Friday, October 1, 2010

How to Enable Desktop Notifications for Google Calendar in Chrome

One of the primary features that kept me using Outlook’s calendar was the desktop notifications that popped up to remind me when it was time for another boring meeting. Now with Google Calendar and Chrome notifications, I’ll never miss the chance to sleep through another meeting.

Seriously, meetings are boring.

But more to the point, if you’re using Google Chrome there’s a built-in desktop notifications feature, and all you have to do is enable a Labs feature in Google Calendar to get it to start showing notifications on your desktop.

Make Sure Chrome Has Desktop Notifications Enabled
The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure that Chrome is set to allow desktop notifications. Head into Tools –> Options –> Under the Hood –> Content settings.

Next, select Notifications on the left-hand side, and then make sure the middle option for “Ask me when a site wants to show desktop notifications” is selected. You may want to click on the Exceptions button and make sure Google Calendar isn’t blocked in there.

Enable Desktop Notifications in Google Calendar
Now that we’ve made sure Chrome is configured properly, you’ll want to head into Google Calendar, open up the Settings link in the top right, and then go to the Labs section.

Find the “Gentle Reminders” item in the list, click the Enable button, and then Save at the bottom. If the option is already enabled but you aren’t getting desktop notifications, you should disable it, Save, and then Enable it again.

Once you’ve clicked the Save button you’ll see a bar show up across the top of the window, and you’ll need to click the Allow button.

As soon as you do, you’ll see a sample notification to show up on the bottom of the screen.

You’ll have to manually close out of the notifications, which is slightly annoying sometimes, but it’s probably a good thing so you won’t miss an important reminder.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

How to Buy a Wireless Modem

By: Sascha Segan

Why limit your on-the-go Web surfing to hot spots when you can get online almost anywhere with a cellular modem or MiFi-style hotspot? Here's how to pick the right service and device to bring mobile broadband to your laptop.

It's an exciting time to get Internet on the go. Less-expensive 3G service plans and new 4G networks are making wireless cellular modems faster and more affordable than ever. In many cases, you don't even need to sign a contract.

Wireless modems aren't just for PCs any more, either. Many connections will work other gadgets too, like your iPod Touch or iPad. (They can even turn those devices into phones, with the right voice-over-IP software.) Depending on your hardware, plan and usage, you'll pay anywhere from $20 to $60 a month for nationwide connectivity at speeds of up to 6Mbps, which is as fast as some cable connections. Here's what you need to know to pick the right service and hardware.

First, Understand the Limits
Finally, wireless broadband isn't for everyone. If you download a lot of movies and video, do it over a wired connection. Even "unlimited" wireless broadband providers may throttle your speeds if you download tens of gigabytes every month. Avid gamers will probably want to stick with wires, too, as wireless networks have much higher latency and lag than DSL and cable connections.

Choose Your Carrier
The wireless broadband arena is more competitive than ever. Earlier this year, we tested six 3G and 4G networks nationwide, finding AT&T to be the fastest but least reliable, and seeing a lot of potential in Sprint's and T-Mobile's new technologies. Our Fastest Mobile Networks 2010feature spotlights network performance in 18 cities, so make sure to see if we checked network performance near you.

AT&T's nationwide 3G is based on a fast HSPA 7.2 technology, but the carrier has had some reliability problems that showed up in our tests. That said, AT&T has been improving over the past year. Along with Verizon, it's the highest-priced provider, offering 5GB/month for $60 and requiring a contract.

Cricket covers about a third of the nation with somewhat slow, but reliable 3G. This smaller provider used to be the price leaders, but Sprint and T-Mobile have matched Cricket's flagship service plan. Cricket offers 2.5GB/month for $40, 5GB for $50, and 7.5GB for $60 with no contract. If you go over the max, Cricket won't cut you off, but it will slow you down until the next month starts.

Sprint offers two intriguing options. For $60/month, you can get a 3G/4G modem or hotspot that works on Sprint's WiMax network where that's available, or on 3G where it isn't. WiMax is in dozens of cities, and coming to more every month, but it isn't nationwide. Sprint's Virgin Mobile brand, meanwhile, sells modems that work exclusively on 3G for $40/month, unlimited use, no contract. That's currently the best wireless broadband deal in the U.S.

T-Mobile's HSPA+ is super-fast and spreading. While it's a 3G technology, we found it to be as fast as Sprint's 4G in many locations—we're talking around 5Mbps. T-Mobile offers 200MB/month for $25 or 5GB for $40, and like Cricket, it will throttle speeds rather than cutting you off if you go over your limit on the $40 plan. Verizon Wireless doesn't have the fastest speeds, but its coverage is second to none. The carrier charges Cadillac prices, though: $40/month for 250MB or $60 for 5GB with a two-year contract, and even more if you want prepaid use. US Cellular, Cincinnati Bell, and other smaller carriers also offer modem solutions, but we haven't reviewed them.

Can't get coverage where you live? WISPs (wireless ISPs) generally use larger, home-based modems, but they're available in many (though not all) small towns where traditional broadband or cellular service can't be found. What's more, they don't carry 5GB limits.

To Tether Or Not To Tether?
If you decide to make the 3G jump, cellular modems aren't the only option. You'll find a wide range of laptops and netbooks with integrated 3G from almost every manufacturer, except Apple. In our tests, these devices typically deliver solid speed and reception—but of course, you've got to buy a new system, and you may be yoked to one wireless carrier for the life of the PC.
A growing number of smartphones, such as Verizon's Motorola Droid X and Sprint's HTC EVO 4Galso have integrated "wireless hotspot" modes, which let them connect other devices via Wi-Fi. You have to pay an add-on fee, usually around $20/month, and you'll typically get around 2GB of data use. This is a good solution for occasional use, but since it drains your phone's battery and can block phone calls (depending on the phone used), it isn't an all-the-time solution. Also, most smartphones that don't have wireless hotspot modes can frequently work as USB modems through a tethered cable connection, for a similar price.

Hardware Types
So you've decided to go for a cellular modem: there are three main types including cards, USB sticks, and MiFi-style hotspots.
If you're going to use one PC with your modem, get a card or USB stick. Cards are convenient because you can pop one in and forget it, but you have to have a laptop with an ExpressCard/34 or PC Card slot. USB sticks are fussier, but they're easy to move between devices and they work with PCs that don't have card slots. With both cards and USB modems, you'll probably have to load some sort of drivers and connection software onto your PC or Mac.

Mobile Wi-Fi hotspots such as Novatel's MiFi 2200 and Sierra's Overdrive use a cellular connection to let you hook up multiple PCs, iPads, iPhones, and other mobile devices to the Internet via Wi-Fi. They're very easy to operate, and you typically don't have to load any special software onto your PC to connect with one. But they give you yet another gadget to tote charge, and connections can be slower than with a dedicated modem (especially over a 4G network) because of the whims of Wi-Fi signals.

Extras and Bonuses
Some modems offer features beyond simple connectivity. Many current modems add GPS functionality to your laptop, which I haven't found all that useful; the GPS radios in modems are less sensitive than those in smartphones, and it's a bit awkward to use your laptop for navigation. A more-useful feature, many modems have connectors for external antennas, which can really boost signal strength in rural areas. Sites like sell third-party antennas for most modems. I also really like the LCD display on the Sierra Overdrive and the graduated lights on the Cricket USB Broadband Modem A600, both of which report the strength of your 3G signal right on the device.

Beware: Overseas Surfing Will Cost You
Traveling abroad? Taking your laptop and modem along isn't as easy as it might seem. AT&T modems will work almost everywhere in the world, but if you're leaving the country, you should get a temporary data add-on to your service plan. You can opt for from 20MB to 200MB of data usage ($25 to $229 per month). If you don't have one of these plans, you'll be charged up to $20 per megabyte (that's MB, not GB) for data overseas. Ouch. T-Mobile modems also work abroad, but add-on plans are not available—it's just $15 per megabyte outside the U.S. and Canada.

If you're with Verizon, your modem will work in Canada, and the company offers a global USB modem that works with a $129.99-per-month plan for use in other countries. Otherwise, you're stuck with a $20-per-megabyte rate. Sprint will also sell you special international cards and modems but offers no overseas data-roaming plan; if you go to Europe, for instance, you'll pay a flat rate of $16 per megabyte.
Unlocked world-capable modems do exist, and in theory, you can put a foreign SIM card into an AT&T or T-Mobile modem to get local service at low rates. But in practice, I've found this to be nearly impossible to achieve. Modem and OS settings are so arcane, especially when you're dealing with customer service in a foreign language, that I can't push this as a practical solution.

If you need Internet access outside the U.S., use your hotel Wi-Fi, hunt down Wi-Fi hot spots or use a BlackBerry with an international data plan, which is much less expensive than a cellular card plan.

Four Key Areas Where IT Drives Business Results

By Ericka Chickowski on 2010-09-27

Researchers from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas and Sybase explored the relationship between data management and business results. Improvements in variables including quality, usability, intelligence, remote accessibility and sales mobility were linked to improvements in metrics used to assess financial performance at Fortune 1000 companies. "Despite decades of IT investment in information technology, the direct correlation between those investments and the financial performance of the business has eluded senior decision-makers," Anitesh Barua, distinguished teaching professor and lead researcher at University of Texas at Austin, said in a statement. "This is the first study that quantifies the relationship between incremental improvements in data and key performance metrics of businesses today. Previous studies tell us neither the magnitude of the effect on performance nor what it takes to improve the attributes of data. We are encouraged by our findings and expect the business community to take notice."

1. Employee Productivity
Typically defined and measured by sales per employee, employee productivity grows 14.4% given a 10% increase in data usability.
The median sales per employee at organizations studied was $388,000; improving data management could increase by $55,900 per year.

2. Return on Equity
This key number increases by 16% when goosed by 10% jumps in data quality and sales mobility.
A company with the study's median income of $410.47 million would make an additional $65.67 million per year through better data management.

3. Return on Invested Capital (ROIC)
Efficiency in allocating capital edges up 1.4% with a 10% increase in sales mobility.
A company with $2.144 billion in capital would increase net income by $5.4 million every year through data management improvements.

4. Return on Assets
Efficient use of resources to generate income increases by 0.7 percent with a 10% improvement in intelligence and remote accessibility.
Better data management would net the average Fortune 1000 company an extra $2.87 million in income.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Spammers Target LinkedIn Members with Malware

By: Fahmida Y. Rashid

Cisco Systems says spammers targeted LinkedIn members with fake connection requests that downloaded a worm known for stealing user bank account information.

Malicious cyber-criminals aren't just targeting Twitter users; LinkedIn members are in their crosshairs, as well.

LinkedIn members were reportedly deluged with spam e-mail messages masquerading as connection requests from the career-oriented social networking site Sept. 27.

Clicking on these requests sent users to a Website that displayed "PLEASE WAITING...4 SECONDS" before redirecting them to Google. During those 4 seconds, the Website downloaded Zeus data-theft malware onto their PCs, according to Cisco Systems.

Zeus, which embeds itself in the victim's Web browser and captures personal information such as online banking credentials, is widely used by criminals to pilfer from commercial bank accounts.

These messages accounted for as much as 24 percent of all spam sent within a 15-minute interval in the morning of Sept. 27, Cisco said. Cisco recommends that IT administrators warn users to delete connection requests, especially if they do not know the name of the contact.

Social networks are increasingly becoming a target for cyber-criminals. Twitter was hit over the weekend by a worm associated with a "WTF" tweet and a link, as well as the cross-scripting exploit that crippled the week of Sept. 20. Facebook users have not been immune, either.

Spam remains a popular form of attack, as with the "Here You Have" e-mail worm that wreaked havoc earlier in September. Cisco expects to see more spam messages containing malware sent to organizations to collect personal information.

LinkedIn has not yet publicly acknowledged the spam attack, nor warned users about the messages.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Report: Android Continues Strong Growth

By Andrew BergTuesday, September 28, 2010

Android just keeps growing, according to new numbers from Millennial Media's August Mobile Mix report that reaffirm what other recent reports have found.
Android ad requests on Millennial's ad network increased 39 percent month-over-month. Since January, Android has grown 996 percent.
Android's success is in recent months is accredited to the sudden proliferation of devices that run Google's mobile operating system. Motorola became the third largest device manufacturer on Millennial's network. The Motorola Droid moved up to the numbertwo position in the August Top 20 Mobile Phones list with over 9 percent impression share.
Meanwhile, Apple, which has been the leading device manufacturer on Millennial's network since September 2009, accounted for a 20 percent share of all device impressions.
Overall, smartphone impression share increased 3 percent month-over-month and represented 51 percent of the U.S. smartphone, feature phone and connected device impression share in August.
iPad ad requests increased 76 percent month-over-month.
Aside from the usual rundown, Millennial's monthly report took time to render a quick statistical snapshot of the average BlackBerry user with various metrics provided by comScore. According to comScore, 45 percent of BlackBerry users are women and the average income of a BlackBerry user is 13 percent higher than other smartphones. Additionally, fully 53 percent of BlackBerry users have a college degree, and 65 percent have full-time employment.

Twitter Users Hit by Another Worm

By: Brian Prince

Twitter users Sunday were infected by a worm that posted sexual messages on victims' profiles.

Twitter users were hit with yet another worm during the weekend.
This time, the tweets came bearing the message "WTF" with a link in tow. Clicking on the link automatically generated a post from the victim with a pornographic message.
“Clicking on the WTF link would take you to a webpage which contained some trivial code which used a CSRF (cross-site request forgery) technique to automatically post from the visitor's Twitter account,” explained Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. “All the user sees if they visit the link is a blank page, but behind the scenes it has sent messages to Twitter to post from your account.”
Though Sophos did not know how many users were impacted, Sophos Senior Security Analyst Beth Jones said it was not "nearly as widespread" as last week's onMouseOver worms, which affected hundreds of thousands of Twitter users. In that case, a cross-site scripting vulnerability was exploited by various people to send out multiple worms that among other things redirected users to porn sites.
As in that incident, the most recent attack snared some high-profile Twitter users, including blogger Robert Scoble.
“Chances are that the reason why this attack spread so speedily is that people were curious to find out what they would find at the end of a link only described as 'WTF',” Cluley blogged.
Twitter reported Sept. 26 that the malicious link is disabled and that the exploit has been fixed.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Microsoft Sharepoint 2010 Experiencing Slow Adoption

DATE: 2010-09-24 | By Leah Gabriel Nurik

Microsoft's Sharepoint 2010 is having a slow time winning over upgrades from previous versions, according to a new survey which says users object to the time and effort to deploy the system as well as the lack of easy-to-use interfaces for business users.

Microsoft SharePoint 2010, was released to manufacturing in April, but, according to a new market survey by BPM vendor Global360, the new version has not yet gained a loyal band of followers in the enterprise.
According to the study, 80 percent of current SharePoint deployments are still based on SharePoint 2007, and only 8 percent of those surveyed have already deployed SharePoint 2010.
So what’s the hold up? First of all, it's still early days. But also, those surveyed pointed to several deployment challenges, including the time and effort required to build real businessapplications (30 percent). Also a big deterrent was the “lack of intuitive, easy-to-use SharePoint-based interfaces for business users (21 percent).”
One of the issues with deployment business applications within SharePoint is the limited BPM functionality that comes with pre-packaged workflows that are perceived as simple, as well as limited development tools that require custom coding within SharePoint to meet the objectives of enterprise users.
Companies like social knowledge networks company Inmagic and Global 360 aim to solve the issue with tightly integrated SharePoint solutions that maximize the benefits of SharePoint but provide additional value and benefit for enterprise deployments of document management-type solutions.
"Real business problems are complex and often need many workflows in order to deal with exceptions. Organizations need visibility into what's happening end-to-end, and the capability to make changes quickly,” said Deborah Rosen, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Global 360.
Right now, the majority of enterprises have extended SharePoint’s content repository or portal technology to manage document workflows (67 percent) as well as to support general business processes (56 percent). Only 27 percent of organizations utilize over half of the documents stored in SharePoint to support “mission-critical” business processes.
SharePoint is a cash cow for Microsoft, and is in wide use by enterprises and offered in some manner through many VARs and MSPs. In March 2010 Forrester said “SharePoint's strengths as a collaboration environment have made it one of Microsoft's shining stars, with 2008 sales of $1.3 billion, growing at about 25 percent per annum" in its SharePoint And BPM - Finding the Sweet Spot.

Microsoft Loses Three to the Competition

By: Darryl K. Taft

Microsoft has recently lost a few key engineers and marketers to social networking and gaming companies. While turnover is expected, Microsoft lost three solid citizens of its empire.

Microsoft has recently lost a few key engineers and marketers to newer search, social networking and gaming companies.
Chris Wilson and Douglas Purdy were Microsoft architects who have left Microsoft to head to Google and Facebook, respectively. And Anand Iyer, a former senior product manager at Microsoft whose primary job seemed to be to serve as a liaison between Microsoft and startups in Silicon Valley, said he is leaving Microsoft to likely join a gaming company.
Wilson was a platform architect of the Internet Explorer platform team at Microsoft, and ex-group program manager. He represented Microsoft on several Web-related standards bodies. He has left Microsoft to join Google at its Seattle offices in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle.
In a blog post about his departure, Wilson said: “I’m very excited to work for a company that invests so much in making the Web platform better for developers and consumers, and I hope that I can use this as an opportunity to not only do no evil, but to actively do good.” Wilson was obviously referring to Google’s so-called tagline of “Do No Evil.”
Wilson began working on Web browsers in 1993 when he co-authored the first Windows versions of NCSA Mosaic, the first mass-market WWW browser. After leaving NCSA in 1994 and spending a year working on the Web browser for SPRY, Wilson joined Microsoft’s Internet Explorer team as a developer in 1995. Wilson has participated in many standards working groups, in particular helping develop standards for CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), HTML, the DOM (Document Object) and XSL through the W3C working groups. He also developed the first implementations of CSS in Internet Explorer.
Meanwhile, Iyer is leaving the software giant to possibly work for a mobile gaming company. However, it seems Iyer’s leaving is more related to two things. One is that, in the Valley, at least, Microsoft is no longer viewed as innovative. And the other is that he was being pressured to move to work out of Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash.
“I had a candid conversation with my management,” Iyer said in a blog post. “I was told that while I was doing well (paraphrasing ;) in order to move ahead in my career, I needed to move to Redmond – it was a matter of ‘when’. I would have to give up my home, my family, my friends and move from one of the best cities in the world to, well, Redmond.”
It is kind of hard to be Microsoft’s evangelist to Silicon Valley if you have to work in Redmond.
In his post, Iyer reminisces: “I started in January 2005 as a Developer Evangelist based in the Valley – my job was to 'sell' developers on the idea of .NET. One of my first assignments was Visual Studio 2005 and Team System (this was Microsoft’s foray into the ALM – Application Lifecycle Management -- space).”
Iyer then talks about evangelizing Windows Vista, Silverlight, Windows Azure, open source, interoperability, the company’s BizSpark program for startups, and for the last 15 months Windows Phone 7, as a product manager on that technology’s developer platform.
However, at a startup-focused event sponsored by PayPal, where the topic of innovation came up, Iyer saw how much of an uphill battle he faced. “Later on, the audience was polled to see who they thought was a company that bred innovation, like PayPal did, and the options were: Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Apple,” he said in his post. “No mention of Microsoft. (FYI, Facebook won that poll).”
So, pressured to move, Iyer said he decided to leave Microsoft instead. “I’m sad but I know this is absolutely the right thing for me to do,” he said. “I’ve met the most amazing, most diverse and by far the most intelligent group of people over the last few years. The opportunities that Microsoft has helped create for me are truly unbelievable and I will be forever grateful. Everyone I’ve met and dealt with has and will continue to have a profoundly significant influence on my life.”
Ironically, location played a bit in both Iyer’s and Wilson’s decision to move on. Though Microsoft has one of the most varied and talented work forces in the business, the company has had trouble getting many employees to move to and then stay in the Redmond/Seattle area. Said Wilson: “I’ll spare the minor details of my decision (other than how excited I am to turn my Office-Space-style commute into a 6 mile bike ride to Google’s Fremont office)…”
Meanwhile, Microsoft’s decision to kill or severely hamper its Oslo tools effort hastened former Microsoft software architect Douglas Purdy to leave early in September. The project codenamed Oslo was a set of future Microsoft modeling technologies that aim to provide significant productivity gains across the lifecycle of .NET Framework applications by enabling developers, architects and IT professionals to work together more effectively.
Although Purdy does not come out and say the dismantling of Oslo affected his decision, of his move to Facebook, sources at Microsoft said it did. In a blog post, Purdy said: “Today is my first day at Facebook. During my conversations with the leadership there, it was clear that Facebook is committed to becoming an essential platform for developers, helping them to be successful through open-source tools, frameworks and, of course, Web APIs. Further, the Facebook vision around the Graph API and Open Graph Protocol (which debuted at f8 this spring) is the closest thing to what I call the ‘Infobus’ I have yet seen; convincing me that Facebook was one of the most leveraged places for me.”