Mihaita Bamburic

Manage your passwords, credentials with oneSafe for Windows Phone

OneSafe

The recommended practice for passwords and credentials is to avoid using them in more than one place, and make them extremely difficult to crack. It sounds easy, at first glance. But, as we sign up for an increasing number of accounts, it can prove to be quite a chore to keep track of them all. Ten accounts, for instance, means ten usernames and ten passwords, all distinct.

For this reason, users who wish to store sensitive login information, and have quick access to it, rely on password managers. Such tools are available on all major platforms. They are easy to use and, if needed, can generate more secure passwords than we can come up with (certainly more secure that users' favorites, "123456", "password" or, like it will stop hackers more than the first one, "12345678"). One such offering is oneSafe for Windows Phone. It was just made available as a trial in Store, so let us take a look at it.

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How to assign custom address bar keyword for Google Search query, function

Google Search page March 14 2014

If you repeatedly use Google Search for a certain query, like "breaking news", you have to type in the same thing, every time, in the browser's address bar to get the results. It can quickly get irritating. Luckily, there is a more efficient way to do it -- you can assign a custom keyword.

To give you an example, you can set the combination "bn" to substitute "breaking news". You can then use the keyword instead, to see the respective results. This trick works with various functions Google Search offers, like isolated site queries (triggered by "site:", followed by what you are looking for). It is incredibly useful in day to day usage.

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Nokia Refocus is now available for all Windows Phone 8 Lumias

Nokia Refocus Color Pop

Refocus is one of Nokia's exclusive photography apps for PureView-branded Windows Phone 8 Lumias. Its party trick is shifting the focus point to a different location or showing everything in focus, after snapping the photo. Refocus is akin to the Lytro camera, albeit at a lesser scale.

Like Nokia Camera, which has also launched with a similar availability, Refocus has broken the flagship bond and is now available for the Finnish maker's entire Windows Phone 8 lineup. This opens up the app to much more popular handsets, like the Lumia 520, which make up the bulk of Nokia's Windows Phone sales. The reason for the change is customer feedback.

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Nikon beefs up its mirrorless range with new 1 V3 camera

Nikon 1 V3

Smartphones may be the most popular devices for taking pictures nowadays, but there is still a place for dedicated cameras, which continue to offer superior image quality. For this reason, I, like many other photography enthusiasts, have a DSLR. It may not be small, but it is a pleasure to shoot photos with. But, mirrorless cameras are slowly catching up and may soon prove to be as good as or better than their bigger siblings, with their more pocketable design playing a key part in this.

Nikon's new 1 V3 mirrorless camera, that the Japanese manufacturer unveiled today, is one of the most attractive offerings in its 1 range. Like other, similar bodies, it is quite light, coming in at just 324 grams. And it brings impressive specifications to the table, like a 171 focus point system and 20 FPS shooting rate.

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Fitbit Force recall affects 'about' 1M units

Recall

Activity trackers, also known as fitness bands, are popular wearable devices that are designed, among other purposes, to give users insights into their sleeping habits, the option to track the time and distance they walk and the number of steps they make. In the case of the Fitbit Force, however, activity trackers are also giving users rashes.

Fitbit has officially revealed 1.7 percent of Force users have reported skin irritations, which has led the company to announce a voluntary recall and issue a public apology. In two filings, with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Healthy Canadians agency, the wearables company reveals the extent of the recall -- roughly one million units in US and "about" 28,000 north of the border, in Canada, sold between October 2013 and February 2014.

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Windows XP, 2001 called and it wants you back

Woman Telephone Old Phone Talking

I admit to being utterly, utterly puzzled why some people and businesses choose to keep using Windows XP in 2014. Maybe they have not received the memo it is nearly 13 years old, and terribly outdated. If the operating system was a living being, it would be called a dinosaur. And we are not seeing those alive and kicking in living rooms, offices and ATMs, are we?

I am not going to pull out the security card and trump it as a reason to upgrade. We all know this argument does not resonate with Windows XP users. Instead, they should be looking at the real benefits an upgrade, to let's say Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, will do for them and at what could happen if they choose not to abandon the sinking ship. This is a strategy Microsoft has adopted in a new please-upgrade-from-XP-we-really-want-you-to infographic, aimed at the UK Government.

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Google adds new monetization options for Chrome apps, extensions, and themes

cloud money dollars

Google has announced new monetization options for Chrome Web Store apps, extensions, and themes, giving developers a better chance of generating decent revenue from their offerings. The search giant has also introduced new tools and services that are meant to make it easier to automate the publishing process.

The new available monetization options depend on the type of Chrome software. In the case of themes, developers can only list them as paid. Meanwhile, extensions can also get a free trial, subscription and in-app payments. On top of upfront payments and subscriptions, packaged apps now offer a free trial and in-app payments, in the latest change to the Chrome Web Store.

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iOS 7.1 makes the iPhone 4 run faster

speedo

Apple's policy of updating older iPhones to the latest iOS version has its perks. Users are better protected against security exploits, get access to new features (but not all of them), and Apple can tout low fragmentation levels. However, there is also a downside. Newer iOS releases often make older iPhones sluggish.

I have first-hand experience with this, as my iPhone 3G ran slower after updating it to iOS 4.0, than it did before. The same thing has also happened with the iPhone 4, which Apple had vetted to receive the iOS 7.0 update, even though the mobile operating system was designed to work best with beefier hardware. Luckily, it looks like iOS 7.1, that was released yesterday, attempts to solve this problem, albeit not entirely.

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Microsoft, Samsung 'take a leading role' backing Qi wireless charging

Wireless Charging Smartphone Wall Cable Charger Plate Pad

Qi is one of the most popular wireless charging standards, used by many companies in devices like chargers, speakers, smartphones and tablets. It adds convenience to such products, giving users the option to top up the battery on their handsets without plugging cables into them. I personally use a Qi wireless charger, made by Nokia, with my Lumia 920 and Google Nexus 7.

One of the hurdles Qi has to overcome to become more popular and attractive to consumers is mass-market support from key players, like smartphone vendors and mobile operators, which can dictate which standard they embrace. Qi appears to be on the right track, as it just added Microsoft and Samsung to its growing list of supporters.

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Pre-order an Xperia Z2, get a Sony Bravia TV for free

sony_xperia_z2

Smartphone penetration continues to rise in markets across the globe, as vendors compete to get more attractive devices, at increasingly lower price points, in consumers' hands. Meanwhile, the premium market is becoming a niche, as indicated by the ongoing drop in average selling price. The consumerization of smartphones also means sellers have to get creative, or at least attempt to, to get buyers to shell out a hefty sum.

Mobile operators have bundled smartphones with accessories and other smart devices in order to attract buyers. For instance, my Nokia Lumia 920 came with a free pair of Nokia Purity HD headphones. Now, Vodafone's UK arm is using a similar strategy, giving those who pre-order a Sony Xperia Z2 a free Sony Bravia TV.

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Windows Phone users do crave popular apps, no matter what apologists, fanboys say

Apps Love

Whenever a pundit brings up apps as an irrefutable argument for Windows Phone weaknesses, platform fanboys and apologists quickly point out they could not care less about whatever the Store is then lacking. They may also say that there already are good alternatives available, and major titles -- that are popular on Android and iOS -- are not really that important, when you have live tiles to look at all day. Basically, such an argument is, therefore, a pathetic excuse to bash their beloved platform.

Instagram? "No, thanks, that is for hipsters". Candy Crush? "I do not need that lame game on my Windows Phone as there are better ones available". "Oh, and you are an iPhone/Android fanboy for mentioning this!". You get the gist. But after we get off the comments train, we see that whenever Windows Phone gets a popular app, it quickly rises to the top of the Store. Yes, these users, of which I am proud to be one, do crave major titles, just like everyone else.

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How to create a bootable OS X 10.9 Mavericks USB drive

mavericks

If you do not fancy using the App Store or the built-in recovery mode to download and run the large OS X 10.9 Mavericks setup file, Apple gives you the option to create a bootable USB drive to install the operating system on your Mac. It is fast and works even when there is no Internet connection available.

The process is pretty straightforward, and does not require advanced skills, or downloading a dedicated third-party tool (although I will also explain how to use one, in case you decide or need to go down this road). All you need is an 8 GB USB drive (it can be larger), which you may already have lying around somewhere, and a Mac.

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OS X 10.9 Mavericks to fully support 4K displays in upcoming update

Large Display TV Screen

Even though 4K displays have started to pop out for quite some time now, Apple has been lazy at fully supporting them in OS X 10.9 Mavericks. So when my colleague Brian Fagioli tested the Dell UltraSharp 32 Ultra HD he found that, while Windows 8.1 was able to adequately handle it, Apple's Mac operating system rendered the display "unusable".

The reason for this lies in the display settings made available by the OS. Those only allow folks to choose a lesser resolution like 1080p. Fortunately, that is set to change as Apple is readying an update for OS X 10.9 Mavericks that will soon allow users to take full advantage of what 4K displays have to offer.

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There's finally a great Dropbox client for Windows Phone

CloudSix for Dropbox 2

Windows Phone may be seeing new, popular titles launched in Store, like Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Vine, but the tiled smartphone operating system continues to lack some notable apps. The reason is major developers are still waiting for the platform to gain more traction before committing.

YouTube is absent, but there are a couple of good clients available that nearly make up for it. But, when it comes to Dropbox a decent selection is virtually non-existent. Part of the reason is the cloud storage service is focusing its resources in mobile on Android and iOS, like many other major companies, and (probably the majority of) Windows Phone users are in OneDrive's backyard already, whether they like it or not. But, if they choose to embrace Dropbox now they can turn to CloudSix for Dropbox.

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Jelly Bean, KitKat continue their rise in Android distribution

Businessman rise stairs chalk

Google's Android distribution charts give us a fresh look at adoption trends with each monthly update. In early-March, we see Jelly Bean and KitKat continuing their rise in popularity, while older iterations of the popular open source operating system are on their descending path.

Based on the number of devices accessing the Play store in the seven days ending March 3, KitKat is running on 2.5 percent of monitored Android handsets. Its distribution share is 38.88 percent higher compared to the previous month, when it accounted for 1.8 percent. KitKat will see a stronger uptake once smartphones like the new Samsung Galaxy S4 are released, and vendors upgrade their existing devices to the latest Android iteration.

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