Ten dreaded words: “Just sign this form and fax it over to me.” This is 2012—going on 2013. Faxing is so 1998, and a little bit like loaning someone a movie on a Betamax cassette tape. Increasingly, businesses and people don't even have traditional landline phones to connect a fax machine to.
Still, the concept of signing and returning documents is still going strong, and eFax brings faxing into this century by enabling you to receive and send “fax” documents directly from your PC. With Office 2013 on the immediate horizon, eFax is ready with the first online fax app that integrates with the Microsoft productivity suite.
I maintain that faxing is not any different than signing a document, scanning it, and emailing it to its destination. In theory, that’s all the fax machine is doing anyway. For some reason, though, certain industries--finance and investments in particular--still rely on the antiquated technology, and occasionally I run into a company that will only accept an actual fax that arrives on an actual fax machine.
It seems like we can expect amazing things from the Leap when it launches next year. Leap Motion reports that it has been flooded with requests for developer units, and an impressive assortment of unique and innovative applications for the motion-sensing device.
A few months ago Leap Motion revealed the Leap--a device that lets you interact with a computer using motion and hand gestures. It is similar in function to the Microsoft Kinect, but the precision claimed by Leap Motion makes the Kinect seem like trying to tie your shoes while wearing oven mitts.
Leap Motion has received more than 26,000 requests from developers interested in working with the Leap. Leap Motion reports that in the first seven days following the unveiling of the device, it received developer requests at a rate of just under 100 per hour—resulting in 15,000 developer applications in the first week alone. More than 1,500 applications have come from researchers and students at colleges and universities, including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University.
Whatever the reason, “Metro” is out, and Microsoft is temporarily referring to the colorful, tiled interface of the impending flagship operating system as “Windows 8 Style UI”. That lacks flare, though, and isn’t exactly a name that captures the imagination. Microsoft needs something catchy to brand the unique interface and differentiate it from the desktop mode.
I’m a little surprised that Microsoft is getting blindsided by the “Metro” naming conflict so close to the official launch of Windows 8. Microsoft is generally obsessive about avoiding name conflicts. There is a reason that all of its fictitious companies and networks are named “Contoso”—Microsoft has done its homework to find names it can safely use without running into these sort of legal quagmires.
A Wired Gadget Lab article by Alexandra Chang suggests that Microsoft drop the separate name altogether. She feels that it’s enough to just call it Windows 8, and that the “Metro” name just adds confusion. She points out, “How often do you hear people talking about their ‘Aero desktop experience’?”
Patent litigation has become standard business practice in the tech world, and no rivalry demonstrates that better than Apple and Samsung. The ongoing trial between the two smartphone and tablet leaders is the poster child for all that is wrong with tech patents.
Trolling v. Decency
There’s a term used for companies that buy up patents for the sole purpose of seeking out companies to sue for infringement--they’re called patent trolls. There are also companies that are awarded, and/or acquire patents and subsequently wield those patents against other companies to either stifle competition or extort money in the form of royalties.
I’ve been using an 11-inch MacBook Air as my primary computer for ten months now, but I’d never even opened up the Mail app until today. However, there are some interesting new features in Mac OS X “Mountain Lion” that I wanted to check out.
With Mountain Lion, Apple has integrated the Notes and Reminders tools from iOS into Mac OS X. More importantly, the Notes and Reminders are synced across the iPhone, iPad, and Mac through iCloud. So, a Reminder that I add on my iPhone shows up on my MacBook, and a Note that I type on my MacBook is immediately available from my iPhone and iPad.
I had already migrated from using Outlook for my Contacts and Calendar, because I wanted my contacts and calendar information to be available from all of my devices and kept in sync. However, I have avoided using Mail, and I rejected the idea of keeping my email synced through iCloud because Apple requires that I use my iCloud email address to make that work.
Microsoft revealed new mice and keyboard options aimed at Windows 8--specifically Windows 8 tablets. The touch gesture-enabled mice fill a void left with traditional mice, and resolve one of the biggest issues with Windows 8.
For mobile business professionals, a dockable Windows 8 tablet can fill the role of mobile device while on the go, and PC while back at the office. The available ports and specs will vary from one device to the next, and it remains to be seen what Windows 8 tablet hardware will bring to the table, but Windows 8 Pro tablets should be able to replace a desktop or laptop PC for most users.
While connected at the desk, the tablet can be used in conjunction with a full-size monitor, physical keyboard, and mouse--delivering the same processing power and functionality as many notebook PCs. Of course, it’s also possible to run Windows 8 on traditional PC hardware.
Business is about relationships. Customers choose to do business with companies that seem knowledgeable of their unique industry, and invested in their success. LexisNexis Smart Meeting is a new service that gives companies an advantage when competing for business.
An IDC (IDC is the research arm of PCWorld’s parent company, IDG) survey from 2011 found that sales and business professionals are often unprepared for initial customer meetings. In order to demonstrate knowledge and provide value, it’s important to be prepared with information about the prospective customer, and to be aware of current events and breaking news that impact the company.
The LexisNexis Smart Meeting service pulls relevant information from LexisNexis—a comprehensive source of company and industry news—and delivers a report to prepare sales and business professionals for client meetings. LexisNexis Smart Meeting integrates with the calendar in Microsoft Outlook to push breaking news and up to date company information immediately prior to scheduled meetings to give sales and business professionals an edge over the competition.