Monthly Archives: January 2012

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Mobile phones have come a long way from simply allowing us to exchange conversation, and mobile apps have come a long way from simple calculators and time-wasting games. The modern iPhone is a tool in nearly any situation, offering the traveler in particular an endless array of useful apps and functions to make every trip easier and more secure.

If your travel plans have you heading to the Windy City, for business or pleasure, check out these Chicago-friendly iPhone apps to assist you with everything from train and bus schedules to local sports awareness!

1. iTrans Chicago CTA

iTrans Chicago CTA

Chicago is a big city and so offers typical big city public transit opportunities, including extensive bus routes and the famous El train. To save yourself the headache of trying to figure out the workings of an unfamiliar metropolitan transit system, the iTrans Chicago CTA app offers maps with directions to all major stops and stations, full schedules for the El and direct Google Maps integration for step-by-step directions.

2. MultiCam Chicago

MultiCam Chicago

If public transit isn’t your thing and you plan to have a personal vehicle to help you get around during your stay in the Windy City, consider the MultiCam Chicago traffic app. The only thing worse than an unfamiliar commute is an unfamiliar commute that leaves you stuck in unending gridlock and this app helps you to avoid those situations with its access to views from highway and freeway cameras located around the city.

3. Chicago Parking

Chicago Parking

Like any big city, Chicago’s parking opportunities, especially in the city’s core, are very limited. If you need a parking space, even in a hurry, the Chicago Parking app will assist you by offering details of more than 300 parking garages around town, including maps, parking rates and even pay booth locations.

4. Chicago Cubs Trivia

Chicago Cubs Trivia Chicago Cubs Trivia

Whether you’re a general baseball buff or a fan of the well-loved Chicago Cubs in particular, the Cubs Trivia app will help you to test your knowledge of everything from player stats to trade details. Kill time in the back of a cab or top up that trivia to impress your Chicago-based clients!

5. Buster

Buster

Another Chicago transit app, the Buster iPhone app offers something of a twist on the official CTA app. While Buster offers information and schedules pertaining to buses only, excluding the El train, it does feature handy extras like a countdown clock to watch as you wait for your bus to arrive in freezing winter weather and the ability to save oft-used routes for one-click access down the road.

6. Wright Around Chicago

Wright Around Chicago

Fans of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright visiting the Windy City will appreciate the handy Wright Around Chicago app, a virtual tour guide showcasing 21 locations around the city containing Wright’s renowned work. Besides offering a map, Wright Around Chicago also includes tour opportunity details and pricing, turn-by-turn directions to each location and a special planner to help you organize your Chicago day trip.

Another useful tip to mention here: get the Go Chicago Card to avoid standing in lines and save time!

7. UrbanSpoon

UrbanSpoon

Not related to Chicago in particular but no less useful to those visiting that city, the famed UrbanSpoon app for the iPhone offers city-by-city food guides and restaurant details, including extensive listings for your favorite Midwest metropolis. Boosted by augmented reality functions that are simply unmatchable in the iTunes app store, UrbanSpoon allows you to use its “scope tool” to stand on any Chicago street with your camera to see available restaurants, specials, food varieties and distance from where you’re standing.

For less than the price of a single hard copy of a traveller’s guide you can own all of these apps and more, making your trip to Chicago easier, safer, more efficient and more fun. Whether you’re impatiently awaiting your bus, desperately searching for an open parking spot or looking to refuel after a long day, your iPhone can easily be your most important travel tool!

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It is possible for you to be able to connect to your home computer from a different location, and work with your files, photos and software. With Virtual Network Computing (VNC), you can connect to your home computer’s desktop from any computer with Internet access.

The VNC technology uses remote capabilities to control another computer over a network. Everything is seen/done in real time, so there is no lag time on applications, installations, etc. By using this type of technology, you can successfully manage your client accounts or interact between computers.

In order for the VNC to have a successful connection, it requires a setup on the server on your home computer, and a setup on the viewer that’s on the remote computer.

The steps to work with your computer using a VNC platform are:

  1. Install the VNC server, and
  2. Install the VNC client.

Both of these would need to be present and working on their respective ends for it to be successful.

Installing the VNC server

Installing the VNC server

A comprehensive VNC server and client software that is effective to use is RealVNC. It allows for file transfers and uses your Windows passwords and usernames to authenticate the VNC server connection. Usually, the VNC server will be your host computer, the place where you will be retrieving and accessing the information that you’ll need.

Mac users can also access a free download to use that is very effective called OSXvnc. You simply download the software, install it and initiate a password. After this process has begun, you then start the server then to begin the connection.

Installing the VNC client

Installing the VNC client

With your Windows installment, you can also download and install the RealVNC software, but make sure to start the viewer but not the server. Once that has finished downloading, you are ready to begin managing and using any computer.

Ideally, these basic steps will work in setting up this process. It may be necessary to tweak something, but that will just be to make things flow smoother. For instance, if you have a computer that has a slower network connection, “best” is the ideal compression setting which will give you a quicker connection response. It’s also a good idea to use a USB memory stick with a VNC viewer on it each time you remote access a computer so you don’t have to download and install it each time.

For this software, wireless mobile technology offers more beneficial features that will appeal to many people. The VNC technology is also available to use in a mobile device environment. The RealVNC software is platform independent and can be used anywhere. Users can use it to link their mobile devices or other smart devices to their cars and use it to manage files, transfer files and even troubleshoot any computer problems.

The VNC technology is a comprehensive and adaptable tool that is great for managing systems in any environment, whether that’s on a desktop or mobile, and doesn’t require any lengthy or complicated steps to get right into the process.

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Everyone, even those with healthy eyes and no vision problems, have to go to see an eye doctor on a fairly regular basis. As we age, and especially in a time with so much digital media keeping us looking at a glowing screen for hours at a time, eyesight becomes more blurred. More people need contacts and eyeglasses than ever before, and it is Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) that is mostly to blame.

But for all the problems they can cause, your devices can also offer you some help. For example, the iPhone has a couple of apps that can help you test your vision to know what you might need to pop into the ophthalmologist’s for a checkup.

Apps To Check Your Eyesight

Vision Test

Vision Test

This free app is now in version 2.0.3, and was named the top medical program on the iTunes market in 2010. It has continued to be a huge success since then, with tens of thousands of downloads and many satisfied users. It works by allowing you to conduct tests for your visual acuity, astigmatism, color blindness and more.

Without a doubt, this is a valuable resource in helping you to keep track of your visual progress and decline, and in catching problems you might not even realize you have.

Eye Test

Eye Test

This is a slightly more advanced vision app that works by offering more tests, most adapted from professional ones. Many eye doctors have been encouraging their patients to download it. While it costs $0.99, it is worth that amount, and that is such a small fee for a medical program that you can’t really complain.

However, when it comes down to it, it offers a lot of the same thing as Vision Test, and so either would be acceptable. I personally prefer the interface on this app, however, as it is more colorful and attractive.

Other Interesting Apps

There are many other apps you can find that deal with eyesight. Here are a couple of cool ones to keep an eye on.

I Can See

I Can See

Have you ever been in a situation where a magnifying glass could really come in handy? No, I am not talking about Sherlock Holmes here. I mean more if you find yourself trying to read the fine print on a contract or the words on a menu, and you have forgotten your reading glasses. Us older folk know how it goes…

This app works by allowing you to scroll the camera along the content you need to read, and turns it into a magnifying class with the words more clearly shown on the iPhone screen. Free, extremely handy and just kind of cool.

GlassesOff

GlassesOff

Not yet on the market, this app is expected to be launched sometime this year. It is an interesting vision program that works by teaching the eyes to process blurred images, putting off the need for reading glasses. So far it has tested well with clinical trials, and so should be on the way soon enough.

Conclusion

You have to work to keep those eyes healthy. In between eye doctor visits – which, let’s be honest, are going to be infrequent at best – you can use these apps to test and improve your vision. What are some of your favorites?

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TuneUp Utilities 2012

Every move you take on your computer adds to its workload. Downloading, uninstalling, browsing, moving, deleting. All these activities leave a trail of worthless data getting in the way of computing processes. Optimization applications can help erase the trails while keeping your machine clean, lean and mean.

TuneUp Utilities 2012 Functions

However, optimization apps can be dangerous for the everyday computer user. Some require careful decision-making before cleaning up because deleted files can mess up the registry or be something you need. Although you can do many of the cleaning activities yourself, they’re time consuming because you have to locate them in different places on your computer.

TuneUp Utilities 2012 brings everything together in one user-friendly interface. It also includes Economy and Turbo modes. Economy is for optimizing battery life and power consumption on laptops, so you can compute longer. Turbo speeds performance. Standard mode is how your computer performs without any adjustments.

The well-organized and clean TuneUp Utilities interface has five components:

  • Status & recommendations: Optimize performance for hardware, software, Internet and visual effects, fix problems and change settings for undoing TuneUp Utilities changes.
  • Optimize system: Disable programs not in use, remove unnecessary programs from startup, uninstall apps, managing Economy and Turbo modes and running individual maintenance tasks.
  • Gain disk space:  Delete unneeded files, remove old backups, turn off unwanted Windows features, find the largest data files and delete data so it can’t be restored.
  • Fix problems: Are icons showing up weird or is the taskbar invisible? Get help with fixing common programs, check hard disk for errors and restore deleted files. TuneUp Utilities has a detailed version of Windows Task Manager, the window that opens when you press Ctrl+Alt+Delete.
  • Customize Windows: Microsoft adds fancier features to Windows’ interface with every release. The older window interface was blocky, bland and hard on the eyes. The new looks cooler, but sacrifices performance and system resources. With TuneUp Utilities, you can find a happy medium between Windows performance and good looks.

TuneUp Utilities 2012

Some apps like Adobe Reader quick launch, iTunesHelper and QuickBooks default to start up so they load faster or automatically check for updates. The apps may load faster, but they affect performance even if you rarely use them. It’s easy to find where to disable startup programs in TuneUp Utilities and it also provides more information than System Configuration Utility’s Startup options tab does. Besides, we always forget how to open it. (Click Start, Run and enter “msconfig.”)

You can also disable programs that you want to keep, but only enable them when you run the program. For example, QuickBooks Pro runs a process whenever Windows boots. Disabling the app turns off the process until you actually run QuickBooks. After closing QuickBooks, TuneUp Utilities 2012 turns it off.

To see how TuneUp Utilities 2012 affects performance, we use PC Mark, AppTimer and good old-fashioned manual tracking of program load times. The answer to the big question is no. The app doesn’t improve PC performance. The results are minimal despite our best efforts to replicate all tests before and after running TuneUp Utilities 2012. This isn’t a surprise because this is often the case with most optimization apps.

While we notice little performance improvements from running TuneUp Utilities 2012, its simplicity in providing access to all optimization features saves time and cuts clutter. It also makes solid recommendations for cleanup, an area of weakness with some optimization apps. Always take care when using any optimization software in checking recommendations before accepting them.

Have you used TuneUp Utilities or other computer optimization software? How did it work out for your computer? What do you like and don’t like about it?

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For anyone who doesn’t want to be tied down to their desktop computer, remote desktop tools offer freedom at an affordable price. This is an invaluable service to any system support professional. Instead of driving into the office in the dead of night to fix a problem, you can simply use the remote-control function to save the day! Even if you’re not a techie, you can use this useful software solution.

Whether you’re on vacation or just around the corner, you never know when you might need to take a peek at a file stored on your home machine. If you’re in the market for a useful remote desktop tool, take a look at these feature-packed programs:

1. RealVNC: The Cross-Platform Solution

RealVNC

Once you install the VNC server portion of the RealVNC remote control solution on your desktop, you can control it from any other computer as long as both devices are connected to the Internet. The two computers don’t even have to run the same operating system! On the remote machine, you have the option of installing the VNC viewer software or using the browser-based Java viewer.

2. TeamViewer

TeamViewer

In mere seconds, you can connect to any PC or server anywhere in the world through the power of the Internet. Control the remote machine just as easily as if you were physically sitting in front of the keyboard.

3. Mikogo

Mikogo

This is a great, easy-to-use remote desktop tool that allows both private users and businesses to set up online meetings, web conferences, and remote support sessions. With this tool, help is just a click away.

4. Remobo

Remobo

This remote desktop tool was designed with security in mind. As you connect to the remote machine, an Instant Private Network (IPN) is established to make sure that no one is listening in as you access sensitive information across the Web. This is a perfect solution if your work or personal machine includes any data that should be protected.

5. Ammyy Admin

Ammyy Admin

With no need for pesky installation or configuration, the Ammyy Admin remote access tool allows its users to offer help from a distance to anyone with an Internet connection. This tool is both reliable and user-friendly. If you need a way to offer remote assistance or remote teaching, this could be the perfect solution.

6. Windows Remote Desktop

Use this software tool to connect to your desktop using a standard Internet connection from just about any device. From any computer, Smartphone, or Netbook, you can use Windows Remote Desktop to control the mouse and keyboard while viewing everything that is displayed on the monitor.

7. LogMeIn Free

LogMeIn Free

As long as your PC or Mac desktop has an active Internet connection, you can use LogMeIn Free to control it from anywhere in the world with another online device. View the screen, run a program, or open a file just as easily as if you were sitting at the keyboard. There’s nothing you can’t do from across town, or around the world, with LogMeIn Free.

Once you try a remote desktop tool, you’ll be amazed at how light and carefree your life becomes!

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