Tag: Internet and Technology

Common digital camera mistakes to avoid

Common digital camera mistakes to avoid

In many situations you can skip the flash, and there are some times you definitely shouldn’t use it. Here are some common mistakes to avoid.

1. Using very high ISO

For low light shooting, it’s tempting to crank the ISO up to its highest setting. But with many cameras, that will degrade the quality of the photos you snap. If your camera has manual controls, you can add more light to your shots by opening the aperture more widely (using a smaller f-number) and slowing the shutter speed (to, say, 1/125 or even 1/60 of a second). Slowing shutter speed can cause blurred images if your subject or camera moves too much, so it works best when your camera is stabilized and the subject is relatively still.

2. Trying to squeeze too many photos on the storage card

You can do this by lowering resolution or increasing compression, but both will reduce the quality of larger prints you make later, such as 5×7 or greater. Memory cards are cheap. It’s better to bring along extra storage and not compromise what may turn out to be lifetime memories.

3. Not reading the user manual

This will deprive you of features that could greatly improve the shots you take. Of course you won’t have time to read the manual when you’re standing in front of the Grand Canyon. That’s why you should brush up on it at home or while traveling to your destination.

4. Using flash when you shouldn’t

Flash can cause red-eye, wash out skin tones, and flatten scenes that ought to have depth. To avoid using flash, shoot with the sun or other light source to your back or move your subject closer to a window or other source of light. Using a slower shutter can also let you shoot in natural light, providing the subject and camera both remain quite still. When all else fails, turn up the ISO setting, but only as much as absolutely necessary. Never use flash on a subject more than a few feet away, as at a sporting event. All you’ll get is a dim subject with a black background.

5. Not bringing a spare battery

Even if you charged the battery the same morning, reviewing shots on the LCD and using flash can deplete it by late in the day. Exposure to cold can also reduce battery life. To be sure you don’t run out of gas just when some of your best photo ops present themselves, charge a spare and keep it on hand.

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New tablet beats the iPad in key features

New tablet beats the iPad in key features

Motorola’s powerful, 4G-capable Xoom is a formidable rival to Apple’s device, a reviewer says.

It’s an old design now. Phase 1: Apple introduced several new gadgets. Bloggers and industry tell us why it will fail. Phase 2: It may be for sale. The audience goes nuts for her. Phase 3: Each company and his brother gets to work on an imitation.

It came with the iMac and iPhone. Now, IPAD is entering Phase 3. Apple sold 15 million iPads in nine months, so you can bet that 2011 will be the Year of the Clone iPad.

Starting Thursday, you’ll be able to buy one of the most anticipated rivals iPad: Xoom Motorola. Like most aspiring iPad, it works with Google’s Android software – but the Xoom is the first that runs on Android 3.0 (codenamed Honeycomb), which Google designed for tablets instead of phones.

The series continues Xoom recent Motorola gadgets attractive, compact and well built. Unless you inspect the rear (rubber, plastic instead of aluminum for money), you may not be able to say that touch-screen panel of IPAD.

There are some differences, however. The first is price: the cost Xoom a stunning $ 800, $ 70 more than the equivalent IPAD 32-gigabyte (WiFi and 3G cellular). You can get the Xoom for $ 600 if you’re willing to engage in a two-year Verizon contract. That means paying $ 20 a month to get online using the cellular network from Verizon (if you can get by on just 1 GB of data), instead of access points Wi-Fi hot.

The Xoom also offers a dual-core processor, which, according to Motorola, means smoother animation game And he has cameras. On the back there is a 5-megapixel camera that can also record high definition video. On the front, it is a low-resolution video camera for video chat. The new Android software includes a camera module reinforced-up, which highlights the effects bizarre gadget you never use, like Solarize, Sepia and polarize.

Clearly, a camera is useful on a shelf, and will remain a huge competitive advantage for Xoom – at least until the 2 iPad released next month (if Apple sticks to its model of development to usual annual day, that is). If the new IPAD is not a camera or two, I’ll eat a shelf.

The screen has a resolution of Xoom slightly higher than that of the IPAD, and it gives the tablet a slightly different – more like a business envelope with a greeting-card envelope. The screen shape is a better match for video hi-definition, but the worst for photos and maps.

The Xoom has stereo speakers instead of mono, a good battery for 10 hours of video playback and a power button on the rear panel. Motorola said that later this year, a software update will allow the Xoom enjoy Verizon 4G cellular networks, which means a better download speed in a few cities lucky.

A very cool feature: The Xoom has an HDMI, which means a single cable can send both audio and video hi-def TV. It is an ideal proposal for the roving presenter PowerPoint.

doctor dock Motorola is working overtime, too. You can buy either a speaker dock or a loading dock that is automatically activated Slideshow Xoom or alarm mode. If the material of Xoom were the whole story, it would not be much more than an anecdote. The physical improvements are not enough to knock the iPad iPad especially the 2 – to its pedestal, especially given the price increase.

No, the biggest story here is the honeycomb, the tablet software Google. IPad is the real competitor; tablets honeycomb in every size, shape and price range will soon arrive in stores.

So how is honeycomb? Four words: more powerful, more complicated. The screen is now two bands of small icons. In theory, the numbers above refer to the program you are using, and those in the bottom look like the system tray in Windows status icons and pop-up menus for various settings.

But these icons are darned cryptic, it looks like they were designed by foreigners. Google seems to have forgotten a huge disadvantage of unlabeled icons on a touch screen computer: there is no way to see their names or their office before opening them. There are no pop-up bubbles, for example. All you can do is to activate a touch, see what happens and learn from the experience boring.

New bands are not always make sense, either. Why, for example, never touching the clock icon to display your list of notifications (completed downloads, incoming text messages and so on)? Why do you get to some settings by pressing an icon on the lower band, and the rest of the settings by pressing an icon in the top band? Android not want to be when he grows up Windows?

Some changes in the nests of bees are cool. There is a pop-up menu from the list of recently opened applications – not just their names, but the miniature screens that show you exactly what you did when you left. Widgets (small windows that display the most recent data from, say, Gmail or Twitter accounts) are now more flexible, for example, you can scroll through their contents without opening an application greater whole. You can drag messages into folders individual e-mail.

In the miscellaneous category, Google has blessed the Web browser with tabbed windows and an “incognito” mode (where you let the cookies, history or other avenues that could allow someone to see what you ‘ve been up to). When you use Google Maps to display a large city like San Francisco or New York, you can turn with your fingers to reveal the three dimensional contours of actual buildings. (Useful if you’re the pilot of an ultralight aircraft, I guess.)

Other improvements could be better marked, “lovingly ripped off from IPAD.” Take the new applications and Gmail e-mail, for example (still no word on why we need separate applications for Gmail and other account types). They have been redesigned to mimic perfectly the IPAD mail app. In other words, when the tablet is upright, the message fills the screen when it is horizontal, the list of messages appears on the side left with the message selected in the main window. The Contacts application is also similar.

There is an app that mimics Books under IPAD iBooks, even in the animation three-dimensional page-turner. (It accesses Google attractive new store e-book.)

All other Android goodies are still there, such as voice recognition and impressive navigation GPS. Motorola says the download will come to the Xoom play Flash videos online – something IPAD can not do.

Currently, few applications are designed for screen tablets Android ‘more. However, there are 60,000 applications available specifically for the IPAD (not counting the 290,000 iPhone applications that run on it also, at lower resolution). But this is a temporary exception, the library Android is growing at a white-hot pace.

If you are interested in a tablet, it would be wise to wait a few months. You’ll want to consider what Apple has up its sleeve for the second coming, of course, but also the IPAD research in business-oriented playbook Motion BlackBerry and Hewlett-Packard tablet juicy looking TouchPad, which runs the software webOS ( originally designed by former Apple engineers for the smartphone Palm Pre).

It is not clear at this point why the world needs all these competing tablets, each with different operating systems and app store. There is no sufficient differentiation to justify the assault coming models, most of these companies seem freed tablets just so they can say: “We have a thingie iPad, too!”

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Can companies restrict employees use of social media?

Can companies restrict employees use of social media?

Maybe not. It is probably a case to be taken to limit the use of social networks by employees while they are at work. But Paris is opened when the employee returns home. In fact, it is likely that U.S. companies can not prevent employees from discussing their jobs, their bosses or even their working conditions on social networks at all. At least that seems to be the result of a lawsuit in U.S. government’s recent.

The National Labor Relations Board has pursued an ambulance company in Connecticut after a worker fired for criticizing her boss on Facebook. The NLRB argued that the ambulance company the right to freedom of speech of its employee when it fired him for comments.

The case was settled out of court when the company agreed to change its policy of banning social media workers to disparage the company or its officers online. The company also eliminated a provision in the policy that prohibits employees from speaking to all of the company on social networks without the authorization of the company.

The NLRB said such policies violate federal laws that protect employees against disciplinary action by their companies to discuss wages, hours and working conditions with colleagues.

In this case, the female employee engaged in a profanity-laced tirade against his boss on his Facebook page of his house. Updating the status received support from others. The company fired him shortly afterward, but argued that it was not for the comments on Facebook, but because of his poor job performance. The NLRB did not buy it.

This is one lawsuit so it is difficult to make general determinations based thereon. But many companies have policies that prohibit employees from discussing their work on social networks. These companies may soon have to reconsider.

We are in new territory here. Companies that have a history of mistreatment of employees or those of companies with bullying work environments aggressive discover that social networks are their own worst enemies. But on the other hand, companies should be able to prohibit employees from sharing trade secrets, financial information, customer data and other important documents online.

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Popular app Pandora raises privacy fears

Popular app Pandora raises privacy fears

The iPhone music program reportedly shares your age, gender, and even location with advertisers.

Online radio network Pandora provides users with highly curated playlists based on the Music Genome Project, an analysis of more than 400 attributes of a song that make it appealing to your specific ear taste buds. The cost of this pretty incredible service for most folks: nothing at all. Well, nothing at all if you don’t consider quietly sharing some of your web habits with advertisers a “cost.”

While you’re paying zilch to listen to Led Zeppelin Radio, someone is footing the royalty bill — Pandora, duh. As the service explains in its Frequently Asked Questions, it collects some personal information from users so it can help its advertisers — who support the service by paying Pandora cash money — target consumers that will be useful to them. The explanation for why you tell Pandora your age and gender: “The free version of Pandora is mostly supported by advertisements, and we want to be able to show the most relevant ads to our listeners.”

But just how much of your private info is flowing out to advertisers as “Black Dog” streams into your earphones? A new exposé by the Wall Street Journal seems to argue the answer is “too much.” According to the WSJ’s data, Pandora shares age, gender, location, and phone ID information with marketing firms on both its iPhone and Android mobile versions. So while advertsiers won’t have your name and email address, they’ll get their hands on a lot of info about your mobile phone behavior. .

Is that a fair exchange for hours of free music? Only users who stream more than 40 hours of music a month are billed 99 cents, and Pandora offers a premium paid version for $36 a year that comes with a few perks, like unlimited listening, no ads, and the ability to skip however many songs you want. Pandora does have a Privacy Policy posted on its website, which reveals the service employs cookies to “collect non-personally identifiable information” for tracking and advertising purposes. It doesn’t expressly say Pandora will share your phone’s unique ID number with advertisers, but it gives you a hint that that music you’re enjoying for free does indeed have a cost — whether or not you’re (somewhat) unwittingly becoming an advertising drone is up to you.

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Advice for switching phone carriers

Advice for switching phone carriers

If you’re planning to ditch your current cell phone plan, here are some things to do first.

Kevin Van Dyk is perfectly willing to talk about why he is counting the days until he can ditch his cellphone service provider, AT&T, in March 2011. But you might not be able to get a hold of him.

“My phone only works half the time in my house,” says Van Dyk, a Spring Hill, Fla. resident. He isn’t sure if any of the other providers can do better — spotty service is a problem in and around the small town, too. But with rampant billing errors and poor service from AT&T, he says, they can’t do much worse.

Bad connections, dropped calls and other service quality problems are driving consumers like Van Dyk to switch carriers. In a recent study, J.D. Power & Associates notes that consumers planning to switch reported problems four times as often as those without plans to switch. And a growing number fall into the former camp: The rate of dropped calls reported is up 33% compared with six months ago.

There are ways to try before you buy — to test call quality before you’re locked in with a service provider. But it’s a labor-intensive process. And if you’re not willing to wait out your current contract, it’s also an expensive one, with early termination fees of up to $350.

The best way to find out if a new phone will work where you do is to get one and try it. Carriers will let you out of a new contract penalty-free within the first 14 to 30 days. You’ll most likely want to port your number over, but be aware of the timing: if your existing contract isn’t up yet, that will trigger an early termination fee. Use the trial period to test your phone at home, in the office and other places you frequent.

It may sound obvious, but a surprising number of people buy a new phone before going on vacation or some other shift in their usual schedule, says Kent German, a senior editor covering cell phones for CNET. Not enough bars? You’ll owe only for plan charges during that trial period, whatever plan you sign up for. Of course, then you’ll have to go through the process of porting your number and trying again with another carrier.

If you’re not up for the hassle — or you want to research options before your contract is up — there are applications such as CNET’s cell coverage maps and BillShrink’s plan comparison tool out there to estimate signal strength down to the zip code. Those applications and carrier call quality ratings aren’t foolproof, says Kirk Parsons, the senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power & Associates, because reception can vary by block. This, of course, is all subjective. People on a network with wide reports of problems are more likely to notice those misconnections, he says, “and some carriers do a better job of managing customers’ perceptions than others.”

Or you can source the crowd. Before Tariq Ahmad moved to Greeley, Colo., to attend grad school earlier this year, he visited the major carriers’ cell phone stores in the town and talked to people on the street about the quality of the service. Alternatively, have a party. Inviting other people over to check out how many bars their phones get in your home or apartment is a fast and friendly way to research other carriers. At work, poll cube-mates for similar results.

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Apple’s iPad to face new BlackBerry rival

Apple's iPad to face new BlackBerry rival

The device will reportedly be smaller than Apple’s popular gadget, but will include a camera.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion could unveil its new tablet computer—as well as the operating system that will power it—as early as next week at a developers’ conference in San Francisco, said people familiar with RIM’s plans.

The tablet, which some inside RIM are calling the BlackPad, is scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of this year, these people said. It will feature a seven-inch touch screen and one or two built-in cameras, they said.

It will have Bluetooth and broadband connections but will only be able to connect to cellular networks through a BlackBerry smartphone, these people said. Since the tablet won’t be sold with a cellular service, it’s not clear which carriers or retailers will sell the device.

In a significant development, RIM’s tablet will eschew the recently revamped BlackBerry 6 operating system in favor of a completely new platform built by QNX Software Systems, these people said.

RIM bought QNX, a maker of operating systems used in everything from cars to nuclear reactors, earlier this year, in what industry watchers said was a bid to replace software criticized as slow and buggy.

RIM eventually plans to transition its BlackBerry smartphones to the QNX operating system as well, people familiar with RIM’s strategy said.

The RIM tablet is being manufactured by Quanta Computer Inc. of Taiwan, and will run on chips from Santa Clara, Calif.-based Marvell Technology Group Inc. (NasdaqGS: MRVL – News), according to people familiar with the tablet’s manufacturing.

RIM said it doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation. A Quanta spokeswoman said the company is developing tablets for clients but declined to comment on whether RIM is one of them. Executives at Marvell, which already supplies chips for RIM smartphones, said the company has developed a new series for tablets but declined to say whether they are supplying an upcoming tablet for RIM.

The introduction of a tablet and new operating system come at a critical time for RIM, whose BlackBerry phones are facing increasingly tough competition from Apple iPhone as well as handsets that run on Google’s Android operating system. Research firm Gartner Inc. estimated BlackBerry’s share of world-wide smartphone sales fell one percentage point to 18% in the second quarter of this year versus the previous year—even as the share of Android and Apple devices rose.

A key challenge for RIM has been convincing software developers to create applications for its phones, and the company will spend much of next week’s conference showing the kinds of things that can be done on its new devices—including the recently released Torch.

RIM is readying announcements and demonstrations, including an update on BlackBerry’s mobile advertising platform and an Amazon.com Inc. music application, said people familiar with the plans.

Still, RIM’s tablet will face stiff competition in an increasingly crowded market. The launch of Apple’s iPad in April sparked a rush to build similar devices by a raft of firms from Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics to Taiwan’s Acer Inc. and Cisco Systems and Dell of the U.S. Many of those competing tablets will run Android, meaning RIM’s new operating system will go head-to-head with Apple and Google offerings in tablets as well.

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