Friday, June 12, 2015

Act! Premium Version, Hot Fix 2

The Welcome Screen of Act

The Last Act! ?  
Changes are coming to this venerable customer relations management program   

                Act!, through all of its iterations over the years still has an edge when it comes to managing contacts for small businesses.   Based around a contact centered approach, over time this CRM has  added more functionality and greater integration with the web.

                While ACT! 17 is geared toward small businesses, it also makes sense for those not running a business who need to keep track of contacts with more detail than a simple address book can muster.   While most address books can handle the basics, names, numbers, and the like,  if you need to keep up with emails sent, attachments, activities, and even grouping your contacts together, a comprehensive program like this permits organization of disparate data.

                Over the last few versions, Act! has become more and more web savvy.  Integration with social networking like Twitter, Facebook, and whatever type of networking you want to add is possible. 

Within Act! is as web browser.  This translates into working with a contacting, obtaining online information and never having to ever leave the program, or open a browser.  There is smooth integration with Google contacts and calendars that means those based in Android and the Google ecosystem are not going to have difficulty integrating their data.

                A real plus to Act! is that it has a cohesive feel.  The parts that make up this very comprehensive program are integrated.  There is a smooth feeling to act that makes interaction with it feel fluid. The contemporary interface gives Act! a polished finished look.

The interface remains the same.

                Even if you are not a “power user,” there is so much here that makes sense for people that need to do more than simply have a list of contacts.  The fact that you can connect large pieces of information with an individual, or group, fills a niche in contact management that consumer software has really not addressed.  Once you have been in the world of software like Act!, it is very difficult to depend on consumer based programs.  

                Being that Act! is a professional based program for sales, there are a plethora of sales management items within the program to keep track of interactions with individual and companies.  That has not changed. Reports, history lists, e-marketing, opportunities, all of that is there. There are also detailed search and view functions.  Much of what has made Act! popular on that front is still present.

                In some respects, Act! is very onion like. The deeper you unfurl the program, the more there is to do with it to make handling contacts that much easier.  There is also an extensive online help system.  My recommendation is to start looking at online web instruction. There are numerous web videos that make accessing this program easier and unlock features that you need, but may not know exist.

To the clouds, Act! maybe is going subscription based

                Problems have plagued previous versions of Act!  Sluggish performance, memory consumption and other ills.  Act! 17 has not been plagued with such in my use.  However, it does have short comings.

                Act 17 integrates with Outlook, that is Outlook 32 bit.  For 64 bit users, Act 17, not unlike previous versions, does not exchange data.  There is an included email client, but I found it impossible to configure.  It crashed frequently. It was easier to simply copy email addresses and mail from Outlook. 

                “Note: I have been informed that future releases will include integration with Outlook 64 bit.”
                 Moving towards an even tighter integration with the web, future versions of this venerable program are going to be subscription based.  It is possible that this maybe the last boxed version of the software.  That is still an uncertainty.  Support for existing customers will be continued.

                  Over the years Act! has changed and grown to accommodate the emergence of the web as being the centerpiece for contact interaction.  Even though the program has passed ownership several times, the core look, feel and functionality have evolved rather than dramatically changed.   However, as the new versions emerge, it will be interesting to see how this program alters over time.

                For those that like the more traditional system of software ownership, Act! 17 is still a very viable option, even with its occasional idiosyncrasies.

System Requirements
2 GB available hard disk space (4 GB if product is downloaded)
SVGA (1024x768) or higher resolution monitor
Internet connection
1 GB system memory
1.8 GHz processor
Works With       
Microsoft® Office 2007, 2010, and 2013 (32-bit version only) (Latest Service Packs Recommended)
Lotus Notes® 8.0 and 8.5
Internet Mail SMTP/POP3
Microsoft Internet Explorer® 7.0, 8.01, 9.01, 10.01
Citrix® software using Citrix XenApp® 5.0 and 6.0
Supported Operating Systems  
Windows® XP SP32 (32-bit only)
Windows Server® 2003 SP2 (32-bit and 64-bit)
Windows Vista®3 SP2 (32-bit and 64-bit)
Windows Server 20084 SP2 (32-bit and 64-bit)
Windows Server 20084 R2 (64-bit)
Windows Server 2011 SBS (64-bit)
Windows Server 2012 (64-bit)
Windows Server 2012 R2 (64-bit)
Windows 7 SP1 (32-bit and 64-bit)
Windows 8 (32-bit and 64-bit)
Windows 8 Pro (32-bit and 64-bit)
Windows 8 Enterprise (32-bit and 64-bit)
Database Server:             Act! Premium uses SQL Server® 2008 R2 SP1 Express or your existing installation of SQL Server 2008 R2. Act! has also been certified against existing installations of SQL Server 2012 and 2014. If you would like to use a different edition of SQL Server other than the one provided, please consult Microsoft documentation for specific requirements for that edition.

System Requirements
2 GB available hard disk space (4 GB if product is downloaded)
DVD drive
SVGA (1024x768) or higher resolution monitor
Internet connection
1 GB system memory
1.8 GHz processor
Works With

Microsoft® Office 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2013 (32-bit version only) (Latest Service Packs Recommended)
Lotus Notes® 8.0 and 8.5
Internet Mail SMTP/POP3
Microsoft Internet Explorer® 7.0, 8.01, 9.01, 10.01
Adobe® Reader® 6.0, 7.0 and 10.x
Citrix® software using Citrix XenApp® 5.0 and 6.0

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Logitech Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830

A living room keyboard that can handle more than one role

The Logitech Illuminated Living Room Keyboard K830

On the plus side, a great feeling keyboard with an excellent touch pad that makes typing pleasant.
On the downside, a bit high on price points and no Bluetooth

Recommend: Yes, just make sure you don’t miss the numeric pad  

Rating: 7 Desktops out of 10    


                Most of us settle for the keyboards that accompany our computers.   By and large, they are acceptable, for the most part.  After experiencing one that is higher end, you quickly see that they differ, widely.
                Designed for home entertainment systems where interaction with a computer is part of the deal, the Logitech Illuminated Living Room Keyboard K830 easily occupies the role for which it has been cast. 
                Slightly small than your average keyboard, it loses the numeric pad. However, it is not cramped or uncomfortable to handle.   Where this keyboard shines is the inclusion of a touch pad, a very accomplished one. 
                Not often seen, the inclusion of this feature allows access to the touch screen features of Windows 8 without getting your screen dirty.  It is one of those features you appreciate after you have had it.  Theoretically, you could use it to interact with your computer, but that may not be right for most of us, particularly designers who need pointing devices.

Presentation is everything.  Logitech actually has the keyboard wrapped in tissue paper. A touch that indicates this is a deluxe device.

                Usb devices can be difficult to pair up, not so with the K830.  This one peripheral is literally plug and play simplicity at its smoothest.   Although not required, Logitech provides gratis software to obtain granular control of some features.   Most users may not have need for it, which is nice.
                As a usb powered rechargeable, the age old question of charging time and battery life are answered here.  I powered up the keyboard and managed to see an insane amount of use from one charge.  To assist in energy conservation, there is a discreetly placed on and off switch.  
                In a micro miniaturization move, the usb receiver for this device is small.  It may challenge larger hands to even handle it.   Whatever you do, do not lose this apparatus.  The K830 does not have Bluetooth capability, a bit of a draw back.  Big point, keep all cables and the easy to lose usb receiver in mind.

The Keyboard as you will find it out of the wrapping paper.

                A question that comes up, and it is certainly a logical one, is how bright are the keys?  In my very informal pitch black room setting, you can see my video of it in action, the keys were as bright as stars.  If you like more hands on control, you can manually set them if you are not happy with what the keyboard does on its own.   There are three settings for the keyboard, but the automatic setting does a very good job of calculating what is best.
                If one has an entertainment system that requires a  keyboard, the K830 fits the bill.   If you are a home user who wants wireless connectivity, a light weight key pad and extremely long battery life, this offering from Logitech makes sense. 

The clean interface of the optional software.  It features the new flat design that is become the signature of  2015 software.

                Designated a home entertainment system device, there is a lot here to like for the home user, power business user, content creator or aspiring author.  If you type a great deal, the comfort factor does justify the cost.
                The only down side to an otherwise great keyboard is the price.  At  $ 99.99, this is not a bargain basement peripheral.   On the flip side, if comfort, wireless connectivity and wildly long batter life matter, this could be a reasonable price to pay.  I have seen prices in the vicinity of $ 50 something, which makes this a really accessible keyboard.

Check out my video link to see the opening and see how it performs in the dark.

                For me, the K830’s real strengths are found in a good touch pad, bright illumination, comfort, solid good looks and a long last rechargeable battery.   For someone who writes often, this keyboard managed to make typing pleasant.   If you can afford it, this is an excellent choice for the home office,  an artist, designer or anyone else.  If you don’t mind the loss of a numeric pad, this is a winner. 

System Requirements
  • Windows® 7, Windows 8 or later
  • Internet connection (for software download)
Warranty Information
1-Year Limited Hardware Warranty
Package Contents
  • Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard
  • Unifying receiver
  • USB Recharge Cable
  • USB Range extender
  • User documentation
Part Number
  • PN 920-006081
367 mm (or 14.4 inches)
125.3 mm (or 4.9 inches)
16.5 mm (or 0.65 inches)
Touchpad size:
80 x 52 mm (or 3.1 x 2.0 inches)
495 g (or 17.5 oz) 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Sprint LivePro: A projector for All Seasons?

The All In One Android Project From Sprint

                Billed as the “Swiss Army Knife” of projectors, Sprint’s Live Pro packs a plethora of capabilities into a rather diminutive device.  Measuring 4.7 inches square and weighing in at 14.1 ounces – or 0.88 pounds -- it may not fit into a shirt pocket, but it certainly won’t be a burden to carry.  The big question that you have to ask yourself is “Will you have a need for it?”


           Feature wise, this Android projector is loaded.  It comes with a Micro SD card slot, connectivity to the Sprint network 3G and 4G LTE, HDMI port, Bluetooth, Hot Spot capability, MicroSD  card slot, MicroSIM card slot, can operate as an external battery charger and comes with its own cables, which is a nice convenience.  In short. It does everything you would want a mobile projector to do.

           The Live Pro uses a somewhat stock version of Android Jelly Bean.  I was bit surprised it did not at least have Kit Kat installed.  That maybe in the pipeline. As anyone who has Android phone can testify, their os upgrades are painfully slow in arriving.

                On the plus side, this projector can operate in a way similar to a smartphone.  Installed are the basic Google apps most people would need, and there is no “fluff” wasting space.  This is a blessing in that the internal storage available to users is just 2 Gigs.  This could be a moot point.  This is a primarily a projector.  When you factor in how much it does, it doesn’t seem too farfetched to see calling abilities as well. 

                Hardware wise you are looking at a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, clocked at 1.2 GHz, and backed by 1GB of RAM.  Operations are swift, but do not expect flagship responsiveness.  For what it is designed to do, the layout, speed and handling are decent.

                Aesthetics, or as I like to call it “the cool factor,” the Live Pro is not hard on the eyes.  The body is plastic, but I did not find it coming up terribly short in the looks department.  When sitting on a desk, it will draw attention to itself, in a positive light.

The native resolution is 854 x 854 and can be projected up to a 120 inch display on a wall or other surface.  For optimum viewing, the placement range is anywhere from ten niches to ten feet from the surface you are projecting.   Go further and image quality is compromised.

The Live Pro does come with speakers, and it also comes with a somewhat loud fan.  Once it gets going, it tends to soften, but be prepared for a bit of noise.

                Although presented as a device that families and general tech consumers can use, the real application for the device is more suitable for business professionals: in very specific.   

                In situations like small conferences in the field, or in a place where one should bring their own equipment, the LivePro could fill a need.  When I gave it a test run in a real world situation where it would be an appropriate fit, it worked  well.  

The side view of the Live Pro

                The Achilles heel that prevents the LivePro from being a sound choice for pure entertainment are the limitations of the screen.   Projected image quality is not sufficient for viewing video for extended periods.  The quality is acceptable for a power point presentation and a video of brief duration, but not more strenuous activity.   In brief, image quality is decent, but not spectacular. 

                For some educational purposes, such as teachers in remote areas, I could see the LivePro being a real life saver. The only serious caveats are that you should always carry the power cord and confine use to a dark room.  Dim lighting renders images projected simply too pale.

                Once you have answered the question about the practicality of the projector, the second question regards the price points.   Tech like this does not come cheap.

                The full retail price is $ 499.00, which feels a bit high even taking into account its multitasking abilities.  Reducing sticker shock, Sprint offers it at $ 299.00 with a two year service agreement.  There is also a 24 payment option of $ 18.75 with the last being $ 18.74—they are precise.
                Data plans are always shifting.  It just depends time and specials.  When I checked on line the lowest price it was $ 35.00 monthly.  Numbers can add up fast, so make sure you are aware of the long term cost of ownership.
                One idea that struck me was if it was possible to simply buy the LivePro without a service plan.  If you’re primary function is projecting, you could dispense with service plans.
                I did not find anything on the Sprint site offering it without a service plan.  Then again, things change in the mobile world, and there is no harm in asking.
                Advertised as something general consumes may want, the reality of the LivePro is that it is very much a niche product.  If you are a professional on the road in some very specific situations, the LivePro could be the right fit.    Even if it does fit your needs, there are limitations.   As much as I liked the device on one level for its ambitious stance, I felt there were compromises that a nearly $ 500.00 projector should not ask.
 Short battery life, just acceptable image quality and price points that are high, I don’t see this as a mainstream product.  It has a very defined place in the tech market for some very specific needs.
Even though it does just about everything that one would ideally hope for in a projector, that does not make up for some serious limitations that general consumes may not be willing to accept.  
  • Dimensions: 4.7 inches x 4.7 inches x 1.1 inches (120.6mm x 120.6mm x 28.5mm)
  • Weight: 14.1 ounces (400 grams)
  • Display: 4-inch WVGA touchscreen display with 800x480 resolution and Gorilla Glass
  • Projection Display: 10 inches to 10 feet
  • Projector Type: DLP
  • Lamp Brightness: 100 lumens
  • Lamp Life: 20,000 hours
  • Contrast Ratio: 1,000:1
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 or 16:9
  • Battery: 5,000mAh Lithium-ion battery
  • Memory: 4GB internal memory (ROM), 1GB (RAM) microSD™ card slot supports up to 64GB
  • Ports: HDMI; USB

If you enjoy these presentations, check out my web site, Behrmannart for more content.  

If you like art, and want to see more, check out my GoFund Me page, to support this project.
Email me with any questions.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ultimate Ears 900s

Could this be the ultimate in-ear headphone?
Find out if this is right for you.

The Ultimate Ears 900s Up Close
Ultimate Ears 900s

NEW:  Check out my video of the contents of the Ultimate Ears 900s

                For professional musicians and audiophiles quality is the primary concern. Ultimate Ears, an industry leader and popular choice for professional musicians, created the UE 900s as a way to provide easy access to exemplary performance.

                In the higher echelon world of in-ear headphones, the admission price to enter this world can be substantial.  There is a defined market for devices in this class.  Here price is decidedly secondary to performance.  For demanding audiophiles, nothing short of excellence will do.

                Priced at $ 399.99, this does not constitute bargain basement pricing.  Even for those who want more than average sound, this may be a bit difficult to justify.  For those who settle for whatever came in the box with their mobile phone or whatever else that can produce sound, this may appear to be outrageously expensive.  But it may be so out of line when you consider other factors.

The very well crafted container for your IEM and all the extras

                Before you let the cost become alarming, think about this in relative terms.  Compared to the custom built IEMs ( In Ear Monitors ) that Ultimate Ear manufactures,  the UE 900s become more reasonable.  This may not be for everyone. It does fill a gap between those that want ultimate sound and are willing to pay several hundred rather than a grand. 

                If excellent sound is what you are after, it makes sense to look at a company that produces top tier products.

                Inevitably the question arises concerning quality. Can the UE 900s rise to the occasion?  Are they able to produce exemplary sound.  In this critical area, it captures detail that lesser earphones can’t muster.       
                Bass, an Achilles’ Heal for some ear-buds, is not a problem here.  They are handled with ease and do not drown out the mid range and upper tones.  

Assorted tips to fit assorted sizes and preferences and the maintenance jell 

                A big advantage with the 900s is that it comes packed with accessories.  Lower cost headphones may not include these type of  “bonus” extras.  Including these additions can certainly extend life expectancy.  They also add value.

                The first thing to go with earbuds are wires.  Ultimate Ears has included two detachable ones.  One simply connects to your device and the other has mic and volume for phone calls.  Of note, the remote and mic are supported only by iPod nano® (4th generation or later), iPod classic® (120 GB, 160 GB), iPod touch® (2nd generation or later), iPhone 3GS® or later, and iPad®.

                In order to achieve the best possible sound, a good fit is essential.  If you fail on this point, you are dealing with deterioration in quality, and guaranteed discomfort.  To ensure the best possible fit, there are 36 ear cushions included.  Six are memory foam and the remainder silicon. 

The black carrying case 

                Fit is essential.  Where the 900s differentiates itself from lower priced headphones is how it fits the ear.  There is a stiff wire that goes around the ear.  Placing them requires a little bit of effort.  After a while it becomes less cumbersome.  The advantage of this configuration is that you avoid the ear-buds from falling out of your ear. 

                The bottom line is always sonic quality.  In this area, the 900s is a high achiever.  One expects quality at this price point, and it does come through with the goods.  Base tones are handled with grace and the upper register is very clear.  Detail is well served.  There are no muddled sounds or distortion.  For those familiar with lesser quality devices, these in-ear headphones will be nothing short of a revelation. 

                I think it is a safe assumption to say that most people settle for the earbuds included with their devices, like mp3 players, smartphones and the like.  It can also be assumed that most users would not consider earbuds as a big ticket items.  For serious audiophiles and professional musicians IEM’s (In-Ear Monitors) are something to be taken seriously.

The extra cable in case one goes south

                For those of us who cannot afford the luxury price of custom built IEM’s, Ultimate Ears has found a way to make what was inaccessible to most of us a bit more accessible.  Their answer comes in the form of the Ultimate Ears 900s noise isolating earphones.

                Obviously the 900s is designed for a more demanding listener who wants a superlative sound, but without the greater cost of customization.   There are certainly audiophiles for whom $ 399.99 is not an issue.  What you get when you purchase in-ear headphones from the same makers that well known professional musicians use is improved quality and longevity over your average ear-bud.  Another plus here is a comfortable fit and a highly elevated experience.  If you are the type of user that sees ear-buds as disposable, at $ 399.99 you are not likely to look at this option.  However, if you want great performance and an extended life expectancy, the UE 900s becomes more viable. 
If you are looking for a high end in-ear headphones and are looking for a device that will endure, Ultimate Ears has produced a winner.

The box that holds it all

Purchasing Information

What Comes With These IEM
1.       Ultimate Ears 900 IEM
2.       36 ear cushions
3.       Two Cables, one with mic and controls, the other without.
4.       Maintenance Gel
5.       A carrying case
6.       User Documentation
7.       Jewel Case Container for all of the assorted elements

Technical Specifications
  • DRIVER TYPE:4 proprietary precision balanced armatures
  • IMPEDANCE:30 ohms, 1 kHz
  • SENSITIVITY:101.2 dB (50mW, 1 kHz)
  • CONNECTION:3.5 mm (1/8 inch) gold plated
  • CABLE LENGTHS:48 inch (121.9 cm)
The remote and mic are supported only by iPod nano® (4th generation or later), iPod classic® (120 GB, 160 GB), iPod touch® (2nd generation or later), iPhone 3GS® or later, and iPad®.