Last week, when I asked "Are you sure you don't just want to use Ubuntu?" I received a record number of talkbacks, good, bad, and in between. One of the more interesting, though, came from reader ksheppard, who responded with a challenge: ...Here's a challenge to you: Make a list of everything - absolutely everything - a hypothetical school superintendent would be required to do to switch his personal laptop (which he uses at work and at home) from XP to Ubuntu, while maintaining, as much as possible, his usual behavior. Allow your blog followers to critique and refine the list until you think it is reasonably complete. Then have the research staff at ZDNet assign time and money expense to each item on the list. Allow your blog followers to help you critique and refine those figures. Whaddaya think? I think I wish we had research staff here at ZDNet, but I also think that it's a really useful exercise to undertake. I think our district represents a good starting point for the … [Read more...] about Just what does it take to switch to desktop Linux (part 1)?
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European scientists, working at a facility in Chile, have announced the discovery of 32 new planets outside the Solar System, including several within the size range of Earth. Reporters hailed the discovery of "super-Earths" especially the estimate that as many as 40% of all stars may have low-mass planets orbiting around them. Scientists have now found about 400 "exo-planets" using telescopes, most in the size range of Jupiter. It's awfully exciting, but what does it mean? It means, for one thing, that there are many opportunities in our galaxy for life to develop, and perhaps for intelligence as well. Yet we remain, so far as is scientifically proven, alone. Attempts to reach the voices of the stars, including the famous SETI @ Home experiment starting in the 1990s, have yet to come up with extraordinary proofs for the extraordinary claims of intelligent life elsewhere. We have yet to find the salt shaker of the alien spaceship, let alone E.T., a close encounter of the third kind, or … [Read more...] about What does it mean if Earths are everywhere?
When it comes to smart TVs, Netflix is now picking favorites. Last week, Netflix announced the first batch of TVs that will be awarded the “Netflix Recommended” sticker. It’s a gold star of sorts, used to distinguish the TVs that are optimized for Netflix with “fast” streaming and the ability to play Netflix as big red intended.It’s a cool idea — everybody wants a better streaming experience. But what does it mean? According to Netflix, every recommended TV must meet five out of seven criteria. Unfortunately, those criteria are only loosely defined. Recommended TVs will have faster startup and playback, for instance, but how fast?Below is our guide to the murky waters that is Netflix’s list of recommended TVs. We’ll break down the main criteria that every Netflix super-set must have. But first, checkout which TVs have made the cut so far. Here’s the shortlist of Netflix recommended TVs: LG 4K UHD TVs … [Read more...] about Netflix Recommended TVs: What does it mean, and why do you want one?
Windows 8 was released, but do you already find yourself wondering what comes next? If reports by ZDNet and The Verge are to be believed, Microsoft’s next operating system will be called Windows Blue. According to The Verge’s source, Microsoft’s bent on making Windows Blue “the next OS that everyone installs.” Perhaps the company will offer the update for a price much lower than usual … or even for free. Just like any other software upgrade, we can expect user interface changes to come with Windows Blue. The extent of the redesign is unknown at this point, as is whether or not it will retain Windows 8’s aesthetics. Another major change that you might come to like if you also own a Windows phone is that when Windows Blue comes out, developers will be required to make apps that work on both computers and mobile devices. All the Windows 8 apps available right now will still work with Windows Blue, but once the new OS hits the market, … [Read more...] about Microsoft’s Windows Blue: What is it and what does it mean for you?
Facebook Tuesday integrated OpenID, crossing a major landmark in the openness of social networks. The step is even more significant as Facebook, the biggest social network of them all with over 200 million users, was considered resistant to being "open" -- until now.Facebook Tuesday integrated OpenID, crossing a major landmark in the openness of social networks. The step is even more significant as Facebook, the biggest social network of them all with more than 200 million users, was considered resistant to being "open" -- until now. Slideshow: 12 tips for safe social networking If you're planning on joining Facebook, then OpenID integration would make the biggest difference. If you already have a Google Mail account (which supports OpenID) then all you have to do is enter your e-mail credentials and your new account will be populated automatically with your data.Existing users get this benefit as well with an account-linking feature, so you can link your MySpace, Gmail, Yahoo … [Read more...] about Facebook Embraces OpenID: But What Does It Mean?
A Consumer Reports survey confirms what many people have asserted for years--AT&T is officially the worst wireless provider in America. Well, it ranked last in the Consumer Reports survey, but there are more things to consider when choosing a wireless service than what Consumer Reports has to say.Android, iPhone, BlackBerry: What They Say About You Slideshow: Wireless Networks and Mobility QuizAT&T scored a 60 out of a possible 100 on the survey, which not only places it in last place, but is also a significant drop from its 2009 score of 66. AT&T is the second-largest wireless provider in the US based on total subscribers, and it claims to have the fastest 3G network, but it is consistently derided by customers for poor performance and customer service.AT&T may be the "worst" wireless provider, but think before you switch providers.It is worth noting, however, that more than half of the responding AT&T customers are iPhone users, and that among non-iPhone … [Read more...] about AT&T Ranked Worst: What Does it Mean to You?
One of the latest tech buzzwords given wings by the success of the iPhone and iPad is HTML5. Apple has pitched this up-and-coming iteration of the Web’s main building block as everything from an alternative App Store platform to the Flash-less future of multimedia on the Internet. But what exactly is HTML5, and what are its real-world benefits to average users like you and me?HTML—Hyper Text Markup Language—is the fundamental blueprint of all Websites. When you visit a site, you see pages with text, photos, videos, and games. But your browser displays all that stuff because it downloaded a big chunk of HTML code that instructs it where to access that media and how to lay it out on a virtual page.Web designers can build Websites using everything from powerful tools like Dreamweaver and Coda to plain ol’ TextEdit—in the end, the blueprint is still just a bunch of HTML text instructions for placing this picture over here and that chunk of text over there. … [Read more...] about HTML5: What Does it Mean for You?
Last week, Google announced that their Google Voice App was finally accepted into the App Store. You may remember the controversy surrounding Google Voice on the iPhone from September of last year, when Apple first rejected the app. After changing some of its App Store approval policies, Apple began accepting third-party GV apps this past September, but it was unclear as to why the official app hadn't made an appearance until now. In any case, it's here, it works, and it's a huge step forward for the App Store. Google Voice: 5 Truths Behind the Hype Google Voice allows its users to not only link multiple phone numbers to one Google Voice number, but also make cheap international calls and send free text messages. For these reasons, it was speculated that pressure from AT&T may have been a contributing force behind the initial rejection, in addition to the perceived threat of Android.Google Voice also features Voicemail transcriptions; while they are often comically … [Read more...] about Google Voice App in the App Store- What Does it Mean?
It may have been easy for Congress on Friday to approve the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), despite past controversy around it.This bill does not hike federal spending or impose sweeping regulatory rules. Its main feature is something many firms will be happy to get: liability protection if they share information with the government about cyberthreats and attacks.CISA was slipped into the keep-the-government running $1.1 trillion spending bill. It was approved just before lawmakers took their holiday recess. The cybersecurity provisions of the bill itself are expected to cost the government about $20 million over a four-year period.The White House was expected to sign the bill, and possibly upset a long list of tech firms, including Apple, Google and Facebook, who are worried about private information getting into government hands.Lawmakers are betting that the measure will improve security, but the legislation's effectiveness will ultimately be settled by the attackers … [Read more...] about Cybersecurity bill approved, but what does it accomplish?
It can happen to any business of any size: A customer isn't happy with your product or service and decides to express his or her displeasure, and once this happens, it's pretty tough to win that customer back. "It's a real challenge [to earn back] trust and loyalty where a disappointed customer is concerned," said Danny Rippon, chief solutions officer at customer engagement solutions provider Thunderhead.com. "The ideal scenario is to avoid disappointing customers in the first place, [but sometimes] there are gaps in what customers expect and what companies are able to deliver." According to recent research by Thunderhead, 1 in 5 customers will stop trusting a company after one bad experience, and 25 percent will switch brands completely. Moreover, nearly one-third of customers will share a bad experience on social media or other public forum, which could potentially reach hundreds of thousands of other consumers. [Customer Service 2.0: Satisfying Customers in the Digital Age] As … [Read more...] about What Does It Take to Win Back a Customer?