (for people like me who sweat buckets).  It’d be worth a little extra expense to not have to worry about sweat-soggy earphones again the next time I have to work outside or in a stuffy warehouse.

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    July 17, 2013
    Wordless Wednesday: Computer Cuddles

    Image:  John Hodgman

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