What dad doesn’t like tech! The Victor crew thought they would look for ideas that are out there just in time for Dad’s special Day this week. This list is not exhaustive but maybe it will spur something you hadn’t thought of.
TV streaming device:
Charging dock for all his gadgets
“It’s robot fighting time!” That’s what you hear at the of BattleBots. People make robots and fight each other in an arena.
The show started on Comedy Central in 2000 and ran for five seasons ending in December 2002. It was briefly revived in 2015 for six episodes on ABC. It ran for a seventh season in 2016. It then found itself on both Discovery Channel and Science channel for its eighth season just this month.
Many of the robots are back again. They are run by engineers, MIT students, plumbers, just to name a few. BattleBots is an offshoot of Robot Wars. When Robot Wars disappeared, some of the robot builders left behind started BattleBots, Inc.
Just like other matches, there are weight classes. Lightweight is about 60 pounds, Middleweight is 120 pounds, Heavyweight is 220 pounds, and Superheavyweight is 340 pounds. They last three minutes per round and are done in a 48′ x 48′ glass box. Not only do the robots battle each other but there are a few obstacles in the arena as well such as a sledgehammer in the corner, spinners and spike strips and in floor, augurs that roll around on the sides that opponents try to push the robots into.
Some contestants have mini-bots that roam around too. Sometimes you will see sparks, flames, smoking, or even tears (from the drivers.) It’s a fun watch so try to see it sometime.
Most of us have heard of Google Glass. There is another type of smart eyeglasses that you can get. They look more like regular eyeglasses. You can use head motions to show or dismiss displays. It uses something called VCSEL (vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser) to shine into your eyes and projects to the back of your retina (retinal projection). It is made by Intel.
You can see the text just below your usual line of site. They are working to perfect them to be able to show you what you want when you want it. Maybe you are near a couple restaurants. It can show you the yelp review. Or you ask Alexa for a recipe – you can see it on your glasses. They look pretty lightweight next to Google Glass. Only you know you are reading them.
The Amazon and Whole Foods deal going through today is leaving its mark in a lot of different ways. Whole Foods prices are going down on a lot of items in an effort to allow more people to enjoy the benefits of organic foods. You may start seeing some Amazon devices on Whole Food shelves and Whole Food items on Amazon’s website.
Prices have been slashed on many items already. For example in New York it was reported that organic fuji apples went from $3.49/lb to $1.99/lb, avocados dropped $0.80 per lb, organic rotisserie chicken dropped $4.00/lb, and organic bananas went from $0.99 to $0.69 per lb.
The Amazon devices like Echo and Echo dot found in the Whole Foods stores are the same discounted prices found on their website right now.
The Victor crew plans to shop at one later this week and will report back any other findings.
You’ve heard the term megapixel many times especially with regards to digital cameras. But what does the term actually mean and is bigger better? That’s what the Victor crew wants to know. Here is what we found out.
Early digital cameras had a poor resolution and didn’t compare to regular film cameras when they first came out. Some were only about one-third to half a megapixel. So a single megapixel is one million pixels. If you are using a one megapixel camera, you will have one million pixels in the image. So what is a good size? It depends on what you are going to do with the photos. If you are only going to view them online, one to three megapixels is fine. If you want 6×4 prints, you will need at least 2 megapixels. For larger 10×8 prints you would need to go to five megapixels and even larger 14×11 prints you will need to bump that up to seven megapixels.
How do you get away with a smaller size on a computer? Most monitors aren’t usually more than 2000×1000 pixels so that is only two megapixels. If you have a 4K monitor, that is eight megapixels. So you can get away with about a 6 megapixel camera in most cases. More pixels, however will give you cropping room. You do not have to turn in your camera for more pixels.
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.
Nothing gives a more sinking feeling than losing your keys. You’ve searched and searched and still can’t find them. Well, there are small finders that will help you find them. Just add these small trackers to your key ring and download the app to your phone and you’re good to go.
There are several on the market. Some work better with iOS than Android so you need to be careful of what you choose. Some even have a backward function where you can push a button on the tracker to find your phone. Some come in multiple sets and different colors.
You can find them on amazon.com as well as your local stores such as Best Buy. There are so many brands out there you will have to read the reviews and decide for yourself.
So you get a new iPhone, Android phone, iPad, tablet, iPod … Do you need to purchase a screen protector for it too? The Victor crew wanted to explore this after having seen a protector be the only thing that saved the phone of someone they know and talking to someone else who said they never get a screen protector.
To begin with, there are different types of protectors – plastic and glass. Glass is the pricier of the two. It can also be tempered glass. You’ll find all different type like anti-glare, carbon fiber, high definition, etc. Where do you begin?
Whether or not you get a screen protector is personal. It can help with scratches and longevity of the device. Are you hard on your device? Where do you usually keep your phone? Are you clumsy? If your phone is made with gorilla-glass you won’t have to worry.
Just be sure to get the right type. The cheaper ones may protect somewhat for scratches but maybe not as much if dropped. Thermoplastic is more durable but may not be as effective as a screen guard. Tempered glass has several layers and can absorb some shock. A glass cover may shatter on impact but your screen may still be protected. You may want to go further and find an anti-glare cover.
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!
The Jody Victor crew found a cool little toy you can get for your fledling techie on KickStarter. It is called the LittleArm 2C. It’s a mini Arduino Robot Arm for STEM or hobby. Arduino is an open-source electronics platform. STEM means Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, so it is a teaching tool in these disciplines.
This arm comes out of a previous project that was made into a kit through 3D printing. They sent out their original kits and took in all the feedback. They came up with this new LittleArm 2C as a result of the feedback. There is also an app you can use to control the arm’s movements. You’ll have to visit the page to see all it can do!
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…
It seems there are a bunch of different lists of gift-giving this year. If you are giving tech this year, here are a few lists the Victor crew found on the web:
CNN Tech – this has a short video that shows different tech available along with some tips for different types of tech.
The Inquirer – features a list for the gamer and gadget fan in your life.
CNet – video of the top 5 gadget gifts under $100.
Popular Mechanics – has a gallery of top picks for this season’s gift giving.
Ever need more storage on your devices but not sure what to use? There’s Google Drive, OneDrive, DropBox, and iCloud for just a few. Did you know you could have your own cloud in your house? There are NAS (network attached storage) devices you can buy for your home so you can access your files. You can access the storage on your phone or tablet through an app and save or backup your files this way. You can even access your files when away from your house.
There is a public folder that you will need to be careful of what you put in. You can even add your other cloud accounts to the app to access them all in one place. Western Digital makes one called MyCloud. Seagate makes a Personal Cloud as well.
Google came out with the Google Pixel phone October 20. It is being touted as the best alternative to Apple iPhone. It has the latest Android flavor – Nougat. Although it does have a headphone port (unlike iPhone 7), it is not waterproof, it has a nice camera and Google Assistant. One nice thing that it comes with is unlimited storage for photos and videos.
Here is their video about it.
Now the bad:
This past weekend, some Chinese hackers were able to hack into the Google Pixel in under a minute at Pwnfest, a hacking competition in Seoul, South Korea. Qihoo 360, a team of white-hat hackers exploited it in under 60 seconds. They won a cash prize of $120,000. They ended up with $520,000 total after some other exploits. Of course, Google is working on fixing their security. This is the team that exploted a Tesla Model S two years ago to control lock, sunroof, and traction controls. Read more here.
If you have a PC whether desktop or laptop, do you shut it down or sleep or hibernate? What is the difference?
When you shut down, you need to save your programs before closing them. The next time you need to use it you need to wait for the boot up process.
This mode will preserve your session. You can close your lid on a laptop and it will do this. On a desktop you can choose to sleep. When you come back everything will be the way you left it. Sleep is a low-power mode. The current state will be saved in RAM. The only power drawn is to keep RAM on. It will resume where you left off when you power back on.
Hibernation mode works a little bit differently. It saves your computer’s state to the hard drive and shuts down completely. There will be no additional power drawn like sleep mode. When you power back up, the data it loaded to the disk will load back into RAM and resume where you stopped. It will take longer to resume to where you were but not as long as a regular boot up. Hibernate is the almost the same as shutting down but your work will be preserved without shutting it down.
Most laptops are set up to sleep when you close the lid. You can customize in your settings how long it be before it goes into sleep mode. In settings you can also set up your power button to put your computer into sleep mode. Laptops may be configured already to go into hibernation mode after so many hours in sleep mode.
Find out more.
The Victor crew
The Victor crew found a few interesting articles this week:
For those who wondered why their laptops have gone through their battery so quickly, Microsoft has tested different browsers. With each browser, they browsed Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, and Amazon. Here’s what they found:
Microsoft Edge lasted 7 hours 22 minutes on Surface Book system
Chrome lasted 4 hours 19 minutes
Firefox lasted 5 hours 9 minutes
Opera battery-saving mode lasted 6 hours 18 minutes.
There’s a new gadget that allows you to play your original Nintendo Gameboy cartridges on your phone. It costs $59 and works on Android phones now. iPhone versions will be out by December. It is made by Hyperkin.
With smart home technology growing leaps and bounds, there are more entry points for hackers to try to get your information. One thing they are now attacking is smart TV sets. Most security options have been focused on computers and smartphones so TVs have been neglected thus far. This article has some steps you can take to help prevent this.
The Victor crew wants to share some new things coming up from Google.
Google is unveiling the Google assistant. They say the assistant is two-way conversational. It helps buy movie tickets on the go, will find a restaurant for you to dine before the movie, help navigate to the theater. It is supposed to work seamlessly across devices.
Google Home is a voice-activated gadget for your home. You can enjoy entertainment, manage your tasks, answer questions from Google using conversational speech. Just like the assistant, it can play a song, check your flight but also can turn on lights, set an oven timer.
Allo and Duo
Allo is a new messaging app with the Google assistant, so it allows you to interact in your chats. It includes Smart Reply that will suggest responses based on the messages.
Duo is a companion that allows one-to-one video calling.
Learn more here.
iPhone has some information that makes it easier to switch from Android to iOS. Jody Victor‘s crew found that the Apple site has this guide you can follow.
Although if you are used to Google and Gmail and have used an Android phone, then you know that all you really need to do is log in and all your stuff is there: mail, calendar, contacts. Nothing can be easier. But if you decide to switch to iPhone, they want to make it easier for you.
Apple has apps you put on your Android phone and your new iPhone and it will move your contacts, message history, camera photos and videos, web bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars, and free apps*. Your content transfers over Wi-Fi through a private network created when it finds your Android device. You will need a security code to begin tranferring.
Of course you can do it the sissy way and have the Apple Store do it for you, but don’t you want to get your “geek” on?
*With valid iTunes account.
Last week, the Victor crew discussed light bulbs. This week we will speak more about specialty LED light bulbs.
There are special LED light bulbs you can purchase that you can control through an app. Not only can you control the brightness but you can control the color. These light bulbs are a lot more spendy.
LIFX makes one you purchase for $39.99 each. They are the equivalent to a 60W bulb. With the app you can schedule the times they are on, change the color or brightness, or create your lighting schemes. They integrate with Nest, Amazon Echo and few other smart home devices. This brand started as a Kickstarter project.
Another one is by ilumi. It is a Bluetooth enabled bulb that can be controlled through an app as well. Wi-fi is not required for the bulb itself. This bulb will set you back $59.99. You can choose settings like Daylight, Sunlight, Natural White, Early Morning, Sunrise, Warm White. Change colors and brightness as well. This bulb got its start when the developers won first place that came with $5,000 prize in the annual Business Idea Competition at the University of Texas in Dallas in 2010. The prize money helped fund their company. In 2013 they used Indiegogo and Kickstarter and raised $200,000. In 2014, they went on Shark Tank and their company was further helped by Mark Cuban.
There are many different kinds of light bulbs on the market today. Jody Victor‘s crew will discuss the 3 major types: incandescent, LED, and CFL.
The we are most familiar with is the incandescent bulb. They usually have a tungsten filament enclosed in glass that has an inert gas in them. Electric current passes through the tungsten filament and heats it to a temperature that produces light. About 90% of their energy is given off as heat. This type of bulb is being slowly phased for more energy efficient types. These bulbs are being phased out in the typical wattage we are used to. (For example 100W, 60W, etc.) Through some loopholes incandescent light bulbs are still being made in equivalent amounts. Instead of 60W, you can buy a 43W which will still have the same amount of brightness. They are using different gases as well (mostly halogen) which is why they may cost a little more, but they burn more efficiently.
CFL (Compact Fluorescent)
CFL bulbs are those curly type bulbs you see that will still fit your light sockets. The problem with these bulbs is they contain mercury. They are also known to cause anxiety, dizziness, seizures, inability to concentrate, and migraines. They also can contain phenol, naphthalene, and styrene which are known carcinogens. They are so toxic they cannot even be disposed if in the trash. They are made of glass tubes filled with gas and mercury. The light is produced when the mercury has electricity running between the two electrodes in the base of the bulb. This produces ultraviolet light and heat. The UV light becomes visible light when it strikes a phosphor coating on the inside of the bulb.
LED (Light-Emitting Diode)
These are the most costly of the energy-efficient bulbs. They also last the longest and are the moste energy-efficient and burn the coolest. These are the same as the bulbs you already have lighting up your clocks, some Christmas lights, and traffic signals for just a few. They are considered solid state and is silicone based. There is positive and negative material sandwiched beside each other (called a p-n junction). This type of bulb does not radiate heat. An Energy Star rating will guarantee the color requirements, output minimums, compliance with more than 20 industry stantdards, testing, and 3-year minimum warranty.
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/
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.
A chinese company has developed the Ehang 184 AAV and it made it’s debut at CES last week. This is an autonomous aerial vehicle. Think drone. Think big enough to ride in. It is powered by electricity only so it is 100% green.
It is made to fly at 11,000 feet high, with 142-horsepower and will cruise at 62 mph. The 184 stands for 1-person 8-propellers 4-wings. It has air conditioning and a small trunk big enough to carry a backpack.
Sadly, here in the United States we may never get to ride one because of FAA laws. Even so, it will most likely cost $200-300,000.