Gadgets:

3 New Techy Tools That Improve Personal Protection

In today’s heavily populated cities, there are far too many news stories of a walk home in the evening gone wrong. Thankfully, these reports have caused many to become hyper-aware of avoiding dangerous situations and learning to protect themselves. While it is becoming easier to avoid those sketchy, dark alleys, there are still extra precautions you can take to improve your safety. Included here are a few tools you can use to protect yourself in any situations that have the potential to become dangerous.

Phone Applications

Many women have become accustomed to walking with their phone in their hand when out alone or in the dark. Excitingly enough, there are even better options and apps that can be set up on your phone to have it working for you. Don’t just let your phone sit in your hand lifeless, install an app like WatchMe911, with 6 different alert systems. One feature is the ability to have it “monitor” situations. For instance, if you estimate your daily run will take you 30 minutes, you can set the app to count down 30 minutes, and if you are not back and able to turn it off in that time it will send an alert to the police and your loved ones of your GPS location. If you pull up the “panic” screen in an uncomfortable situation tapping the screen twice with your finger will call 911 and send text and email alerts of your GPS location to preselected contacts.

Flashlight

This seems like a simple tool but can become immeasurably useful in dangerous situations. This flashlight is heavy duty enough to serve as a hand-to-hand combat weapon if someone was attacking you. Fortunately, the high powered 700 lumens of light are strong enough to temporarily blind your assailant and allow you time to escape if they have not gotten ahold of you. In the instance of a car accident, this flashlight is capable of breaking out your windows and flashing an SOS or strobe setting. Light and small enough to be placed in any purse or backpack, there is no reason you should not be carrying this extra precaution with you on a daily basis.

Taser

While this may seem like an extreme measure to some, tasers are a reliable form of protection against assailants. Tasers are sold in full-size and miniature versions and can be carried by civilians. They are easy to use and can easily fit in pockets and purses. Most people are able to learn how to use this tool in a matter of minutes and do not need any technical training. Tasers do not hurt your attacker permanently, they merely disable bodily movements long enough for you to escape. Tasers are very affordable as a long-term protection method and are usually effective from up to 15 feet away. This means you could stop your attacker long before they are close enough to cause any bodily harm to you.

Gadgets:

The Top 6 Gadgets for Gap Year Travel

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If you’re planning to travel abroad for your gap year, you’re probably already getting excited and putting a packing list together. Don’t forget to pack these gadgets to make sure you enjoy your trip to the fullest!

1. A USB thumb drive. If you’re not planning on bringing a computer (which, depending on where you travel, is probably a wise decision), a small USB stick with plenty of memory will keep all your documents, photos, and more safe and sound but still easily portable.

2. A good flashlight. Power grids in many non-Western countries are highly sensitive and can cut out in the blink of an eye, especially during inclement weather. In some remote areas, a little rain is enough to cause a brownout or full-on blackout – so you’ll definitely want to be prepared. You may even find yourself going on a nighttime rainforest tours to check out the nocturnal flora and fauna; a flashlight is invaluable during these trips.

3. A camera. You’ll want to make your trip truly memorable by recording the most important moments. If you’re not a professional photographer, don’t bring an SLR; a small point-and-shoot camera will suffice. Make sure your camera case doesn’t display any expensive brand names.

4. A phone. You may or may not want to bring your smartphone. If you do, make sure you turn off data roaming and take extra precautions against theft. However, it can also make sense to purchase a classic “brick” cellphone or use an old flip phone with a new SIM card.

5. A cheap laptop. While this may sound counterintuitive, a small, inexpensive netbook (even secondhand) can be a godsend. Traveling with a netbook is especially useful if all you’re going to need to do is browse the internet and use a word processor. The smaller your investment, the smaller the likelihood of it being stolen. Regardless, make sure you back up all your data every day. As with your camera, make sure the laptop case doesn’t display a brand name or any bright colors that might draw attention to it.

6. Universal adapters. Any device you bring with you will inevitably need to be charged, and different countries have different requirements for chargers. It’s a good idea to invest in an adapter that has a built in surge protector in case of fluctuating electricity – or you’ll run the risk of completely frying your camera, laptop, or phone.

When you begin packing for your gap year abroad, the most important piece of advice to follow is to bring only the essentials. You’ll likely want to purchase souvenirs, so packing light will allow more room for any new purchases. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re not lugging a heavy backpack through the rainforest.

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last update: April 28, 2015

Accessories:

Tips for Choosing the Right Speakers

speaker

Audio technology has completely transformed in the past ten years. Furthermore, the rapid advancements in the field  show no signs of stopping. From tangle-free green earphones to sound-blocking technology, this is only the beginning. While everyone’s happy to have more and better quality speaker options, it can be confusing when you’re trying to design your personal entertainment center. What are some important considerations when you’re looking to buy some speakers?

Portable and Static Setups

There are many different ways to listen to music. For some people, having a light, portable setup that offers more quality than laptop or phone speakers is enough. Being able to easily transport your speakers has become more technologically possible in recent years with the rise of bluetooth speakers. These speakers are less expensive than a big entertainment setup, and can easily follow you from room to room wirelessly. They also work well to take to a friend’s house or party.

However, these speakers are by nature small. Some people find portability a much less important consideration than sound quality. Larger, heavier speakers tend to offer a clearer sound and a more powerful baseline. If you’re looking to create a home entertainment center and have enough room, these kinds of speakers may be more appealing.

Room Considerations

If your speakers are going to stay in one room more of the time, it’s important to consider the room’s acoustics. Some rooms are more conducive to listening to music than others. The shape of the room, the materials the walls and floor are made of, and the furniture in the room are just a few of the factors which contribute to a room’s acoustics.

You can improve a room’s acoustics in most cases if you find yours aren’t up to snuff. However, also consider the size of the room. Your speakers have to comfortably fit in the room you’re putting them in. There also must be room for the wires the speakers need to function. Wires shouldn’t be all over the floor; this is a safety hazard.

Budget

One of the main considerations for purchasing speakers is the price. A speaker can run you anywhere from $30 to well over $1,000 depending on the brand, condition, and quality. Obviously, you want to get the highest quality sound for your money. One way to get a very high quality speaker affordably is to look for second hand speakers. Craigslist or your local pawn shop will likely have a lot of options. Used speakers can be in excellent condition, and are typically significantly cheaper than new speakers.

When you’re shopping around, work out a budget while you consider the speaker’s physical specifications.

Conclusion

Buying a new set of speakers is fun and rewarding. You may be shocked at the high quality audio your new speakers bring after you’ve gotten used to just using your computer or phone’s speakers. Do the proper research and you’ll find the perfect speaker set for your needs.

 

Gadgets:

5 Gadgets To Take on An African Safari

The natural beauty and vast wildlife of the African continent calls to many people hoping for new experiences and an exhilarating adventure. Many visitors head to Africa for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of the safari, and many come back to experience it again and again. It’s easy to see the attractions of visiting: the opportunity to see large game, walking safaris, private and remote locations, qualified guides, diverse activities and more, all set in a beautiful and diverse scenery. Regardless of whether one is a first time visitor or an old pro at the game, everyone loves to travel in style and capture the best moments of the trip. Here’s some of the gadgets no one should forget on their safari.

Binoculars

If binoculars were made for any single activity, then the safari is definitely the one. While there is opportunity for vehicles to get up close to some animals sometimes, a good pair of binoculars can bring a person closer to the action all the time. Investing in a pair of binoculars will definitely be worth it, whether it’s a classic pair or a premium model that lets one see every bit of the action. Finding quality binoculars is the key; the best pair is one that offers great optics and continues to function even into the twilight hours. Pro tip: if one wear glasses and has different prescriptions in each eye, he or she should make sure to find a pair where the right and left lenses can be adjusted separately.

GoPro

One might argue that there’s really no trip that should be completed without a GoPro. Though one of these rugged cameras certainly isn’t necessary, it’s definitely one of the coolest ways to record the experiences of a safari in the Angama Masai Mara or the Serengeti. The camera is lightweight, durable, extremely versatile, and shoots amazing HD footage and stills, making it perfect for the rugged adventure of the safari. Use it to capture small personal moments or wildlife scenes or mount it to the front of the 4×4 to catch the highlights of the drive.

Headlamp or Body Torch

Safaris often begin before the crack of dawn and last into the twilight hours, so having a hands-free light is definitely something any safari-goer will want to put in their pack. A good headlamp is a great investment for other adventures as well. The LED Lenser H14 Headlamp, for instance, has multiple light setting and a beam that goes 220 meters. Great for those late-night trips to the loo!

Magnetic Tripod

If one undertakes a safari to snap pictures of wildlife, then packing a magnetic tripod is essential for capturing footage from the vehicle. Magnetic tripods can be attached to the side of vehicles, allowing the user to capture things like leopards running alongside the car at any moment. They also come in varieties that offer rubberized rings and foot grips that give the tripod additional stability on rough ground as well as leg joints that allow for 360-degree rotation.

Smartphone + Apps

The smartphone is an essential travel companion, and when heading out on a safari it offers the use of the quick and easy camera as well as a storehouse for electronic guidebooks and even wildlife and safari apps. While a guide is probably going to be present on the trip, an app like Tracking the Wild allows users to document experiences and share all of the amazing wildlife spotting adventures. Furthermore, these apps are designed to help preserve African wildlife and work with various conservation and research organizations.

 

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.

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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.

 

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.

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