Firefox just got faster. Two times faster. This past week, Firefox updated to Firefox Quantum (Version 57.0.) There are two versions – one for regular browsers and one for developers. It is built on a new engine for better and faster page loading. It also will use less memory than previously, and they say it is 30% lighter than Chrome.
It has built in privacy modes. You can block even hidden trackers by turning on tracking protection. When you block the ads and scripts that are bogging you down, the page loads even faster.
If there’s a page you want to see later, you can save it to Pocket to view later. There is a library where it will place these articles as well as your bookmarks. You can search with other search engines with just a click. You can also customize it with themes or placement of icons for your tools and addons. You can take screenshots without adding an extension – it’s built right in.
Last week, Amazon announced new devices. Among the new devices are the Echo Show, costing $229.99. This is a more triangular device with a screen. It allows you to make video calls as well. They are offering $100 off if you buy 2 devices with code SHOW2PACK. You can actually watch flash news briefings, see lyrics of songs, security cameras, just to name a few.
Other new devices are a shorter new Echo, the Echo Plus and the 4K Fire TV device. Also announced was the Echo Connect, Echo Buttons, and BMW partnership. The Echo Connect is an accessory to link Echo to home phone line. It costs $35 and is coming later in the year.
If you already own an Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Show, effective immediately you can make phone calls. It is supposed to work with your land line or your mobile phone.
Echo Show at Amazon.com
The Victor crew just updated their new iPad to iOS 11. Here are some first findings and reactions.
After the initial update, if you had fingerprint access enabled, you will still have to use your signin to get in. You will then need to enter your iCloud password.
You can have the dock hidden but pop it up from the bottom at any time.
You swipe the dock up from the bottom and continue the swipe to show the App Switcher. The App Switcher has a new design as well and shows all open apps in a grid pattern rather than having to scroll through to find open apps. You can still swipe an app in this grid pattern to hard close or reset an app.
The dock has a folder that shows recently opened documents. It also allows you to browse documents. You can add your iCloud, and if you have the apps – Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and any other file managers you may have downloaded within this folder area. Once you enable these drives, you may need to log into them again to access them there. You can also tag files with colors.
The dock has a separator bar. To the right of the bar it shows the recently opened apps and to the left of it, your permanently set apps. If you move an app from the right to the left, it seems to permanently disappear from the home screen.
The App Store has a new design.
Another change is the keyboard. Usually you click on the 123 to access numbers and some symbols. Now you can just pull down on the key that shows the numbers or symbols to access without changing the keyboard.
If you go to settings, you will see you can choose some apps to show up in the control center all the time.
See SpotMini run! In this TedTalk by Marc Raibert of BostonDynamics gives a demo of how far robotics have come. He talks about dynamic mobility, balance, and mobile manipulation. He has a few demonstrations on video and live to show some things they have done to meet the goals of using robots.
In one demonstration, they show some examples of what might challenge the robots if faced with some obstacles keeping them from what they are trying to do. For his live demonstration he shows the different movements of SpotMini – a dog-like robot. He shows on the screen what the dog robot is seeing and how the robot plans where and how it will step.
So what is a bliki? The Victor crew came across this work and wondered. Well, in short terms it is a mashup of BLOG and WIKI. Blog is already a shortening of weB LOG. WIKI is a Hawaiian word meaning quick. So let’s look at all these terms.
What is a blog?
A blog is posts put on a site diary-style. People use them to report news, rant, keep journals, etc. They are quite popular. If you have a blog, you are probably the only who posts on it. Some blogs may have guest authors contributing or employees if it is a news blog. There are many popular blog softwares out there such as WordPress, Blogger, Typepad. In the case of WordPress, you can either use their blog at wordpress.com or download the software at wordpress.org and install it yourself using your own domain.
What is a wiki?
A wiki is usually run on wiki software. It generally doesn’t have just one owner or leader but rather is open to the public to edit or to a group of users to edit. This is not as carefully planned out since anyone can contribute. There may be misspellings, poor grammar, etc. Wikipedia is probably the most popular wiki. Wikis may also not be reliable as to its actual content as we are all humans and have our own opinions and experiences that may influence our contributions.
What is a bliki?
So now we come to explaining this. Some explanations are that it is a blog with wiki support, or a blog that allows others to edit and contribute. This goes beyond the usual comments only you would find on a regular blog. There are wiki plugins for WordPress.
By now, many have already chosen to update to the newest Creators Update for their Windows 10 machine. You can see what version you are running by going to Start >> Settings >> System >> About. The newest version is 1703. Before installing this version, you will be asked to review your privacy settings so you are not giving out any information you don’t want to. They will bring up a page of privacy settings to review. The privacy settings don’t go into effect until you actually install the Creators Update.
You can always visit your privacy settings after the update to further set your privacy preferences by going to Start >> Settings >> Privacy.
Here are some nice features you can only use with the Microsoft Edge Browser:
You can save tabs for later
You can pin tabs to your start menu
You can preview all open tabs either all at once or one at a time
You can sweep all your open tabs aside to use later
You can pin pages to open next time you come back
Imagine your sitting on a blanket on the grass with your family nearby. You get ready to watch the Fourth of July drones? Ha! So some are re-imagining see the Fourth of July with drones. So what’s the upside of this? No smoke. No explosions. No air pollution. Maybe you can hear the music they could be flying to. May be even cheaper to run drones than to blow up 30 tons of fireworks for an eighteen minute display. The drones can be choreographed into amazing displays.
Now maybe instead of “Intel Inside” we can see “Intel Outside” as they develop this. Find out more.
There are a lot of ways these days to listen to music these days. There are many streaming services these days. Most people stream or use their mp3 players. There are also home devices like Amazon Echo, Google Home, or coming soon, the Apple HomePod.
The Victor crew even knows someone who still orders CDs to play in their car? But what will happen when he buys a newer car? Many newer cars are starting to abandon them. It has been predicted that up to 46% of new cars will not have CD players by 2021.
You can use a lot of data if you stream from your car (if you don’t have a Wi-Fi service) so you’ll have to rely on your mp3 player, satellite radio, or built-in radio. If you insist on a CD player, you can purchase a portable one that could plug in with your auxilliary cable. Perhaps you can purchase a new car kit with a CD player.
We sure have come a long way from just AM radio. Next came FM. Remember the 8-track players of the 70s? Then they went away to make way for the cassette. Then the piles of cassettes were replaced by piles of plastic discs. Life is getting simpler where you don’t have to store all the discs, cassettes, or 8-tracks anymore.
When the Victor crew was notified of the Windows 10 Creators Update, we scratched our heads. What in the world is that? Why would I need it?
There is a new Gaming category in Settings. When in game mode it will make the experience smoother.
You can use the new Paint 3D app to make 3D drawings along with 360 degree view.
There is feature that allows you keep open tabs by setting them aside so you don’t have to favorite them but put them aside for small projects you may be working on.
Microsoft Edge becomes the default eBook reader. You can customize the eBook as you are reading it, highlight parts, set bookmarks. You can also change the screen for night use.
There is a setting for Mixed Reality that works with HoloLens VR headsets.
Plan and measure trips on Maps. You can share them with others.
There’s a new privacy dashboard to allow you to set your own security settings.
Mini View allows you to keep a video in a small window.
The first of these updates were rolled out April 11, 2017.
For those of us waiting for a new iPad, last week Apple announced the new iPad. It wasn’t really given a name and it isn’t an iPad Air. It has a 9.7-inch Retina display with an A9 processor. It comes in just 2 sizes: 32GB and 128GB. (We really wanted a 64GB but had to get the 128GB.) It has iOS 10.3 and Touch ID. It comes in silver, gold, or space gray and costs $29 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model and $459 for the 32GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model. For the 128GB model it’s $100 more each respectively.
Ordering began March 24 and shipping begins on March 31. Read more here. Don’t forget to back up your old device through the cloud or iTunes so you will get back all your apps!
Remember that email you sent telling someone you’d send them something by Friday? Oh. You forgot. Well now you won’t … with Cortana. Cortana can now help you remember these things. She will give you reminders.
Just launched last week, Cortana’s reminders work on Windows 10 and will eventually support Android and iOS. It works with Outlook.com and Office 365 work and school addresses with support for other email services coming soon.
You can also have Cortana add a reminder to your list by talking to her. Unfortunately, you cannot link them all yet if you have an Office 365 Home edition. Hopefully that is in the future as well.
There’s a new phone around called the Graalphone. But it’s much more than a phone. It’s a tiny laptop, it’s a tablet, it’s a smartphone, it’s a 3D camera.
As a tiny laptop it has a 7-inch screen, a real keyboard, and a Windows based PC. As a tablet it’s an Android OS tablet. The tiny smartphone has a 5-inch screen (not so tiny). As a camera, it’s 2D or 3D with Zoom 5x and Xenon flash.
It will be available later this year. The Victor crew will keep you posted…
Google just revamped the Gmail app for iOS devices today. Why use Gmail app for your Gmail on iOS instead of the native email app? In our opinion, it just works better with Gmail.
Now with its new look, it’s even better. There are quick links to Reply and Forward on the bottom that make it easier to respond. They are calling this the biggest overhaul in four years. This new look makes it more like the Gmail app on Android.
Here are some of the new features:
Undo Send: just like you can on desktop, you can stop the mail mistakes before that mail get sent.
Search Faster: they have sped up instant results and can correct spelling mistakes.
Swipe to archive or delete: In settings, you can choose to have swiped emails either delete or archive into ‘all mail’.
Google has also updated Google Calendar for iOS.
Month view and week in landscape view so you can see your schedule in a glance.
Spotlight search support for Apple’s Spotlight Search.
Alternate calendars – you can add Lunar, Islamic, Hindu calendars alongside your current calendar.
In August, Microsoft pushed out the Windows 10 Anniversary update. So what’s new? Here are just a few of the new things you will find:
Cortana has had an update to compete with the other assistants out there. You can call her from the lock screen now. She can also push items to and from your mobile device (and is also available on Android.)
There was a hidden dark theme that the anniversary edition brought out into the open in settings.
The Edge browser will now support extensions. It will use Chrome-style extensions and can be installed through the Windows Store.
You will no longer see your email on the lock screen (unless you tell it to.)
Better battery options – can turn off applications temporarily if they use a lot of resources and aren’t currently being used.
Apps can take over when you visit a website.
The Victor Crew
You may have already heard that the new Samsung Galaxy Note7 is having issues. They claim the problem is an issue with the battery cell. They reported 35 cases as of September 1st of these phones catching fire. With 2.5 million sold that is still a small percentage. Samsung will replace your device with a new one.
The Galaxy Note7 was just released August 19.
The Victor Crew
Did you know there was something called “We the Geeks” on the White House website. The Victor crew came across this one day. So what is it?
We the Geeks is a series of Google+ Hangouts that features the future of science, technology, and innovation in America. They meet with Administration officials and private-sector contributors. You can join in the conversations using #WeTheGeeks and sign up for updates for upcoming hangouts.
Here is one of the last hangouts they streamed:
More info: https://www.whitehouse.gov/we-the-geeks
There’s a standalone app called PassLok. It will encrypt your email on your device or in your (Chrome) browser. It can be used as a webapp, on Android, Chrome, or iOS. It works through private and public keys when you send an email. Only you should be able to open the encrypted email (as long as you don’t give the key out). You can watch the short video below to learn the specifics of how it works.
You can learn how to use it here.
If you do own a Kindle from Amazon, the Victor crew has some news for you. You will need to make sure you update it by tomorrow, March 22, 2016. What happens if you don’t? You will have to do it manually after that in order to access the Kindle Store or sync with the cloud. You won’t be able to download your books.
This is the warning you will receive from Amazon:
Your Kindle is unable to connect at this time. Please make sure you are within wireless range and try again. If the problem persists, please restart your Kindle from the Menu in Settings and try again. If you see this message on your device on or after March 22, you will need to manually install the latest software update for your device. Go to Fire & Kindle Software Updates for more details.
Here is the page you can find all the details: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-6?ie=UTF8&nodeId=201994710&qid=1458317761&sr=1-6
You can get USB ports integrated right into your outlets. Jody Victor‘s crew found an article that shows a lot of information about the correct way to wire one if you choose to do it yourself.
They suggest you get stick with UL-rated outlets not only for your safety but for the safety of your devices. They range in price from $20-$40. You can find them at The Home Depot or Lowe’s or probably most any hardware/electrical supply store.
Here is the article: http://www.howtogeek.com/244537/how-to-upgrade-your-outlets-for-usb-charging/
As time goes on and we approach July 29, 2016, it appears that Windows is getting more aggressive to get people to upgrade to 10. It is free up until that date on the device you have it on. On some systems, they have even started the download process to make it easier and faster for when you do upgrade.
If you have automatic upgrades enabled, you might find your machine already updated – and you didn’t even initiate it. If you aren’t ready for the upgrade, make sure to disable automatic updates and do them manually. Even doing them manually you will have to look at your list of updates and uncheck the Windows 10 upgrade to get the regular security updates for your version.
Here is some more information:
Upgrade Now or Upgrade Tonight: How Microsoft Has Aggressively Pushed Windows 10 to Everyone
Now you don’t have to wait for your coffee pot to finish brewing. (Or in our case wait 12 hours for cold brew.)
The Jody Victor crew found a gadget on IndieGoGo called Joule. It is a caffeinated bracelet. The bracelet comes in three colors: black, red, and blue. You put a patch on the bracelet and the caffeine will enter through your skin. They say it will not stain your skin. One patch is equal to a cup of coffee. It’s kind of like wearing a nicotine patch. The site goes on to give reasons why you should do this and gives the “science” behind it.
Find out more:
Back in the 60s, Mattel had a toy called the Thing-Maker. You poured the Plastigoop into molds, put the molds in a special oven and out popped your own wiggly creepy crawlers, mini-dragons, toy soldiers, or for the girls: flowers.
Mattel has recently resurrected ThingMaker but as a 3-D printer. With their new version, there are a lot more colors and they have sought to make 3-D printing easier to do. There is an app already available so you can see the items that are ready to be made. You can change out the parts you can choose from to customize your item. You can choose colors, textures, backgrounds, and take a photo to keep. From the app, you can send the items to the printer. It will tell you how long it will take to print and how much the item will weigh when done.
Sometimes when you watch TV, you lose your remote. Or your working on your laptop and with you had a mouse. Well, Unified Remote has ways to turn your smart phone into a universal remote for your TV, set-top box, music player, or computer.
They have a free version with limited functionality or pay a one-time fee of $3.99 for the full version. The free version has 18 free remotes, can connect with WiFi or Bluetooth, has password protection and encryption, allows you to control your computer keyboard and mouse, works with 3rd party keyboards. You can place shortcuts of your favorite remotes on your Android homescreen.
The Pro version has all the above and also has over 40 premium remotes and allows you to be able to use custom remotes, you can view your computer screen on yur device (Windows, Mac, Android – with iOS coming soon), and has an extended keyboard with cmd, ctrl, alt, etc. for Android, you can create customizable widgets, pin quick actions to notification area, use Google voice control, generate tags, URIs, or QR images for your favorite actions, Send IR commands to TV sets, Works on Android smartwatch. In iOS you can pin your remotes to the notification center.
All of this sounds intriguing. Although the Victor crew hasn’t tried this yet, we will and will report back what we find.
Google is adding a new feature Google Maps on your Android. It is called Driving mode. You can find out if traffic conditions are okay to get on the road or if you should wait for a while. Get ETAs, traffic updates, quickest routes, and even gas prices. It looks at your recently searched destinations. To add a driving shortcut, you will need to add the driving shortcut icon found in widgets. The feature can also be accessed through the sidebar menu of Google Maps. Tap the sidebar menu and select the “start driving” option.
If you’ve already preset home and work in Google Maps, you’ll see ETAs when you’re likely headed in those directions. On the Galaxy S5, I found the Maps and Driving mode widget under Maps. I added my home destination and it made a shortcut icon called Home. See image.