Category Archives: Dell

Microsoft enlists Dell to push Office 365 on new PCs

Dell is only one of top three OEMs to bundle Office 365 Home Premium with new consumer computers

Some major computer makers are pushing Office 365 with their new PCs, but others have stuck with a more traditional bundling tactic of including a factory-installed, single-license trial.

“[Microsoft is] very clearly heading towards driving every consumer towards the Office 365 option that they can, in the hopes of a subscription,” said Wes Miller, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, in an interview Wednesday.

Of the top three computer vendors — OEMs, for original equipment manufacturers — only Dell offers Office 365 Home Premium, the consumer-grade subscription plan, with new machines. When a customer orders a customized PC, Dell offers a 30-day free trial to Office 365 Home Premium by default.

Microsoft offers the same 30-day trial on its website. The trial requires the customer to provide a credit card, which is charged if the plan isn’t canceled within the trial period.

Dell customers can also add a one-year subscription to Office 365 to the PC’s price, or one of the perpetual license versions of Office 2013.

Both Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo, the No. 1 and No. 2 PC OEMs last quarter by IDC’s estimate, instead offer a factory-installed 30-day trial to Office 2013 (HP) or will add a paid copy of Office 2013 to the PC’s hard drive (Lenovo).

The route taken by those OEMs was traditional, in that computer makers have long included Office on new PCs, either automatically as a trial or by customer request as a paid option, then collected a percentage of sales from Microsoft.

In fact, when Office 2010 launched three years ago, Microsoft supported the promotional tactic with a new way to acquire the suite. Called “product key codes” (PKC), they were 25-character activation keys sold at retail. At prices between $120 and $350, a PKC transformed a trial into a working version of Office 2010. PKCs were sold without DVD installation media and also acted as replacements for the dropped “upgrade” editions.

PKCs are also available for Office 2013 for between $120 and $360.

But Dell took a different tack, instead going with Office 365.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft has also taken that approach with its own tablet, the Surface Pro: Buyers who opt to purchase a one-year subscription to Office 365 Home Premium at the same time they order a Surface Pro receive a $20 discount.

“I anticipate this is their move forward,” said Miller, of Microsoft’s pushing Office 365 with a discount at hardware purchase time.

Microsoft has, of course, taken other steps to promote Office 365, especially Home Premium, which is aimed at consumers, a market Microsoft wants to shift toward a “rent-not-own” software model.

Dell bundles a 30-day trial of Office 365 Home Premium with new consumer PCs. (Image: Dell)

The company has tilted the field toward Office 365 by raising prices of the “perpetual” licenses — those the customer pays for once, then uses as long as desired — and by limiting rights to permanently tie those licenses to a specific PC.

Miller was unsure how well an Office 365-with-a-new-PC concept would do, including how many subscribers Microsoft would acquire and what the retention rate will be as renewal fees come due.

But by including Office 365 with a new system, particularly if the subscription is discounted rather than offered as a limited-time trial, Microsoft and OEMs may have hit on a solid strategy. “There’s some deep psychology involved,” Miller said, on the part of customers forced to make the decision at PC purchase time.

They’re already plunking down hundreds, perhaps more than $1,000, on the machine, so an additional $80 or $100 may not be as painful then as it would seem later.

“It becomes up to the OEM to close that deal … but I think it’s easier to close that sale at the point of purchase than it would be later,” Miller said.

What Microsoft would like to do is train customers to add Office to every new PC — the restrictive perpetual license that’s anchored to a single PC, and only to that PC, is one hint of its thinking — but through the carrot of Office 365.

“Buy a new PC, tack on $100 [for Office],” Miller said, outlining Microsoft’s thinking. “A year later, buy another new PC, tack on another $100 [for Office].” With that in mind, customers will start to believe Office 365 is a good deal, whether it really is. The result, said Miller: Microsoft nudges consumers to buy into a form of Software Assurance, the annuity-like program that many corporations use to keep their Microsoft software up to date.

The strategy of offering Office 365 at a discount and pushing that rather than a perpetual license could be an even bigger boon to Microsoft as tablets replace PCs, Miller argued. That relies on several assumptions: That people buy new tablets more frequently than they once did PCs, and that Office 365 is a requirement for Microsoft’s suite on non-Windows tablets, such as Apple’s iPad and those powered by Google’s Android. Office 365’s ability to assign Office to any of five household devices, then reassign them later to new, replacement PCs or tablets, may prove to be its strongest selling point as consumers, in Miller’s words, “rotate out” new hardware for old.

But there are as many, if not more, unknowns than knowns.

“I think this point-of-purchase mechanism will result in subscriptions, at least for Year One,” said Miller. “The question is, what does retention/churn look like at the annual renewal? We’ll have to wait and see.”


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Microsoft has no reason to save Dell

If I kicked in a few billion dollars for anything, I’d want something in return. But does Dell have anything Microsoft would want?

By now, you’re probably familiar with the reports that Michael Dell is looking to take his company off the public stock market and make it private again. The deal would be the largest leveraged buyout since the economy hit the skids in 2008, and one of the biggest ever. Because of this, the current problem won’t be easy to solve.

As it looks now, Michael is basically going to have to empty his piggy bank, which means his 16% stake in the company, financing by private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners, and arrange another $15 billion in debt financing with banks.

Microsoft is also involved, reportedly ready to contribute $2 billion or more of equity in the form of a preferred security. Other reports put Microsoft’s contribution at between $1 and $3 billion.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft’s role is proving to be a sticking point, which should surprise no one. You don’t hand over $2 billion and let a company go on its way. Word to the WSJ is the key players in the deal still need to work out the ways Microsoft would and would not be involved in Dell’s business after a deal closes.

Looking things over, it would seem there is more downside for Microsoft and Dell than there is upside. The great upside potential for both companies, as I see it, is that they would be the closest thing to an Apple-like scenario of merging hardware and software under one roof. It won’t be as tightly knit as Apple, but it will be closer than it is now.

That said, I’m not sure how much tighter they can get. Dell and Microsoft MCTS Certification are already close and have great integration between hardware and software. There’s not much more the two need.

At the same time, Microsoft risks alienating or damaging its relationships with other OEMs, especially HP and the surging Lenovo. We’ve been through this argument before when talking about Microsoft MCITP Training making prototype smartphones and tablets. It’s risky business, but at the same time, where else would the OEMs go?

And, on that note, will a meddling Microsoft put an end to Dell’s Linux efforts? Dell offers Red Hat and SuSe enterprise servers and is working with Canonical to certify Ubuntu on the PowerEdge servers. What will become of that?

Dell has sworn off smartphones for now, having gotten burned on some earlier models like the Streak a few years back. But Microsoft is anxious for OEM partners. Will it lean on Dell to offer Windows Phone 8 devices? If so, how will Nokia, Samsung, HTC and LG take it, if they aren’t the supplier through Dell?

Taking all of these headaches into account, it’s hard for me to see an upside. In this case, Microsoft might want to just wash its hands of the whole thing. Or give a loan with no expectations of influence, although I kind of doubt that would happen.

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Top 5 cities for big data jobs

San Francisco tops Modis list, followed by McLean, Va., Boston, St. Louis and Toronto

Corporate data stores are growing exponentially, nearly every tech vendor is positioning their products to help handle the influx of data, and IT departments are scrambling to find the right people to collect, analyze and interpret data in a way that’s meaningful to the business. On the employment front, the big data deluge is creating a hiring boom across North America. Modis, an IT staffing firm, identified five cities in particular where big data is driving job growth.

San Francisco tops the Modis list, followed by McLean, Va., Boston, St. Louis and Toronto. The roles that companies in these cities are fighting to fill include data scientist, data analyst, business intelligence professional and data modeling/data modeler.

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Business intelligence and data analysis have been core enterprise disciplines for a long time, but they’re becoming more important to businesses as data volumes rise, says Laura Kelley, a Modis vice president in Houston. “We’re in a new era in terms of how large the databases are, the amount of data we’re collecting, and how we’re using it. It’s much more strategic than it’s ever been.”

Big data professionals can be particularly difficult to find since many roles require a complicated blend of business, analytic, statistical and computer skills — which is not something a candidate acquires overnight. In addition, “clients are looking for people with a certain level of experience, who have worked in a big data environment. There aren’t a lot of them in the market,” Kelley says.


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Looking at recruiting trends across its offices, Modis finds there’s not one industry that’s doing the most big-data hiring. Rather, the cities have in common a concentration of large enterprises across myriad industries.

San Francisco, for instance, is home to large companies in the retail, insurance, healthcare, and e-commerce sectors.

McLean, Va., has both a strong commercial sector and government presence. “There are many data center operations in this area, both commercial and government related, that require talent to support the high volume of that data,” Modis explains in its report. “In addition, there is no larger consumer of IT products and services in the world than the US federal government.”

Banking and bio/pharmaceutical industries helped put Boston on the big data hiring map. “Both industries deal with large amounts of data that are detailed and complex in nature. That data then needs to be analyzed and placed in reports, dashboards and spreadsheets by data scientist and analysts,” Modis writes.

In St. Louis, universities and healthcare companies lead the big data hiring boom, followed by pharmaceutical and bioresearch firms that need to fill data analyst and scientist roles.

Lastly, in Toronto, financial institutions are fueling a need for business intelligence pros who can help organizations get a more precise and complete picture of the business and customers, Modis finds.

In the big picture, companies often have to compromise and prioritize their wish list — technical expertise, industry experience or quantitative statistical analysis skills, for experience — to find available big-data candidates.

“What is this person going to be doing? Do you need the technical skills? Or is the quantitative/statistical expertise more important? Is this person going to be doing data modeling or making business decisions?” Kelley says. “In an ideal world, companies want all of it. But it’s not an ideal world.”

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Windows 8 update: Dell thinks it can sell Windows 8 tablets

Plus IDC thinks PC sales rely on Win 8, other rumors

Dell thinks it can make a buck off Windows 8 tablets, despite the fact that it pretty much abandoned its Android tablets last year.

More: Windows 8’s 8 top apps (so far)

More: Windows Server 8: Ten Features Managers Will Love
Dell’s Chief Commercial Officer Steve Felice told Reuters this week that he thinks disaffection with iPads by corporate IT departments creates an opportunity to sell mobile devices that run on Windows – something they are familiar with.

“On the commercial side there are a lot of concerns about security, interoperability, systems and device management, and I think Dell is in the best position to meet those,” Felice saiys.

In addition to taking a run at Windows 8 Dell may also fire up its Android tablets again, but that is to be seen. “We have a roadmap for tablets that we haven’t announced yet,” he says. “You’ll see some announcements…for the back half of the year. We don’t think that this market is closed off in any way.”

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Butting heads with iPads
Two postings by Microsoft indicate that it’s not only inevitable that tablets based on Windows 8 be compared to iPads, Microsoft is actually encouraging the comparison. First, the company supports a Web page that instructs Windows 8 developers how to reshape their iPad apps into Metro style apps, and points to a site that details how much they can get paid for those apps. It also touts certain Metro navigation and control features as being superior to those employed by Apple.

The second posting on the Building Windows 8 blog outlines the screen resolutions that Windows 8 tablets can support. It turns out the maximum screen resolution is higher than that for the new iPad and its famous Retina display. The post is about how to write Metro apps so they look good on any screen size with any resolution above minimum Windows 8 requirements, but it’s hard to miss that the maximum resolution (291 ppi) is greater than the new iPad’s (265).

PC market health relies on Windows 8
IDC reports that the growth of PC sales in 2011 were slow and that it will stay slow through midyear. It says there is some hope at the end of this year and the beginning of next for increased growth, but that will depend on Windows 8. “2012 and 2013 will bring significant changes for Microsoft and the PC community,” says IDC analyst Jay Chou. “Windows 8 and Ultrabooks are a definitive step in the right direction to recapturing the relevance of the PC, but its promise of meshing a tablet experience with a PC body will likely entail a period of trial and error, thus the market will likely see modest growth in the near term.” That’s a lot of pressure on Windows 8, which clearly has been tuned for touchscreen tablets. Microsoft may be trying to help out the PC market by its persistent use of the term PC for things that are clearly not PCs. For example, it refers to its Windows on ARM devices – mainly tablets – as WOA PCs.

Windows 8 due out in October
This old general consensus earned new headlines this week when Bloomberg reported that anonymous sources confirmed October as the launch month. In addition to pointing up the hysteria surrounding the pending release, the story also served to put forth some detail about what Windows 8 devices will be ready to roll on launch day. The same unnamed sources say three ARM tablets and more than 40 X86 machines will be ready to go with the debut.

Fixing Windows 8 still broken
The visceral rantings of a former Microsoft employee struggling to come to grips with Windows 8 were abruptly ended about a week ago when his site went blank. So did his Twitter account, according to Network World blogger Andy Patrizio. He wonders if Microsoft might have been behind shutting down the site and its mostly negative posts about the frustrations of learning the new operating system. Microsoft wouldn’t comment.

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How to set up the perfect teleworking environment

Teleworking (aka working from home) is increasing fast as new technology and communications make it possible. Here’s how to make the most of it.

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It can be the best of both worlds – getting paid to work, but doing so from home where you can avoid hours wasted stuck in traffic or beating the train crush, not to mention saving on those transport costs and expensive cafe lunches. Plus, you can even sit there and work in your PJs, as long as you don’t sleep on the job.

But if you’re going to work from home – part-time or full-time – you need the right setup. This applies whether you’re working as an extension of your presence at work, or if working from home is your full-time employment. It is, as always, about the right tools for the job.

Work space
Ideally, you want a spare room. It’s not just that you need an area to work, or that the area is sufficient to support your work (if you can only fit a tiny desk it isn’t going to help if you work with a lot of papers), it’s also essential to help you strike the work/life balance: an area separate from the rest of the house allows you to close the door at the end of the day and separate your work from your home life.

Then, of course, you’ll need:

Don’t underestimate the value of a large desk. The height should be around 70cm tall and should have enough space to comfortably place your monitor 45-60cm away from you, and which should be adjusted so the top of the monitor is roughly in line with your eyes. Regardless of whether you use a notebook or a desktop, having ‘spread space’ to lay out your work on your desk helps you keep organised. You also need room for your mouse, keyboard, phone, printer and anything else you need to work (no, that espresso maker doesn’t count as essential for desk space!).

If you plan to telework extensively, you need to think about your health. A bad chair can encourage bad posture and ultimately lead to problems. If this is your full-time working environment, you need a decent, ergonomically sound chair to support your hours at your desk – just as is if you were in the office. So no, that kitchen stool is right out! The chair needs to be height-adjustable, and you need to set it so your hands and forearms rest on the desk at a 90-degree angle, with your feet flat on the floor. It’s not just a matter of posture – being comfortable and having your back properly supported enables you to work more effectively. There’s a reason chairs can cost a lot of money, so invest in a good one. In many ways it’s the centrepiece of your work space.

This is often neglected, but the work space needs to have good lighting. Sunlight is ideal, but otherwise if using artificial light make sure it’s overhead and diffuse to prevent glare. If you have to use desk lamps, face them away from your field of vision. Be careful with windows for sunlight – monitors placed facing them will also suffer glare, and windows behind can cause contrast issues with the monitor and strain your eyes, so it’s usually best to place them perpendicular to the window. Blinds are very useful for controlling lighting in your work space.

Another often-overlooked component, how noisy is your work space environment? Your space at the office may be quiet or quite rowdy, but it’s usually consistent and you can tune out. At home, external noises such as the street or neighbours, to say nothing of internal ones from family or pets, can be distracting. If you can’t prevent the noise, you can reduce its impact by masking it with radio or playing music on low volume. You should also set a schedule of when you can and can’t be disturbed.

By definition, teleworking is a surrogate for your office, and so needs much of the same equipment. You likely have most of these already, and what you don’t have your IT department may be able to supply – it depends on the policies for teleworking at your office:

The obvious one. Desktops certainly make it easy, but notebooks and the prevalence of 3G means you don’t actually have to be bound to any one place to telework. It’s also easy for an IT department to outfit a notebook with everything you need to telework installed and ready to go, which not only makes it easy for you but allows them to ensure security with a known installed software base and configuration.

Broadband is prevalent these days, and one of the key drivers for telework adoption. However, you can also use 3G through dongles or phone tethering (Android and iPhones make this a snap). If you plan to use remote desktop software (see ‘Router’, next), broadband will be all-but essential – 3G can’t match the latency or speed. Check your broadband plan – if teleworking will break your data cap, you’ll need to upgrade to a larger plan before you realise your cap is broken. Paying through the nose for excess 3G data, or being throttled by an ISP, will kill your ability to telework effectively.

If you have other networked devices connected – notebook and desktop, network-attached storage, printer etc. – you’ll need a router. Most broadband modems these days include a four-port router and wireless, which is usually sufficient. These however are almost always 10/100. If you plan to move a lot of data at home, you’ll need a gigabit router or switch (a switch is preferred if you have heterogeneous devices with different capabilities).

Printer or MFC
If your role requires paperwork, you may be expected to print out material. Printers are cheap these days (though inks can quickly add up – read reviews before deciding on a model).

Backup and storage
Sounds boring, but this is vital. Firstly, where are you storing your work files? Are they only on the work network, or stored locally? If they’re on your notebook, what happens if it gets stolen? And do you have a backup regimen? Hardware fails eventually, so storing just on the desktop or notebook is not enough. An external USB drive or (if you have a lot of data) NAS is essential. If backing up is always last on your to-do list, automate it with specialised software. Cloud services are another option (more on this below). These days multi-terabyte USB drives can be had for peanuts.

Sometimes email and messaging isn’t enough. Your home phone is one option for keeping in contact, but a mobile is probably preferred. If you can, get a new mobile specifically for work. Not only can this help you keep your work and home life separate (leave the mobile in the office when you’re done for day!), but as it’s for work it should also be a work cost. Otherwise, VoIP is cheap if you have it as an option on your broadband plan.

Other hardware, aside from stationary (you did buy or borrow some pens right?) that’s useful are surge protectors (this is your work, getting behind due to a hardware failure probably isn’t what you have in mind), wireless routers if you plan to be able to ‘roam around the home’ with notebooks and phones for work, and if your ADSL or cable broadband connection is in a different room to your home office, powerline networking devices can allow you to connect rooms without stringing cables around the home.

There are a number of solutions for teleworking. If your company encourages and promotes teleworking, it will likely already have a solution in mind – software specifically designed to make connecting remotely both easy and, importantly, secure. Traditionally, there are two key methods for teleworking:

Connecting to your work PC
As though you were sitting in front of it. You can interact with your PC’s desktop and do anything you would normally do if you were at work. Software to do this includes Citrix GoToMyPC, Symantec pcAnywhere, TeamViewer, LogMeIn, NoMachine, and Real VNC, among others. Microsoft also has remote desktop software built into Windows 7, as does Apple for Mac OS X, and there are a range of free tools for Linux.

Connecting to the work network
Usually via a VPN (virtual private network). This gives you access to shared drives, the intranet, printers and other services as though you were sitting on the network at work. For extra security, some companies will run remote desktop software through a VPN. Windows, Mac and Linux all support VPNs out of the box.

Both have their pros and cons. Remote desktop software is a virtual presence at the office, and has the advantage of providing any software and services at home that you would be able to access and use if you were at work. It also makes it relatively easy for the admins to keep the network secure, as your access is only via your PC. The downside is that this can be a bandwidth-heavy solution, operating your desktop remotely in real-time.

Access to a network such as with a VPN can be a lot less bandwidth-intensive – you’re literally connecting your home network (even if that’s just your PC) to the work network through a secure connection. You won’t have access to your work desktop, but you should be able to access anything else on the network that you would normally be allowed to use via the VPN.

There’s a third method these days that’s rapidly evolving thanks to the internet – shared cloud services. Rather than connect to a secure work network or PC, if a business migrates its email, office applications and file sharing online then the concept of the office no longer becomes the physical work network sitting in the building where your office is located – it becomes any place you happen to be, as long as there’s internet access.

This is something that groupware providers have been taking heavy advantage of, and three of the big players are:

Microsoft now provides Office 365 which integrates local Office software and web-based services. This include Microsoft’s Office Web Apps, SkyDrive storage, Exchange and SharePoint.

Google has its suite of apps that include Google Docs, Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Talk for messaging.

Zoho provides Zoho Docs, Zoho Mail, Zoho Meeting, Zoho Projects, Zoho Chat and even shared Wiki collaboration with Zoho Wiki.

All of these aim to provide a consistent suite of productivity and collaboration programs that work both at the office and remotely for teleworking.

Other software that is useful specifically for teleworking includes messaging – even if it’s just classics such as ICQ, MSN or Yahoo – and video conferencing, for which there are plenty of options, though Skype is the most well-known. Beyond this, depending on your role, you can even find shared cloud services that include web presenting, whiteboarding, screen sharing and project management. However while cloud services can still be secure, and provide a way to work and collaborate through purely internet-accessible tools, the downside is the reliance on cloud service providers – if they go down or suffer outages, so does your business.

Your company may also require some extra security software be installed (even if it’s just a reliable anti-virus/anti-malware suite). After all, your PC becomes an access point to the network, which is one more point of vulnerability. If this is the case, follow whatever procedures your IT department requires. It’s a small price to pay for the freedom of working from home.

The 5 biggest IT security mistakes

IT security can be a thankless task no doubt and mistakes only magnify problems Like cleaning the windows, IT security can be a thankless task because they only notice when you don’t do it. But to get the job done in the era of virtualization, smartphones and cloud computing, you’ve got to avoid technical and political mistakes. In particular, here are five security mistakes to avoid:


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1. Thinking that the business mindset of the organization is the same as five years ago.

It’s not. Your power and influence are being whittled away as the organization you work for flings open the doors to allowing employees to use personal mobile devices at work, and pushes traditional computing resources and applications into the cloud — sometimes without your knowledge. You have to be proactive in introducing reasonable security practices onto what are fast-moving technology choices which are sometimes made by those outside the IT department altogether. It’s a “mission-impossible” assignment, but it’s yours. It may involve developing new policy guidance to clearly spell out risk factors so there are no false assumptions.

VIRTUALIZATION SECURITY: Shift to virtualized environments shaking up security practices

2. Failing to build working relationships with IT and upper-level managers.

IT security divisions are typically small in relation to the rest of the IT department. IT security leans on IT staffers to get basic security jobs done. The security professional may have specialized knowledge and a pocketful of certifications like the CISSP, but that doesn’t mean he or she is necessarily admired or liked because of that — especially as security people are usually the ones saying “no” to other people’s projects.

Moreover, don’t think the power structure is always pointing toward the chief information officer as top decision maker. A fundamental shift is occurring in which the traditional role of the CIO as commander of IT projects is declining in favor of the rise of the chief financial officer having the final say on IT projects. Some evidence shows the CFO doesn’t even like the IT department. The CFO’s ideas about security may only go as far as the general legal idea of “compliance.” The job for the security professional must be to communicate, communicate, communicate.

3. Not understanding that virtualization has pulled the rug out from under everyone’s security footing.

Organizations are well on their way to achieving 80% virtualization of their server infrastructure, and desktop virtualization projects are increasing. But security is lagging, with many incorrectly assuming it begins and ends with VLANs. The reality is that virtualization architectures change everything by opening new pathways that can be exploited. As has happened so many times before in the IT industry, groundbreaking technologies have become available for use with inadequate attention paid to the security impact.

Some traditional security products, such as anti-virus software for instance, often don’t work well in virtual machines. Physical appliances may have new “blind spots.” Today, specialized security products for virtualized environments are finally coming to market — and security professionals need to figure out if any of them should be used, while also keeping up with evolving security plans from vendors such as VMware, Microsoft and Citrix. Virtualization holds tremendous promise in eventually improving security, especially disaster recovery.

How To Hide Your Data

Want to keep your private files under wraps without making it obvious they’re important? Rather than encryption, try hiding them, so prying eyes don’t even know they exist.

We live in a world where data rules. Sharing your files, from docs to pictures to videos is as easy as breathing. But we’ve all got some stuff that we’d like to keep to ourselves. It could be data files that are so important to your company that your job hangs in the balance. Maybe you have secret plans drawn up on your home PC, and you don’t want busybody siblings, parents, spouses, or offspring peaking at them. Perhaps you travel and, on principle, you don’t want “The Man” getting into your stuff even legally—customs agents and border patrol can delay you plenty if you don’t show them what they want. Occasionally, we all need to make sure some of our important files aren’t open to all.


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The typical method for file protection is encryption—the process of turning your information into unreadable junk that can’t be opened without a password. However, encrypting a file is like sticking a red flag in the data that says, “Look at me! I’m ever so important and clandestine! Please, obsess over cracking my cipher! Decrypt me and you’ll know all my secrets.”

Thankfully, there is a better way—one that can work hand in hand with encryption. Camouflaging your data—and where you store it—can go a long way to providing you with peace of mind. Plus, you’ll never stir up those snoops in the first place.

Get in the Cloud
When we talk about hiding files, we typically mean they’re still stored on your computer hard drive but are invisible to digital peeping-toms. However, these days, a quick way to keep files handy but not readily visible is to store them in the cloud. The files remain hidden (the files aren’t physically with you), though you can access them anytime and anywhere on any computer. The secret of keeping the data truly hidden is to erase your browser history after accessing them and sign out of your cloud storage accounts without saving passwords. In theory, no one will ever know you have files online to access.

This isn’t the same as synchronizing data with the cloud and other computers, like you would with Dropbox or SugarSync or the like. Those services don’t hide your files; in fact, they, arguably, put them in more locations for people to find. To help hide them, you could cheat a little by deactivating synching to your computer for a limited period—say, when you’re traveling—and then turn it back on to get your files back on the drive later. But that defeats the purpose of ongoing synch. (Some of the tips below can help obscure files even when synched, however.).

There are a few ways to skin the cloud-storage cat, but right now the best services for the average computer user are:

• Amazon Cloud Drive (3 stars): You can store any kind of file, and if it’s a music file (MP3 or AAC), you can play it back easily with the Amazon Cloud Player app. The allotment is 5GB for free and then $1 per GB per year (so about $20 for 25GB a year). However, you can jump up to 20GB for “free” for a year if you purchase one MP3-based album from Amazon. Note: This service lacks sharing, backup, and online editing.

• Google Docs (3.5 stars): It was once the place where you went to edit files created with the Docs apps. Now Google lets you save any kind of file, too. You get 1GB free, but you can upgrade to 20GB for $5 per year—a better price than Amazon Cloud Drive but not as nice as Windows SkyDrive—and scale all the way up to 16TB for a measly $4,096 per year. The extra storage you buy is also shared with Gmail and Picasa for messages and pictures, respectively. Sharing is a regular component, and Docs is all about online editing, but you’d have to convert your files to its format during the file transfer to edit them later.

• Windows Live SkyDrive: Free file storage of 25GB is hard to beat. If they’re Microsoft Office files, you can edit them online easily either by opening the files instantly in the online Office app equivalent or at (if you use Internet Explorer as your browser). Sharing files with others is a built-in feature. MCITP Training

Remember, most cloud storage is meant to be a backup of your local files. My suggestion, however, is to move files to the cloud. Leaving them on your hard drive means they’re still visible. The three services mentioned above excel at back up, as well as acting as a cloud-based hard drive (albeit not as if they’re a drive letter in Windows Explorer), which will help keep your files on the down low.

7 Intelligent Tips To Prepare For Certification Exams

Clearing any exam is crucial for students. Though due to rising standards of technical and career-driven programs, exam preparation is widely observed as a laborious task, attaining online IT certification can be interesting and an experience of a lifetime. Now days a rising number of institutions provide online Microsoft certification classes to students. They also provide sample exam questions for preparation and configure software technologies to let students practice and consolidate their understanding before appearing for certification exams. The Microsoft certification classes are designed to increase your knowledge base over various technologies or features that you may not be aware of before preparing for the certification program. In this way, acquiring Comptia certifications or any other certifications has less to do with testing your current knowledge, but it has more to do with expanding your knowledge horizons.

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We’ve listed below ten smart tips that should support you really well while preparing for those tricky certification exams:

1. Certification papers are time-based, keep a close watch on the time spent on each question, as you may end up spending most of your time on few questions and not able to attend all of them. It’s quite possible that you’d spend most of your time on answers that you were not sure of.

2. Thoroughly read all the questions before directly jumping onto the supplied answers as they are mainly structured to confuse nervous students or those with low confidence.

3. There may be certain questions that come structured simply but contain a lot of irrelevant information. They are generally aimed to confuse students. You must look forward to identify what is irrelevant and work in right direction.

4. While attempting a question, be certain about why a particular answer is correct or incorrect. Be thorough, even if it is laborious in the start but it will be worth the investment.

5. In case of lengthy question, the statements beginning with “the” are vital. Always read them first and pick out maximum relevant information. This avoids re-reading to extract relevant information that could have wasted your time.

6. Avoid changing your answers. Oftentimes students select the correct answer and then due to lack of confidence, they change it. Remember that there is usually a subconscious reason for your first choice.

7. Most of the exam centers provide small dry-erase board for you to use during exam. You must always take them as and write things down. This helps as you can even forget simplest things under pressure during the exam.

Control Windows 7 with Kinect

Xbox Kinect is the ultimate hack machine, and that’s it the most popular gadget of the year 2010. Kinect has often been hacked to work with a large number of hobby electronics to attain Gesture based control for systems. It has been hacked to control Widnows  7 PC a number of times, but it was never done and sold like a regular software bundle.


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Win&I is the first fully useful commercial software that let’s you control your windows 7 PC with a Kinect controller using gestures alone.

You can control Windows 7 and thousands of applications with this natural user interface. WIN&I software replaces the computer mouse by tracking simple gestures from users up to several meters from the screen using the power of the Kinect depth-sensor.

You just have to Connect your Kinect with your PC and run the WIN&I control session to control windows 7, And leave the rest for Kinect to manipulate.

Checkout the Video demo below:

Tutorial: Using Kinect with Windows 7:

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Evolve Maestro Tablet triple-boots Android, MeeGo, Windows 7, Gives upto 16h of Battery backup

Can’t decide which tablet you should go for? Get the one that boots all 3 popular Tablet OSes.

Evolve III Maestro has built world’s first tablet that Triple boots Android, Windows 7 and MeeGo. The tablet has a 1.83GHz Atom N475 DualCore CPU based on OakTrail processor.


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With Windows 7, you would be able to attain 8 hours of battery & 16hours of battery with Android, not bad for a Tablet that weighs less than 2 pounds.

The tablet features a large 10.1-inch 1024 x 600 capacitive touchscreen, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, up to 32GB of solid state storage, 3G and 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and 2 USB ports.

What Evolve Three hopes will make this device stand out is the fact that it’ll ship with Android, MeeGo and Windows 7 out of the box. Although a custom layer for Windows was in the works – imagine a mash-up of Windows Phone 7 and Android – it was MeeGo that had the developers really excited. A virtualised version was running on the device, and while the combo of pre-release software and hardware were still a little rough around the edges, it certainly seemed like it would make for a finger friendly consumption focussed interface.

The device is set for launch in Q2 2011 and at a price of $500, it could be a steal.

Unfortunately, there’ll be no quick way to switch between the different operating environments.

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