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It’s time to ditch my battered BlackBerry 9000. Whether the successor should be a newer BlackBerry, an iPhone, an Android handset, or something else entirely is up in the air. Is it worth waiting for something that’s not out yet, like the Windows 7 phone?

My wish list for a new phone includes reliability, a speedy Web browser, lots of options for apps, a decent camera, Wi-Fi, and GPS. Easy access to Gmail and Google Docs would be great.

iPhone 4

The legendary loyalty of iPhone users doesn’t stop with all-night lines outside of Apple stores prior to the launch of a new handset. Despite the “antennagate” debacle and complaints of a bad proximity sensor, surveys show that most owners remain satisfied with their iPhones. (Yet, maybe the surveys spoke too soon.)

The slim iPhone 4 for AT&T has a 3.5-inch display with the best resolution available on any phone. Multitasking and cut-and-paste functions make this 1GHz, 802.11n model more work-ready than its predecessor–even if multitasking isn’t up to snuff. The 5-megapixel camera and HD video, plus the FaceTime videophone app, add to the appeal.

Among the drawbacks to the iPhone are the touchscreen-only keyboard, which can lead to a minefield of typos, especially when larger fingers are tapping. The lack of Flash support is more annoying on the iPad than the phone, but irksome nonetheless.

Also, do I really want a smartphone that drops calls if held a certain way, or that requires wearing a funky case to function properly? It’s hard to stomach the chairman and CEO of a company address a product flaw by pointing fingers at rival companies, and offering customers little but a Band-Aid workaround and a short, 30-day return window.

Droid X

Unlike with Apple’s iOS, you can choose from among many phones that run the Android operating system. Among these, the sold-out Motorola Droid X for Verizon is perhaps the most appealing.

Comparisons abound between the competing handsets from Apple and Motorola. A speedy, 1GHz processor and HD video are among their shared selling points. Yet, the Droid X comes with a 16GB microSD card, while the iPhone lacks expandability. The Droid X‘s call quality attracts better ratings than that of the iPhone 4, it’s supposed to offer an hour longer of talking time, and it’s got an 8-megapixel camera. Its 4.3-inch display dwarfs that of the iPhone 4.

Flash support will come later with Android 2.2 and more business-friendly features. In addition, the Droid X can serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot. However, I’ve heard users complain about limited battery life and new Motoblur software.

While the Android apps marketplace is smaller than the iPhone app store, it’s bound to grow, especially because Google App Inventor‘s interface makes it easier for budding developers to build apps.

Unfortunately, rogue apps are reportedly leaving Android phones dangerously hackable. Do you really want to integrate your professional and private life on a device that’s prone to invasion? Then again, recent headlines about Android security threats have been overblown.

BlackBerry Torch 9800

Maybe the best replacement for a BlackBerry is another BlackBerry. RIM had fallen behind on the “wow” factor in the smartphone market, but its new handset blends next-generation features found in Android devices and the iPhone. The 624MHz BlackBerry Torch 9800 slider combines a QWERTY button keyboard and a large touchscreen display,a nd it has 802.11n Wi-Fi. The BlackBerry 6 operating system includes the WebKit browser with tabs for online multitasking, as well as remote data-wiping options in case of theft or loss.

Unfortunately, BlackBerry App World is a disappointment, not just because it’s clunky to find and buy apps, but because, in general, their volume and quality pales next to the options for Android and iOS. Despite the other bells and whistles on a new BlackBerry handset, it’s hard to imagine RIM catching up in the apps arena anytime soon.

And, although BlackBerry remains the best choice for those whose companies lean on its mobile infrastructure, that’s not the case with my job.


Since I have an AT&T account with a legacy, all-you-can-eat data plan, I’m not tempted to switch carriers and get nasty surprises on the next bill. But if AT&T doesn’t supply the best phone for me, would another carrier’s plan be affordable? Could it even cost less than the $130 I shell out each month? That’s what I paid in the last billing cycle to talk for 841 minutes, send 523 text messages, and receive 481 texts. I also sent or received 11 MMS messages, and Internet data usage reached 17.74 MB.

The Choice

Of course, these aren’t the only options for a BlackBerry 9000 replacement. Maybe the Microsoft Windows Phone 7, upon release, will look more alluring than in its recent iPhone-mimicking preview. Could Palm’s WebOS even see a resurgence?

Then again, since I don’t use my mobile phone often for calls, maybe a better investment is a hybrid tablet-phone. As a phone, the Dell Streak is a bit clunky–still more portable than Gordon Gekko’s Motorola DynaTAC–but it might do the job.

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Should I Buy A Laptop Now?

Still considered the optimal blend between power and portability, they offer a tried-and-trusted way to stay productive away from the workplace.

Perhaps inevitably, the tech supply chain has struggled to cope with the surge in demand, particularly considering manufacturing came to a near-standstill in some countries.

That begs the question: Is it really worth buying a laptop now?

The answer to that question will depend on a number of variables, but we’ve attempted to cover most across the six following scenarios. 

Scenario 1: No laptop or PC

This is perhaps the most obvious reason for buying a new laptop now. If you’ve relied on the PC at work and only use your phone and TV at home, we’d recommend buying one now.

Which model you buy will depend on how much you’re willing to spend, so our laptop charts are divided into best budget and best overall. 

However, if you have a capable tablet lying around you could still make it work in the short term. Apple’s suggestion that the iPad Pro can replace your laptop makes it the most prominent example, but nearly all tablets have Bluetooth functionality so allow you to connect an external keyboard or mouse. It’s far from a perfect solution, but could see you through the next few months in theory.

Scenario 2: Multiple people sharing the same laptop/s

It’s a common situation in households across the world. Two laptops for a family of four may have seemed plenty under usual circumstances, but juggling work, home schooling and free time means strict schedules have had to be imposed to avoid complete chaos. 

In this scenario, I’d recommend buying at least one new device as soon as possible.

Fortunately, many of the entries in our best budget laptop chart are now in stock, and in many cases you can pick up two great devices for under £1,000. 

Scenario 3: Laptop not working properly, but looks fine

There are various reasons why a laptop might not be working properly, and it’s incredibly frustrating when you don’t know the cause. 

Whether it’s a device that won’t charge, ports that won’t recognise anything or a dreaded black screen, it can be tempting to simply go ahead and buy a new device. 

However, we’d encourage caution, and only invest if you’re sure you can afford it. There are plenty of great budget laptops out there, which should ensure you can get a great device without breaking the bank.

If you’d like to try fixing it yourself, there’s lots of support available online, including our dedicated guides to fixing a laptop that won’t turn on or displays a black screen. 

Scenario 4: Laptop needs repaired

If you’ve tried many of the potential fixes for your device but nothing seems to be working, you’ll need to contact a professional to try and get it sorted. 

It might seem like a lot of hassle, but their technical expertise might mean a fix is relatively inexpensive. Many won’t charge unless they feel there’s something they can do to solve the issue either, 

Depending on where you live there may still be restrictions on going into someone else’s home to repair tech, but you can always send it via secure postage. This means you’ll need a back-up device to work on in the meantime, but it’s something worth considering. 

Changed or planning on changing profession

Scenario 5: Long-serving laptop needs replacing soon

This has parallels with my current situation. The laptop I’ve had is nearly six years old, and while it’s served me extremely well it’s starting to show its age.

Naturally I’ve been considering what I’d look for in a replacement, most notably whether to go with Mac or Windows. 

My current line of thinking is that if I can eke just a few more months out of a laptop that still gets regular software updates, the market will be in a much better position for me to make an informed decision. 

If you can make do with your current device for the time being I’d recommend it, but if it’s hampering your productivity it’s probably time to upgrade. 

Another thing to consider is if you’ve changed or are planning on changing professions in the near future. Perhaps your sturdy business laptop now feels like overkill, or a lightweight ultrabook simply doesn’t offer enough power for your needs. 

These are both good cases for buying a new laptop, but it might be worth holding off if you can manage in the short term.

If you’ve decided that buying a new laptop is the thing to do, check out our best laptop chart for inspiration on which model to buy. 

Got a fully-functioning laptop but struggling to separate work and personal life? We can help. 

Gray Matter: In Which I Set Myself On Fire

There are a few perks to my job as a mad scientist, and one of them, as I recently learned, is being able to tell my colleagues that I can’t attend their terribly important meeting because I’m going to set my hand on fire.

In the movies, people on fire stumble out of burning buildings all the time. If you look closely, however, you’ll notice that they are almost always fully dressed, and that they tend to keep moving. These are two important factors that make the stunt much easier.

To function and avoid injury while on fire, you need to put something between yourself and the flames. But you can’t coat yourself with plain water because it just runs off. So stuntpeople use clothes containing super-absorbent polymer fibers, which keeps the water in place (it’s pretty much the same material used in diapers). A layer of clothes treated this way will keep them cool for quite a while, but they have to continue to move forward so the breeze keeps the flames out of their uncovered face.

If a scene requires showing bare skin on fire, stuntpeople use a special fire-protective gel containing water, which can be applied in a smooth, clear layer that is nearly invisible, especially when the action is moving fast and there’s a lot of fire to distract the viewer. To show you what it looks like up close, I covered my hand in the gel and then painted on some thinned-down contact cement, which produces a very nice opaque yellow flame when lit.

Because we needed my hand to be perfectly still for the camera, I couldn’t use any movement to help stay cool, and my hand started to feel pretty warm after just a few seconds—but not before we got photographic proof that my meeting excuse was for real!

Hot Head

With a waterlogged hat for protection and the heat from the fire going up and away, Gray’s assistant, Taylor Walker, could keep his head comfortably on fire for more than a minute suggesting this topic and providing assistance.

Serving as an excellent companion piece to this is last month’s column, wherein our Mr. Gray plunged his hand into liquid nitrogen. Fire and ice, as they say. Check that video out here.

ACHTUNG! Do not try this—people who play with fire get burned. This stunt requires professional training and preparation, and still there are plenty of things that can go wrong.

What Is Wd Discovery? Should I Use It?

Do you own an external hard drive from Western Digital? Are you worried about how to manage it? The manufacturer of WD hard drives, Western Digital Technologies Inc., provides a drive management tool for every hard drive it produces.

The WD Discovery application provides great functionalities for your WD devices. But despite the usefulness of this application, people are still trying to figure out whether to use it or not.

But worry not, you are at the right place! After reading this article, you will have in-depth knowledge, which will help you decide.

What Is WD Discovery?

If you own products from WD like “My Passport” or “My Cloud Home” devices, WD Discovery software is the best approach towards your drive management goal. It provides a packaged solution for your data backup and data security. It facilitates the user with the Hard drive’s firmware updates. Moreover, It includes utility tools for device registration, updates, and cloud support.

WD Discovery application is available for Windows OS as well as Mac OS. You can access it from the official website of Western Digital. It is available as an executable file in .exe format for Windows OS and as .dmg for Mac OS.

This software is packaged with WD Backup, WD Drive Utilities, and WD Security applications. Let’s discuss each of them in detail:

WD Backup

This application is a basic service provided by the WD Discovery software. No one can guarantee that you won’t face a data loss. It may be due to a hard drive failure or any unexpected disaster.

It permits you to keep backups of your important files and documents and restore them when required. If you don’t want to bother to keep backups of your data every time, it also provides the facility of automatic backups.

Note: WD backup application is no longer in use. We use The Acronis Software instead.

WD Drive Utilities

If you are noticing any noise or overheated hard drive, this application packaged inside a WD Discovery software enables you to diagnose it, if any. With this tool, you can check for errors like read-write errors in your hard disk. Make sure you keep a backup of your important files before running any utility tool provided inside it.

WD Security

This application lets you secure your hard disk using 256-bit AES encryption and prevents any unauthorized person from accessing it. You can set up a password easily to secure your device. But there is one issue with this. You cannot have access to your disk if you forget the password. There is no mechanism to recover it. So be careful while encrypting your disk with this tool.

How To Install WD Discovery?

In most of the drives, the tool is already provided. You can open the setup file and install it. However, you don’t need to hassle if that’s not the case. You can easily download and install it from the Western Digital website. Here we will learn how to install WD Discovery on Windows and Mac.

On Windows

Follow these steps to install WD Discovery on Windows:

You can then carry out the necessary operations on your drive.

On Mac

Follow these steps to install WD Discovery on your Mac:

You will see your WD device listed inside the application. You will then be able to perform the required operations.

Should I Use WD Discovery?

Backup, Security, and Diagnosis are the main motto of WD Discovery software. It shows the details of your external drive, such as the model number and serial number. It is integrated with SMART, an attribute that helps analyze the state of your external drive. It reports to you if any probable failure is about to happen in the future.

Users can even store a copy of data from cloud storage providers using the software’s cloud capabilities. Backing up your content from Google Drive, Dropbox, and social media accounts like Facebook and Instagram has been made easier with the use of WD Discovery.

It is totally up to you whether to use this tool or not. Certain users appreciate WD’s software interface and like the features packaged inside it. In contrast, some of them have reported the problems. You can realize yourself if you could give it a shot.

Should I Use It For Mac?

The Mac’s OS consists of many of the services that WD Discovery provides. Even Western Digital suggests not using its software and using built-in Mac programs in some cases. Other programs you have installed on your Mac may interfere with the software.

Likewise, with the update in Mac’s OS, WD Discovery may lose some of its functionalities. However, it can assist Mac users with firmware updates and checking SMART attributes.

How to Remove WD Discovery?

Removing the WD Discovery application from your device can be quite frustrating. Uninstalling it straightforwardly as you do for other applications may not work every time. As we already discussed, it can either interfere with other applications or its traces may not be completely removed. Here we will see how you can completely remove every application component.

From Windows

For the clean uninstallation of WD Discovery from Windows, you need to go to the control panel and uninstall the application.

Once the uninstallation is completed, now you need to clear the log files that exist in the system. To clear the log files:

This will completely remove every log file including WD Discovery and you are good to go.

From Mac

If you are using Mac OS, it already provides you with WD Discovery’s functionalities. So you may consider uninstalling it. If you already have an uninstaller file in the package, you may directly run it and uninstall the application.

Else follow the steps below to uninstall WD Discovery from Mac:

It will now remove all the WD components from your Mac.

Shell Infrastructure Host: Should I Delete Or Disable It?

Shell Infrastructure Host: Should I Delete or Disable it? An Outdated OS might cause the Shell Host to use high resources




There have been several complaints by Windows 11 users of the Shell Infrastructure Host using as much as 10% of CPU power.

It causes the computer to lag and slows down system processes, and the fault could be caused by malware or stability issues.

As the Shell Infrastructure Host is a critical constituent of Windows, it uses only a tiny amount of power by default.



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readers this month.

The Shell Host dictates taskbar transparency, start menu layout, background images, and other graphical elements as a core function of Windows. 

Unlike some processes you find running in the task manager, it doesn’t take up too much power. It shoots up about 1-3 percent at times. But you’ll mostly find it taking up 0% of your CPU. 

So, if you notice a high CPU power usage by the Shell Host Infrastructure process on Windows 11, it means things are not standard on your PC. And this could be a sign of worse to come.

Thankfully, we have provided detailed fixes for the issue in the guide, as we did with the Shell Host Infrastructure has stopped working problem.

Why is Shell Infrastructure Host causing high CPU usage?

If the Shell Infrastructure Host uses high CPU resources, it can be down to an outdated operating system. In this case, you should try first to update your OS.

Lastly, the problem can be down to corrupt system files. You can fix this by repairing the files with the built-in repair tools or dedicated software.

Is Shell Infrastructure Host necessary?

The Shell Infrastructure Host is essential in handling a series of graphics UI elements on Windows PC. Some of these processes include the background, Taskbar, and Start Menu.

So, the process is necessary for various graphic elements and shouldn’t be deactivated.

What can I do if Windows 11 Shell Infrastructure Host uses a high CPU?

Update your OS as required. 

2. Go through your system files

Expert tip:

If this seems like a tedious task, you can always use third-party software. Fortect does a great job when it comes to restoring Windows system files.

Fortect scans your entire computer for corrupted or damaged system files and replaces them with the undamaged Windows originals. This tool has a database of over 25 million updated Windows system files.


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3. Run DSIM

You’ll have to wait a couple of minutes to complete the process. Other than this, you can run a simple antivirus scan to be sure. 

Can I end Shell Infrastructure Host?

You can end the Shell Infrastructure Host process like every other process from the Task Manager. However, it warns that your PC will be unusable or shut down if you deactivate the feature.

With the information in this guide, you should be able to fix the Shell Infrastructure Host high CPU usage on Windows 11. Although this same issue was reported on Windows 10, we have resolved it accordingly.

When the CPU usage for any system component is abnormally high, the resulting overheating can cause your PC to shut down abruptly, So you might want to check out this guide on how to fix CPU temperature on Windows 10/11.

Here’s to hoping that this guide was a great and informative read. If your Shell Host uses a high CPU, don’t hesitate to troubleshoot using any techniques.

Still experiencing issues?

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Should I Collect Email Addresses On My Blog In 2014?

It’s alright to admit it. You still devote some amount of time every morning to going through all of your emails. While you could just go and unsubscribe to the spammy emails if you wanted to, old habits die hard. It’s just become a ritual that we all just accept and often times rely on.

Despite the assumption that email marketing is a thing of the past, it still remains the go-to-form of communication within the business word – just not open your inbox for a couple of days and see all of the important messages and the amount of emails that have piled up. And, there are stats to back that claim up. According to the Radicati Group, Business email accounts totaled 929 million mailboxes in 2013. That figure is expected to increase by five percent over the next four years, which would mean that it would reach over 1.1 billion by the end of 2023.

Just because email remains important for the business world, does that mean you should continue to collect email addresses on your blog?


Radicati has some other useful stats, like the fact that there will be around 4.9 billion email accounts by the end of 2023. And, the consumer email accounts’ market share is expected to grow over the next several years. Why? Because more and more people from all over the globe are getting online thanks to smartphones and other mobile devices. In fact, Litmus discovered that “mobile now accounts for the majority of email opens, with a 51% share.” Litmus also found that desktop opens make up 31% of all opens and 61% of webmail users open email on a mobile device. In other words, people (specifically Gmail and Yahoo! users) are checking their email while on the go, while businesses still turn to the good old desktop.

The Benefits of Collecting Email Addresses on Your Blog

People Have Already Shown Interest

For a person to give you permission to send them emails means that they already have an interest in whatever your blog is doing. Because someone opted-in on your newsletter shows that they are more receptive to your message and interested in what you have to say. That’s a huge perk when they can quickly scroll through their Facebook Newsfeed and skip a TV ad.

Email is Targeted

As we just mentioned, people already have an interest in your message if they agreed to receive your emails, which is another way of saying that you now have a targeted audience. These are the right people to receive your message and you can create lists that further breaks down your subscribers, like by location, gender, marital status, etc. Since you already know this useful information, you can provide them with content that they’ll enjoy or find helpful, which in turn, will make them share this content or make a purchase.

It’s Personal

Of course with email you can personalize messages to various demographics. And, because it’s going into someone’s inbox, there’s a more direct connection than that over a social media network, which can establish trust over time. You can use this casual form of communication to ask questions or feedback from your subscribers as well. Because this information isn’t shared publicly, subscribers may feel more comfortable answering questions or leaving feedback as opposed to a social network like Facebook or Twitter.

Email is Transactional


Finally, you don’t have to worry about being marked as spam because you’ll receive a notification whenever someone requests to be removed from your list. This is because of the helpful ‘‘unsubscribe’ button. If allowed, you may want to send one final email asking why that person wanted to be removed for future reference.


Another great benefit of using email marketing is that you can quickly find out the subscribers who have not been opening your messages or responding to any parts of your campaign. Just like testing your social media campaigns, you can then adjust your message so that it will engage potential customers. Whether you use a simple split test or something a bit more detailed, you should be testing items like the subject line, message from name, day of the week, and layout to see what it working and what isn’t.

It Will Reach More People

When you do an email marketing campaign, you are reaching more active account users. In fact, it’s expected that over the next four years there will be more mobile email users than social media users. For example, by 2023, there will be 1,779 million mobile email users worldwide compared to 1,573 million worldwide social media users.

How to Collect Email Addresses

Did we convince you that you should still be collecting email addresses on your blog? Hopefully we did. But, how exactly are you going to get people to not only open, but actually read your email message?

Select Email Marketing Service Provider

While there are a lot of options out there, here are some of the more favorable industry leaders: MailChimp, Aweber, Campaign Monitor, iContact, Constant Contact, Mad Mimi, Benchmark and GetResponse.

Create and Place Your Op-tin Forums

If you’re using WordPress, your email marketing service provider should supply you with a nifty embed code so you can easily place a forum onto your WordPress site. Having a op-tin forum on your site will convert visitors into subscribers and potential customers. OptionMonster is highly suggested and is compatible with almost all of the major email marketing service providers.

Just keep in mind you need to do some work as well. While OptionMonster has all sorts of great tools, it’s up to you to come up with creative ideas on how to get people to subscribe to your email. You could offer a coupon, discount, free trial to a service, or eBook.

Identify Your Goal

Why are sending people an email? Is it just to thank them for subscribing? Is it to inform them of a new product or service? Are you thanking them for being a subscriber and sending a coupon? Are you just sharing a piece of educational content? Once you’ve identified the purpose of the message of the email, everything else should fall into place.

Grab Their Attention

To get people interested into opening your email, you have to grab their attention. The first place to do that is by having a captivating subject line. This should match your brand’s image, meaning that if you’re lighthearted and witty then the subject line should be the same. If you want to see how effective a subject line is you can do something like a T-test. MailChimp suggests personalized subject with a sense of urgency are very effective. Or, you could view subject line best practices.

And, one friendly reminder. Be certain the subject line matches the rest of the email. You don’t want to anger subscribers if they opened an email promising them a 25% off-discount only to discover it was just an announcement for your latest product or service. Bait and switch tactics don’t really work nowadays.

The Message

Make sure that the body of the email is something that your subscribers will find useful, like a discount or an informative list. Whatever the message contains, make sure that it’s of value, compelling, and gets directly to the point.

You also want to make sure that the design is clean and has “Pinterest-worthy” images. People love images, and they love to share images. If you were having an event, maybe create an eye-catching flyer that your subscribers could share on their social media outlets.

Be Mobile Friendly

We’ve thrown a lot of information at you within this article, so in case you have forgotten, more people are opening up their emails through mobile devices. Because of this trend, make sure that the text and images are mobile friendly. And, definitely make sure that your website is responsive as well.

If you don’t think this is a big deal, just remember that 70% of consumers will unsubscribe from an email list if it isn’t attractive on their mobile device.

Best Time To Send Emails

Finally, it wouldn’t hurt to be aware of the best days and times to send out your emails. ConstantContact notes that while Tuesday through Thursday were the traditional favorites, it appears that Monday has become the best day of the week to send out emails.

As for the best time of the day, try to avoid between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., since that is when the most emails are being sent. If you want to stand out in your contacts’ inboxes aim for either 8 – 10 a.m. or 4 – 6 p.m. Keep in mind testing can help you figure out when your subscribers prefer opening emails. Matter of fact, a split test should do the trick.

Email definitely has the potential to be a major asset. It’s been a tried and trusted tactic for marketers and appears to remain a key point of interest. And, we see no reason for that to change for blogs as well.

Do you still collect email addresses on you blog? Have you noticed anything different?

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