Science and Technology

Top Reasons to Wait on a Smartphone Purchase

Top Reasons to Wait on a Smartphone Purchase

Even though it may not seem like it to me, smartphones are not actually a necessity of life. Shocker, right? I love the suckers! To see if my affinity for all things “smart” was shared by my peers, I conducted a highly scientific survey of whichever of my Facebook friends chose to respond, asking them whether they owned a smartphone and if not, why?  A surprising (to me) number of them confessed they did not own a smartphone.

My Favorite Keyboard Shortcuts

My Favorite Keyboard Shortcuts

Inspired by a recent computer training-on-demand session I instructed, here is a list of my favorite keyboard shortcuts.  A mouse and keyboard are a powerful combination, but with the proper keyboard shortcuts you can be a far more time-efficient user. 

The 2013 Holiday eReader Tech Guide

The 2013 Holiday eReader Tech Guide

I'm sure by now you're all-too-familiar with the annual mobile device product line refresh. Every fall we get updated versions of the now ubiquitous mobile devices. Apple, Amazon, Google, and others all push out slightly updated hardware just in time for the holiday shopping season. This year's upgrades are almost all incremental. If you already own a 2012 device, you should feel comfortable hanging on to it. Users looking to upgrade from models that are two or more years old or shoppers new to mobile devices have good reason to be excited.  

Repurposing Your Old PC

Repurposing Your Old PC

Updated November 15, 2013: Your old computer is capable of one more major feat: helping to cure diseases.

A Very Brief History of Android

A Very Brief History of Android

In preparation for my soon-to-be-released 2013 device guide, I thought it might be a good time to explain the different versions of Android, the mobile operating system that powers the majority of the devices that I will be writing about. I've written a lot about Android in the last two years, but I've almost always assumed a certain level of knowledge on the reader's part - knowledge that you may in fact lack.

The Only Web Software You Need

The Only Web Software You Need

When library customers ask me to show them how to use their laptops, I can't help but notice all the junk they've got that's slowing their computers way down. Some of this is manufacturer-loaded software, but the lion's share of it is from Web sites they've browsed to which inform them they need a particular program or plug-in to run correctly. This is something I addressed at length in my post on Avoiding Sneakware.

Even More Common Computer and Tech Myths

Even More Common Computer and Tech Myths

About a year-and-a-half ago, I wrote a blog post entitled "Common Computer Myths" that sought to debunk some of the misinformation I hear frequently regarding computers. Well, I'm always running into new techno-falsehoods, so for your consideration: "Even More Common Computer and Tech Myths" and their realities!

Personal Computer Buyers: Pass on Chromebooks

Personal Computer Buyers: Pass on Chromebooks

I read an article today stating that a new model of the sub-$300 notebook computers known as Chromebooks could be an “Apple-killer,” and that if they were stamped with Apple logo they would sell impressive numbers. That inspired an eye roll that nearly left me blind. Chromebooks are nice enough for limited purposes, and they get a lot of hype, but don’t let anyone sway you into thinking that these computers are a viable option for personal computing.

You Don't Need That: Breaking Annual Device Release Addiction

You Don't Need That: Breaking Annual Device Release Addiction

Technology: yawn. The last thing anyone expected a gadget addict such as myself to declare is that it’s time to stop. Yes, I know there’s something new and shiny on the market, and no one wants it more than I do—right here, right now.  Here’s why I’m going to do my very best to ignore that impulse after this year, and I believe you should, too.

My Time with Android "Hacking"

My Time with Android "Hacking"

Tech Answers is back! Didja miss me? This time I've got something special for you. Now, I've sampled a veritable cavalcade of different smartphones over the years, from the Treo, to the Blackberry, to the iPhone, and, most lately, the Android. There I landed, and—for the foreseeable future—there I stay. The Treo is long dead (bye-bye!), Blackberry is a dead man walking (so sad), the iPhone's one-time supremacy in the smartphone market is faded (but not gone!), and Windows Phone? Please (no). Android is flourishing when other smartphone platforms are stagnating for one simple reason: it is free and open source. Developers and individuals can do whatever they please with it. You can go to the Android project's site and download the source code for the world's most powerful mobile OS right now for no charge. It is that openness and its benefits that I'm going to ramble about in this post.