Science Fiction Devices Soon To Be In Your Household! : Flexible Cell Phones.

Cell phones moved into our lives as massive “brick-like” devices that were very expensive to own and operate and required a briefcase full of electronics to function. Now they are small, light-weight squares that fit easily in your pocket. People particularly want a cell phone that is resistant to damage, has all of the latest features and functions and is easy to carry around.

Flexible Cell Phones

Nokia has been working hard to break free from “traditional” cell phone designs and create futuristic flexible phones that you can fold up, roll, bend, clip to your clothes, and wrap around your wrist like a bracelet… basically it can be carried in a variety of ways never before possible. The first in their concept line is called the 888 which is a very light and easy to use cell phone that uses a liquid battery, has speech recognition capabilities, a flexible touch screen and a touch sensitive body.

Another Nokia concept, called Morph, takes the flexible idea another step further with a concept phone that can be folded up and put in your pocket and then easily taken out and actually stretched out to take call or use its touch keyboard. This phone utilizes nanotechnology to make the thread-like material of the phone flexible, stretchable, transparent and incredibly strong.

Of course Nokia isn’t the only company working on flexible phones. Samsung and Kyocera have both working on their own futuristic phones using OLEDs and the ability to charge the phone using kinetic energy. Others are sure to follow if the technology seems viable.

All I can say is how soon can I get my hands on one of these phones?

~TeCHS

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Science Fiction Devices Soon To Be In Your Household! : Universal Translators.

A Universal Translator is a very common device in the science fiction world; the translator’s purpose is to offer an instant translation of any language thus eliminating the problem of needing a translator and spending time translating alien languages. Translating a new language in every episode or movie when the main characters encounter new species or new cultures would consume too much time and become so repetitive that people stop watching the programs. The Universal Translator, as shown by science fiction works, seems pretty unlikely at the moment but scientists are working hard on similar technologies involving the small number of known languages around the world.

Universal Translator

In 2010 Google announced that it was developing a translator that uses a voice recognition system and extensive database and will recite the translation back in any language that it has in its database. Some time ago the U.S. Army developed a two-way translator specifically for use in Iraq that focuses only on Arabic-English translations. Also, revolutionary software called VoxOx launched in February of this year and enables two people to communicate with one another in their native languages over instant messenger, SMS or email. The software lets each person type in their native language and translates the type on the other end into the other person’s native language.

Nuance Communications, Inc., one of the nation’s leading providers of speech and imaging solutions who are based in Massachusetts, has been working on a prototype hand-held device that can read text in seven different languages and translate it into English. You simply point the device at the text you need translated and it takes care of the rest. They estimate that a commercial cell phone based version will be available within the next three years.

~TeCHS

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Science Fiction Devices Soon To Be In Your Household! : Holographic Displays.

Cell phone manufacturers have been working hard for years to develop the ability to play 3D messages using their cell phones display with the “look and feel” of a holographic display like those seen in science fiction movies. Japanese company Hitachi Ltd. began selling cell phones that are capable of 3D displays which give the illusion of a holographic image coming out of the screen back in 2009; however they only are only selling them in Japan and have no current plans to sell them world-wide.

Holographic Displays

At the moment the cell-phone version isn’t really practical for anything that involves a lot of text and there aren’t many people developing practical applications for its use. What exists right now works great for images or short animations but it doesn’t take long for the novelty to wear off and the strain to start on your eyes.

As we all know, product releases like this are driven by consumer demand. There are quite a few big companies working on 3D or holographic cell phones, or who have already built one and are sitting on devices like this, and with the current boom in 3D movies and home 3D television sets the market just may drive cell phone manufacturers to launch them so we can all own one.

~TeCHS

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Erasing Your Files From An SSD Is Harder Than You May Know

Storage devices are pretty straight forward items and most everyone now-a-days uses them to store all of their media, files, documents, music, photos and so on. Solid State Devices (SSDs) are one of the most widely used data storage devices today and are most commonly found as USB thumb or flash drives. Laptops and smartphones are now using SSDs as their primary storage mechanism as well.

SSD

SSDs were created to mimic the functionality of a traditional hard drive and thus people assume that they can treat it like one as well. One generally assumes that you can store, save, move and delete files as well as having the ability to wipe the device clean of all data should you want to reformat or give the device to someone else.

SSDs are data storage devices that have no moving parts and use microchips to store data in non-volatile memory chips. SSDs use solid-state memory and provide access to stored data in a similar manner as a traditional block I/O hard disk drive. SSDs are less susceptible to physical shocks, they are quieter and they access data faster than traditional HDDs.

Traditional hard drive disks (HDDs) are electromechanical devices that employ spinning disks and moveable read/write heads to write contents to a physical location; so erasing the device is a rather simple operation. Computers have built in programs for disk erasure that do a very good job of actually deleting the data.

Unfortunately it looks like computer files that are stored on SSDs are almost impossible to delete using traditional disk-erasing techniques. The drives incorrectly indicate they have been securely erased when, in fact, there can be as much as 75% of the data still residing on the drive in a secondary location.

SSDs have a radically different internal design than the older hard drive devices, they use computer chips to store data and a Flash-based Translation Layer (FTL) to manage the contents of those chips. So when a file is modified the FTL will write a new file at a different location instead of simply overwriting the old file; this process leaves behind digital remnants of the old file.

It is very common to keep sensitive or personal information on these types of drives and no one really thinks about files again once they have been deleted. We all assume they are gone, especially if we run a complete disk erase procedure. However, it looks like instead of selling old USB thumb drives its best to just destroy them. When it comes to computers, before donating them, selling them or recycling them, remove and destroy the hard drive. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

~TeCHS

TeCHS Ventura, CA

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Social Networking : Be Careful What You Share Online.

Ah, the internet.

The “anonymous, I can be whomever I want and no one will ever know” internet.

Social Media

Pretty much everyone now-a-days, from the very young to the very old (and even some people’s pets!), have at least one social networking profile, they are a member of at least one online forum, a blogger or a commenter on blogs and so much more that keeps them commenting and posting all of the intimate details of their lives all over the world wide web. The one thing most people don’t think about is how those posts can affect their real lives.

Somehow everyone seems to think that what they write, especially when using a fake/made-up user name, can’t be traced back to them. The internet is a wide open and easily sifted medium where pretty much anyone with the desire and know-how can find out more information about you than you would ever want them knowing. There are even quite a lot of people out there who are paid very well to find out exactly what you are, or have been, doing online… and they are very, very good at their jobs.

I see people constantly posting detailed things about where they are, whether or not they are at home, how long they will be gone, what their children are doing, what the rest of the family is doing, photos that generally shouldn’t have even been taken of all of the important people in their lives, photos of their houses and cars and finally the most damaging, information and photos of illegal or downright poor judgment activities. All of those drunken college parties can come back to bite you in the butt years later while looking for a job.

So, you have to ask yourself, who is looking at all of this information? What does any of what you post have to do with life outside of the internet? How about current or prospective employers? Maybe you apply for a job and the employer does a quick search and finds out that the person who looked so good on paper (via a resume) they come to find likes to take illegal drugs, drinks heavily, parties on work nights, and generally makes very bad judgment calls in many areas of their lives? Do you think you are going to get that job you applied for? If you already have a job, don’t forget that at least one person at your company is looking over the information you are tossing all over the web.

What about someone who has something against you personally? You anger a neighbor or ex-friend or ex-lover and they watch your profile for your posts about how much you are enjoying your vacation and that you will be gone for another few days… What about what your kids are posting? What underage shenanigans are your kids involved in? The “hide profile” button and other security features are actually quite easily circumvented and whatever you post on the internet is pretty much there forever. The only way to truly get rid of those photos or those posts is for the servers containing that information to be wiped clean or be destroyed. You may click that little “delete” button and feel safe… but I guarantee that information isn’t gone.

Don’t get me wrong, social networking isn’t all bad. If done correctly it can link people, companies and communities for mutually beneficial reasons. Just be smart about what you post online.

~TeCHS

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V2V Testing in the United States

How cool would it be if cars could talk to one another? Talk to the roads?

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication recently underwent its first major real-world test in the United States! The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute was awarded millions of dollars to move forward with a test in the Ann Arbor area which will get 3,000 short range radio equipped cars on the road.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) believes that if cars can effectively communicate with one another and with the road that we can reduce serious collisions and other traffic issues by about 80%. The cars can tell their drivers if it is unsafe to pass, whether a car is approaching at an unsafe speed, or even when a car ahead of them slams on its breaks. The cars that can share information will not only be more efficient but they will also be much safer for everyone on the road.

Thanks to the Ford Motor Company spearheading this endeavor, other leading automakers and safety leaders all over the world are all jumping on board to bring everyone better and more affordable intelligent vehicle technology.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Programs Office (ITS-JPO) is sponsoring the research being conducted by the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP), which is a joint research group founded by Ford and General Motors.

Together all of these companies are working on a standardized platform for advanced wireless systems that will allow vehicles to ‘talk’ to other vehicles (V2V). If vehicles can communicate in harmony with one another we can reduce crashes and congestion on our highways. According to reports issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), intelligent vehicles could help in preventing up to 81% of all reported vehicle crashes. Interoperability standards and the complete research phase for this project should be completed by 2013!

Totally cool and futuristic!

I hope that the vehicles talk like Kitt from Knight Rider.

~TeCHS

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Microsoft “Retires” XP and Office 2003

In case you haven’t heard – support for XP and older Office software ends in 2014… are you prepared to upgrade your old equipment/software?

Keep in mind that some older equipment is not compatible with the newest version of Windows (Windows 7). Peripherals such as printers or wireless mice may also need to be replaced/upgraded when you change from XP.

If you need help – call us!
We can upgrade your old system or build & configure a brand new system just for your needs. We also transfer all of your personal data to your new machine for you… we make the switch as easy as possible for you.

You can read more about the “retirement” from Microsoft here:
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/endofsupport.aspx

~TeCHS

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Celebrating One Year as TeCHS!

Did you know that TeCHS has used to be called Leader Creative Services?

Leader Creative Services began in 2003 as a small graphic design house. As the years went by we added more and more services to our offerings and finally on June 03, 2011 we decided to change the name of the business to better reflect all of the technical solutions we offer Ventura County. Thus TeCHS was born!

We are proud Ventura natives that want nothing more than to keep everyone’s digital life running smoothly and to keep business and money in our beautiful and wonderful county! From the home to the local business – we provide affordable, fast, friendly and reliable services for all of your needs.

TeCHS Flyer 2011

How can we make your digital life easier?

~TeCHS

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A few more tips to safeguard yourself, your identity and your loved ones.

Part 3 of 3.

Criminals are always looking for new ways to catch people unawares and take advantage of them. They will use any means necessary to commit whatever crime they have in mind and a lot of the technology we use everyday leaves everyone open for a possible attack. There are quite a lot of things you can do to protect yourself and your family from becoming victims.

Part 3: Medical records, credit reports, junk mail and documents.

Your medical records contain your entire family history as well as your personal contact information. It details your relationships (husband, wife, children, etc), your sexual behavior, any illnesses, diagnosis, treatments, prescriptions, you name it! Unfortunately even these records aren’t that difficult for a savvy criminal to obtain, especially since most medical providers now keep their patient records digitally. You can keep an eye on your records by visiting the Medical Information Bureau’s web site or calling them.

Always keep an eye on your credit reports. You are entitled to a free credit report once a year thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Never assume that your credit report is accurate, human beings enter the data into these reports and errors happen. Plus, if you know what is on your report you can identify possible identity theft or credit card fraud since information of that nature will be detailed in your report.

When you need to dispose of bills or bank statements – never simply throw them in the trash! Criminals frequently “dumpster dive” for these documents. Shred everything. Everything! Credit card statements, bills, old debit or credit cards, bank statements, old pay stubs, anything of that nature. Cross-cut shredders are very inexpensive and can save you a lot of hassle.

Do not fill in any personal information that you do not absolutely have to when filling out documents. If the fill-in box states that it is optional – keep it to yourself. If you must fill in something, keep it as brief as possible. For example, don’t fill in your full legal name – use your initials. A lot of junk mail comes from people filling in all of their personal data when they really did not have to.

Lastly, to keep telemarketers from calling you – simply include your name in the Do Not Call Registry (www.donotcall.gov).

Protecting yourself from victimization truly is in your hands. Making small changes in your life and keeping an eye on your assets, your information and your technology can keep you and your family from identity theft or other problems.

~ K. McMillan-Ralph, TeCHS

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A few more tips to safeguard yourself, your identity and your loved ones.

Part 2 of 3.

Criminals are always looking for new ways to catch people unawares and take advantage of them. They will use any means necessary to commit whatever crime they have in mind and a lot of the technology we use everyday leaves everyone open for a possible attack. There are quite a lot of things you can do to protect yourself and your family from becoming victims.

Part 2: Computers, spyware and deleting files.

Your personal computers contain a wealth of your most personal and valuable information as well as avenues for exploitation and theft by savvy criminals. The easiest way for a criminal to steal information off of your computer is to actually physically steal the computer. Laptops are prime targets for theft and you should never leave it unattended. Never leave them in your car, do not stow them in overhead bins while traveling and even when you are home, store them someplace that they are not readily seen by everyone in your home.

On top of that always secure your computers with good, strong, not-easily-guessed passwords. Do not use common words, do not use sequential numbers or letters and never use personal names or dates of important events. If you can remember them it is best to use alphanumeric passwords, passwords that contain a random set of numbers and letters – both uppercase and lowercase. If that isn’t do-able for you, use an odd sentence. Keep in mind that the longer your password is, the more characters it contains, the harder it will be to guess.

Other ways to safeguard your computer include making sure your firewall is always running, make sure that you have a good spyware program installed on your computers and that you run them at least once a week and never click on any links you do not recognize or are unsure about. Criminals are very good at embedding malicious software into seemingly innocuous programs that can wreak havoc on your computer and your personal life.

Truly deleting files is not as easy as it sounds. You may think that once you delete something from your computer that it is gone forever. A lot of times that is not the case. Unless you go through the trouble of wiping your hard drives or physically destroying them, it is possible to recover that “deleted” data. There are quite a few programs on the market that will “wipe” a hard drive truly clean… but be careful! USB thumb drives or flash data cannot ever be truly wiped clean.

Next week: Medical records, credit reports, junk mail and documents.

~TeCHS

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