technology

Over the past several years, I have written columns praising Google for its Herculean efforts in digitizing and compiling massive amounts of historical data, digitizing and archiving millions of pages of old newspapers, creating an outstanding historical resource that could be searched as easily as today’s Web pages. In more than one column, I documented the enormous library of millions of old books and magazines that had been digitally preserved by Google, making them freely available to the public.

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Over the past several months you may have seen Sal Khan, founder of the Khan Academy (khanacademy.org) appearing in a commercial for the Bank of America, announcing its free online “Better Money Habits” (bettermoneyhabits.com) education program.  Started in April of 2013, utilizing the educational and academic expertise of the Khan Academy, and funded by the Bank of America, this free online learning program offers basic financial education to all.

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Always on the lookout for interesting new security software, I recently came across an interesting new security concept. SecureAPlus, currently available as a free download with a one year license, is unusual in that its cloud-based malware scan utilizes up to a dozen different scan engines rather than the single-cloud based scanners used by its major competitors.

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Over the past two weeks, I have taken two long road trips. I purposely and concurrently tried several of the popular and not-so-well-known Android road routing apps, and arrived at some conclusions that may be helpful as we approach the upcoming summer travel season. I found is that what may be an excellent app under some travel circumstances approaches uselessness under other road situations.

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I just returned home from the annual convention of the Texas Community College Teachers’ Association (TCCTA), held this year in Dallas. The decrease in demand for traditional bound textbooks was clearly evident in the exhibit hall of the TCCTA convention.

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As I type this, the extremely popular streaming media company has in excess of 50 million paid subscribers. Originally known for its mail based DVD rental service, Netflix is currently the world leader in streaming media subscriptions. Once thought of in monopoly terms, Netflix is now facing serious competition from a multitude of sources, including the online retailer Overstock.com, retailing megalith Walmart, and the marketing powerhouse of Amazon.

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In recent months, I have written several columns about Internet and smart device privacy issues. Apparently, a large number of popular apps for both Android and Apple iOS devices utilize access to personal information of various types for other than the legitimate functioning of those apps.

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Now that the spring semester is starting, it is quite obvious that almost all of my college students have and are using smart phones and other digital communications devices for much more than the traditional calling function. With the near universal use of smart phones and related devices in our daily lives, it is inevitable that crooks and other dishonest people will find a way to illicitly capitalize on the popularity of these devices. 

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Since announcing in a column here several weeks ago that my wife and I each have a new, high-end Android smart phone, several people have asked me what apps we put on our respective phones.

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Early last summer in this column, I explained several of the alternative methods of purchasing factory new or refurbished smart phones at deeply discounted prices, without any long-term contracts. One of the sources mentioned was Google and its “Google phones,” which are sold directly by Google from its “Play Store” at play.google.com/store/devices.

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