Quick Bytes

Edition: September 2012 - Vol 20 Number 09
Article#: 4060
Author: Repertoire

Next-generation mouse

Sweden-based Penclic says it has taken the computer mouse to the next level. Shaped like a pen, the mouse is said to create a relaxed and natural working position. It allows the forearm to rest on the work surface, which contributes to less pain, according to the company. It also allows the user to work in front of or beside the computer, and is said to allow the user to be more exact and precise.

Sports moms and dads

If you’re coaching your kid’s sports team, or just the parent of a kid on a team, you might want to check out TeamSnap, a mobile and web service said to be used by almost a million and a half players, parents and coaches to manage sports teams and leagues. Begun with a web-only platform, the company’s mobile app for iPhones and iPads was reportedly used 650,000 times in June. The app is said to make it easy to keep track of rosters, schedules, game and practice attendance and availability, team payments, statistics and more. A messaging function is included.

Life with Siri

Dery Books announced that Volume 2 of its “Life With Siri” eBook series is now available as an iBook on iTunes. This new volume joins the three earlier “Life With Siri” books. Volume 2 contains more than 100 pages, with 56 new Siri tips and 52 Siri questions that evoke funny answers. Priced at $1.99, the new volume is also available as a Kindle edition from Amazon and as a Nook edition from Barnes & Noble. While most eBooks are primarily text-based, “Life With Siri” is extensively illustrative, using original screenshots to demonstrate how to most effectively use Siri.

Samsung Media Hub

Preloaded on the Galaxy S® III and other select Samsung smartphones, Samsung Media Hub is said to offer users access to a broad collection of movies, as well as single episodes or full seasons of TV shows, many available the day after original broadcast. Partners providing content for the service include CBS, Fox, MTV Networks, NBC Universal, Paramount and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution. Consumers select the content they want, confirm payment and start watching while the remainder of the show or movie downloads. All charges appear on their monthly AT&T bill. The Samsung Captivate™ and Samsung Galaxy Exhilarate™ from AT&T will also permit carrier billing options for Media Hub content, according to Samsung. The Samsung Galaxy Note™ and Galaxy S® II devices will receive carrier billing capabilities through the upcoming software update to Android™ 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system.

The well-dressed sales rep

Want to look your best in the field? Feel like wearing a bow tie but don’t know how to tie one? A recent edition of the New York Times looked at a variety of apps to help. Necktie Deluxe, for example, available through the Apple App Store, can show you how to tie your ties. Want to see how different hairstyles would look on you? Go to Hairstyle Salon. Another hairstyle app, Men’s Hairstyles, is said to offer more than 240 hairstyle options for you to “try on.” BeardMe allows you to put facial hair on your photo, to see how you’d look in a variety of moustaches and beards. Cool Guy, which is free on iOS and Android, lets you mix and match clothes you already own after you’ve snapped photos of them. And if you feel one of your friends or colleagues needs your expert styling advice, the free Send A Tip app lets you send an anonymous e-mail to someone to point out a grooming slip-up.

Touch-screen wireless router

If you need to set up an Internet router at home, but fear all the hassles associated with it, try Almond by Securifi, a touch-screen wireless router. Almond not only removes the need for the web-driven interfaces, but it removes the need for operating through a PC or Macintosh entirely, according to the company. “Few people would buy a microwave that can only be set up using a computer, but everyone quietly submits to this chore when setting up their wireless routers,” Securifi CEO Rammohan Malasani was quoted as saying. “We set out to design a full-featured WiFi access point the average person can set up and enjoy in a minute or two. The falling cost of touch screen technology has finally made it possible.”

Pay With Square

Pay With Square, an app that allows you to pay merchants via credit card just by saying your name, got a big thumbs-up in a recent article in the New York Times. Technology editor David Pogue explains it this way: You walk into a shop or café; the cashier knows that you’re on the premises, because your name and thumbnail photo appear on his iPad screen. He rings up your items by tapping them on the iPad. To pay, you just say your name; the cashier compares your actual face with the photo on the iPad’s screen, taps OK, and the transaction is complete. (Square takes 2.75 percent of each transaction.) You set up the phone app by choosing your photo and linking your credit card. Using GPS, the app automatically lists shops and cafes near you that offer the Pay With Square system. If you turn the phone 90 degrees, you see them as pushpins on a map. Square says that 75,000 merchants already accept Pay With Square, according to Pogue.

Google’s Next 7 tablet

Google has entered the tablet market with the Nexus 7 Android tablet, a $199 model with a 7-inch screen. Wall Street Journal Technology Editor Walt Mossberg calls it a winner. “It’s a serious alternative to both Apple’s larger $499 iPad and to a more direct rival: Amazon’s $199, Android-based, 7-inch Kindle Fire.” The new Google tablet lacks some of the features of the iPad, writes Mossberg. For instance, it lacks a cellular connectivity option, a rear camera and the iPad’s “dazzling screen resolution.” Its base model has half the memory of the iPad’s. It offers fewer content choices – music, movies, TV shows – than either the Apple or Amazon devices do. It also has very few apps designed for a tablet, and its screen area is less than half the size of the iPad’s. But Mossberg believes the tablet is a better choice than the iPad for people on a budget; for those who prefer a lighter, more compact tablet that’s easier to carry and operate with one hand; and for those who prefer Google’s ecosystem of apps, services and content to Apple’s.

Heading off malicious e-mails

DMARC, which stands for “Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance,” is a technical specification created by a group of organizations that want to help reduce the potential for e-mail-based abuse by solving a couple of long-standing operational, deployment, and reporting issues related to e-mail authentication protocols, according to DMARC (www.dmarc.org). With the rise of the social internet and the ubiquity of e-commerce, spammers and phishers have a tremendous financial incentive to compromise user accounts, enabling theft of passwords, bank accounts, credit cards, and more, says DMARC. E-mail is easy to spoof and criminals have found spoofing to be a proven way to exploit user trust of well-known brands. Simply inserting the logo of a well-known brand into an e-mail gives it instant legitimacy with many users. DMARC addresses these issues, helping e-mail senders and receivers. A DMARC policy allows a sender to indicate that their e-mails are protected by authentication methods, and tells a receiver what to do if the authentication methods fail to pass, such as junk or reject the message. DMARC is said to remove guesswork from the receiver’s handling of these failed messages, limiting or eliminating the user’s exposure to potentially fraudulent and harmful messages. DMARC also provides a way for the e-mail receiver to report back to the sender about messages that pass and/or fail DMARC evaluation. For more information, go to www.dmarc.org.