Ch-ch-changes (with apologies to David Bowie)

“I was perfectly happy with my old [fill in the blank].  Why do I HAVE to change?”

It often seems that just when you reach a comfortable relationship with technology, “they” change everything.  (Oh, the evil "they"!). Windows 8, Microsoft’s latest version, is quite different from its predecessors; even the Start button is gone. Is it worth the time to get to know it, or will the changes just drive more people to Macs? 

I’ve been mulling this over lately and, a year after it was announced, I finally got my hands on a Lenovo Yoga running Windows 8. The Yoga is one of the best of a new generation of hybrid devices that meld a powerful, lightweight laptop with a touchscreen tablet, as though a Macbook Air had been fused with an iPad. 

The concept is like Anne Hathaway’s description of her Oscars dress: "business in the front, party in the back."  It's both a terrific laptop (gorgeous screen, great keyboard, smart design) and a pretty good tablet. That split personality has awkward moments, but adding a touchscreen really allows Windows 8 to shine; once you've used a touchscreen, it's hard to go back. Best of all, it means I can use a single device for everything.*

Touchscreen is the direction of the laptop market; only questions are when/if Apple will join the party, whether their software would be friendlier, and what the price might be. Stay tuned.

Remote support for our clients We’ve been quietly providing remote support to clients for a while now, and it’s been a great success, saving time, money and frustration.  If your questions require more than a quick email or phone call but not necessarily an onsite appointment, book a remote support session and pay only for the time you need (at a reduced rate, even).  It’s private, secure, and works on both Mac and Windows computers (internet connection required). Contact us for more info.

New Office for Mac and Windows, new pricing
Most people use at least the Word part of the Microsoft Office suite (which also includes Excel, etc.), and Microsoft is selling the latest version as either a subscription or a traditional license. If you need to upgrade, the subscription model MIGHT save money for households with multiple computers, especially when some are PC’s and some are Macs; no need to buy separate versions of the software for each platform. But there's some fine print, so do your homework before you buy.  A comparison of the options is here.

Dept. of Grumbles and Cheers

A number of airlines have blocked AwardWallet and similar useful websites from accessing the details of your rewards points so you can see them all in one place.  No good alternatives at the moment.

We’ve alerted you in the past that retailers show you different merchandise and prices based on what they know about you, but I was still startled to find that accessing through the American Airlines online shopping mall (to collect 7 reward miles per dollar spent) added more than 25% to the price of an item.

Gift cards are profitable for retailers because so many of them go unused.  Several websites like offer to buy (at a discount) the cards you have in a drawer, and sell you (at a smaller discount) cards you might actually want, so you can enjoy your Starbucks latte for 15% less or a Jetblue flight for 6% less. You can sign up free and they’ll alert you when cards you want are available.