I see it all the time: PCs choking on gobs of uninvited software to the point where they barely function. They may be Web browser toolbars or antivirus utilities or programs that promise to speed up your computer, when in fact they do exactly the opposite. It enrages me to see programs like these on my customers’ computers because I know that they did not knowingly install these programs--these programs waltzed in with another that the customer did want. This sort of software is referred to as “sneakware.” Here are some strategies to prevent this from happening to you!
If you pay attention to technology news at all, you might have heard the term “post-pc era” tossed about. This term was, if not coined, then certainly nurtured most heartily by Steve Jobs when talking about the iPad. It’s a funny thing about the iPad: when it was first announced everybody just sort of shrugged and said “So what? It’s just a big iPhone!” But people bought them anyway and it turned out that there was indeed a huge market for these devices. Now we use them for all sorts of things, and I will admit that my tablet gets me through most of my casual computer usage at home. Web browsing, book reading, video watching, etc. are now all accomplished on a piece of plastic and glass that fits comfortably in my hand and has a battery that lasts all day. Tablet computers have seen a much faster adoption rate than PCs did, and this popularity has many in the media and at Apple singing the PC's death. How wrong they all are.
Our smartphones are our lives. Go ahead and deny it, but deep down you know you get jittery when you aren’t caressing your tiny portable computer that basically hands you the digital world on a tempered glass tray. As I pointed out in my Must-Have Android and Must-Have iPhone apps articles there are a lot of apps out there that’ll do just about anything. But there’s lots more that we can do to customize our smartphones and our tablets, especially for Android. Sorry Apple users, your fantastic apps may bring all the boys to the yard, but Android has you beat fair and square on the customizability front. Sure, you could jailbreak your iPhone or iPad (Google it if you dare, just know you’ll be put out in the cold if you take a busted jail-broken device to the Apple Genius Bar), but I’m not going to risk going there, so Android users, this one’s for you!
Sometimes catastrophe rains down on our PCs. We turn them on and . . . nothing happens. Could be any number of factors: virus; aging hardware; broken software update. And, of course, sometimes things just go bad. Sad thing is, we're never ready for these events when they happen. Our files aren't backed up to any external media, and, with our PCs not running properly, we don’t have any easy way of retrieving them. Sure, you could take the computer to a repair shop or run the factory recovery discs that may have come with the machine, but you run a very real chance either way, especially the latter way, of losing your files. So, I'm going to tell you how you how you might be able to salvage your files, if not your computer, for free using Linux.
I've written a few articles advising our users to back up their data. Every so often, usually when we need them the most or when the warranty has expired, our computers stop working. This wouldn't be so horribly bad if we'd backed up our files first. So, let me reiterate for anyone who has read me before that backing-up your data means that the same files are stored in two completely different places. If you've copied all your important files to an external hard drive, but then erased them from your laptop, they are not backed-up; maybe your external hard drive goes kaput, and, even though your computer is still working, all those files are lost from the external device, aren't they? To back up your files they absolutely need to be in two different places. Redundancy is the name of the game, and I'm going to teach you how to play (wow that sounded corny).
Google Chrome is arguably the most popular Web browser currently on the market. It took a few versions before I made the switch from Mozilla Firefox to Chrome, most notably due to Firefox's rich browser extension offerings. Chrome is finally catching up to, and in many ways, surpassing Firefox with its extensions library. A browser extension is special program written specifically for a Web browser that, as the name implies, extends its functionality.
Something I get asked a lot as the librarian tech guy is whether a person in the market for a new smartphone or tablet should buy Apple or Android. This is a far more nuanced question than most people realize, and the answer will depend on a number of factors. Read on for a detailed comparison of the two.
I've bemoaned the existence and use of digital rights management, or DRM as it's more commonly known, in previous Librarypoint articles, but I'm not certain that I've gone point-by-point over what it means for you, the library user, and us, the consumers. DRM is a means by which music, videos, eBooks, documents, software, and just about anything else digital are restricted from being copied, transferred, or used on unapproved hardware. The American Library Association's Digital Content Working Group has recently put out a wonderful tip sheet regarding DRM that I can’t recommend more enthusiastically. It goes over what DRM is, some of its consequences and legal ramifications, and what you can do to help work against it. Reading through it is one of the best ways to arm yourself as a digital consumer against some of the more consumer-unfriendly tactics of today’s content providers.
As promised in my list of must-have Android apps, here is a list of must-have iPhone apps! The Apple App Store has a larger selection of quality apps than the Google Play store does, though that gap is quickly shrinking. Unfortunately it has fewer free apps, so you’ll see more price tags attached to this article. You may also notice several repeats from the Android list, as many of these apps are cross-platform and a joy to use on any device. Your iPhone is a computing powerhouse, and there is so much more that you can do with it than you realize. Take a look at my list below to get some ideas!