Sunday, December 30, 2012

Top 10 Posts of 2012

Here are the top 10 posts on the Assistive Technology Blog as rated by number of views. Thanks to everyone who read the blog. Please check back in the new year for more cool posts.
  1. iOS 5 Tips: Use Assistive Touch to Replace a Broken Home Button, Lock Button or Volume Button
  2. What is Assistive Touch?
  3. What does iPhone 5 and iOS 5 Mean for Assistive Technology?
  4. Read PDF Files Aloud with vBooks PDF Voice Reader
  5. iPhone 4S Accessibility Features
  6. iOS 5 Tip: Look Up Any Word
  7. Android Becomes More Accessible With 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  8. Assistive Touch Improvements in iOS 6
  9. The Kindle Fire Is Not Accessible
  10. Prizmo: Fast, Accurate, Full Featured OCR App for iPhone Review
What was your favorite post of 2012 let us know in the comments.

Favorite Assistive Technology Apps & Products of 2012

As 2012 comes to a close I decided to make a run down of my favorite assistive technology apps and products that I have been using this year. This list is in no particular order.

Click read more view the list.

The Sky WiFi Smartpen is easy to use and seamless. It has a built in recorder and camera that, when used with specialized paper, syncs audio and written notes in the cloud. To read the Sky WiFi Smartpen review click here.

iPad mini is a great tablet because of its size, app selection, and accessibility. The lower price point makes it even more compelling. Most of all iPad mini runs all the apps that the full size iPad does and has accessibility features second to none. Click here to read more about the iPad mini.

While iOS 6 many have been short on mainstream features it has several useful accessibility features including Guided Access, highlighting with Speak Selection, Siri improvements, and VoiceOver improvements. Click here to learn more about iOS 6.

This update included great new voice search feature that I found to be better and faster than Siri. Click here to learn more about the Google Search App for iOS.

This app has a really nice interface and good scan quality which made it my favorite scanning app of 2012. Click here to learn more.

Prizmo is hands down the best OCR app for iPhone that I have used. Just take a picture of a document and it will read it to you in a matter of seconds. Click here to download or learn more about Prizmo.

A great reader of Bookshare books that allows you to read your books portably without a computer. Bookshare is an online accessible library avalible to qualified people. Click here to download or learn more about Read2Go.

Kurzweil isn't new to 2012 but it is a program I use everday. It helps me tremendously and it deserves a spot on this list. Click here to learn more about Kurzweil 3000.

Good app for listening to Learning Ally Audio books. The free app is available for all iOS devices. I would like to see the app include new features such as background audio in 2013. Click here to learn more.

PaperPort Notes App Adds OCR Functionality

Nuance's PaperPort Notes app for iPad received a major update. The highlight of the update is the ability to take a picture of text to add the text to your notes. The Optical Charactor Recongition (OCR) feature is slower than other competing apps but is accurate. The improved cameras on the newest iPads allow OCR to work well. To learn about the other features of the free PaperPort Notes app click here. Click here to download the app.

Click read more below to view screenshots of PaperPort Notes.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Google Play Books Adds Read Aloud Feature

Google Play Books is the Google's ebookstore and companion reader apps. The Android reader app was recently updated to include a text-to-speech read aloud feature. Click here to download the free app for Android. The text-to-speech voice is a little above average but gets the job done. The read aloud feature works with most books in the Google Play store. If you have an Android device be sure to check this app out.

Click read more below to view screenshots of Google Play Books.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sony Vaio Duo 11 review

Sony's first attempt at a laptop-tablet convertible

Product Sony Vaio Duo 11
Website Sony Europe
Specifications Intel Core I5 or I7 CPU, up to 8GB RAM, 1920x1080 11.6in capacitive touchscreen, integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics, 128GB or 256GB SSD storage, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.0 with USB charge, VGA out, HDMI out, Memory Stick Duo and SD memory card combined slot, one front-facing and one rear-facing webcam, Windows 8 Professional, 320x199x18mm, 1.3kg
Price �849

THE VAIO DUO 11 is Sony's first attempt at luring those in the market for both a laptop and a tablet to save money and buy a device that is both.

Unveiled at the IFA electronics expo in Berlin back in August, the Vaio Duo 11 runs Windows 8 and transforms from a tablet to a laptop via an HD display that slides up in what Sony calls a "Slide Surfer" style to reveal a full size QWERTY keyboard hidden underneath.

Sony Vaio Duo 11 laptop tablet hybrid tablet
Sony Vaio Duo 11

The Sony Vaio Duo 11's most obvious selling point is that it is a hybrid device that has two different modes: laptop and tablet. When in tablet mode, this transformation is achieved by supporting the back of the lid with one hand while pushing the front of it backwards so that it pops up via a hinge, exposing a keyboard and mouse track button underneath.

Sony Vaio Duo 11 laptop tablet hybrid hinge
Sony Vaio Duo 11

Going from one to the other isn't the easiest transition we've experienced on a hybrid device, nor is it the smoothest. Your first try with the Duo 11 certainly won't be the last attempt before the display lifts up. Unless you're completely used to and have developed the knack for opening it correctly, it's going to take a few attempts before getting it right first time. We think Sony should have spent more time developing a less fiddly sliding mechanism that is easier to operate, such as a slide button for instance, so that you don't have to use both hands to open it up. However, this might just take some getting used to.

The mechanism used on the sliding action also doesn't feel as sturdy as we would like when moving from tablet to laptop mode, and this worries us a little.

Design and build
Aside from the weak feeling slide mechanism, the Vaio Duo 11 is nicely finished and projects a premium but minimalist style. Its all-black chassis has a high gloss shine to it, with sharp edges that make it look stylish and worth the �850 it costs.

Sony Vaio Duo 11 laptop tablet hybrid side
Sony Vaio Duo 11 laptop tablet

Weighing 1.3kg, it's heavy enough to feel expensive while not feeling too heavy to carry around in a bag. Measuring 320x199x18mm, it does feel a little chunky when in tablet mode, which is a shame, and if it was just a few millimetres thinner it would feel better to use.

KeyboardThe keyboard is perhaps our least favourite aspect of the Vaio Duo 11. This is because there is no track pad. When typing we found our fingers naturally wanted to move to a track pad due to the location of the mouse buttons. The mouse button is irritating to use and doesn't provide an enjoyable experience.
Sony Vaio Duo 11 laptop tablet hybrid keyboard overview
Sony Vaio Duo 11 laptop tablet

Seated and using the Vaio Duo 11 at a desk, it can also feel a little restrictive, as the small keyboard doesn't offer space for your hands to do the usual swift movements on a larger sized keyboard. However, those looking to use it for long periods of time at a desk can always invest in a full size portable USB keyboard and mouse to accompany it.
Sony Vaio Duo 11 laptop tablet hybrid keyboard
Sony Vaio Duo 11 laptop tablet

Though it looks and feels well built, it's fair to say the keys are a little too far apart and also quite small, meaning you can miss certain letters occasionally while typing. We can't help but think that Sony could have made the Vaio Duo 11 keys bigger and thus closer together to improve typing accuracy.

One of our favourite features of the Vaio Duo 11 is its touchscreen display. This is due to its Opticontrast panel, which means it has a special resin layer that Sony says helps to absorb any diffused light delivered from the backlight for high contrast and natural colours. The 11in display panel also reduces glare from light sources, with little light reflected when in use.

Sony Vaio Duo 11 laptop tablet hybrid overview
Sony Vaio Duo 11 laptop tablet

The Vaio Duo 11's screen resolution is set at 1920x1080 and though it provides brilliant viewing for movies, for general use it feels a little too high for its 11in screen. Text appears tiny so if your eyes aren't great, it's probably worth changing it to 1600x900. However, it is worth noting that the screen doesn't seem as crisp overall at this setting. 

The Vaio Duo 11's built-in accelerometer, which ensures that the screen display rotates to whatever viewing angle you are holding the device, is not as responsive as in other tablet/hybrid devices we've seen, such as the Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 13. It takes a while to turn around from one position to the other and you sometimes have to go out of your way and lean it forward for it to come back to a horizontal view.
Sony Vaio Duo 11 laptop tablet hybrid connections
Sony Vaio Duo 11 laptop tablet

One other downside to the screen is that it attracts smudge prints a little too easily. Though this is expected with all touchscreen devices, in our tests we felt it showed them up a little more than other screens on the market, which made it look rather greasy. This isn't really an issue when the screen brightness is turned up, however.

Performance and OS
Running the Windows 8 operating system, the Vaio Duo 11 is powered by a choice of Intel Core I5 or Core I7 processors and up to 8GB of RAM. It costs �849 for the most basic Core I5, 2GB model, with prices jumping up by �320 for a Core I7 processor, and another �30 for 4GB of RAM, or �100 extra for 8GB. Windows 8 Professional is also available for an extra �40.

Our review model was an 8GB Core I7 processor model and scored a Windows Performance Index score of 5.6. The score is determined by the lowest sub-score, in this case desktop graphics performance, and not an average result of the performance of components.
The sony vaio duo 11 performed pretty well in the windows index score
sony vaio duo 11

Though the score was pulled down by the Vaio Duo 11's Integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics power, all other results scored much better, with processor calculations per second scoring 7.1 out of 9.9, disk data transfer gaining a 8.1 score and RAM operations per second earning a score of 7.9.

Unless you're using the Vaio Duo 11 for gaming on high graphic settings - which the device hasn't been built for anyway - you're not going to notice much lag, as in our tests both touchscreen and non-touchscreen operations seemed fluid, with the Vaio Duo 11 responding very quickly to commands. As an ultrabook convertible device, we found it will perform all your daily needs effortlessly. However, we tested a more powerful configuration of the Vaio Duo 11, so cheaper options might not perform as well as our test model did.

Overall, the Vaio Duo 11 handled the Windows 8 OS very well, with very little lag when swiping between pages, and programs popping up almost as soon as we selected them. However, after installing a good number of applications and storing a sufficient amount of data, we can imagine it will slow a bit.

Connectivity, storage and battery life
In terms of battery life, we thought the Vaio Duo 11 performed pretty well. When starting on full charge at 11am, it ran out of power at 5:30pm, and that was while in continual use performing general tasks. This included watching movies and web browsing without letting the screen turn off or go into sleep mode.

Sony Vaio Duo 11 laptop tablet hybrid back power
Sony Vaio Duo 11 laptop tablet

There's also a variety of connectivity options available on the Vaio Duo 11, which is unusual for such a portable device. There's your standard 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 alongside one USB 3.0 slot and one USB 3.0 slot with USB charge so that devices can be charged even when the device is turned off. There's also a VGA out, HDMI out, and a Memory Stick Duo and SD card combined port. There's even a dedicated Ethernet port for those who rely on a wired internet connection.

The Vaio Duo 11 comes with either a 128GB or 256GB SSD drive to store all your data. Prices reflect these accordingly, with the larger of the two storage options costing an extra �180 on top of the �849 starting price.

In Short
The Vaio Duo 11 looks better on paper than when you test it for yourself and use it in real life situations. In tablet mode it will probably be a little too bulky for most people, and the hinge doesn't feel as strong as it should when sliding it into laptop mode.

As a notebook, however, it does perform really well, and the HD screen is high quality, and very clear and enjoyable to use with Windows 8. The small keyboard is a big factor here though, but if you can live without a trackpad, you will most probably just get used to its more compact design. But for �849 for the least powerful configuration, we think it is a little too expensive for what you get.
The Good
Vibrant display, portable, well built.

The Bad
No track pad, a little chunky, not great as a tablet.

The Ugly
Weak feeling sliding mechanism makes it difficult to operate.

Bartender's Score

Friday, December 7, 2012

iPad mini vs. Nexus 7: The debate

iPad Mini vs. Nexus 7
iPad Mini vs. Nexus 7

The iPad mini and the Google Nexus 7 aren�t the only 7-inch tablets on the market, but right now they�re the two that matter most: More buyers will be looking at those two models this holiday season than at any others, by a fair margin.

It�s hard�perhaps impossible�to compare them objectively; you can�t just compare the specs. You have to use them to truly appreciate their differences. That's why we asked Cool-Technology senior editor Chris Baron and Michael Patterson to have a little debate over the relative merits of Apple�s and Google�s little tablets. Both editors have used both of the tablets, and both experts have definite opinions about what�s good and not so good about them. Here�s how their conversation went.

The screen

Chris Baron: Reading is one of the primary reasons I use a tablet this size, and to me the iPad mini�s wider display area�4.75 inches versus the Nexus 7�s 3.75 inches�makes it a more pleasurable device for that. In both portrait and landscape orientations, pages feel more natural and readable. The Nexus 7�s display seems too narrow, as if I�m reading a tall and skinny page. For reading in landscape mode, pages feel too wide and squashed from top to bottom.

Michael Patterson: I appreciate the extra width of a larger screen too, but only for some specific uses�games with navigation controls overlaid on top of the action, for example. I actually don�t find it better for reading: It feels as if the page is too wide for books at an average font size. However, for large print, the iPad mini�s extra screen space comes in handy.
CB: Although I like the size of the iPad mini�s display, I have a hard time acclimating to its resolution, most likely because of my experience with the Retina display on the third-generation iPad. Pixels are evident in all text-based apps�small text in Web browsers is particularly annoying. My eyes get weary reading books on the thing because of the roughness of the text. Pixel-doubled apps look just awful. However, apps written for Retina displays and larger iPads�particularly games�can look pretty good. Photos and videos look quite nice on it, too. And here again, the wider screen makes that media feel less confined.

MP: In today�s market, I�d expect to find a relatively low-res screen like the iPad mini�s on a tablet that�s priced a lot lower�not on a major product from Apple. The market has evolved, and high pixel density�which Apple itself pioneered with the third-generation iPad�is now the norm. After using a display with higher pixel density on my phone for more than two years, I�m not willing to go backward and see all of those pixels on a tablet. The reason is simple: I spend a lot of time looking at my tablet�s display.
So there�s no getting around the fact that the iPad mini�s 163-pixels-per-inch resolution is not only paltry, it�s not even close to being competitive. The Nexus 7�s screen is 216 ppi; that�s not even the highest in this size class, but it is far superior to the iPad mini�s display.

Dimensions and weight

CB: The Nexus 7 is easier to hold than the iPad mini if you like to wrap your hand around your device. That�s because, again, it�s narrower than the iPad mini. If, however, you tend to hold the tablet by its edge, the iPad mini is (I find) a more comfortable device to hold, because it�s lighter. If I switch between the two, the Nexus 7 feels heavier�and, at 0.75 pound compared to the mini�s 0.68 pound, it is heavier.

MP: No question that the Nexus 7 is heavier; lighter tablets such as the iPad mini (and Barnes & Noble�s Nook HD) are friendlier to hold one-handed for long reading sessions. That said, I think the Nexus 7�s weight is still acceptable for such sessions.


CB: If you�re looking for the greatest possible capacity, the iPad mini has it at 64GB of storage; the Nexus 7 tops out at 32GB.

MP: The bigger question is whether you�ll want to spend $529 on an iPad mini to get that much storage.
It�s true that the Nexus 7 tops out at 32GB. And unlike most other Android tablets, the Nexus 7 has no MicroSD expansion slot, so you can�t add storage. But I will say that�like all Android tablets� the Nexus makes managing that storage space easy: Because your computer sees it as a mass storage device, you can just drag and drop content over to the tablet. (If you�re using a Mac, you�ll need to download the Android File Transfer application to access the Nexus�s storage, which doesn�t appear on the Mac�s desktop.) The iPad mini still relies primarily on iTunes to transfer content locally, as opposed to accessing it through the cloud, so I find the Nexus 7 easier to use.


CB: The front-facing cameras on the two tablets are both 1.2 megapixels. The rear-facing camera on the Nexus 7 is�well, missing.

MP: Yup, the rear-facing camera is missing. And that is an annoying omission, although at the moment most 7-inch tablet competitors (Amazon, Barnes & Noble) lack that feature, too. The reality is that it should be present�for use with bar-code scanning, if nothing else.


CB: I�m not sure either of these devices is something you�d want to type a novel on. The iPad mini gives you a bit more room. And I make more mistakes on the Nexus keyboard, although that could be because I�m more accustomed to the iPad�s keyboard. Both tablets support Bluetooth keyboards, so you can ditch the on-screen one altogether.

MP: For me, the Nexus 7 and Android get the nod here; I find the keyboard better designed and organized than the one on iOS. I agree that you�re not necessarily going to type a lot on a small tablet, but that doesn�t mean you don�t want the most functional keyboard you can get. And if you�d prefer another layout or keyboard design, there�s an app for that: You can buy a replacement keyboard, such as SwiftKey, for just a few bucks in the Google Play store.

Controls and ports

CB: I often pick up the Nexus and can�t tell which way is up. Partly that�s because feeling for the on/off and volume buttons is difficult. The lack of a Home button on the bottom throws me. A Home button makes sense, but the Back button�s behavior seems inconsistent. I expect a Back button to be restricted to the app I�m currently working with; in this case, I tap Back and suddenly find myself in an app I was using a couple of hours ago.

MP: The Nexus 7 may lack a Home button, but it does have a Micro-USB port at the bottom, so I think it�s pretty clear which side is up. I�ve never had an issue with the power and volume buttons� locations: They are clearly located along the upper-right edge, and have a solid, distinctive design (unlike the flat, annoying buttons on the Amazon Kindle Fire HD).
CB: Hmmmm...I think that�s a stretch. That tiny port isn�t obvious to the touch, at least not as clearly obvious as an iOS device�s Home button. On the other hand, I think the universal nature of the Nexus 7�s USB port is a good thing. It means that you don�t have to purchase expensive connectors and cables if the one included in the box won�t do. However, Apple�s new Lightning connector is more flexible. With the Nexus 7 you can�t do wired video-out (with or without an adapter), for example, and there�s no HDMI-out, either.

MP: I echo that. Micro-USB is heaven-sent. Having Micro-USB means that you don�t have to give up universality�just grab a cable and go. I�m surprised that the iPad mini has no native HDMI-out; even the inexpensive Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9 has that (though you can add HDMI-output capability to an iPad mini with Apple's $49 adapter).

The software environment

CB: Here�s where the iPad totally rules the roost. Google is trying with Google Play, but a lot of Android apps I�ve looked at are pretty subpar. I�ve yet to find an Android Twitter client that gets anywhere near Tweetbot. The built-in ebook reader is okay, but you can�t sideload ePub files from your Mac and read them on the Nexus; you have to download those files from within the app. I found the ePub-compatible ebook readers for Android that I�ve tried (Moon Reader and Aldiko) to be clumsy.

Apple�s head start in the app arena continues to show. Additionally, some of Apple�s apps�GarageBand and iPhoto in particular�are remarkable. (The iWork apps are pretty good, too.) Google has done really well with information-specific apps that use Google�s services, but in terms of �creation� versus �consumption,� the iPad wins.

The Nexus�s interface seems goofy to me. For example, I�m working on what I believe should be my home screen. I shut down the device and restart it. Now I�m on a different home screen, one that�s cluttered with huge images. When I swipe to the left, Google is pushing recommendations at me. Leave me alone. Let me see a predictable home screen.

And moving files around seems clumsier than with iOS. Apple was on to something when it hid the file system from users. File management is clumsy enough with a mouse, but nested folders on a touch device seems like a step backward. Mostly it doesn�t seem to be through-composed�that there�s no single thought about how users will interact with the thing but rather gimmicks piled on top of a hierarchical file structure. Again, it may be because I�m used to the iTunes/iOS device ecosystem, but the Nexus and Android don�t seem to be as thoroughly cemented.

MP: It�s true to say that Apple�s tablet ecosystem has a wider app selection�and in many cases, better apps, though both sides have a fair amount of garbage in their respective app stores. The trick is finding apps on Android that aren�t just blown up from the phone to the tablet. Find those, however, and you�ll discover many apps that provide a high-quality, satisfying experience.
Google�s own moviemaking app is a work in progress, but it�s a step in the right direction. And in my experience Google�s own Gallery app�with built-in editing, the ability to move files around, and a view of your image�s metadata�is infinitely better and more functional than the Photos app in iOS. Google at least has a straightforward file system, something Apple lacks, and that makes using and manipulating files far easier.

Pricing and value

CB: At $249 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model and $299 for the same model with cellular connectivity (compared with the iPad mini, at $429 and $559 respectively for the 32GB models), the Nexus 7 wins on price. But you make some sacrifices: no rear-facing camera, no LTE, no video-out, a smaller display than on the iPad mini.

MP: I agree, I think the Nexus 7 is the far better value. The difference is still quite clearly in favor of the Nexus 7 when you consider the 16GB models: $199 for the Nexus 7, versus $329 for the iPad mini.

The bottom line

CB: I have both a Nexus 7 and an iPad mini. I pick up the Nexus more often than the mini when I want to read, despite the more confining screen, because I find its display easier on my eyes. For everything else, it�s the iPad mini, largely because it just makes sense, from hardware to software. If the mini had a Retina display, the Nexus would be relegated to the sock drawer.

MP: I find it impossible to recommend the iPad mini, except for two sets of shoppers: people who want an iPad because of the brand�s cachet or those who want one because they�re already committed to the Apple ecosystem, and in both cases want the least-expensive model they can buy.
Otherwise, to me the Nexus 7 is superior to the iPad mini. Its display is better, I can find most of the apps I want or need on Android, and I prefer the open flexibility of the Android ecosystem.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Best laptops available today

Potent portables

Portable Laptop
Portable Laptop

The laptop can be the most used gadget in a person�s tech repertoire. This article for example, is being written on one. There is never a dull moment with a decent laptop. But we aren�t interested in decent, we want the greatest.

This article is all about the Luke Skywalkers of the laptop world. This hardware is the latest and greatest that Cool-Technology has come across. We will be updating this list as soon as something better comes along. The rules are simply that we have to have seen them, either in a review, waiting to be reviewed or as a hands-on.

Best tablet/laptop combo

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga
Windows 8 ushered in the age of the weird laptop design. Decent touch capabilities mean that laptops like the Lenovo Yoga have come into existence. Don�t confuse its backflipping and shape-shifting with a weird gimmick though, as it is genuinely helpful.
Lenovo IdeaPad
Lenovo IdeaPad

The Yoga can be flipped over so it is just a large 13-inch tablet, or the keyboard can be used to make it stand. It can also be used just as a standard laptop would be, but with the added bonus of a touch screen. Throw in a nice selection of colors to choose from and you have a handy, if unusual, laptop package.

Best laptop when out and about

11-inch MacBook Air
The 11-inch MacBook Air weighs 1.08Kg. For a laptop that weighs about the same as a bag of sugar, this is a fully functioning machine. You get all the bells and whistles Mac OS X offers and thanks to Intel�s increasing portable and powerful processors, enough grunt to get through the working day.
MacBoom Air
MacBoom Air
The 11-inch MacBook Air went down an absolute storm at the Cool-Technology offices. This was in part due to just how sturdily put together it is, a big bonus if you are planning on lugging one around in a backpack or briefcase. Really though, Apple has been putting polish on this formula for a while now and as a portable, we find it tough to fault.

Best laptop for gaming

Alienware M17x R4
Nvidia�s mobile graphics cards are now so powerful that the right machine can rival the kind of gaming power a desktop manages. The Alienware is that machine. Specced out with a GTX 680m, you will not find any problems trying to run anything currently available maxed out.
Alienware M17xR4
Alienware M17xR4

The M17�s build quality is also top notch, although its size means it does stretch the definition of the term portable somewhat. We especially like the disco dance floor style keyboard, which has been illuminating our faces in many a dark and dingy gaming session for some time now.

Best laptop for photography

Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display
Apple�s 15-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display is hugely expensive. This is a laptop that only those after something really special should consider. For a photographer though, there really can�t be any other.
15-inch MacBook Pro
15-inch MacBook Pro

The Macbook Pro�s trump card is pretty simple; it has a display with a resolution of 2880 x 1800. This translates to a pixel density of 220 ppi. For a photographer, this kind of resolution means images display much closer to their native resolution. It means you get more detail at a glance and sharper images to work with when zoomed in.

Best laptop for music

HP Envy 14 Spectre
HP�s Envy 14 ships with Beats Audio thrown in. This means you get far more audio grunt than you find on a normal laptop. Bass is also bulked out a lot more, so no tinny sounding tracks.
HP Envy 14 Spectre
HP Envy 14 Spectre

The Spectre 14 doesn�t stop at just beefed up speakers though. A hardware button which acts like a shortcut to the Beats control panel will let you tweak audio like a proper EQ. Then there is a hardare volume scroll and even a dedicated mute button, all things you don�t often see on laptops now, but all great for music fans.

Best budget alternative laptop

Samsung Series 5  Chromebook
A budget laptop is a difficult choice. There are a lot of bargains to be had on websites like eBay and Gumtree, hence why we have gone for something alternative here, should you fancy doing it differently.
Samsung Series 5  Chromebook
Samsung Series 5  Chromebook
Samsung�s Chromebook is the best of what has been a fairly difficult bunch. Chrome OS itself is now a far more complex and featured piece of kit and the laptop can now be had for less than �300 if you look hard enough.

Best laptop for movies

Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A
Asus�s Zenbook Prime is a bit of a movie watching machine. First on the checklist is that top quality Full HD 1080p IPS screen, which is going to make for the best possible movie watching experience.
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A

On top of that though, is a set of Bang and Olufsen designed ICE Power speakers, which will mean you get enough audio grunt to go along with your movies. Asus also hasn�t scrimped on the design front, with the ZenBook Prime being one of our favourite looking laptops available right now.

Best luxury laptop

Munk Bogballe Emerald
If money is no object then there are a few laptops which spring to mind. The top of the line Retina Display MacBook Pro is definitely one of them. However for a really pricey alternative there can only be one victor.
Munk Bogballe Emerald Display MacBook Pro
Munk Bogballe Emerald Display MacBook Pro

The Munk Bogballe Emerald trashes the MacBook in the price department. With a starting price of �5800, the Emerald is easily one of the most expensive laptops we have come across. Why exactly? Because the whole thing is tailor made exactly to your specifications. Calf leather and oil treated mahogany are among some of the materials used to create this incredibly premium piece of kit.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

How to clear recent documents in Fedora 15 or 16?

Fedora Operating System
Fedora Operating System

Linux/Unix is great. It gives us freedom to enjoy all that is free. Yes, but with such freedom there can be headaches and complexities. Like, for instance, simple task such as clearing your recent documents or websites that you visited can be a taunting task on Fedora. However, it is not. I will show you how in this post, "How to clear recent documents in Fedora 15 or 16?"

First, if you are like me who sometimes tend to visit websites or watched "Girls Gone Wild" videos not approved by your wife on your computer, then obviously you wouldn't want anyone to find out especially your nosy wife (LOL).

Girls gone Wild
Girls gone Wild
Because Fedora saves all that you viewed and websites you visited for quick access incase you want to view them again, it would be very easy for others as well to locate these "Recent Items or files." To clear them out, follow the instructions below.

To clear recently visited websites:
Like most of us, if you are using FireFox for surfing the net, then it already has options to prevent it from storing websites you visited in its cache.
  1. Open FireFox program
  2. Go to the menu Edit->Preferences->Privacy Tab
  3. On that tab page, you will see History with pull down option. Click on it and select "Never remember history."
  4. Then, you will also see a link, "Clear all current history." Click on it and a small window will open.
  5. At the very top of that window, you will see a "Time Range to clear:" pull down option. Select "Everything" and click "Clear Now" button in the bottom. Once it completes, it will close and take you back to the previous window, "Privacy tab."
  6. On the Privacy tab, you will also see "Location bar (When using location bar, suggest):" with pull down options. Set it to "Nothing."
  7. Now, Firefox also comes with one more options that you may like. FireFox has "Start Private Browsing" option under Tools menu. Once you set it, nothing will be saved in its cache.
  8. Now you are done.
Now, no matter what you do on your firefox browser, nothing will be saved or shown on the location bar or anywhere revealing your past surfing history.

To clear your recent files, documents or items:
You can do this one of two ways - manually or automatically.

  1. Open your terminal program and execute the following command as you see it below.
    1.  rm ~/.local/share/recently-used.xbel
  2. Once again on your terminal program, execute the following command as you see it below.
    1.   mkdir ~/.local/share/recently-used.xbel
  3.  Then, you are done.

To be able to do the same automatically at certain time interval, you are going to need a program. In this case, the program I use to run tasks on Fedora is called Genome-Schedule. Genome-Schedule lets you execute commands and/or run programs at selected time interval, which can come in handy for situation like this.


First, you need to install Genome-Schedule if you don't have it already. To install, run the following command on your terminal - sudo yum install gnome-schedule.

After it installs, you need to create a script using the above mentioned commands. 
  1. Open gedit and enter these commands one per line.
    1. rm ~/.local/share/recently-used.xbel
    2. mkdir ~/.local/share/recently-used.xbel
  2. Give it whatever name you want and save it as a script file by adding .sh as its extension. sh extension means that it is a script file.
  3. Then, open your Genome-Schedule and create a new task to run by clicking on the new button.
  4. A window will popup asking you to provide information on your task. Enter them as follows.
    1. Task Name: Whatever you want
    3. Next, select Basic for Time and Date to run. Then from the pull down options, select "Every hours."
    4. Then, click on add button in the bottom of that window and you are done.
  5. Close the main Genome-Schedule window. From now on, your script will be run once an hour cleaning your recent files or documents on your computer
That's it. Now, you can rest assured that no one is going to snoop around 
and find out what naughty things you've been doing on your Fedora system or computer. Enjoy browsing or viewing in comfort. :)

Friday, November 30, 2012

iTunes 11 Feature Helps Visually Impaired Redeem Gift Cards

A feature in Apple's iTunes 11 allows you to scan a gift card code using your computer's camera. The feature is particularly intriguing for the blind, visually impaired and for dyslexics. While it may be inconvenient for most people to type the 16 digit code, it is impossible for users who are blind or visually impaired, and can be a struggle for some dyslexics. To use the feature position the gift card in front of the computer's camera. For people with visual impairments VoiceOver, Apple's built in screen reader on your Mac will help you frame the card in the picture. Then iTunes recognizes the code and credits the money to your iTunes account. This feature makes it possible for the blind and visually impaired to easily and independently redeem iTunes gift cards. Maybe this cool scanning feature will make its way to iOS in the near future.

Click read more below to view pictures of the scanning feature in action.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nook App for iOS Updated to Support VoiceOver and Zoom

Great news, the Nook app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch is now accessible to the blind, visually impaired and people with print disabilities. The updated app now supports VoiceOver and Zoom. VoiceOver and Zoom are built in accessibility features in iOS. To learn more about VoiceOver click here. With VoiceOver you can have the book read aloud using text-to-speech. Oddly enough the update makes the Nook app more accessible than current Nooks. Serious kudos to Barns & Noble's for making their app accessible. To download the app for free click here.

Click read more below to view more screenshots.