Monday, August 31, 2009

Dear Steve Jobs, the Mac Will Never Overtake the PC and Here's Why

Apple's Macintosh was touted as a revolution in computing because it boasted a graphical user interface. However, from the beginning, the Mac has been fighting an uphill battle likely due to a poor marketing strategy. But with Steve Jobs' arrival at Apple, the Mac has turned around and has regained some of its market share. It will never take over top spot though and here's why.

5. It just isn't that great

It's true. I know all the humorous Mac vs. PC commercials have gotten you thinking many bizarre things but the Mac just is not that good. You probably think that the Mac never crashes, it's good at handling photos and movies, it's got an easier-to-use interface and just about everything else. However, the PC has things to compete with virtually every aspect the Mac thinks its got going. iPhoto, Apple's ultimately awesome photo software has absolutely nothing on Google's Picasa and Windows Photo Gallery. And iMovie has nothing on Windows Movie Maker. That's not all though, there's tons of excellent freeware on the internet that only work on PC.

4. Abnormal

Most people have used a PC for a majority of their computing. They've gotten used to the simple and surprisingly convenient interface of the friendly PC. But then Mac comes along, decides to take away a button from the mouse, put a weird little bar of icons on the bottom of the screen and tweak just about every little thing the PC has done over the years. While Apple thinks it's being innovative and making everything cooler, consumers are just shaking their heads in confusion. And again, many software and computer games are incompatible for Mac because of its "innovation".

3. Impractical

Even most Applers admit that Microsoft Office is a much more effective system than Apple's iWork. The thing is that most people don't want to "create a beautiful document"; they want to create a professional document. So Office beats iWork; that basically wipes out students and business people as potential customers. And what does that leave? I mean, for most people, the prime use of a computer isn't just to play around creating little songs with GarageBand or fiddling with the cool features of iPhoto.

2. No reputation

When you see a guy holding a MacBook, you think "young, creative, eccentric", which might be good for an artist or an actor. And I'll admit, if you're an artist, a Mac will probably cater to your needs more effectively than a PC. However, a great majority of people want to get that professional look holding a smart HP laptop. And if you're trying to close a deal and invite a potential client into your office full of Macs, they're probably going to think, "This is pretty fishy, I don't know if I want to do business with this sort of an odd person."

1. Price

This is without doubt, the one thing that's hindering the Mac from having success. If I can get one of the average, sorta OK Macs for $1000 and I can get a PC with tons of storage, a bunch of RAM, a 20" monitor and a touch screen for just as much money, I'd probably opt for the PC. In addition, with the economic downturn, people aren't going to throw $1000 away at something just because it's cool. On the other hand, maybe these same people will buy a thousand-dollar PC because PCs don't have a reputation for being unreasonably expensive.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Top 5 Google Services That You Didn't Know About

Following my list of the top Yahoo! services that nobody knew about, some readers asked me to do a similar thing for Google's services. Of course, Google has become the more prominent of the two so it was quite a bit harder selecting services that were both good and unknown from their repertoire. But with a bit of work, I've come up with the top 5 Google services that you didn't know about.

5. Knol

Google Knol has really not risen to prominence; it's just not a unique idea. Basically, users write "knols", instructional articles about any topic and anybody can read these. Still, it's a pretty good resource for how-to because generally, the articles are quite a bit more detailed and authors know more about the topics they write about.

4. Google Scholar

Google Scholar is good for anybody doing extensive research into a particular topic. Simply type in a search term, and it will return only a list of "scholarly" results, which include books and essays by notable authors. The only problem is that you have to pay to access most of the scholarly articles.

3. GOOG-411

GOOG-411 is one of the many services that Google doesn't make a penny offering. That's because it's a free phone directory of businesses around your area, very convenient if you're on the go and need to find a business without internet. Just dial the toll free number, 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411) and you will be prompted to say your location and the business type you want to reach (maybe "Toronto" and "book store"). After that, you'll hear a bunch of listings of book stores around your area.

2. Google Health

Google Health is a product that allows you to create your own health profile for you and your doctor to access when it's needed. Here, you can list everything related to your health, from medications to allergies to test results to insurance to immunizations. In addition, you can find doctors around your area and use other online health services as well. This is very useful for anyone who has any health problems at all.

1. Google Books

Google Books is an absolutely comprehensive database of essentially every book you'll ever want to read. But there's more to it than just the pure number; each book result is overflowing with details. There will of course be the number of pages, publishers, publishing date, author and reviews. But that's just half of it. Also included in many listings are a preview of what's inside, related books, popular passages from the book as well as links to where you can buy the full version.

Honorable Mention:

Google Transit

I couldn't include this in the main list because it can't really qualify as a complete service yet, but keep an eye on Google Transit. Basically, it uses the public transit maps of different cities or regions to generate routes for you to take to get to your destination. So you can see why this would be such a useful service. And it's expanding quickly as well; it already has the transit maps of numerous municipalities throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. So soon, you'll even be using Google to help you find public transit. Neat, huh?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Useful Crap's YouTube Premier!

Yes. It's finally here. Useful Crap, the tech blog for the rest of us has created a YouTube Video. It will truly show you why people who aren't geeks need technology too. But I won't explain to you, I'll let Gary the gangster do the talking!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Your Very Own Back-to-School Checklist: What to Buy Before School Starts

I've seen lists on what you have to do before school starts and I've breezed through a few that list a few writing utencils but stop at that. But never have a come across a simple list of every single school supply you might possibly want to bring. This is what I've tried to create here:


Pencil crayons
Permanent markers

Writing Accessories

Mechanical pencil refills/lead
Pencil sharpener


Blank paper
Construction paper
Graph paper
Index cards
Lined paper
Post-it notes


(Portable) hole punchers
Adhesive labels
File folders
Locker organizers
Paper clips
Report covers


Cell phones


Math set


Computer monitor wipes
New clothes
Paper weights
USB sticks

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back-to-School Special: Top 7 Tips to Saving Money on School Supplies

As the summer winds down, every parent needs to do some back to school shopping. However, budgets have definitely tightened with the economic crisis and now, more than ever, you have to worry about every dollar you spend, even on school necessities. Here are some tips on how to save money while doing back-to-school shopping.

7. Buy in bulk

While 40 pencils might cost you $2, 10 might cost you $1. Obviously, you're constantly trying to get the most stuff for each dollar. Hence, common sense would tell us to buy the 40. On the other hand, some people just think about the dollar amount and get uneasy when spending more. But think about it. Do you really think that your child (that clumsy little kid) will be able to hold onto 1 pencil for even a week, let alone a whole month? And besides, even if you don't need all 40 pencils to get through the year, you've still got next year...

6. Look for coupons

You may be skeptical that Staples or Target will be giving out coupons but get your hopes up because perhaps these two particular stores aren't giving anything. But trust me, there will be at least one store that will and when you miss that $10 discount, you can't say I didn't tell you. Anyway, the best coupon site around has to be RetailMeNot, which is loaded with good deals and has an excellent interface.

5. Don't buy what they don't need

Sure, it'd be nice to have a customizable stamp maker or a label printer or a pack of blue staples but there's not need to splurge on school supplies. Just buy the basics; pencils, pens, erasers, a glue stick, a ruler, a calculator. They don't need white-out or tape to carry with them to school or an electronic dictionary. You know they'll barely use any of these items.

4. Get them to use their old stuff

Maybe their binder has a few scratches and has a bit of dirt on it but get your child to use old stuff again. Pencils that haven't run out of lead and erasers that are only half-used can still be packed into a bag for next year.

3. Don't waste

You have to teach them not to waste anything that they have. Staples can't be used to draw a picture and you can't use full bristol board as scrap paper. Have a scrap paper bin and a few old things that they can play around with.

2. Compare prices

This can be done quickly with Google Product Search. Just type in what you want and it'll return the most relevant results with prices and retailers conveniently included. Also, you can organize the items by price, then go to the cheapest retailer for each thing.

1. Don't worry about brands

Maybe they'll want the best clothes, but hopefully, your child won't care about the brand of his pencil. And you won't be cheated in quality either; most school supplies are around the same, whether generic or "luxury".

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why Band Hero Will Rock Harder Than You Could Ever Imagine

Adam Levine Headlines Band Hero, The Next Instalment in the Guitar Hero Series
Many rockers are awaiting the arrival of the next instalment in the Guitar Hero Series, Guitar Hero 5, which is scheduled for launch this fall. However, feeding off its hype is a very different-natured game, which will also be launched this fall by Activision. The new title, Band Hero, is getting plenty of attention because of its appeal towards teen pop junkies, with a line-up of top-40 tracks. Here's exactly why Band Hero won't be that gimmicky little game the Guitar Hero super-fans are claiming it will be:

Pop is Popular

You can say what you want about how the top 40 songs are all badly formed techno garbage but the definition of top 40 is that they are more popular than not top 40 songs. Therefore, more people know these songs and like these songs. And one of the major holes in Guitar Hero was that, while everyone enjoyed the interactive gameplay, they would have appreciated a few songs they knew as part of the line-up. Band Hero will fill that hole.

Teen Audience

With teens, when something gets hot, it'll spread like wildfire. Just look at Hannah Montana and The Jonas Brothers. And there isn't much of a doubt that with pop sensations like Taylor Swift and Adam Levine headlining Band Hero, that the game will take off. I mean, look at 17 Again featuring Zac Efron; it's not like the movie was any good, it's just that it incorporated something that the younger generation already adored. The same concept will work with Band Hero.

Suited for Novices

It's more satisfying when you're getting 100% on expert than when you get booed off the stage for your lack of ability, even on easy. Hence, the novice crowd who don't actually play guitar or drums, will be able to enjoy the simpler sets of notes instead of desperately mashing buttons.
With this, Band Hero is touted as the family-friendly Guitar Hero, with it's "E-10+" ESRB rating. But I don't believe that for a second since most hits these days are ... inexplicably unappealing to the older generation.

Even Rockers Can't Resist

Maybe DJ Hero (which is also coming out in the fall, no jokes), is going a bit to far but even the Metallica lovers will probably just say, "Hey, what the heck? It's made by the guys at Guitar Hero so it can't be that bad." And how about them game collectors; there's nobody easier to get money from than a hardcore game collector.

With all this, I'm not saying Band Hero will actually be of good quality. I'm saying that it will be popular and everyone will buy it.

Find Ways to Stay Active When School Starts: Find Sports Now

With America's obesity rate rising, somebody had an simple but excellent idea to solve a growing problem. FindSportsNow is the web's largest directory for recreational sporting activities throughout the United States.
People running sports can post the activities as advertisements or listings and those looking for them can find these activities. Listing is free and a good source of advertising so there's no reason users wouldn't want to post.
And for the people who want to get playing, the advantage is obvious. You don't have to spend hours doing Google searches just to find that everything you got wasn't in your city. Just select your state, city and look for the sport you want and you're all set. Listings provide you with the age group, gender, location, description, website, contact information as well as a few photos.
But if the sport you want isn't listed when you search, simply subscribe to the RSS feed for that sport and you'll be notified when a listing does come up. Definitely pretty convenient for if you don't have very much time.
However, the site may not be absolutely overloaded with listings right now, but with the digital age engulfing us, no longer will we use supermarket bulletin boards; instead, we'll be using FindSportsNow.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Online Lost and Found Listings at The Found Bin: Practical?

Everyone loses things. Sometimes its just a pen and sometimes it's a laptop or a diamond ring. But imagine, if a few clicks could get you that item right back, for free. That's the aim of The Found Bin, the internet's largest lost and found directory.
After you sign up, The Found Bin enables you to search among thousands of listings of lost or found items and animals. You can search the directory by specifying the make, manufacturer, color, serial number and even location.
Or if you can't find it when you look at first, you can post the details about your item to increase the chances of re-uniting with it.
But is this idea really practical? I mean, what are the chances that the person who found your item happens to be part of the handful of users that The Found Bin has. And in addition, look yourselves in the mirror (that's right, I'm Canadian) and ask yourselves, is America really nice enough to return your item, especially if it's of value. Plus, does anyone want to spend time broadcasting what they've found for someone (who might just be fake) to claim? Not likely.
But this definitely earns an honorable mention for a good idea. Maybe one day, the world will become a peaceful, collaborative place where everyone will join a huge community of losing and finding and returning items. Maybe one day. But for now, an online lost an found may not work as well as planned.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Top 5 Yahoo! Services that You Didn't Know About

By probably 2003 the world had gone through a major change in web tastes. Yahoo! had been the largest player in the search engine market for a number of years but by that time, Internet users had totally shifted their eyes to Google. And Google has been enjoying unprecedented success with a business model that is defined by simplicity and innovation. No longer would Yahoo!, MSN and AOL's model based on the sheer number of services, be effective.
However, the sheer numbers still are very important and Yahoo! shows us that just because it has way too many, doesn't mean it doesn't have quite a few good ones. Of course, everyone knows that Yahoo! has many great services; there's Yahoo! Answers, Fantasy Sports, Delicious, Flickr, Finance, Calendar, Mail and Search. These pages are legitimately better than most or all of their competitors.
But there are several notable services that linger in obscurity and do not enjoy the same popularity. Not many people will even have a clue that these existed, but they do, and they're quite good too.

5. Yahoo! Food

Yahoo! Food is a part of "Shine", a service mainly targeting women. But really, Yahoo! Food is good for anyone who enjoys food, especially the amateur (and maybe even professional) chefs. This service offers plenty of good recipes as well as videos regarding the tasty subject and a few articles as well. Overall, Yahoo! Food has to rank as one of the better guides on the web.

4. Yahoo! Entertainment

Yahoo! Entertainment encompasses Music, Movies, TV and "omg!" (a gossip site). And what can I say; this has to be the best all-in-one guide to entertainment out there. For Music, you get you're radio, Top 100 Charts and some news too. For Movies, you get reviews, summaries, gossip and more news. For TV, there's the must-watch shows, reviews, TV guides and a bit more news. Omg! is well, pure gossip. Maybe just all the normal stuff but when its all combined into one site and added to by the skillful developers on Yahoo!'s team, the final product is that much better.

3. Yahoo! Autos

If you're buying a new car or just have a love for vehicles, this is the site to go to. Spotlighted by strong new and used car search engines, Yahoo! Autos also includes an in-depth research guide to buying a new vehicle, useful finance tips and calculators as well as a guide to car maintenance.

2. Yahoo! Real Estate

Yahoo! Real Estate has everything you need for purchasing a new home. They can help you buy a home or sell a home, with finance guides, home listings, information on the best neighbourhoods to live in and a few specific guides too.

1. Yahoo! Local

Yahoo! Local is basically a guide to everything situated around you. This service lists literally every business, service or event that you want to find. Whether it's a barber, a mechanic or a restaurant, Yahoo! Local can find the ones nearest to you, complete with reviews and contact information. Of course, every listing is categorized neatly for easy search.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Why Everyone Loves to Hack Websites and Software (But Mostly Google)

Let's face it, everybody's wanted to hack a website at one point in their life. Being able to take advantage of a page's flaws just seems so awesome. I mean, wouldn't it feel good to be able to hack such a huge site such as Google. But this isn't some random coincidence that everyone wants to hack; it's psychology.
Hacking seems extremely cool because you are able to feel like you're in control and you've triumphed and have the upper hand. This is especially true during an economic crisis where everyone's only experiencing loss and loss and loss. And this rule even works if what you've just pulled off was just a little trick that doesn't actually do much.
But also, it's a lot like get-rich-quick schemes (or what I like to call online jobs); you have this little feeling in your heart that this might just result in something absolutely incredible that will change your life. Of course, usually, this doesn't happen but easy routes to success never grow old.
And this isn't just some hunch that I have. It's backed up by solid numbers: On the trusty Google Trends (which displays traffic for major search terms in the Google system), lists the term "hack google" with more search traffic than "Mississauga", the sixth largest city in Canada. But here's an interesting stat; 8 of the top 10 countries in searching for "hack google" are part of Asia, with Indonesia taking top spot. This translates to English being a mere fourth in the languages that "hack google" is searched in.
Now, site owners are relatively smart ;) and they've really exploited the fact that people love to hack. People are labelling virtually every tiny little manipulation as a "hack", this Blogger-related site being a testament.
So people, stop hacking!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Why Twitter is Better than Facebook: How the New Kid is Beating Facebook in Social Networking

The old MySpace and the barely considered Friendster and Hi5 all loom in the background as Facebook takes the spotlight in the social network hierarchy. And for at least another 5 years, the web giant, currently valued at over $6 billion isn't about to take a supporting role (but it seems very ready to take a pay cut).
Still, there is a pesky new kid on the block; but by no means is it a scrawny little midget. Twitter is the real deal and the bright blue birds are making a charge for supremacy (I wish I could say the same about those Toronto Blue Jays). And one day, I believe, Twitter will be the dominating force; here's why:


Every day, people are getting more and more picky about where they waste their time. And the economic crisis doesn't help much either. This is where Facebook's support of videos, photos, notes, apps and everything I haven't yet listed might come back to bite it. Facebook's got a whole bunch of things you constantly have to keep up with while on Twitter, you're not an outlier if you only update your tweets.


Now, it's really tough to explain this phenomenon but if you do try it, Twitter is much more addictive. One major factor, I think, is its simplicity. But another thing is that on Twitter, you want to post anything creative that you're thinking at any given time while on Facebook, you try to connect over little games and comment on each other's photos. And especially with the mobile age dawning, Twitter's model is a better long-term plan.


Last but definitely not least, Twitter is more personalized than its counterpart. Facebook prompts you for a little passive bio and maybe a few "What are you doings?". On the contrary, Twitter's model is based on any thoughts, not just what you're doing; this includes insights, interesting quotes, jokes, anythings. Of course, you can do this all on Facebook too but Twitter is more friendly towards random thoughts.
In addition, on Facebook, you have friends ... well, just to raise your friend count (500 friends guarantees you a spot in the Hall of Fame). However, with Twitter, you only start following somebody, either if you actually know them or if you're truly interested in what they say.

These three important aspects are the things that will give Twitter a slight edge over Facebook.

P.S. I just got Twitter so last I checked, I had 1 follower. You can follow me at:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why Facebook Will Never Turn a Profit

Facebook started out roughly five years ago as a social networking site for college kids. Then it expanded to high schools. Now, it's open for everyone, nearly everywhere to join. Today, it has well over 250 million users, using the network in 50 different languages for many different purposes.
Facebook is universally considered a good site, if not one of the best on the Internet. Still, after turning five years old a month ago, Facebook still has never turned a profit. Don't get me wrong, revenues are soaring; Mark Zuckerberg, the genius behind Facebook, projected that earnings would rise 70% this year. On the other hand, the cost of running a social network is not small either. The talent that Facebook must attract, the development it must constantly undergo and the fact that they have to store every photo, video, note and action from every user, even after they delete their account, all contribute to unyielding costs.
They've tried many different advertising models, each to no avail and the number of experiments going on right now is innumerable.
The general problem is that whenever they make an attempt to introduce new advertising, users revolt and create groups that run somewhere along the lines of "I Hate the New Facebook!" or "I Will Not Pay to Use Facebook". And if you don't have users on your side, advertisers sure as heck aren't going to want to give you their money either.
In addition, the developers of this site have made it so lovely and convenient and useful and awesome that barely anyone even focuses on the few ads on the side. And for good reason too; the ads that are normally scattered around the network include mostly the likes of, "I need a man: Install the Zoosk application and meet girls like me!", "Start a Mafia Family" and "Cariacature yourself!". Obviously, these don't cater to the great majority of the population in the world with an IQ over 1.24.
Oh, but what if they reduce costs? Then, there's the same problem, user dissatisfaction. Facebookers are very demanding people; they've been spoiled to an incurable extent. As soon as they even feel like something's worse off than it was before (which basically means any change to the site), the temper tantrums start flooding in. Of course, regular improvements are part of the appetites of the pickiest as well (so basically, you have to improve the site, without changing it...).
All in all, unless they start charging us to use the site, Facebook will collapse just like its rivals.

How To Be as Likable and Charismatic as Barack Obama

This is a really simple process to making yourself just as president-like as Barack Obama. I guarantee you that this will change your life for the better. This is the one rule that Dale Carnegie forgot when he was writing his book (maybe because Obama wasn't born yet).
Trust me, you really, really need this.
OK, fine. Maybe getting custom Obama-rized image of yourself isn't exactly going to help you succeed in life (or maybe it is, who knows?), but still, it will change your life for the better... if only slightly.
So you remember the amazingly designed Obama posters that featured a close-up of his face- with a look of hope- plastered in red, beige and blue. Well now, you can have your own personalized version of the Obama poster with your face in place of the president's (that's right, you get to replace Obama!). Just head over to, scroll down, and click the huge "Get Started" button for your amazing transformation. From there, you can select from 5 different themes, the Obama theme, the Free Iran theme and a few others.
If you pick one of the first two, you can either choose to use a photo, or take a picture with your webcam (I recommend the webcam). After that, enter the text you want to have on the bottom (Hope, Change, Progress, or just enter your own). You can also adjust the balance of colours meaning that you can select the amount of blue, red and beige that fills your face. Finally, just click the "Take Snapshot" button, and you'll have to do a quick registration at their website and you'll be able to retrieve your snapshot soon after.
So Obama's incredible secrets have finally been revealed. Have a better life, with