If you don’t want someone else to see your work while you’re away from your desk, then it can be important to lock your screen — all of your applications and documents will stay intact, but will be password protected until your arrive back to work. Read on to learn about two ways to lock your Mac’s screen.
You can have your Mac automatically protect your privacy by navigating to System Preferences Security Privacy, and checking the box beside “Require password after sleep or screen saver begins.” You can then use the drop-down menu to select a time.
Once the time has elapsed, you will be taken to a login screen where you must enter your password to view the screen. This is nifty if you leave your desk and often forget to lock your screen.
Lock Me Now [Mac App Store Link] is free in the Mac App Store. It lets you quickly and easily lock your Mac’s screen, and set a keyboard shortcut.
Once installed, a small lock will appear in the menu bar. Click it and select “Lock” to have your Mac use the fast user switching method of displaying the OS X login screen. This will display the login screen while keeping your opened applications and documents intact. Just log back in to see your stuff just as you left it.
You can visit the Lock Me Now preferences to set a keyboard shortcut for the Lock. When you type use the shortcut, your will instantly be taken to the login screen.
Cory Bohon is a freelance technology writer, indie Mac and iOS developer, and amateur photographer. Follow Cory on Twitter.
For a few years every hot new hero phone that hit the market was dubbed “iPhone killer” and lavished with link-bait praise for a week or so, until users hit usability walls, and the link-baiters were on to the next, hot new “iPhone killer”.
Nothing killed the iPhone, of course. It couldn’t be killed. It wasn’t only a smart phone, it was a great phone that was smartly conceived and executed.
Nothing makes that more clear that the fact that it’s gone on to sell more in each incarnation than all incarnations before, and it’s spread from a single U.S. carrier, ATT, to become the best selling device on all 3 of the major U.S. carriers, including Verizon and Sprint. (And to be blamed for the misfortunes of the 4th largest, T-Mobile, the only major carrier without an iPhone in their lineup.)
Gimmicks like screens-as-buttons, sliding keyboards, Adobe Flash support, “openy” ecosystems, etc. didn’t work. Not for the BlackBerry Storm or the Palm Pre or any individual Nexus or Droids. Competing based on feature lists and spec sheets, in any form, didn’t work.
So now we’re on to the “Pepsi challenge” phase of counter-programming. It’s a classic bit, where you define the terms of the comparison to get the result you need. Pepsi is sweeter so in small amounts, like taste tests, more people will choose it. You put a sprinter in a marathon, or vice versa, and you pretty much know how it will net out.
Samsung is the obvious place to start. They’re absolutely the smartest of Apple’s competitors at the moment. They realized there would be a market for people who wanted an iPhone or iPad, but not from Apple, or not running iOS. So they made their products look as close to iPhones and iPads as possible, and made as many of them as possible to fit that segment. Too many, perhaps. (Motorola, who makes decidedly not-iPhones that are also not-iPhone looking, hasn’t fared as well in the market.)
The latest Samsung commercial, for the Galaxy Note, puts it head-to-head in challenges against a hapless iPhone user who sadly, doesn’t seem to have an app handy for any of that.
The Galaxy Note has a huge screen with a stylus, and comes packaged with software to support just the kind of map-annotating, head-cutting-off tasks requested by the host. (You can download apps and buy a stylus for the iPhone, but the average user probably won’t have either immediately available.)
Microsoft’s recent “Smoked by Windows Phone” series is similar.
Windows Phone has excellent Facebook integration (and damn fine camera software); iPhone has none. You can get a Facebook app but the iPhone’s built-in social sharing options are limited to Twitter (and iMessage if you want to count that).
Both of these campaigns are designed to get potential Apple customers to at least consider getting something other than the iPhone. To try Pepsi instead of buying coke by default. They’re not aimed at Apple Store shoppers — you can’t buy and Android or Windows Phone there — but carrier store and big box store shoppers, who they’re hoping will at least consider alternatives before walking out with an iPhone.
And that’s an important battle for individual Android device makers, and Windows Phone in general to make. Especially as they increasingly battle each other for unit share.
While Android collectively is the market leader, there are so many Android devices on the market that it’s hard for any individual one to stand out, or to stand out for more than a couple weeks. (The top 3 selling smartphones in the U.S. are iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, and iPhone 3GS — the latter of which is only available on ATT)
Also, the obsolescence curve for Android devices is brutal, and that’s not good for the profitability of each individual phone and the manufacturer who makes it. (Making 10 million of the exact same phone is typically a lot cheaper, per unit, than 10 thousand.)
Samsung is far better when it comes to obsolescence than Motorola has been of late, but their totally undisciplined when it comes to dilution. Instead of releasing only one or two carefully planned, carefully marketed devices, intended to sell in those tens of millions, they’re putting out up to a dozen devices, at quarter-inch screen intervals, some like the Note that may not sell more than the tens of thousands.
Microsoft’s problem is even worse.
Carriers have to carry the iPhone. Dealing with Apple, who won’t give them any control, is a huge pain in the ass, but they simply have to do it if they want sales and profitability. Sprint mortgaged the company to get it, customers demand it, Apple still can’t make it fast enough. It’s a given.
Carriers want to sell Android. Google lets them do almost anything with it, including integrating all their value-added features and services, and while it doesn’t make as much money for them as the iPhone, it’s nowhere near as expensive either, and satisfies the not-iPhone market almost completely.
Where does Windows Phone fit in? The carriers don’t need to sell it because there’s nowhere near iPhone level customer demand. They don’t want to carry it because Microsoft won’t give them anywhere near Google levels of control. So Android remains their preference.
What’s the market for the number three cola company?
There’s probably a hope inside Microsoft that there will be a large enough segment of not-iPhone customers who either also don’t want Android, or try Android, are dissatisfied, and want a not-iPhone not-Android phone. They might also hope carriers want to hedge against Google and, rather than simply fork Android the way Amazon has done — Verizon vOS DROID KRAZR MAXX! — they’ll come to Windows Phone.
The chances of any of that happening are slim. The Galaxy Note is interesting but ultimately a niche product; like Schrodinger’s device, neither tablet nor phone, with no clear market. Windows Phone, especially the Nokia Lumia 800 and 900, are absolutely gorgeous but are caught between the customer-favorite iPhone and carrier-favorite Android with not much space left on the shelf. (Especially given Microsoft’s continued, flabbergasting desire to pin their mobile brand to Windows and not just release it as Xphone 720, Halo Edition.)
But here’s the thing — none of these marketing ploys, none of these devices will matter unless and until Samsung, Microsoft, and any other would be competitor does what Apple did:
Make a great phone that’s smartly conceived and executed.
When we start seeing these commercials, and it’s the Lumia 1000 that Samsung is gunning for, or the Nexus Megatron that Microsoft is playing catch-up to, that’s when the market will have changed.
Until then, we’ll just keep seeing everyone and their phablet desperately trying to get a piece of the iPhone.
Why should Windows users have all the fun? That’s the question being asked on Thursday by the folks at GameHouse, who have just launched the first all-you-can-play casual game subscription service for both Mac and PC users.
GameHouse has announced the availability of its FunPass subscription gaming service for the Mac, which will now bring members unlimited access to more than 100 full-version games for Apple’s platform out of more than 1,700 titles currently available on the service. Titles include such popular selections as Emily’s Childhood Memories, TextTwist 2, Bejeweled 2 and Plants vs Zombies.
“Beginning today, Mac users can try FunPass during a seven-day free trial and then decide if they want to subscribe to the service for only $19.99 per month,” GameHouse announced in a press release today. “FunPass members have access to unlimited play of 1700+ full-version games, including 100 titles for Mac at launch. View the complete list of FunPass Mac Games here, but if you don’t see your favorite Mac game on the list at launch, we’ll be rolling out new games every week.”
FunPass members will also receive a 30 percent discount on standard game purchases, and once the trial period has passed, you’ll also gain 10,000 GameHouse coins every month, which can be redeemed for more titles.
With the Mac continuing to grow each year, new services such as FunPass are equally enticing to developers as well as end users. “Developers have been eager to tap this market and thanks to GameHouse’s FunPass, they can now bring their casual games to the Mac OS platform,” GameHouse explains. “Developers can now drop their casual titles into our FunPass service and reach tens of millions of players across the PC and Mac. It’s that simple you wonder why it’s never been done — until now.”
It’s certainly good to see the playing field leveled a bit between the Mac and PC. So what are you waiting for? Your free seven-day FunPass trial is just a click away…
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
John Rochard isn’t exactly a stranger to being left out to dry, but this time his employer Skyrig has gone too far. After four years of wild goose chases, he and his space mining team have been backstabbed and attacked by space bandits hired by the very company he was working for. So what else is there to do but go on a little revenge mission?
It won’t be easy. Rochard and crew’s space station isn’t exactly in tip-top shape, and the bandit invasion isn’t exactly helping the place out. The gravity hardly works, various force fields adorn the maze of hallways and caverns, and there’s debris all over the place to work around. That’s where the G-Lifter comes in handy. Essentially a gravity gun, it can pick up items and toss them wherever Rochard needs them.
Grab a big ’ol laser to make things go boom.
The gravity mechanic forms the core of the action in this puzzle-tinged platformer. Whether it’s used to build steps to an otherwise unreachable area, to aim a huge laser, or to nail an enemy with a block, the G-Lifter plays a large and very frequent role in the progression of the game. For the most part, the puzzles are quite clever and intuitive, and it’s rare that you’ll get stuck. But when it happens, it’s often due to the slightly imprecise controls, especially when it comes to the shooting mechanic.
The occasionally shoddy shooting really is Rochard’s biggest weakness. Aiming can feel loose and inaccurate, especially when played with the mouse and keyboard, though a gamepad is highly recommended. Thankfully, the only combat-heavy section is within the first hour or so of the game, after which it returns to its strong suit of puzzle-solving goodness.
Rochard may only last a few hours, but what’s here is a lovingly crafted puzzle title with tons of charm and more than enough head-scratching scenarios for puzzle nuts. And for completionist die-hards, there are tons of optional collectibles that will keep you searching and solving long after the main story is finished.
The bottom line. Wrapped in a humorous and stylish package, Rochard is brief, but well worth its $10 asking price. Get out there and secure John’s revenge.
Mac OS 10.6.6 or later, 2.6GHz processor, 1GB RAM, 3GB hard drive space
Mac App Store Age Rating: 12+
Clever puzzles. Amusing dialogue. Loads of collectibles to locate.
Controls not always precise enough. Fairly brief adventure.
The other night, ABC’s Nightline got a peek into Foxconn’s manufacturing facilities and shed some light on how the iPhone, iPad, and other Apple products are made. The main angle was to investigate the humanitarian conditions of the factories, and though there were certainly some interesting findings, there are a few details that Apple and Foxconn wanted to clarify. The first was regarding Zhou Xiao Ying, who deburred Apple logos from iPad casings. It was suggested that she goes through 6000 units a day, but it’s actually half that.
“In manufacturing parlance this is called deburring. Her line processes 3,000 units per shift, with two shifts per day for a total of 6,000. A single operator at Ms. Zhou’s station would deburr 3,000 iPads in a shift.”
The other correction was about Foxconn not paying their employees enough to merit income tax. Foxconn’s explanation on that particular was a little more roundabout.
“We have over 75 percent of the employees in the category of earning at least 2,200 RMB ($349/month) basic compensation standard. That means they are earning 13.75 RMB ($2.18) per hour. If they work overtime on the weekend, they will earn 27 RMB ($4.28) per hour. In order to reach 3500 to be taxable, they will have to work 47 OT hours to reach 3,500. If the overtime hours are in weekdays, they have to work around 63 hours per month to reach that level of salary to be taxable. Your statement is only true when applying to the entry-level workers while over 75 percent are already over the probation and earning more than 2,200 RMB basic salary.”
There was also some additional commentary detail from the Fair Labor Association about the flow of conversation before Apple decided to join the group.
“The discussions began in April 2007 but stalled in March 2008. We then resumed them in April 2009 and decided to do a small pilot survey so that Apple could get an idea of how our tools might add value to their program. That pilot led to a second activity that I believe contributed to the decision to join the FLA at the end of 2011. I, of course, cannot speak for Apple but I do believe that the decision to join was probably taken some months before (and therefore well before) the New York Times articles.”
The report was definitely an eye-opener. If you’ve got 15 minutes, be sure to take a look over here.
Who’s feeling the hump day blues? Sure, the weekend is just two full work days away and some of us might have even had a day off on Monday for President’s Day (not us!), but this last full week of February sure feels like it’s taking its sweet ol’ time. Why not perk up the day with some Beatles ringtones, which are now available from iTunes? Or if you happen to live in Amsterdam, it might be time to start lining up at Apple’s new retail store there. For everyone else, here’s the rest of the tech news for this sleepy Wednesday, February 22, 2012.
Amazing how rumors sometimes quickly become reality, even within the same week! MacRumors is reporting that Apple will be opening its first Dutch retail store in Amsterdam on Saturday, March 3. The 10am grand opening has been confirmed both on Apple’s website as well as emails to local customers. To celebrate the unveiling, press will get an advance look at the new digs with a preview event two days earlier. The Amsterdam location marks 12 countries worldwide that have at least one Apple Store.
FireCore, LLC has announced Seas0nPass 0.8.2, a new version of the jailbreaking tool for the second-generation black Apple TV. Since there’s no newer firmware than 4.4.4, the update introduces a new feature called “stitching” which “allows Seas0nPass to utilize previously saved firmware signatures to jailbreak and restore an Apple TV version that Apple may no longer be signing.” As you may recall from iOS jailbreaking on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, Apple typically only allows users to restore from the most current firmware, which means tinkerers have no way to go backwards. The free TinyUmbrella software can be used to save these SHSH signatures from any iOS device (including the black Apple TV), which can then be used by Seas0nPass 0.8.2 or higher to restore an older firmware. As always, the Seas0nPass software can be downloaded free of charge from FireCore’s website.
It may have taken forever and a few days for The Beatles to land in digital format on iTunes, but it isn’t taking quite as long for The Fab Four to accessorize your iPhone with ringtones. The Beatles’ official website broke the news today about an exclusive deal with the iTunes Store to offer The Beatle’s 27 U.K. and U.S. number one hits for just $1.29 each. “Beginning today, fans around the world can, for the first time, purchase ringtones for the Beatles’ 27 UK and US #1 hits, exclusively on iTunes,” the website announced. “You can even assign your favourite tracks to your favourite people. The ringtones can be downloaded for iPhone, iPad and iTouch.” Of course, you could save yourself the $34.83 and just use GarageBand to make them yourself from the DRM-free iTunes tracks… but where’s the fun in that?
Apple just can’t seem to catch a break in China lately, with investigations of its partner factories and a trademark battle over the iPad name. Now, BGR is reporting that two workers claiming to have been poised by toxins “while assembling touchscreens for Apple’s iPhone” in a Suzhou, China factory have written an open letter aimed at those who are buying these products and asking them to push Cupertino for reforms. The letter was issued to the media on Wednesday afternoon from SumOfUs, an organization pushing an initiative known as the Ethical iPhone Campaign, which was penned by Guo Rui-qiang and Jia Jing-chuan, the two former factory workers in question. “In early 2010, it was independently confirmed that 137 workers, including us, were poisoned by a chemical called n-hexane which was used to clean iPhone screens,” the letter reads. “N-hexane is known to cause eye, skin and respiratory tract irritation, and leads to persistent nerve damage. Apple admitted to gross labour rights violations more than a year later.” The timing of the letter is also no coincidence: It comes a day before Apple’s annual shareholder meeting, and SumOfUs aims to get 100,000 signatures on their petition in an effort so they can deliver it to Apple CEO Tim Cook on Thursday. If you’d like to make your voice heard on the subject, head to the online petition and get signing.
Beatles ringtones aren’t the only iTunes news for this fine hump day — 9to5Mac is reporting that Apple has introduced a new section of the iTunes Store called “Mastered for iTunes,” which promises users they can “experience music as the artist and sound engineer intended.” Universal Music Group has released a number of offerings for the high-fidelity section including Madonna’s MDNA, U2’s Achtung Baby and hey, there’s the cute Beatle himself, Paul McCartney, with his latest effort, Kisses from the Bottom. The “Mastered for iTunes” section also comes with a new white paper PDF from Apple which details the company’s audio mastering tools, outlining the “best practices for mastering and preparing music for distribution on iTunes.” A “Mastered for iTunes droplet” automates the task of creating iTunes Plus format masters from WAV and AIFF files, so indie musicians don’t have to over-think the process.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
Apple has been working with musical artists and their sound engineers to offer up the highest encoding practices possible for submissions to the iTunes Store, and has now begun to showcase some of that work, launching a new “Mastered for iTunes” section on the iTunes Store.
Apple currently makes use of the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) codec for music compression and while, to the average listener, these files may sound great, to audiophiles, sound-engineers and the artists who create the music, they’re not getting the full array of sound that they intended for you to hear. Most recently, the likes of Neil Young, Dr. Dre and even Jimmy Iovine, head of Interscope-Geffen-AM have all gone on record as not being in favor of the sound quality listeners are getting when purchasing music. The Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) codec used by Apple and various other digital media service providers, causes quality loss during the conversion from the 24-bit 192kHz original recording. By the time consumers actually get the file, you’re only receiving as little as three percent of the original 192kHz quality.
With the launch of the Mastered for iTunes section, Apple is now transitioning from their original methods of taking the CD masters and encoding them to the 256kbps iTunes Plus files, and is instead asking publishers to submit the full high-resolution 24-bit/96kHz files so they may be the base file for encoding. To help with the transition for music publishers, they’ve also released a white paper documenting the changes and advising how to go about the process of submissions as well as providing new mastering tools to go along with it.
In the end, the ultimate goal here is to have everyone obtain the highest quality audio files possible from the iTunes Store. Neil Young noted previously that he had been working with Apple on this change prior to the death of Steve Jobs and since then, there hasn’t been much word from Apple. Now, with the roll out of the new encoding standards and the Mastered for iTunes section, we know why Neil hasn’t heard any word from Apple. They were busy making it all happen behind the scenes.
Last month we gave you a first look and review of OnLive Desktop, a free cloud-based solution for accessing Windows 7 — including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint — on your iPad that takes advantage of technology used in OnLive’s cloud gaming platform. Now, the company is back with a $4.99 per month sequel offering priority access, Internet Explorer, and much more.
Tonight, OnLive, Inc. will introduce the follow-up to its free OnLive Desktop app. OnLive Desktop Plus is a new $4.99 per month offering intended to bridge the gap between the free and upcoming Pro versions, adding priority access with a cloud-accelerated Internet Explorer 9 browser, lightning-fast transfer of web mail attachments and cloud storage files, and full desktop Adobe Flash and Acrobat PDF support.
All of that comes in addition to the free OnLive Desktop, offering cloud-based access to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and now Adobe Reader, in an instant-action cloud computing Windows 7 experience with 2GB of secure cloud storage for uploading your own documents to use with the service. Android, smartphone, PC, Mac, and monitor/TV support are still in the works, in addition to a $9.99 per month OnLive Desktop Pro which promises to increase cloud storage to 50GB while allowing customized access to additional Windows applications.
For now, OnLive Desktop Plus brings a full desktop Adobe Flash experience to the iPad for $4.99 per month, coupled with the new preinstalled Internet Explorer 9 for quick access to OnLive, Dropbox, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Box for quick cloud file transfers back and forth. While we’re still not big fans of the virtual keyboard — which OnLive continues to work on — pairing a Bluetooth keyboard to your iPad makes for a much more pleasant experience.
Speaking of pleasant experiences, if you’re a fan of the desktop flavor of Adobe Flash and simply can’t live without it, OnLive Desktop Plus may become your new best friend. We visited one of the most Flash-intensive websites we know of — SesameStreet.org — and were able to play games, watch videos, and browse around with the kind of speed that rivals using a desktop browser, all on our iPad 2.
Likewise, the new Adobe Reader X (which is also now included with the free version) was quite zippy at opening even a graphics-heavy PDF exported from Adobe InDesign, as well as being able to fill in forms, sign documents and the usual tasks you’d expect from the desktop version.
One of our biggest headaches with OnLive Desktop hasn’t been fully addressed with the Plus version, but it’s definitely improved: Quitting the app and then returning later resumes your previous activity, although you’ll still have to log in — a process that’s a bit more automatic now, as long as you tick the “Remember Me” box when doing so.
All in all, OnLive Desktop Plus is a nice step forward from the free service, and with future improvements already on the way, it’s definitely worth considering for road warriors and others who need occasional Windows 7 access on the go for one low price.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
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After signing into OnLive Desktop Plus, you’re greeted with this familiar Windows 7 desktop, complete with preinstalled versions of Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader X, and Internet Explorer 9.
Upon opening the preinstalled Internet Explorer 9, the OnLive Desktop website becomes your new home page, with quick links to other services such as Dropbox, Box, and web email.
After signing into your Dropbox account via the preinstalled Internet Explorer 9, users can open or save files to the OnLive Desktop Plus Documents folder.
OnLive Desktop Plus also allows for easy access to your Gmail account, which can access email attachments and download them directly.
Box.net is also included as an Internet Explorer 9 shortcut with OnLive Desktop Plus. Once signed into your account, files can be accessed, shared, and downloaded quickly and easily.
How can you tell when your Adobe Flash experience is good? By visiting a seriously Flash-heavy website such as SesameStreet.org. OnLive Desktop Plus passed the test with flying colors.
Although OnLive Desktop Plus doesn’t fully support iPad multitasking yet, the app does automatically resume your previous activity the next time you log in.
OnLive Desktop Plus introduces Adobe Reader X to the application lineup, which is also now available in the free version of the app as well.
OnLive Desktop Plus made short work of opening a graphics-heavy PDF file exported from Adobe InDesign, which allowed us to do basic markup notes.
The included Adobe Reader X can also be used to fill in PDF forms, although saving, sharing, or printing such documents is limited or unavailable for now.
Files can be uploaded to the free 2GB of cloud storage from any web browser, where they are accessible from the OnLive Desktop Plus Documents folder.
By pairing a Bluetooth keyboard with OnLive Desktop Plus, writing in Microsoft Word becomes effortless — and also makes the virtual keyboard vanish from view.
ATTENTION PROGRAMS: The best damn iOS podcast on the grid returns tonight to fight for the users with all the news, spotlights, apps, and accessories you can handle. It’s like bio-digital jazz, man!
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