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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Macworld | iWorld 2012 Conference/Expo entertains, educates

Jan. 30, 2012
by Mark Ollig

Since 1985, this event has brought together in one location all the attractions Apple computer lovers crave the most.

The Macworld | iWorld 2012 Conference and Expo took place last week at the Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco.

Advertised as “The World’s Ultimate iFanEvent,” the conference/expo covered three days of technical talks, exhibits, films, demonstrations, music, and more.

The Macworld conference portion of the event was Jan. 25-28, while the Expo sessions took place Jan. 26-28.

The conference/expo was designed to educate, as well as entertain, the folks attending.

Part showcase and part learning, the event included numerous vendor displays including exhibit hall, which featured “the largest collection of Apple-related products on the planet.”

Attendees could test (and purchase) these products and software apps (applications) which support the Mac, iPhone, and iPad platforms.

Several exhibit halls displaying pictorial information about Apple technology and software applications were located throughout the convention center.

The Mobile Apps Showcase featured face-to-face demonstrations of the newest iOS (user operating system inside Apple’s mobile devices) applications.

The latest software for the Mac computer was shown at the OS X Zone, located at booth 818.

For all of my fellow Microsoft Windows users out there, OS X is the Mac computer’s Operating System version 10, which was released by Apple in 2001.

The conference/expo goers were able to use the new Apple program apps being displayed. In addition, they could talk directly with the actual programmers who created them.

The conference/expo’s First Looks displayed many of the new-to-market products, which were being shown for the first time.

One new product yours truly liked is from a company called Newer Technology.

Called the GripStand, this smart-looking, durable, and well-designed case, is for carrying and displaying an iPad.

The iPad is encased inside the GripStand’s hard protective plastic shell. The removable swivel stand can be rotated 360 degrees, and be adjusted for any viewing angle comfortable to the user. The swivel stand is also used as a handle for carrying the iPad.

Another product that caught my eye was the Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlet.

This new wall outlet provides power for a USB rechargeable device by simply plugging it into one of the two USB ports.

The UL-listed and approved Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlet works and looks just like your ordinary flush-mounted, on-the-wall, electrical outlet plate.

A standard four-pin Type-A USB port is located on each side of the two three-prong AC outlet plug-in receptacles.

Using the Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlet eliminates the entanglement of USB charging cables connected to one’s computer USB ports. It also does away with the hassle of having to use multiple USB AC adapters.

The Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlet adapter will work with all Apple iPads, iPods, Android Tablets, and phones, or any device using a standard USB connection for power re-charging.

The Macworld | iWorld 2012 Conferences midway allowed an interactive user experience of the Apple OS X and iOS products.

The midway showed how Apple technology is used in the creation of digital art.

This art was presented in the Digital Art gallery, and featured the digital art work created by 15 artists.

There was also an iPad Sketch Station. Here, conference attendees watched talented artists draw incredible images and pictures – just using iPads.

Another venue called Art Showings, showcased Apple Illustrations and Photoshop- created art galleries, photography displays, and creative tool training.

The Music Experience location presented live, daily solo, group, and nightly performances.

Some of the musical performers included Atomic Tom, Beats Unique, Eclectic Method, J Boogie, and Hank Shocklee.

I freely admit to not knowing any of these musical artists.

Musician workshops also were offered.

The iPhone Film Festival featured the screening of films made using the iPhone, along with tech-talks with film makers, directors, and general meet ups with other attendees and presenters.

I learned there is a full-length, unaired, “South Park” animated pilot episode which was created using only an iPhone.

User training and learning tips were presented at the conference on Apple’s OS X and iOS during the three-day Tech Talks product training and informational sessions.

Attendees had their choice of more than 75 sessions to participate in.

One of last Thursday’s Tech Talks included a discussion on Apple’s iPhone 4S Siri voice-interaction technology, which this columnist previously likened to the fictional “HAL 9000.”

Another Tech Talks session demonstrated some of Apple’s latest tools, including “iClouds Little Helpers,” iOS Filesharing Unleashed, “Living on 3 Screens — Mac, iPhone, iPad,” and “Appalooza: Discovering the Greatest Apps.”

Shellie Hall, a consultant for Ducktype Digital, talked about the top 25 iPad apps used for enhancing one’s social media profile or business brand.

More than 26,000 people attended last year’s event, and record breaking attendance was expected for this year’s Macworld | iWorld 2012 Conference and Expo.

For more information, check out the Macworld | iWorld website at

Telecommunications and all things tech has been a well-traveled road for me. I enjoy learning what is new in technology and sharing it with others who enjoy reading my particular slant on it via this blog. I am also a freelance columnist for my hometown's print and digital newspaper. - Mark Ollig

Thursday, January 19, 2012

2012 International Consumer Electronics Show breaks record

Jan. 23, 2012
by Mark Ollig

The official numbers are in.

A record-breaking 153,000 people attended the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Of this total, 34,000 came from 140 countries outside the US.

More than 3,100 exhibitors showcased their technology and electronic gadgets.

The first CES took place in 1967, at the Americana and Hilton hotels in New York City, and was attended by about 17,500 people and about 100 exhibitors.

During this year’s CES, in addition to Ryan Seacrest (who moderated Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer during his pre-keynote address), many notable celebrities also attended.

Being the name-dropper that I am, here are some of the other celebrities who appeared during the 2012 International CES:

• Justin Timberlake

• Justin Bieber

• Ludacris

• 50 Cent

• Will. i. am

• Wayne Brady

• Jillian Michaels

• LL Cool J

• Will Smith

• Kelly Clarkson

The winner of the 2012 CES Best of Show product award went to the 55-inch OLED (organic light-emitting diode) flat-panel TV, made by LG.

This ultra-thin, TV model EM9600 displays “life-like” images and is, according to LG’s Director of New Product Development Tim Alessi, “about three credit cards thick.” LG’s website states it is 4 mm thick.

The EM9600 has an unbelievable display contrast ratio of more than 100,000,000:1, or about 50 times better than what is seen on today’s LCD display panel televisions.

According to LG, “The TV [EM9600] uses a proprietary algorithm designed to improve and refine hues and tones when viewed from a wide angle.”

This model is scheduled for a third-quarter delivery date, with September as the probable month. No pricing was made available during the CES.

The Makerbot Replicator 3D printer placed second in this year’s CES Best of Show product award.

This personal 3D printer is able to create plastic replicas up to 8.9 inches-by-5.7 inches-by - 5.9 - inches inches (about the size of a loaf of bread) of any object download to it via an SD (Secure Digital) memory card.

The SD card contains the data file of the object to be replicated, which was created using a computer 3D program.

The Makerbot Replicator is available in two models.

The single extruder printer, priced at $1,749, comes with one color nozzle. The dual-extruder, priced at $1,999, performs 3D printing using two different colors.

A video by Bre Pettis, the CEO and Co-Founder of MakerBot Industries, explains the new MakerBot Replicator. You can watch it at

The website for the MakerBot Replicator is http:

Since 1967, the CES has been used as the launch pad for announcing many new products to the public.

At the 1970 CES, the VCR was introduced by Phillips, at a retail price of $2,000.

The 1974 CES saw the arrival of the Laserdisc player.

The Atari Pong home console was displayed at the summer 1975 CES.

Inexpensive digital wrist watches showed up during the 1976 CES.

The 1981 CES presented us with the CD (compact disc) and camcorder.

Popular with the baby boomers, the Commodore 64 computer was introduced during the 1982 CES.

In 1985, the Nintendo Entertainment System was shown.

HDTV (high definition television) made its appearance at CES in 1998.

Microsoft’s Xbox console and controller were introduced by its CEO Bill Gates during his 2001 keynote address at the 2001 CES. Gates demonstrated two Xbox games: “Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee” and “Malice.”

The Blu-Ray DVD (digital versatile disc) came on the scene during the 2003 CES.

Many CES-goers will never forget the 2005 event with TV host Conan O’Brien.

O’Brien had some fun when Microsoft CEO Bill Gates’ demonstration of the Windows Media Center’s integration of digital photography, caused the computer to crash.

Technology convergence, and a flood of new digital content services, made up most of the 2006 and 2007 CES shows.

A huge 150 inch Plasma and OLED TV, made by Panasonic, was shown to the public at the 2008 CES.

During the 2009 CES, 3D webcams, HDTVs, “green gadgets,” and netbook computers were introduced.

At the 2010 CES, there were tablet computers, Panasonic 3D HDTV flat panel plasma televisions, Sharp LED lamps (light bulbs), and Android smart devices.

The 2011 CES Best of Show award went to Motorola, for their new Xoom 10.1-inch personal computing tablet.

Concept vehicles like the General Motors EN-V (electric networked vehicle) were demonstrated, while Ford Motor Company showed off its 2012 all-electric Ford Focus.

Consumer 3D technologies, such as the JVC Everio GS-TD13D camcorder, were also shown.

What new technological marvels do we have to look forward to during the Jan. 8-11, 2013 International CES?

It’s anyone’s guess; however, yours truly thinks we may see some innovative cloud-computing technology, an exhibit displaying Apple products, and increased Google participation.

Of course, the 2013 International CES will be showcasing the next-generation of smartphones, computing tablets, e-readers, flat panel HDTVs, 3D technology, and new electronic devices.

It will also include plenty of eye-candy gadgets.

We may even be witness to thousands of brainy robots aimlessly wandering the CES exhibit floors, mingling with the folks in attendance.

Well, maybe not thousands.

Telecommunications and all things tech has been a well-traveled road for me. I enjoy learning what is new in technology and sharing it with others who enjoy reading my particular slant on it via this blog. I am also a freelance columnist for my hometown's print and digital newspaper.
- Mark Ollig

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2012 International CES hosted in Las Vegas

Jan. 16, 2012
by Mark Ollig

Over 150,000 people attended this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), including the media, who were eager to learn about the newest technology.

The International CES is the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow.

With over 3,100 companies showcasing more than 20,000 electronic gadgets and computing devices, there was plenty of high-tech eye candy to be found.

And when I say plenty, I mean over 37 football fields’ worth of consumer electronic technology displayed over 1.85 million net square feet of floor space.

This year’s CES offerings included Intel’s lightweight Ultrabook, digital health care devices, smartphones, solar charging cases, and many other computing devices.

With an introduction by radio and television personality Ryan Seacrest,
Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer provided the pre-CES keynote address.

Ballmer told those in attendance (along with yours truly, watching via the streaming online video), that after 15 years, Microsoft will be taking a “pause” from attending any future CES shows.

He went on to announce Microsoft’s Kinect technology will be available for use on Microsoft’s Windows operating systems Feb. 1.

There was a short demonstration of Windows 8; however, much of this demo was already shown during the Microsoft Build Professional Developers Conference in September of last year – which your columnist wrote about on Sept. 19, 2011.

The new CES Windows 8 demo left me somewhat disappointed, as I was hoping Microsoft would reveal more details about it.

Microsoft also demonstrated their new Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) software operating on the Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC Titan 2 mobile phones.

Microsoft’s new Xbox, with Kinect two-way interaction, was also demonstrated to the CES audience.

Kinect, as you know, is an entertainment and informational hub which provides a personalized, interactive viewer experience.

The Microsoft CES Kinect virtual interaction demonstration started off by showing a large display screen with the Sesame Street character Elmo, counting the coconuts he was collecting inside a cardboard box as they were being “virtual thrown” to him by a young girl on the CES stage named Ainsely.

Elmo would look at Ainsely and ask her to throw a coconut to him.

Ainsely would do this by pretending to toss one towards the display screen, where Elmo was waiting to catch it inside the cardboard box he was holding.

You can watch Microsoft’s YouTube video titled “The Magic of Kinect with Sesame Street” at

Meanwhile, Intel presented one of its new Ultrabook personal computers, which are being factory-made under various brand names.

Some define an Ultrabook as an enhanced netbook computer.

The new Lenovo Ultrabook with ArcSoft Quick Photo personal computer includes a self-opening cover, touchscreen, voice recognition, DX11 graphics card, and built-in Near Field Communication, or NFC.

NFC is a short-range, wireless communications protocol which will initially be used for the quick scanning of credit card information when making purchases.

NFC technology will also be used for supporting the new short-range wireless features currently being developed.

Intel showed how an Ultrabook computer, equipped with a NFC chip, could complete a quick, on-the-go, credit card transaction by simply tapping a credit card against the Ultrabook’s touchpad.

Another model shown by Intel was a hybrid Ultrabook/tablet or “slider” model, which could be used as either a notebook or a tablet computer.

Some Intel Ultrabooks allow the user to see incoming messages when the computer lid is closed via a “quick notification panel.”

Intel said it will be making Ultrabook computers available to the public by the end of this year.

Sony announced the Android-powered Walkman Z, and its new line of Android smartphones called Xperia S, and the US version, the Xperia Ion.

The Walkman Z is a digital media player which features an Android 2.3-or 4.3-inch display and Tegra 1GHz 2 dual-core processor.

The Walkman Z will be available late February.

The Xperia S features a 4.3-inch display, 12-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture, and a 32 GB memory. Its dual-core processor operates at 1.5 GHz.

The Xperia Ion will operate over AT&T’s 4G LTE network, and will sport a larger 4.6-inch display screen for those of us in the US, which is great, because I have a hard time reading small text.

Both Sony smartphones will include NFC, and a HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) port.

These smartphones will be available by the end of March.

Another interesting device was the solar-powered Amazon Kindle e-reader case cover made by SolarFocus.

On the front of the case cover is the solar panel; the Kindle e-reader is nestled inside and “plugged into” the case cover, or shell, if you will.

After being exposed to about eight hours’ worth of sunlight, the solar-charged battery inside the SolarFocus case cover, can fully charge the Kindle e-reader’s battery.

A reserve battery inside the SolarFocus case cover powers the built-in LED reading light, and provides reserve power for the Kindle e-reader when the Kindle’s battery runs out.

This light-weight, form-fitting case cover makes it look as if you are holding a book while reading the Kindle.

The new SolarFocus Kindle case cover is now available at a retail price of around $80.

Next week, yours truly reveals a few of the out-of-the ordinary gadgets shown during the 2012 International CES.

Below is the solar-powered Amazon Kindle e-reader case cover made by SolarFocus.
Telecommunications and all things tech has been a well-traveled road for me. I enjoy learning what is new in technology and sharing it with others who enjoy reading my particular slant on it via this blog. I am also a freelance columnist for my hometown's print and digital newspaper. - Mark Ollig

Thursday, January 5, 2012

'Star Trek' medical scanner soon to be a reality

Jan. 9, 2012
by Mark Ollig

As we boldly go into 2012, a futuristic medical device from a popular science fiction television series may soon be coming along with us.

This device will certainly change how we diagnose illnesses, and monitor our health.

On the original television series “Star Trek,” set in the 23rd century, the physician used a “medical tricorder” scanning device to diagnose a sick or injured person’s physical ailments in order to treat their condition.

This medical tricorder was waved over – but did not come into direct physical contact –with the person being scanned.

The medical tricorder was also used to obtain information about one’s overall general health.

Scanadu, a private company founded one year ago, is on the brink of bringing this type of futuristic technology to those of us living in the 21st century.

The company is working on a non-contact, non-invasive, medical diagnostic tool for consumer use.

This technology will provide instant health information, allowing individuals to learn more about their own current health condition, in addition to being provided with an instant diagnosis and suggested treatments for physical ailments.

This new medical device is called the Scanadu Tricorder.

The company said in a press release their first product will be a sensor app (application) that “walks” a person through the steps needed for obtaining vital information in order to advise and diagnose a medical condition.

The app sensor integrates wirelessly with a person’s smartphone.

Scanadu states this new medical device will fall under FDA jurisdiction, and that they will be working closely with the FDA to get the Tricorder to the marketplace.

There are six doctor’s serving on Scanadu’s Medical Advisory Board.

Scanadu founder, Walter de Brouwer (a fan of “Star Trek”) said “whatever this product is, in order to be completely adapted by the entire world, it must be non-invasive, non-sampling, not [physically] contacting the body, and not counting on cooperation from the patient. This is the real Tricorder. It will change everything.”

He also said being able to immediately diagnose the person right in front of you, and instantly see what is happening, would reduce a lot of anxiety in our lives.

The Scanadu Tricorder website showed a fictional re-enactment video of two parents taking care of their child Alex, who was ill and had a rash on his chest.

One parent held the small Tricorder device in one hand and waved it over the rash on Alex.

The Tricorder sent the image of the rash to the smart phone the parent was holding in the other hand.

This image was then wirelessly transmitted to the cloud, via the smart phone, and was analyzed along with Alex’s symptoms.

The image of the rash and Alex’s symptoms were then matched with a known condition.

Once this information was obtained, the results and course of action were displayed on the smartphone.

The results provided said the condition was diagnosed as Roseola rash, a common virus in children, and that this type of rash normally appears in children three to five days after a high fever.

The recommended action shown on the smartphone’s display screen said to “rest at home, [as the] Roseola rash usually disappears after three days.”

In this case, getting the correct analysis and diagnosis saved the parents the time and expense of having to take Alex to the doctor – and relieved them of their worry.

If the results for Alex had determined a serious medical condition, the family’s physician would have been notified and been provided with the information obtained by the Tricorder.

Of course, this was only a demonstration video of what the Tricorder will ultimately be capable of.

According to Scanadu, “a fully-functioning Tricorder will help change user behavior in the short term. We plan to help parents move from anxiety to action about the health of their kids.”

“The first Tricorder will be affordable for most families. It is anticipated that there will be some split between payers (i.e. insurance companies) and users (parents, families),” Scanadu stated in a press release.

Allied Business Intelligence Research Inc. (ABI) reports, “The market for wearable wireless medical devices will reach more than 100 million units annually by 2016.”

In the near future, medical wireless devices will be commonly worn by people to monitor their overall physical fitness, and general well-being.

ABI also said “These devices, ranging from heart rate monitors for measuring an individual’s performance during sports, to wearable blood glucose meters, will all enable greater detail in tracking, monitoring, and care – often through connections provided by mobile phones.”

The Scanadu Tricorder will be compatible with a variety of cellular network technologies and will use Bluetooth short distance transmission standards.

We are now witnessing the birth of a whole new generation of body-worn medical sensors that may become as popular to use as a home thermometer.

To see the video of the medical Scanadu Tricorder in action, check out

The video with Walter de Brouwer can be seen at

About Mark Ollig

Telecommunications and all things tech has been a well-traveled road for me. I enjoy learning what is new in technology and sharing it with others who enjoy reading my particular slant on it via this blog. I am also a freelance columnist for my hometown's print and digital newspaper.