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Tag Archives: Business IT

iPad vs Kindle

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On the surface, Apple’s soon to be released iPad and Amazon’s already available Kindle appear to service the same market: eBook readers.

Amazon’s Kindle is available in two varieties. There’s the smaller screen US$259 6″ (15cm) Kindle, and the larger US$489 9.7″ (25cm) Kindle DX. Both have the same feature set, so the US$230 price difference just buys you more screen real estate. I’ve listed the prices there in US dollars because that’s what Amazon will charge you for them even though you’re shipping them to Australia. As such, depending on how the currency conversion goes, the price of the Kindle may fluctuate on a daily basis.

The local iPad prices have finally been set in stone. Pricing for the WiFi-only models starts at $629 (16GB), $759 (32GB) or $879 (64GB), while the 3G and GPS equipped version costs $799 (16GB), $928 (32GB) or $1,049 (64GB). As yet, unlike the iPhone, no carrier has said they’ll sell the iPad on a phone-style contract basis, but data plans have popped up starting at $20 for a 30 day expiry period. That’ll get you 1GB of usage from Telstra and 2GB from Optus. At the time of writing, Vodafone had yet to commit pricing, but it’s not a great stretch to suggest they’ll fall somewhere in line with Telstra and Optus anyway.

In the Kindle’s favour, the cost of the device includes lifetime wireless data access for browsing and buying books from Amazon’s Kindle bookstore. Pick a title, and pretty much anywhere in Australia it’ll be sent to your Kindle for quick and easy reading. In the US, the Kindle also offers limited web browsing, and will shortly offer Twitter and Facebook compatibility, but the “International” model doesn’t offer web browsing, so it seems unlikely we’ll get Twitter or Facebook either. The Kindle uses an e-ink solution that mimics the look of real paper — to a certain extent — and uses very little power. Charge your Kindle up, and it’ll last a number of weeks.

The iPad, on the other hand, uses a more traditional LCD display, as you’d find in a notebook or netbook. This has the downside that power consumption is much higher, but it’s readable by itself without any external light source. It’s also a much more capable device, somewhat akin to — but not quite like — a notebook or netbook. It doesn’t come with free lifetime data, but then what you can do with that data is far more wide reaching.

The iPad is somewhat akin to an iPod Touch with a touch of Frankenstein to it, and as such most iPod Touch/iPhone Apps will run on it, save those that need phone or camera functionality. It’s a more complete device in that it’ll handle a lot of simple computing tasks, but only one at a time. Like the iPod Touch/iPhone, there’s no multi-tasking capability out of the box, although the promised 4.0 iPhone software update due later this year may deal with some of those woes.

The iPad’s likely to be more expensive than the Kindle for the foreseeable future, although the difference between the Kindle DX and iPad 16GB isn’t that great after currency conversion and GST are taken into consideration. The Kindle hits the eBook market quite hard and with focus, and if all you’re after is an eBook reader, it’s the one to beat in single use terms. There are plenty of competitors in the wings. The iPad’s an eBook reader, but also quite a bit more, and it’s priced somewhat accordingly.


Voice Recognition Advances for the home PC

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Voice recognition software when fully installed on a personal computer (PC) is software that has the ability to receive, interpret and convert spoken words into written text. Anyone that wants to use voice recognition software will need to have a sound card and a fairly decent microphone. A microphone is used to capture the words that you speak and to input that sound into the computer. Words that are spoken into the microphone can be detected by the software, recognized and converted into written text.

Voice recognition technology has been around for some time, although it has seen huge advancements over the past few years. As with any technology, voice recognition technology started off being slow, heavy and clunky. Not every word was recognized correctly and so work needed heavy editing. With time, the technology has been refined and improved so as to deliver the quality that we can enjoy today. These days, there less errors with the software in converting spoken words and fewer incorrectly interpreted words. Voice recognition software now has the ability to judge the context within which words are spoken and therefore can correctly choose the spelling of any word that can be spelled in more than one way. This helps in situations where two words sound exactly the same, such as the words “to” and “two”.

There are many reasons that voice recognition software is useful both for personal and business purposes. The technology is great for any individual that may suffer from a disability that prevents them from typing into a keyboard or using computers in the typical manner. Voice recognition software can bridge a huge communication gap for people with disabilities by allowing more people to have access to computer technology. If a person is unable to type for any reason whether due to a physical disability or through maybe not having learned to type, voice recognition software provides them with the option of speaking words into a computer rather than typing them in.

Typically, voice recognition software can read back to the user the words that they have spoken. This allows the user to review their work/words and to make edits and corrections if necessary.

If you are on the market for voice recognition software for your PC, the two areas that you should judge software on are the speed and the accuracy of the software. In the best case scenario, you should try to buy the software that has the best word error rate (WER). Most applications will provide statistics on their WER. If they don’t, a search of consumer web sites and voice recognition forums will put you in touch with other consumers that can give you the “real deal” on the accuracy of the voice recognition program you are thinking of buying.


Linux Software for Personal Computers

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For many years now Linux has offered an operating system for personal computers (PCs). Microsoft has had the monopoly on operating systems for personal computers since it first came out with Windows. Because of Microsoft’s popularity and complete dominance in operating systems, it is very brave and an absolutely huge goal for any company to attempt to try to compete against them in this area. Linux is one company that has done just that. They put out an operating system (OS) that provides a viable alternative to Windows operating system. Although Linux has not fully taken off as a major player in PC operating systems you can never tell what might happen in the fast-paced world of the Internet.

When it comes to servers and software for hosting web sites, Linux has done exceptionally well and has made a lot of inroads. Many, many web site owners prefer to host their web sites on a Linux server over a Microsoft server. It will be interesting to see how this trend develops with time and whether we will see the same trends for Linux with personal computers.

If you choose to install Linux on your PC as your operating system, you will also need to install programs that run on Linux. The programs that you have installed on your Windows operating system will not work with Linux. This is probably the most significant factor contributing to the slow progress of Linux with PC users. It is probably only when programs written for Linux OS can rival, in quality and in ease-of-use, those written for PCs that Linux will really take off.

The great thing about Linux and one of the things that has made it popular as a server and, on a smaller scale, as a desktop operating system is the open source aspect of the software. Open source means the code is open and other programmers can help to program and develop the technology. Another benefit for users is the fact that much of the software that is developed to run on Linux operating system is free. As the price of software that runs on Windows and Apple platforms skyrockets, the free aspect of Linux software is very appealing to many computer users.

Although Linux technology has proved to be popular among the technical community, that enthusiasm has not yet caught on among every day computer users. There are many possible reasons for his. Installation and set up of Linux software is not always as simple as clicking the Terms and Agreements box and clicking the next button. It can require quite a bit of work and for some it can be completely impossible to install. The technical understanding needed to deal with some of the error messages, and configuration problems is too much for many would-be uers. Once Linux becomes as user-friendly as Windows we may see more and more people moving over to Linux OS for PCs.


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