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by Mike

Another Music Service Bites The Dust

May 1, 2015 in News, Software

musicWhen I started going to college I felt ahead of the curve and on top of the world. It was only until a family with a younger daughter was sitting around listening to music that I realized I wasn’t “with it” anymore. The service she was using was Grooveshark – something I had never heard of and although the name was strange I made sure to remember it and pass it on.

It seems more and more we are seeing free music streaming services getting targeted and shut down. mrtzcMP3 was a well known spider that hunted out music files and neatly indexed them for anyone to find. Though this website simply indexed them and did not host any illegal files directly, the creator still battled with many legal issues and eventually closed its doors for good. Today the very popular streaming service Grooveshark has shut down as well. With over half the monthly users as Spotify this is a pretty big hit to the music streaming community.

Through my life I’ve watched many free services die. Games were painful until Steam came along. Movies and TV was painful until Netflix came along. Music used to be painful but now there are vast numbers of licensed streaming services. Although I’m a big fan of pay-what-you-want style transactions for artists and believe there should be a better way to find and try before you buy in the world of music, we are moving forward and the trend is positive. What I will miss the most was Groovesharks html5 page which worked fantastic on any mobile device. Soundcloud fills a small gape but there are still holes. Hopefully in time these services will get better and this loss pushes progress forward.

by Mike

No More LogMeIn Free

January 22, 2014 in Software

lmiThere are probably more remote access options out there than most people care to think about but one of the biggest and well known is switching their business model and no longer allowing free accounts. Existing users will either need to upgrade to a pro account or switch to a competitor. Hamachi, Cubby and Join.Me are apparently unaffected at this time but will it be long before these free services will stop too? I personally thought Hamachi would be the first to go.

Let us know in the comments how this change is affecting your business or personal life. If you switched to a competitor, what solution are you now using? If you use other free LogMeIn services, will you now be worried?

by Mike

BBM Channels

November 27, 2013 in Software

IMG_00001147With BBM channels finally being out of beta, I see a lot of potential for us here. Once cross platform Channels is released I’d like to start reaching more people in IT and helping the community to grow. For those with a BlackBerry device, be sure to update your BBM and join our channel using the PIN or bar code in this post. For those on Android or Apple devices, hold tight because I’m sure its in the pipes!

Let me know what topics interest you or strike up a chat in the channel for even faster response!

by Mike

Cross Platform BBM

October 22, 2013 in Software

BlackBerry has finally put it its best application out for both iOS and Android! This time everyone can get it. Lets jump right in to it:

BBM for iPhone – https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/bbm/id690046600?mt=8
BBM for Android – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bbm

Don’t trust any other apps since there are many, many fakes out there. During the roll out the instructions are:

  • Download BBM – the easiest way is to visit BBM.com from your Android or iPhone browser*
  • Once you install the app, open it, and enter your email address to hold your spot in line
  • We will email you as soon as you reach the front of the line and can start using BBM

It features the core elements of BBM but does not yet feature BBM Voice or Video. This launch has been a great success! I have not seen any service disruptions or issues chatting in groups with several device types. Great sign and makes me very happy!

by Mike

AeroFS

December 4, 2012 in Software

Quite some time ago I was invited to the beta of this Dropbox-like program. I wasn’t sure how they found my email and truthfully, wasn’t looking for a Dropbox alternative, i would check it out. It seemed more of my duty than anything. The idea seemed the same only there was no storage limit! The catch was that everything was P2P. Unlike where Dropbox or Google Drive keep your files in the cloud, AeroFS allows you to sync unlimited amounts of data using all your own resources. This means no public folder, no restoring old copies of files and no possible way to get the sync files should your computer crash. On the bright side, if you need to sync 150GB of files between two computers, you can!

Personally, I did not. As a result I uninstalled it without even sending out my two invite codes! To my amazement, a few weeks later a friend had asked if I knew of an alternative to Microsofts Live Mesh sync since it has now been replaced with SkyDrive. Their service used to offer the best of both worlds. Unlimited sync with the ability to store 5GB to the cloud. With this service kicking the bucket, and SkyDrive only offering cloud storage with no sync, he needed an alternative and AeroFS jumped immediately to mind.

I asked my friend to comment on his experience with the software. Out of ten: “11” was honest opinion. It handled the file sync very well and isn’t even out of beta yet! Installation is as fast and smooth as DropBox or G-Drive and is fairly light weight. Software updates happen seamlessly in the background (for beta updates at least. You are able to share sync folders with other AeroFS users just like Dropbox. Release update may require new download). P2P reduces file sync down time too! History of file activities are kept in a log. At the end of the day its a great tool for backup or sync of any size or volume.

If you’re interested in joining the beta, head on over to AeroFS.com

[ AeroFS ]

by Mike

Out With the Old in With the New!

November 17, 2012 in Software

It has already been confirmed that Microsoft will be killing off MSN and finally embracing Skype. As of March 2013 they will be turning off the switch on the much beloved service,  but this isn’t really a big surprise. Over a year ago Microsoft acquired Skype for $8.5 billion and hasn’t really done much with it. Although Skype has still been working on things like their new Codec there hasn’t been an overwhelming presents of Microsoft – not that I’m complaining; I love Skype!

In 1999 we knew it best as Microsoft Network Messenger or MSN. Everyone I know and their mom used MSN. It was great, it was fun and there was extensive development to “hack” and tweak MSN. Countless viruses and fake links were also distributed this way, but it was great! You could play games with friends, chat and even do video or voice calls! I still think their implementation of sending voice clips was awesome! Reminds me of  the10-4 cell phones on Bell networks. As time wen’t on they changed the name to Windows Live Messenger, around the same time as Windows Vista came out. Everything was going “Live” and starting to move to the cloud. They also came out with the “Live Essentials” which was just a series of tools and programs commonly used – Live Mail, Messenger, Movie Maker (Finally updated!) and other stuff no one cared about. In 2009 they had released that they had 330 Million active users which represented more than double that of Skype and second only in popularity to Yahoo Messenger. The report also suggested that in the US there was a 48% drop in unique users and consequently the number of Skype grew.

When Microsoft released the previews for Windows 8 and Office 2013, there was a strong integration of Skype with Outlook and the whole OS. There is also now a preview of Skype available for Windows Phone 8. Last month Skype updated the desktop version to 6.0.0.120 in the US and recently Skype updated everywhere else to 6.0.0.126 which seems to bring integration with Outlook contacts. You can now sign in with your Microsoft or Facebook account.  You can IM your WLM friends with video calling coming in the near future. You can even merge your accounts to have an all in one experience! Version 6 also brought some bug fixes, and a slightly different look that has a similar feel to Windows 8

[ Get Skype ]

by Mike

Software on Steam

October 16, 2012 in Software

COPYRIGHT VALVE CORPORATION

I love Steam. I don’t think I would have started buying games if it didn’t exist. I love the community, the interface and how easy it is to use. Steam is my favorite! Now they have full blown started selling software.

It was rumored that they would start selling more than games and hats a long time ago, but now its finally happening! Though most of the software so far is either free, expensive or somewhat useless  it shows that there will be a good range of prices and include even very expensive production software. I am still curious where all this will go, what new products will launch, and how it will effect Microsoft Marketplace and Apple App Store.

With the Windows 8 Marketplace I don’t expect to see anything like Office in there any time soon, but this might be a good place for indie software developers to make their mark. Steam has, after all, helped so many indie game dev.’s get their games to a very large market. Speaking of indie, Humble Bundle has also started releasing more than just games and soundtracks – currently they are offering eBooks.

by Mike

Windows 8 is a Bad Idea

September 27, 2012 in Software

There is no other explanation… When a developer still makes around $215,000 a day, 2 years after release from his game, logically he should want to be on as many platforms as possible. Turning down an open invite to certify their game for the Windows 8 Marketplace would be foolish, right?! I personally think there is more to it than that, and at this point in case you haven’t figured it out I’m referring to Markus Persson who tweeted this earlier, saying “I told [Microsoft] to stop trying to ruin the pc as an open platform” and has spoken out other times against Windows 8. He goes on to say “I’d rather have minecraft not run on win 8 at all than to play along.” and many would say that’s bad for business.

Having the income Notch has allows him to be slightly picky. If he wanted to he could be more aggressive and get Minecraft on every platform. He would likely have even more income. At this point I think he would rather take a stand and make a point. He has helped many indie game developers find a place in the market by supporting the Humble Bundle and many other projects, both financially and in marketing. This stand against the Windows 8 Market is one I can agree with. The PC stands out against Mac because it is an open platform. Users aren’t given a set of rules but instead allowed to think outside the box, and explore outside the box. To take that away from the PC would be a disaster. Either people will switch to Mac, or they will switch to Linux. Already Linux has overcome some of my personal issues in terms of compatibility and entertainment. Steam now runs many games on Linux and there are so many apps, its hard to not find one that does what you need.

Windows 8 is less than a month from launch, but Intel CEO Paul Otellini is quoted as saying Windows 8 still requires improvements to be made. They want to stick with their release deadline and feel that any imperfections can be fixed with an update later down the road. Even RIM has learned from making that mistake and pushed back the release of BB10 to make sure their product ships working ready to take on the world (and its looking REALLY good now). Just look at iOS6 Maps on the iPhone 5 to see how an incomplete element can impact the reputation of a successful company. Is Microsoft really that obtuse, or is it wrong to keep customers waiting? How do you feel about being sold a product that isn’t ready yet? There is nothing but a promise to comfort you that they will fix things later…

At the end of the day, I have to hand it to Microsoft for being bold, but they are playing with some very dangerous ideas. Already many people do not want to switch just because they don’t like the way it looks! If developers don’t feel they have the same control over their software they won’t make the switch. They need the respect and cooperation of developers otherwise they won’t get anywhere. Microsoft knew this 20 years ago, but have they forgotten this now? Only ti me will tell, and usually Microsoft puts out one risky release every other version of Windows. For now I won’t come near Windows 8 and I can’t think of a single person I would recommend it to.

by Mike

Skype Changing to new ‘Opus’ audio codec

September 13, 2012 in Software

Anyone that uses an in game voice chat program like Vent, Mumble, Team Speak or even if you are using Skype, you should know by now the codec is everything. Any spike in latency can be frustrating and annoying and a good audio codec can make a huge difference. Mumble prides itself in a codec developed specifically for speech and promises low bandwidth with high quality!

Skype has been knocking this new Opus codec around since March 2009 intending to create a low bandwidth codec “designed for the internet.” This should mean full CD quality audio in full band stereo over Skype, regardless of internet connection. They are also bringing in new technologies to help with packet loss so your friends and family wont sound like some dubstep audio sample. Personally this makes me VERY hopeful to see Skype on the BlackBerry PlayBook.

There is no specific ETA but they expect it to become standard across all Skype platforms. Below is a video that likely has way more information than anyone would be interested in…

by Mike

Office 2013

July 16, 2012 in Software

its rumored that Microsoft will be unvailing their new version of Office toda. With their new Windows 8 operating system and Surface tablet computer coming out, this year is very important. The 5,000-employee Office division now includes 170 user experience designers and researchers, twice as many as it had a year ago. This goes without saying, it will be interesting to see how the new metro styled OS will impact the Office UI.

Clearly Microsoft intends to make the product more touch friendly. The new Office also comes with Skype. When you subscribe, you get 60 minutes of Skype world minutes every month. Integrate Skype contacts into Lync and call or instant message anyone on Skype.

A consumer preview of the new Office is available today and can be downloaded by clicking the link below. Microsoft is promising this will be more than just a work tool and more of an every day program users will enjoy to use. More to come soon!

Microsoft Office ]

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