Considering Offer In Compromise Help For Your Taxes

July 16th, 2014 by admin
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aaoichAn offer in compromise help is granted to individuals who cannot pay the tax debts in full amount because of their circumstances. However, before this is being given, an individual should be eligible for this grant. Basically, the Internal Revenue Service will have to go through the person’s present condition and determine whether he is not capable of paying the tax debts charged to him. They will see if the person has fulfilled the filing as well as payment requirements. If an individual is in an open bankruptcy proceeding, he will not be eligible for an offer in compromise help. The Internal Revenue Service’ pre-qualifier assessments should be used in order to confirm the eligibility and prepare for the preliminary proposal.

Once a person becomes eligible for the offer in compromise, he will have to submit the necessary requirements posted in the IRS’ website. There is a non-refundable application fee for it so set aside an amount of money for this process. But once the offer is granted, the individual should be able to pay the tax debts on the agreed amount. The Internal Revenue Service can give flexible options to individuals who cannot pay the tax debts but the offer in compromise help should not be violated in order not to face any lawsuit.

Knowing How To Get Tax Relief Services

Tax relief services are often looked for whenever a person cannot handle anymore the tax disputes he/she is facing. These services are helpful in negotiating the tax issues from the IRS and making it flexible to pay over time. There are a number of individuals who find relief from their tax disputes after availing these professional services from a tax lawyer or public accountant. They were able to pay what they owe from the government because of tax relief services. However, for individuals who are still struggling to find the right tax professional, it is helpful to ask recommendations from other people. One can read several reviews online or gather information from the people around; it may be your family, friends or office mates.

Seeking the opinion of others can be beneficial in determining the best professional suitable for your budget. Just make sure that when you get a relief service for your tax issues, you have gathered as well the needed documents. Be careful also in taking note the right actions so that it will be on the right track. Do not avail a professional help if you are not sure about it. Always consider your needs and your budget whenever you decide to obtain tax relief services. Check out more tips are here.

Posted in Taxes, Uncategorized

Tips On Controlling Panic Attacks In Your Daily Life

May 2nd, 2014 by admin
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cpaiadlWhen a person gets panic attack, the most important thing is to breath slowly and deeply. The right style of breathing helps immeasurably. But you don’t need to take a paper bag to breath into it, there are better ways on quality breathing. There are few tips on how to control panic attacks. First of all, a person who has got problems with panic disorder should learn how to breathe by using belly. When we breathe, our lungs are filling themselves with air and if we breathe low, our shoulders are moving up and down. But that is not quality breathing. The best is to push the air by moving muscles in our belly.

These muscles will lift the diaphragm and help your lungs to be filled with more air then if we breathe low by moving the upper side of our body only. Then, when the panic attack comes, try to lay down if you can and close your eyes. Put your hand on a belly and imagine how the air is filling your lungs and then how the old air is going out of your mouth and nose. Try not to think about anything else except breathing and that will help you to forget about your problem with panic.

Foods To Be Avoided When Facing Anxiety Disorder

Most of the diseases today can be treated with healthy diet. There were cases where people who were having a cancer ate raw fruits and vegetables only and they cured themselves. Plants keep the secret of health; we just need to find the one that helps our problem. If you are having anxiety disorder, you should definitely try to change a diet and eat more healthy.

How to control anxiety with food? Very easily indeed – because healthy food is easier to prepare and sometimes even cheaper than highly processed one. But besides implementing fresh vegetables and fruits into our diet, you should be careful and avoid some foods and drinks if you have anxiety disorder. Alcohol, for instance should be avoided if you have problems with anxiety or depression. It can make you feel good for the first few hours, but you will go back to your anxiety after it’s effect disappears. Chocolate can do similar thing to your body if you overdo. Try eating only a piece of chocolate if you believe it helps you feel better. But always remember that there are even better ways of helping your anxious mind with food. Almonds and peanuts, for instance, are good for you.

Posted in Healthy Living

Should You Even Consider A Mac?

April 1st, 2014 by admin
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What a difference a few months can make. Since late 2001, Apple has updated its entire product line, making now the perfect time for Macworld to take stock of the latest crop of Macs.

yecmOne important update is the unique flat-panel iMac, which we review here along with Apple’s other new additions: the 14.1-inch iBook and the 800MHz, 933MHz, and dual-processor 1GHz Power Mac G4s (see the reviews elsewhere in this article). And to help you understand the differences between models, Macworld Lab tested representatives from all the Mac product lines (see “Speed Skaters”). We’ll also give you pointers on what to consider when deciding which new system is best for you. Read on for a look at the current world of Macs.

Four Seasons of Macs

Shortly after Steve Jobs’s reappearance at Apple, the company divided the Mac market into four distinct segments. Today, those four areas are inhabited by the Power Mac G4, the iMac, the PowerBook, and the iBook–products broadly aimed at four different types of Mac users: professionals or consumers who need either a desktop or a laptop.

But the reality is, buying a new Mac is rarely as easy as picking which quadrant of Apple’s Mac diagram you fall into. Within each product line, there can be substantial differences in price and features. The new, 800MHz iMac brings professional power to a consumer computer, but the 800MHz PowerMac G4 costs less. And although conventional wisdom says that you pay a premium for portability, Apple’s laptops have a remarkable set of features, considering their prices.

Unless you’re on a strict budget or just need to have the speediest Mac available, choosing the right Mac will take some careful consideration.

Speed Needs

When most people shop for a Mac, the first thing they consider is speed. And while the megahertz rating of the computer’s processor is important, it isn’t the only factor that determines how fast the Mac will be.

Processor Type The big difference between the G3 processor and the G4 is that the G4 has an additional, high-speed subprocessor that Apple calls Velocity Engine. Software optimized for Velocity Engine–multimedia apps such as iTunes, iMovie, Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Photoshop, for example–can realize hefty speed gains. Mac OS X itself is Velocity Engine savvy and therefore runs much better on G4 chips than on G3s. Software that hasn’t been optimized for Velocity Engine runs at roughly the same speeds on G3 and G4 chips with the same megahertz rating.

Until the G5 chip arrives, Apple’s product lines are pretty simple when it comes to chips: they’ve all got G4s, with the notable exception of the iBook (and the 500MHz and 600MHz G3 iMacs that were still for sale as of this writing). As a result, the iBook and G3 iMacs are fundamentally slower computers when it comes to Velocity Engine–enhanced software, including Mac OS X. Use an iBook running OS X for a few hours, and you’ll understand: the lightweight laptop is cute and small, and you’d figure that its 500MHz or 600MHz G3 processor would be fast enough. And it is–for OS 9. But OS X simply mixes out the iBook’s G3 processor. The result is a relatively new Mac that feels as if it were already a few years out of date. If you plan on running OS X, you should consider avoiding G3-based Macs.

Bus and Cache Two lesser-known but key factors also affect the speed of your Mac: bus speed and cache (for details, see “Does MHz Matter?” July 2001). The system-bus speed determines how fast your Mac’s processor talks to your RAM; the faster the bus speed, the better. The 500MHz iBook has the slowest system bus: 66MHz. The 600MHz iBook, the 550MHz PowerBook G4, and the G3 and G4 iMacs all feature 100MHz buses. The fastest system bus is the 133MHz bus found in the 667MHz PowerBook G4 and the entire Power Mac G4 line. (Note that RAM modules are rated for specific system-bus speeds, so you can’t use old RAM in a new Mac with a faster bus speed.)

Cache RAM doesn’t rely on the system bus to communicate with the processor–it’s got a direct connection, allowing it to feed data to your Mac’s processor without any speed constraints. These days, every Mac processor has Level 2 (L2) cache built in, putting 256K of ultrafast memory at the processor’s disposal. But the 933MHz and dual-processor 1GHz PowerMac G4s go one better by also offering Level 3 (L3) cache–an additional 2MB of RAM that’s slower than the L2 memory but can still offer serious performance boosts. This is especially noticeable in situations where a lot of data is being calculated by the processor, such as when you’re modifying an image with a Photoshop filter.

Multiprocessing For a long time, a Mac with more than one processor inside was a curiosity, something used only by graphics or video pros with software designed to take advantage of extra processors. But Mac OS X is multiprocessor savvy, innately taking advantage of the power of a DP Mac’s second processor. As a result, multiprocessing is beginning to enter the mainstream. The only Mac model to offer multiple processors is the Power Mac G4, and the situation is likely to stay that way. If you really need speed, a multiprocessor system running Mac OS X will blow any single-processor Mac away.

Expandability Options

The new, G4 iMac and the G4 PowerBook are, without a doubt, powerful and speedy computers–and the Power Mac G4 can’t match the first’s low price or the second’s portability. When you’re deciding whether you should buy a traditional, desktop computer such as the Power Mac G4, one of the most important factors to keep in mind is expandability.

Expansion Slots The Power Mac G4 is by far the most expandable computer Apple offers–it’s the only one to provide PCI slots (four of them) and a fast AGP slot (occupied by its video card).

If you must use SCSI devices, work on high-end video projects, or do anything else that requires installing PCI cards rather than adding peripherals via USB or FireWire, the Power Mac G4 is your only option.

If you also need a portable Mac, the PowerBook G4 does offer a single PC Card slot-which is more than either the iBook or iMac can boast. With it you can add a digital sound card, a media reader, or even additional storage.

RAM You can add RAM to all Macs, but some systems are more flexible than others. The iBook is limited to 640MB of RAM; the PowerBook G4 and the G3 and G4 iMacs can handle as much as 1GB of RAM; and the PowerMac G4 can hold a staggering 1.5GB of RAM. (Generally speaking, you’ll save money by buying additional RAM from a third party instead of having Apple add it when you purchase your computer.)

But there’s more than just the amount of RAM involved. The iBook’s included RAM is soldered directly to the motherboard and cannot be replaced, although there’s a single slot for additional RAM. Both the iBook and the PowerBook use Small Outline (SO) RAM modules. The new iMac’s built-in memory is full-size but difficult to get to–the expansion slot uses the SO RAM as well. And the Power Mac G4 has three slots for frill-size RAM.

Expansion Space The cavernous Power Mac G4 also offers space for several internal hard drives and has two drive bays; by default, one is filled (with a CD-RW drive or SuperDrive). That makes it easy to add extra hard drives and other half-height peripherals, such as a tape or Zip drive. (Technically, it’s not a SuperDrive unless it comes with your Mac, but you can buy a Pioneer DVD-R drive like the ones Apple uses for its SuperDrive, and you can install it yourself.)

The Power Mac G4′s accessibility also means that swapping hardware is easier. For example, if you’re tired of your small, slow hard drive, you can easily remove it and replace it with a large, faster one. You can even pull the stock CD-RW drive out of a low-end Power Mac G4 and swap in a Pioneer DVD-R drive.

Consider Your Needs When it comes to expandability, the question is, do you need it? If your internal hard drive fills up, you can always add an external FireWire drive. And only the hardest-core graphics and multimedia types really need more than a gigabyte of RAM. It’s nice to have options, but if you didn’t swap hard drives out of, or add oodles of RAM to, your last Mac, you might be line with a laptop or an iMac.

Display Options

One area where Apple’s Mac models differ substantially is video: each system comes with different video hardware and different options for external monitors.

Video Card YourMac’s graphics chip determines how quickly images are drawn on your screen–especially relevant if you’re working on 3-D graphics, playing games, or running monitors at high resolutions. Video cards are powered by processors and fed by RAM; both affect speed (see “Speed Skaters” for more information). Apple’s two top Power Mac G4s are powered by the 64MB Nvidia GeForce4 MX, the most powerful standard graphics processor in the Apple line. You can also custom configure your Power Mac G4 with the Nvidia GeForce4 Titanium, replete with a whopping 128MB of RAM–the most on any Mac video card. (For more on specs, see “Apple’s Starting Lineup.”)

Generally, the faster and more expensive a Mac is, the better its video performance is–though laptops are typically underpowered compared with desktops–both in speed and in the monitor resolutions they can support.

In addition, the Power Mac G4 is the only Mac that comes with an actual video card; the rest have integrated video chips. This means that you can upgrade the Power Mac G4′s video subsystem by swapping in a new AGP card; with the other systems, what you buy is what you’ll always have.

Output Options If you want to use a specific monitor, or if you need more than a single monitor hooked up to your computer, you should consider only some of these Mac models. The Power Mac 04, by dint of its being the only Mac sold without a built-in display device, gives you the most options: you can equip it with a flat-panel or CRT display (although Apple no longer makes CRTs). Apple’s latest video cards even allow you to hook up one of each; the flat panel connects via Apple’s proprietary ADC connector, while the CRT monitor uses a standard VGA port. Converters are also available if you want to connect a non-Apple (DVI) flat panel (for more on displays, see “Macworld’s Ultimate Buyers’ Guide: Monitors,” February 2002). Since the Power Mac also offers several open PCI slots, adding even more monitors (or composite video out, for a TV set) is just a matter of adding a card.

The PowerBook G4 comes with a stunning flat-panel display, but its graphics chip is savvy enough to drive a separate external monitor, letting you have two screens’ worth of real estate when you’re at your desk-via VGA, S-Video, or (with an adapter) composite video.

Apple’s consumer Macs are far more limited in their video options. Both the iBook and the iMac have an LCD panel built in, and via a monitor adapter (included with the iBook; $19 extra with the iMac), you can attach an external VGA display. But that display can only mirror the action on your main screen, not extend your workspace–and it’s limited to a maximum resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels, though you can shrink it down to as low as 640 by 480 if you so desire. The iBook comes with a composite-video-out port (it’s the same port as the headphone jack); with a $19 adapter, you can hook it up to a TV set or other composite display. The iMac has no such composite-out features.

The Last Word

Which Mac is right for you? If you don’t think you’ll need to add PCI cards or an additional monitor, and if you don’t need the fastest Mac around to do processor-intensive work, the new iMac is an appealing option. If you need a portable Mac, the PowerBook G4 puts the strength of a Power Mac G4 in a compact carrying case. The smaller iBook has smallness and lightness going for it, but it and its larger sibling are the slowest computers in the Apple family. And then there’s the Power Mac G4 line itself–these machines may not be portable, but they are powerful and expandable.

It’s a good time to be a new Mac owner. As long as you keep your needs in mind when you’re deciding, you’re bound to find the right Mac for you. If you were to force us to choose, we’d say that the iMac G4 and the PowerBook G4 are the most appealing computers in Apple’s product line. But these products make the choice very tough.

Posted in PCs

Editing Video On An iBook? Seriously?

March 22nd, 2014 by admin
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evoibAs with its predecessor, the new iBook is a great portable editing machine and is improved with its new 500MHz speed. For a laptop, this machine is quite small and inexpensive (ranging from $1,299 to $1,799 MSRP). Its integration with the FireWire technology, inclusion of QuickTime 4.12, and its latest version of iMovie 2.03 make it an easy-to-use and inexpensive video-editing solution.

It should be noted that iMovie2 is bundled free with all iBooks (and iMacs) and can be purchased to run on any G3 and G4 machine. On older machines, OS 9.1 and QT 4.12 are recommended. However, iMovie2 is not OSX ready yet.

The iMovie 2.03 GUI is a pleasure to use. (For an in-depth review, see Tony Gomez’s article in February 2001 C&CV.). It has four working areas: At top left is the Main Viewing window for viewing your edits; at top right, the Shelf Window for acquiring your Clips; there’s a row of buttons beneath the Shelf Window to work with Clips, Transitions, Titles, Effects and Audio; and the Timeline is at the lower part of the screen.

Seamless Capture

After connecting your DV camcorder to the iBook’s FireWire port, launch iMovie2 and create a New Project (under the File menu). The Main Viewing window changes to the Capture screen and automatically goes in to Capture mode. The blue slider button at the far left of the Capture screen puts you in Capture or Edit mode. Make sure the little slider is set to the DV position when you want to capture video. In order for the program to detect your camera automatically, it’s best to plug it in before you start the program.

Click on the Play button underneath the Capture screen and start playing your video. Because of the FireWire connection, the program will now control your camcorder. As soon as you see something you want to record, press the Import button. The iMovie program will automatically place captured clips in the Shelf window. Every time it detects a scene break, it will make a new Clip (Final Cut Pro, eat your heart out!).

As you pick up speed and your editing needs become more demanding, the iBook has enough horsepower to run Premiere 5.0 or even Final Cut Pro (depending on your budget). Just add more RAM in the additional SDRAM slot (for a total of 640MB RAM on the 128MB models). Both of these NLEs require at least 196MB of RAM on their own. With today’s RAM prices at their lowest (512MB of SDRAM recently advertised for $50), you can’t afford not to add more.

Publish Your Movies

You can now edit and arrange your clips into story lines (drag and drop into the Timeline), enhance them with transitions and animated on-screen titles, and even add music and stunning effects. Export your finished creation as a movie recorded back to your camera as DV footage. Or, select any of the other formats supported (File menu/ Export Movie/Formats). You can even save it as a small e-mail Movie format for posting on the Web.

Another Apple technology that goes hand in hand with the iBook’s digital-hub philosophy is iTools (www.apple. com/itools). You can sign up for your own free account and quickly create your own Web site using HomePage. Put your movies on your very own Web page and share them with friends and family.

There is a great online link on the iMovie Web site (www.apple.com/ imovie). It’s called Atomic Learning, and it has short QuickTime movies on: “How to Get Started,” “Installing the 2.03 Updater,” “How to import MP3 Sound Files into iMovie2,” “Making and Importing Stills,” and more!

Importing QT Movies

As long as you capture movies directly from your camcorder via FireWire, iMovie is happy and will record your footage, creating new clips automatically. But, what if you’d like to import an existing QuickTime movie into your project? This is a newly supported feature, but it will require QuickTime Pro, which is a $29.95 upgrade. Your current QuickTime software already has the capabilities; you just need a serial number to unlock it!

Quicklime Pro

QuickTime Pro allows you to access many powerful features that most people don’t even know about (www. apple.com/quicktime). Prime among these, is the ability to export your DV footage to different formats. In order for iMovie2 to recognize a QuickTime file, it needs to be exported from QuickTime Pro as a Movie to DV Stream. It will change the QT movie’s extension from MOV to DV.

Open your QT movie with the QuickTime Player, and then go to Export under the File menu. Once the Export window opens, hold down on the pop-up menu across from Export, and you will see many different formats into which to export your QT movie. Select Movie to DV Stream.

Once you’ve done this, go back to iMovie. Under the File menu, select Import and navigate to the folder where you have saved your new QT DV movie, which iMovie will now recognize and will import into your project.

QuickTime Pro will also give you more options for compressing DV files. As with other compression software, this falls under the advanced feature set and requires some understanding of compression.

Musical Genius

Apple calls iTunes the world’s best and easiest-to-use “digital jukebox” software. I don’t know about being the world’s best, but it’s very simple to use, and it comes with a great library of MP3 songs. I connected it to my Yamaha external speakers and was able to enjoy nonstop music, while being entertained by the wonderful light show that grooved with the music, created by its Visualizer.

MP3 (Moving Picture Experts Group Audio Layer 3) is the powerful industry-standard technology for encoding and compressing audio files. The iTunes software uses MP3 to compress CD-quality audio files to a fraction of their original size, with very little loss in audible quality.

Store 1,000s Of Songs

A typical five-minute song takes up about 44MB of space on a compact disc. Compress that song to MP3 format at 160 kilobits per second, and the file size shrinks to about 6MB. In other words, you can store many more song in your digital music library. Of course, this is assuming you don’t plan to do any other work on your iBook. You will quickly eat up disk space if you import all your favorite CDs into it, tempting though that may be.

The iTunes program gives you the freedom to play songs in the order you want (not the order they were arranged on the CD), to mix and match artists and musical categories as you wish, and the freedom to create your own music CDs, burning more than 100 MP3 songs onto a single CD!

Burn Your Own

By inserting your own pre-recorded music CD, you can quickly import the songs you want to add to the Library, to be played back whenever you are on the go. Or, you can create your own Playlist from the Library and just as easily bum your own CD to play in your car or home stereo. I burned a CD of 17 songs, and it took about an hour for the whole process. I then tested it on my stereo’s CD player, and it sounded great. I have to admit, I was a doubting Thomas, thinking that I would have to do more than I actually did. It really was that easy.

A Worthy Contender

I’m a firm believer that in order to learn and use computers they need to be fun. I mean, you have to have a reason for investing your sweat and tears, and what better reason than all the great technologies mentioned above. When you’re enjoying what you do, it doesn’t feel like work!

With its new look and powerful feature set, the Apple’s iBook is certainly a worthy contender to the high-end Titanium PowerBook as a portable solution, especially for someone who already has a G3 or G4 at home but wants portability at an affordable cost.

I predict that entry-level video producers are going to love the new iBook. Students and first-time users are also going to find it useful and very portable, and I bet they will enjoy learning all the other cool new features in this small, inexpensive package.

For more information about the new iBooks, contact Apple at (800) MY-APPLE or visit the Apple Store Web site at www.store.apple.com.

RELATED ARTICLE: Apple Upgrade iBook Line

Apple announced its new iBook line in May of this year, the fourth major upgrade since it introduced the first iBook about two years ago. The new-generation iBook laptop has been trimmed down to 4.9 lbs., and with a slimmer chassis (9.1-inches deep by 11.2-inches wide and 1.35-inches thick) it’s the perfect size and shape to fit in a backpack or briefcase. Sleek and elegant, it has grown up from the candy-colored kid of last year to a new sophisticated dynamo that has made quite a hit, and understandably so.

It’s not just the new look and affordable price, but the flexibility and power under the hood that delivers the bang for your money, starting at only $1,299 MSRP.

Versatility: Ports Aplenty?

All four configurations in this new iBook line start with a fast PowerPC G3 processor running at 500MHz. The 12.1-inch active-matrix display is powered by the ATI Rage Mobility 128 graphics card with 8MB of RAM. This card supports an additional 1024×768 resolution. Compared to the previous models’ 800×600 resolution, the new display is sharp, and it supports millions of colors at these two resolutions. All but the entry-level iBook model (CD-ROM, 64MB) come with 128MB of SDRAM.

Also new in this iBook upgrade is RGB-Video Out (also known as VGA). Using a special monitor cable adapter, it mirrors the contents of the iBook’s built-in screen to an external computer monitor or projector (for classroom training). As with the previous models, it also outputs composite video through a different adapter cable that lets you watch your movies or presentations on a big-screen TV!

The same port also outputs audio. The built-in speakers are not capable of supporting the robust sounds that come out of these little machines, so using external speakers or headphones will greatly enhance your listening pleasure.

And, all configurations come with one FireWire and two USB ports, converting these portable machines into a digital hub that will support your DV camcorders, digital still cameras, scanners, printers, MP3 players, and PDAs.

All models also support the optional AirPort card and Base Station (shown above) for wireless Internet connection. Wireless technology is certainly a nice addition to the idea of the portable digital hub. You can work on the Internet within 150 feet of your Base Station, whether it’s your home, classroom or dorm room. Enjoy your digital lifestyle from the comfort of your couch or your backyard without cables or additional phone lines. With or without the supported AirPort wireless technology, you can access the Internet via the built-in 56K modem, or DSL speed networks using the 10/ 100 Ethernet port.

Student Proof

The new white polycarbonate plastic coating is warm and easy to grip–and appears to be designed for the roughest handling at the hands of students. Its shock- and scratch-resistant finish is stiffened by a magnesium frame.

The new plastic shell has rounded corners and no I/O doors, protruding latches or levers to break or snap off when tucking it into tight space, like a backpack or briefcase. The only hinge in this new chassis design is the one that connects the top and bottom of the case. This hinge allows you to swing the screen up and down smoothly. A full back tilt will lower the height and offers a better angle for non-glare viewing of the screen. And, of course, like its big brother, the Titanium PowerBook, it has a glowing crystal Apple logo on its cover.

Choose Your Optical Drive

Instead of a choice of eye-popping colors, the big choice you have now is the kind of optical drive you prefer. The new iBook offers the choice of a CD, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, or a combo DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive for both burning CDs and watching DVD movies.

The five-hour battery support can easily carry you through a day’s worth of school, study or on-the-go activities! The lithium-ion battery has a series of indicator LEDS on its bottom that will quickly let you know how much battery charge is left. It can easily let you do a fair amount of computing, as well as view a whole DVD movie on long airplane or car trips (on appropriate models).

All iBook models ship with OS 9.1/OS X (that’s the Roman numeral) pre-installed. Simply select your choice at boot-up. The 10MB Ultra ATA hard drive is very adequate, but can be upgraded to 20MB. Bundled software includes iMovie v2.03, iTunes v 1.1, Palm Desktop, FAXstf (lets you send and receive faxes), several children’s games, and Appleworks 6. The latter offers a complete suite of image-viewing, word-processing, spreadsheet-layout, database-creation, and draw/paint capabilities. Also included is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Outlook Express, and Netscape Communicator for Web browsing and sending/receiving e-mail.

The entry-level CD-ROM iBook is $1,299 MSRP. The DVD-ROM version is $1,499. The CD-RW version is $1,599, and the combo DVD-ROM/CD-RW is priced at $1,799 MSRP. So, take your pick and you’re ready to go.

Posted in Mobile Computing

IT Problems Hit Even The “Experts”

March 14th, 2014 by admin
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bbI get around a fair bit, working for a wide range of clients throughout North America and Europe. In my travels I’ve noticed that business and IT professionals seem to be suffering from a common collection of problems, some of which can only be solved by collective activism and others through cultural change. I don’t expect people will rally to these causes, but I hope my observations will give you something to think about, and maybe even reveal opportunities for your organization to enhance its productivity.

I attend far more meetings than I would like–a complaint shared by many I suppose–and have noticed some disturbing behaviour from fellow attendees during the last year or so. The problem is with the misuse of electronic devices such as BlackBerries and laptops.

In a desire to keep in touch while attending a meeting, many people are bringing their BlackBerries in with them and are sending and receiving messages while others are talking. It’s bad enough when one person is doing this but when several people do so simultaneously–undoubtedly sometimes they are messaging each other–it can seriously affect the quality of the meeting

Similarly, the use of laptops to take notes or to work on other things during the meeting is a problem because the person using the laptop is distracted and not participating fully.

Is this multi-tasking truly effective? I’m not so sure. Far better to focus on the meeting and be done with it.

A related issue occurs with the use of computers during teleconference calls. I’ve been on the phone with people and was able to hear typing in the background. Although keyboard clicking is important for auditory feedback, sometimes you would really like to turn it off–and this examples definitely qualifies as one of those times. It is possible to type silently, but many people don’t seem to be aware of that fact..

My second category of observations focuses on Canadian airports: On the up side, the parking lots seem fuller than just a few months ago, so I suspect the economy is finally picking up; the bad news is the lines are longer, mostly due to security checks.

How is this relevant to the computer industry? You are now required to turn on all electronic devices when you go through airport security in Canada. This is fairly painless with cellular phones, PDAs and cameras, but laptops can be a nightmare.

Although the only thing the security people want to see is screen activity to verify that the laptop actually works, something they can verify in the first few seconds, I end up having to wait a couple of minutes while the laptop fully boots and then shuts down, thereby holding up the long line behind me. The problem is I’m running Windows, which takes a long time to go through this process, a process that I don’t want to shortcut partway through by turning the machine off because I don’t trust Windows to recover properly. I can’t help but think that Microsoft and laptop makers could work together to come up with a better solution, or minimally Microsoft could improve the quality of its software. The bottom line is that if my PDA can boot instantly then my laptop should be able to do the same.

My final “Andy Rooney” observation is that most IT organizations still need to improve the way they work with project stakeholders. Without active stakeholder participation it is incredibly difficult if not impossible to successfully deliver software-based systems. A good step in the right direction is to define the rights and responsibilities of project stakeholders to form a foundation from which to work together.

In an ideal world, you will think about these issues and act as you see fit. In a not-so-ideal world you’ll simply turn the page, or hit the back button on your browser as the case may be, and continue reading our site. In either case I’ve had an opportunity to vent a bit, and it’s been therapeutic for me.

Posted in Mobile Computing

Things You’ll Want When You Buy A New Laptop

February 27th, 2014 by admin
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ybanlIncreasing numbers of computer buyers are choosing a laptop not just for travel, but as a direct substitute for a home desktop. During the first nine months of last year, while desktop sales plummeted, laptop sales soared. Over the past three years laptops have actually taken market share away from desktops.

The reason for the shift? Faster processors, brighter and larger displays, and more-efficient batteries have narrowed the gap between desktop and laptop. For many people, the performance difference has become academic. Of course, most desktop computers still outshine laptops in options you can choose, such as keyboard design and display size. But in a fast-paced society, those differences may not outweigh the ability to plop a computer on the kitchen table or have it handy in a classroom or airport.

If you’re considering a laptop for significant duty around the house, you should consider one of the two types we tested for this report, which included Windows-based models as well as a Macintosh.

All-in-one models, generally the heaviest, have the battery, DVD-ROM drive (sometimes combined with a rewritable CD), and floppy-disk drive–if there is one–all housed in the case.

Modular models have space for the battery plus a bay that accepts either a DVD-ROM or floppy drive.

A type we didn’t test, known as slim-and-light, is streamlined for travel by bundling only the hard drive along with a smallish battery; you connect other components with cables.

The laptops we tested have a 900-megahertz (MHz) to 1-gigahertz (GHz) Pentium III processor and a 20- to 30-gigabyte (GB) hard drive. (The Macintosh has a 600-MHz PowerPC G3 chip.) Because all the machines came equipped with demanding new operating systems, we equipped them all with a healthy 256 megabytes (MB) of RAM.

WHAT YOU GET

In both speed and storage, these machines are on a par with the speedier desktop computers we tested just a couple of years ago. They’re fine for most uses, including music, video, and interactive games.

Display. Screen sizes of 12 to 15 inches, measured diagonally, are now standard. That’s the most noticeable recent improvement in laptop design. These days, most laptops, and all the ones we tested, use a bright and crisp thin-film transistor (TFT) active-matrix screen. It provides a wider viewing angle and blurs moving objects less than the passive-matrix display found on some older models. (Passive displays also go by the abbreviations HPA, STN, and DSTN.) Most displays have a resolution of 1,024×768 pixels (picture elements), which is good for displaying fine detail.

Battery. All use a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, lighter and longer-lasting than earlier types. But brighter displays and more-powerful chips eat up battery power. On average, the batteries lasted about three hours in our tests, continuously running office applications. That’s a few minutes longer than last year’s models. The extra life probably comes from advances in power-saving technology, such as Intel’s SpeedStep and AMD’s PowerNow! One model, the Sony, came with a short-life “starter” battery that is only half the size of a regular battery, which costs $250.

The Dell, Toshiba, and Sony allow you to double battery time by storing a second battery in place of a removable drive. You can extend battery life on any laptop by dimming the display as you work, removing PC cards when they’re not needed, and setting the machine to tailor hard-drive use to your style of work. DVD players are especially tough on batteries. All the models except the Sony were able to play a movie disc for at least two hours. The Dell was the only one that could do it for three hours.

Running a laptop on 120-volt power will circumvent battery limitations, but several models, noted in the Ratings, became uncomfortably hot to place on a lap when running on 120-volt power.

Keyboard and pointing device. Full-sized keys are standard, though special-function keys may be in an unfamiliar location. There are two main types of pointing device: a touchpad that moves the cursor according to how you slide your finger across the pad, or an eraser-sized joystick wedged between the keys. The Dell has both.

Software. Don’t expect much: just a basic home-office suite like Microsoft Works or Apple Works, a home-finance program, a browser, and an antivirus program. Most of the Windows XP models relied on XP’s very limited CD-burning capability (see the box on the next page).

Multimedia. The small speakers built into these laptops often sound tinny, with little bass. The IBM’s speakers were just four inches apart. Headphones or external speakers deliver much better sound. Two models have controls for playing audio CDs that are accessible even when the lid is closed. Video usually includes 8 to 16 MB of RAM, accelerated graphics, and 3D-graphics circuitry. All models were fine at playing DVD movies.

Expansion slots. All models have one or two PC-card slots through which you add things like a wireless network adapter, digital-camera memory card, or card-based hard drive.

Connections. All models have a v.90 (or later) modem and at least one universal serial bus (USB) port for a printer, scanner, or digital camera. Four featured an IEEE-1394 (FireWire) port, useful for connecting a hard drive or digital camcorder. All have a wired Ethernet network port to connect to a local area network or cable modem.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The four high-scoring Windows-based models are all solid performers that would serve well as a desktop-computer substitute. The top-rated Dell distinguished itself with the longest battery life and the most sophisticated power management. Mac users who don’t mind a smallish display should be satisfied with the basic Apple iBook; higher-priced iBooks now have a larger display.

Laptops are built from parts that are expensive to repair or replace. If you travel a lot, consider third-party insurance, particularly on the display.

Which laptop do you need?

Home user

You use the laptop mostly at home, possibly in addition to a desktop computer. When traveling, you use it where performance and comfort are paramount.

What to look for. Consider an all-in-one design with: * An 866-MHz to 1.2-GHz processor for Windows or a 550-MHz processor for a Macintosh. * 256 MB of RAM. * A 20- to 30-GB hard drive. Also consider a 14- to 15-inch active-matrix (TFT) display and a docking station or a plug for a port replicator (an attachment with connections for peripherals).

Expect to pay. $1,800 to $2,300.

Tested models. All fit the bill.

Road warrior

The laptop is a standard part of your travel gear, so size and weight are important.

What to look for. Consider a slim-and-light model weighing 3 to 4 pounds, with these basics: * An 866-MHz processor. * 256 MB of RAM. * A 20- to 30-GB hard drive. Expect a smaller display–about 12 inches. Battery life isn’t likely to exceed three hours; plan to carry a spare or recharge often.

Expect to pay. About $2,500.

Tested models. The Gateway, IBM, and Macintosh, though not slim and light, are the lightest in the group.

Commuter/student

The commuter frequently uses a laptop to process work en route to or from the office. The student’s laptop travels daily to and from classes and the library.

What to look for. If power and comfort are most important, choose an all-in-one design. If a low price matters most, choose a machine with a passive-matrix display or a discontinued active-matrix model. If you want a light but practical machine for travel, get a modular model that can accept either a drive or a spare battery in one bay. A built-in Ethernet port lets you connect to an office or campus network.

Make sure the machine has these basics:

* An 866- to 1.2-GHz processor for Windows or a 600-MHz processor for a Macintosh. * 256 MB of RAM. * A 20- to 30-GB hard drive.

Also consider a 14- to 15-inch display (for Windows laptops) and a docking station or a plug for a port replicator.

Expect to pay. $1,300 to $2,200.

Tested models. Consider all but the HP and Sony, which are the heaviest laptops tested.

Up close

The new Windows XP

Most new computers now come with Microsoft’s Windows XP. We used the desktop computers in our lab to take a hands-on look at this new version of Windows. Here’s what we found:

Good points. The user interface has been spit-polished. When an application malfunctions, you can shut it down without rebooting the computer and, optionally, report the problem to Microsoft. There are guides called wizards that make it easy to handle tasks like setting up a home network. XP can alert you when bug fixes and upgrades are available from Microsoft; we recommend this.

If you upgrade your existing computer to XP, newer peripherals and installed software should work without a hitch. Older software we installed, including a 10-year-old version of Lotus 1-2-3, all ran fine. XP seldom requires you to restart the computer, and it protects its own critical files from accidental damage.

To determine how much upgrading an older computer may need to be compatible with XP, you can have the system diagnosed at www.microsoft.com/winxp/homeor www.pcpitstop.com/xpready.

Rough spots. To prevent software piracy, Microsoft requires you to activate your copy of XP within 30 days of installation and, should you ever make big changes to your computer’s hardware, check back with Microsoft. XP features plenty of messages urging you to sign up for Microsoft’s online services and the like. With peripherals and components older than a year or two, you may have to track down the appropriate XP-compatible software at the manufacturer’s site or, worse, do without the peripheral. A number of makers have produced such software. But you may get a warning when installing some software that it isn’t Microsoft-approved.

The bundled Microsoft Media Player won’t create audio files in the popular MP3 format; to do that, you have to buy third-party software for $10 and up. XP creates video files only in a proprietary Microsoft format that’s not compatible with a DVD player. The CD-burning feature is limited; you can dump files or audio tracks onto a disk only in batches.

The next big thing?

Introduced by Microsoft in November 2000, this is a prototype of a new, pen-based portable computer about the size of a clipboard. Dubbed a “tablet PC,” it will “bring the simplicity of pen and paper to computing,” says Microsoft. This past fall, several computer manufacturers, including Compaq, either demonstrated prototypes of their own or announced that they have plans for actual products. Pen-based computing has raised expectations before, then fallen short. It will get its next chance for success, according to Microsoft, sometime late next year. Details on the tablet PC are at www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/tabletpc/

Key features

The following are the features that add to a laptop’s price and can make a useful difference.

Processor. Windows computers use a processor in the Intel Pentium III class. The Macintosh uses a PowerPC processor that puts it in the same league.

Display size/type. All use a liquid-crystal display (LCD), typically 14 inches on the diagonal. An active-matrix display is the norm. Expect a smaller screen or a passive-matrix display on older laptops.

Carrying weight. It includes the removable drive on modular models. Unless the laptop will always live at home, lighter is better.

Supplied memory. Most computers need 256 megabytes of RAM to function well.

USB, PC-card, FireWire. The more USB ports available, the more peripherals you can connect directly. PC-card slots give the laptop room to grow. FireWire provides a high-speed link for video or photo gear.

Fits second battery. Travelers may want to extend battery life this way.

Floppy drive. The modular setup lets you swap, say, the CD-ROM drive for a floppy drive. Two laptops have an internal floppy drive, and others have none. The absence of a floppy drive is not a big drawback; files can be moved via the Internet or copied to a CD.

Pointing device. The touchpad is common. The eraser-sized stick pointer is used less often.

Best game display. These have more oomph in the graphics, for smooth game motion.

Full CD-RW software. These come with third-party software that offers more options for burning CDs.

Posted in Mobile Computing, PCs

Mobile Internet Access – Wow Is It Better Now.

February 22nd, 2014 by admin
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miaAnother example of fast mobile Internet access is the Nokia Communicator 9210 handheld computer, which doubles as a phone. When connected to the Orange network, the 9210 is able to provide Internet access up to 28.8kbps through a technique known as high-speed circuit switched data.

This effectively gives users two timeslots on the network, doubling the bandwidth on downloads from 14.4kbps to 28.8kbps for a cost of 25p per minute on the Orange network. Ray Haddon, Nokia mobile phones business development manager, says that at this speed “it becomes feasible for users to download their e-mail”.

Another new phone from Nokia is the 7650, a GPRS-based phone equipped with a mini digital camera. While geared to the snap-happy consumer who can use the phone to take and send e-mail pictures directly, it can also be used in certain business areas. One example Haddon suggests is insurance damage assessment. “An insurance assessor could take digital pictures of the damage, add text and audio then send all the information back to the office.”

Multimedia messaging in this way is one area 3G networks are set to revolutionise. At the moment users can send text messages via Short Message Service (SMS) over the mobile phone Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network. However the Wireless Village Initiative, an industry group focused on building standards for messaging, has just released a specification for multimedia messaging.

Frank Dawson, who chairs the Wireless Village specification committee, says the overall goal is to allow people to communicate through different services between mobile phones, PCs and fixed-line telephones. As an example, he says, “You could send an instant message from your PC through SMS to a mobile phone.”

Alternatively you could use GPRS and wireless messaging software on a mobile phone to send instant messages to friends and contacts using instant messenger services from AOL and MSN.

If you are the type of person who never has the right cables, then the fast-growing wireless connectivity market is for you. Users have a choice of handheld computers, notebook PCs, mobile phones, wireless Internet technologies and operators. In time, it is likely that these will come together to change the landscape of mobile communications forever. But for now the dominant mobile phone standard is still GSM and it will be some time before everyone has high-speed wireless Internet access from his or her phone.

Setting standards for messaging

The Wireless Village Initiative’s Multimedia Messaging Version 1.0 specification has four main parts:

nPresence services will subtly change the way people communicate, says Frank Dawson, who chairs the specification committee. Through Presence Services users will be able to check the availability of the people they are trying to contact. It will also allow users to tell callers who are trying to contact them the means by which the user can be contacted, such as e-mail, voicemail, phone or instant messaging. Practically speaking, these services will work in a similar way to the Profiles menu on some mobile phones today that is used to change the phone ring depending on whether the user is indoors, outdoors or does not want to be disturbed.

nInstant messaging uses the Web’s HTTP to send messages in near real-time between users.

Posted in Mobile Computing