What’s Going on With Those Funny Looking Modular Smartphones

If you’ve been paying attention to tech news for the last few days, then you’re probably scratching your head over the latest designs to grace Google’s line of Android smartphones. They look like a crazy art project, a blend between retro-futuristic design and De Stijl blocks. No, this isn’t some contest entry from an art student – it’s Google’s new foray into modular phones, starting with Project Ara. modular smartphone

Beyond Just Looks

These Frankenstein phones aren’t just characterized by a blocky aesthetic – the entire phone is actually built out of several miniature parts, which are essentially “plug and play.” Did your camera just break? Well, instead of replacing your entire phone, you can just swap the camera out for a new one. This concept was demonstrated at the Project Ara unveiling, when the phone was dropped. The screen cracked, but that wasn’t a big deal, since the display could easily be swapped within seconds.

Build Your Own Smartphone

The current smartphone market locks consumers into a certain amount of selections, made available by cellular carriers. Device upgrade options are traditionally limited to one new device every two years for a subsidized price. Google’s modular smartphone will challenge what we mean by a “new device,” because in theory you could keep swapping parts to upgrade your phone incrementally. It’ll be interesting to see how Project Ara challenges the current model of phone upgrades.

Modular phones will also challenge the way we think about phone warranties. Companies like Apple thrive on Genius Bar charges and iPhone upgrades, especially for the unfortunate people who haven’t invested in their AppleCare Plus warranties. IPhones have proprietary parts that are extremely difficult for DIY techies to fix on their own. When modular phones hit stores, repairing broken components might be as simple as plugging in a new piece.

Niche Markets

While it’ll be some time before modular phones become a part of everyday society, we might begin to see niche markets surface. Just take a look at the PC world: you’ve got hardware tailored for gaming, business, and casual use. We might begin to see a rise in specialty phones once modular components come out, with special features for gaming or business software solutions.

Modular, customizable phones will completely change the landscape of smartphone sales. Google’s Project Ara has the potential to disrupt current upgrade and warranty policies, while giving consumers greater control over their hardware. It’ll be very interesting to see how the cellular market shifts in preparation for modular phones.


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 24, 2014


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.


How Technology and Your Mobile Device Make You More Stylish

Remember when Alicia Silverstone stood in front of her rotating closet and chose her ensembles using her computer in the movie Clueless? Back then the technology was astounding to the rest of the world; it caused women everywhere to dream of a fashionable computer/closet combination.

Today, technology makes fashion a no-brainer. Women don’t even have to do anything but click a few buttons, order a couple of items, and replicate the exact outfits they see using their mobile devices, favorite websites, and the convenience of online shopping.

Websites for fashion

Everyone knows that Pinterest is the hottest website for fashion at the moment. You can build your fashion closet by pinning ideas and items you love, and even click on the links to these items to order them or find out where the original pinner picked them up.

When women need fashion inspiration these days, they often turn to their mobile device to see what Pinterest has to offer in terms of ideas. They follow bloggers who have impeccable taste, and study makeup and hair “pins” to duplicate the looks they find online.

Online shopping

Nothing makes fashion and style easier to achieve than online shopping. Since many people have always resided in rural areas, far away from major shopping hubs, that tended to make staying fashionable difficult. But not anymore: the Internet makes shopping a cinch.

You can order the latest Louis Vuitton handbag and have it in a few days, even if you live hundreds of miles from the nearest Louis Vuitton boutique. In fact, many women with designer items don’t bother to shop in person when it’s something they can do from their phone or electronic tablet.

Access to fashion consultants

Before technology made it so much easier, if you wanted a personal stylist you had to have a deep pocket and the inclination to spend hours at a time in world-famous department stores working with one of the stylists on the floor. Now you can find style consultants online.

If you’re looking for a stylist with a blog you can read for personal tips and tricks, as well as advice on where to shop and what to wear — from the hottest shoes this season to the perfect fall cape to add a finishing touch to any ensemble — it’s simple.

You can use your own personal technology such as your phone or iPad to pull up your favorite stylist websites, blogs, and even emails to see what’s hot and what’s not.

Technology has changed the way the world looks at fashion and style. No longer is it only a dream of everyday women to have a look like their favorite stars, it’s a reality … thanks to the Internet.


12 Cool Gadget Gift Ideas

For the geek in you or for those geeks you love, there are many awesome gadgets available to impress and inspire. There are Star Wars gifts and presents for the individual that’s just tired of the same old thing for Christmas or birthdays. This year, try some thing new.

There are at least 12 cool gadget gift ideas to choose from.

1. Electric guitar T-shirt

This cool geeky gift for the kid is amazing! The neck of the guitar that’s printed on this shirt actually represents real notes on the neck of a real guitar. This might just be the perfect thing for the kid who gets a kick out of quirky gifts.

2. The sliding keyboard case

For those who’ve gone from regular cell phone to the smartphone with touchscreen, you might be missing the feel of the keys. This handy gadget lets you return to the old style, either permanently or just for fun.

3. Weather station keyring

Never leave home without the latest forecast. You don’t even have to check your phone. Simply take a look at your keyring and you’ll know if it’ll rain or shine. This gadget is downright awesome.

4. Striiv

This gadget helps to keep you in shape by monitoring the miles and times you’ve put in on your workouts. This little device should inspire you to get up and moving, and depending on your performance, Striiv will donate to charity in your name.

5. Pole dancer alarm clock

Don’t just wake up and go to work; wake up to a tiny buxom blonde stripper swinging around a pole. The background music will get you going if she doesn’t. This is a nifty gift for a bachelor.

6. Message to space

Not sure if this should be considered a gadget, but it’s definitely worth considering as a very neat gift. You receive a box and fill out all the information on the application inside. Then you write a very important message and put the message in the box. The message will be sent into space via a laser. You message could be read for potentially thousands of years.

7. Build your own roller coaster

Just what every big kid wants. This kit comes complete with everything you need to build your own roller coaster replica.

8. Pogo instant photo printer

If you are out and about and have many photos crammed onto your smartphone, this is a handy device to save the day. A little photo printer can make prints of photos in minutes.

9. Eye clock

This zany clock will keep you laughing. Instead of hands pointing at the hour and the minute, the pupils of eyes do the job. This little white box holds a simple pair of black pupils that tell the time.

10. Voice-activated R2D2

This replica of the Star Wars favorite is perfect for kids or adults. This little robot obeys 40 commands and plays hide-n-seek as well.

11. Roomba Robot vacuum

Instead of vacuuming the floor the old-fashioned way, opt to let the Roomba Robot do it for you. This little round robot will vacuum all floors by moving around on its own and navigating around obstacles.

12. Letter art

For a unique twist, consider buying your geek the gift of letter art. Maybe you could have the person’s name spelled out and framed, or you could even create a cool quote. Whatever you choose to make, you can do this with letter art.

These are just some of the nifty and cool gadgets that would make the perfect gift. Don’t settle for the ordinary, when these extraordinary options are right at your fingertips.

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The Top 5 Smartphones of 2013

This year has seen many new innovations in technology and the smartphone. Various apps, functions, and upgrades have kept consumers going after the new smart devices as if they were candy.

This year has seen some of the most interesting and useful devices ever to hit the mainstream. Everyone is wanting a piece of the action. Here are the five best smartphones of 2013.

1. Sony Yuga

Sony is joining the craze to create a five-inch screen for its 2013 Smartphone. This device has a quad core processor, 3 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of storage space. This is just the basics of this awesome new phone.

2. Samsung Galaxy Premier

The South Korean company, Samsung, has introduced a high-quality phone with a low price tag. This amazing device has a 4.65 inch AMOLED screen with a 1.5 GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4470 SoC inside. Because of all the special features, the phone was delayed going onto the shelves for the 2013 year.

3. BlackBerry 10

This phone is quite different from the BlackBerry phones seen in the past. Unlike the BlackBerry 7, this one is based on a UNIX-type platform called the QNX. It has a whole new home screen with new tiles more like a Windows phone.

The inbox on this phone is not like an app; it’s more like an operating system (OS), which means it’s accessible wherever you go. The new addition called PEEK also allows you to see Facebook and Twitter notifications without leaving the home page. This is quite exceptional.

4. Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc

This brand-new Sony phone came out with a bang. Without any prior warning, it was advertised everywhere. Its razor-thin construction was catching eyes left and right. The same specs that were offered in previous versions are present in this one, despite how incredibly thin the structure is.

And if that wasn’t impressive enough, the new Sony Ericsson was upgraded with 512 MB of RAM and 8 GB MicroSD storage.

5. HTC One

This innovative new phone takes the spotlight among the top devices of 2013. The HTC One has all the same capabilities and functions as all the rest.

However, it also has a very amazing and interesting capability that’s very different. Not only can this smartphone find any television show you might be interested in; it can also serve as the remote control for your TV and other devices in the household. This is one smart device.

Before they’re all gone, you might want to get one of these smart devices. It’s sure to make life easier and a lot more fun!


7 Things to Consider Before You Upgrade to iOS 7

With the release of the new iOS 7 for the iPhone and iPad, millions of Apple product owners have been diligently upgrading their devices. If you’ve yet to do so, now’s the time to focus on whether or not the new upgrade is for you.

There are a few things Apple owners should consider before downloading the new iOS 7. Consider the following seven items.

1. A different look and feel

One of the first considerations is the fact that the iOS 7 is going to change the entire look and feel of your operating system. Even the icons on your phone will change.

This is the biggest shift in the Apple operating system since the debut of the iOS about six years ago.

2. It saves time

Ever spent a few precious moments unlocking your iPhone in an attempt to get to your calculator or flashlight app, so you could do what you needed to do as quickly as possible? If so, you know it can be time-consuming.

The new iOS 7 saves time using these apps. It offers shortcuts to commonly used features such as your camera, flashlight, calculator, time, and even airplane mode.

3. Notifications are more streamlined

If you use your Apple device often, you know that you now have to check your notification application to see what’s in store for the day. It’s a busy screen with a lot going on, including stock market readings, small calendar updates, and a minimal weather logo.

The new notifications settings make it easier to see your entire day, the weather, and even what’s in store on your daily commute. It’s faster, more streamlined, and more efficient.

4. Little re-learning

Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of the iOS 7 update is the fact that while it’s better and more streamlined, it won’t take you long to figure out how to use it. The updates are efficient but they aren’t complicated.

5. Downside of not updating

If you choose not to update your phone right away, you won’t notice anything. The only difference between your phone and someone with the update is the overall look and the access to some cool new devices. But if you haven’t had them, you won’t miss them.

In the long run, however, many different apps will start supporting the iOS 7 update only, and will no longer work on your outdated iOS settings. This won’t happen for a while, though, so there’s no need to panic.

6. Easier mobile content

By now you know that mobile content marketing is more popular than ever. You can see it easily when you click on a website on your mobile device and view it as either a regular version or in mobile format.

Because so many people use their mobile devices to search the Internet, read the paper, visit websites, and even shop, there’s a growing need for mobile content marketing — something worth learning more about.

7. Making the change

While it’s not going to hurt you to wait, this kind of update requires you to save your data, spend time backing up everything, and relearn some of your phone functions. Many experts recommend waiting a few months until Apple releases the first updated version of the iOS 7, which will be free of the glitches and bugs that will undoubtedly occur on this introductory version.

There’s always something to consider when making a big change in your Apple device, but these seven tips will help you decide whether or not the upgrade is worth taking now or waiting until the updated version is released.

The choice is personal, but it’s rarely a mistake to have the latest and the best upgrades and updates available on your mobile devices, especially when they’re Apple products.


The Subtler Details of Technology

There is very little in our lives that technology does not affect or touch. Some may argue that it reaches every facet. After all, with just one device, the smartphone, we are able to research restaurants and movies on the go, find a hiking trail, or get directions.

The technology at our fingertips is astounding; it’s even more so because its capabilities and integration into daily life are now mundane, quotidian as daily life. But go beyond the smartphone, the tablet, and the GPS. It’s easy to see the when technology plays a role in electronic devices.

Instead, let’s explore the less ordinary and obvious ways technology is used in the world around us.

1. Money

Money is exchanged, traded, and deposited electronically today. Very rarely is cash used for monetary transactions anymore. The Internet is global and has made the global marketplace an easy place to conduct business. Thanks to technology, we are able to book travel, purchase clothing, buy a book, or order a dress — all from the comfort of home.

Recently, banks have made mobile applications and online banking even easier. In the event you actually receive a paper check, there’s no need to drive to the bank. Deposit it right there. Paying bills in one fell swoop takes mere minutes. No need to balance a checkbook anymore, on-demand access to bank accounts lets people check their balances on the fly.

The speed and ease of use when we call up our funds and spend money is astounding. Need cash? Technology powers ATMs. No cash? Technology makes the use of credit and debit cards possible.

2. Driving

Today’s vehicles are more brain than muscle. The technology that brings the driver and passengers voice-activated GPS, phone, texting, and the like is still just the tip of the iceberg.

Cars today have incredibly sophisticated computer systems that dramatically improve fuel economy, safety, and the driving experience. From engine to tires, automobiles are getting smarter.

For example, run-flat tires include an external structure that gives a driver an additional 50 miles to drive to a gas station or repair shop to fix a flat tire. No more driving on rims and no more getting stuck on the side of a busy freeway, risking life and limb to change a flat.

Many parents give major kudos to technology for making kids safer with rear-view cameras and entertaining them with “in-flight” videos and games. More efficient vehicles give us the chance to hand over a less-damaged environment to our kids when they are older.

3. Beauty products

The beauty industry is constantly innovating — investing in and developing technologies that will improve the way we look and feel. The more science uncovers the how and why of aging, the more tools we have to fight the good fight against wrinkles, hair loss, and visible skin damage.

Ultrasound and laser therapies are proving to be highly effective methods of producing collagen and treating skin damage. While new to the market and relatively high in cost, the results are said by many to be worth the cost.

Technology has also left its mark on the hair industry. Advancements have created hair accessories, wigs, and pieces that cannot be distinguished from natural hair. On top of looking real and providing the style and look that suits the moment, they are now designed to withstand high winds, ventilate to prevent overheating, and give no evidence of being faux.

The implications and uses of technology surround us. It goes into the products we use (big and small), the way we pay for those products, and the methods we use to research those products.

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