mercredi 30 avril 2014

doPDF gains Microsoft Office add-in, preserves Word bookmarks and hidden links


Softland has released doPDF 8.0, a major new release of its free PDF printer driver that allows Windows users to output any document in PDF format for sharing or viewing.

Version 8.0 adds the NovaPDF plug-in for converting Microsoft Office documents from within Office with one click. It also comes with new predefined forms to take the total number supported to over 80.

The new plug-in, named novaPDF after doPDF’s more fully functional, paid-for sibling from which it originates, is offered as an optional component by the program’s new simpler, completely redesigned installer. Once installed, users can convert Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio and Publisher documents from within their own parent applications via the novaPDF tab on the ribbon.

The add-in not only allows users to quickly generate PDFs from Office, but also recognizes any bookmarks added to Word documents, which are converted automatically to PDF bookmarks. It also recognizes hidden links in Office documents, again converting them to active links in the converted PDF file.

doPDF 8 also added new predefined forms, giving users a choice of outputting PDFs in up to 50 different formats, including A0-A6, B4/5, Letter, Legal and various envelope formats. It also comes with driver certification for Windows 8.

The app adds an automatic update component with changelog notifications, plus includes a number of bug fixes, including one that prevent the installer from working if the Windows username consisted of two separate names. Another fix sees the Help file gain sections covering the add-in conversion tool.

doPDF 8.0 is available now as a freeware download for PCs running Windows XP or later. The .NET Framework 4.0 is now a required component.

Searches in Windows 8.1 just got smarter

my-screen-is-too-bright-320x230_thumb_6E66FA07One of the things I like best about Windows 8.1 is the Smart Search feature. Powered by Bing, it lets you look for anything -- a program or app installed on your computer, a file stored on your hard drive or in the cloud, or a website. You open up the Start or Apps screen, and just start typing (or you can use the new Search button which was introduced with Windows 8.1 Update) and then choose the relevant result.

I have no complaints about it (although I still use Google for most of my web searches), but today Microsoft is making the Smart Search feature a whole lot more powerful with natural language understanding so you can search for something, even if you’re not sure exactly what it is you’re looking for.

Windows 8.1 Update is a hell of a lot easier to use than Windows 8 was, but working out how to do something, like install a printer, or find and install new apps, may not be immediately obvious to new users. Now though, you don’t have to blunder about trying to work out where you need to go to perform that task -– you just tell Windows what it is you want to do. Type "Install a printer" for example and it will tell you that you need to go to Device Settings. Click the result below and you're all set.

You can search for all sorts of things, and phrase your query in different ways. For example, Windows will understand things like "get apps for Windows", "my screen is too bright", "how do I delete an app".

In addition, Microsoft has updated search to recognize more common spelling mistakes and it will now showcase more relevant apps related to your queries.

"One of the most exciting things about this feature is that it demonstrates how the Bing platform makes our Windows product more useful and helpful without having to update the Windows client software," the Bing Relevance Team states in a new blog post. "Just like our speech work in Xbox or our constantly improving Cortana functionality, the power of Bing as a platform means products you use every day simply get more personal, helpful and intelligent every day".

When are economic sanctions not sanctions at all?


I came across this news story today in which a Russian space official suggests the US consider using trampolines to get astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station. It’s all about economic sanctions applied to Russia over its annexation of Crimea and other meddling in Ukraine. The Russian space agency, you see, has been hard hit by the cancellation of at least five launches. Except according to my friends in the space biz Russia hasn’t been hurt at all.

Space customers pay in advance, way in advance. All five canceled NASA launches were paid for long ago and the same for a number of now-delayed private launches. They may go ahead or not, it’s hard to say. But nobody in Russia is losing sleep over the problem because the space agency will actually make more money keeping the launchers on their pads than by firing them.

In time the sanctions may have some effect, but not for at least another year. At present the only people being hurt by these particular sanctions are Americans.

This is not to say the sanctions aren’t worth doing. Maybe they will be key to achieving US policy objectives. But they aren’t as they seem.

Most organizations are accidental software pirates

Software piracy

A majority of enterprises are using software that they've unintentionally failed to pay for according to a new report by Flexera Software prepared in conjunction with IDC.

The report reveals, among other things, that 85 percent of organizations are out of compliance with their software license agreements. In addition 63 percent were audited by their software vendors in the last 18-24 months (58 percent by Microsoft, the most aggressive auditor), and 56 percent were handed bills to regularize their licenses.

"Software license audits are a legitimate way for vendors to ensure they're getting paid for their software that’s actually being used. However, CFOs can be unaware of software contract provisions permitting these audits, which can result in an unexpected budget shock when IT staff present them with a true-up bill," says Amy Konary, research vice president -- software licensing and provisioning at IDC. "The cost of these true-ups can be significant, so CFOs should take the necessary steps to reduce their risk by implementing software license management processes and technologies to help ensure continual compliance".

All of the big software vendors use audits as a means of capturing extra revenue from non-compliant customers, but the report suggests that some are more aggressive than others. Microsoft is the most active with 58 percent having been audited by the company in the last year. Over the same period 29 percent report having been audited by Adobe, 23 percent by IBM, 21 percent by Oracle, 12 percent by SAP and 8 percent by Symantec.

Of the accidental pirates, 42 percent say that more than 10 percent of their software spend is associated with applications that are out of compliance.

"Software vendor audits are a fact of life today, as are the large checks CFOs are writing to their vendors to pay unbudgeted true-up fees," says Jim Ryan, Flexera Software’s Chief Operation Officer. "Best practice processes and technology are being implemented by prudent organizations to help ensure continual software license compliance. With these reasonable measures now so readily available, IT managers should no longer have to present their CFOs with six-, seven- or eight-figure true-up bills".

The report is available to download from the Flexera website and you can see an overview of the findings in the infographic below.

Piracy infographic

Image Credit: Feng Yu / Shutterstock

How social media makes people in a relationship jealous


While social media allows people to connect with each other, it can also create jealousy. If a man discovers his new girlfriend has 250 male friends, it is potentially going to create lot of stress for that guy. He is going to feel that he has a lot of competition that he would not have known about if social media did not exist.

It is also going to make him feel insecure in the relationship, and make him feel jealous over his new partner. A person likes that feeling of exclusivity, that he is the one who matters to his partner first and foremost. Social media interferes with that feeling because it makes the person feel that his new flame has many social contacts who could compete with him. Furthermore, when the partner spends a significant amount of time on social media sites engaged in contact with members of the opposite sex, the person is likely to feel jealous and that will lead to trust issues. He may become suspicious of his girlfriend and her activities on those sites.

Also, if a partner gets a friend request from an ex, the person is going to feel jealous and insecure in the relationship, worrying that his new love might go back to her old one. It makes it harder for the person to trust his current partner. In addition, if a person connects with his ex on a social media site, he may feel jealous seeing her with a new lover and make it harder for him to get over his ex. Moreover, a harmless comment by a member of the opposite sex to the ex-partner on a social media site, may cause the person to become jealous and insecure because he might imagine that more is going on between his ex and the other guy than just an innocent joke, or compliment.

Social media sites also increase the possibility that a person will find incriminating information on his partner’s wall, or photos, which will lead to problems in the relationship. Before social media sites it was easier to keep secrets from a significant other. Now there is less privacy and it is much harder to keep secrets. Verbal and physical flirtations that a partner would not find out about in the past, can be discovered sometimes from a Facebook wall, or shared photos. As a matter of fact, Facebook flirtations are a significant cause of relationship breakups and divorce.

If a person has friends of the same gender as him on a social media site and they excel career wise and financially, the person may feel insecure. He is going to feel insecure about his partner, and maybe worry that he will lose her to his more successful friend. This will cause him to feel jealous of his friend. He might become jealous over his love too because he might feel that she can do better than him. This jealousy might lead to problems with his partner because he may become too controlling and hostile.

In conclusion, social media sites can create new threats to a relationship, and cause existing problems to become bigger. The way to handle this is for the person to communicate with his flame about any problems in the relationship. If a person sees a post from or to his partner that makes him uncomfortable he should confront his other half about it. Both people communicating their feelings about what is going on with them on social media sites, and catering to each other's preferences in regards to this matter, will help the couple prevent problems -- that are a direct result of social media sites -- from happening.

Photo Credit: PathDoc/Shutterstock

George2George A. Moufarrej is a writer about sexual issues, relationships, dating, and self-help. He has a bachelor’s degree from University of Southern California (USC) and also a master’s degree from California State University (Cal State LA). He currently resides in Southern California and is the author of the book “Sexual Euphoria: A Complete Guide For Men & Women”.

Ditch the Firefox Australis look with Classic Theme Restorer

classic theme

Hi, my name’s Nick and I like the new Firefox Australis user interface. There, I’ve said it. However, it seems an awful lot of you hate the new look unveiled in Firefox 29, which is why you’ll want to install the Classic Theme Restorer 1.1.8 add-on immediately.

As its title suggests, Classic Theme Restorer pretty much dumps everything Australis introduces, except the new menu accessible via the hamburger-like button on the main Firefox toolbar. In its place is the Firefox you know and love, complete with Firefox button in Windows.

If that’s all you want from Classic Theme Restorer, your job is done. But the add-on does a lot more than that -- access its settings via Firefox’s Options menu, and you can fine-tune the changes it makes, plus customize Firefox in other ways too.

You can customize the appearance of your tabs, for example, restoring the Australis look or choosing an alternative square or curved look. You can also tweak the size and placement of tabs, plus pick a different color scheme from the Custom colors tab.

You can also remove or restore the Firefox button in Windows from here, plus customize it with your own choice of color. There are other tweaks for customizing the general UI here too. Switch to the two Special tabs and you’ll find other customization options, letting you not just banish (or fine-tune) Australis, but remove or amend other aspects of the user interface you may find annoying too.

Where multiple choices are to be made, you’ll see Classic Theme Restorer handily marks the default settings, making it easy to put things back the way they were.

So while Classic Theme Restorer is a good way to remove the Australis user interface entirely, you can also use it to gradually ease yourself into the new way of doing things: switch on curved tabs, but keep the Firefox button for now, for example, or change the way text is displayed on tabs.

Classic Theme Restorer 1.1.8 is available now as a free add-on for Firefox 29 or later. It works with Windows, Mac and Linux.

Windows Repair improves Windows 8.x support, tweaks permission handling


The website has released Windows Repair 2.7.0, a major update to its collection of Windows fix-it tools. Also available in portable form, version 2.7.0 adds a new start-up check for reliability purposes.

The new release also includes a new repair tool -- Repair Service Permissions -- to take the total number of fix-it tools to 30, and has been rewritten in parts to work better with Windows 8 and 8.1 machines.

The new start-up check tool makes sure all files required for running repairs in the program folder are present -- if these are missing, not only does the fix fail, but more problems will occur. To prevent this, Windows Repair will halt at this check and prompt the user to reinstall the app if necessary, refusing to continue otherwise.

Version 2.7.0 also adds a brand new repair: Reset Service Permissions. This repairs all permissions on system services by giving Administrators, System and TrustedInstaller users Full access, the default setting.

The new build also completely rewrites both Registry Registry Permissions and Reset File Permissions tools. It now uses the SetAcl.exe system tool, which supports both 32-bit and 64-bit file locations. This does slow down repairs, and so Windows Repair no longer shows the command-prompt progress window to help lessen the effect of this performance drop.

Another side-effect of using the SetAcl.exe program is that setting exclusions for the Reset File Permissions component has changed -- users are instructed to check the text files inside the Files folder for how exclusions are now handled.

One final change to both Registry repair tools sees them apply Full access rights to the TrustedInstaller account on Windows Vista and later.

Windows Repair 2.7.0 also updates multiple repair tools to better handle Windows 8/8.1, wryly commenting that they now provide "all the fussy stuff it wants".

Other unspecified repair tools have also been updated, while the program’s handling when run using the /silent switch and after closing itself when repairs have been applied has also been improved.

Windows Repair 2.7.0 and Windows Repair Portable 2.7.0 are both available as a freeware downloads for PCs running Windows XP or later. Users are strongly advised to perform all suggested backup and scan tasks made by the program prior to attempting any fix.

A potential game changer: Xbox One set to launch in China

China red xbox

Since launch, Sony’s PlayStation 4 has easily outsold Microsoft’s rival console, and even beat Sony’s own sales projections. That the Japanese console is available in more territories than its American rival is one important part of the reason for this success.

Now Microsoft is hoping to fight back by bringing the Xbox One to China in September. The all-in-one games and entertainment system will be the first of its kind to launch in the country, and the first foreign games console since China lifted a 14-year old ban on such devices in January.

The launch is the result of a partnership between Microsoft BesTV New Media Co., a subsidiary of Shanghai Media Group.

"Launching Xbox One in China is a significant milestone for us and for the industry, and it’s a step forward in our vision to deliver the best games and entertainment experiences to more fans around the world", says Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president, marketing and strategy, Devices and Studios, Microsoft. "BesTV has a rich history of delivering innovative entertainment content. It is the ideal partner with which to bring the Xbox business to China".

"The launch of Xbox One here will bring distinction as the first-ever game console with OTT functionality in China", said Dazhong Zhang, senior vice president, Shanghai Media Group, and chairman, E-Home Entertainment Development Company Ltd. "The launch of Xbox is a milestone for our company in the family entertainment market and will create profit growth opportunities. Furthermore, we will continue our investment and support into research and development for gaming content together with Microsoft. Via our cooperation with the world’s leading team, we will continue to develop video games fused with Chinese culture and provide further distribution support for locally produced Chinese video game content to the world".

China is a potentially huge market for the Xbox One with an estimated half a billion people playing games. As Microsoft points out that’s "roughly more than a third of the country’s population and more than the entire population of North America".

How many of those gamers will want to buy an Xbox One remains to be seen however, as most games there are currently played on PCs, smartphones and tablets, and the idea of a dedicated gaming console is a rather alien one for Chinese consumers.

Also, despite the long ban, games consoles have been available in China on the black market, so many gamers who want to own such a device (and don’t mind breaking the law) may already have one.

Still, it’s an important opportunity for the Xbox One, and Microsoft will want to capitalize on its head start. It likely won’t be long before the PS4 follows suit.

Image Credit: Wayne Williams

mardi 29 avril 2014

Apple's ad campaign really is 'powerful'

I can't seem to escape Apple's "Powerful" commercial, which during some primetime programs airs two, or even three, times. The TV spot is aspirational marketing done right, with booming tagline: "You're more powerful than you think".

Apple's response to new smartphones like HTC One M8 or Samsung Galaxy S5 isn't something new but more aggressive advertising highlighting iPhone 5s benefits. The campaign, particularly the main commercial, is emotive and empowering. The message is simple: You can achieve your dreams when using the Apple handset. While Android competitors focus on features, like larger displays and quad-core processors, Apple singles out benefits -- what you tangibly get by using iPhone 5s and a dozen different apps the ad campaign highlights.

I link to the full 90-second spot but find the tighter, 60-second version to evoke more emotional response. Human beings are naturally creative, aspire to improve, and want to belong -- all attributes ticked off one by one. Yeah, it's "Powerful".

Some advice to Apple competitors: Your advertising should also highlight benefits and make people feel their lives will be better for buying your product. As important: Frequency. During two nights of TV watching (and I'm no tube glutton), I saw the Apple advertisement about a dozen times. HTC: None. Samsung: Twice.

Something else: Little nuances matter and the connotations people associate with them. On its website, Apple doesn't call the TV spot a commercial but "the film". The word is loaded with meaningful connotations about creativity, quality, and value. "Film" also ties to the larger message the campaign seeks to communicate about achieving dreams.

A decade ago, Apple's iMovie website beckoned: "You’re the producer. You’re the director. You’re the editor" -- rather than drone on about features. You. Your dreams. The marketing approach remains the same: Empowering you.

Microsoft's Office for iPad now lets you print documents

Word print

Microsoft’s new Office for iPad apps are very good, and hugely popular. A month after release and Word is still the number one free app in the App Store, with Excel sitting at number 8, and PowerPoint at number 16. If you own an iPad, and are an Office 365 subscriber, they’re pretty much essential downloads.

At launch we were promised additional features were on their way, and today Microsoft introduces the most requested one –- the ability to print Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations.

You’ll need an Office 365 subscription and an AirPrint enabled printer to use the new feature, and can choose to output a Word document with or without markup, and print a single worksheet, an entire spreadsheet or a selected range in Excel.

In addition to the new printing functionality, Microsoft is also introducing SmartGuides in PowerPoint, which helps you align pictures, shapes, and textboxes as you move them around on a slide. There’s also a new AutoFit in Excel option, which lets you adjust the width of multiple rows or the height of multiple columns at the same time.

The app update also includes a number of bug fixes and stability improvements.

Apache OpenOffice allows users to comment on selected blocks of text


Just over six weeks after entering beta, the Apache Software Foundation has released final version of Apache OpenOffice 4.1. The update is relatively minor, building on the major changes introduced in version 4 last year.

One notable new feature making its bow in version 4.1 is support for annotating and commenting on selected text ranges. Meanwhile Mac users should be aware that from version 4.1, OpenOffice becomes 64-bit only.

The new commenting and annotation feature makes it possible for users to now select blocks of text for commenting on. Previously, users could only introduce annotations and comments to a specific text position.

Writer users also gain in-place editing capabilities in text fields, while Impress and Draw now supports interactive cropping of transformed graphics. Stability improvements should also make the Import Picture from File and Drag & Drop Graphic Data features more robust.

Version 4.1 also gains support for the IAccessible2 interface, which should make OpenOffice easier to use for those with visual impairments by making it support screen readers "out of the box" with no further software or tweaking required.

Other improvements previewed in the beta include better performance when loading and importing large 3D charts, with the program better capable of keeping original graphic data intact instead of modifying it. Graphics content should also work more consistently with external image editors thanks to clipboard enhancements.

OpenOffice 4.1 also replaces outdated code from Mozilla Seamonkey with Network Security Services (NSS) libraries to improve the security of cryptography services and address book access. The main side-effect of this change is that Thunderbird users lose the ability to directly import their address book into OpenOffice. Another security improvement sees support dropped for authenticated LDAP access.

The update adds six new languages -- including Bulgarian, Danish, Hindi and Thai, and becomes 64-bit on the Mac platform, upping its system requirements to OS X 10.7 (Lion) or later.

Apache OpenOffice 4.1.0 is available now as a free, open-source download for Windows, Mac and Linux.

New platform aims to get business apps working in Harmony

Image Credit: Stokkete / Shutterstock

Thanks to mobile devices, the cloud and the internet of things Cisco reckons that by 2020 there will be 50 billion digital endpoints.

This volume of connected devices offers huge potential for business. But as 85 percent of enterprise data still sits on in-house systems like ERP packages and secure databases its potential is hard to release.

Integration specialist Jitterbit has announced full availability of its Harmony Integration Cloud Platform which aims to simplify the integration of a new generation of endpoints with existing enterprise systems.

It uses a graphical "Clicks Not Code" approach to empower business analysts to connect applications in days and create connected business processes that open new channels of revenue and streamline manual tasks.

Companies can quickly integrate business processes, such as connecting cloud front-office applications to on-premise ERP to provide order and billing detail for a call center rep who needs to resolve customer billing issues. Harmony provides a visual studio so that non-technical users can easily design innovative processes that connect multiple endpoints, devices, geographies, and partners.

Other features include the ability to connect to hundreds of applications, smart migration across different environments, intelligent mapping of fields and a built-in library of business formulas. It also offers secure team and individual access and complete audit trails.

"We are thrilled to deliver the biggest product release in our 10-year history to the general public," says George Gallegos, CEO at Jitterbit. "The Harmony Platform is the realization of our commitment to give customers and partners the power to use integration to amplify the value of their applications with the most modern and fastest Cloud integration platform in the market".

You can find out more and watch a video demo of Harmony on the Jitterbit website.

Image Credit: Stokkete / Shutterstock

Amazon launches new Wearable Technology store


Wearable technology has yet to really make an impact, but its time is coming. There are more and more products being released by many of the world's top tech firms, and shows focusing on wearables are popping up across the globe.

Amazon today joins in the wearables craze by launching a one-stop shop where customers can find and buy the latest in wearable technology, including activity trackers, smart watches, and wearable cameras. There are products on offer from the likes of Samsung, Jawbone, GoPro, Basis, and Misfit.

"Wearable technology is an exciting category with rapid innovation and our customers are increasingly coming to Amazon to shop and learn about these devices," says John Nemeth, Director of Wireless and Mobile Electronics at Amazon. "We’re thrilled to bring our customers a store with the largest selection and great prices that helps eliminate the guesswork when deciding which wearable devices best fit their needs -- whether that is tracking activity, staying connected through smart watches or capturing their next adventure with wearable cameras".

The new store offers a Learning Center with product videos and buying guides to help would-be purchasers better understand the benefits of the items on offer. Customers can read about device compatibility, and view product comparisons and use-case suggestions. They’ll also be able to catch up on the latest wearable tech news and reviews in the Editor’s Corner.

The Wearable Technology store is open for business now at