Lenovo ThinkPad Helix—The Most Powerful Convertible Yet—Now Available; Could Be The Only Computer Most Advisors Need
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 15:27
The long-awaited ThinkPad Helix from Lenovo finally was available for sale yesterday at Lenovo.com. This is a convertible—a laptop and tablet in one—that packs more processor power and much longer battery life than previous convertibles.
For most advisors, this could be the only computer you need. It will replace your iPad with the Windows 8 touch interface, which is integrated with Microsoft Office. While you won’t have as many apps to choose from, most of the important ones advisors need are available and the Microsoft app store is growing fast.
The Helix will also replace your current desktop or laptop computer—assuming you don’t edit videos or photos all the time, in which case you’d probably prefer a more powerful convertible. If you’re a heavy content producer—editing video and photos is part of your work—you may want to hold off on Helix. Intel’s Haswell processor debuts in early June and will offer a quad-core processor, which can better handle editing videos and pictures and is expected to offer significantly improved battery life.
A Helix customized with the top processor—a two-core Intel i7 3667U chip—along with 8GB of RAM and a 180 GB solid state drive storage, costs about $3300 plus tax. That includes a three-year onsite service agreement and accidental damage or loss coverage as well as Microsoft Office Professional and Adobe Acrobat Professional, which allows you to create and edit PDFs.
The i7 3667U Intel processor has two cores, which is like having two separate processors. It also four threads, which means it can simultaneously process four instructions from a single software program. In contrast, the new Haswell chips will have up to four cores and eight threads. That makes a big difference if you edit videos or photos. For an advisor who produces elaborate Excel spreadsheets and then formats them in PowerPoint for client presentations and newsletters, a Helix should give you sufficient processing power. But if you are creating webinars and then converting them into videos to post on your website, the Haswell chip is worth waiting for.
I used a two-core processor for editing videos for about two years and, the more video work I did, the more I found it frustratingly slow and prone to crashes. I switched to an eight-core desktop computer and video editing is now faster and I can’t recall a crash.
It’s unclear when laptop-tablet convertibles equipped with Haswell chip will be released. It’s been reported that it won’t be until the end of the year, but other reports say it could be this summer.
The most popular alternative so far is Feedly, according to ReplaceReader.com, which is letting people vote for their favorite replacement. A favorable article in The New York Times last week gave a big boost to Feedly.
Yesterday, The Verge featured a story about NewsBlur, and says it is better for “power users.”
Please let A4A readers know if you’ve made a switch yet and how it’s going. Also, if you need a tutorial on how to switch, please let me know.
Yahoo Gives Photo Sharing Site, Flickr A New Look And Offers One Terabyte Of Free Storage Space
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 13:41
Flickr, a photo-sharing site owned by Yahoo!, got a huge upgrade. With Yahoo! fighting to make itself more relevant, Flickr will now give you one terabyte of free storage for your photos.
While everyone wants to consolidate their files as much as possible, we're already seeing seeing apps that let you manage free storage space from multiple providers in a single interface. So this could be an ingenious move by Yahoo!.
In addition to the massive upgrade in storage, Yahoo! gave Flickr a new interface that is much more modern.
For a couple of years, we've been hearing about computers and devices being controlled by hand gestures. No touching the screen, no using a mouse--you just use the motion of your hands, face, or eyes to execute commands. To understand the impact this will have on the way we control our PCs, TVs and other devices, take a look at this video showing a new software that extends Windows 7 and 8's touch screen to physical gestures.
Private clouds for advisory firms usually have a silver lining. Other times, however, they don’t let the sunshine in and can hinder your firm.
Private clouds are nothing new. A private cloud is very often based on old “terminal services” technology that has been around for over a decade. This allows you to put desktop applications on a Web server and use it securely. So instead of keeping a server in your office, you might put it in a hosting facility.
When using this type of private cloud, you can derive some important benefits. Your apps are accessible from the Web and employees can access them securely from any Web connection. Plus your servers are safer in a hosting facility than in your office.
However, this type of private cloud is not the latest and best technology and has some big disadvantages versus other options for moving to the cloud.
A newer technology for creating private clouds uses “virtualization” to emulate a desktop experience in the cloud. This newer technology allows each user to have his own unique desktop, while the older type of private cloud set up means that all your users see the same desktop. The new private cloud technology makes it easier to manage printers and other peripherals and can offer better security.
But both types of private clouds offer disadvantages when compared with Web applications. Web applications are the most modern ecosystem and will almost always offer the best software and user experience. Software companies are not putting resources into improving desktop apps because Web apps offer much better economies of scale. They don’t need to be hosted in a private cloud and their features are much more easily updated and offer better security.
A4A is going to be offering a series of webinars beginning today to help advisors understand the benefits of private clouds, their drawbacks, and the different kinds of private clouds. The series will be tapping the expertise of IT consulting firms from around the country that focus on serving financial advisors.
We’re going to make this very confusing area of technology understandable and we’re going to tell you how much it costs to do these things right. We’ll explore the limitations of private clouds being offered to advisors by software vendors and explain how Microsoft Office and Exchange fit in with private clouds.
The second session on private clouds is scheduled for Friday, May 14 and will explains the different versins of Microsoft Office and the different ways to integrate Office with an RIA's cloud IT strategy.