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If you want to participate in the kickoff of the holiday shopping season without feeling too much like a market-driven drone, check Small Business Saturday with the help of these social networking tools.

Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the unending onslaught of online deals, there is another holiday shopping day that might get lost in the shuffle: Small Business Saturday. This year marks the second annual such event, a new tradition that tries to steal some addition from chain retailers and big e-commerce sites and give it to local vendors.

And this year, the fledging ritual is getting some serious attention from social media sites. Facebook, Twitter, and Google have all pledge their efforts in support, offering and encouraging small business owners to use their sites’ tools to promote shopping this weekend.

Local retailers aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit this weekend. What happens to consumers who want the discounts but sans the chain names (that are sometimes attached to controversy) they go hand in hand with? Small business Saturday can fill that void along with the help of some geo-social applications.

Foursquare

amex-foursquareFoursquare has been at the top of the social-meets-location game since it began, and Small Business Saturday will be no exception. If you have an American Express card, sync it to your Foursquare account following these directions. Then when you check-in to shops who have partnered with the service via Foursquare on Saturday, you will see a button that says “load to card.” Then when you spend at least $25 or more at the participating store, you’ll get a notification saying $25 was credited to your Amex account. American Express is a sponsor of Small Business Saturday, so ratcheting up sales is in its best interest, but turns out they’re willing to compensate you for helping make the event a success.

 

etsy_iconEtsy

The purveyor of all things handcrafted is a natural fit for small business Saturday—and will appeal to those who want to buy “local” without leaving their living rooms. Just searching “Small Business Saturday” on the site brought up a slew of items that will be on sale this weekend, andthis blog catalogued some of the best e-shops on the site that offered discounts last year.

 

 

thedealmixDaily deal sites

While the likes of LivingSocial and Groupon tend to offer food and spa deals, the occasional local retailer pops up. Between now and Small Business Saturday, a minimal amount of homework and creating an account with one (or all) of these sites could save you some Monday. We’d advise getting with something likeThe Dealmix, which collects a large variety of all these local deals. Keep an eye out on any of these applications for vendor or shop deals in your area. Then make a call or check Facebook to see if they are participating in Small Business Saturday. Then add those savings to whatever discount the daily deal site was offering. Of course, you should check that you can use coupons during the Saturday sale.

 

 

 

Facebook

Facebook is offering a slew of tools for small businesses to take advantage of, but the site is also catering to consumers. Check out the Small Business Saturday Facebook page and you’ll have access to a variety of information, including city guides for optimizing your local shopping in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, as well as organized events in cities nationwide. Some of them include raffles, free gift wrapping, Santa visits for the kids, and community breakfasts.

 

 

 

 

smallbiz twitterTwitter

Be sure to follow your favorite local business on Twitter, if you haven’t already. We’re sure a great many of these sites will have implemented a Follow button (one of the tools in the Small Business Saturday kid), and will be using the hashtags #ShopSmall, #ShopSmallNov26, #SmallBizSaturday and #SmallBusinessSaturday to spread word of their discounts this weekend.

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How-to-get-Macs-and-PCs-to-play-nice-together

Macs and PCs may work differently, but they can coexist together. Learn how to comfortably straddle the gap between both operating systems with these simple tips.

Microsoft and Apple have always been competitors on some level, and as a result, their fans often contain a bit of that old competitive spirit. It’s not uncommon for Mac buyers to become overnight loyalists, but Windows has an entrenched fanboy battalion as well.

Given the situation, it’s almost unnatural to think that – *gasp* – someone might own both a Windows PC and a Mac. Can you imagine the nerve? In the same household! Yet it does occur. In fact, I myself own a Windows PC as well as a MacBook, and so far one hasn’t killed the other (or me) while I slept.

With that said, getting the two to play nice can take some time. File, software, and hardware compatibility issues are not as bad as they were a decade ago, but they do exist. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome them.

Conquering old-fashioned file compatibility problems

There was once a time when trying to move a file between a PC and a Mac was a real hassle. Software on each end was wildly different, so files saved on a Mac often could not be opened in Windows without some form of conversion. Error-Cartoon

Today, this problem has lessened. However, the two operating systems continue to use different file systems. Windows relies on NTFS, while OS X uses HFS Plus.

This has no impact on actual file compatibility. A Word document written on a Mac using HFS Plus can be opened on an NTFS file system Windows PC. The problem is the method of file transfer. Macs can read files on an NTFS drive, but can’t write to an NTFS drive, while Windows can neither read nor write to HFS Plus drives. If you normally use physical media to transfer files, this could be a stumbling block.

What’s the solution? Get FAT…32. This file system, which was used by Windows back in the Windows 95/98 era, is read/write compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X. Thumb drives and external hard drives formatted with FAT32 will be compatible with both systems. Problem solved right?

Software compatibility continues to disappoint

Software is still a compatibility sticking point between Macs and PCs. It is still up to a developer to code for either operating system.

Microsoft’s debut of Office for the Mac was the only major software compatibility change to recently take place (and even this occurred years ago), but it was important. Basic productivity tasks are now much easier to complete if you own both platforms because you’ll have a set of familiar and compatible programs available on both.

Windows-7-and-Mac-OS

However, it’s almost universally true that you must purchase the Windows and Mac versions individually, which can be a pain to your pocketbook. One notable exception is Steam for Mac. This gaming platform provides gamers with both a Windows and Mac copy of a video game (if the Mac version is available) when they purchase a title.

Syncing files between systems

File sync software is a blessing if you own multiple computers, but for those who own both PCs and Macs, software compatibility issues are a roadblock. Sync software often only supports one platform or the other.

Surprisingly, one of the easier solutions comes from Microsoft. The company offers a program called Windows Live Mesh that can be used to sync files between systems, and it has both a PC and Mac version. I’ve personally used this and found it works well – and it’s completely free, no matter how much data you need to sync.

Another option is, well, any service that’s based in the cloud. Dropbox is the most common example, but there are tons of similar offerings. However, you usually need to pay once your storage needs go beyond a certain point because the files are stored in the cloud, not on your computers.

Facebook has been working for two years on a secret Facebook phone project named Buffy. Facebook is rumored to be teaming up with HTC to be build a device with a modified version of Android to create a fully integrated Facebook experience.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer might be making a comeback, but as a phone instead of a TV show or movie. Today AllThingsD is reporting that Facebook has been working on an official Facebook phone code named Buffy. The social media giant is rumored to have teamed up with HTC to produce a fully integrated Facebook mobile device. If these rumors are true we shouldn’t expect to see a Facebook phone for at least 12 to 16 months.

We started hearing rumors about a Facebook phone over a year ago, which seem to be true since the Buffy project has been in production for almost two years now. We have seen phones launch in the past year with Facebook integration, and even with a dedicated Facebook button. Buffy is said to be something completely different from anything we have seen thus far.

Buffy is said to run on a modified version of Android tweaked by Facebook so that all of its services are deeply integrated into the phone. It is also said to support HTML5 as a platform for applications, which means you should be able to play all of your favorite Facebook games on the phone.

Facebook’s app is one of the most popular app on iOS, Android, Windows 7, and Blackberry but being just an app comes with restrictions. With Google able to fully integrate Google+ into Android phones, and Apple’s new partnership with Twitter it seems like Facebook needs to make its own device to stay competitive.

Over 350 million people use Facebook apps on mobile phones, and Facebook knows that the future of social networking is mobile. Is the Facebook phone going to be too little too late when it finally comes out?

 

Provided by Mike Dunn

 

gmail-logo-good

The fix is in: Google returns the Gmail iOS app to the Apple App Store bug-free.

 

After a very public screw-up, Google has re-released the Gmail app for iOS devices into Apple’s App Store. The app is currently available for download. (Though, for some reason, it’s not showing up in the iOS App Store app, as of 3:30pm ET.) Users who managed to snag the earlier version of the app, which contained a number of bugs that rendered it inoperable, will have to either log out, or completely uninstall the app, before installing the updated version.

A native Gmail app for iOS has been a long time coming. For the past few years, users of Android-based smartphones have boasted their ability to access added functionality of Gmail which was lost when using the email service on iOS, through its app client. With this release that perk is no longer exclusive to Android users.

At the top of the new-features heap is the addition of Push Notifications, as well as greater speed, efficiency and touchscreen functionality. Better search, email address autocomplete and the ability to upload and send photos are also part of Gmail for iOS.

Google says that, since releasing the original version, it has begun to work on adding a number of additional features, as well. These include the ability to use multiple accounts. Notifications and “mobile specific” touchscreen gestures will also be getting an upgrade. “Many more” new features are on their way, says Google.

The Gmail app is free, and will work on any device that runs iOS 4 or above.

Apple’s iPad may well appeal across the board, but what kinds of people are most likely to buy one? Well, someone has done a spot of research and come up with an infographic providing the answer.

 

Whether it’s a barely-talking toddler who seems to be able to know exactly how to operate the thing, or someone in their twilight years for whom desktop computers were always just too darn tricky, the fact is that Apple’s popular iPad appeals to many types.

Data management firm BlueKai took it upon itself to take a closer look at which kinds of people would be more likely to purchase the device. Through its research, illustrated in a neat infographic at the bottom of this page, it found that an iPad buyer is most likely to be male, a fan of video games and a pet owner. It’s hard to find a connection between pets and iPads but it’s likely that it’s those video game players who are helping to push up iOS mobile gaming revenue to record levels.

Falling into the ‘highly likely to buy an iPad’ category are scientists and health care workers, as well as domestic business travelers (keeps them busy on the plane), international travelers (ditto), apartment dwellers, proponents of organic food and vitamin takers.

Other information included in the demographic included comScore’s discovery that 45.9 percent of tablet owners live in households earning in excess of $100,000 per year. Additionally, research by Nielsen showed that 70 percent of all iPad use takes place in front of a television.

The iPad is proving a huge success for Apple, which sold more than 11 million of the devices during the most recent quarter for which data is available. Precisely how many of those belong to male, pet-owning gaming fans isn’t currently known.

 

Provided by Trevor Mogg

amazon-phone

This week we saw Facebook get a nasty virus, both Apple and Google release cloud-based music services, and heard a rumor about Amazon entering the smartphone market.

 

Didn’t have time to keep up with every ripple in the technology pond this week? We’ve got you covered. Here are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last week.

Facebook gets hacked, users subjected to hardcore porn

Earlier this week we learned that some Facebook users were seeing news feeds filled with images of hardcore pornography and violence. It was originally suspected that the hacker group Anonymous may have had something to do with the attack, but that assumption has since been debunked. The spam attack is now mostly under control and the company has said that someone exploiting a browser vulnerability, not Anonymous, is responsible for the breach. A Facebook spokesperson has maintained that no user information or accounts were compromised during the several-day attack.

 

Google and Apple launch cloud-based music services

This week we saw two of the most important and notable releases in the domain of cloud-based music services from both Google and Apple. We covered the announcement of the public version of Google Music on Wednesday, which now includes the ability to purchase songs through the Android Market, and gave our own hands-on impressions of the service. Apple also launched its counter-attack with the release of iTunes Match, a similar cloud-based music service that users can purchase for $25 per year. We took a first look at the new service to see if it’s worthy of all the hype.

 

Nokia introduces MixRadio for Windows Phones, Lumia may be carried at AT&T in the US

This week Nokia revealed more of the specs of MixRadio, a music service that will be included in its new Lumia 710 and 800 Windows Phone 7.5 handsets. The service will offer users access to an MP3 store, pre-made playlists, streaming, and more. We also confirmed this week that carrier AT&T is looking into carrying both Nokia Windows Phone handsets starting sometime in 2012.

 

Amazon may jump into the smartphone market

In one of the more exciting news developments of the week, we are hearing from Citigroup analysts that Amazon may jump into the smartphone market with an Amazon phone in the next year. Rumor has it that the phone will be priced in the $150 to $170 range and will run on a heavily-modified version of Android, much like the Kindle Fire.

 

iPhone surpasses BlackBerry in business, Apple preps for record sales

In a surprising but somewhat inevitable occurrence, it seems that Apple’s iPhone has finally surpassed BlackBerry as the preferred handset of business users. BlackBerry has had a corner on this part of the market for years, so it’s a success that Apple shouldn’t take lightly. According to recent estimates, Apple is also on track to sell a record number of Macs this quarter, which will likely only increase with the possible release of a 15-inch MacBook Air in March.

 

Provided by Kelly Montgomery

Google Chrome wallpapers2

Between IE, Firefox, and Opera the choice might not be easy to make, but with our helpful guide, we will show you why we think Google Chrome stands out among the rest and deserves your attention.

 

In 2010, Internet Explorer for the first time dipped below 50% market share, an impressive slide from ten years ago, when nearly 90% of users decided on it. Part of the problem has been IE itself, as Microsoft’s development of the browser tends to be slow, but much of the blame for IE’s slide can be levied at the fact that there is actual competition in the form of Chrome, Firefox and Opera web browsers, all of which are now mature alternatives.

For the most part, users who abandon Internet Explorer end up joining the Firefox crowd, but not me. I’m a dedicated Chrome user, and have been since just a few months after its release. Despite the high-profile brand (Google) behind Chrome, only 13% of users choose it as their browser. I believe that’s awfully low, so allow me to help you become acquainted with the wonderful world of Chrome.

Google-Chrome-KingWhy Chrome?

Chrome’s development focused on two important themes. One was speed, and the other was excellent web page rendering. Many steps were taken to achieve this, among which was the development of the V8 JavaScript engine, which used new optimization techniques to achieve better performance.

Thankfully these efforts were not in vain. Though it’s been available nearly three years now, Chrome remains the unchallenged performance leader. Peacekeeper browser benchmark scores for Chrome are much higher than they are for other browsers – in fact, when compared to IE9, the latest version can almost double Internet Explorer’s score.

Compatibility is another strong point. In the Acid3 web standards test, Chrome can achieve a score of 97/100, which until recently was a leading result. However, changes to the Acid3 test now allow Firefox and Internet Explorer to achieve a 100/100 score.

Even so, I find that Chrome’s web rendering is superior to either, particularly Firefox, which has presented trouble with text on some high-resolution monitors. Chrome has always rendered images and text smoothly, and because of its speed, zooming in and out of pages is quick as lightening.

Installing Chrome

To demonstrate Chrome’s focus on speed, the installation process has been made simple and fast. When you visit the Google main page on a computer without the browser installed, you’ll see a prompt on the page asking if you’d like to install it. You may have banished this, already – so you can also access the installer by going directly to the Google Chrome website.

When you click the install or download button, you will be prompted with the terms of service, which you’ll need to accept. Then, the installer will download and installation will begin. On an average desktop or laptop the process will take only a couple minutes from start to finish.

Chrome, unlike many other browsers, doesn’t require that users re-download the browser when new updates are made available. Once you have it installed, you will never need to re-install it unless you’ve purchased a new computer or reformatted your hard drive. Updates are pushed out automatically, so you don’t even have to click a button to obtain the newest version.

Understanding the Chrome Interface

When Chrome was released, the interface was bold and new. Tabs are used to manage multiple browsing sessions, a concept that was still gaining steam when the browser was released, and the drop-down menus and large interface icons that used to dominate browsers are gone.

Now, this has actually become the norm. Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome have all homogenized at least some of their interface elements, so users will find some familiarity between them. They all use tabs that are managed at the top of the window, they all have just a few, abstracted icons, and they all tuck bookmarks under the URL bar.

However, all the browsers have very different menus for managing critical browser options. In Chrome, you will find the browser options by clicking on the wrench icon in the upper right, then navigating to Options. An options page will open like a web page in a new tab. Every single function of the browser is managed from this one area except for Bookmarks, Downloads and History.

Otherwise, there’s not much to understand about the basics of the interface, because there’s simply not a lot of interface there – but let’s take a closer look at some individual features.

Bookmarking

In Chrome, adding a bookmark is best accomplished by clicking the star icon on the right hand side of the URL bar. Once you click it, a small pop-up menu will ask you which folder you’d like to store the Bookmark in. This can be changed later, of course.

Sites that are bookmarked will from then display a yellow star icon (instead of the standard, uncolored icon) in the URL bar when you visit them.

Users have the choice to display or not display bookmarks in Chrome interface. This can be turned on or off by opening the wrench menu, going to bookmarks, and then de/selecting Show Bookmarks Bar. The bookmarks bar can contain both folders full of bookmarks or individual bookmarks, and can be edited directly by right-clicking.

There’s also a Bookmark Manager found in the options, but I doubt you’ll have much need for it. Since the Bookmarks Bar can be edited, the Manager is only needed by users who choose not to show the bar, or who prefer that interface for management of very large bookmark folders.

Downloads

In the toolbar menu you’ll find Downloads. Clicking on it opens the download manager, which appears like a web page in its own tab. There’s not a lot to comment on here. All of your recent downloads will be shown in chronological order. There is no option to filter them by name or size.

The only way to find a specific download is to either search for it, which is effective as long as you know the file name, or bypass Chrome by clicking on Open Downloads Folder. This will simply open your Windows download folder.

Extensions

Add-on software to Chrome is called an extension, and can be managed by going to the wrench menu, clicking on Options, and then going to Extensions. Users have the choice to disable or enable extensions through this menu, or uninstall them completely.

Google-Chrome-Extensions

Official extensions can be found at the Chrome Web Store. Recent updates have made this site very similar to the Android marketplace. Most of the extensions available are free, but developers can charge if they choose, and there is also support for in-app payments.

In addition to extensions, Chrome also supports “apps.” These are vaguely defined as web services that can be accessed through the Apps section of the Chrome homepage. At the moment, most of the apps are just than links to websites. Installing the Gmail by Google app, for example, does nothing more than install a new icon that takes you to the standard Gmail interface. However, there are some true apps available, including games like Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies.

Security and Privacy

When you open a new tab in Chrome via a right-click, you have the option to open the tab in “incognito mode.” This is a built-in private browsing feature. When a tab goes incognito, it doesn’t record the browsing or download history of that tab, and all cookies related to that tab are deleted when the tab is closed.

Sometimes users misunderstand incognito mode, thinking it provides some protection against keyloggers, spyware, or other such threats. It does not. The main purpose is to provide on-the-fly private browsing. Let’s say, for example, you want to research some Christmas gifts. Incognito mode lets you do this on the family computer without tipping anyone off.

Another important security feature, this time related to extensions and apps, is permissions. In order for the extensions that you install to function, they sometimes need “permission” to perform certain functions, such as access location data or information from a certain site.

You can find the permissions needed by going to the Details section of an extension on the Chrome Web Store. Unfortunately, permissions are not shown in the Extensions section of the Options menu.

Syncing

Google likes the cloud, most likely because they offer a lot of cloud services. Chrome does, as well, in the form of its sync feature. You can find this feature in the Personal Stuff section of the Options menu.

What this does is save your Chrome settings using your Google account. Once saved, these settings can then be loaded to Chrome on any other computer by going to the Personal Stuff section once again and entering your Google account information.

google-chrome-bookmakrs-sync

You can choose what to sync, including everything from passwords to extensions to bookmarks. If you make a change to your settings on any of the now synced Chrome browsers, it will be migrated to all of them. But you don’t have sync everything if you don’t want to, and you can pick-and-choose. You can, for example, choose not to sync extensions if you like to customize your extensions for each PC.

To protect your privacy, sync data is encrypted while it is sent. Normally the encryption passphrase if your Google account password, but if you want extra security, you can enter a different passphrase manually.

Tab Management

Chrome tabs can be moved about at your leisure by click-dragging them. When they are moved inside an open Chrome window, a tab’s position can be re-arranged. But you can also click-drag a tab away from the Chrome window in order to open another, separate browser window. Likewise, you can click-drag tabs from separate instances of Chrome into a single browser window to combine them.

New tabs can be opened using keyboard shortcuts or the small “+” icon beside the last currently open tab. All new tabs that are not opened to display a link will instead display the default home screen, which consists of a tile display of recently visited websites and installed apps. You can also access a list of recently closed tabs from the menu in the lower right hand corner.

There’s no hard cap on the amount of tabs you can have open at once in the browser, but once you go past about twelve, the titles of open tabs become difficult to see because so little space is available. If you need to frequently use a large number of tabs, you may want to download a tab management extension from the web store.

Important Shortcuts

Like any browser, Chrome has a number of keyboard shortcuts that can help you navigate the user interface. Here are some of the most important ones to know.

Ctrl+N – Opens new window

Ctrl+Shift+N– Opens new incognito mode window

Ctrl+T – Opens new tab

Ctrl+P– Print the page

Ctrl+S– Save the page

Ctrl+F5 – Reloads the page

Ctrl+D – Saves page as a bookmark

Ctrl+Shift+D– Saves all open pages as bookmarks

Ctrl+Click a link – Opens the link in a new tab in the background

Ctrl+Shift+Click a link – Opens the link in a new tab and switches to the new tab

Ctrl+Shift+T – Reopens the last closed tab

Ctrl+Tab– Switches to the next tab

Ctrl+Shift+Tab– Switches to the previous tab

Alt+For Alt+E– Opens the wrench menu

Ctrl+Shift+B– Toggles the bookmarks bar on and off

Ctrl+H– Opens the History page

Ctrl+J– Opens the Downloads page

Shift+Esc– Opens the Task Manager

Ctrl+Shift+Delete– Opens the Clear Browsing Data dialog

Come to Chrome

These are all of the basic features that make up the Chrome web browser. It’s an impressive suite, and generally better than what other browsers offer by default. But some of its biggest advantages – such as its speed – are only apparent after using the browser for a few minutes.

If you still feel a little overwhelming, try taking a look at Google’s official Chrome FAQ. There’s a nice introduction there that advanced users will find too fundamental, but newcomers may appreciate.

 

Provided by Matt Smith