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June 27, 2017

Voice Assistants

Some of the big technology devices to hit in recent years are Voice Assistants. The idea first came about on TV with Star Trek in the ‘60s. This was when you could communicate by voice instructions with the computers. In the real world, “Siri” started on the iPhone 4S at its release in October 2011. And then, “Ok, Google” began in July 2012, and was first supported on the Galaxy Nexus smartphone. So yes, as always Apple created it first (like phones) and then others improve on it. Most will agree that OK, Google surpasses the Siri app at this point in time. Then there came Cortana from Microsoft, which was announced in January 2015 for Windows 10 desktops and mobile devices.

With those assistants you can look up weather, call people in your address book, get a phone number, get your map to plan a drive, etc. Be careful on that mapping part as I keep seeing articles about people getting lost using them. However, for us, Waze and Google Maps have always been spot on.

Google vs Amazon

Starting last year Amazon and Google started rolling out their devices, with Alexa, (the Echo and Dot seem to be the most popular) and Home respectively. There are other devices available but they are bought in insignificant numbers by comparison.

image

Now the Voice Assistants are standalone devices and are selling like, well actually better than, hot cakes. According to the 2017 report from VoiceLabs, “Amazon Echo and Google Home…will sell more than 24 million units combined through the end of 2017.”

Amazon Alexa vs Google Home

They are devices that connect to your Wi-Fi and you speak to them. You can verbally ask questions, set alarms, get news, check the weather, get directions, find phone numbers, perform conversions, do math, find how long it takes to get somewhere (using local traffic conditions) and many more things.

I have been testing a Google Home and it is very, very accurate in both translating your voice and giving accurate responses. In the morning I asked it to tell me about my day. It proceeded to first give me the weather predictions for the day followed by my calendar’s agenda. Then it started telling me the news from various news stations. You can set the news channels you prefer if you wish.

To use the Google device you must have Wi-Fi, either an Android or iPhone device, the application Google Home installed and you are ready to go. The setup process took about five minutes including Google Home updating itself. It was quite easy.

It will also integrate with some other devices; although, at this time the Alexa mixes with many more. That means it can possibly run your TV, cut off your lights, communicate between you and some of your appliances, etc. The only other system I have that it works with is Google Chromecast hooked to my TV. So I can play items there automatically and control them by voice.

Amazon’s devices work pretty much the same; however, as usual, people debate over which is better online all the time. For me, since I am a Google/Android fan I would go for the GH, but either is good. Are these devices a need? No, but I am going to predict that we are going to see a lot more of them in the future.

If you get one do not forget to play with it. Ask it to tell you a joke, ask it how tall you are, ask it if the other device is any good, etc. It made me laugh when I asked it what the fox says…give it a shot if you get the chance.

November 8, 2016

Do You Use Multiple Clouds?

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:42 am

Floyd wrote this week and asked an excellent question. He has several Cloud storage sites that he often uses.  Floyd has all the most popular ones; Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, and Amazon Drive.  Keep in mind there are many more out there.

He wanted to know if there was any way he could log into all of them in one location instead of jumping back and forth logging into each.  One at a time is a hassle if you use the websites.  It is much easier if you just use each one’s local folder on your computer.  But what if you are on someone else’s computer and need to access one of your cloud pictures or files and you are not sure which location you put them in?

Wouldn’t you know, there is something for that and I have been using it often for several years.

It is called MultCloud (multcloud.com be careful there is no “i” in there) and it will allow you to access all of your cloud storage on one website.  To add one of your Cloud storage areas, click “Add Clouds” at the top.  Next, you can choose the service you want to add.  For instance, select Dropbox.  You will next be directed to log in to your Dropbox account.  This will allow MultCloud to access your account and display your folders and files.  Once you complete that your Dropbox folders and files will appear on the website where they may be easily accessed.

You may now add additional cloud storage on other services.  If you are like me you can also add other accounts from the same provider.  In my case I have two Dropbox, three OneDrive and only one Google Drive folders.  That way I have enough room to store all of my documents.  The reason I have extras from the same provider is that they only allow you a limited amount of storage per email address.  Therefore, if you have multiple email accounts you can also have multiple cloud storage accounts with the same company.

MultCloud

Once you have them set up what can you do?  You can download any file in any of the accounts to the PC you are using and edit away.  You can also delete them, upload additional files and folders, etc.

Once you install and set up MultCloud you can access your files remotely from any computer you are using.  What you would have been able to do on your local computer with any of your files you can now do anywhere including but not limited to photos.  If you travel without a computer and need your files this could be a lifesaver.

Go to the site and look around, not only will you find MutlCloud but you may get other ideas regarding other online cloud services you could use.

Just remember my thought regarding “The Cloud.”  It is as secure as its most displeased employee.  If an employee had the skills they could get into your information.  Yes, doubtful but it is possible.  Also, hackers may work on storage sites like these.  So, my advice is never store items with your SSN or any other personal information in it that you have a problem “getting out.”

August 17, 2015

2015-08-17 Show Notes

Had several callers and lots of talk.  I hope you didn’t miss it.  WSVA has changed ownership and the new podcast format is not ready for prime time, so it is not currently available.  Hopefully next month. 

Enjoy the notes from today.

Ron’s Android App Recommendation
(This app can be found on Google Play from your Android phone,
tablet or viewed on your PC from the link below.)
Aldiko Reader

This is, in my opinion, currently the best eBook reader for Android. Sorry only available for Android devices at this time.

It has many features that the biggies do not, go to the main website, aldiko.zendesk.com for the FAQ.

The one that I like most is that you can save and access the books you are reading via Dropbox. This allows you to start and stop on the same place in the book no matter which device you are reading from.

Also, it has many, many settings you can adjust to your liking.

One of the only Apps I say are worth paying the $3-$4 to have a premium license for extra features. That being said the freebie is excellent.


BookBub.com
How it works

Book Bub alerts you to limited-time free & discounted eBooks matching your interests. It’s free to join, you can read on any device, and the books are yours to own.

I got my email today and there were 9 books listed.  Two free and the rest from $2.99 to $0.99.  From Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, etc.


A caller asked today if it is possible to change the default search engine from Bing.com to Google.com.  It depends on several things but first is which browser you are using. 

If you are using the new W10 browser, “Edge”, go here, http://rd.dblclx.com/1UOyAbK.

If you are using another browser, say Chrome or Firefox, search for something similar to:

[change default search engine in “Windows 10” for Chrome browser] – do not include the square brackets.

You can also change your search engine for Cortana if you like speaking to your computer. Note: you must use the Chrome browser as your default browser for this to work. http://rd.dblclx.com/1IYEnnI


School Shopping is here and you always need something.  Use, “Retail Me Not” and save some big $$$, http://www.retailmenot.com/.

Basically, you can find discounts and coupons from all the major retailers around the country.  For instance, Kohl’s, Sears, JC Penney, GoDaddy, Wine.com, Disney are on there right now.


Invisible Hand is a browser add in that  discreetly notifies you if the product or flights you’re shopping for is available more cheaply from another retailer or travel site.

The notification provides a convenient button which links you straight through to the relevant page on the competing website. It also provides a drop-down menu, so that you can see the prices at the other sites which sell that product or flight.

http://www.getinvisiblehand.com/


Binder – The New Break Up App
telegraph.co.uk
Too scared to dump your significant other? Now there’s an app for that.

Tinder has helped many a lonely soul find love via their smartphone.

Now there’s an app that does the complete opposite.

"Binder" allows relationship-weary men and women to enter a partner’s gender, name and number and then, like the app that inspired it, swipe right to "bin" them.

The heartbreaker chooses a reason for binning their significant other, such as "It’s like I’m living in some sort of unwakeable nightmare", and they’re away. Within seconds, the unlucky soon-to-be ex then receives a rather indelicate text message and short pre-recorded phone call with one of a number of "hilarious" reasons for breaking up.


That is all from today’s show.  Please take a look at the suggestions above and see what you can find useful.

Join us next month on WSVA Radio (WSVAonline.com) for more.

Thanks,

Ron

December 16, 2014

Tech Christmas, Part 2

Last week, I suggested a few techie Christmas gifts. Some readers requested a few more; so, they are as follow.

Let’s start on a slightly different foot. This is similar to the musical cards that play songs or prerecorded messages when opened, but it’s a little different. At spreengs.com, users can create their own video card.

Users create their own video, then upload it to the site, at which point it is completed and mailed to recipients. Or, the company can mail users the card, envelope and USB wire, so the video can be uploaded to the card and sent. The first option costs about $5 more. The few that I looked at ranged about $ 20- 40.

447_mifi5510lFor a gift that keeps on giving — for a monthly fee — try a personal Wi- Fi Hotspot. These small devices supply users with highspeed Internet connections. Speeds are fastest with 4G coverage. Sometimes, I use one for work and it usually gets from 7 to 12 mbps download speed, which is enough to watch movies.  Shown here is the Verizon Mi-Fi that I use which works very well with 4G.

Prices vary for the hardware to the monthly charges for the amount of data used. However, before buying one, check if your cellphone has a hotspot capability, as it may be less expensive.

Tablet sales are down about four percent this year; but tablet keyboard sales are up approximately 90 percent. Users can take an old tablet and, add a Bluetooth keyboard, which costs from $20- 50. Users have found that this is much more convenient than typing on a tablet without a keyboard. You can also get a new tablet with a keyboard included; however, the cost will likely be much higher.

Also available are Mighty Purses, a fusion between fashion and technology available at mighty- purse. com. These bags have a lightweight, built- in battery and a cable for phone charging. They are available in a variety of colors and designs. Prices on Amazon. com run approximately $80- 100.

The Shoulderpod S1 (shoulderpod.com) is a $ 34.90 gadget that attaches to most any cellphone, with or without a case, and has three functions. First, it has a camera grip mode that can be attached to the phone and a grip and strap for users’ hands and wrists, respectively. Second, it has a desk mount mode, which allows users to stabilize without a tripod. Third, it has a mount to attach the phone to the tripod.

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December 9, 2014

Tech Christmas, Part 1

Wearable Tech is one of those technology terms that makes some sense.  It is a technology device that you wear like clothes or jewelry.  However, it does more than just look pretty. 

Here are a couple of the more popular items that seem to be making lots of news (or advertising) this time of year.

First up, how about a pair of video sunglasses?  Wear them while you are at the beach, snow skiing, hunting, etc. and capture good video of what you are seeing.  Take your new glasses home, hook them up to your computer and show it to all of your friends. 

Look around and you can find them from around $30 to $400 a pair.  You next question is, why the large price range?  As with all technology products the costs of specifications add up.  The less expensive pairs have lower "film" speeds, fewer pixels, cheaper lenses, poor battery rates, etc. 

Fitbit choicesAnother popular item this year is wearable fitness products.  One company that seems to do more than some of the others is "Fitbit" (fitbit.com).  Most of the Fitbit products look like a wrist watch without the watch.  The basic models keep track of the number of steps you have taken, distances, calories burned and stairs you go up and down all day.  They say that at night it measures your sleep quality, helps you learn to sleep better and will even wake you in the morning.      

The more advanced Fitbit models can track your pulse, sync information wirelessly to your computer, has GPS tracking and can send you notifications from your phone and other features. 

There are also a plethora of Smart Watches for Android, iPhone and Windows platforms.  Some are rated very good; however, some are rated not so good.  Research online before you purchase one.  They are fun but somewhat expensive.  As always with new technology the prices will drop, but if you are on the tech-cutting-edge you may want to get one now.  It will show you emails, alarms, weather, and most everything your phone will but it is on your arm.  Guess what?  They also show you the time and date. 

RinglyAnother very recent addition to the wearables is, "Ringly" (ringly.com).  It is similar to the Fitbit and Smart Watches but is smaller and does similar tricks; but is mostly for alerts.  Priced from $195 to $260.

Water Dancing Droplet SpeakersFor the more budget conscious how about a pair of Water Dancing Droplet Speakers? (bit.ly/1vnbQQz)  Once your music starts playing, the speakers will send colorful jets of water up and down in time with the beat. The site is in the UK but they are $39 in US dollars. 

 

HFHiCALL Now for one of my favorites which I have been talking about for a couple of years.  Hi-Fun HFHiCALL phone gloves.  These are fairly normal looking gloves with a Bluetooth connection to your phone.  There is an earpiece in the thumb and a microphone in the pinkie finger.  You got it!  Fold your three middle fingers down and talk to the hand.  These run from $39 to $75 depending on the version, color, etc.  The best prices appear to be on Amazon.

December 2, 2014

June 17, 2014

June 10, 2014

January 20, 2014

2014-01-20 WSVA Show Notes

Welcome to the show for January 2014 and Happy New Year to you and yours!  Below are links to the sites we talked about today and here is the podcast if you missed part of the show.

Have fun looking around.

Tech News
Tablet ownership in U.S. surges
Thirty five percent of Americans own a tablet and 24 percent own and e-reader, according to the latest study from Pew Internet Research.Pew documented a big jump in tablet ownership. In November 2012, 25 percent of Americans owned a tablet {September 2013, 35 percent}. The findings illustrate the democratization of tablet computing and the impact on lower-cost models beyond the larger version of the iPad.

This article sums up the tablet and e-reader ownership breakdown for Americans 16 years old and up. It’s also worth noting that previous Pew studies on tablet ownership in the U.S. started at age 18 and up.


Chromebooks Enjoy 21% of Notebook Sales in 2013
According to NPD (a major national market research company), Chromebook sales hit a total of 1.76 million units between January and November of this year, which is quite a bit of a jump from the 400,000 units that made it out in 2012. In total, NPD’s figures indicate that Chromebooks jumped from virtually nothing in 2012 to 21 percent of all notebook sales in 2013.A recent press release from Amazon itself confirms that Chromebooks took two of the top three spots for “holiday best sellers” – specifically, a Samsung Chromebook and an Acer Chromebook.


Spiders force Toyota to recall 800,000 vehicles
Toyota has announced a voluntary recall of some 803,000 cars due to airbags inadvertently deploying — and the blame appears to be spiders inside the air conditioning units. Toyota’s recall notice states that some 2012 and 2013 Camry, Venza, and Avalon vehicles are experiencing problems with their air conditioning condenser unit housing — apparently, condensation and water has been leaking into the airbag control module. In most cases, that’s just causing the airbag warning light to turn on, but a few times the driver side airbag has deployed without warning.However, according to CNN, the cause of the leak is rather unsettling if you suffer from arachnophobia. Spiders and their webs are apparently responsible for clogging the air conditioner drainage tubes, causing the water spillover onto the airbag control module.


Government Recalls.gov
rercalls.gov
To provide better service in alerting the American people to unsafe, hazardous or defective products, six federal agencies with vastly different jurisdictions have joined together to create www.recalls.gov — a “one stop shop” for U.S. Government recalls.


The Door Lock of the Future is Here
Kwikset Kevo
Kwikset has rolled out the Kevo lock. A door lock that receives a signal from your Smartphone (iPhones only right this minute) or a coded key fob and can open when you touch the lock. If you forget your phone it will open with a regular key that you can find buried somewhere on your key chain.

Check out the video and see what you think, especially with a $219 price tag.


Waze
waze.com
Get the best route, every day, with real–time help from other drivers.

Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Join other drivers in your area who share real-time traffic and road info, saving everyone time and gas money on their daily commute.

Free available to most all types of phone OS’s.


Free Backup Software
Cobian backup, cobiansoft.com
Allway Sync, allwaysync.com
Two good free backup applications for making sure you do not loose your important files.


Browser History
Check Browser History for all Browsers
Sometimes you may want to make a return visit to a website that you saw a day or 20 ago. You may use multiple browsers like many people and do not want to go view the history in each browser. With this app from NirSoft.net you can check the histories of all of your browser at the same time and get a report of what has been seen.

If you have cut off your History feature on your browser you will not be able to retrieve this information.


Your Fingerprint may be your new Password
Biometric Scan Comes to Android 2014
The FIDO Alliance (Fast IDentity Online) has claimed in a new technology news statement, that the first Android handsets with biometric scanners will be released in the first half of next year, to help to remove the dependency on traditional app and web passwords.

This technology news was meant to be available for any web-based service or manufacturer so that traditional text-based passwords can be replaced with these biometric alternatives. Michael Barrett, the PayPal chief information security officer, and the president of FIDO, has explained that the increasing support and power of the group has meant that it will become possible for the mobile internet to become considerably safer to use in a very short period of time. That way, swiping a finger across the smartphone will be all that is required for the access of an individual’s own online accounts, but that they will remain safe from being accessed by anyone else.


If I Die
ifidie.org
This website provides a way for you to write and store letters to your friends. Each letter, when finished, will be stored securely and encrypted with a special password of your choosing. No one will be able to read any of your letters while you’re still alive.

A couple of “safegaurds” are in place to keep them from firing off by mistake.


New ‘Bond gadget’ set to let us breathe under water sunshinecoastdaily.com.au Bond-like rebreather
It is the James Bond gadget on everyone’s wishlist.

A South Korean designer has taken inspiration from the movie spy’s “rebreather”, which allows the user to breathe under water.

Clipped on a diving face mask, the Triton device acts like a fish gill to extract oxygen from water so that the user can keep breathing while under the sea.


That is all for today.  See you again next month on Monday, February 17.

Keep those cards and letter emails coming!

September 30, 2013

2013-09-30 WSVA Show Notes

Welcome back for all of the news and other items we discussed today on the show.  The podcast from this show will not be available.  Sorry but there were technical difficulties which I have nothing to do with and, “I know nothing” about it.

Have fun!

Ron

Tech News
The declining PC sales has found new hopes with the arrival of Chromebooks and Windows touchscreen notebooks.
The release of these new laptops from rival companies helped the PC market achieve sales above than expected during a period where kids and teens go back to schooling. The rise in sales can still continue up to the holiday season according to some analysts. The statistics also show that the PC market still has a solid base and is not nearing to be a dying market despite increase in smartphone and tablet shares.


Get you Renoir, Chagall, Salvador Dali and all the other major Artists work at Amazon.com
Amazon’s new Fine Art store features paintings, drawings, mixed media works, photography and art prints. From new artists to famous artists the Fine Art store features artworks and paintings for sale from a multitude of periods and styles including: Pop art, Abstract art, Modern art, Contemporary art, and much more.

They focus on highlighting a wide variety of artists, painters, Contemporary artists, Renaissance artists, Modern and Post-Modern artists;find an artist that fits your style in our Fine Arts store. The Fine Arts store features many types of artwork including: canvas prints, abstract paintings, oil paintings, drawings, photography, mixed media works, and collages to add to your home, art gallery, professional workspace or other. As we continue to grow our collections of artworks, the Fine Arts store is sure to have something for everybody whether you are an experienced collector or looking to find your first piece of art.


Discrete Pants Checker
YouTube.com
Your fly is checked automatically to see if accidentally left down…oops.


Google Chromecast
google.com
Get started in 3 easy steps: plug Chromecast into any HDTV, connect it to WiFi, then send videos and more from your smartphone, tablet or laptop to your TV with the press of a button.


Moxie Showerhead
kohler.com
Your music. Your shower. Your time. To chill out. To sing. Refresh. Energize. Escape. The Moxie showerhead + wireless speaker delivers up to 7 hours of music, news and more by pairing wirelessly with your device enabled with Bluetooth® technology. Just you + water + clean, clear sound.


Android Device Manager

Google Site, no need to install anything
The Double Clicks article with more info will be available tomorrow morning.
Security for on-the-go users.

  • Locate it.
  • Ring it.
  • Lock it.
  • Erase it.

 


See you next month!

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