iOS Password Settings

Learn how to ditch the standard iOS 4 digit password for something a bit more secure.

Lifehacker App Directory

We all have gadgets and we all get bored. One way to quickly spruce up an old device is by adding a few new apps. Lifehackers app directory offers you app advice for about any device, including good old fashioned PCs. Save yourself some money and bring new life to your devices, buy apps not gadgets.

Lifehacker’s App Directory is a constantly maintained and updated directory of the best applications and tools for computers (Windows, Mac, and Linux) and smartphones (Android and iPhone). Want to make sure you’ve got the best of the best installed on your system? Simply click on your platform-of-choice below to get started.

via Apps News, Videos, Reviews and Gossip – Lifehacker.

Do you know of links to good App collections? If so post them below!

I made it rhyme. :)

Disclaimer: Kristen did not have a chance to review this, the above content or lack thereof is no representation of her skills. This was all me (Chris) and I’m sure I will pay dearly when she sees I posted without review again.

Travel Gadgets

A quick update to a presentation Clarke Price and I did a few years back. In the original presentation we showed off the number of gadgets we carried to ensure we could complete our work. Now we carry a lot less and can do much more. This short video is an overview of what’s now included in my travel kit.

  • Belkin Mini Travel Surge Protector
  • iPad/iPhone AV dock and cables
  • iPad 2 & iPhone 3Gs
  • D-Link Portable Wi-Fi Router
  • Joye eGo 2 E-Cig with charger

Let me know what I’m missing or what you do differently.

The iPhone that’s more amiable than your Android

Editor’s note: This post is in response to The Android that’s crushing your iPhone.

I sit comfortably reading my iPad educating myself about the newest Android-based slate devices, then it happens: I hear geek laughter from the corner. I see you with your taped glasses, pocket protector and mathematics degree. “Ahh, another Apple fanboy who needs educated on the real definition of technology,” you think to yourself. Most likely not, so keep it to yourself.

Will Android capture a majority percentage of the mobile market? Yes, most likely it will. Will it crush iOS? Most definitely not. Just as Ford, Honda, and Mercedes all coexist in the automotive market, several players do and will continue to coexist within the mobile market.

  1. It’s all about the people, coder. Customers buy devices. Some customers may be programmers, but the majority are not. Average consumers simply don’t care about the programming platform. They just want to have a great user experience. Apple makes application consumption and usage dead simple. Since the media feed Apple and, in turn, application sales, unless the media turn on Apple, iOS will still be a great platform for anyone who wants to make real money in mobile applications.It’s simply supply and demand: Coders like to eat, Apple gives them a great solution to sell products, and so coders won’t dismiss iOS.
  2. Peer Review doesn’t mean censorship. Several people have debated Apple’s philosophy regarding application review. I have to be honest: I can argue either side. The argument doesn’t seem to affect the customers, though, so, again, as long as money is to be had, programmers will seek to capture it. Granted, I jailbreak my iOS devices. It’s not that I have a need for additional applications, I simply like being a rebel. I will tell you that I’m far more comfortable giving my teen an iPhone than a Droid, so something positive can be said for Apple blocking out the porn applications.
  3. When you’re the best, you don’t need to imitate. Yes, Android runs on multiple devices, and no, that’s not a crushing blow to Apple. Windows CE as well as the new Windows 7 Phone both have the ability to move from device to device, but it hasn’t helped Microsoft crush anybody. In fact, it’s created more problems than done them any good. Apple controls the user experience on both sides of the equation, building the best overall experience for the customer. Having more hardware, more choices, and more training leads to an inconsistent customer experience. If iOS devices aren’t the best in customer experience, then why does everyone seek to recreate them?
  4. Come on, Google? Google is an advertising company with a great search engine and some killer apps, but they aren’t and don’t want to be a platform provider. Apple has an interest in maintaining and growing its platform because it sells hardware and applications, not ads.How many times has Google rolled out “the next killer app” only to be stomped into the mud and simply run away leaving users in a pinch? If you think the strength of cloud-based productivity tools is the winning combination, think again. The Microsoft Kin was a cloud device, and “poof.” we see where that landed. If Google isn’t collecting data about your spending habits, they’ll drop the OS like a hot potato. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s simply the business model they choose to maintain.
  5. It’s the 21st century. We carry more information in our pockets every day than we used to create in a lifetime. It doesn’t want to be free, in fact, we spend a considerable amount of time and money trying to protect it. This is a simple argument to win. (Linux on the desktop, anyone?) If something as great as Linux hasn’t benefited from an open community then it’s not going to happen for Android.Focus on customer goals: Saving time, increasing productivity, staying connected, and short-term entertainment. Mobile isn’t technology-driven, it’s experience driven, and that’s where Apple wins hands-down.

Android and iOS are simply different answers to the same problem. What we haven’t addressed is the fact several other players are also playing in the same space. With the introduction of tablets into the mobile space, customer’s needs will increase and the solutions will grow even more complex. Unfortunately for programmers, no single solution will win and so the market will remain fragmented for years to come. The only thing getting crushed this year is Jacob’s ego.

Just a side note: Many of the Android tablets being reviewed at CES look exceptional. I’m actually looking forward to the advances this competition will bring.

Read what others have to say at: http://www.quora.com/Why-does-the-world-tolerate-the-proprietary-approach-of-iPhone


The Android that’s crushing your iPhone

Editor’s note: Be sure to check out Chris Jenkins’ response to this post, in which he defends his iPhone: The iPhone that’s more amiable than your Android.

I see you there. You, clutching your lovely iPhone, your eyebrows raising incredulously above the edge of your shiny iPad. “Great, another zealotus tech nerd trying to rain on my iParade,” you’re thinking. Maybe. But maybe not.

Yeah, I work in IT. I have a geeky title (Business Analyst). I have a geeky degree (mathematics), I do geeky things (analytics, data mining, programming, business intelligence), and I even like geeky media (Star Trek, Firefly). And I’m partly biased, in that I use the geeky mobile operating system, Android. But I’m also partly unbiased, because I’m a die hard Mac guy, too (I’ve used them for the past eighteen years). So, I’d like to think I have a little latitude to tell you, disbelieving “i”Fan, that the green robot is here and he’s ready to take iOS’ name. Here’s why:

  1. It’s all about the coders, baby. As sweaty Steve Ballmer will never let us forget, it’s all about the developers (Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers!). Android applications are basically written in Java, a programming language used widely by everyone from hobbyists to multinational corporations. iOS applications are written in Objective-C, a language used widely by Apple. It’s not that it’s a bad language, but a lot more people already know Java than Objective-C. The barrier to entry is just that much lower.
  2. The iron curtain. Publishing in the iPhone/iPad store is like publishing in a fascist dictatorship. You submit your work to a hidden cabal, which examines your work and compares it to a semi-secret blacklist of banned things. If you’re lucky, after a while, the censors will deem your work acceptable — unless they later decide it’s verboten after all.In contrast, publishing in the Android Market is like publishing in the free world. You submit your work, and a short while later it’s available for everyone. End of story.
  3. Here, there, everywhere. There are dozens of phones and tablets that run Android, but just one that runs iOS. It’s a lot easier to get someone to buy any of the various Android-powered devices, from the company and with the features and design of his or her choosing, than it is to get someone to buy the one particular device offered by one particular company that runs iOS.
  4. Come on, it’s from Google. I love Apple. They produce great hardware, and they’ve made some great software. But I really love Google. And one of the things I love about Google is their ecosystem of interlinked cloud products. My contacts are stored in Google Contacts, and my mail in Gmail. I use Google Talk to chat online, Google Voice to make calls and store voicemails, Google Maps to find my way around, and Google Reader to read my RSS feeds. Oh, and let’s not forget a little thing called Google Search (you might have heard of it).All this stuff? It’s instantly available anywhere I can get an Internet connection, and I can get into it using any device of my choosing. Apple just doesn’t have the Internet presence to compete with this range of powerful, intertwined products.
  5. Its the 60s again. At the end of the day, information wants to be free. Android is open source and is based largely on free components (Linux, Java, etc.). Furthermore, it has a strong supporting community. Blogs and forums full of dedicated Android developers abound, discussing the minute details of how to get the most out of the system and lending a hand to newcomers wanting to join the fray themselves. The whole platform encourages experimentation, free expression, innovation, and cooperation.

Apple’s iOS is the polar opposite of Google’s Android in many ways. While its community of developers is doubtless as friendly and open, iOS itself is closed, so only Apple can develop it. iOS is based on some free components, but also a lot of proprietary ones. It’s a tightly controlled system. The benefit of this closed environment, I will admit, is a more cohesive and “pretty” experience — Android apps have an unfortunate reputation for not being as “shiny” (i.e., refined) as their iOS counterparts. But, this tight control just does not create as free or inviting an environment. By not letting people involve themselves in the system as deeply as they want, Apple inherently shuts people out and innovation down.

And that’s just it: An open, enticing platform is going to win in the long run. While both Android and iOS have the technology, Android has the people and the excitement. No amount of “pretty” is going to win over “fun” and “open.” That walled garden may be carefully pruned and cleaned, but who wants to get stuck behind a pretty wall? I’ll take my chances walking free in the public park.

Your Smartphone is not as secure as you think

android_security A recent story I’ve been following regarding the security of Droid applications involves companies building malicious applications that would scrape data from Droid phones and then relay the information to China. The public’s reaction was to immediately jump to a Droid/iPhone comparison.

This has become a huge victory for Apple’s walled garden approach to application distribution. I disagree with the idea that the walled garden is an additional level of security. After all, haven’t we all argued that Microsoft’s approach to development is far less secure than an open source approach?

In all fairness I should say that I carry an iPhone and I love to pick on the Fandroids. Yes, the breach is a big deal but it’s not Apple’s walled garden protecting iPhone users. My real problem with these stories is the idea that an iPhone is somehow more secure than other devices. This false sense of security is dangerous. I’ve railed against Apple’s marketing behavior regarding this issue for years. Absolutely nothing is 100% secure. Having said that, you can take steps to make a Smartphone more secure:

  1. Understand your risks. These devices are far more than simple phones; they are connected to data you’ve worked hard to protect.
  2. Maintain physical control of the device. If you’re carrying a device that has the data storage of 14 filing cabinets keep it in your control.
  3. Keep it password protected. Yes, I know the four digit password is pretty weak, but it slows access until you can have your data wiped.
  4. Have a way to remotely wipe your phone. This is a must. You must have the ability to kill the phone and data stored on the phone if it’s lost.
  5. Don’t store passwords. I know it’s annoying to type in passwords, but do you want just anyone who holds your phone to access everything on it?
  6. Don’t install apps you don’t need. Yes, virtual farts are funny but who knows what’s in the code, it’s better to hold off or make the noises yourself.
  7. Keep apps up to date. Just like on your computer, application updates are great tool that allows developers to enhance features and security. Apply your updates.
  8. Be cautious with connections and websites. Remember that your phone is a mini computer and the same rules apply as they do on our home machine. Public Wi-Fi and bad web pages can cause you real problems!

Don’t trust that anyone is looking out for you. Be diligent with any device and its security. The steps above won’t keep you 100% secure but they make you far less of a target.

Have you lost a phone and suffered for it? Share your story.

Related resources

Have more questions on Smartphone security, or other technology? Attend Chris’ Ask a Techie session at the Cincinnati Accounting Show, September 22-23, 2010, or the Columbus Accounting Show, September 29-30, 2010.

Getting to know QR codes

Androids and iPhones are taking the world by storm, and along with these phones (which, let’s face it, when your “phone” is able to control your television and turn off your lights, it’s not really just a phone anymore, it’s your entire universe, which comes to a screeching halt when you lose it or it (heaven forbid) stops working), comes a plethora of fun, interesting and confusing new apps, codes and gadgets.

One in particular that is still relatively new to the U.S. but is widely popular in Japan is a two-dimensional square that looks like a scrambled barcode, called a QR code. QR codes, or Quick Response codes can be scanned by smartphones that then reveal websites, photos, videos, music or text on the users phone.

QR codes can be found almost anywhere, in magazines and newspapers, on buses, on buildings (Times Square was recently outfitted with giant QR codes on buildings to celebrate Internet Week 2010), window clings, business cards, marketing materials, t-shirts, blogs, fast food sandwich wrappers (showing nutritional information or a cooscpaupon). The possibilities are endless.

But what do I get by scanning a QR code?

Part of the fun of scanning QR codes is finding out what it links you to, and a lot of what you’re going to get depends on where the QR code is that you are scanning.

An upcoming trend is placing a QR code on your business card. Imagine that after a client scans the QR code on your business card it automatically gives them the option to save your name, phone number(s), e-mail address, Twitter username, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts, website, blog, etc. The information that they receive is entirely up to you when you create the code. You could even have the QR code take them directly to your website, or a coupon for a discount off of your services.

Promoting an event? Put a QR code on the marketing materials with a link to the registration page with a discounted price, or use it to link up directions to the event with accommodations and parking instructions.

Creating QR codes

There are numerous QR code generators available, but a really simple and free one to get started is www.qr-barcodes.com/online-generator. The generator is as simple as choosing the barcode format such as a URL, text, e-mail, SMS, location, contact   information or calendar event, selecting the image size and then determining the content of your code. For example, the QR code pictured above is a URL linking to OSCPA’s website. If you have a smartphone, locate the barcode scanner app or download any one of the several QR code readers available in the Market or App Store, and scan the code.

You can have a lot of fun with QR codes, and the possibilities of what you can use them for are endless. Just remember that even though QR codes started showing up in the U.S. in 2008, the concept is still relatively new. Most people won’t know what QR codes are, let alone know how to use them. Don’t let that discourage you from using them though. QR codes are quickly gaining popularity, and when they start to reach your professional and social circles, you’ll be ahead of the game!

Did I eat a poison Apple? Revisiting the iPhone

Turns out I might be a bit of a Microsoft fan. It’s even possible that from time to time I make some rushed decisions due to my loyalty. Hey, we’re all human, and Apple hasn’t held back on the misleading marketing campaigns. The important thing is that I can listen and re-evaluate my opinion when necessary.

clip_image001So I’ll swallow my pride, give Tom Hood and the other iPhone addicts some credit, and admit that this iPhone has grown into a rather functional device. Don’t get me wrong, I still maintain my position that it didn’t live up to the marketing hype when it was released. I still think Apple is evil, and I’m not buying a MAC. I’m simply stating that the iPhone has grown up and it shows.

So what made a Microsoft fan change his tune? It’s very simple, MS Exchange connectivity, the application store, and the incredible number of social apps available. None of these are unique to the iPhone but when combined with speed and ease of use it’s a killer combo.

Microsoft Exchange connectivity is what you would expect from a non-Windows Mobile device. I’d call it incomplete, others might call it functional. In the grand scheme of things it works well enough for the average user. It pushes my e-mail, folders, and calendar and allows me to get my day to day work done. After a few days, the only feature I really missed from Windows Mobile was the ability to flag messages for follow-up.

Handango works fine as an application store for both Windows Mobile and BlackBerry, so Apple’s hype about their application store didn’t impress me much. This is one of those times when you just have to experience something to understand the difference. Apple kicked everyone’s butt with this one. Both finding and loading applications is almost effortless. This is one I have to admit I was plain wrong on, and nothing can compare to it.

We’re all aware that Social Networking is here to stay. I’m a huge fan of Twitter (some might call it an addiction) and I’ve used multiple clients on multiple devices. iPhone clients are hands down the best. Pick your poison: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or FriendFeed and you’ll find one or more clients in the Apple application store.

And to add to the pain, even the 1st generation iPhone is faster than any of my Windows Mobile devices. The battery life exceeded my expectations, I didn’t have a single lock-up all week and I didn’t have to rebuild it. While this might sound like blasphemy coming from a hard core Microsoft guy, I really like this device.

Now of course you knew I wasn’t just going to lie down with the evil Apple Empire and drink the Kool-Aid. The iPhone experience isn’t perfect. I mentioned before, I’d call the MS Exchange connectivity incomplete compared to Windows Mobile. I miss not having the presence of Office Communicator available. I still can’t get the speed I’d like from the keyboard, and I hate iTunes.

Like all mobile devices you have to take the good with the bad. In this case, the iPhone has grown well enough to get some praise, even from this stubborn MS guy.

Clash of the ‘bling phone’ titans – missing the mark

Last year, Apple released the iPhone on the ATT network to much criticism and acclaim for the design and interface. This year, Google launched their iPhone competitor – the Android based phone HTC G1 on the T-Mobile network. Both of these devices are great when it comes to playing media, surfing the web, and looking cool. But there is a major glaring flaw plaguing each of these devices.

Neither device, the iPhone or the Android phone, is geared towards corporate e-mail – the primary application for which most Smartphones/PDAs are purchased for. While the Android has a slide out keyboard, which makes typing relatively easy, it doesn’t support Microsoft Exchange push e-mail. And the iPhone, which has recently added Microsoft Exchange push capability, has nothing but an on-screen keyboard which makes it impractical for quickly typing e-mails. In fact, the iPhone’s issue is so great that one can often see frustrated iPhone users, at airports or coffee shops, jabbing angrily at the screen trying to get their messages entered.

So, the question comes up: What do I do if I want a device that is ‘cool’ like the iPhone or the Android but also handles my corporate e-mail without any cumbersome issues? The answer, unfortunately, is to wait a little longer. 

The two most promising devices that are likely to combine the ‘cool’ with the functional are the HTC Touch Pro and the BlackBerry Thunder. Both devices have touchscreens, and a multitude of media features. The HTC Touch has a slide out keyboard making it easy to type e-mails on, and because it is a Windows Mobile based device it supports your Exchange push e-mail. The BlackBerry Thunder, on the other hand, gets rid of the venerable physical keyboard that BlackBerry has been known for and replaces it with an on-screen keyboard that reviewers say, unlike the iPhone, actually works well. But, you will have to wait just a bit for the HTC Touch, due out any day in the U.S. market, and a little longer for the BlackBerry Thunder which is slated for Q4 2008.

Until devices such as these become available, I can only suggest that business users stick with their Motorla Qs, Palm Treo’s or BlackBerry devices.

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