Mobile:

Cracked Smartphones and Tablets Lead To Repair Dilemmas

Consumers have found that their handheld devices, whether smartphones or tablets, have become critical everyday tools.

But the moment a device cracks, its structural integrity is compromised. Moisture and debris quickly infiltrate even the smallest hairline cracks.

When it comes time to arranges for repairs or replacement, consumers have several options today.

Repair it

A phone may have a simple crack to the front display glass. Most consumers can find replacement parts online, or even in retail stores, to replace the glass themselves.

However, a poorly installed part can lead to even more electronic problems, such as printed circuit board shorts and component failures. However, electronic resellers typically offer a repair service. Consumers pay for parts and labor, and receive their phone back with a brand-new look.

Essentially, you need to weigh the pros and cons of paying for labor versus doing the repair yourself.

Ask for a warranty

If consumers decide to repair their devices on their own, there’s no inherent warranty, unless the repair part is defective. If you rely on a repair shop, its warranty information should be clearly stated on the estimate paperwork.

Read all the pertinent information to stay informed of everyone’s rights and responsibilities. If the device is relatively new, say three months old, send it back to the manufacturer. Depending on the original warranty, the device could be repaired for free.

Rely on insurance

Consumers have the option of purchasing insurance when buying a device. Depending on the policy, you’ll receive a new or refurbished phone in the event of severe damage.

However, it’s critical to understand the deductible amount. With some deductibles as high as $100, the insurance may not be a good deal. A new phone could be purchased fior that amount, rather than placing it toward a deductible for a possibly used device.

Pay for new

If your device fails completely, and it isn’t under the original warranty, a brand-new phone may be your only choice. With contracts typically lasting two years, you could be relegated to paying full price for the device.

Under a contract, consumers pay a partial amount, based on the provider’s stipulations. A phone bought outright under a previous contract is not discounted, unless the provider pro-rates it. Talking to a provider may help you save some money with a discounted phone, especially if the customer is a good-standing account.

Refurbished like new

Consumers shouldn’t discount the value of refurbished devices. The manufacturer usually strips the device down, updates any hardware, and adds new software. It returns as a practically new device at a reasonable price.

Consumers with expensive phones to replace, especially for teenagers, can benefit from a refurbished model, which provides the same access to apps and communications without such a high price tag. The manufacturer has already gotten a profit on the device, so it can offer more movement on pricing compared to newer models.

As the electronics world continues to expand, consumers will be faced with even more choices between repairs and replacements. With smart negotiations and attention to contractual details, you can save money on your favorite devices.

Computers:

Home Buyers Are Barely Hitting The Pavement Anymore

In the past, prospective home buyers contacted a real estate agent and started the process of visiting homes. Property after property was viewed and evaluated. At some point, the buyers decided on a home.

It might not have been the perfect home, but it felt good enough after doing all that legwork. Today’s age of online mortgage lending and home listings brings the real estate market into the home, however. Home buyers search for the right property right on the computer, and often find it.

Get pre-approved loan first

Buyers aren’t limited to their local bank anymore. If you go online, you’ll find many lenders looking for their next client. For most lenders, there’s no commitment to take the loan after a quote.

Simple information from the buyer is necessary for a rough estimate on maximum property principal and interest rates. One site can even have multiple lenders competing for a buyer’s business.

The lenders propose their best offer in hopes of winning the client. There are no awkward bank meetings or intimidating clerks. Buyers have a good chance at a perfect loan that fits their financial needs.

Earth view

As technology improves, buyers have a better view of the world than ever before. Specialized laptop, cell phone, and tablet apps and software allow buyers to look at a satellite snapshot of their potential new neighborhood.

Zoom in for a look at street level, from gorgeous park landscaping to unsightly vacant lots. If buyers are looking for a new property in a different neighborhood, a satellite view may give them a better look than a typical drive-by.

Access to statistics on crime and schools

A safe home another goal of buyers. However, it’s sometimes difficult to identify bad neighborhoods with one or two visits alone.

Several online resources offer statistical data regarding both crime levels and school performance. For example, buyers can find out about local sexual predators housed in the area, or last year’s robbery rate.

Alternatively, look up local school scores to find the areas with the brightest students. Schools with dedicated teachers, students, and parents often reflect a close-knit community. All these online resources provide another layer of information for a well-informed choice during house hunting.

Open houses online

Online property listings allow buyers to view dozens of homes in a day, without leaving their computer. As websites have expanded, each listing often shows photos of the living room, kitchen, bedrooms, and outdoor areas.

With more photos, properties have a better chance at a sale. Some listings offer a 360-degree view that gives buyers a look around the entire room. Descriptions of amenities, along with filtering applications, allow buyers to pinpoint the perfect property in a specific area. Once it’s found, buyers can ask their Realtor about visiting the property for a tour of the premises.

The online world has made it much easier for both buyers and sellers to find the perfect match. With the right descriptions and and photos on a reputable website, a beautiful home can really shine.

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last update: April 18, 2014

Apps:

Which Weight Management App is Right for You?

Managing your weight, whether you want to lose, gain, or sustain, can be challenging. Swimwear season is just around the corner, and now it’s easier than ever to make a splash with the right weight management app.

There are a number of helpful apps available for both Android and iPhone, but how can you know which one is right for you? Luckily, the hard work has been done by other folks, and if you consult the high rankings and glowing reviews, you should know what to get.

Start with the BMI Calculator, an aptly named app that helps you keep track of your Body Mass Index (BMI). This has been a doctor-preferred method for gauging your overall health as it pertains to weight for more than 100 years.

It’s not perfect, especially for athletes, but it’s a good indication of where you fall on the spectrum and whether you should be focusing on gaining weight, losing it, or staying about the same.

An app for all bodies

My Fitness Pal is a popular website that can assist with all aspects of your health, whether you’re trying to figure out how many meals to eat per day or keep track of calories. The complementary app is also a great tool, because it enables users watch their caloric intake, and it’s very customizable.

You can choose from an existing database of 1.5 million foods or input your own. There’s a free barcode scanner and more than 150 trackable exercises to see just how many calories you’ve burned, too.

However, if you’re on Weight Watchers, getting their app is an absolute must. You’ll get access to new recipes, media reports on health and obesity, and detailed reports on exercise information to keep you on track.

The support system for Weight Watchers is incredible, and with easy social media and forum links within the app, you’ll find a stronger network than ever, right on your smartphone.

A little extra support

Are you looking for all the benefits of a personal trainer but don’t feel you have the money to pay those costly fees? Noom Weight Loss Coach is an app that lets you personalize a weight management plan and assigns daily tasks to help you get there, whether it’s reading the latest breaking health news or tackling a new exercise challenge.

You can easily log your success and steps, and it keeps you on track with reminders so you can make changes that will last over the long run. Plus, it even comes with a GPS and pedometer so you know exactly how much movement you get under your belt.

If working out is more your thing than measuring your kale salad, the 7-Min Workout might be right up your alley. You’ve heard about seven minutes in heaven? That’s exactly what your body will think happened with this quickie app that ensures you get an intense workout almost anywhere with zero equipment.

Enjoy clear directions and commands for switching it up, and you can know that you’re getting the regular cardio you need in intervals that even the busiest of professionals can handle. No matter which app you choose, whether one or all of the above, putting your health literally in your hands is a good habit not just for bikini season, but for life.

 

Apps:

Flappy Bird a Health Crisis, Developer Says

Less than two percent of “gamers” are responsible for half the revenues involved in this booming industry — a fact that is both terrifying and sad. However, it looks like some game developers are starting to own up to the addictive nature of their creations, even if they didn’t force anyone to play.

Dong Nguyen, the skilled designer behind Flappy Bird, killed his own game in March 2014 and claimed it was just too dangerous and too many people were getting addicted. This was an unprecedented move, and it helped bring attention to a serious issue.

In an interview with Forbes, Nguyen remarked: “Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed. But it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem; to solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird. It’s gone forever.”

Is killing the Bird the answer?

While it appears that Nguyen’s move was a genuine one, sincerely intended to protect the fans of his game, he’s essentially left a jackpot of winnings behind. It’s been estimated that Nguyen raked in about $50,000 a day from the game, but the developer chose not to confirm that estimate. “I don’t know the exact figure, but I do know it’s a lot,” he said.

A potential issue here is that the interview took place in Vietnamese, so something may have gotten lost in translation. However, most important is that Nguyen, intentionally or not, has brought the issue of game addiction into the public forum.

It’s a condition that sometimes requires extensive physical, emotional, and mental treatment. The developer apparently shares the secretiveness of many gamers: He insisted that his face not be shown and mentioned that his parents didn’t even know he created the game. The 29-year-old generally keeps to himself.

Birds out of control

Flappy Bird has been available for less than a year, having been released in May 2013. According to Nguyen, it only took him a couple of days to code it.

However, even though the young developer has many other games in app stores, such as Shuriken Block (and all are top rated), there are currently no plans to kill other games because he says they are “harmless.”

On the other hand, Nguyen added that if he suspected addiction were to become a problem with any of his other creations, he wouldn’t hesitate to remove them, as well. His heart may be in the right place, but it’s impossible for a non-licensed, non-professional to gauge whether complete strangers are addicts.

Getting another fix

There are scores of Flappy Bird “knock offs” floating around, so it won’t be a challenge for addicts to get their fix. As for Nguyen, he says he plans to continue developing games after a short break from the grid.

Asked if he has any messages for fans of the defunct game, Nguyen’s response was simple: “Thank you very much for playing my game.” For the throngs of people who may be suffering from a documented case of gaming addiction, Nguyen’s move probably won’t cure them.

But it might be the necessary springboard that pushes them to seek professional help.

 

Clean:

5 High-Tech Devices That Will Save You Both Kinds of Green

Going high-tech and changing your home to go green are working together in a growing synergy. Each year more smart devices come on the market that are not only earth-friendly but pretty cool to have in your home. Here are five examples.

1. High-tech thermostats

It’s no surprise that since a majority of home energy bills involve heating and cooling costs, much of the new technology for homes centers on this. Older homes have inefficient systems that waste an incredible amount of energy.

Much of the waste is attributable to climate control of rooms that are not in use and when the home is unoccupied. Smart technologies now give you programmable thermostats you can control from anywhere.

Applications and Internet-enabled technology provide greater control while you’re away, as well as networking of thermostats for efficient climate control throughout your home.

2. Motion sensors

Remember when you were a child and your parents would remind you to turn out the lights when you left a room? Motion sensors will turn on lights when you enter a room and shut them off when you leave.

This technology isn’t limited to lighting. Electrical and other systems through your house can be outfitted with sensors to cut the flows to other devices as well. Some devices even allow you to do this using an application on a smartphone so you can monitor and shut off any appliances, electrical systems, and anything else that might have been left on when you rushed out the door.

3. Solar power

Even though it could save an average of 30% of their power consumption, some people aren’t ready to commit fully to solar energy. This is understandable, since converting to solar requires a costly initial investment.

The good news is that many smaller solar collection devices can cut your energy costs. By placing solar panels on patios, porches, garages, or at other outdoor locations, you can increase the efficiency of your home dramatically.

Some companies offer hybrid devices that run on both solar and direct power to provide some savings and take that small step toward being greener.

4. Smart Appliances

When LG released its line of smart appliances at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2012, people went crazy over them. From a refrigerator that creates menus and inventories its contents, to a washing machine that was not just eco-friendly but also fast and high-capacity, these advances in home technology were the greatest in many years.

Utilizing Internet networking technology, these appliances are able to connect and even communicate with one another, which allows for easier use and greater energy efficiency.

5. Power adapters

There’s a common myth that installing energy- and cost-saving devices requires a ton of work and a complete overhaul of the space. The reality is that you can do quite a few things that save money and still do your share in going green.

The average household uses 13% of its home energy simply charging and powering up devices each year. Typical charging devices push far too much energy through their adapters during a charge-up and continue to do so even when the charge is complete.

A company called Green Plug offers an alternative that creates a “smart” style of charging device that powers down when it isn’t connected for a charge and only feeds power to the device when it needs it.

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Wireless:

How Cloud Computing Saves Small Business Resources

Every creator of a new small business hopes its operation will result in lucrative profits. The types of profits generated will often depend on the business owner and his or her staff expertise.

Even if the business can generate large amounts of income, the outfit will not turn a profit if the owner does not know how to reduce the amount of money that’s paid out in operating expenses. As explained below, cloud computing may be the one of the best new resources for small businesses in their effort to turn a profit.

Tracking expenditures and technology cost

In the quest for greater financial efficiency, one of the first things a business owner should do is review how much money is being spent and where the money is going. Hard figures for these elements are the bedrock for the business owner’s ability to make profitable business decisions.

A specific area where business owners should look closely is how much of the company’s resources are being spent on technology. Whether the company has hired a permanent full-time employee to handle technical concerns, or pays a contractor to be on call, technical support can be very costly if the owner does not know how to make the essential adjustments.

Reducing costs by using cloud computing

A more specific area of tech that should be reviewed when evaluating cash flow with an eye toward cutting expenses are the hardware and software applications the business uses. Because hardware and software can add a significant amount of expense to the budget, small business owners are increasingly turning to an alternative that can be used to reduce spending significantly.

The alternative that many small business owners are looking at for their operations is cloud computing. By turning to cloud computing as a means to reduce expenses, some firms have quickly integrated it into their infrastructure as a staple in their business plans.

Cloud computing is designed to use or at least share the resources of others, so it can save companies a significant amount of money on their expenses. Companies that specialize in cloud computing supply the hardware and software that various clients make use of.

For example, if a company has been thinking it will have to invest $50,000 to buy new servers for its operations at the end of the quarter, it may avoid that cost by implementing a cloud computing solution. That means the servers it was intending to purchase will be replaced by an infrastructure that uses the resources of an off-site network provider.

This kind of business practice allows a business owner to rent resources instead of spending a large sum to purchase them.

Weighing the alternatives

While there are many advantages to this kind of infrastructure in your business plan, there are drawbacks as well. One involves data security, since the company’s sensitive information will be handled in an off-site environment instead of in house under lock and key.

Before a business owner chooses this type of network infrastructure, therefore, it will need to review the provider’s reputation, data security measures and practices, and disaster recovery plans — all of which are vital to the success and the failure of the overall organization.

Apps:

Apps Ironically Designed to Help You Unplug

In the age of technology, it’s easy to find people glued to their smartphones or tablets. With products that offer heightened levels of versatility with different apps, it can be difficult to unplug and enjoy life in the real world. Surprisingly, there are a few apps available that can actually help you reconnect to life outside of technology. While most apps work to garner your attention, these are effective at doing the exact opposite.

1. SelfControl

SelfControl is an app that forces its audience to moderate their time online by instantly blocking distracting websites, email servers, and other websites that can be a waste of time. Instead of limiting Internet access altogether, which may not be an option for some, it simply limits the most distracting places to spend time.

2. Mindfulness Meditation

Anxiety levels and depression are at an all-time high with an increase in Internet usage, spurring people to neglect real world relationships. Mindfulness Meditation works to teach individuals to take moments throughout the day to reflect on positive aspects of their life and focus on the peace. It’s a great way of refocusing your attention and regrouping from too much tech access, according to The Huffington Post.

3. Sleep Cycle

Sleep Cycle is a modern alarm clock that tracks your movement during the night and monitors your personal sleep statistics in order to give you a better understanding of how much rest you’re really getting. It not only features a journal where you can jot down your caffeine intake or periods of insomnia, but it also awakens you slowly and steadily to help you feel more refreshed throughout the day.

4. Freedom

True freedom is not feeling compelled to check your status update or look at your Twitter feed each hour, which the Freedom app tries to enforce. Instead of forcing you to disconnect from your computer or phone completely, it still allows you to get work done without having access to the Internet, according to 148Apps. You can even customize how long you want to be disconnected from the web for an easy way of limiting your access to pages that can be addicting.

5. Pause

Pause is an app that works to help users weaken their dependency on technology by putting their phone in airplane mode and tracking how much time is spent away from the device. The average smartphone user checks their phone approximately 150 times a day, which was the motivation behind the design of the app.

The app also asks what real-world activities you’ll be partaking in for a tool that makes users more aware of their addiction to technology for improved time management skills, according to The Guardian. If that’s not enough, the app even shows your time away from the phone or tablet compared to other people who are using the app.

Apps:

3 Ways Technology Is a Major Money Saver

If there’s one thing every household wants to accomplish, it’s saving money. Whether you live within a tight budget or you simply want a bigger cushion in the bank, cutting spending is something everyone is interested in.

Something else most everyone is interested in is electronics and technology. How convenient would it be if you could incorporate your savings into your lifestyle by utilizing your technology? Pretty convenient; good thing it’s easy to do.

Download savings apps

Your smart phone is more than just an easy way to upload photos of your dinner for all your friends and followers to see; it’s a money-saving device. There are a number of free apps available that allow you to save money in just a few seconds time.

The RetailMeNot app makes it simple for you to find the store in which you are shopping and gain instant access to current coupons and codes good online and in stores. For example, if you’re in a store with a coupon for 20 percent off your entire purchase and your total is $100, this app just saved you $20.

Barcode apps are another great way to save using technology. Simply scan the barcode of the item in which you are interested and see if it’s available for a lesser price at another store nearby or even online. It’s instant savings in less than a few second’s time.

Household technology

It’s a nightmare to come home to a house that’s so hot you can’t breathe, but it’s also a nightmare to see the utility bill come in at the end of the month after leaving your air conditioning turned down low while you’re at work all day.

Instead of making sacrifices to your wallet and/or comfort, invest in a Nest Learning Thermostat. It’s simple to use; it learns your habits and works to your programming to keep your heat and air turned off when you’re not home.

You can even control it with your smart phone, computer or tablet, turning it on or off when you’re at work or traveling. It can save you as much as 30 percent in utility costs each year.

Bundle household technology

What three things do you use more than anything else at home? The answer to this question is your television, your phone and your internet. Instead of paying three separate bills with three separate sets of fees each month, bundle your phone, cable and internet and save significantly.

Conclusion

Technology makes life exceptionally easy when you let it. Let your technology make your life less expensive by taking a few minutes to see what type of technology fits into your budget, works best for your lifestyle and saves you the most money.

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