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    February 23, 2015
    Google Wallet Comes Standard

    If you’ve ever purchased a smartphone, then you know that your phone comes loaded down with all sorts of proprietary apps that you may or may not use.   There are apps from the carrier, and apps from the operating system manufacturer.  No matter your phone or provider, that’s just something that happens.  In the case of Google, they’re joining the remote payment trend.  Google Wallet will soon come standard on all new smartphones from Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.

    “This is great for customers and for mobile payments and we’re looking forward to working with Google to help more customers experience the benefits of tap to pay on their Verizon Wireless smartphone,” reads an email from a Verizon spokesperson.

    Google Wallet, like Apple Pay, is basically a third party payment manager.  Instead of carrying around cards, you enter the information into your payment app of choice and use it to check out online or at places where NFC scanners are available (assuming you have an NFC-enabled smartphone).  Of course, just because you have it that doesn’t mean you will use it, but increased exposure makes it more likely to be adopted by the consumer at large.

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    February 22, 2015
    YouTube Develops Kid-Friendly App

    It’s a wild world out there, and it seems that the addition of technology is only making the job more difficult for parents.  Everywhere I go, I see little kids with tablets, on phones, or with some sort of electronic device streaming entertainment into their faces so that the parents can get a little breather and the kids can get a little entertainment at the grocery store (or wherever).  Fortunately, media companies are working hard to make sure that your child’s screen time won’t be unsupervised.  A few years ago, Netflix launched a kid-friendly version to filter out the stuff inappropriate for little eyes, and now it looks like another company is joining them.  YouTube has launched a kid-friendly app to keep children from being exposed to the darker side of the Internet.

    In addition to helping cut down on salacious content, the kid-safe app will also help keep little ones safe from their own inappropriate searches.  Doubling down on the parental support, the app will also have built-in timers to allow parents to decide just how much time little ones can spend on YouTube.  There will be some ads, but they are promised to be as kid-friendly as the content.

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    August 29, 2014
    MSN Messenger Signing Off For Good

    I bet you thought it was gone, didn’t you?  Once upon a time, when people need computers to chat with one another over long distances, there were a host of chatting options:  AOL/AIM, Yahoo Messenger, and the least-heralded of the three, MSN Messenger.  AIM is still around, and I think Yahoo Messenger probably is too, but MSN Messenger has long since disappeared in the United States, supplanted by Microsoft’s purchase of Skype.  However, while MSN may be gone in the US, it still has a home in China, where Messgenger lived on for years after its unceremonious dumping Stateside.

    That’s all changing.  Facing competition from Skype and Chinese-developed QQ chat service from Tencent, Microsoft is reading the writing on the wall and powering down the servers.  MSN Messenger will be signing off for good in October.  Talk about the end of an era.  I think anyone in their late 20s or early 30s remembers spending hours online chatting via various things, struggling to play games via dial-up modem, and other things that s0und like my grandmother talking about the radio, or my parents talking about black-and-white TV.

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    January 15, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Puns

    Image:  Fail Blog

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    August 15, 2011
    Silence Of The Celebs May Be The Best Browser Extension Ever

    Wherever you go online, there’s a glut of celebrity news coverage that may or may not be of interest to you.  If you’re like me, it’s all either interesting or easily ignored, but some people are a little more… ahem, intense in their dislike of celebrities.  Say you hate the Kardashians, or Lady Gaga, or whoever else.  Best avoid every website ever then?  Not so fast my friend.  Meet the greatest Google Chrome extension ever:  Silence of the Celebs.

    Silence of the Celebs (developed by Gesture Theory) is an extension for Google Chrome’s web browser that removes celebrity results from a multitude of popular websites, including Twitter, The New York Times, CNN, Huffington Post, Google News, Gawker, Mashable, and TMZ.  Amazingly enough, the Twitter blocks occur in real time, so if you’re sick to death of hearing about Rebecca Black, you can ban her from your Twitter timeline posthaste and free yourself from Friday-related news.

    If this extension works half as well as it promises, this is going to be one of the most popular things ever released for Google Chrome.

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    April 8, 2011
    The 50 Slowest Firefox Add-Ons

    When it comes to internet browsers, faster is better.  It’s not just the speed of your connection that determines what faster is, but also your computer itself, your operating system, and most importantly, your web browser.  Those milliseconds that separate Chrome from Firefox are crucial in a world in which the average person has no attention span and even less patience.  I know when I want to look something up online, if it’s not available immediately, that’s entirely too slow.

    Well, unbeknownst to me, there are other factors that can slow down your browser.  Namely, whatever add-ons you incorporate into your browser.  Mozilla, the company behind Firefox, is stepping up to the plate to fight browser bloat by embarking on a crusade to name and shame the slowest of the slow browser apps.

    Here’s Mozilla’s list of slowest Firefox browser add-ons.  They’ll be updating the list weekly, so developers can know what to change (or if they need to change) to fix the cause of the slow-downs.  Now it’s time for Mozilla to figure out what makes their browser itself slower than Chrome (and probably IE, though I don’t remember what IE was like anymore) and then maybe they’ll be onto something.

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    March 14, 2011
    10 More Must-Have Free PC Downloads

    The cold is being replaced, grass is growing again, and spring is rapidly approaching.  With spring comes spring cleaning, and with spring cleaning comes some much-needed reorganization efforts, improvements, and de-clutterings.  Not that I do any of that stuff, mind you, but other people apparently do these things.  In that spirit, PC World has put together a list of 10 must-have free or donation-based computer programs for the PC.  Uniformly, they improve the function and functionality of your old desktop, and thereby improve the function and functionality of your working life.

    Of the programs listed, there’s only one I can swear by.  That would be CCleaner; I use it on my personal computer, on my laptop, and I generally install it on every computer I have anything to do with maintaining, just because I think it’s one of the most useful programs on the market.  If you want to remove unwanted software, CCleaner is the way.  If you want to clear off your hard drive’s blank space and remove all those little fragmented file bits, CCleaner is the way.  If you want to improve computer performance… well, you get the picture.

    If you’re not using CCleaner, you’re missing out.  I haven’t tried CCEnhancer, but now that I know it exists, I’ll be downloading it too.

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    January 25, 2011
    Mega Mac Sumo Bundle-$286 For $47

    If there’s one thing I can’t resist, it’s bundled things.  I may not need them, but I kind of want them anyway, just in case.  For example, those bundles of dirt-cheap public domain movies you can get at Walmart for $10?  I love them!  Such is the case with the MEGA Mac Sumo Bundle from AppSumo.  If I had a Mac and the slightest interest in any of these pieces of software, I’d be all over it.

    The best thing about this app bundle is that it covers a variety of things and a variety of applications.  It leans heavily on productivity software, from download managing program SpeedDownload and window manager Cinch to screen capture program Skitch, the Wondershare video converter, and YummyFTP file transfer manager.  There’s also a wide variety of personal organizing software suites in the bundle, from the MacJournal program to TaskPaper’s user-generated to-do-list.

    CNet’s Cheapskate blog has a full round-up of the MEGA Mac Sumo Bundle, for more informaton.

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    January 6, 2011
    Apple Debuts App Store Today

    The future of software has debuted on the Apple network, and I’m sure fans are lining up to get a piece of the pie as we speak.  The long-awaited Mac App Store has been released to the public, launching today after a CES speech from Apple head honcho Steve Jobs.  Here’s the interesting thing:  the digital downloads are able to be used on every one of your Apple computers, so long as it’s a computer registered with your Apple ID or iTunes account.  Surprisingly progressive from Apple, isn’t it?

    “With more than 1,000 apps, the Mac App Store is off to a great start,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs.  ”We think users are going to love this innovative new way to discover and buy their favorite apps.”

    There’s a catch, thought.  You have to be using Snow Leopard 10.6.6, the latest edition of Apple’s 9-year-old operating system, OSX.  If you’re not, then no App Store for you (yet).  It’s categorized in a way that will be familiar to users of the iPhone App Store and other Apple App distribution centers.

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    December 3, 2009
    Wordless Wednesday: Ballmer Screen Of Death

    Image by Poorly Drawn Portraits, via Gizmodo.

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