Gadgets:

Gadgets for the DIYer

Advancements in technology are not merely restricted to the world of electronics. Some of the latest gadgets on the market are tools and products that function as upgrades for home, work or play. Complete chores or DIY projects in less time, keep a work site neater, or enjoy the outdoors without fear of wildlife destroying food supplies.

CORE Power Motors

Printed Circuit Boards have helped power electronic devices for decades. However, the CORE company recently converted the conventional brain technology into the power source for a series of motors. The environmentally-friendly motor contains a multi-layered, circular PCB between two circular magnets. The electricity that powers the device comes from a lithium polymer battery and 10 layers of copper. The 1.5 hp device is only one component of the Power Lok yard-tool series. The system also features an interchangeable blower head, a hedge-trimmer and a string-trimmer. Using the same technology, the company has also designed motors offering up to 4,000 hp of power.

Black & Decker Matrix

Most home improvement projects require a drill, a sander and a saw. The famous tool company engineers manufactured the Matrix that provides DIYers with the convenience of one power source and multiple interchangeable tool heads. Choose from equipping your workspace with any or all six tool options that include a drill, impact driver, jigsaw and oscillating device. The unit comes with a powerful 20-volt lithium-ion battery that operates each tool at variable speeds with a simple pull of the trigger.

Tidy Drills

When needing a drill to create holes in brick or concrete, rotary hammer/drills provide the power needed. Now, some brands come with handy snap-on HEPA vacuums that trap the dust and make clean-up a breeze. Harmful dust travels through the nozzle and aluminum tubing into a well-designed canister. Some of the drills on the market featuring the innovative attachment include the Makita LXRH011, the Milwaukee M12 HammerVac 2306-22 and the DeWalt DC233KLDH. The cordless drills are powered by battery-packs ranging from 12 to 36 volts.

Sturdiest Coolers

Camping and hunting enthusiasts who spend a great deal of time in bear country may be interested in the latest innovation in coolers that are guaranteed to be animal proof. Popular mechanics technicians put a number of containers through a variety of tests, including subjecting the devices to the wiles of a 450 pound grizzly bear named Ondar. Of the different brands tested, the Pelican Progear surpassed the others in a number of categories. When filled with ice, the cooler achieved 38 degrees Fahrenheit in less than five hours.

The unit stood up to the test and showed little sign of wear after being dropped in a 40-foot water-filled ravine. The true test of durability came when filled with ice cream sandwiches, marshmallows and spilled maple syrup. The trainer cued the bear to offer his opinion. Equipped with specially designed press-and-pull latches, Ondar walked away defeated in less than 15 minutes and was not able to claim a tasty reward. The cooler also did not appear worse for the experience.

Gadgets:

Should You Get an Unlocked Phone?

Unlike most smartphones, unlocked phones aren’t enslaved to a specific carrier such as AT&T or Verizon. They’ll work on any network within the CSM cellular family via a SIM card.

In the US, only H2O, T-Mobile, and AT&T employ GSM networks. Other carriers opt for CDMA signals.

In other words, if you want an unlocked phone, your only options are those previously tied to the three GSM networks in the US. However, that still gives savvy shoppers plenty of options.

It’s legal to purchase unlocked phones with no contract or carrier plan attached, and it can save you a lot of money. You also need to buy a separate SIM card from either a carrier or prepaid company of your choosing in order to activate it.

In many cases, reputable companies that sell unlocked phones also offer SIM cards at a great price. Opt for a month-to-month service to avoid contracts, and rest easy knowing you can pick up a new SIM card anywhere in the world.

Benefits of unlocked phones

There’s no other option for international travelers who want to keep out-of-country costs to a minimum. If you plan to make calls in the country you’re visiting, you need to sidestep those disturbing roaming fees.

With a local SIM card, you get a local number and can use your phone as if you lived in France, Greece, or wherever else you’re visiting. For multi-nation hoppers, an international SIM card offers much lower rates than roaming charges.

However, if you want to call “back home” while abroad, you can simply travel with your US number and make calls as if you were in the US. Calls and texts will cost a little more, but there’s no need to keep changing your number for those who want to call you.

Carrying multiple SIM cards is a boon if you frequent the same international territories. When you have a US and destination country SIM card connected to the same phone, you can take calls via your US number while also receiving calls locally for the best rates.

Better selection and rates

Usually, even after you add in the SIM card, unlocked phones are less expensive. The total phone price becomes subsidized via monthly fees when you’re in a contract.

The initial price might seem like more, but not if you factor in the monthly rate of committing to a contract. Plus, you can always opt for cheaper data or voice plans to save even more. Crunch those numbers and see just how much you could save.

Finally, you’re going to have a wider selection if you go the unlocked route. Carriers have to pick which phones they offer, but that’s not the case with unlocked phones. You can go Apple, Nokia, Samsung, or anything else.

 

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last update: October 23, 2014

Computers:

How to To Protect Yourself from Phishing Attacks

Phishing is an extremely common form of fraud that is similar to phone impersonation attacks that occurred before consumer Internet became widespread. Phishers set up websites that impersonate authentic webpages run by banking institutions, credit card companies, and a variety of other legitimate services. A victim might receive an email from this so-called institution, requesting the victim to update their profile information, change their password, or participate in a survey. The information the victim willingly provides online is then used for fraudulent purposes. Here are a few online browsing tips to keep in mind to avoid these types of attacks.

Check URLs

Before you click on an outgoing link on an email, Microsoft urges Internet users to first check the actual web address of a link before clicking on it. Phishers often use deceptive anchor text – the visible part of the link – to trick readers into clicking links in their email. If you are convinced that this website represents a reputable company, then you might feel comfortable enough entering personal information in this web form. You can check the validity of an URL by first hovering over the link. Scrutinize the URL – if it does not match with the company’s official web address, then do not click it. A few other red alarms include URLs with: number sequences, misspelled company names, non-traditional top-level domains (like .co at the end of an URL), and domain names that include gibberish.

Check HTTPS Security

Most reputable websites that require logins use a security protocol known as HTTPS. This prevents attackers from intercepting usernames and logins during the sign in process. Before you sign into an online account, examine the login page URL at the top of your browser. It should read “https://” before the web address. If you do not see this security protocol being used on a website, then double check the website address to make sure it’s authentic.

Keep Your Tech Updated

Updating your software and operating systems can prevent many current attacks. These patches often come with security updates that prevent current vulnerabilities from affecting your computer. Periodically run software and system updates overnight, so that it doesn’t interrupt your workflow.

If you are the victim of a phishing crime, contact the authorities and make sure you research and select a good attorney to learn about the types of recourse you have. Internet fraud can threaten your online accounts and assets, so it’s important to take action immediately. Before you click unknown links, be sure to examine URLs and security protocols.

Devices:

Use Digital Systems to Deal with Change Better

A resistance to change can ring the death toll for a business, especially if this stagnation occurs throughout your company’s culture. Savvy entrepreneurs understand that they need to be light-footed and adapt to survive in ever-shifting business climates.

Companies have to roll with the tide to accomplish their goals. Changes to team rosters, inventory, training, and office spaces shouldn’t disrupt operations for long. godigital

Here are a few digital systems that will keep you up and running during a major shift.

Computer and mobile device management

When you hire new employees, you’ll want to give them access to the devices and files they need to succeed. But when your staffing is in flux, how do you control who has access to what?

During layoff periods, your company should be able to deactivate former employee access with ease to avoid data liabilities. Your IT department can set up remote permission profiles through the use of computer and mobile device management apps.

During major staffing changes, IT should be able to make swift changes to user profiles, control data access, and secure mobile devices.

Inventory databases

If you’re currently keeping track of your back orders, inventory counts, and shrinkage, but still shipping manually, then your company should invest in an automated system. A dynamic inventory database will automatically adjust for transactions, counts, and orders.

Most of these systems play well with peripherals such as bar code scanners, which can make life easier in the stockroom.

Training materials

As companies grow and adapt, leaders should adjust professional mentoring to meet the needs of the business. But how do you implement change on a wide-scale basis?

Collaborative cloud systems can help mentors share documentation amongst themselves; that way, new training handbooks and materials can be rolled out at once. Having a single directory for training materials can be much easier to manage than multiple email drafts.

Unified communications

Let’s say that your company has grown so large that you’ve had to split a team across two offices. However, staff members in these locations still need to talk with one another and collaborate on projects.

That’s where unified communication systems come in. You’ll be able to talk, text, and videoconference with your colleagues despite distance barriers.

Keep your company’s culture flexible by adopting databases and digital systems to manage your office communications, training, data access, and inventory. These systems can prove to be indispensible to a successful and competitive company.

Electronics:

How to Get the Most Value When Shopping Electronics

electronics

It seems as if there’s a new electronic tablet or smartphone on the market every week, saturating the electronics industry with new apps and features to entice customers. Although prices have dropped dramatically for many devices, the more advanced processors still have high price tags.

However, you can go to several outlets to research and purchase a new electronic gadget for less than the retail price. Check these out!

1. Check coupon websites

When consumers visit Savor.co, they’ll find a list of potential coupons for various products. One of the best ways to secure a high-quality electronic device at a cheap cost is a coupon website.

Each one operates in a slightly different manner, but most require a login to participate. Consumers may need to rally their friends to create a bulk discount on a product, for example. These coupons offer substantial discounts that may allow you to buy that new electronic for as much as 20 or 30 percent off.

2. Buy used

Because an electronic device is used, consumers often turn away from a deal due to age or wear. Not all used items are heavily used, though.

Corporations typically update their devices once a year or more, and leave perfectly good electronics in the used bin. Take advantage of a phone or tablet that’s only a year old. Used items are heavily discounted and still have several years of productive use for little investment.

3. Comparison shop

In the past, consumers were forced to drive or call different stores to compare prices. Today’s technology allows you to use shopping apps to find the best price on a gadget.

Visit local stores to scan the product code. Prices swiftly pop up on the app to display all local deals. The price in the store you’re in could be slightly higher than in the shop down the street. Consumers save time and money scanning for electronics deals.

4. Get hands-on time

When you visit local stores to comparison shop, you can also get some important hands-on time. Although online shopping is convenient, you can’t wrap your hands around a camera or cellphone.

A device that looks perfect might not feel comfortable in your hand. Take some time to hold several devices, and try pressing buttons or icons. Manufacturers try to make each device ergonomic, but everyone has a different preference and hand size for electronic comfort.

5. Look at auction sites

Auctioning off electronics is still big business for online entities. Some sites request a login and bidding charges, though. Find out the site’s rules before you place any bids.

You don’t want to pay a huge amount with an automatic bidding option, for example. Stay in control of the bidding action and stop when the device is no longer worth it. Thousands of other auctions are waiting to start. Simply read the descriptions carefully to select a well-maintained item.

The electronics business will continue to expand as internal components grow faster and smaller. Become a savvy consumer and find smart ways to save through used sales and auctions. That two-month-old device at 50 percent off could be well worth it.

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Electronics:

What Techies Can Learn from “Basic” Technology

It seems as if the disparity between blue-collar workers, such as mechanics and utility laborers, and the techies of Silicon Valley is getting bigger every year. But these two industries have a lot more in common than you might think. gadgets

At the heart of each is technology and innovation, though Silicon Valley has a stronger leaning toward electronic technology as opposed to old-fashioned nuts and bolts. If you recall that the old-fashioned variety is preceded modern technology, then it’s easy to see how the two can learn from each other.

For example, utility workers can boast of combined experience that’s decades longer than the technology industry. This is the industry that created debris caps to optimize safety and was literally “in the field” well before Intel sent drivers out to test rural Wi-Fi as its idea of fieldwork

Auto workers were doing test drives to ensure those Google employees got to work safely well before the Google car was a twinkle in an engineer’s eye. So what might be some of the rules and tricks of traditional technology that could transfer to contemporary high-tech?

Testing, testing

If you think a software engineer does a lot of tests, that’s nothing compared to the civil engineer who’s charged with ensuring that buildings and bridges are stable, or a utility expert who has to keep buildings safe in the event of earthquakes and other natural disasters.

The rules of testing, re-testing, and a triage system for getting as many eyes on a project as possible began in more traditional fields. Many mistakes were made in the beginning, because human lives were at stake, and the end result is that today’s engineers (in all fields) are fairly well protected when they’re on the job.

From the day the wheel was created, innovation has been the foundation of all specialties of engineering. There’s always room for improvement, whether you’re talking about a car or the latest smartphone.

There’s also a lot of overlap these days, with airplanes full of software and electrical engineering. The skill set necessary for all types of engineers, whether you’re in utility management or hardware development, is so refined that this is the reason they receive that hefty salary.

Back to basics

The greatest thing modern tech geeks can learn from their predecessors is that there’s no reason to re-invent the wheel … and safety always comes first. Look at the path that’s already been set down for you. It’s been tried and tested many times over the years, so take advantage of it.

Gadgets:

HTC Battles Low Smartphone Sales

There was a time when HTC showed great promise in the smartphone sector, but those days are long gone. The company has been struggling to reach smartphone dominance, or even level the playing field. In 2014’s first quarter, “deep losses” have been reported for HTC even with the release of the newest gen flagship piece. HTC lost over $62 million, making this yet another disappointing quarter. No matter what it tries, HTC can’t seem to keep up with Samsung, Apple and other big smartphone developers. htc-one-m8

This is just the latest of embarrassing quarterly sales for the company with the latest HTC One falling flat. Hopes were high that the newest model would make strides in rebranding, but delays kept pushing back the release and may have caused doubt to grow in the market. Unfortunately, it was released at nearly the same time as the Samsung Galaxy S4 which dominated phone sales in that period.

No turning back?

The first time HTC reported an actual quarterly loss was in October 2013 with a $101 million loss. For comparison, Samsung reached a record-breaking sales high of $9.4 billion at the same time, largely in part to a beloved mobile inventory as well as memory chips. With such impressive technology on the market from the best snoring solutions to video games, the smartphone industry still makes up a huge sector but battles for top billing are leaving HTC in the dust.

Co-founder of HTC Cher Wang stated in February 2014 that the company’s issues were that “we only concentrated on our flagship. We missed a huge chunk of the mid-tier market.” However, even if that is the case, it might be too late to fix those mistakes. In 2013, HTC released the HTC One Mini as well as the One Max, but these two devices and even the gold HTC One weren’t enough to take on the competition. The mid-range options such as the Desire 700 dual sim, Desire 500 (not available in the US, and the Desire 601 also fell short of sales goals.

The definition of insanity

Even with Wang’s confession, HTC continues to focus on flagship devices with the release of the updated HTC One, the M8. It comes with a brushed metal exterior, 1080p Gorilla Glass, and a five-inch screen, which garnered great reviews from PCMag. However, it’s still rivaling Samsung, including the recently released Galaxy S5 which is already insanely popular.

You can try out the M8 from all four major carriers, with prices varying by provider. However, if you’re like many Americans, another release from a different company likely caught your eye already.

Gadgets:

How to Teach Children the Magic of Photography

 Photography is an exciting art form that has enchanted people of all ages for more than a century. Take, for example, the infamous Cottingley Fairies in the 1920s, when two children mystified the world with their imaginative photography experiment.

While the expense of photography and complexity of the chemical processes once prohibited most children — and even adults — from engaging in photographic experiments, the evolution of technology has made shooting photographs so easy and accessible today that any child who is old enough to hold a camera and push a button reliably is ready take up the hobby.

Cameras are now on the market designed expressly for children, made of rugged materials and featuring easy controls. In addition, once the camera hardware has been purchased, the expense is next to nothing, so long as the basic digital equipment to view the photos is already in the house.

Interesting ways that children are utilizing cameras

It really doesn’t take much encouragement to get kids to take pictures once they have a camera, but giving their interest a little direction can’t hurt. It’s natural for most people to photograph their friends as they smile and wave to the camera, or act silly.

Creativity in photography requires a little more thought, however. One way that you can encourage your children to explores the potentials of photographic technique is to organize picture scavenger hunts. A hunt can go beyond a simple checklist of objects the children have to find and shoot; instead, tell them to find situations or colors that encourage the child to put more thought into composition.

Encourage creativity in the young

Christine Dickson of the Digital Photography School suggests that contests are a great way to encourage and teach children about photography. You can motivate kids initially with the prospect of a piece of candy or trinket to win by competing for it, but once the child experiences the thrill of having other people look at and admire his or her photograph, taking pictures becomes its own reward.

Simple concepts, such as which photo is the most colorful, are easy for young minds to grasp, and help foster the creative process.

Important lessons to teach about photography

Darren Rowse of Digital Photography School suggests the most important thing to teach a child about photography is to experiment. Experimentation helps to expand the mind and encourages children to discover for themselves what works and what doesn’t.

This can mean anything from shooting from different angles, to photographing a subject at different times of the day to capture changing light. The main idea is to let a child explore how these changes affect the ultimate image, and thus avoid the natural impulse to photograph everything in the same way. Experimentation is what keeps photography interesting.

Photography is now such a staple of social existence that it’s become hard to imagine a world without it. Children often take the process and the skill involved for granted. But since photography has become so ubiquitous and commonplace, it’s perhaps even more important to help children understand the magic of picture-taking.

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