Wednesday, February 29, 2012

TIPS - Advanced Use of Remote Desktop

Have a need to figure out how to monitor various servers in a domain, using Remote Desktop is a great idea. Here're some commonly used commands and tips that may help:

To start remote desktop client, run this command (simply stands for microsoft terminal server client):

If you want to set the screen size, try this:
    mstsc /w=1920 /h=1200
w is the screen width, while h is the screen height

In case the remote computer has multiple monitors, try this:
    mstsc /span

Sometimes, administrators would like to have full interaction with the remote computer. There're actually 2 modes in remote client connection, namely (1) virtual mode and (2) admin mode. If you want to start the full interaction mode:
    mstsc /admin or mstsc /console

As network administrator, often we want to monitor multiple servers at the same time. This will be very handy:

With tsmmc.msc, you can connect to multiple computers, save your settings and reuse connections the next time you start it.

For those who would like to check the list of active connections on a certain computer, try this:
    quser /server:RemoteServerName

For those who wants to tweak the your connection performance, check and create these subkeys of the entry if they are missing:
  • HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\TermDD\FlowControlDisable (DWORD 32bit, 1 to disable)
  • HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\TermDD\FlowControlDisplayBandwidth (DWORD 32bit, priority to display and input, default 70, maximum 255)
  • HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\TermDD\FlowControlChannelBandwidth (DWORD 32bit, priority to other data like file transfer and print job, default 30, maximum 255)
  • HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\TermDD\FlowControlChargePostCompression (bandwidth calculation based on pre-compressed size or post-compressed size, 0 is pre-compressed size)
Notes: Remote Desktop is a great way to monitor and remote control servers. But, often network administrators or computer help desk needs to view and even control a computer with the user sharing same view. Then, Windows Remote Assistance should be the tool to use. Try this command:
    msra /offerra

Monday, February 20, 2012

DISCUSSION - 4K Physical Sector - A Silent Revolution and Its Impacts

For decades, the 512byte physical disk sector size has been adopted as the industry standard. Until recently, hard disk manufacturers have started their gradual migration to a new standard - 4K bytes physical sector size (also known as the Advanced Format Technology).

One example is the Seagate Barracuda series, which is already widely available in market:

However, many software vendors including Microsoft are relatively slow in response to the new standard. To ensure compatibility, 512-byte sector emulation is necessary. Seagate SmartAlign Technology presents to software like Windows to see a 4K sector hard disk as if it is the old 512-byte sector hard disk. Small overhead is needed in read write, handled by the hard disk's on board disk controller.

Microsoft Knowledge base article 982018 addressed certain compatibility issues, which are caused by the 512-byte sector assumption. (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/982018/en-hk) It sheds lights on some possible problems as for a long time, programmers have made the assumption that the physical sector size is 512 bytes, which is no longer valid.

Windows 7 / 2008 R2 starting from SP1 supports the advanced format with 512-byte emulation. However, native 4K sector size is not supported yet.

Intel Rapid Storage Technology also requires driver updates in order to use the new 4K sector technology:

According to Intel's website, it states, "If you try to install the operating system on a 4k sector disk with a driver older than Intel® RST version 9.6, the install process might not complete."

There are practical reasons for disk manufacturers to migrate their technology to 4K sector. Without the move, the yearly capacity growth will stop. There're also other advantages, like more efficient use of space with less overhead and better error correction check (ECC). However, during the transition period, the concerns of compatibility and performance issues exist, which I think every network administrator should pay attention to.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

SOLVED! - Nokia Messages Not Sync Error

It's been for a few months, my Nokia phone can't sync properly using the Nokia Ovi Suite. For unknown reason, it simply can't sync even with the phone status connected (using bluetooth). Only rebooting the PC will get the sync back.

Just downloaded and upgraded the software to Nokia Suite - its new name - things get much better!! Besides have a fresher look, you see more info of phone and even apps installed. The way the phone sync with the software is also noticably different. Especially like the  different color codes of text messages.

However, even with this new release, messages are occasionally not fully synced. For example, when I replied someone's message, it does not show. One reason should be the different date time stamp of messages from different phones, which mess up things... anyway, still there's improvement.
The new Nokia Suite:

Friday, February 17, 2012

DISCUSSION - An Introduction to Home Audio Recording - Understanding Sound

When working on an audio recording project, first you MUST know the thing you're handling - SOUND.

SOUND, is being explained as waves of air particles' movement - being compressed (higher than normal air pressure) and decompressed (lower than normal pressure). Our ears are designed to detect such a very tiny variation of air pressure, converted to our interpretation of sound. Our two ears, though just 6 inches apart, can even tell the tiny difference in time of arrival of sound; to create a 3D model of our environment and positioning sound source.

So, SOUND has characteristics of waves - it has FREQUENCY, AMPLITUDE, WAVE LENGTH, PHASE, SPEED. It also has REFLECTION and ABSORPTION. Every sound engineer keeps these in mind and work with these characteristics with respect.

I'm not here try to explain every one of these terms. You will find tons of materials by searching on these key words. However, here're some examples how the understanding of sound will help a sound engineer.


(1) REFLECTION - When listening to a audio recording, sometimes we "feel" the existence of a room, because of all the little echoes (sound delays) from the reflected sound. We called it reverbration. By studying how sound reflected back to the mic, we may be able to reduce the echoes. Such as changing the mic position, adding carpets, or thick curtains, etc. Or, simply move closer to the mic, will increase the proportion of direct sound to mic.

(2) FREQUENCY - At times, we "feel" the existence of a mic. Often it's due to the proximity effect. It is a behaviour of mic, when the sound source is TOO CLOSE to the mic, it tends to boost the low frequencies. The excessive low frequencies make us "feel" the mic. The easiest way is to ask the speaker to stand back a bit away from mic. If can't, cutting some low frequency range in your EQ will help.

(3) PHASE - When you are recording from more than one mic, a problem called phase cancellation can happen. That is, waves from different mics cancel out one another, simply because they are of different phase - one being compression wave while the other is decompression wave. The result, sound level decrases. Some meters can detect phase problems. With careful positioning of the mics, usually this can be avoided. Always observe the golden 1:3 rule. That is, the distance - sound source to the other mic should  maintain a distance at least 3 times the distance from the main mic.

(4) SPEED - Suppose you have a chance to broadcast sound to a large crowd with multiple loudspeakers, covering a great distance, sound delay must be considered. Sound engineers will actually calculate the speed of sound and make good use of it to delay signals to farther rows of loudspeakers in order to reinforce sound.

These are just several examples of how sound engineers will put their knowledge of sound to good use. Surely it will also generate on us more respect on it and handle it with respect.

DISCUSSION - Antivirus for Android, Are They Really Effective?

Although the linux-based Android is a well protected system, I doesn't mean that it will not be affected by viruses, Trojans and worms. Viruses for linux do exist, and they're getting more popular as the linux user-base keeps growing.

Recently, the reputatble AV-TEST lab has conducted some tests on Android antivirus. Yoy may be surprised to read their reported results: http://www.av-test.org/fileadmin/pdf/avtest_2011-11_free_android_virus_scanner_english.pdf

In summary, many popluar free antivirus solutions for Android are not as effective as they're thought to be. Detection rate is poor. The concern of false sense of security is valid, which a user believes that his data is being well protected. Sadly, many Android phones and tablets WILL store much sensitive or confidential information.

There's no other more effective measure than USER AWARENESS of the risk involved in using any technological products. Of course, I'm not objecting the idea of having an antivirus app. But, it is no replacement for our carefulness and awareness of the risk factor. Follow good practices, like:

  • Install only reputable apps from Android Market; before you install an app, assess the risk involved in giving out the different system rights to the app
  • Turn off your wifi when not in use
  • Worst scenario - what if your phone / tablet is stolen, hacked, what is your emergency plan? Can you survive that?
  • A Rooted Android may give you much more freedom in installing apps and try different things, yet it also at the same time increases the extend of damages that a virus can have on your device system

Thursday, February 16, 2012

SOLVED! - Changing a Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 from English to Korean

A Korean friend just purchased a Lenovo Edge E120 with English Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 preinstalled. Here came a very challenging task - to change the interface to Korean language.

Vistalizator is a great tool to use. However, it does not support Windows 7 SP1. So, what I did is to reinstall the Windows 7 to the RTM (no service pack). I was fortunate enough to use the same Windows 7  key came with the Lenovo Edge. Successfully activated!

To change the interface is pretty straight forward, download and run Vistalizator. Add the downloaded copy of the Korean language for Windows 7 RTM. Reboot, ... done... Korean interface!!

A bit time consuming is to go to Lenovo's website and download all the needed device drivers for the Edge E120... finally...

I can now perform a normal Windows Update to SP1, perfect!!

TIPS - Vistalizator 7601 Error

Today, trying to use Vistalizator on a Windows 7 notebook. Error 7601 when run. It seems to be an error generated by the program because of a check of the compatibility of my computer for use in Vistalizator. To workaround the error, you "may" right click on the Vistalizator program, select "Troubleshoot Compatibility". Try another version of Windows like Vista / Windows 2008 in order to fool the software to run.

BUT BEWARE!!  Officially, Vistalizator DOES NOT SUPPORT Windows 7 SP1 (at least up to this moment). You are at your own risk to try to fool it this way. A better way is to downgrade your Window 7 (if possible). Vistalizator should run without any problem.

Hopefully, soon Vistalizator will support Windows 7 SP1. You know what, I'm going to submit my request to them! I still believe that Vistalizator is great!

Monday, February 13, 2012

HOW TO - Convert Between CD / AIFF / WAV / MP3 / AAC File Formats

Among the thousands of free tools, two most well known software tools are Any Video Converter and Total Media Converter.

However, when it comes to quality product, with guaranteed quality and stability, iTunes is always my choice. Many people may not know that iTunes is capable of converting CD / AIFF / WAV audio files to MP3 or AAC formats, and vice vera.

Third-party tools may post security concerns. Quality is also not guaranteed. In comparison, iTunes is safer, more reliable, yet free.

To choose the destination format settings you want, do this:
  1. Go to "Edit", "Preferences..."*, press the "Import Settings" button
  2. On the "Input Settings" field, choose the output format you want
  3. On the "Settings" field, choose the quality, number of channels, etc. Example, when output to MP3 format, you may choose "Custom..." to get more setting options
  4. "Ok" to confirm
*On Mac, the menu location is a bit different; this example is based on the Windows version

To convert an audio file, do this:
  1. Drag your audio / music files to iTunes
  2. Right click on the file item, you will see the option e.g. "Convert AAC Version" or "Convert MP3 Version". Select it.
  3. The progress bar now moves, showing you the conversion progress. Right click on the table title bar and check and show more fields like "Kind", "Bit Rate", "Sample Rate", etc. to give you more information on identifying which item is which format
To copy the converted file to a folder:
  1. Open a Windows Explorer window
  2. Drag the converted files to back to the folder in the Windows Explorer window

TIPS - An Introduction to Home Audio Recording - Selecting headphones

Most likely you already have headphones at home or for general office use. However, to suit the needs for audio recording use, there are some important factors you should consider.

1) More Even (flat) Frequency Response
Usually, headphones commonly used for listening music are preset with EQ, biasing to certain frequencies. However, for audio recording use, flat frequency response, usually works better.  A flatter frequency response headphone simply gives you a more accurate picture of what's being recorded from the mic.

Here's a chart showing how different models of headphones can be biased on different frequencies. (figures from "HeadRoom" webiste)

What we're looking for is the Reference or Monitor Headphone type, commonly used in many audio studios, like this one shown below by Sony. Obviously, you see the frequency response is much flatter, especially on the vocal range from 50Hz up to 4KHz to 5KHz; you notice the dBr values are +/- less than 5.

2) Full Closed Headphones
Very often, the person doing the recording with a mic will also at the same time listening to something - either music, his own voice or others' voices. That means, he needs a headphone.

Full closed type headphone is made to avoid bleeding out any sound, so that it will not be picked up by the mic. Some monitor headphones are called "Half-closed", which means not totally cut the sound bleeding. Sometimes, they could be acceptable and more cost effective. However, most personal use headphones do not have such ability, and so will not be suitable for audio recording use. This is especially true when you're using a condenser mic, which is very sensitive to any sound, even if it is just the leaking sound from your headphone.

3) Durability and Replacement Parts
Studio use headphones are made for heavy duty, last for years. Consumable accessory items like ear pads and so forth are available and can be easily replaced. Such features are lacking in home entertainment type headphones.

HOW TO - Open Multiple Windows Explorer from the Taskbar on Window 7

This is yet another new feature of Windows 7, pressing the Windows Explorer icon on the taskbar DO NOT gives you another Windows Explorer, but a preview of already opened Explorer windows.

So, how do I open a NEW Windows Explorer window? Easy, hold the Shift key, mouse left click on the Windows Explorer icon on the taskbar.


SOLVED! - Missing "Recent Documents" in Windows 7 Start Menu

Many Windows users love to use the Windows Start Menu's "Recent Documents" shortcuts. In Windows 7, however, this short is hidden by default. To show it again, do this:

  1. Right click on Windows Start button, choose "Properties"
  2. Go to the "Start Menu" tab, press the "Customize" button
  3. Scroll down the list until you find the item "Recent Items", check it
  4. Press "OK", "Apply", "OK"
You should see the Recent Items (recently opened documents) on the Start Menu again.

HOW TO - Erase Personal Data from Android Device

Before you dispose your old Android device, remember to erase / remove your personal data. Basically, two places your personal data is stored.

1) External Memory Card Storage - such as TF / micrSD card.
  • If your device support memory card, remove the memory card from your device. Keep it. Some smartphones have the memory card hidden inside the phone, near the battery. Read the device user or service manual to make sure of that.
2) Internal Memory Storage, which is built into your device

  • On your Android system, go to "Settings". Find the item "Privacy". Make sure your data is backuped. Use the "Back up my data" option to backup your data first. To proceed with the personal data erase, find the under Personal Data the option "Factory data reset (Erases all data on MID)". Press and confirm.
It's also a good idea to change your Googles account password.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

SOLVED! - Mapping a Network Drive on Windows 7

Many users of Windows 7 found that after upgrade, they can't find the "Map Network Drive..." option in Windows Explorer. This is because by default it's not shown on Windows 7.

Solution: Open Windows Explorer, press the Alt key. You will see the menu shows again. Under Tools menu, you should find the "Map Network Drive..." option again.

Of course, the net command still work. So, you may create a login script (for domain environment) or a batch to do that. E.g., the command should look like this:

    net use j: \\server\sharefolder /persistent:yes

    *j: is the drive letter you want

To delete a drive mapping, run the command:

    net use j: /delete

Friday, February 10, 2012

STORY - "High Tech" Microphone made in China

A friend gave me a bad table microphone, bought from China... well, out of curiosity, I opened it and checked and that's what I found inside - a plastic bag of sand (probaby from outside the factory) wrapped carefully with a piece of Chinese Simplified newspaper!! That's absolutely unbelivable!!!!!!! I can't stop taking this picture...

No wonder so many people are afraid of things made in China. Yet, we can't refuse admitting that China is also a world factory, with quality products also from her. The point is we be able to tell the diffference.

DISCUSSION - Killing Android Processes and Battery Life

I've read quite a number of posts on Android forums, discussing and sometimes heated arguing about the use of tools like "process killers" or "task terminators" to save battery life of Android devices or tablets.

Simply put, many people believe that by killing unwanted processes running on your Android, you can save your battery life. However, others disagree, stating that no matter how many processes we run, the power consumption should be more or less the same. Besides, users killing processes in such a brutal way may corrupt their apps or even the Android system.

The fact is that, both can be correct at least to some degree. By killing processes running on Android, battery life can be extended. I personally experimented it with my Anroid tablet. Yet, the concern of others who disagree can't be ignored.

Interestingly, the reason why killing processes can save power is that many Apps works on your memory card, get access to your Internet (that means, using your wifi), which consumes much power. That's the major reason why killing unwanted processes can save battery life.

However, think carefully, why will an Android device full of Apps trying to get access to the Internet? Besides certain legitimate Apps requiring to work properly with Internet access. Also, don't forget the many "FREE" Apps that loads you with tons of Ads, gathering your information, etc.

Here again, a warning, there's no free lunch... so, be a wise Android user!

A very effective way to save battery power is to DISABLE YOUR WIFI CARD WHEN NOT USED.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

TIPS - An Introduction to Home Audio Recording - Selecting a Microphone

Generally speaking, there're 2 types of micrphones to choose from - Dynamic microphone or Condenser microphone. Price ranges from less than USD100 to thousands of USD. Dynamic microphones are much cheaper than the condenser type, usually good for entry level or speech use.

The advantage of using a dynamic microphone is that besides it's inexpensive, it's also less sensitive to background noise. The speaker needs to speak or sing at a distance pretty close to the mic. No need of a 48V phantom power provided.

However, dynamic mic has its disadvantages. Human ears can hear sound frequencies ranging from 50Hz to 20KHz. Dyanmic mic usually respond to frequencies below 16KHz. The loss of certain ambience frequecies make the recorded sound a bit unnatural, dead and not so pleasant for vocal or song recordings. That's why for studio vocal recording use, most likely condenser mics are used.

Yet, if your requirement is not very high, the dynamic mic like Shure SM58 can be a very good entry level recording mic. When you're more comfortable with the setup, more skillful in working on sound projects, very likely you'll use a condenser mic.

To choose a mic, besides the type, its polar pattern and frequency response charts are 2 very important specification that every sound engineer will read. The polar pattern basically tells you how your mic responds to different frequencies of sound when the sound source is at a different angle. Usually, the most sensitive point is right in front of the mic (at zero degree). The frequency response chart tells you how a mic responds to different frequencies of sound, as well as the range of frequencies it covers.

This is an example from Shure SM58 dynamic mic:
From the above polar pattern diagram, you'll notice very low frequency like 125Hz tends to be more even (360 degree) in picking up. Even at the back of the mic, the drop in level is comparatively smaller. But for human voice frequencies from 500Hz - 2000Hz, the back of the mic (180 degree) has deep cuts.

The above frequency response chart shows that Shure SM58 responses to only from 50Hz to 15KHz, with deep cuts to much ambience sound over 10KHz. Of course, this will produce a cleaner and quieter recording (with less background noise), but also with the side effect of being a bit unnatural, not lively or we called it a bit "dead".

SOLVED! - Multi-Language Pack for Windows Vista Home Basic/Business or Windows 7 Starter/Home Basic/Home Premium/Professional or lower

Microsoft shipped their Windows OS with multi-language support available only in Windows Vista Ultimate or Enterprise, or Windows 7 Ultimate or Enterprise. That means, for other Windows Vista / 7 versions, like Windows Vista Home Basic or Windows 7 Professional, users are not able to change their OS interface.

Now, with Vistalization (http://www.froggie.sk/), lower end versions of Windows Vista / 7 can change their Windows user interface just like the native multi-language support from Microsoft.

Vistalization supports Windows Vista and 7, from Starter to Professional (Business) versions. A wide range of languages are supported, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean...

Languages supported (as listed on the developer's website):
•Arabic language
•Bulgarian language ***
•Chinese (simplified) language
•Chinese (traditional) language
•Croatian language ***
•Czech language
•Danish language
•Dutch language
•English language
•Estonian language ***
•Finnish language
•French language
•German language
•Greek language
•Hebrew language
•Hungarian language
•Italian language
•Japanese language
•Korean language
•Latvian language ***
•Lithuanian language ***
•Norwegian language
•Polish language
•Portuguese (Brazil) language
•Portuguese (Portugal) language
•Romanian language ***
•Russian language
•Serbian (latin) language ***
•Slovak language ***
•Slovenian language ***
•Spanish language
•Swedish language
•Thai language ***
•Turkish language
•Ukrainian language ***

*** partial support

Testing Results:
I've been successfully changed one Chinese Traditional Windows Vista Home Basic computer to English version. Another English Windows Vista Business also successfully converted to Traditional Chinese user interface. Results to my satisfaction.

Next, what I'm going to do is to change a Windows 7 Home Premium laptop to Korean user interface, which I believe will be with very promising result.

SOLVED! - Creating Folder Shortcut in Android

Quite a number of friends had asked me how to create a shortcut to a folder in their Android's storage, like to a memory card folder. Here's one way you can do so:

  1. Go to Googles Market, download and install "ES File Explorer" and "ES Bookmark Manager"*
  2. Tab and run "ES File Explorer", browse to the folder that you want to creat a shortcut to
  3. Tab and hold on the folder until the menu "Operations" pops up
  4. Select "Shortcut"

You should now see a shortcut created on your desktop for that folder, with the same name of the folder. You can move this shortcut anywhere in your launcher desktop.

*In the latest version of ES File Explorer, no ES Bookmark Manager is needed.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

TIPS - An Introduction to Home Audio Recording

After working on audio recording projects and studio work for years, I think it's now time to share my knowledge and experience with everyone who have interest to record something like a song at home, set up a simple home studio, or even sound recording for your small business use.

So what are the basic steps for a home studio setup?

Of course, maybe one of the simplest approach ... running Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/) on a laptop computer! However, don't expect too much ... afterall, a laptop computer is not meant to give a quality sound recording.

If you want a more quality sound recording, this could be a starting point:

For even more professional quality, the industry standard of many studio round the world goes to the Avid like:
If you feel happy to use Apple and its Mac OS X, a Mac Mini is a very good entry level option for working with the Avid MBox option (http://www.apple.com/macmini/). If you will use Audacity to do your recording, a Core i3 or i5 PC will do the work well. For recording purpose, the demand for processor or I/O performance is not very high. So, most modern computers today can meet the requirements.

Don't feel that you must have a studio-like environment in order to do a audio recording. In fact, many people's home are quiet enough to record a very decent and quality recording. A quiet room, without too much outside noise may be good enough.

However, often more of a problem is the undesirable reverbation (or echoes) produced by your room. Remember when recording sound, we're handling waves which can be reflected by reflective walls, windows, metalic surface, etc. So, certain treatment is necessary. Carpets, thick blankets, thick curtains can put to good use, to reduce undesirable sound reflections - that's exactly why bedrooms are good places for a sound recording!!

For a more professional approach, you may try ready-made recording booths like the Whisperrooms (http://www.whisperroom.com/)

Monday, February 6, 2012

SOLVED! - VMWare "could not find component in update server. Contact VMware support or your system administrator."

When clicking on the Install VMWare Tools..., error message "could not find component in update server..."

To solve this problem, follow this shortcut and download the appropriate VMWare Tool package. The files are in TAR format, you may need to download tools like PeaZip.

Source: http://softwareupdate.vmware.com/cds/vmw-desktop/player/4.0.1/528992/

Look for the "packages" folder according to your guest OS system, choose the right package file.

Note that the above shortcut is for version 4.0.1 Player. If your VMWare Player is of a different version, please browse upward to the right folder for the VMWare Tools package files.

TIPS - Desktop Virtualization by VMWare Player

For year I've been using Microsoft Virtual PC, Virtual Server and Hyper-V. However, since the introduction of Windows 7 and XP mode, I've been experiencing many problems with Microsoft's virtualization. Recently, I reviewed and tried VMWare's Player, which is free for personal use. It's ease of use, better hardware support, the amazing Unity mode (guest and host OS like in unity) as well as the Linux host support makes me give up my devotion to Microsoft virtualization.

  • To convert your physical computer or virtual machines (VHD) to VMWare's vmdk files, use VMWare's vCenter Converter Standalone (http://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/converter_pubs.html)
  • To download the free VMWare Player, you need to register a user account on VMWare; after registration, you should find the different versions of VMWare Player
  • VMWare Player supports Ubuntu Linux 32/64bit and other platforms like Windows 7 32/64bit, which means you can have a Ubuntu host machine with Windows 7 guest OS
  • Download a virtual applicance for free (http://www.vmware.com/appliances/directory/80)
Notes: If you see this - "could not find component in update server..." when clicking "Install VMWare Tools...", you may try this link: http://softwareupdate.vmware.com/cds/vmw-desktop/player/4.0.1

    TIPS - Android, my recommendation

    Android has gained worldwide popularity, and is gradually mature enough for practical day to day use. Samsung, HTC are big names, yet I found that this China brandname - Cube - a very quality product.

    Tested model: Cube K8GT ( <USD100)

    Main Specification: Cortex A8 1GHz RK2918, 7" 16:9, 800×480 resolution, 512MB DDR3, 8GB built-in storage, Android 2.3
    Other features: wifi, 3D graphic accelerator, USB port, microSD slot

    Benchmark: Quadrant - 1673 (higher than HTC Nexus One, 2 times faster than Samsung Galaxy S)

    Test Results:
    I've been using it for more than a month. Everything works very smoothly - the screen, the senors, the buttons, the wifi, the sound, the slots, ... yes, everything to my satisfaction. Battery is always the concern, yet I found the 4000mAH battery did a very good job. If left the wifi on, the battery can run for 6-7 hours. Turn off the wifi and you can work on the tablet for more than 24 hours. I used it to take notes and run various software tools throughout the day, after 10 hours the battery only dropped by about 10%. Of couse, it inherited all the advantages and strengths of Android system, which I love so much!

    Bonus feature:
    The built-in USB port is very useful! I can plug my USB thumb drive on it, connect a USB network card (for wired network), and even a USB mouse!!

    The microSD (or T-flash) card slot is very useful, I have a 16GB UHS-1 microSD card inserted with my music, videos, and other big files...

    The "Home" button is handy!

    Important Tips for those looking for a Android Tablet:

    • Look for a tablet with physical Home, Menu, ESC and power buttons
    • Look for one with USB port and card slot
    • For security concern, you may want to create a new Google account just for your tablet
    • If ever possible, always download and install apps from Android Market, which is actively monitored by Googles; downloading apps from third party sites should be avoided
    • If not needed, turn off your wifi card
    • When installing apps, carefully read the rights you will allow the apps' vendor. For exapmle, if an apps needs full access to the network, you need to think seriously if you can trust the vendor
    • If ever possible, I'll only install apps without ads
    Android proves to be a very good and stable OS, and high quality yet low cost hardware are not difficult to find. Yet, on software side, it seems software vendors are having a hard time catching up, or may not be so eager to invest on developing quality software. Therefore, apps crashes are quite frequent. Big software developers like Skype and Adobe, should feel shame that their Android versions have defiled their names! ePub support is certainly not as good as iPad.

    FAQ - How to choose an accounting software?

    Some names might readily come up to your mind, like QuickBooks, Quickens, MYOB, Peachtree, DacEasy, Accpac, etc. Google or wiki "accounting software" gives you dozens of options. Yet, often information provided may not be so user-friendly to those working in the accounting field. Here below are some pointers for you to narrow down your search and hopefully help in guiding your search.

    1) Do you need multi-currency capability? If your business involves handling transactions in different money currencies, do you want to keep track of them in your software system? Some accounting software DO NOT have multi-currency capablity.

    2) Do you have inventory? How do you want your inventory value as well as the related costs to be calculated? Some accounting software provides only a limited number of cost methods, such as only Average Cost. If you like your inventory to be calculated in other ways, like FIFO, accounting software not providing such costing method will not be your choice.

    3) Do you have serialized inventory? If your inventory involves unique items with each having a serial number, you need to make sure the software can provide such function and the related fields.

    4) Do you need branch accounting, or consolidating company accounts of a company group?  Some accounting software may be quite restrictive or lacking such capability in handling your different structuring and grouping of chart of accounts.

    5) Maximum number of digits and characters on certain key fields? It's not uncommon to see, functionwise the software fill all requirements. But at the end proves unusable just because a certain key field is too short in length. For example, the total amount field may provides 9,999,999,999.99,but your business' total transaction amount may exceed this value. Or, the item ID field gives you only 15 characters, but you need 20.

    6) Reporting flexibility? Today, most accounting software provides business management capability and gives you certain flexibility in producing reports and forms. Software with such capability, such as equipped with Crystal Reports, can be very useful in financial accounting, busines management and other corporate needs.

    7) POS, BOM or CRM capability needed? You may need to look for a special edition of a certain brand of accounting software. Like Peachtree, has a special edition for Manufacturing. Or, MYOB has an edition specially for POS business. CRM capability may not be common or very limited in many  accounting software.

    8) Multilanguage interface needed? Multiple concurrent user access capability? Remote access needed? Data size limit? Data security? Sadly, quite a number of popular accounting software are not secure enough for serious users, especially a lot of sensitive and confidential data is stored on your accounting software database. Check how people crack these software' password. A piece of password-cracking software for your accounting software can be very cheap!! But, surely your data is not cheap!!

    To implement an accounting system for your company is a serious matter. Learn how to ask right questions is very important to make the right choice!