Category: system

A Near & Dear Change.org Petition To Me.

A Near & Dear Change.org Petition To Me.


(c) Can Stock Photo / karimala

Forgive me for being self-serving, but I wanted to bring to the public’s attention the U.S. Government Social Security Regulatory Bylaw to affects disabled people, like myself.  As you will see, on my petition on Change.org, a little, know bylaw that is crippling vital financial support and assistance programs from truly helping disabled people and their families from fully being able to be independent and self-sufficient. Please take a look at the petition and considering signing this vital change to our elected representatives, here in America, and in other nations that have similar misguided laws on their books. Thank You!

Ashampoo Backup Pro 11 Showcase

Ashampoo Backup Pro 11 Showcase

As with any flagship product from the house of Ashampoo, you know that they will always give you the best to offer in whatever they make, and Backup 11 Professional is no exception. The days that have seen dominance from Roxio and Ahead in HDD and disc backup programs have been surpassed by cloud storage models, and more competitive pricing from their competitors. Gone is the time-frame when a backup program suite has to cost $99.99 USD and above, with a lack of full integration in the operating system UX and seamless Windows System Restore compatibility. In addition, hard drive partition formats have moved away from FAT32 and NTFS to advanced 64-bit UEFI/GPT file systems, where very long file names, dedicated restore partitions, and secure boot environments are the basis for 21st Century computing in its second decade of operation. These require new HDD backup solutions, and Ashampoo Backup Pro 11 covers its customers on all of these fronts; for less (especially if you are a prior customer, as you can qualify for significant discounts).

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I do not have to highlight the importance of proper backups and security rollback solutions with mass hacks, password theft, ransomware, and the like splashed all over the front page of news sites, the opening of the evening news, social media posts, etc. People should not pay to have their files decrypted, nor should they trust that the criminals will follow through with their promises to do so. The superior option is to back up your files with Ashampoo Backup 11 Pro, in conjunction with any cloud backup service that you have in usage. This allows you to be able go back to a state of non-infection and/or a snapshot of a baseline image of your system, to always fall back on. While a system backup in of itself cannot decrypt or unlock a ransomware attack (that falls to other security software), it is a vital piece of dealing with these attacks.

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If the prospect of creating, operating, and implementing a backup regimen has been off-putting, now Backup Pro 11 has made improvements to make it more appealing. As O/S environments have changed material design philosophies over the years, and a greater emphasis on human/natural language is at the forefront, win32 (x86) and 64-bit (x64) apps have lagged behind in business software. Ashampoo has come to the rescue, as Backup Pro 11 closely mimics and takes its inspiration from the UX seen in macOS and Windows 10, with the various panels and options seen in the Settings area of those O/S’s. If you can navigate around those areas and computer options, you can easily accomplish this goal.

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One key improvement that operating systems have baked into their fabric is the inclusion of creating recovery media to get back into your system, in the event of a catastrophe. As system builders/manufactures have moved away from including optical drives in their machines. As laptops, and to a lesser extent, desktops have made external HDD drivers, USB flash drives, and dedicated rescue partitions are the contact point for local file access, in place of optical media. The dedicated rescue protocols for the operating systems are designed to update/install/reinstall the operating system alone. With Backup Pro 11, you can not only create a Rescue Medium that takes care of the operating system, as well as additional programs and data support for key things you need to get back in operation.  The process is just as easy as making the operating system versions, but more full-featured and inclusive.

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Bottom-line, you need a backup solution to deal with these pressing threats, and you will be very hard pressed to find a better one than this fine program. If you have never bought an Ashampoo Backup Pro program before, it will set you back $49.99 USD. As I mentioned before, the upgrade price is only $19.99 USD; a deal at any bargain. No different than Ashampoo’s other programs, a demo version is available for trying out the features to see what you need, before you buy it.  Once you join in on this program, you will stick around. Until next time, keep on techin’ . . .

Ashampoo Burning Studio 18 In-Depth Review:

Ashampoo Burning Studio 18 In-Depth Review:

You may recall that I reviewed the flagship burning suite from Ashampoo, called Burning Suite 16, not too long ago. Now they have released the updated replacement, entitled Burning Studio 18, and it is packed with nice features and improved functions. Everything that you loved from the prior entry is here, only better, and easier to use. Now, let’s get into the details, and see what is on offer.

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If you are like me, you enjoy listening to your tunes, when you are out and about. This extends to traveling in the car, and this time of the year, singing along with Christmas music. Many newer automotive makers have vehicle product lines have A/V smart radio receivers are factory installed. This is nice to have, without adding an after-market unit, but it comes with some hurdles. Many different radios can only playback certain file formats, while excluding others from the list.

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Burning Studio 18 has a sure-fire way to make it possible to make a disc that will be compatible for whatever device is in the car, and playback is a breeze. The program is designed to allow you to select from numerous presets for radios/playback devices that take the guesswork out of this process, an excellent program feature for 21st Century music disc authoring. This is a must-have feature for disc authoring of today’s digital music.

People this time of year make numerous photos, video, and memories of the holiday festivities. When they sit down to compile the images into a cohesive whole, and lay out albums, it can be overwhelming and in disarray as to how best to present them to the group. Many have elected to turn them into slideshows and add in music and transitions, so they can be shown on the computer and/or TV.

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Since the release of Burning Studio 18, this excellent program has added the support for MPEG-4 H.264/AAC audio-video file formats. This allows you to create state-of-the-art HD videos that give you the sheen of a Hollywood production, yet star you and your friends and family. Now when you add transitions and sound effects, you will how numerous ways to make your memories sparkle.

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Data breaches and e-mail scandals make the headlines, it seems weekly. From the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government, and the recent election fiasco, on down to local government office being ransomed by hackers, to ordinary people getting their personal computers locked out, unless Bitcoin is paid for its release. Now, more than ever, people need solid, controlled environments to backup and secure their data for these and other reasons. Burning Studio 18, and the stable of single and multi-span volume backups/archives. Knowing that you can put your trust in this program, and know that if the worse happens, you can get your data (and to a certain extent, your life) back. This cannot be understated and brushed aside, as a core feature for burning software.

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These are but a few, key features that have been added and/or improved with this edition of the software. I know that if you try this version, you will be very happy with these changes. If you act now (December 2016), you will find that many of Ashampoo’s products are on sale, with significant discounts to be had. As always, the trial version of the program will allow you try it out for yourself. Until next time, Merry Christmas and keep on techin’ . . .

Tenorshare UltData In-Depth Review

Tenorshare UltData In-Depth Review

Our day-to-day lives depend on mobile technology more and more. Our phones are the epicenter of our data, photos, apps, movies, music, etc. With so much invested in these devices, a reliable and dependable resource management system needs to be in place, so you can get to this critical information when your device is inaccessible and is possibly broken or physically damaged. The recovery options for iOS devices has grown for both Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh Operation System(s), in regards to programs and utilities that accomplish this task for average users.

Of the options available, a highly-rated program has risen through the ranks, Tenorshare’s UltData.

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This fine program has you covered, not matter what issue is preventing you from getting into your iDevice, and its key information. No matter if you have dropped your device, and broke it, hung on the boot-up logo, accidental deletion, and many other issues, it can get it back for you. It accomplishes this in one of three ways: retrieval from you iCloud account, restoring from you iTunes Backup, or even directly from you iDevice. Each has their advantages and uses, and which one you ever choose; you will be pleased with the results.

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As someone, who has an old iPhone 4, from 2010, I can tell you that being able to access critical data that has been invaluable is getting back restored photos and notes, along with app data backups. In having an older device, I have not been able to use iTunes to do backup/syncs, without causing errors and problems. Now having an option to use UltData to get these files either from my device or from iCloud, I can feel a peace of mind, in knowing that my information is not too far out of reach.

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Once you initialize the backup sequence, it is well organized and easy to see what is available for recovery. You can easily see your call history, photos, and texts, in real-time, so you can only restore that stuff you want, and not bring back things you do not need, or no longer require. Whatever you recover from your device, you can take those, and re-sync them back into your device to use them, going forward.

 

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In trying to preserve my digital life, recorded on my iPhone and iPad, which covers my entire married life, having software that will help me use my data to migrate to a set of newer iDevices (which I am hopeful that I can acquire sometimes this year), will make this dicey proposition possible, with a safety net. I use my mobile devices, and their features to keep my life focused and on-track. Any prospects of losing this critical information that I cannot get back is something I want to prevent, and having tools, such as Tenorshare makes is a much less probably outcome.

 

Tenorshare_logoYou may be asking yourself, why I should choose UltData for my iOS device recovery options, over other options on the market. The answer is many reasons (some which I have already cited). One standout that you, my readers may find important and treasure for your peace of mind, is that Tenorshare is an award-winning company, with UltData  winning 2016 Golden Award from TopTenReviews.com. This is a nice, prestigious award to win from a reputable software review site, and further highlights the advantages that this software offers your iOS devices, whether or not your computer runs on Windows or Mac.

The entry cost for this peace of mind and tool-set is very reasonable, and scalable, based upon your needs as an individual, family, or if you have an organization or commercial enterprise that would require vast number of device support numbers. The starting tier is a 1-yr. Subscription, which runs $83.95 USD, and includes a license for one computer, one year support and one year of upgrades. The second tier is the Family Pack, $139.95 USD, and is a license for 2-5 computers, lifetime usage, lifetime support, and lifetime upgrades. The top-tier of licenses is the Unlimited License, which runs $699.95 USD and that is unlimited devices, support, and upgrades, and the best value across the board. If you act right now, they are running a 40% off sale that slashes the prices drastically, but only for a very, short time (the sale ends on 07/11/16). As is usually the case, most software I review has a demo/trial version that you can try, risk-free.

If you have ever had an iDevice that has failed on you, you can be sure that this program can give you the best chance to get your data back. I know that once you try this software, you will be hooked on keeping your data safeguarded with the umbrella of programs from Tenorshare; do not forget to tell them that I sent you. As always, keep on techin’!

Product Review: Squirrels Reflector 2 In-Depth:

Product Review: Squirrels Reflector 2 In-Depth:

In the multi-device connected world, in which we live, we have the need of the usage of tablets, smartphones, and mobile devices, crossing over with our desktops and laptops; all requiring those to display our content in various screens simultaneously. Options to do this, particularly on the Windows PC side, are few and far between, and this is especially the case, if you are operating a non-jail-broken tablet or smartphone that run iOS operating system. I was unsure how to undertake this task, until I discovered Squirrels, and Reflector 2.reflector-2-1

In my travels and tech tasks, I have found myself in needing to show my smart device’s screen, its apps, and even the audio feed. The best way to access these elements strives from the AirPlay wireless standard, created by Apple, which allows each of their modern technology devices communicate with one another seamlessly and without much fuss. When you migrate over to devices not made by Apple and/or do not run on their proprietary operating system, you run into problems. Many manufactures have come onto the marketplace, and now create accessories and products that work for these devices, but the emphasis is on apps and other hardware accessories, rather than making these devices have AirPlay support for Microsoft Windows.

In discovering Squirrel, and their stable of software titles, I have found the solution to this conundrum. The first part I reviewed last time, AirParrot 2, allows you to transmit from one PC to other PC’s or devices. Its companion/counterpart, Reflector 2, allows your PC to receive signals from other PC’s, and for the focus of this piece, iOS screen capture and mirroring.

I want to stress at the onset of this article, the capabilities to receive other PC’s video/audio signals are quite strong and very versatile. I have had the usage of this functionality in several situations, but what I want to share with you/explore with you is how easy it is to link your computer to your smartphone/tablet, and share that synergy to great effect. I know that you will come to see how vital this will be to your digital life, whether or not you have a disability.3

One usage of this screen mirroring can be streaming or watching games on your PC or home theater system, broadcast from your mobile device. I am fortunate that I have a dedicated streaming device for watching media outlets (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, etc.), but many people do not have such a piece of hardware, and having a software solution that natively supports either Android Google Play or Apple AirPlay standards can allow them to accomplish this task. Trying to watch a small screen is fine for being on the go, but if you want to watch things as a group or media that is more easily understood in a larger scale, using a casting protocol or software applet is the way to proceed. I can see value in this great feature.

If you have a need to control the reception of data gathered by Reflector 2, there are a couple of companion apps that allow for remote control for both corporate and educational environments. The apps in question are called, Reflector Director and Reflector Student. Each of these can be used to either allow collaborative learning in corporate settings or between students in the classroom.reflector-2-2

It is quite nice to share your screen, and watch live, in real-time. However, being able to record what is shared is a vital way to dissipate your information and share your presentations in the cloud, via sites such as YouTube. Thankfully, Reflector 2 has such support built-in, where you can broadcast yourself on the stream, and allows you to also show a mirrored device, integrated into your presentation. You can show yourself, move to a mirrored device in your stream, back to you; all while uploading the video to YouTube Live. I have yet to use this, but in the future, I might move to video reviews, instead of typed ones, that I have been using from day one on my blog.

Bottom line, if you need to seamlessly embed your smart device into your desktop/stream casting device, you need this program. This used in conjunction with AirParrot 2, makes a complete ecosystem for broadcasting and receiving smart device into desktop/laptop environments. The nice thing is that this program can be had for as little as $14.99 USD/computer. If you need a multi-user/multi-device license model, those are available as well. I know that if you try this, you will jump and buy this with no hesitation. They offer their software for Windows and Mac, so the two major platforms for desktops/laptops are supported, along with Android and iOS for mobile devices. You owe it to yourself to have this at your disposal. As always, keep on techin’ . . .

Showcase: Squirrels AirParrot 2

Showcase: Squirrels AirParrot 2

While multi-monitor PC setups are much more common place today, than ten to fifteen years ago, there are still occasions where you need to mirror your desktop/apps/presentations to other screens. Many times these situations also involve technology layouts, which do not have additional screens attached to the host machine or are at various resolutions that do not show the content in the proper aspect ratios between displays. This also functions as a cost-savings solution, if additional display hardware is out of the question, in both price and space consideration.

In my time as a computer Tier-II field technician, I have been in situations, where I needed to have my screen be transmitted to a second computer for diagnostic purposes and/or teaching my fellow tech trainees. If I had become aware that a budget-minded program existed, and it had companion reception programs that worked seamlessly with minimal fuss; I would have sought it out, and obtained it. What would me search have turned up? The answer is the excellent screen transmitting program from Squirrels, called AirParrot 2.airparrot-2-grey-g2-side-2

In my disabled state, as a hobbyist blogger/advocate for my community, my potential usages for this program has changed from my technician days, it still serves a vital purpose for me, and my blog, and even my family. You may ask, what sort of real-world application I could offer you to highlight this new usage of this program to make it worth the price of the program.  My answer is my ability to screen share streaming video services between my wife and myself, so we can watch programs together, even if we are not sitting next to each other.

My wife and I enjoy watching shows, such as Fargo on Hulu, and many times I am on my desktop, and she is working on her laptop. In these situations, we want to connect over a mutually-loved program and bond, yet we have to keep to using headphones (we can be night owls, so we do not want to disturb our neighbors), and in our room/work area we do not have space to work side-by-side. Having AirParrot 2 (the transmitting program that I have installed on my machine) and the companion receiver program, Reflector 2, that takes the source signal and displays this on the second machine/screen (fear not, I will review this program separately, and highlight some of its unique features then).

airparrot_2_popup_menuIn the aforementioned scenario, I can tweak the settings to make sure that the streamed video signal, over WI-FI runs smoothly and clearly Since my wife’s laptop is not nearly as powerful as my desktop tower, so I tend to set the video to run at 720p, with medium to lower quality to make it smooth and run full screen on the destination machine. This is very effective for video streaming, via the web interface, rather than the dedicated applet in Windows.

Besides this usage, you can just stream audio feeds, if you need to only share what is being heard from a video/app or a dedicated audio feed. You can also just share a specified app/program, rather than the entire desktop, if you choose to do so. Bottom line, this program is very versatile and easy to use program, and works well by itself or with its companion apps and programs.

You may ask what does this program cost, and the answer is a very, nice $12.99 USD, and that is for a single-license on either Mac or Windows. If you need more than one device/computer, they have the 5-Pack, which works on both PC and Mac, and costs $60.00 USD. In my opinion this is the best value, as this allows you use the license(s) back and forth on various platforms, and save 8% over the single-user license cost/unit. If you might need to use this program in a commercial environment or educational setting, they offer pricing quotes, especially if you will need twenty or more licenses for these purposes. No matter which level you pick, you can rest assured that you will be satisfied and very happy with your purchases. If you stop by and check them out, tell them I sent you, and that you are interested in snagging this program. As always, until next time, keep on techin’. . .airparrot-2-grey-g2-side

Incomedia WebSite X5 Evolution 13 Review

Incomedia WebSite X5 Evolution 13 Review

A few months back, I brought to your attention the nice, development-ready platform, Incomedia WebSite X5 Evolution 12, and with the programs stable of site design tools, layouts, and templates. Fast forward to this month (October 2016), and you have the updated release of this fine suite, entitled WebSite X5 Evolution 13. Included with this update, is a bevy of new templates, stock images, graphic libraries, eCommerce site tools, social media buttons/applets, and so much more. You may wonder do these new features warrant the upgrade price. Let’s go through the process, and see what is on offer, and what is best for each type of user.websitex5_800px

If you are someone, like myself, and have your own blog site, having the new tools, such as a large stock royalty-free image library (now numbering at 700,000 images), is a blessing, as I can use the images to augment my posts, with demonstration images, along with the licensed images of the products that I review. I do not have a budget to purchase images/logos/design vector images, as a hobbyist blogger, but now I can choose from the built-in libraries to find what I need for future posts.

pro_en_xlAnother element of this update is enhanced eCommerce tools, with strong-level integration with payment processing gateways that work with your online storefront, which allows you to take a nice range of credit cards that you can accept. I do not have a need of this type of site tools, but my wife does run an online store, where she sells her artwork and hopefully, someday her books and instructional materials. I plan to introduce these, new financial purchasing tools to her, so she can incorporate this into her payment structure, to help cut out the “middleman” and reduce her cost overhead in processing fees.

incomedia-website-x5-product-specificationsMy blog audience and exposure is intrinsically tied to my social media profile. I have been able to contact numerous companies, their representatives, and vested individuals, who want to support my cause of raising awareness for the disabled and technology. One day that I do that, on a day-to-day basis is my contacting companies, through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other media outlets. On top of that, I enter numerous contests with many groups, and disseminate those promotional activities, through these social channels, so you, my readers can take advantage of these along with me.

If, and when I can move to a dedicate domain site, I hope to add these built-in plugins and social buttons from Incomedia’s WebSite X5 13. I want to do this to streamline this process, and make it possible for you interface directly with me, on my site, auto re-post my content to multiple social media channels, and maybe have future giveaways with these features, down the line. Having an integrated social media system will make my portfolio of content much more cohesive entity, and centralized that is currently capable.

incomedia_website_x5_logo_redI could go on and on, in hashing out the new features, but the best service that I can do for you is to tell you the three tiers that this software come in, and their price points. The starting tier is WebSite X5 Start 13, which includes 25 pages to make/manage, 50 templates, and the ability to make sites for desktop computers. This only cost $19.99 USD; nice budget-conscious price point that allows you to utilize this software much more than what a trial can offer you. The next tier is WebSite X5 Evolution 13, which is what I need for my projects/sites, and the one I recommend for the majority of people, who need web page design software. The cost of this is $79.00 USD, and has many, many more features, templates, pages to manage, and the ability to offer online storefronts. The top-tier of this product family is WebSite X5 13 Professional that has all of the aforementioned features, options, and a full-featured eCommerce suite that supports storefronts, payment systems, registration of users, and an inventory system, second to none. These wide –ranging feature set comes at a higher price than the other tiers, but considering what you get for the price (being able to use a license on up to two machines) the cost of $199.00 USD is a great buy!

logo_800px-blackIf you have ever had the pleasure to interact with Incomedia, whether as a customer, a potential customer, or someone who has some questions to make a decision or solve an issue, you know they stand behind what they publish/sell. This should give you peace of mind, in deciding to either upgrade to the new version/tier or become a new customer for the first time. Whatever you choose, I can tell you that you will never be disappointed that you considered Incomedia, and their products. As always keep on techin’. . .

Product Review: Steganos Privacy Suite 18 In-Depth

Product Review: Steganos Privacy Suite 18 In-Depth

A constant theme and topic of discussion is the arena of Internet security, and its impact and reach in 21st. Century society. Ever since the dawning of this new century, and the advent of global terrorism attacks, the question of intelligence gathering has become the forefront focal point law enforcement, and the importance it plays in prevention of such vile attacks. While it is a vital component to investigation techniques to gather electronic intelligence, the risk/reward balance of intruding on innocent citizens and foreign nationals means that personal vigilance and self-policing should be the correct approach to this problem. As we wrestle with the best ways to navigate through this ethical maze, each of us must undertake a sense of personal vigilance and vanguard to safeguard our personal information and vital identity documents, for ourselves.

A recent changing of the guard has occurred, as the control of the U.S. Internet DNS registry passed from the Federal government to the ICANN organization (a multi-national organization that works across borders, companies, and governments, to establish web standards, DNS indices, and support WC3 committee); a twenty year process that was just completed last week. While uses of the web will see little, surface changes in their day-to-day life; having a decentralized governing body might make a more fluid level of privacy oversight and protection. Such developments make it a greater concern that one must “mind there, own store,” and keep prying eyes and ears away from your sensitive data. What is something that you can do to accomplish this task, you may ask. The answers can be found in the pages of this blog, and this fine article.

Various tools and apps I have brought forward to you, my readers, over the last, few years, have been in this vein of personal Internet security, and today, I have another fine addition to bring your attention, Steganos Privacy Suite 18. This multitasking suite allows its users to cover their various “digital fingerprints/footprints” in nine tools; each with its focus on how your information interfaces with the wider world, and the global Internet. Each application contained inside of the main program has such specialized usage and systematic layouts that you should find it easy in getting this program configured with minimal effort. Each tool will make sure that what you share on the web is safe, acceptable, and only what you want to share, and not what Big Brother may want you to share online.

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Confidentiality is a rare commodity in these digitally-pervasive times; where the personal, intimate details of a person’s life, property, financial, and occupational records can be raided with easy aplomb. Numerous data hacks, leaks, and DDoS attacks have laid bare individuals and celebrities’ information that has led to identify theft, public shaming/embarrassment, and cost people millions, if not billions of dollars in losses.  What can a person do to protect themselves from such risks? The answer, as you probably guessed from my articles and many other’s is a multi-faceted approach to personal Internet security.

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A piece of the puzzle is the use of a secured data storage area. Having a dedicated area, walled off from general access makes the contents difficult to hack into or access, remotely without express permission. It also has the added benefit of keeping people from snooping on your private data, at the local level, too.  The ease of use that Steganos Privacy Suite 18 provides is very intuitive and easy to establish. All you have to do is choose a location, size, and once generated, set a password to lock/unlock the area, and began to transfer/use the area for sensitive data/information. I cannot stress how important it should be for you to utilize such a storage solution if you want a nice peace of mind, and knowledge that what you put inside this region of your system is secure.

Having a dedicated space for locking down your files is an important step, but that alone is not sufficient to occlude your vital information from nefarious entities. You must also take additional steps, one which includes cryptography of individual files. Steganos has you covered in this area, as well. Their Privacy Suite 18 has a module, called Crypt & Hide, that allows you to add files/folders, and text into a secured, password-protected file. In doing so, you can restrict access to its contents from parties that you do not want to get their hands on it. The uses of such a security measure can be utilized alone and/or in conjunction with other encryption-level applications and certificate exchange services (e.g. OpenPGP).

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As recent news and technology has shown us, on a global scale, being able to encode our files in a secure container format and transmit them across the web, via e-mail, cloud storage, or CDN site hosting; in a manner that cannot be easily eavesdropped on or waylaid in route. Only be encrypting your files, can you add the technological protections needed to maintain a sense of privacy and autonomy. Sending/storing the file unencrypted is just asking for trouble, so do not make that mistake, and use the Crypt & Hide module from Steganos Privacy Suite 18.

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I could elaborate on the several, other modules, but from what you have already seen, I am sure that you will agree that what this security suite has to offer is more than the price of admission. The cost of this fine program is $59.99 USD, and they offer a free 30-day trial, so you can test out the program, and see if it meets your needs. This fine company stands behind what they produce and sell, so you know that your satisfaction will be attended to by these professionals. I know that once you try this great, spectrum-spanning array of security tools, you will only say one thing, “I will take it!”Until next time, keep on techin’. . .

Disconnect VPN – Privacy Pro 1.13 In-Depth Review:

Disconnect VPN – Privacy Pro 1.13 In-Depth Review:

My readership knows how much I treasure privacy and security, with growing concerns that gain strength, with more revelations that governments, corporations, and hacktivist groups are tracking our movements, week after week. This occurs many times, without our express, implicit, permission or legal presidents that justify such surveillance. I highlight companies that help the honest citizen, fight back against such invasive and overreaching practices. One such company that is fighting the good fight is Disconnect, a heralded Virtual Private Network Provider (VPN).

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For those of my readership, who have nominal knowledge and experience with VPN services, I can assure you the process is very hassle-free with Disconnect, and their service platforms (extensions, plugins, apps, etc.). The instructions are very straightforward and require basic software operation skills for PC, tablets, and smartphones. The value proposition inherent in using a service like this is weighed carefully, and once you see the benefits, I am sure that you will find the price point a solid bargain.

disconnect_logoOne, key way of analyzing how this might be helpful to you, and worth the cost can be seen in the gains that you make in data consumption. In looking at the benefits of having ads, tracking protocols, and other data-gobbling data filtered out of your connection, (via VPN) will not only give you peace of mind, but also better speed utilization and greater privacy that using a direct connection to the web. In prior articles that I have written, along with a cacophony of other tech insiders, who have documented and well cited the fact that every piece of data that comes in the down-link can both eat up any caps on monthly transmission limits, but also clog the storage and memory usage of the receiving devices. This is particularly true of mobile smart devices and hotspots, as most provides give you limited and/or throttled data thresholds/month; such devices also have limited storage/memory capacity (usually stated in GB’s).

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On top of this nuisance/menace potentiality, malware has become a greater threat, as the “black hats” have undertaken making phishing/impostors apps that mimic and steal vital information from unsuspecting customers. One way that such nefarious programs get onto devices is through bogus websites/tracking telemetry. With Disconnect protecting you web-enabled computers and mobile devices, this risk is greatly decreased and said sources will have a more difficult time getting to your identity and personal information. With breaches at some of the largest tech companies in the world, where people’s info was stolen with legitimate apps, it is vitally important to make sure the bogus one’s do not get through.

disconnect_scree_capture01 Another excellent benefit of having a VPN is the ability to circumvent Geo-fencing, or the practice of restricting Internet access, based on your location. While in the nation of the United States of America (where I live), we still have a U.S. Constitutional First Amendment that guarantees us freedom of speech, but in many parts of the world, that is not the case. Having access to a VPN allows the user’s of that network service the anonymity to get redacted information and share details of the inner workings of oppressive regimes. A secondary benefit of a Geo-fencing masking IP is the ability to set/show your location as another region on the world, to enjoy content is available to that part of the world, alone. This must be done, under the auspices of acceptable terms of use of any web services one may be subscribed to as a member.disconnect_screen_capture_smartphone01

You may be asking what does a comprehensive VPN service cost to use. The answer may surprise you, as the cost has a range of prices to choose from, starting at Free (Basic – Protect One Browser, Block Trackers, and Search Privately), $40.00 USD (Pro –Block Trackers & Malware across the entire system, with a 44% speed increase in performance, 39% less bandwidth consumption, and longer battery life (if applicable), and $50.00 USD/yr.- 3 Devices (Premium – Pro privacy and performance, secure WI-FI, and full location masking with the VPN). In addition to these levels of coverage, they have a one-time purchase that offers a VPN module for iOS, called Privacy Pro. The cost of this app is $29.99 USD, and grants the user of an iDevice a nice amount of privacy protection and tracking protection, via a VPN configuration plugin for the operating system. All together, each of these work well in conjunction with each other and make a fine addition to one’s security protection plan. All in all, this is a nice company and nice products to help keep your life, data, and online activity, private. Tell them I sent you, and keep on techin’!

Ashampoo Home Designer Pro 3.30 In-Depth Review

Ashampoo Home Designer Pro 3.30 In-Depth Review

Many people were not very aware of housing and building constraints that affect the disabled, or the modifications they need to be independent, until war, and its effects were put on the world stage, in the early 2000’s. This is getting more exposure, due to many returning home veterans from these recent wars/conflicts, and the help they get from various charitable and government entities. While a tragic by-product of combat, our connected world now has seen that those who have injuries (which modify how they can interact with cabinets, doors, hallways, bathrooms, etc.) need specialized housing, equipment, and accessibility devices. These brave men and women deserve our consideration and help in either obtaining or modifying their homes, so they can remain independent and further support and care for their families, within their homes. They embody how those with disabilities reflect the respect that they disabled deserved, and need to be accommodating to those, who are not as able-bodied as themselves.

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It is a dream of many people to own their own home, especially if they could design it, to their specifications. This is very near and dear to the hearts of the disabled, as well. While many people dream of palatial estates, with numerous stories, diverse rooms, and sprawling grounds; the disabled many times just want rooms that allow them get into them without getting stuck on thresholds, wide enough for their wheelchairs to pass through, cabinets that can be reached from a low position, tubs/showers that do not have to stepped into over lips, etc. These desires are not just for plush comfort, but rather to allow those who are disabled, to be independent and not have to depend on others to fetch their food, bathe them, nor take them room to room. Many times, people do not have someone to be their caregiver, around the clock, so blueprints and architectural drawings that are used for buildings should keep this in mind.

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Having these improvements and design plans should be required, so residences and commercial buildings could be used interchangeably, without costly renovations. Sadly, building codes and typical floor-plans are not made, with these considerations, except in the case of government buildings and commercial structures. Even so, many times, I can tell you, firsthand, the door clearances, thresholds, and traffic flow is not up to the task for easy access, for those in manual wheelchairs.

 

The fine folks at Ashampoo have created a suite of CAD software programs that get thus done, the primary program is called Ashampoo Home Designer 3 Pro. In starting this project, I can tell you that I was overwhelmed and felt ill qualified to design a residence (even with my design background), but the wizard and furnishings that the program provides more than makes up for this apprehensions. Most importantly, these tools can help you brainstorm ideas that you want to incorporate into your dream home, and need for your specific needs. Using the systematic wizard will allow you to set some key parameters, such as your number of floors, basic materials used, and giving your project a rough outline for it to take shape; naming your dream structure will help you make a reality of your goals and dreams tangible.

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If you are need of ideas or basic structures, the program ships with numerous structure and fixture samples. This virtual portfolio will give you a strong sense of going into an architectural firm or design center, and just window shopping or going for your initial consultation; laying the groundwork for how your home can look. I would advise you to choose several different “modal” homes, and use the mouse/keyboard controls to walk through them to better know what actual space you need, and what amenities that you need to properly accommodate your needs, both now and as you and your love ones age. Of note to consider in conjunction with this is to see how your choices in materials, location, and size will be affected by natural light/heat, so you can get an accurate estimate of how much energy consumption the structure might need. This could very well change, as more specialized adaptive devices (rechargeable scooters, lift chairs, stairway lifts, respiration devices/C-PAP machines, etc.) might require additional power and redundant systems to be put in place, and brought online.

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This software is very scalable, with an emphasis on interior designers and architects, but it does offer ideas for the laymen and the intermediate DIY’s alike. Ashampoo believes in this fact so much, they recently had a giveaway version for Home Designer 2.0, to give people a taste of what this program can offer you. If you missed this opportunity, you can still try out their excellent demo version of this program. The retail price for this program is $49.99 USD, and is an excellent value for the money. ashampoo_company_logo01If you need additional options and added fixtures, they have a companion program, called Ashampoo Kitchen Catalog Extension that plugs into this program. I know that once you try this program, and dream about having a universal access home, you will pick up Ashampoo Home Designer 3 without hesitation. As always tell them I sent you, and keep on techin’!