Monday, April 30, 2012

iPad Magazine - National Geographic Kids

Want iPad to be more educational to kids than a game machine? National Geographic Kids is a good start. 

For $1.99 a issue, I think it it worth the money. It is not just a magazine. It is interactive, with sound, video and animation. Also have some fun games for learning. Most important, kids actually like it.

A good news is that the issues after May, 2012 will be the high resolution version which utilize the new  iPad's retina display. So it will be very clear and sharp, maybe comparable to paper magazine.

To order it, just click Store button on your Newstand and search National Geographic Kids and install it. After that, you can have a free sampler and the option of order one issue for $1.99 and one year (10 issues) for $19.99.

If you want to subscribe for National Geographic magazine (pager), here is the link ($16 for 12 issues). 
You can also get the iPad version for free.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Google Currents - Flipboard on Android

Still waiting for the Flipboard to come to Android? No need to wait, Google introduce the Google Currents on both Android phone and tablet. I think it is better than Flipboard in many ways:

  • You can associate your Google Account with Google currents. So that the sources your added will be synchronized among all your Android devices. While Flipboard you need to sign up a Flipboard account.

  • You can add your own RSS source through Google Reader. 

  • Support background sync and offline reading. You can choose sync only on WiFi to save your data.
What I like in Flipboard but missing in Google Current
  • Integration with Facebook. You can display posts of your friends in Flipboard.
  • The elegant of the "Flip" vs the "Slide". 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Google Sales Galaxy Nexus for $399

Good news: Google sales Galaxy Nexus in Google Play store (under device) for US $399. This is the lowest price so far (before it is's $449). 

Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ - Galaxy Nexus HSPA+
Shipping (Two Day Shipping):

Bad news is this is for US only. So you can not even visit the URL directly. But you can visit use a proxy web site like:

Then fill in the URL: and click on Proxify.
After you enter the US Google Play Store, just click on:

But if you have friends in US, you can ask them to buy it for you. 

Google Drive, Dropbox, SkyDrive, Cloud drive and iCloud Comparison

Free Space
  1. SkyDrive - 7G (25G if you are old user)
  2. Google Drive - 5G
  3. Cloud Drive  - 5G
  4. iCloud - 5G
  5. Dropbox  - 2G
SkyDrive is the winner by providing 7G free space. You can get 25G if you register with SkyDrive before. But you need to following the instruction and this offer is only provided for limited time.
Google Drive provides 5G but this is additonal to Gmail (10G) and Picasa (1G). Also, Google Docs and files converted to Google Docs format don't take up Google Drive's 5G space.
If add all the free spaces provided by Google, it is more than 16G.
Cloud Drive's 5G does not count the space used by the songs you purchased from Amazon.
Dropbox can give you 500MB space for each friends you referred (

Paid Space
  1. SkyDrive - 20G for $0.83/month, 50G for $2.08/month, 100G for $4.17/month
  2. Google Drive - 25G for $2.49/month, 100G for $4.99/month
  3. Cloud Drive - 20G for $1.67/month, 100G for $8.33/month
  4. iCloud  - 20G for $3.33/month, 50G for $8.33/month
  5. Dropbox - 50G for $9.99/month, 100G for $19.99/month
Although the free spaces may satisfy most people's needs, you may still want to get more paid space.  SkyDrive offers cheapest rate, only $4.17/month for 100G, while Dropbox's price for the same space is almost 4 times than that.
Regarding the maximum space, Google can provide up to 16T. Dropbox offers 1TB+. Cloud Drive is 1T.  SkyDrive only offers 100G maximum.

Web Interface
Dropbox's web interface is clean and simple to use.

Besides the basic functions (Upload, Delete, Search, Manage files and folders), it also have several interesting features.
  • Sharing - You can share your folder to other Dropbox users. The shared folder will appear in their Dropbox folders. Shared users can add or delete files in this folder. The changes syncs to all shared user's computers.
  • Links - You can click on the Get link icon of a folder or file and copy the link from the browser's address bar. Then you can send the link to users you want to share. 
  • Events - Every changes you made to your Dropbox will have a log. This is very useful for shared folders. 
Google Drive
If you use Google Docs, you will found the Web Interface is very similar. Actually, Google just upgrades the Google Docs and renames it as Google Drive. Now you can upload files of any types.

What is better than Dropbox:
You can create all kinds of Google Docs, like Documentation, Presentation and also edit them inside the Web Browser.

  • Sharing - Google Drive allows shares both folders and files (Dropbox only allows sharing folder). You can specify the level of sharing: View, Comments, Edit. Shared users must have Google account to access the shared folders or files. The sharing is not integrated with Google+ yet. So you can not share to a Google+ Circle.

  • Links - There is no explicit link function. When you share, a email with the link can be sent to the shared users. You can also copy the link from the address bar. But you need to log on to Google in order to view.

Google Drive is online now!

Here is the Google Drive help:

However, I got a message when I visit the Google Drive page. Maybe Google Drive is rolling out in steps.
Your Google Drive is not ready yet

Monday, April 23, 2012

Grab your 25G free SkyDrive space before it is gone

With Google to introduce the Google Drive this week (maybe tomorrow),  Microsoft is decreasing its SkyDrive free offer  from 25G to 7G. Maybe Microsoft thinks 7G is enough to bid Google (5G), Apple (5G) and Dropbox (2G).

However, if you already have an Windows Live account (or Hotmail account), you can upgrade your account to 25G for free.  But this is only for a limited time! So hurry.
You just need to go to, log in and click on the banner which says upgrade to 25G for free.

Since I already clicked on the banner, the above screen capture does not show the banner anymore. But you will see it at the position of the red rectangle.

I used to use SkyDrive once long time ago. Then I switched to Dropbox because Dropbox can sync to your folders while SkyDrive only has Web interface. Recently, Microsoft introduces the same features as Dropbox. It also has Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad client, but no Android (Now you know who is Microsoft's real enemy). In other word, it is same as Dropbox but offers bigger space.
Following image shows the SkyDrive now also have sync folder on your PC.

If you are not familiar with SkyDrive, here has a video:

Google drive will also offer the same functions as Dropbox and tight integration with Google Docs, Picasa and Google+. Can Dropbox survive under the pressure from both Google and Microsoft?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Use Flash to Boost Your Computer Performance

If you have old USB key, SD card or SSD (Solid State Disk) which you do not use quite often, you can boost your computer's performance by simply plug in.
Windows 7 provides a feature called ReadBoost. It use flash (which is much faster than traditional hard disk) to cache the information to avoid read from hard disk. This can boost your computer's performance (like start application, start up, shut down) especially if your computer does not have much physical memory.
If your computer is already using SSD as boot disk, ReadBoost may not very useful.
Enable ReadBoost is simple, when plugin in a USB key or SD card (suppose your computer has SD card slot),  a window will prompt you if you want to "Speed up my system".

If you do not see this window, you can also right click the drive and select Properties.
In the Property window, you have 3 choice. I usually choose the third option Use this device and use the maximum reserved space.

That's it.

If you want to unplug the device to use for other purpose, you can select "Do not use this device" and then eject the device. Then you can delete the cache file in the device.

Friday, April 20, 2012

$12.99 Philips Antenna (watch 10 HD Channels)

I bought this today from Samtack's Markham Warehouse.
I have no confidence if it can work or not. My house is pretty north(Major Mac). This antenna is small and for indoor use. It is not like the huge outdoor antenna which requires professional install.

After I opened the box, I found there is no manual, it must be a refurbished. But you don't need manual.  Connection is pretty simple, just connect the antenna's cable to you TV, plugin the power adapter, turn on the antenna.

I just put the antenna behind the TV.

Open you TV, Switch to TV Antenna source and let the TV do a automatic scan. It should find around 10. For me, 8 of 10 is watchable. The channel include CBC HD, CityTV HD, TVO (Kids) HD, Omini, Global...

Since it is HD digital signal, the picture is pretty clear and sound is very good. I feel it is the same quality as the Rogers HD channel. The best part is: it is free!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dell Voice - Free Local Phone Number & Calls

You may know Skype or Free Phone Line, but have you heard Dell also provide similar service. I think it is better than Skype and Free Phone Line.

  • You can get a free local phone number and receive calls for free
In 905 area, you will get area code 289 ( I think 905 is used out). But you can port your existing number.
Skype does not provide phone number in Canada. Even it provides, it is not free.
  • You can make free phone call from Android or iPhone to Canada phone number. 
You need to install Dell Voice app on your phone.

  • Call international phone number with low rate fee
US: 0.02cents, China: 0.02cents

  • You can use VoIP device with Dell Voice in home.
Need to pay $50 onece to get the Unlock key.

Of course, You need data connection: Wi-Fi or 3G/4G .

Tredent Wirless N Router on Sale for $34.99

Only for Today's price is US $50

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to recovery from disk failure - Windows 7

Today, my Dell XPS 8300 suddenly can not reboot. The BIOS setup can not even recognize the hard disk.
I use a OCZ Vertex 2 Solid Sate Drive (SSD) as the boot disk (C drive). This is the second failure in half year. Looks like the reliability of SSD still can not compare with traditional hard disk. However, SSD will greatly improve the performance of your computer.

I should bought the Intel SSD, which is more expensive but is acclaimed to be more reliable.

Learned the lesson, I went to buy a Intel 530 series SSD (120G) and use it to replace the OCZ SSD. Now, I need to re-install Windows 7 and all  software and all kinds of personal settings. This usually takes hours and maybe even one day. Fortunately, I have used Backup and Restore feature of Windows 7 to create system image and system repair disk before. All I need to do is put the system repair disk (DVD) into CD-ROM and change the boot option to boot from CD-ROM.
The rest is simple, just follow the instruction. Only thing to remember is excluding your other disks from the restore (since you don't want your data be wiped out).
In half hour, my computer is restored to the latest system image (I set backup weekly). Everything is same. Seems nothing happens.
If you have not use the Windows 7 Backup and Restore, do it now! It can save you from disasters like virus infection, hard disk failure (like me). All you need is a blank DVD and some hard disk space.
The step is simple.

First, go to Windows 7 Control Panel and select Backup your computer.

Then, click on Create a system repair disc, select CD-ROM or BD-ROM (Blue Ray), put a blank DVD in the CD-ROM and press Create disk (click to view bigger picture).

It takes about several minutes. You only need to do this once. The same disk can be used  for your other computers too. Label the disk and store it in a place you can easily remember.

Next step is creating system image, click on Create a system image, then you can choose where to put the system image. Suggest choose a separate hard disk with enough space (not C drive). Depends on how many programs you installed, it may take more than 100G space.
If you choose DVD, you may need prepare lots of DVDs. Network location maybe slow and you need another machine.

Next choose which drive to backup, The system drive is selected by default.You don' need to select other drives.
Next page just click on Start backup.

That's it! Now you no longer need to worry about the virus or hard disk failure.

Optionally, you can also enable automatic backup so that you don't need to creating system image manually. I backup every Sunday at 1:00am, when I am not using computer.
You can also backup other files (like your documents) by choosing which folder you want to backup. One thing to remember is do not backup too many files since it will take long time to backup and it will take lots of spaces. Only backup the files which are not recoverable like your own documents. If you have lots of photos, I   do not recommend using this way to backup since it will take long time to backup and you can not browse photos in the backup. Just make a copy to your removable hard disk or another computer.

Monday, April 16, 2012

iPad Coolest Tricks -1

iPad is easy to use and you can get most of the functions without reading a user manual. But there are some very cool tricks people might not know even they use iPad for a long time.
Here are the coolest tricks I found.

Use five fingers to close an application

Everyone knows to use the Home button to close an application. But there is a better and quicker way. Just put your five fingers on screen and pinch. This like using your five fingers to zoom out a picture. 

This cool feature is not turned on by default (Apple should do that). To turn it on, go to Settings, General and find "Multitasking Gestures" and turn it on.

Swipe four fingers up to display multitasking bar
Once you have Multitasking Gestures enabled, you can also display the multitasking bar by simply swiping your four fingers up. This is same as double click on the Home button. On the multitasking bar, you can switch to recent apps or close apps.

Swipe four fingers left and right to switch apps
Want to go back to the previous apps? Many people just press Home button and then find and click the previous app on the home screen. A better way is display the multitasking bar by press Home button twice and then select the previous app on the multitasking bar. With the Multitasking Gestures enabled, the best way is just use your four fingers to swipe to the left. If you want to go back just swipe right.
This gestures may be slow if the app you switch to has been used used for a while. It takes some time for the app to start and display.
With the above 3 tricks, you don't need a physical Home button anymore !(almost).

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New IBM Research Center and Data Center In Ontario

Good news if you are looking for working for IBM in Ontario.

Earlier today, IBM, together with the Governments of Canada and Ontario and a consortium of seven universities led by the University of Toronto and Western University, announced a $210 million investment to create the IBM Canada Research and Development Centre. This research initiative will support 145 new, highly skilled jobs in Ontario and contribute to Canada's position as a global innovation leader.

This significant news involves:

  • an investment by IBM of up to $175 million to form the IBM Canada Research and Development Centre -- the first time IBM Research will have a home in Canada; 
  • a further investment by the Government of Ontario of $15 million towards the creation of the Centre; 
  • a contribution of $20 million by the Government of Canada that will allow a consortium of seven Ontario post-secondary institutions to install two high-performance IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputers and develop a cloud computing platform to underpin the initiative’s research collaboration; and
  • the announcement of a new IBM data centre in Barrie, Ontario, which we expect to be fully operational in the early fall.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Google Project Glass - The Future of Smart Phone

Watch this video, it is amazing. You can do many things you usually do with your smart phone just with a pair of glass: like taking photo, navigation, answer phones. 

This looks like the ultimate personal device. 
Question is when we can buy it. So far, it looks like in the early design stage.  Also, for guys who already wear glasses, is there a way to integrate to existing ones?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

iPad Games - iBomber Defense Pacific

If you like tower defense game (like Sentinel), you will like this one. I have played through all levels. Strange thing is there is one level in the middle is the hardest one. The others are easy.

iPad Games- Infinite Blade (On sale for 99 cents)

This game has great graphics. It was used as the demo game when iPad is launched.
Now it is on sale for 99 cents (Normal price is about 5 or 6 dollars). Definitely worth to buy, especially if you have the new iPad. It is optimized for the retina display.