Do you remember Agent Smith from “The Matrix?” These guys were pretty scary. They could move with blinding speed, possessed superhuman strength and reflexes, and, scariest of all, if you killed one, he could suddenly reincarnate as anyone… anyone else around you. There was no way to tell if the innocent grandmother or fruit vendor you were talking to would suddenly morph into an Agent and shoot you on the spot. And the same is true of all of those websites that you visit every day. Read the rest of this entry »
Price: $35.00 US
I was recently sent a a demo unit of The Norm from Insanely Great Products.
The Norm is a simple vent-mount iPhone 4 holder. It uses a standard binder clip to clamp on to the vent, and is shaped to perfectly hold an iPhone 4 (or 4S).
The Norm ships with two binder clips with which to mount it to your car’s vents. One has a foam liner and the other is a standard, small binder clip like you’d use to clamp a stack of papers together. In my testing, the Norm held better than other vent-mounts that I’ve tried in the past. Also, the Norm lies right against the vents, unlike another mount I used, which held the iPhone sticking about 2 inches out from the dashboard, making it easily jostled and knocked around. The Norm’s low profile prevented this, and it held in place nicely during my testing.
Although the Norm is not designed to be used with a case, I did have a slim case on my iPhone 4S. This kept the phone from fitting properly into the Norm until I removed the case. Despite this, even with the case keeping my phone from completely slipping into the mount, the Norm was able to securely grip my iPhone 4S, so I did not need to regularly remove and replace the case. The charging cable easily fit in the space for it at the bottom of the case.
The only thing I wish the Norm did better was provide a way to deflect heat from the car’s vents away from the iPhone, which heats up enough on its own and doesn’t need the extra BTUs during the winter months.
One plus which should not be overlooked is that Insanely Great Products is based in California, and the Norm is designed and manufactured in the USA — a plus, for those who want to buy American-made.
I was recently sent a LuxePad 9100 Bluetooth Keyboard by Genius to review. In a nutshell, if you’re going to use a physical keyboard with your iOS (or other) device, this is a decent unit. However, there are shortcomings, not necessarily of the hardware, that you should be aware of.
The LuxePad 9100 is about the size of a regular notebook keyboard, and the keys are laid out intelligently. I was able to use standard keyboard shortcuts and touch type immediately without having to spend time learning an unintuitive configuration, although I did often hit the right Shift key repeatedly when attempting to hit the tiny up arrow key. Standard PC and Mac keyboard shortcuts for highlight, copy, paste, and navigation shortcuts like next word, previous, etc., are all supported.
The LuxePad 9100 includes a carrying case which doubles as a stand. It works well, but I prefer using the Smart Cover as a stand. I only used the LuxePad 9100′s cover as a case.
Typing on the LuxePad is so much more enjoyable than the on screen keyboard — it’s like comparing apples to Volkswagens. Gone are the annoying autocorrect fiascos and soft keyboard blunders, like my frequent inability to hit the Space bar, always getting an ‘m’ instead. iOS automatically detects the LuxePad and does not show you the on-screen keyboard when paired, so you don’t need to hide it from view, giving back all of your screen real estate.
While the LuxePad 9100 pairs quickly and easily with my iPad 2, leaving a Bluetooth device connected causes serious battery drain on my iPad, even more so than usual after upgrading to iOS 6. If you are a listener to the Pocket Sized Podcast, you know what a joke battery life can be these days, and having a Bluetooth device connected constantly makes it drain nearly twice as fast! You must be sure to turn off the keyboard (which will preserve both devices’ batteries) or disable Bluetooth on your iOS device when not in use. Failing to do so will suck your iPad batteries dry in a very short time. I do not know that this is a problem with the keyboard itself, but perhaps it could go to sleep after a minute or so of inactivity to preserve battery life. If it’s supposed to do that on its own, it doesn’t seem to.
One benefit of the LuxePad 9100′s apparent insomniac behavior is the fact that the keyboard was always responsive when I used it. I never had to tap the keys or re-connect it in settings during a session, thanks to it keeping the connection alive all the time, but I’d happily pay this small price to eek out every bit of battery life that I could.
Another complaint, again, not the fault of the keyboard, is that iOS is still primarily a touch-screen interface, even with a hardware keyboard connected. That means you still need to frequently tap the screen to switch between apps, pull down menus, or do most functions where a tap would be required. Genius does include keyboard shortcuts to go to the Home screen, Search screen, and audio controls, including Play, Pause, Next and Previous tracks, and volume controls. Still, the need to tap is just an annoyance. Messages is a great example, as, unlike on a PC, when typing a message, I had to take my hands off the keyboard at the end of each message I wanted to send and tap the Send button, as pressing Enter simply added a new line to the message. I was unable to find a keyboard shortcut to streamline this process.
A final drawback is that, by toting the keyboard and its case/stand around, it and my iPad 2 now take up more space than my MacBook Air, power supply and cord not included. If you don’t have a MacBook Air, then this comparison is pointless, but for me, it makes a lot more sense to take a fully-functional PC with me than a tablet if I am doing anything resembling real work. If, however, you can accomplish all you want with an iPad, but will appreciate the ability to touch-type at close to normal speeds, then the Genius LuxePad 9100 is worth a look.
As I write this on Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for family, friends, my health, prosperity, and my redundant Internet connection. Read the rest of this entry »
Recent security holes with Oracle’s Java and Microsoft Internet Explorer have underscored the need for two web browsers (or two different computers) to separate your business processes while surfing the Internet. Read the rest of this entry »
We recently handled an incident response case where our client was infected by malware which was delivered by email. The client plead ignorance, and asked “how can we tell what is real and what is a virus?” Here’s a quick tip to do just that!
For starters, several email clients and web browsers will show you the address of a link before you click on it… provided you take a few seconds and look before clicking! Most people just click away without giving a second thought, which is like running out across the street and then, if ever, looking to see if there is any oncoming traffic, so try to resist that urge and put safety first.
Here’s a sample “LinkedIn” notification I just received.
OS X Mountain Lion Pocket Guide
I recently had the opportunity to review a copy of the OS X Mountain Lion Pocket Guide from O’Reilly media. In typical O’Reilly fashion, the book is well written with friendly, conversational jargon. At some points, I found the dialogue to be a little bit distracting, but not so much to be seriously bothered by it. Read the rest of this entry »