Authors Posts by Meryl



Tweetdeck Android

Using Facebook through a PC is a wholly difference experience from using one on a tablet or phone between the smaller screens and the use of fingers to interact with the app. While you can use Facebook through your Android browser, working with an app made with the Android in mind improves the user experience.

You’ll notice these apps fall into three categories: Facebook app, social network management and Facebook chat.

1. Facebook for Android

Facebook for Android

The app optimizes Facebook for the small screen knowing you won’t have the standard PC keyboard and mouse available. When you open the app, it lets you select where you want to go whether it’s the news feeds, photos or elsewhere. Each component of Facebook has its own screen for easier navigating and interaction.

2. FriendCaster for Facebook

FriendCaster for Facebook

You’d use this one instead of Facebook for Android as both do the same thing with each having its own interface style and features. Rather than trying to copy the Facebook experience, FriendCaster focuses on the mobile experience in delivering what users want from Facebook.

FriendCaster offers notification customization options to alert you of friends’ birthdays and incoming Facebook messages. Like a SMS message does on a locked screen, it can do pop up updates.

3. Seesmic (Facebook, Twitter)

Seesmic Android

For those who use multiple social networks, Seesmic offers a way to manage them all in one app. You can not only manage and update Facebook pages, but also post to Twitter, Google Buzz and Salesforce Chatter. It doesn’t have as many Facebook-specific features as the other apps, but it’s an option for those who prefer not to have multiple apps to cover all the social networks.

4. TweetDeck (Twitter, Facebook)

Tweetdeck Android

Like Seesmic, TweetDeck aims to be a single-app solution for your social networks. It works with Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Google Buzz. Tweetdeck can notify you in different ways with its customizable notification feature, which does notifications using notify, vibrate, sound or light. Rather than signing in to each social network, you sign in TweetDeck and it manages all of your identities. TweetDeck doesn’t treat each network as a separate app. Instead, it works as a unified app that helps you distinguish social networks with icons.

5. TweetCaster

Tweetcaster Android

Although TweetCaster focuses more on Twitter features, it works with Facebook. While you’re limited to posting status updates in Facebook, it’s an option for those who rely on these two networks without the frills in the other apps. This app from the developer behind FriendCaster for Facebook, lets you post a message to Twitter and Facebook at the same time. It has a long list of Twitter features, so if you’re big on Twitter and just want to post to Facebook — this could be a winner.

6. Go!Chat for Facebook

Go!Chat for Facebook

For those who like to chat with Facebook friends, this goes the extra mile in providing a fuller chat experience. While Facebook for Android connects with chat, it lacks some of the extras in Go!Chat, including the sharing of images, location, videos and voice notes. You can also rename contacts and use gestures to manage conversations.

What app do you use to manage Facebook with your Android device? What do you like about it?


With pages of browsers available for the Android tablet and phones in Android Market, who has time to install and try them? These browsers lead the market, but which one depends on how you like to surf the web and your device. Some browsers work better with some devices more than others do.

These Android browsers have many fans, so you’re bound to find the perfect one or come close to it.

1. Dolphin Browser HD

Dolphin Browser HD

Dolphin features gestures that let you draw your way around the web. You can create your own gestures such as drawing a “G” to open Gmail. Another popular feature is multi-touch-zoom where you pinch your fingers on the screen to change the text size or double-tap a spot to zoom in and out on that spot. Dolphin makes the most of the small screen space by letting you access the toolbar when you need it with a quick swipe.

2. Firefox for Android

Firefox for Android

You won’t find Awesome anywhere else except Firefox for Android — Awesome Screen, that is. It learns from your browsing experience to make it faster by giving you instant access to favorite history items, bookmarks and open tabs for all versions of Firefox.

Firefox desktop users can sync bookmarks, history, open tabs, passwords and form data with Firefox for Android. The customizable browser hides the toolbar until you call for it so you have more screen space.

3. Opera Mini Web Browser

Opera Mini Web Browser

Opera has two different browsers for the Android. Both use the same technology and user interface. Opera Mini’s engine lives on the server while Opera Mobile installs on your tablet or phone. Because of this, Opera Mini runs faster.

Opera Mini downloads fewer elements than Mobile because Mini’s server converts the code to a lighter one before delivering it to the device. However, Opera Mobile has the capability to render more complex websites. Fans of Opera Mini choose the browser for its speed.

4. Skyfire

Skyfire Android Browser

Skyfire attracts users who like to watch many flash videos. The secret sauce is its servers, which convert Flash content into mobile-friendly code so videos that typically error on mobile devices can play on the Android. Unfortunately, this feature lacks controls to pause and rewind videos.

The browser also comes with user agent switching so you can tell Skyfire to view the page as if you were on a desktop to access features that may not appear in the mobile version of the website.

5. Miren

Miren Android Browser

Miren moves with you. If you’re browsing in bed and decide to lie down, Miren rotates the screen and lets you lock it if you plan to stay there a while. Most mobile browsers come with a tabbed interface, but closing a tab can be tricky. You can’t miss with Miren as it replaces the name of the website you’re browsing with a big X. When you’re done, tap X and move on.

Some people like to use more than one browser like using Skyfire for watching videos and then another for regular browsing. To select one as your default browser, open the one you want and Android pops up a dialog box where you can check “Set as Default.” Going forward, it’ll open the default browser anytime you click a link.

What mobile browser do you use? Please share your experiences with mobile browsers in the comments section.

With the cloud growing in use and affordable pricing, it turns into a valid option for individuals and small businesses. However, many people worry that data saved online could won’t be secure or accessible when the network goes down.

Local Network Drive

Another option is backing up to a local external hard drive. (These are also known as network attached storage or a personal cloud storage drive.) This keeps your data off the Internet cloud and the only time you can’t access it is during a power outage. Some external drives work with your network so you can sync with it through your private and secure Wi-Fi connection. If the Wi-Fi goes down, you won’t be able to access the drive.

The only thing this drive would contain is your data from applications. It won’t have applications, registries or any of the little things involved in running a computer. Your data remains safe on the external hard drive regardless if your computer breaks, catches fire, becomes flooded or gets a virus or malware.

However, what if the external drive and the computer live in the same house or building and something happens? The data is lost. One more option is to buy a fire-safe waterproof data storage safe. This removes concerns of losing data to fire and water. But, can it handle tornadoes and hurricanes?

Go Local … and Cloud

For the best chance of keeping your data safe and accessible, do both. This means saving computer data to an external drive and to the cloud. A local storage drive is a one-time purchase that costs less than $200. Rates for cloud services depend on the service provider, type of service and the amount of data backed up. It can easily cost less than $10 per month for a typical user

If you choose to go with the local drive and cloud option, here are simple steps to making it work. Before moving forward, research and buy a storage drive and select a cloud service.

  1. Install the external drive to the network per manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Connect to the external drive through your computer’s file explorer. (The external hard drive instructions should explain this step.)
  3. Select the files to backup to the external drive using software that comes with the external hard drive, or use Bart from Zhorn Software.
  4. Schedule backups using the external hard drive or other software. (Another option is to search for “windows schedule tasks” for help with scheduling a task in Windows.)
  5. Follow the cloud service’s directions for installing, selecting files and running backups on the cloud service.

If you schedule both external drive and cloud backups, you won’t need to remember to do it. The only time you may need to change is when you add data on your hard drive that neither back up. In this case, update the apps to add the new data for backing up. Furthermore, you may receive large files that you don’t need to backup, you can tell the apps to skip backing up those files.

How do you back up your data? What apps do you use?

Bare Bones Guide to Keeping Your PC Clean

You know that the more software you install on your computer, the more bogged down it gets. This guide gives you the essentials. Your computer cleaning routine doesn’t need to be complicated. Just remember to run and update these types apps on a regular basis, if it’s not already automatic.

All of these applications are free, with some having paid upgrades available. They won’t tease you by promising they’ll find all the problems, but will only fix them if you pay up.

Other applications work well, but who has time to search, download and try software? If you go with the apps on this list, you’re done and your computer stays protected.

1. Microsoft Security Essentials

Microsoft Security Essentials

Some people avoid using Microsoft apps because of feature and system bloat. Ironically, other anti-virus apps have bloating problems, but this one is worth considering and it doesn’t have the bloat problems others have.

An IT manager reported that Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) caught a virus before another popular application did. Because the tech giant has many resources at its disposal, Microsoft can get a lead on security problems before many others. In addition to catching viruses, MSE defends your computer against malware, spyware and other badware.

2. Malwarebytes


Malwarebytes removes all forms of malware, including viruses, Trojans, spyware, adware and rootkits. Why recommend another security app when MSE also catches the same things? The truth is that it’s impossible for any single app to catch everything and quickly.

Having two solid applications protecting your computer should do it. Moreover, these two run together without any conflicts. The free version requires you to update and run the application to scan your computer. The paid version runs in real-time that constantly watches for threats.

3. WinPatrol


MSE and Malwarebytes react when something bad comes in. Scottie, WinPatrol’s watchdog, barks when something tries to change to your computer’s settings. Non-critical apps like QuickTime, iTunes and Adobe Acrobat typically run every time you reboot or turn on your computer. These use unneeded system resources.

WinPatrol shows the details for each app that runs on startup. The paid version of WinPatrol provides more information about the startup program so you can decide if you need it or not. Scottie also watches for Browser Helper Objects (BHOs), scheduled tasks, malicious Windows Services, hidden files, active tasks.

4. CCleaner


Every time you open an attachment from an email, it adds another item to your temporary folder even if you save it elsewhere. Not everyone remembers to clean the temp folder, recycle bin, Internet cache, download history and other spots.

Your computer can do all the things CCleaner does, but CCleaner gives you everything in one package so you don’t have to open each application or utility to empty the garbage. All you need to remember is to run it on a regular basis.

CCleaner wipes browser temp files, history and cookies. It sheds recent file lists, log files, dead registry items and other holdovers from different applications. It scrubs the registry for unused entries such as file extensions, outdated shortcuts and invalid paths.

These four apps have been around for a long time and do a good job ensuring your computer stays lean and clean. All work with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.

What other apps do you recommend? What are your essential apps for keeping your PC clean and safe?