Friday, March 22, 2013

AT&T 4G LTE service, Windows Phone, and Galaxy Note

AT&T sent phones so I can try their new 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) service now available in my area of Tucson, Arizona...

I did a speed test with the Nokia Lumia 920 (more about the phone below).

I live outside of town where my signal strength is 1 bar out of 5.  Taking that into consideration, a result from showed a download speed of 2.49 Mbps. But a ping measurement of 197 ms indicated a quality of service that can be considered average compared to I wasn't surprised that my upload speed was 0.06 Mbps.

More about ping tests:

This measurement tells how long it takes a "packet" of data to travel from your computer to a server on the Internet and back. Whenever you experience delayed responses in Internet applications - this would be due to a higher than desired ping. Similar to packet loss, lower is better when it comes to ping. A result below 100 ms should be expected from any decent broadband connection.

However, when I was within the city speeds were 3.23 Mbps down, and 1.11 Mbps up!  That's comparable to most internet services and connections I've used.  Nice...


I have never used a Windows Phone...until now.  I've often wondered how good the operating system can be.  It's much, much better than I expected...

The Nokia Lumia 920 was sent to me.  It's available exclusively from AT&T.

The main screen, named "Start", remind me of's like a long roll of information.  Much different than the interfaces for iOS and Android.  A video that demonstrates the interface on a Nokia phone is available at videos can be found at

I connected the phone to my (Windows 7) computer via a USB cable...Windows Explorer launched, and I was able to browse "Windows Phone".  Documents, Music, Pictures, Ringtones, Videos folders existed.

It has 32 GB of internal storage...on my phone 26 GB were free.

I was offered to "Get the Windows Phone app", but didn't because it was described as the "Windows Phone app for desktop (Preview 3)":  in general, I don't install "beta" or "preview" software on the computer I was using.

According to the User Guide:

page 16
"You can use your phone even with gloves on...switch touch sensitivity to High."

page 20
"...You can use your voice to make a call, send a text message, search the web, or open an app..."

("Call", "Find", "Open", "Text", and "Note" are recognized.  "Press" can be used for the numerical keypad.  And "Save speed dial" to have a number available for that feature.)

Bluetooth, Wi-Fi,  and NFC (Near Field Communication) networking are provided.

page 32
"SkyDrive is cloud storage for all your documents and photos, so you can access, share, or restore
them if need be...

"With SkyDrive, you can access your photos, documents, and more from your phone..."

I was able to stream music from my "Music" folder on SkyDrive...but unable to stream a video saved on SkyDrive in the "Videos" folder.

page 77

" you want to listen to or watch on your phone...Use a USB cable to sync music and videos between your phone and computer."

Like iTunes and Google Play, in the Microsoft Store there is a section for apps for Windows Phone.


I found the following app impressive:

"Nokia City Lens is now HERE City Lens giving you an entirely new way to reveal what’s around you. Simply hold up your phone as though taking a photo, and HERE City Lens overlays the best shops, restaurants and points of interest right on your display. Tap a place icon to call ahead or get more information such as hours, reviews and directions. You can even save a place for later or share it with friends. Tilt your phone and HERE City Lens brings up additional view options like list and map views. No more wandering around for a café. No more looking for street signs. With HERE City Lens, you see what’s around you from your point of view..."


AT&T also sent a Samsung GALAXY Note II.  The screen is 5.5-inches (I like "phablets").  The operating system is Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean).

The phone can use a 32 GB microSD card...and maybe a 64 GB card:  check the documentation, the place you intend to purchase your phone from, and Samsung.

I was VERY impressed with the antennae on the phone.  Where I didn't get a great 4G signal with the Nokia, the Galaxy Note gave me a much better connection.

The S Pen is a stylus.  You can use it to capture screenshots, and then write on them.

S Voice allows you to speak and have the phone dial a number, text a message, play music, and other functions.

NFC (Near Field Communication) allows for data to be exchanged when you touch your phone to a compatible device.  S Beam uses this service to send files to other (compatible) devices...

The phones’s mobile data connection ("tethering") can  be shared via USB, or the phone can function as a "hotspot" (Wi-Fi).

There's Bluetooth service.  And a "Multi Window" display allows multiple applications to be on the the same time.


Using SkyDrive on a Window Phone, I created a (Microsoft Word) document.  Using the SkyDrive app from Microsoft on the Galaxy Note, I attempted to edit the file (which has a ".docx" extension) with Polaris Office...Polaris Office came installed on the Galaxy Note:  there were no major incompatibilities, but I was not easily able to delete a comma within the document.

It is my experience that the Microsoft Word Web App is not as "full-featured" as Google Drive:  I was not able to "select all" text in a document...

SkyDrive works better with Windows Phone; Google Drive works better with Android.

A Google Drive app is not available for Windows phones.  Because a SkyDrive app is available for Windows and Android phones, I recommend you only use it  for storage across the two platforms.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Webcam software can cause conflicts

I was using the Logitech Webcam Software (with a Logitech webcam), and was unable to access audio from a microphone plugged into my microphone port.

After various attempts at troubleshooting this issue, and uninstalling other applications I suspected were causing the problem, I noticed in Programs and Features (of Windows 7) a listing for "Advanced Audio FX Engine" from Creative.  I did have Logitech and Creative software installed on the same computer.  It appears that installing the "Live! Central 3" software also installs the "Advanced Audio FX Engine".

My external microphone, which will not work with the Logitech software, will work with the Creative software.

I uninstalled the Creative "Live! Central 3" software.  After being offered the option to restart Windows...I had a hunch I was on my way to resolving the problem.  I restarted the computer, and noticed "Advanced Audio FX Engine" was installed...I uninstalled that...and again was offered the option to restart Windows.

And also now...Sound Recorder is able to record from the external microphone (it would not before I uninstalled the software from Creative).


Monday, March 18, 2013

The 2013 State of the News the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism

“...a news industry that is more undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands...”

...31 percent of respondents said they “have stopped turning to a news outlet because it no longer provided them with the news they were accustomed to getting.”

...local television stations have increased their reliance on three main topics — weather, traffic and sports.

“...there is less in-depth journalism being produced...”

...Segments about weather, traffic and sports ate up 40 percent of local newscasts’ time...even though this kind of information “is now available on demand in a variety of digital platforms”...

Nielsen ratings show that the audiences for local television newscasts in 2012 declined...

...the three major cable news channels...have become more politically oriented...Daytime programs on cable news increasingly resembled prime-time talk shows...


...during last year’s presidential campaign, reporters acted more as megaphones than as investigators of the assertions put forward by the campaigns...

...31 percent have stopped turning to a news outlet because it no longer provided them with the news they were accustomed to getting.

Men have left at somewhat higher rates than women, as have the more highly educated and higher-income earners...

...CNN was the only one of the three big cable news channels to produce more straight reporting than commentary.

...Daytime programming now resembles primetime, with interviews and opinion replacing coverage of live events and breaking news.

Viewership of local TV was down in every key time slot...Local TV remains a top news source for Americans...the percentage who say they watched it yesterday is dropping — and dropping sharply among younger people.

...improved geo-targeting is allowing many national advertisers to turn to Google, Facebook and other large networks to buy ads that once might have gone to local news media.

...of Americans...72 percent get most news from friends and family via word of mouth...


...a news industry that is more undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands...the public is taking notice. Nearly one-third of the respondents (31%) have deserted a news outlet because it no longer provides the news and information they had grown accustomed to.

...The government of Malaysia was recently discovered to have bankrolled propaganda that appeared in several major U.S. outlets under columnists’ bylines.  A number of news organizations, including The Associated Press, recently carried a fake press release about Google that came from a PR distribution site that promises clients it will reach “top media outlets.” And recently, journalist David Cay Johnston in writing about a pitch from one corporate marketer that included a “vacation reward” for running his stories, remarked, “Journalists get lots of pitches like this these days, which is partly a reflection of how the number of journalists has shriveled while the number of publicists has grown”...

...Local TV audiences were down across every key time slot and across all networks...Regular local TV viewership among adults under 30 fell...according to Pew Research survey data...the topics people go there for most—weather and breaking news (and to a lesser extent traffic)—are ripe for replacement by any number of Web- and mobile-based outlets...

Nearly one-third—31%—of people say they have deserted a particular news outlet because it no longer provides the news and information they had grown accustomed to...those most likely to have walked away are better educated, wealthier and older than those who did not—in other words, they are people who tend to be most prone to consume and pay for news.

People who said they had forsaken a news outlet were...older than younger, richer than poorer and Republican or independent rather than Democratic...about one-third of Republicans and independents stopped turning to a news outlet...

...CNN is the only one of the three big cable news channels to produce more straight reporting than commentary over all...

In local television, newscasts in recent years have placed an even greater emphasis on traffic, weather and sports...

With younger people tuning out local newscasts, there is growing concern that local TV news may be facing some of the financial challenges that have already battered the newspaper industry...local TV newscasts seem to be doubling down on sports, traffic and weather...

...analysis of cable...over all, commentary and opinion are far more prevalent on the air throughout the day (63% of the airtime) than straight news reporting (37%). CNN is the only channel to offer more reporting (54%) than opinion (46%)...

The already considerable amount of time devoted to sports, weather and traffic on local newscasts has risen even higher...four in ten of the newscasts examined here led with a weather story.

...The average evening news story package lasted 141...

...several significant areas of local news coverage have diminished.

...there has been significant growth in several other topic areas. The airtime devoted to accidents, disasters and unusual events increased...

...Attention to health and medical issues...At ABC, coverage increased...

...At ABC, where observers have noted a growing tendency to focus in on softer news topics, coverage of lifestyle and celebrity stories grew...Coverage of crime on the network jumped... CBS, which has publicly declared its interest in focusing on more hard news, the coverage of lifestyle and celebrity topics dropped significantly...the least amount of coverage of any of the big three networks.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

review: Pioneer HDJ-2000 headphones

I heard about the Pioneer HDJ-2000 Professional Flagship DJ Headphones that had "construction robust enough to withstand professional use".  Having destroyed many sets of "cans" during, what I consider, "normal" use on-air in radio stations...and as a D.J. in various nightclubs...I had to try them.

After removing them from the box and admiring in a mirror how good I look, and how good they headphones look on me, I noticed they're very..."light".  Yet, they feel sturdy.  And durable.  Per Pioneer, "This minimizes stress on the head..."

The swivel mechanism allows for the earphones to swing out towards the front of your face.  The headphones can also be swung down, around, and they face away from your head.

The audio cable attaches via a Mini XLR connector.  It's a 4-foot coiled cable, that can stretch to approximately 10 feet.  Attached to an end of the cord is a 1/8-inch plug.  A 1/4-inch screw-on adapter is included.

Pioneer states:  "Low-rebound urethane foam is used inside the ear pads and head pad...maintaining comfort with a snug fit even in long sessions..."  They are "snug"...but not obviously noticeably so.  And "closed", meaning noises outside of the headsets are expected to be minimized.  Yet with "clear reproduction of mid to high sound ranges...These headphones are also suitable for professional use in studios."  I concur.

Using various (software program) audio players, I listened to various very high-quality audio files of varied genres (pop, adult contemporary, funk and soul)...because I have various eclectic tastes.  I was able to notice audio artifacts in some songs I had never before been aware of.  The bottoms were clean...and bass lines not muddy (as some headphones can produce).

Should you ever need, or want to have a spare set, replacement ear pads are available for the HDJ-2000 (they are the HDJ-EP01).

A MONO/STEREO switch allows for when you are using only one earphone to monitor...and/or when you need to check the phasing of audio (when the left and right audio have been incorrectly produced).

The HDJ-CA01 Replacement Cord for the HDJ-2000 is available so you can replace a damaged cord, and/or have one as a spare.

The headphones fold and can be place in a bag that is provided for storage and transport...

If you want something with more protection the HDJ-HC01 DJ Headphone Case is designed specifically for the Pioneer HDJ-2000, as well as the HDJ-1500 Professional Headphones.  It has a carabiner (so you can connect the case to a bag or belt loop).  Inside is a pouch for USB drives and SD cards.

The HDJ-2000 headphones are available in silver, black chrome, and white.

I strongly recommend that, before you waste your money on (any) "Beats By Dr. Dre - Beats", "AKG - Quincy Jones Signature Series", or "SMS Audio - STREET by 50 Cent" consider the HDJ-2000:  the HDJ-2000 have more features.

Also, read:  Some Headphones Amplify Celebrities Over Sound


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Player (4.0 takes on the iPod Touch)

You don't need a "smartphone" to get the services and toys available to them.  And, I'm not referring to "tablets" and "e-readers"...

The early devices I became familiar with that allowed for similar features are personal digital assistants (PDAs):  the Sony CLIÉ, Palm TX and LifeDrive, and the like.

A Samsung Galaxy Player 4.0 was sent to me so that I may review it...

One of the first things I experienced is, because of the size of my hands...I wish they had sent the the 5-inch version:  at times my fingers are too big for the small targets of the on-screen keyboard.

Another reason I want the largest of the players is because, to use a memory card with the Player 4.0, I need to remove the back cover of the unit.  The Samsung Galaxy Player 5.0 has a memory card slot on the top of it.

It has an FM radio receiver...but stations are played in mono...and four of them can be presets/favorites.  Wi-Fi capability is also included.

On the back there are two ports for speakers, and the 3.2 megapixel camera.

Based on my experiences with the iPod Touch, the Samsung Galaxy Player is a much better choice for users of Microsoft Windows:  I have never been able to master using Apple's iTunes with (various models of) iPods.  The Galaxy Player uses the Android operating system so the folder storage structure is like Windows.

Recently while riding a bus...I noticed that I was very happy I was using the Galaxy Player 4.0, and not a (7-inch) tablet:  I was seated, with someone sitting next to me...and only had enough room to be able to move my arms to use the Galaxy Player to make a few notes.  If  you use public transportation, I strongly recommend you consider using a Galaxy Player to entertain yourself:  you can read books, magazines, and newspapers on the device.

Other than my notebook computers, I have been using it as my portable communications device:  I installed the Google Voice app and use it to monitor incoming voice messages, and receive and send text messages.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

BEFORE you purchase Microsoft Office...

...look at the information I've collated.


Office Home and Student 2013

    The latest Office applications—Word 2013, Excel 2013, PowerPoint 2013, OneNote 2013
    One user, one PC
    Non-transferable license
    Non-commercial use rights

Office Home and Business 2013

    The latest Office applications—Word 2013, Excel 2013, PowerPoint 2013, Outlook 2013, OneNote 2013
    One user, one PC
    Non-transferable license
    Commercial use rights

Office Professional 2013

    The latest Office applications—Word 2013, Excel 2013, PowerPoint 2013, Outlook 2013, OneNote 2013, Access 2013, Publisher 2013
    One user, one PC
    Non-transferable license
    Commercial use rights

...The Office 2013 software is licensed to one computer for the life of that computer and is non-transferable...

...Microsoft spokesperson Jevon Fark...

"...the Office 2013 software is licensed to one computer for the life of that computer and is non-transferable..."

A single user copy of Office 2013 is licensed to a single machine, not to a single user. Officially: The software license is permanently assigned to the device on which the software is initially activated. That device is the “licensed device”...

...With Office 2013, the retail editions are for one PC, no exceptions.  Your perpetual license is locked to one PC. The new license agreement contains identical language for all three retail editions: “Can I transfer the software to another computer or user? You may not transfer the software to another computer or user. You may transfer the software directly to a third party only as installed on the licensed computer, with the Certificate of Authenticity label and this agreement”...

...With Office 2013, you only get a license for one PC. More than that, the license is tied to that PC -- if your PC dies, for whatever reason, your license expires with it.