Microsoft Lumia 950: It Could Be Better

The Lumia 950 is Microsoft's attempt to turn your phone into something like a full-on Windows PC. It is built to move you to the next level of worker productivity. Unfortunately it comes up a little short.

The first Windows 10 device is designed to extend the benefits of the Windows experience to the smart phone. The goal is to use the phone to power a desk type experience to a monitor. This includes syncing office documents and photos across all your devices and connecting with the Windows store so your favorite apps, game, music and video are all in one place.

On the plus side, the phone does have a nice quad HD display, 5.2 inches, 564 pixels per square inch. USB-C for fast charging and a large capacity battery. The attractive display is easy to read outdoors. It is scratch resistant with a strong display glass.

Photo quality is on-par with the best smartphones. "Rich Capture" provides a triple LED natural flash. You can adjust the color saturation levels of bright or dark areas. A 20 MP sensor attempts to effectively eliminate motion blur. The quality camera image holds up even in low light.

The phone is constructed of plastic, a negative for some. The battery can be removed and it does has a microSD card slot which many phones do not. The Cortana voice assistant is also included.

Microsoft's secret sauce to all this is the Windows Continuum. The goal is to connect your Lumia 950 to a Microsoft Display Dock and use it with an external monitor, keyboard and a mouse. Office apps and Outlook can be scaled up to create a big screen optimized work environment. The idea is maintain productivity even without a laptop.

The Continuum feature is not really available in Android or iPhone devices. It will take some finesse to get it set up and some experimentation with the right type of cables etc. to make it work.

Once you have it together and working, whether it be in a hotel room or conference area, you can share a PowerPoint presentation or a video on large screen. When done you can undock your phone. Then you can resume working on the same project in a matter of minutes.

Many report problems with typing on the device. Automated spell check is not available. It will take longer to correct errors.

Windows 10 brings a few other additions to the Lumia 950. One is Windows Hello, now in beta mode. Hello is iris-scanning recognition software. It works by just starting into the phone.

App selection for a Windows phone still remains challenging. The platform is not supported by Google. Those who rely on Gmail, Google Maps, Google Drive, and Google Docs will have to find third party applications or go directly to the web for usage.

Pricing starts at $ 550 in the US and will be determined by carrier. A larger 5.7 "inch XL version is scheduled to be introduced later and will cost more.

The 950 is a good start for Microsoft to bring more productivity to the smart phone, but not the end result many were expecting. Unfortunately the design is not really anything new, Continuum set-up can be challenging, and a lack of apps is troublesome.

Windows fans may seize the opportunity to jump on the Lumia bandwagon and work through some of the phone's shortcomings.

Others will wait until Microsoft fixes some of the inherit problems with not only the phone but the Continuum system itself before giving it a more serious look.

Privacy Issues Surrounding Biometric Technology

The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center have provoked in-depth discussion and study of existing security measures, their deficiencies, and how to enhance security to prevent similar terrorist attacks from occurring in the future. Biometric technology has risen to the top of the list as a possible solution. The government is not the only entity exploring biometric security systems. The financial services industry see biometrics as a way to curb identity theft. Biometrics are intrinsic physical characteristics used to identify individuals. The most commonly used biometric is fingerprints but others include, handprints, facial features, iris & retinal scans, and voice recognition.

Soon after 9/11 there were calls for the issuance of national ID cards containing biometric information on an RFID chip implanted on the card. The argument is that national ID cards will increase security by identifying individuals with their unique fingerprints which are much more difficult to counterfeit than standard photo ID cards. There is also a movement toward biometric passports. It looks like biometric passports are coming soon. National ID cards may follow.

Biometric identification is nothing new. Humans have been identifying other humans biometrically since the beginning of time. You recognize people you know by their facial features, their voice, and other biometric features. What’s new is introducing technology into the mix that compares a given biometric with a stored database of biometrics to verify the identity of an individual. An individual place their finger on a fingerprint scanner and the image is compared with the database to verify the person’s identity. Promising as it is, biometric technology has not been without hiccups but biometrics are advancing quickly and becoming more and more prevalent in security systems.

Fingerprints are the most commonly used biometric identifiers. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conducted a study that showed single fingerprint biometric systems had a 98.6 percent accuracy rate. The accuracy rate rose to 99.6 percent when 2 fingerprints were used and an almost perfect 99.9 percent when 4 or more fingerprints were used. The study results show that biometric identification is nearly perfect which is not surprising given the uniqueness of human fingerprints.

The US-VISIT program, which is an acronym for United States Visitor & Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, currently requires foreign visitors to the US to present a biometric passport containing 2 fingerprints and a digital photo for identification purposes before being granted admission to the U.S. Of course the biometrics are compared against a vast network of government databases full of known and suspected terrorists and other criminals.

On the surface biometric technology may sound like a panacea but it’s use has raised significant privacy concerns that need to be addressed. Here are six major privacy concerns: storage, vulnerability, confidence, authenticity, linking, and ubiquity.

Critics wonder how the data will be stored and how vulnerable it will be to theft or abuse. Confidence issues center around the implications of false positives and false negatives. Can the biometric data be used to link to other information about the individual such as marital status, religion, employment status, etc.? And finally ubiquity. What are the implications of leaving electronic “bread crumbs” to mark a trail detailing every movement an individual makes?

Until these issues are addressed, privacy advocates will lead a charge to resist biometric technology claiming it as a way for the government to assume a “Big Brother” type of rule as described in George Orwell’s novel 1984. But protest as they may, it’s likely national security concerns and the ability of biometric systems to enhance the security of US border and possibly prevent another major terrorist attack will win out over privacy concerns.

5 Quick Ways To Make Money From Home

With today's economy being what it is, somewhat stagnant; many people are trying very hard to come up with ways to make money from home. The unemployed, the recently downsized, even the retired grandmother need to find ways to earn money from home. Here are a few quick ways to make money from home.

1. Blogging

First, if you are seeking quick ways to make money, and you are a knowledgeable individual, you can start your own blog. The blog needs to be of interest to the public, and some of the blog programs on the internet today allow you to monetize your blog right away. To monetize your blog means to link it to one of the many advertising programs out there. These programs pay you for every click on the ads they place on your blog page or pages.

2. Writing Articles For Online Directories

Another of the quick ways to make money from home is article writing. There are many sites online which offer the opportunity to write about a variety of subjects. Some pay a penny per word, others pay substantially more. Most will base what you are paid on the level of your writing skill. Many will grade several of your articles to determine your average skill level. On these sites, research of the chosen subject is your friend and can lead to higher author ranking, which leads to higher per-word rates. You can see your earnings really add up.

3. Author Your Own Informational Articles

Then there are other sites, think of them as author sites, that allow you to create your own material on whiche subject you choose-complete with pictures or videos should you decide to include them-and that that will then add your approved articles to their directories . These sites pay for page views and advertising clicks, too. You also earn whenever someone downloads one of your articles to use on their blog or other web page. This is another of the quick ways to make money, but not as fast as others.

4. Online Auctions

Then there are those auction sites where you place items for sale. These are some of the quickest ways to make money. People shop online all the time. All you need is a product or some individual items to sell, pictures of these items to upload, a decent description, and decent pricing for the product and for shipping. If you offer decent items at decent prices and shipping rates, you are sure to make some money.

5. Create Your Own Website or Webstore

Make your own online business, either from some online franchise with its own products, or sell your own products or services. If you are a professional writer or transcriptionist, you can help potential clients find your site by placing links on pages or sites you visit regularly yourself. Or open your own online "dollar-type" store.

Perfect Europe Vacation Planning

Are you planning to go on a Europe Vacation some day? If so, you have picked an excellent place to venture to, as Europe has great cultural and historical significance, making it a hot locale for travelers. Places like Berlin, London, Venice, Nice, and Paris are very popular for people taking trips abroad. I have some tips for you, expert information, about how you can make your trip to Europe an experience you will never forget.

Keep an Open Mind

You should never settle on a rigid itinerary for your vacation. By traveling to a foreign location, you are giving yourself the opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture and lifestyle than what you are accredited to. For that reason, you should try looking into short-term rentals on homes and apartments. It is actually a very common practice in that part of the world, and you will find that renting is much cheaper than hotels or resorts. This will give you the opportunity to go into the streets and meet people, allowing you to learn more about the people and lifestyle of that country. That is the best way to have an unforgettable experience.

Stability

If you are looking for a more stable vacation, sometimes you should contact a travel agent and purchase a vacation package. Packages range in price, but you may be able to find a sale if you look hard enough. A discount package price will allow you to save more money for spending while you're in Europe. The benefit of vacation packages is that they will make sure you are on tours that explore all of the major attractions of a location, allowing for a worry- free vacation.

Bargain Vacations

The true key to getting a discount on a vacation, no matter where you go, is flexibility. You can save a great deal by taking advantage of bargains that only come up at certain times of the year and at certain places. These vacations are great if you can be flexible with:

* Which of the airlines you choose

* Which cruises you want to go on

* What you want to eat

* Where you want to stay

* When you want you leave

For example, if you have no particular goal in mind, but you just want to see Europe, then you will be able to find cheaper rates for traveling and staying in certain nations. Do not wait until the last-minute to start planning your vacation!

Stretching Every Dollar (or Euro)

Keep in mind that in other countries, prices are often times negotiable. Depending on where you go, especially in countries with weaker economies, you can often times haggle on the prices of your purchases, which will help you save a lot. This usually does not work with large-scale franchise businesses, but will almost always work with small local businesses.

Also, if you choose to eat at restaurants, a local restaurant is good in this respect because they will generally offer you lower prices then places that you are accredited to seeing in America. Remember, if you really want to make the most of your European vacation, then save money every chance you get, it will allow you to spend more on the things you like!