Alan Wallace's Blog

Thoughts… Rants… Rave's – mostly on Tech

First Look: Samsung S6 Edge

Alan Wallace snapped up a Samsung S6 Edge. He likes the screen, the fast charging and the wireless charging. But what’s up with the audio? First look review.

aNewDomain — I took the opportunity to purchase a Samsung S6 Edge, and I picked it up at my local Verizon store. Here’s my first look.

Photo Credit: Alan Wallace for anewdomain.net

The major pluses for this phone: the screen, the fast charging, the wireless charging, the quality of the camera and several under the hood enhancements that other smartphone vendors have overlooked, which I’ll get to in a minute. Android 5.02 Lollipop is the build that came with my 64GB phone.

Right off the bat, I was seriously disenchanted with the quality of the audio. HTC does this right, and I had hoped for more from Samsung with this new phone, especially because the company took such a beating on this from the HTC One M8.

Things that surprised me that should not surprise me anymore: a lack of any good sound effects for ring tones and other system events. Smartphones that use Lollipop generally make increased use of Themes. HTC, for instance, created some really nice ones for the M9. But Samsung fails in this regard. With the Samsung Edge you just get the default, plus two others that look like someone’s child built them.

There is, however, a great Avengers theme. Great if you don’t mind your phone advertising the movie launch date every single time you need to hit the power button.

I have also noticed that the Amazon app keeps crashing, but the smartphone is just out, after all.

I’d heard this phone was supposed to show off Microsoft apps, too. So far it looks like I will be loading them myself.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying that I don’t like this phone — I do. In fact, I was really about ready to finally go all out iOS but the Samsung 6 Edge kept me on Android for a couple of good reasons. One, I really like Android, and this phone does have a great look. Two, I really wanted the fast and wireless charging. The Samsung Edge is a leader in this respect.

I found a new fast charger for the car, a new clear case and screen protector built just for this phone. Now I’m busy reinstalling the apps. But I definitely have to load some new ringtones that sound newer than 2000.

Oh wait, Verizon forgot to activate my hotspot. Got to call tech support first.

For aNewDomain, I’m Alan Wallace.


Originally published at http://anewdomain.net on April 12, 2015.

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Thirty Years of TED: Reporting from Whistler

Photo credit: Alan Wallace

Our Alan Wallace reports from TED and TEDActive in Whistler, Canada. Check out the latest news here.

aNewDomain.net — The experience that is TED turns 30 this year with a “sold out” new location in Vancouver. The Vancouver Convention Center is the new home of the event for 2014. For first-time visitors, and those who want a virtual tour, be sure to see the installation of a new sculpture by Janet Echelman titled Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks, with an original interactive work created in collaboration with Google’s Aaron Koblin.

Several years ago the TED event organizers added co-located events, as well as original and simulcast conference activities, known as TEDActive. TEDActive has also moved from its Palm Springs, CA location to a new home in Whistler, Canada. The Whistler location is where I am currently taking it all in.

TEDActive

The event officially began Monday, March 17. In registration, you get a bag of stuff including free Clear membership card and a premium Kransen headset from Urbanears.

Tunes and a quick flight back are enough to make me happy, though I’m pretty sure my editor will make me return this stuff when I get back. Journalistic ethics and all.

Because talks were later in the day, the TED community scheduled local events for the morning. The activities included skiing and snowshoeing. I took advantage of a tour of the PRIOR custom snowboard and ski shop.

Walking through the plant showed me things about skis and snowboards that I would have never known, nor thought to ask, and they made me want to hit the slopes.

The start of the TED conferences acknowledged the early years of the event with a conversation with TED co-founder Richard Saul Wurman.

The day also included presentations from:

  • Nicholas Negroponte, tech visionary
  • Chris Hadfield, astronaut
  • Educator Ziauddin Yousafzai, who is the father of Malala Yousafzai. Malala became known beyond her borders of Pakistan when a gunman boarded her school bus and shot her after seeking her out by name on Tuesday, October 9, 2012.
  • Mark Ronson, music producer

Tuesday’s sessions made global news with a virtual appearance by Edward Snowden. TED is certainly known for being newsworthy and does not shy away from provocative topics. The full-screen appearance of Snowden lived up to the usual TED thrill. The audience had mixed opinions to his appearance, and regular TED attendees, such as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, have both recently been vocal about their opinions and thoughts of the hero (in Wozniak’s opinion) or traitor (according to Gates).

TED and TEDActive will continue to drive news this week and will continue to deliver on its “ideas worth spreading” slogan. If you want to follow events from the week of TED and TEDActive, follow it on Twitter @tedtalks. Hashtags: #TED2014 and #tedactive2014

Based in Seattle, Alan Wallace is a senior contributor and on our security team here ataNewDomain.net. He previously has worked as a London-based foreign correspondent for UPI. He also founded InterActive Agency, the first Internet-focused ad agency. Alan later joined Live365, where he served as a vice-president and oversaw its rise to the №1 Internet radio network spot. He has been a judge for the Codie Awards for nearly a decade. Got a question, comment or story idea for Alan? Email him at alan@anewdomain.net, or contact him at +Alan Wallace.


Originally published at http://anewdomain.net on March 19, 2014.

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Not a Whole Lotta Love for American Greetings

Sending an e-card is easy. Getting out of a recurring membership charge is not as simple. Alan Wallace on his experience with American Greetings.

aNewDomain.net — Valentine’s Day is not always about dinner, chocolates, roses or a four-foot-tall teddy bear. I have a great friend I wanted to send a simple card to. As I never mail anything anymore, I went to the American Greetings website — which in all honesty is a great site that lets me order cards, print cards at home or send e-cards — even cards designed for mobile devices. The cards are of great quality and very creative.

If I choose, I can attach a gift card to e-cards when I send them. I can also schedule cards to be sent at a later date, and there is even an iPhone app. It seems the company has thought about everything but how a user can cancel his or her membership to the site.

It is not uncommon now for sites to require you to enter credit card data when signing up for a trial membership. I get that since some sites don’t even let you use the site without giving it an email address — which I personally find disturbing — but what I found uniquely annoying about the otherwise well-designed site is the policy that requires me to call to cancel my membership.

I searched all over the site today to find a way to cancel my trial membership because if I waited till two weeks I would forget about this and be charged, when all I wanted to do was try it out for today. In order to do this I had to wait for 30 minutes on hold.

I understand companies don’t want you to use them and go away. They want you to be a customer for the long haul. In fact if they can lock you in to recurring charges, well, that is better than gold for the marketing team. But if someone wants to cancel, making them wait forever does not exactly do anyone any good and really has me leery of coming back to buy at the site in the future.

It’s all about the customer experience.

The lesson I learned is that I would have spent less time going to the store, buying the card and mailing it than going to the site to send this easy-to-use e-card.

I really don’t enjoy this holiday.

Feature image credit: Wikimedia Commons Based in Seattle, Alan Wallace is a senior contributor and on our security team here ataNewDomain.net. He previously has worked as a London-based foreign correspondent for UPI. He also founded InterActive Agency, the first Internet-focused ad agency. Alan later joined Live365, where he served as a vice-president and oversaw its rise to the №1 Internet radio network spot. He has been a judge for the Codie Awards for nearly a decade. Got a question, comment or story idea for Alan? Email him at Alan@anewdomain.net, or contact him at +Alan Wallace.


Originally published at http://anewdomain.net on February 14, 2014.

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NEATConnect: Cloud Scanner + Digital Filing System (review)

Photo credit: Alan Wallace

Need an ultimate organizer? Alan Wallace reviews NEATConnect, a handy portable scanner that knows the difference between business cards, receipts and docs.

Photo credit: Alan Wallace

aNewDomain.net -Some companies introduce great products yet they never find a way to make the products better or to keep them up-to-date. Others get better in ways that you never imagined. That’s what I see from tech innovator The NEAT Company in its NEATConnect cloud scanner and digital filing system.

The NEAT Company first caught my eye in airport kiosks years ago. The company started with a handy portable NEAT Receipts scanner that you could take with you on the road. It got better when the company released its desktop scanner, a nice-looking, powerful compact scanner on my desk that knew the difference between business cards, receipts and docs. And it could extract and map the data where it needed to go. In fact, I have never been so organized on my expense reports since I started using this.

Editor: Scroll below the fold to see aNewDomain’s deep dive into NEAT tech from CES 2014.

With NEATConnect, NEAT takes it up one notch since it can be completely wireless and also looks great right next to the pile of mail stacked in my living room. Being able to take the scanner to the work instead of the work to the scanner is a really nice feature.

This compact ADF scanner lets you scan in color, grayscale or black and white. You can also scan two-sided documents in one pass. Options include selecting to separate or combine pages, scanning 15 business cards, 15 receipts and 15 documents before exceeding capacity. Need to scan up to 50 pages at one time? Remove the top separator from the front of the scanner and you are good to go.

Photo credit: Alan Wallace

Scanning on NEATConnect sends data straight to the cloud, or your computer via USB, or directly to its SD card slot. You can store data directly and access it anywhere with NEAT Cloud as well as Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, email or FTP.

When scanning documents, you will see images displayed on the front of the scanner as images are processed. Wrinkled and misaligned documents process cleanly. Reports are easy to use and customize. The NEAT software will also import other NEAT cabinets, PDFs, images, VCards and Quicken accounts.

Additional support comes from the NEAT Mobile App (available in the Google Play and iOS App Stores). The software has intelligent text recognition and will separate contact data as well as receipt data such as totals and taxes. One cool feature is being able to store key words for easy search. I have one item for the wishlist: that the system can read the text in PDF files and extend this function even more.

Other features I would like to see include:

  • Personalizing contacts such as being able to use predefined contact maps to scan cards mapped for Exchange/Outlook, Apple Address Book, or Google Address Book.
  • Integrating auto upload of these contacts to your Apple or Google Address book would also be a very-helpful feature.
  • As I would like more ways of getting data into my NEATCloud, including the ability to scan document sets greater than 50 pages, I would like an additional app for the HPConnected printers where I am currently limited to competing solutions from Shoeboxed.

But these ideas do not lessen my interest or preference for this tool in any way. I just have a lot of paperwork and anything that makes my day easier interests me. To date, I have not found anything I like better or use more than the organization solutions from NEAT.

Here is my colleague, Todd Townsend, at the NEAT booth at ShowStoppers, the premier media event at CES 2014 this year.

For aNewDomain.net, I’m Alan Wallace.

Based in Seattle, Alan Wallace is a senior contributor and on our security team here at aNewDomain.net. He previously has worked as a London-based foreign correspondent for UPI. He also founded InterActive Agency, the first Internet-focused ad agency. Alan later joined Live365, where he served as a vice-president and oversaw its rise to the №1 Internet radio network spot. He has been a judge for the Codie Awards for nearly a decade. Got a question, comment or story idea for Alan? Email him at AWALL@anewdomain.net, or contact him at +Alan Wallace.


Originally published at http://anewdomain.net on February 14, 2014.

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News Republic 4.0 for Android, Apple iOS: Free, Smart and Out Now

The latest rev of News Republic is out. And it learns from what you read. Here’s what’s new in News Republic 4.0 for Android, Apple iOS. It’s aNewDomain … Alan Wallace’s freeware pick.

aNewDomain.net — At the CES 2014 Wall of Apps exhibit, I came across the latest rev of mobile news app News Republic. It’s News Republic 4.0, a revision on that popular free news app for Apple iOS and Android. It’s available on app stores for both platforms now.

News Republic 4.0 has a new “smart” functionality that learns from what you read. Its learning ability lets it pop up news items you’ll perhaps find more interesting and relevant than a random feed. The app also has a smart new interface that lets you create your own news profile and a top news feed.

All news is viewable whether the app is online or offline. This free app isn’t a search engine or RSS feed aggregator for news. Rather, it delivers fully-licensed news sources — from international politics to local news, technology, sports, and entertainment. You’re able to access your Reader Profile at any time. And your feed is private, too. Here’s a shot of News Republic 4.0 for Android. Find a shot of News Republic 4.0 for iOS below that.

Screenshot image credits: Alan Wallace

News Republic 4.0 also has social media integration. That lets you share, store or comment on stories via LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Here’s a shot of News Republic 4.0 for iOS, which is available here at Apple iTunes.

Screenshot image credits: Alan Wallace

Up until now, my main news source has been Google News. I’ve found other news apps I’ve tried to be disappointing and I’ve uninstalled them in less than a week. This app piqued my interest. News Republic 4.0 is available for Android at the Google Play store.

I’m not alone, according to app maker Mobile Republic. It reports its news engine generates more than 10 million page views per day, with nearly three billion news article views to date. What’s your take?

News Republic 4.0 is free and available on Google Play for Android smartphones and tablets, and for Apple iPhone and iPod touch devices in the Apple App Store.

For aNewDomain.net, I’m Alan Wallace.

Based in Seattle, Alan Wallace is a senior contributor and on our security team here at aNewDomain.net. He previously has worked as a London-based foreign correspondent for UPI. He also founded InterActive Agency, the first Internet-focused ad agency. Alan later joined Live365, where he served as a vice-president and oversaw its rise to the №1 Internet radio network spot. He has been a judge for the Codie Awards for nearly a decade. Got a question, comment or story idea for Alan? Email him at Alan@anewdomain.net, or contact him at +Alan Wallace.


Originally published at http://anewdomain.net on January 16, 2014.

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Alan Wallace: What I Saw at CES 2014 — and How I’m Recovering

Image Credits: Alan Wallace for aNewDomain.net

Here’s what our Alan Wallace saw in 24 hours at CES 2014 — and how he’s managing to bounce back now. Tech roundup — plus video.

aNewDomain.net — After a whirlwind CES 2014 experience, I’ve finally begun to collect my thoughts. The first moments home consisted of:

  • Sleeping in
  • Starbucks — aka Seattle Oxygen
  • Checking to see that I came back with everything I left with
  • Entering business card info
  • Entering receipts while I still remember what is what
  • Adding new cards for LinkedIn and Twitter contacts
  • More Starbucks … and repeat.

CES 2014 may have been my quickest in ’n’ out trip to Las Vegas ever. I was in and out in fewer than 24 hours. But just in that time span, I managed to see a great deal of cool tech.

This year, as with every year, I always get the most out of CES by going to ShowStoppers. That’s because, in just a few short hours, that press event packs in most of the latest tech the industry has to offer. And it feeds me, too.

I was immediately interested in the latest Cloud Scanner from NEAT. Check out my colleague Todd Townsend’s video interview with these folks, here, or scroll below the fold for that and related videos.

Harris Romanoff, NEAT — Photo Credit: Alan Wallace

Also at ShowStoppers, I was dazzled by the new audio products from Jabra.

Suzaan Sauerman, Jabra — Photo Credit: Alan Wallace

And I checked out what turned out to be an amazing door lock from Skybell. Plus I saw Sennheiser’s new gaming headsets and some fantastic ear buds from AudioFly.

The Team from AudioFly — Photo Credit: Alan Wallace

In the coming weeks I will be reviewing the demos and products I saw, as well as the latest from Eye-Fi and ION. The latter’s new cameras might even rival GoPro’s, but we’ll see.

I will also take an in-depth look at apps that were promoted on the “Wall Of Apps” show floor, like the styluses from LynkTec …

Mandy Skinner — LYNKtec — Photo Credit: Alan Wallace

… and some small and mighty speakers from X-mini. Tiny!

Darrelle Eng, X-mini — Photo Credit: Alan Wallace

Lastly, a special thanks to TripIt, whose TripIt Pro App has proven to me that it knows more than the agent behind the counter.

There’s a lot to look forward to in 2014, and I’ll be back soon with the details. Watch for more of my CES 2014 coverage as I continue my recovery program — and get some time to get my head around all this new tech.

For aNewDomain.net, I’m Alan Wallace. As promised, I’m including my colleague Todd Townsend’s video interview with the folks from Neat, below the bio.

Based in Seattle, Alan Wallace is a senior contributor and on our security team here at aNewDomain.net. He previously has worked as a London-based foreign correspondent for UPI. He also founded InterActive Agency, the first Internet-focused ad agency. Alan later joined Live365, where he served as a vice-president and oversaw its rise to the №1 Internet radio network spot. He has been a judge for the Codie Awards for nearly a decade. Got a question, comment or story idea for Alan? Email him at Alan@anewdomain.net, or contact him at +Alan Wallace.



Originally published at http://anewdomain.net on January 10, 2014.

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Xbox One Review: Careful With Those Great Expectations

Xbox One is billed as the gaming machine of all gaming machines and promises to be the tool that will centralize your living room. But careful with those great expectations. Alan Wallace reviews.

aNewDomain.net — Microsoft released its Xbox One with some really unique marketing methods. It’s billed as the gaming machine of all gaming machines and promoted as a tool that will centralize your living room. But with great expectations come expectations that are never really met, leaving one hoping for an update to come soon that will solve the problems.

Unfortunately, Microsoft also breaks tradition, where in the past it has gone the extra mile to be backward-compatible. No more. If you have a great collection of Xbox 360 discs, make sure you keep that old Xbox 360 plugged in. At least until you replace your games with the new Xbox One-compatible versions.


Uniquely Cool

Early units of Xbox One carry “Day One” branding which certainly is a unique way to instill demand for immediate purchasing before Black Friday. Some of the games carry this branding, too. Later, when you buy another controller, you will find yourself battling to see who gets to use the Day One-branded controller (which is just like the controller that does not say Day One). You do have gamer creds on the line after all.

I’m impressed with the Voice Control functions, although I’m hoping to eventually remember key phrases better than I have so far. It is odd to find yourself sitting in front of the TV yelling at it for reasons other than a sporting event or the news. Also saying, “Xbox turn on” reminds me a great deal of Captain Kirk saying something like, “Computer, put on the main screen.” Impressive, though, is its recognition of what I say at normal volume levels even if I instinctively feel that I should talk louder than normal — I don’t.

Early Support Issues

I heard one initial support issue includes a small percentage of DVD drives ejecting when you don’t want them to. I am also having issues with DIRECTV working, then not working (check cables, replace cables, works, does not work, back to the shop, support issues). The new unit works great — then 24 hours later the same error (0x8027025a) with the DIRECTV Genie HD DVR. I wonder when the update will come.

Setting Up Controls for Children

So now there is a new central unit in the living room for gaming and also for control of the TV. There are two profiles set — one for me and one for my 12-year-old. I recommend setting a password and passphrase for the master account that your kids will not know, just in case they try to log in as you.

An issue I have here is that if Junior tries repeatedly to do something he should not, suddenly I am having to reset my Microsoft passwords again, messing up all of my personal accounts, and my corporate and personal machines. I’m getting tired of that issue and hope that Microsoft will find a better solution for this. The thing that baffles me the most so far is that Xbox One Parental Controls are not even as good as those on the XBOX 360. This is really disappointing.

Could We Have Better Parental Controls?

Xbox One is billed as a central device for the living room and it really does become that when you connect your cable provider to the unit and centralize the control. What I would like to do is set access controls for everyone else. I would like parents to have one set of rules and children another. Rules would include the ability to set hours to access and the total time of use per cycle.

I would also like to have a reset time for the missing Family Timer. Setting it at midnight means kids would stay up to reset the clock — like on the Xbox 360.

I used to set hours of use for the Xbox 360 on my router. But if I do this for the Xbox One, I lose my ability to access properly when I’m still up.

I had real hopes for an integration of the Family Controls on Xbox Live with this new unit. This is disappointing. I would really like to go to a family page, for example, and define one set of rules, set the hours for gaming, phones and computers and have the rules apply where they may. But I can’t.

Say your 12-year-old wants to stay awake ‘till you fall asleep so he can play on into the night. You had better take the controllers with you to bed. Otherwise you are out of luck.

I know sometimes companies think that the more parental-type controls we put on things the less they will sell. I have been in those meetings as an exec and heard exactly that. But as a parent, my honest feedback is that the more you help me as a parent, the more likely I am to buy your product. There’s just too much junk out there.

I love the Xbox One. The graphics are amazing, the sound is so realistic and the speed is superb. I understand why this unit cannot play older games. Microsoft really stepped up the hardware. But in future updates, I would really appreciate seeing the integration of the Xbox Live Family Controls and the Family Timer. In my opinion, this is the only thing that is below par and hopefully, a fix will come soon.

For aNewDomain.net, I’m Alan Wallace.

Based in Seattle, Alan Wallace is a senior contributor and on our security team here at aNewDomain.net. He previously has worked as a London-based foreign correspondent for UPI. He also founded InterActive Agency, the first Internet-focused ad agency. Alan later joined Live365, where he served as a vice-president and oversaw its rise to the №1 Internet radio network spot. He has been a judge for the Codie Awards for nearly a decade. Got a question, comment or story idea for Alan? Email him at Alan@anewdomain.net, or contact him at +Alan Wallace.



Originally published at http://anewdomain.net on November 29, 2013.

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Microsoft New CEO: Via Ford? On Alan Mulally

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Microsoft may be ready to announce who will replace Steve Ballmer as the companies CEO. A shortlist of candidates includes Alan Mulally from Ford.

aNewDomain.net commentary- Reuters, The Chicago Tribune and other news outlets report that Microsoft may be ready to announce the CEO that will replace Steve Ballmer. They quote Nomura analyst, Rick Sherlund, who worked with Microsoft in 1986 on its initial public offering. Sherlund suggested to his clients in a note on Wednesday that Ford’s Alan Mulally would “likely” be the new CEO by December. Reports also say that four other candidates round out that list.

Xbox and Bing

Sherlund also suggests that Microsoft will sell off its Bing and Xbox business units, which really makes me question the otherwise-sensible wisdom of the Mulally prediction. Tech companies usually have loss leaders and Bing and Xbox are excellent examples of products that keep the company buoyant. Xbox’s cool factor helps attract up-and-coming talent, otherwise steered towards Apple, Facebook, and Google. Skilled geeks, gamers and such like to work for cool companies. So, unless you are looking to cash out on Microsoft’s current value for short-term gains and long-term brand destruction this prediction makes no sense to me.

Let’s think that scenario through — what would Microsoft have if it let Xbox go? What would fill the void and create interest for the average user in the area of tech toy competition? Windows Phone? Surface? The next version of Windows or Office? Really? I can see the sea of yawns coming now.

I also find the search industry to be incredibly important and valuable. It would not make sense for Microsoft to let that whole market go to Google and Yahoo. Yahoo has seen a drastic increase of use since Marisa Meyer came on board, and before her, the search engine was deemed lost and forgotten.

Additionally, Microsoft has done a great job of integrating Bing Search into its products, such as Office, and the built-in functionality has increased usage. Google took note of this tactic and is doing the same thing by integrating its own search into various products.

Google has moved into Microsoft Office’s territory with its gamut of web tools, trying to stake a claim in lightly-charted waters. They even acquired Quickoffice in 2012. Meanwhile, Sherlund’s prediction is that Microsoft should abandon the search, which would give Google another opening for more market share. That works well for Google shareholders, but not Microsoft.

While my personal preference would be to bring back Stephen Elop, I do agree that Mulally would be an exciting replacement for Steve Ballmer. However, the concept that any future CEO should or would sell Xbox or Bing makes no sense to me. It would be as bad as getting rid of the Start Button and Menu in Windows 8 and never providing a fix.

For aNewDomain.net, I’m Alan Wallace.

Based in Seattle, Alan Wallace is a senior contributor and on our security team here at aNewDomain.net. He previously has worked as a London-based foreign correspondent for UPI. He also founded InterActive Agency, the first Internet-focused ad agency. Alan later joined Live365, where he served as a vice-president and oversaw its rise to the №1 Internet radio network spot. He has been a judge for the Codie Awards for nearly a decade. Got a question, comment or story idea for Alan? Email him at Alan@anewdomain.net, or contact him at +Alan Wallace.



Originally published at http://anewdomain.net on November 11, 2013.

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Great Utilities for Data Transfer with Windows 8.1

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Migrating to Windows 8.1? Have a ton of messy files, duplicates, and scared of corrupting your files? Alan Wallace lists five great utilities to get the job done safely.

aNewDomain.net — Yes, while I find it annoying that the iconic Menu is still missing from the Start Button, Windows 8.1 is technically the best and most-stable Windows OS.

I recently set up a fresh Windows 8.1 machine with the goal to migrate all data, including more external drives than I ever wanted to have, into the new system. It was time to tame the mess created from years of duplicates, partial backups, and files that became corrupt over time. As I cleaned my various machines and external drives I found that migrating to new hardware, OS updates and years of clutter required a few vital utilities.

Here are some key applications that will help you transition to Windows 8.1.

Windows Migration Issues

One typical nightmare in Windows occurs when moving files from point A to point B. Users expect the data to simply transfer from one system or folder to the next, but usually, Windows crashes mid-move. This leaves you with questions: What data was just eaten? What data will not be recoverable? How will I ever find out? Another big problem when the system crashes mid-move is that many files have write permissions that become corrupt, making them RA, un-editable and essentially trash.

Did you have a non-corrupt, completely-intact version of everything backed up? I hope so.

These problems usually arise when I’m in a hurry and need to do something with an image or other media file. Of course, I have more backups and duplicates of those files, which allows the total joy of mixed files and many duplicates with different properties in various distributed locations. They could be splayed over an office machine, a personal machine or an external drive.

How do I organize years of files, vaguely organized, but mostly saved many times, into an intuitive organized system?

Image Credit: Alan Wallace

Migrating to Windows 8.1? Have a ton of messy files, duplicates, and scared of corrupting your files? Alan Wallace lists five great utilities to get the job done safely.

aNewDomain.net — Yes, while I find it annoying that the iconic Menu is still missing from the Start Button, Windows 8.1 is technically the best and most-stable Windows OS.

I recently set up a fresh Windows 8.1 machine with the goal to migrate all data, including more external drives than I ever wanted to have, into the new system. It was time to tame the mess created from years of duplicates, partial backups, and files that became corrupt over time. As I cleaned my various machines and external drives I found that migrating to new hardware, OS updates and years of clutter required a few vital utilities.

Here are some key applications that will help you transition to Windows 8.1.

Windows Migration Issues

One typical nightmare in Windows occurs when moving files from point A to point B. Users expect the data to simply transfer from one system or folder to the next, but usually, Windows crashes mid-move. This leaves you with questions: What data was just eaten? What data will not be recoverable? How will I ever find out? Another big problem when the system crashes mid-move is that many files have write permissions that become corrupt, making them RA, un-editable and essentially trash.

Did you have a non-corrupt, completely-intact version of everything backed up? I hope so.

These problems usually arise when I’m in a hurry and need to do something with an image or other media file. Of course, I have more backups and duplicates of those files, which allows the total joy of mixed files and many duplicates with different properties in various distributed locations. They could be splayed over an office machine, a personal machine or an external drive.

How do I organize years of files, vaguely organized, but mostly saved many times, into an intuitive organized system?

Helpful Utilities

I go to a few key utilities to get the job done. These programs are best for IT administrators, but I have found them user friendly enough to work for myself. Each of these was vital to the great migration project.

Windows 8.1 is easily the best Windows OS for safety and stability. It’s not perfect, though, and for several reasons, I prefer to use a tool called GoodSync.

GoodSync is better for several reasons — the first being that I can move and copy files without them getting corrupt. I can also sync two folders together, with an option to delete the old folder after completion. This is far safer than just dragging or moving a folder in any version of Windows.

GoodSync is a good deal faster than drag and drop. Finally, I can move or copy files to the cloud, FTP sites and more. You can also build automated syncs or backups, which come in handy after the migration is complete.

Ideally, I want the option to filter based on other data points. For instance, moving all files that have less than a bit rate of 256 would be nice, but GoodSync does not let me due to “security reasons,” whatever that means.

I use MediaMonkey to accomplish this, but I really wish GoodSync had that ability. GoodSync is powerful and stable, and except for that one issue, it gets my files in great shape.

Two other vital utilities are both made by KeyMetric Software. One is called FolderSizes and the other is called Duplicate File Detective. I use FolderSizes to find those folders that are bursting at the seams or those empty folders that have been empty for years and just need to go. You can start this tool with a simple right-click on the folder and select it from the drop-down menu. This lets you find what you are looking for in a variety of ways. It is very user friendly and intuitive.

Duplicate File Detective, from the same company, also has a powerful and intuitive interface and can also be run from a right-click menu.

If you are willing to wait longer for your results you can try similar utilities by HashTag, Checksum, quick name or audio tag, all of which can increase the accuracy of selecting the files to move. One feature I love is searching song files and finding the duplicate file which has a lower bit rate. This has helped me remove lower quality versions of my music files that were upgraded either by Google Music or iTunes Match.

If you are migrating your machine, I would also recommend Belarc’s Advisor. It lets you capture the serial numbers of applications that you would like to install on your new machine. We all lose a few serial numbers over the years — usually, we can find the software download somewhere, but not necessarily the product numbers. This tool will help you recoup vital information on your machine for many support-related issues.

So whether you are migrating or just cleaning up your PC, I would highly recommend each of these tools for your arsenal.

For aNewDomain, I’m Alan Wallace.

Based in Seattle, Alan Wallace is a senior contributor and on our security team here at aNewDomain.net. He previously has worked as a London-based foreign correspondent for UPI. He also founded InterActive Agency, the first Internet-focused ad agency. Alan later joined Live365, where he served as a vice-president and oversaw its rise to the №1 Internet radio network spot. He has been a judge for the Codie Awards for nearly a decade. Got a question, comment or story idea for Alan? Email him at Alan@anewdomain.net, or contact him at +Alan Wallace.



Originally published at http://anewdomain.net on October 29, 2013.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , ,

MS Surface Pro: Docking Station Round Up


The Microsoft Surface Pro is way better when you use it with a docking station. Here are three stands that are worth a look — review.

aNewDomain.net — In setting up my Surface Pro 2 with 8GB of RAM and a 512GB Hard Drive, I now really have more of a need for a docking station. In reviewing my options, I first took a look at Microsoft’s Docking Station for Surface Pro.

Microsoft Docking Station for Surface Pro

The station docks the machine smoothly to the power, USB connection, and display connector on the table to provide the following:

Image credit: Microsoft
  • One USB 3.0 port and three USB 2.0 ports connect to multiple devices and peripherals
  • Plugin for an external monitor using the Mini DisplayPort
  • One network — Ethernet — RJ-45
  • Audio out and microphone in connectors
  • Charges the Surface Pro/Surface Pro 2 battery and any connected peripherals

Multiple monitor support is coming soon to Surface Pro 2 via DisplayPort 1.2 daisy-chaining.

The docking angle is also set for the angle of the original angle established by the rear kickstand. The stand works well, looks great and is easy to use, but there are a few disappointments with the stand:

  • The power connector for the stand is not like the one used to connect directly to the tablet. I wish both were the same so I could use either cord for the tablet or stand and not have to run two power cords in case I want to undock the unit.
  • I’m also disappointed that the USB 2.0 connectors on the docking station are not USB 3.0. As USB 3.0 is backward compatible and the new drives I am purchasing are USB 3.0, I would prefer to have as much current tech built into this stand.
  • I also found that when I plug into the audio connectors on the stand instead of directly into the machine, I’m over-driving the audio on my speakers and have to bring the volume down to reduce distortion. Otherwise, when connected directly to the machine and not the docking station, the audio is really well-done and enjoyable.

Surface Pro users may also want to look at these alternatives from Belkin below. They are very sturdy and the audio-out feed sounds cleaner and less-distorted than the Docking Station from Microsoft. Belkin also allows for use with other devices and does not restrict to just the Surface Pro series. The first docking station below was available for Windows 8 Tablets many months ago and is designed to work with several Windows 8 Tablets, not just the Surface Pros.

Belkin B2B043-C00


  • 2 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0–9 pin USB Type A
  • 1 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0–9 pin USB Type B
  • 2 x Hi-Speed USB — 4 pin USB Type A
  • 1 x network — Ethernet — RJ-45
  • 1 x display/video — DVI-Digital (dual-link) — 19 pin digital DVI (Dual-Link)
  • 1 x display / video — DisplayPort — 20 pin DisplayPort
  • 1 x audio — line-out/microphone — mini-phone 3.5 mm
  • Security lock slot (cable lock sold separately)

To get the best performance with this docking station I would recommend using a Bluetooth keyboard. The Microsoft Surface keyboards can be used but you’d need to purchase the Surface Wireless Adapter in order to adapt the Surface units and keyboard for this configuration.

The one thing I really wish this adapter could do is to let you change the viewing angle of the Tablet once it is in the stand. I found this fixed angle to be its key flaw, and I also believe that having a lower lip in the front better accommodates a Surface Tablet. It’s for this reason that I preferred the Belkin’s B2B044-C00 USB 3.0 Dual Video Docking Stand for Ultrabooks and MacBooks.

Using Belkin’s USB 3.0 Dual Video Docking Stand for Ultrabooks and MacBooks has advantages over the Microsoft Docking station as they also work for Ultrabooks and MacBooks — which means you can use one docking station on your desk for a variety of devices. As with Belkin’s Windows 8 Tablet Docking Station- you can get either the Surface Wireless Adapter to make the Surface keyboard work or get a separate Bluetooth keyboard that can also work well for the other devices that share this stand.

Belkin’s B2B044-C00

  • 2 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0–9 pin USB Type A
  • 1 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0–9 pin USB Type B
  • 2 x Hi-Speed USB — 4 pin USB Type A
  • 1 x network — Ethernet — RJ-45
  • 1 x display/video — DVI-Digital (dual-link) — 19 pin digital DVI (Dual-Link)
  • 1 x display / video — DisplayPort — 20 pin DisplayPort
  • 1 x audio — line-out/microphone — mini-phone 3.5 mm
  • Security lock slot (cable lock sold separately)

I also like the viewing angle of this docking stand. Plus, I get the use of an additional USB 3.0 connector. An upcoming hardware update will offer dual-monitor support to the Microsoft Surface Docking Station, something both Belkin devices can support now.

  • The Microsoft Docking Station is available at the Microsoft Store for $199.99.
  • Belkin’s B2B043-C00 USB 3.0 Dual Docking Stand for Windows 8 Tablets is available at Amazon between $146.00 and $206.00 depending on which store you prefer to use.
  • Belkin’s B2B044-C00 USB 3.0 Dual Video Docking Stand for Ultrabooks and MacBooks is available at Amazon between $144.00 and $256.00 depending on your preferred store.
  • The Microsoft Wireless Adapter for the Surface Keyboard is available at the Microsoft Store for $59.99.

For aNewDomain.net, I’m Alan Wallace.

Based in Seattle, Alan Wallace is a senior contributor and on our security team here at aNewDomain.net. He previously has worked as a London-based foreign correspondent for UPI. He also founded InterActive Agency, the first Internet-focused ad agency. Alan later joined Live365, where he served as a vice-president and oversaw its rise to the №1 Internet radio network spot. He has been a judge for the Codie Awards for nearly a decade. Got a question, comment or story idea for Alan? Email him at Alan@anewdomain.net, or contact him at +Alan Wallace.



Originally published at http://anewdomain.net on October 27, 2013.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , ,

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