This week the news is full of Lenovo, a computer manufacturer that has been selling machines that they have already fitted with what some call Malware or just Adware. Magic in the machine indeed!
The mal/adware in question is made by a company called “Superfish.” The software is essentially an Internet browser add-on that injects ads onto websites you visit. Details here.
Besides taking up space in your computer, the add-on is also dangerous because it undermines basic computer security protocols.
That’s because it tampers with a widely-used system of official website certificates. That makes it hard for your computer to recognize a fake bank website. This means that you are more likely to give all of your personal data away, let nasty things into your computer, and allow people to monitor your use.
No good I hear you say, and all so that they can feed you adverts while you are browsing.
But this news does bring up another question, what else is in the computer? What else is it programmed to do? The simple answer is that I and probably most of you do not know. We have bought a machine that does the things we want it to do, but who knows what else?
Now as I eat my breakfast, I like to read the ingredients on the side of the packet. It is good for language skills as it is usually in several languages. But can I do this with my computer? You don’t get much in the way of documentation with a $400 laptop. Certainly not considering what is inside it.
So the computer company in question have disabled something at their end and the problem is resolved. But if they tell you that they fixed the problem are you going to believe them? After they did something that put your computer and everything saved on it at risk? Or should you put a new operating system on the new machine, wipe the hard drive and start again?
So if you cannot trust wifi, or computer manufacturers, or Google, or Facebook, or Samsung to treat our data securely and correctly, who can you trust? And more to the point why are we giving them our lives to play with?
It seems that it doesn’t matter what industry you work in, you’re always faced by deadlines that loom large above your head, waiting to strike. Whether you’re a journalist facing daily deadlines to get your copy written and published, or a warehouse worker tasked with creating so many of your products each day or an agency worker tasked with getting a job done before the end of the month, we’ve all got them.
If only there was some way of making things simpler, taking the stress away and helping us to relax a bit more and get the job done without the typical end of month stress. Fortunately, thanks to the developments in technology over the past decade, there is. Developers are now working on software packages designed to make the hard, laborious tasks much simpler allowing us to focus our time, effort and resources on other areas of the business, like discussions with clients and ensuring that the marketing goes as well as possible so that you can expand the company at your own pace and in the right areas.
Let’s look at one particular example. Sorting out the rota for the next few weeks can be one of the hardest task faced by any member of the management, having to deal with holidays, sickness and ensuring that the optimum number of people are in on the busiest and quietest days of the week, and covering themselves for a quiet day turning into chaos, too. The installation of shift scheduling software can help those tasked with organizing the rota to ensure that the right people are in on the right day, and that people who are booked off aren’t included in the plans so they can adjust accordingly. It’s far more efficient and professional than using a pen and paper and saves an incredible amount of time.
Cloud solutions have proven to be another fine example of helping to meet deadlines. You might be faced with one strict deadline, and get called away from the office for an important meeting. Alternatively you may have a family emergency that means you have to work from home at the worst possible time. Cloud storage, however, enables you to access all of your work files wherever you are and upload the updated versions ready for someone else to access them and put them to print, send to the relevant people or save for the finishing touches from a member of another department.
No matter whether you’re a large or small, established or fledgling business, there are now all kinds of technologies and software packages designed to make our lives easier on both a personal and professional level.
In this article I am going to review a piece of software by Iceni Technology, called Infix PDF Editor. The version I will be reviewing is Infix Professional for PC.
Infix PDF Editor is a program that enables you to edit and then save PDF documents. As Iceni put it:
“Infix Pro includes tools for handling graphics such as grouping, hiding and locking. It also adds the ability to edit and create clipping masks plus a vertical ruler to allow easier object alignment together with grids, guides and page margins.”
The quote mentions ‘Infix Pro’; this is because there are three different versions of the software. Form-Filler – a free version of the software which only lets you edit and reflow text. The ‘Standard‘ version of the software offers a lot more functionality, also allowing you to convert PDF files into other formats (ePub, RTF and HTML), add notes to the document, among other things. The ‘Professional‘ version lets you do even more, including joining multiple PDFs into one document, automatically renumber pages and adding/removing watermarks.
For full details of what the different versions offer, check out the table below which is from iceni.com.
The Form-Filler version of the software is free to download. The Standard version costs £59 and the Pro version £99.
So, that is the technical specifications of what the three different versions of the software offer, but, the real proof of the pudding is in the using – how easy the software is to use, and does it really work like it says it does.
The interface is very easy to follow. It works in the same way that many programs do, so that you can find your way around it really easily, and you don’t have to spend a long time pondering what buttons do. I call this type of approach to software interface design KISS – Keep It Super Simple.
A KISS approach to interface design is, in my opinion the best. People don’t buy software for it to look good on their PC, they buy it because they want to increase their productivity, learning or enjoyment in some way.
As a result of the KISS approach, the interface does look a little basic. Basic is easy to understand, but not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing.
In my opinion the functionality of software comes first, and aesthetics comes second. If you want software that looks okay and works well, then Infix fits the bill, however if you must have designer looking software, then you might be better looking elsewhere.
Below is a screenshot I have taken of the software.
Ease of Use
As I mentioned above, the design really aids the usability of the software. It is easy to find the function you want with the various optional toolbars, and the menu options.
Much of the software on your computer is probably not made by Microsoft, however you will probably notice that most software designers stick to the standardised layout. File, edit, view and help are standard on the top menu, below the top menu comes some optional toolbars, then the main content you are viewing, with a few options (often involving resizing and scrolling) at the bottom of the window.
There are some software producers who stray away from this tried and tested design. Sometimes it works, often it doesn’t. In Infix PDF Editor, the design conforms to the standard design, meaning that it is really easy to work out what is what.
Does It Work!
Okay, the software may be easy to use, affordably priced, etc. however if it doesn’t work, you aren’t going to want to buy it. I can inform you that it does work, and it works really well!
I have tried editing various different PDF documents with the software and it has surprised me every time with the functionality it offers. Like in Microsoft Word, you can ask the software to track changes, and put them in a different colour. This can be really handy if you want to show someone what you have edited.
You can also add notes when editing PDFs, sticky-notes, scribbles, text highlights and stamps are all available options, and as you would expect, when you save, you can view the edits with any PDF viewer. For more details, check out this handy screenshot and explanation on the Iceni site.
Not only does the software make it easy to edit PDFs, but it also makes is it easy to copy data from them. Sometimes, the way the PDF is constructed, if you try to copy some of the contents, say to quote it, when it goes into your document, it can often be a little mixed up. Infix makes it really easy to copy data from PDFs and transfer it to other locations.
The software also makes finding and replacing text really easy. Edit > Find and Replace > Replace > type in the word(s) you want to be changed and what you want the change to be to > click ‘replace’ and the software will chew its way through the document, changing any occurrences of the terms you asked it to. If you are tracking changes, you can then see the words that have been changed.
There are so many other things this software can do, it would take far too long for me to talk about them all. To mention a few you can: adjust paragraph indents, add header and footers, add new text, merge PDFs and renumber pages.
Good software always needs to be backed up by good help and support. Iceni Technology don’t fall down in this area though, not with Infix at least. Their website hosts a series of screenshot guides and video tutorials which help you get to grips with all the different functions of the software.
They also have a support helpline and email address.
Infix is very diverse, and can be installed on a USB memory stick, Windows PC (2003, XP, Vista and 7) or a Mac (with MacOSX 10.5 or above).
For Windows 2003/XP you need at least 512MB of RAM (almost all PC’s do) or 1GB for Windows Vista/7, as well as a 1GHz x86 processor/CPU and 60MB free disk space – that should be no problem.
In terms of weight (power and space needed to run the software) I would say it is relatively light. I have some programs that require around 15GB of hard disk space, and a very capable graphics card, along with a large amount of system memory. Don’t get me wrong, still check your PC is up to the job, but I personally think most peoples will be.
Is Infix Value for Money?
Like I almost always say when I end a review, whether you think the product or service is value for money really depends upon what your use for it would be. If you occasionally use PDF documents and would like to be able to change them as a convenience, but don’t really need the software for any reason, I would suggest that it probably isn’t going to be that useful to you.
If however you are regularly dealing with PDFs, for whatever reason, be it part of your job, hobby or whatever, and would find it helpful to be able to make changes to them, then I think you would benefit from Infix software. Whether you go Standard or Pro is for you to decide, I think they are both reasonably priced for the services they provide, and the additional help that you get online.
If you are interested in Infix PDF editing software feel free to visit the link which follows through to the software’s site, where you can learn more about it.
What are your thoughts about the software? Would you find it useful? If so, will you be buying it? Any questions, feedback or comments, as always, leave them below.
To keep your computer clean, inside and out, is often a challenge! I’m not talking about the dust and dirt that tends to accumulate in your computer’s case, but the nasty stuff that tends to cause your computer to become slower, little by little as you use it regularly.
I’m sure this is a problem you are familiar with, you bought a computer and the first thing you notice how fast it is. Everything runs without a hitch and programs are snappy like the beat of a well versed drum.
However 6 months later you start noticing a few things. It first starts out with programs needing to take a couple of extra moments to open, surfing the web starts to become a chore as things feel like they come to a crawl at moments. Even something such as turning on your computer seems to take forever and ever and ever. “This cannot be right!” you have probably thought to yourself, and you are correct!
Much like a motor car, a computer needs their fair amount of touch, love, & care. The problem is, if you are not sure exactly what to do, then you could end up playing around and damaging your computer. This is why, unless you are a PC expert, you should stick to using programs to help you do the fiddling!
The first thing you notice once you start searching for a good, safe, & efficient computer cleaner software is that there are a ton of them, more than you or I could ever count! Being the computer savvy person I am, it’s with the most honorable intent that I present to you the software that I personally feel does the best job. Some PC cleaning software can be dangerous, if it is not well made, or designed to damage your system, you could get negative effects. Check the software has lots of good reviews, if from a trusted source and experts like it, before you go downloading it onto your PC.
My favorite PC cleaner is CCleaner, which I think is an amazing little program. With a quick and simple Google search it is bound to come up – easily available on internet, if you’re unsure as to where to download it, always try to get it from the official website.
This program is super handy because it clears out the majority of junk and trash you have incidentally stored and have hidden away in places you wouldn’t have imagined! When you launch the program you’re going to be presented with a handy onscreen menu; you should select ‘analyze’ and then ‘run cleaner’. Once completed you’ll notice that a whole lot of space on your computer has been freed and a sense of speed has been restored to your machine.
The second program that I would like to recommend is Glary Registry Repair which is a dandy little tool that I highly recommend, because I have seen it perform some truly glorious work.
Mostly everyone has heard of a computer registry, and that at times their registry becomes out of sync due to the programs that they have installed and uninstalled over time making incremental changes as it goes along.
Glary Registry Repair attempts to help you spot and fix the errors in your registry, so that your computer can run faster.
There are many different programs that you can use to speed up your computer and clean your registry. These are my personal favorites, however feel free to choose your own.
When shopping online, there are loads of things to look out for, and loads of ways to get a better deal. In this article I hope to share some of the experience I have got from shopping online, and some of my tech knowledge in order to help you get a better deal – what you want, at a reasonable price.
The first thing to say is that what you are shopping for, is crucial to how to go about buying it.
If you are buying an online or ‘virtual’ good/service, then the key thing to check is that you are buying from a reputable firm. Checking the firm is reputable and reliable is key for all online shopping, but especially so if you are buying something virtual – e.g. a website, anti-virus software, access to a game, music etc.
There are a few ways you can go about checking if online firms are reputable. The first is to see if the firm exists in reality, do they have shops in the real world, or are they totally online? Firms with physical property are less likely to be fraudulent, as they are easy to find and locate. Totally online firms can be just as reputable, look at the likes of Play.com and Amazon.
The second way to get an idea of whether a firm is reputable or not is to check their stats. Does the site have a good Alexa rank – top 500,000? If not, people may not be visiting the site for a reason: it has just been set up, and after a few quick cons will be gone. You can check the history of the site using the Way Back Machine for more info on its past.
The third way is a much less reliable way, but can be useful to back up your decision. Try looking at the websites PageRank. If they have say a PageRank 3+ homepage, they are more likely to be legitimate than a site with all PageRank 0’s. People link to shop websites when they buy things and then review them, so shops should acquire PageRank. If they have no PageRank, they may still be legitimate, but check, as that may mean they have not been trading for long, therefore have just set up to scam, and will be shut down soon.
Finally are they a big name. Say you are buying anti-virus direct from the supplier. Most people have heard of the likes of Kaspersky, Sophos and Norton, but if the company is called something like ‘SpywareBeGoneSolutions’ then they are a lot less likely to sell you a good product, if any product at all.
Finally, when checking that the firm you are going to buy from is going to give you the product(s) you want, watch the news, or research them on news sites! Is the firm about to go bust or being run by administrators? If so, buying from them may lead to you loosing your money!
If you are buying a service, such as a holiday, insurance or a meal at a restaurant, then there are loads of really useful sites that can help you, by giving you an incite into what others thought of that service.
Say for example you are buying a holiday, you can use websites like TripAdvisor.com to see if the place you are looking at staying at has positive reviews. If not, you can maybe choose somewhere else. Be careful though, as sometimes these sites can be misleading, as Jonny recently wrote about.
There are other websites too like MoneySavingExpert.com and Yelp, which can offer similar services for other things like insurance, banking, restaurants, shopping etc. MoneySavingExpert.com is especially worth a look, as aside from reviews, they can give really good advice, to help you save money when buying all sorts of things.
The key to ensuring you get value for money and what you want when buying products online is to make sure you read what other people think about it. Reviews are really useful, and can help you determine which product is right for you.
Don’t be afraid to venture out of the companies website itself, and look for more reviews elsewhere online. Some firms will only publish the positive reviews they receive on their own site, in order to try to persuade more people to buy that product, from them.
A really important bit of advice is not to discount the high street, it can still be a very good place to buy things. Often things are cheaper online, however you can usually see and sometimes try products when in a shop, whereas online, all you have is pictures and possibly video.
Once you have your product and the shop, don’t forget to go to coupon sites to see if you can get an even better deal. Sites like MyVoucherCodes usually have some great discount offers, you just need to look.
In summary, when shopping online, make sure that you are buying from someone reputable. Make sure the product or service is what you want. Check out other peoples reviews. Look for the best deal, and then finally don’t forget to check if there are any vouchers that could further slash the cost.
Hopefully these tips have been useful, good luck shopping online!
In the past I have written about cloud computing and how cloud data storage is the future, and at the moment it is playing a key part in backup technologies, as it is now easier than ever before to backup your data online.
One firm that offer online backup services are the Glasgow based Bulldog Backup, they were founded in 2010 and offer backup solutions for both domestic and business users.
I read a statistic the other day that almost 50% of businesses reported a loss of important data in the last two years, probably why more and more firms are investing in online data backup systems!
The good thing is, online backup solutions are getting easier and easier to use, another reason why more and more people are using them. For example, with Bulldog Backup, all you need to is select the package you want to buy, you will then be emailed with your login credentials, then all you need do is login and download the relevant backup client – either Windows or Mac.
When you install your backup software you are asked what you want to backed up, you can choose your entire hard disk, or just a few files – say pictures and music for instance.
Now you may be thinking that online backup storage is a great idea for most people, but you are on a connection which has a limited monthly allowance – say 40 gigabytes, you can’t afford to run the backup system, in fear of going over your allowance.
There is a solution to this too. With most good backup systems nowadays, you can configure how much bandwidth is used for backups, therefore you never go over your limit. You can also choose which files the software should prioritise the backing up of – e.g. give pictures and documents high priority, whilst don’t worry so much about music.
The best thing is, once you have backed up your files, you can easily access them from anywhere, using your own personal web portal. Bulldog Backup’s portal has a clean layout and is designed to make listening to audio files and viewing images as easy as possible, all as standard. Therefore you can access all your albums whilst out and about, how cool is that! You can also install mobile apps for both iOS and Android, making it even easier for you to access your files on the move.
If you want to go up a level Bulldog Backup offer a ‘Pro’ account which has all of the standard features, with the addition of a ‘SmartDrive’ allowing you to sync files across multiple computers. A SmartDrive is basically a drive that appears like any other hard disk on your computer, only anything you store in it is automatically uploaded to the cloud – a pretty cool bit of tech don’t you think?
Okay, so you like the idea of online backup, you can see the potential and benefits, but, what about the costs? Well you may be pleasantly surprised, you can start backing up online with Bulldog Backup from only £2.95 a month ($4.63) with a 1 Terabyte Protect account.
Think that is a good price? I have managed to get a discount promo code which makes the same account cost just £1.25 ($1.96) a month, and that price is fixed for 5 years! Visit the site bulldogbackup.com and use the promo code ‘bullbonanza00’ at the checkout before the 29th of February (this year) to take get started at that rock bottom price 🙂
What do you think about online backup? Will you be investing in it in the near future?
In today’s day and age, you will very rarely find a business owner sitting on their laurels and simply allowing their business to move from one day to the next without change. With the current unsteady financial climate, most should be doing their utmost to move their business forward in order to attract and secure enough new customs to stay afloat. One of the many ways in which this can be achieved is to invest in the latest technology for your particular field of business.
Whilst this may seem a daunting prospect both in terms of a lack of technological experience and a strain on already limited finances, the advantages of making the investment could be profound. No matter what industry you find yourself in, there is almost certainly going to be a form of technology at your disposal – whether this be a specific system, programme or piece of equipment – that can have a positive effect on the way in which your business is run.
For instance, a retail setting that is behind the times in terms of technology could definitely benefit from the introduction of point of sale and EPOS software to make payment transactions swifter and stock counting easier. Although the transition from traditional ways to modern alternatives may be unnerving, if you are able to keep track on the amount of stock you have on the shelves whilst making payment at the tills quicker, this could have long-term financial benefits.
In an office environment, a large number of computers has now become the norm. In the world of computer technology, new system updates and program developments are common place so ensuring that your business stays up to date with such regular changes can be a struggle. However, by investing in professional help, you may then be able to divert your attention away from this area to concentrate on other pressing matters, safe in the knowledge that everything is being taken care of on your behalf.
Whether you decide to develop an in-house team to offer support when it comes to your IT systems, or decide that outsourcing will be a more cost-effective option, having one individual or a team of technologically savvy employees who are aware of technical changes that could influence the performance of your business will give you an advantage over your competitors.
It is no secret that attracting new custom can be a struggle and with many consumers now using the internet to find local services, ensuring you have a fully functional website and an online presence is more important than ever. Attractive website design coupled with an SEO campaign to get your business ranking in the search engines for particular terms related to what you offer could make all the difference and give your company the edge when attracting new customers.
Although the current financial climate leaves many businesses in a perilous position, it is clear to see that with an investment in new technology, things may well turn around. From developing a fresh and invigorating website through to purchasing the latest equipment and calling upon professionals to offer assistance, you and your business could see a turn in fortunes that leaves you in a far more stable position.
Batman has appeared in video games for over two decades. The main theme of these games centered on Batman fighting against villains. Several versions were launched over the years, featuring different tasks and characters. Batman comics were the inspiration for these games, which later went on to incorporate features from the films.
Development of Batman video games: 1986 – 1988
In 1986, Ocean Software, a Manchester based company developed the first ever Batman game based on the comic book. The batman featured in this version was rather cute and chubby, and wandered around 150 rooms in search of Robin. Two years later, Batman: The Caped Crusader was launched, which was better in terms of digital color and had two campaigns, one with the Penguin and the other with the Joker. These could be played in any ordered decided upon by the player. Even though the launch of this version coincided with the release of Tim Burton’s Batman film, they showed no similarity.
1989 – 1992
In 1989 NES featured the Batman based on the movie. The goal was to reach the big boss, played by the Joker, by tackling smaller bosses that came first. The Batman was purple and was put up against robots and Gotham city thugs. The next year saw the arcade version by Atari and the pinball version by Dataeast. 1992 witnessed ‘Return of the Joker’, which was a sequel to the NES version. This game had improved graphics and funny commentary.
1993 – 1994
Batman Returns launched in 1993 was inspired by Tim Burton’s movie, it even featured the movie soundtrack. This game was more advanced with limited 3D features. Batman had to fight with several thugs, Catwoman and the Penguin to move up the streets. 1994 saw the release of The Adventures of Batman, which was a cartoon version of the game; it was powered by SNES and Genesis and met some criticism.
1996 – 2001
1996 and 1997 saw the release of Batman Forever by SNES and Genesis and Batman and Robin by PlayStation. Both these games did not have great graphics and met unfavorable reviews.
Batman: Gotham City Racer, Batman: Vengeance and other games were released in 2001. The graphics were average, although Batman Vengeance was the better of the two. The games were based on the New Adventures of Batman cartoons. City racer featured the famous Batmobile, while the latter saw batman fighting street thugs in Gotham city yet again.
2003 – 2007
In 2003, Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu was noteworthy, as it introduced a new villain and also highlighted several unlikely characters. Clayface, Bane and Scarecrow were some such characters. Batman Begins (2005) was more realistic than its forerunners. It had superior graphics and the plot followed the Christopher Nolan movie. The voices for the game were given by the cast from the film. Justice League Heroes (2006) featured Batman among other heroes like Superman fighting enemies.
2008 – 2009
The Lego Batman released in 2008 was an upward turn in the series. It combined attractive Lego characteristics with Batman characters and made it enjoyable for both serious gamers and casual players. Batman: Arkham Asylum was launched in 2009 was a bench mark for the game. The graphics and settings were exquisite. The eerie atmosphere was lent by the Arkham mansion. This Batman could be controlled in very superior manner and he took on several villains in order to get to the Joker who was at the heart of the plot.
I had been a software engineer for at least 3 years specializing in digital security. A month ago, I attended a small workshop which talked about IT Security for corporate and the speaker said this somewhere in the middle of the workshop:
“Security is a process. It does not have to be really technical and the most important part is the process.”
I stunned for a while and suddenly my mind wondered away from the workshop deeply thinking, what is the speaker trying to deliver? I started this serious thinking simply because it is not said by some non-technical or sales person. Instead, the person speaking in front of me is a Certified Ethical Hacker.
At the end of the workshop, I begin to understand what he is trying to deliver. After 3 years of writing programs for the benefit of security, I turned out saying that security is a process. Why would I say that? Look around us. All the tech that you need to protect yourself from cyber crime is there. Anti-virus, firewall, anti keylogger, parental control, password manager and many more are all available in the software market. There is no reason for us to say in terms of technology, we are not good enough in security.
What makes so many of us a victim of computer or internet threat is the lack of proper process in computer and internet security. Security is not a short process where you only apply if you need it. For instance, you don’t only apply security when you had just downloaded a file from an unknown site which required a security scan.
Security is an end to end process. This means that the moment your computer boots up, security should be applied until the time your computer shuts down. People usually failed to stay secure simply because they don’t apply security from the very start. Agree?
So what’s your view? Do you still think that security has to be something technical?
The latest release in the cloud computing world, and the replacement for Apple’s old MobileMe service is Apple iCloud. The new software is designed to work seamlessly between various apple hardware such as iPods, Apple laptops and desktops, and the iPad. There are several applications available with the iCloud software, ranging from ‘Find my Device’, which allows an internet connected device such as the iPhone to be remotely tracked, to Photo Stream, which makes ‘streamed’ photos available on any connected device.
The first, Find My Device, was initially a MobileMe application, which has been migrated to the iCloud software package. Using the service, a user can view the rough location of their device over-layed on a scalable map of the area, as well as a circle indicating the margin of error on the tracking. Along with remote tracking, the program also allows the user to change the password, display a message on the device, or play a sound (even if it is set to silent). A final feature of the program makes use of the cloud storage technology and allows the user to temporarily delete the contents of the device, storing them to the cloud server until told to return to their original location.
Photo Stream directly utilizes the cloud storage technology to share pictures between devices. When a picture is taken from an iphone with Photo Stream enabled, the picture will automatically be uploaded to the cloud server, where it will be available to any of the user’s other Photo Stream enabled machines. According to Apple, the service will soon be integrated with their Apple TV box, which would allow users to view any pictures in icloud on TVs connected to Apple TV.
While only currently available in the US, iTunes Match is one of the most popular uses for the virtual computing abilities of the iCloud software. iTunes Match allows users to ‘scan’ their music in any compatible device (even if the music is not purchased from iTunes), and upload it to the iCloud virtual servers, ready to be downloaded to any of the user’s other Apple products in a DRM free format.
‘Back To My Mac’ and iOS Backup are two more erstwhile MobileMe program migrated to the iCloud package. The first is essentially a remote access program, allowing the user to remotely log into any device with the same Apple ID and the program active. The second is a backup program, which allows the user to back up the data and settings on their device to the virtual servers, and restore the device or access the data remotely as needed.
While the iCloud software is very slim as far as system resources, it requires a fairly current OS to run properly. Creating an account requires iOS 5 or later, or for desktops, OSX Lion. For PCs, Windows Vista or later is required to properly sync. iCloud can also sync to Outlook 7 or later for calendars and contact info.
The cost of the iCloud software varies with the amount of services the user chooses to sign up for. Data storage starts at 5 gigabytes free, and added storage can be purchased in increments of ten gigabytes, for $20 per ten gigabytes per year. At the moment, the maximum storage amount available is 50 gigabytes, however Apple has said it is possible for that to go up in the future. Apart from storage costs, the iTunes Match service is a yearly fee of $25.
With the iCloud software, Apple has taken full advantage of the evolving cloud storage technology to bring a wide variety of programs to Apple users, and an increased connectivity between Apple hardware.