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Test Your Phone's Mettle With Benchmark & Tuning
October 18, 2013
Here's a novel way to find out if you do indeed need a new phone. It's a benchmarking app that will test components and provide a comparison with crowdsourced benchmarks from other common devices out there. If your 2-year-old, or so, phone or tablet seems a bit sluggish compared with the speed at which your colleagues and friends whizz through their smartphone-related tasks, it probably is.
Xnoise Makes Sweet Music - Once You Get It Installed
October 17, 2013
Xnoise is a new Linux Media Player for GTK+ environments that just keeps getting better. Perhaps the last thing that the Linux world needs is yet another media player, but Xnoise bridges the gap in this overcrowded software category. It has an intuitive user interface, speed and essential features. The latest version, 0.2.19, was released Sept. 17, 2013, and is not yet well-circulated.
Brave Blustery Climes With WeatherPro in Tow
October 11, 2013
I recently took a look at MeteoEarth, a rather spectacular Google Earth-like animated weather app. This visual, 3D globe-spinning weather app for Android provides zoom-in weather visualizations of the kind seen on TV -- and indeed, the publisher is a provider of weather-in-motion graphics to broadcasters. Well, MeteoEarth's visually stimulating show-off app has an all-rounder cousin, WeatherPro.
Chromium OS Vanilla Is a Plain-Jane Browser-Based Distro
October 10, 2013
The Chromium OS Vanilla Build by Hexxeh is a no-frills approach to trying out the concept of a browser-based Linux operating system without buying a branded Google Chromebook. It boots from a USB drive on any compatible computer. Unlike CR OS, Chromium OS boots into the Chrome browser environment. It does not have a full Linux desktop under it to run other Linux applications.
LiveHive Offers Plenty of Pros for Collaborators on the Go
October 04, 2013
If you've ever been involved with any kind of work-related group project, you'll know what a nightmare it is to collaborate via email. The management of file versions alone is enough to introduce ambiguity and quickly hiccup the whole thing. Plus, if you're not careful, it's possible to start an entire email thread questioning what file version you're supposed to be looking at.
Kdenlive Delivers Near-Pro Video Editing - If You Have the Right Stuff
October 03, 2013
Kdenlive is a multitrack, nonlinear video-editing suite packed with some of the most recent video technologies. This application can be a great tool if you have serious video work to do, but you need to fully test it before attempting any mission-critical editing tasks. Kdenlive takes some effort to learn. That's especially the case if you have little experience with other video-editing software.
MeteoEarth: Enjoy the Graphics, If Not the Weather
September 27, 2013
You know those fancy, animated weather visualizations that you get on the local television news broadcasts -- the ones with the 3D drill-down dynamic graphics that make it appear as if the meteorologist is directing the clouds? Well, you can now get something similar on your Android device. MeteoGroup is a European producer of weather-in-motion graphics that it supplies to broadcasters.
ZevenOS' Neptune Distro: Linux the Way You Want It
September 25, 2013
If you are looking for a really decent, snappy and lightweight KDE distro that installs easily onto a flash drive, check out ZevenOS' Neptune. Our Picks and Pans column has been devoting considerable time lately to playing with countless Linux distros. Rarely have I found truly bad distros -- after all, Linux is Linux.
Google Keep: Note-Taking and Checklists, Done Well
September 20, 2013
Some years ago I decided to eschew paper. It was part of an effort, with which I was obsessed at the time, to become more nomadic. I felt then, and still do to a certain extent, that accumulations of paper were restrictive, because they forced you to always return to the place where the paper was in order to refer to things -- and live your life. One reason we have offices.
OpenPGP Studio Keeps Prying Eyes Off Your Personal Data
September 18, 2013
GoAnywhere OpenPGP Studio is an easy-to-use, cross-platform desktop tool by Linoma Software that protects files using the OpenPGP encryption standard. Why opt for this relative newcomer instead of other, more mature open standards-based encryption solutions? If for no other reason, OpenPGP Studio is "pretty good protection," which is the basis of the OpenPGP standard.
PanicGuard: Nice Idea but Not Ready for Prime Time
September 13, 2013
Here's an app that should bring peace of mind to any late-night solo worker, exerciser or neighborhood watch patroller. It's an ingenious combination of personal alarm, tracker and alert creator that uses sensor and other components included in the average smartphone, such as the speaker, to sound an alarm. The GPS and other location services are used for tracking.
Wireless Aside, Cr OS Linux Delivers the Best of Two Worlds
September 11, 2013
The Cr OS Linux distribution is an interesting blend of the Cinnamon desktop with a special edition of the Chromium Web browser. The approach Cr OS Linux takes gives you a taste of Linux Mint with a chaser of a not-quick pure Google Chrome OS. Cr OS is a fully functional Linux distro. It has its own repository and package manager to provide software updates.
Lost Droid Takes Stealth Seriously to Secure Your Phone
September 06, 2013
Having recently had my bicycle stolen -- after having a set of wheels pilfered in a previous year -- I was getting mad and, to quote the 1976 movie Network, I was not going to be taking it anymore. I decided to beef up my security both in general and on the replacement bike in particular. I was going to invest in some security tech.
CherryTree Takes the Pits Out of Pruning Your Notes
September 04, 2013
Keeping track of my bits and pieces of information across several computers running Linux and Microsoft Windows has long been a problem. CherryTree is a sweet solution that keeps my information local and cloud-free. CherryTree is an outliner-style hierarchical note-taking application that features rich text and syntax highlighting. It stores data in a single XML or SQLite file.
Light Flow Lets You Pimp Your Notifications
August 30, 2013
For years, manners have been defined and documented in easy-to-learn rules classed by geography and culture. For example, in some countries it's acceptable to make abundant noises when eating, whereas in others, eating is a matter to be taken with the utmost seriousness and is performed in stony silence. Then along came the jangling cellphone.
Zero In on Research Control With Zotero
August 28, 2013
With countless high school and college students heading back to school at roughly this time of year, now is a good time to get acquainted with Zotero, a great cross-platform tool for collecting, organizing, citing and sharing research sources. I have spent considerable time working in academic settings helping students manage their research assignments.
Snapchat Adds a Splash of Spontaneity to Sharing Photos
August 23, 2013
A few weeks ago I looked at Burner, an Android app that creates anonymous, disposable phone numbers for your smartphone. Android app Snapchat is in the same arena in that it, too, provides privacy for smartphone users. The difference, however is that this app uniquely deletes MMS-like multimedia messages once they've been viewed.
Gotta Access Linux Files? Paragon ExtFS Delivers the Goods
August 21, 2013
ExtFS is a cross-platform application that can make using Linux much easier in multiple-OS platforms. As much as I try to stay exclusively in the Linux OS world, every so often a work situation arises that puts the comfort zone of staying with Linux to the test. When I absolutely must cross the Great Divide, Paragon's Universal File System Driver in ExtFS comes to my rescue.
Voxer Gives Push-to-Talk a Multimedia Makeover
August 16, 2013
Voxer Pro Business turns your smartphone into a walkie-talkie. Smartphone walkie-talkies are not new, of course -- Nextel, which got swallowed by Sprint, used to offer a unique push-to-talk, or PTT, walkie-talkie cellphone feature called "Direct Connect." Nextel's simulated half-duplexing service mimicked walkie-talkies but ran over spectrum similar to that used by cell networks.
Netrunner Sprints Ahead of the Linux Distro Pack
August 14, 2013
"Enigma" may be the nickname of the latest release of the Netrunner Linux distro, but there's actually nothing enigmatic about it. In fact, Netrunner 13.06 -- also known as "Netrunner 5" -- delivers one of the most satisfying out-of-the-box desktop experiences I have had in quite some time. I spend an inordinate amount of time testing and using different Linux distributions.

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