Amazon Echo for your Car

Amazon now has Echo Auto for your car. Right now we see it listed for half price.

What you need for it to work:
Compatible vents
Bluetooth or AUX input
Smartphone with data plan
Alexa app on your phone
Compatible apps for music streaming, maps

Since this is made for your car, it is designed to attach to your vents and comes with a vent mount. There are 8 microphones which can be switched off for privacy. Voice control the Echo Auto through the Alexa app to stream audiobooks, podcasts, or music from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, SiriusXM, iHeartRadio, other radio stations.

Use Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze to get directions. Find gas stations, check the news.

Amazon Echo Auto

Car doesn’t have Bluetooth?

If you car is older, you might try to add Bluetooth through an adapter. There are several out there you can look at to see what will work for you. Some require an AUX input and/or USB port. Some even come with USB ports if you don’t have them.

But why add Bluetooth to an older car? You might want to stream music. You may even want to use it for hands-free phone calls. There are a few available that will allow you to stream through your car stereo speakers or you can get a Bluetooth speaker that will cost a bit more.

https://www.cnet.com/how-to/ways-to-add-bluetooth-to-an-old-car/

Apple iPhone 11

You probably already know from the Apple announcement event last week that they have already announced the upcoming iPhone series 11. There is the 11 and the 11 Pro.

So what makes the new phone different? Let’s delve into the new features.

iPhone 11: The iPhone 11 has a new dual-camera system – this gives you the option of wide or ultra-wide shots. The iPhone 11 will handle up to 17 hours of video playback. The iPhone 11 has the same 6.1″ Liquid Retina HD display as previous models. It is made from aerospace-grade aluminum. It comes in light purple, yellow, mint green, black, white, and (PRODUCT)RED.

iPhone 11 Pro: The iPhone 11 Pro will have a third camera for telephoto shots in addition to the wide and ultra-wide cameras. The Pro version will handle up to 20 hours of video playback. The iPhone 11 Pro comes in two sizes featuring 5.8″ or 6.5″ Super Retina XDR display. It is made from stainless steel. The colors are midnight green, silver, space gray, or gold.

Find out more here: https://www.apple.com/iphone/

Here is a video from The Verge highlighting the event:

Noise-Canceling Headphones

How do noise-canceling headphones work? How did they come about. In the 1970s, Dr. Amar Bose was on a flight and was frustrated with the noise he was hearing and worked on making a way to cancel out the noise. Several years and millions of dollars later, he was able to create noise-canceling headphones.

Sometimes noise will leak through because they works better where there is consistent noise, like on an airplane, subway, or train.

Find out more in this video from TechInsider:

Need Help Knitting?

MIT researchers have created an AI that can do your knitting for you! Create your own design and have it made for you. Even if you have never knitted a stitch before, with this system you can create hats, gloves, or whatever you want. Even patterned designs. You can create a template for the computer to follow.

The only missing ingredient is the joy you can get from making each stitch by hand…

Source

More about Apple iOS 13

iOS 13 is coming out in the fall. But it is made for your iPhone. The iPad will be getting its own OS. So what will be different?

There will be “light mode” and “dark mode”. You can time when you want to use dark or light mode as well.

They are updating their “Apple Maps” app in hopes people will start using it. They hope the map is actually fixed. Also they are adding a street view. You can set favorites and collections so easily get to them in a list.

iOS will have more privacy by allowing you to grant access to apps just one time. You can even have the app ask each time so they can’t track you.

Reminders will have more sort features. You can tag people to your reminders so you can easily remember if someone else needs to be contacted.

More integration with health app to your Apple Watch.

You can Find My … device or… friend.

More photo editing options.

Apps should launch faster, and other speed improvements.

Better volume control.

Swipe on the keyboard – type one-handed without taking your finger off keyboard.

More emojis that are customizeable.

You can download the beta now but it is recommended to wait until the final version comes out.

Rubik’s Cube

The Rubik’s Cube has been around since the 70s. Invented by a Hungarian professor named Erno Rubik, his first prototype was made in 1974. When he had built his first cube, it took him a month to solve it. He got his patent in 1975 for his “Magic Cube”. In 1979, it was presented to toy fairs in various countries.

Tom Kremer, a toy specialist with a passion, convinced the Ideal Toy Company to pick this up as a product. The first thing they did was change the name from Magic Cube to Rubik’s Cube and launched it in 1980. By 1981 it was a world-wide craze. Through the years it has been reworked and made even faster. In 2017 they released the Rubik’s Speedcube.

They have a step-by-step guide on solving the Rubik’s cube.

Here is Business Insider’s Guide:

Do you want a Narwal?

Not the mammal. The robot mop and vacuum. What sets this apart from other robotic floor cleaners is that it is self cleaning. It has Lidar Navigation Technology to map your floorplan. You can use the app to schedule and customize your cleanings. When it is done cleaning your floor, it will return to its base and clean the mops and dry them.

It has capacity enough to clean a 3200 sq ft floor. Right now it is still in KickStarter – it now has far outreached its goal. You can still sign up for the early bird version.

Update – new video:

Do you have a Chromebook?

Some of us may have purchased a Chromebook. It may have been out of curiosity or maybe you just wanted a lightweight “laptop” to just scan your email and surf the Internet. There really isn’t much more you can do with it. If you are “techie” you can install a flavor of Linux to run along with the Chrome OS. The thing about a Chromebook is that the OS is Chromium.

When you do anything on a Chromebook, it is all in the cloud – nothing is on the computer. Now, when it updates, you just get a little message that says to push a button to restart and it comes right back, you log into Chrome again and it’s updated very quickly.

There are limitations on what you can do with them. For instance, I can stream Netflix through the Chrome browser on it, but Prime Video won’t play. The only place you can save files is in your Google Drive.

Google has an Auto Update Policy about their updates. As technology advances and hardware becomes old or outdated, they cannot guarantee the software updates will run any longer. With that in mind, they have set a time limit on updates for Chromebooks. If you have a Chromebook, you can check the date here. It has a list by Manufacturer then Model. I happen to have an HP Chromebook 14, which looks like I cannot get updates past June this year. If it still runs, then that’s fine. If not, I can always install Linux over it and see if that will run.

Kids and Alexa

There are a lot of funny videos of kids trying to get Alexa to do things. Sometimes they are hard for even humans to understand so they are harder for Alexa to understand.

Here is a boy asking Alexa a math question from this past week:

Here is a girl checking her homework:

Here is a boy checking his homework from about 2 years ago:

Here is a little boy trying to play music but gets more than he bargained for:

Here is a little girl asking for Baby Shark:

Here is a compilation of kids talking to Alexa:

This young lad wants Alexa to tell him if she likes Christmas, to clean the kitchen and remember when he was younger:

Gift Idea: Oculus Go

The other day I was in a Best Buy store and came across a salesperson with Oculus Go. I was curious. After talking to salesman about how it works, I had to give my name and email (of course) in order to try it out. So what is it? It’s a standalone VR headset. Standalone in that you don’t need to hook up your phone or a computer to see the content and can take just the headset with you. It fits right over eyeglasses. There are built-in speakers. It has a 2560 x 1400 p screen. It comes in 2 models: 32GB ($199) and 64GB ($249). It only comes in a light gray. The company is owned by Facebook.

So here I am in the middle of the store holding the controller with my arms outstretched playing demo games and watching demo movies. You can see above you, behind you, and all around. I got to see a demo short of Jurassic Park Blue. It was like the dinos were right in front of me. I played a game that was a lot of fun called Fail Factory. I must have been moving around too much because the sales person had to move me back. They do suggest you use this sitting down for that reason. It was a lot of fun and I am contemplating getting one.

Some caveats – rechargeable battery life is only about 2 hours gaming and 2 1/2 hours watching movies so you can’t plan on it for an entire flight if your flight is over that. There is only 3 degrees of freedom rather than 6 in most VR sets. Case is sold separately (unless you find a deal that includes the case). 32GB will hold about 3 HD movies, 10 games, and 20 apps. 64 GB will hold about 7 HD movies, 20 games, and 40 apps.

The Jody Victor Crew

Gift Idea: Instant Pot

By now you must have heard of the Instant Pot. This is one pot with many functions. It is a slow cooker, a pressure cooker, a rice cooker, a yogurt maker, it steams, it sears, and a few more things. I’ve seen many recipes on Pinterest for the Instant Pot. I understand you can purchase other items that will fit in it, such as a small cheesecake pan. So should you get one? That’s still up for debate.

I myself have bought one three times – all as gifts. Right now I don’t feel I need one because I have a slow cooker, a pressure cooker, and a yogurt maker. All are in good shape and don’t need replacement any time soon. The people I’ve gotten the Instant Pot for didn’t have any of the appliances in the list so this would be a first for them.

Its name can be misleading as nothing is really instant. I believe the name focuses on the pressure cooking part of it because a pressure cooker does cook much faster than standard methods. For instance I can cook a 3+ lb chuck roast to make pot roast in about 45 minutes as opposed to about 2.5 hours on the stove or in the over or even longer in a slow cooker. What these times don’t include for the pressure cooker is the start up time to build up the steam or the time it takes for the pressure to release.

If the person you are buying for hasn’t done much cooking, I understand it may take a while to learn to do all the things that the appliance is capable of. You would have to read the manual and follow the directions.

Some more pluses are you can brown your meat and cook in same pot unlike using a slow cooker. You can start with your meat frozen and still cook in about the same amount of time.

Victor Crew

Gift Ideas

With Christmas coming we will try to find some gift ideas for the next few weeks. This would be something we see, but may not necessarily buy for ourselves but know someone who might like it.

First off, lets start with the PowerPic from Twelve South.
This is a picture in a frame with a hidden phone charger. Only works with iPhone 8 and up, Pixel, Galaxy, or any Qi-enabled smartphone. It is a pine frame that you plug in. It has a hidden Qi charger to wirelessly charge your phone. You can choose from black or white frame. It works even with your case on your phone. When you put your phone on the frame, it completes the picture. You can download the frame pictures and phone pictures from their website. This will set you back $79.99.

Wi-Fi

We recently upgraded our Wi-Fi through our provider. What was new was we noticed two different bands to choose from. One was just a regular band (at 2.4 GHz) and a new one showing as 5 GHz. So what is the difference? Let’s find out.

Coming right to my mailbox, I received a newsletter and there was an article referenced to it. So let’s go over it.

First we learn that 2.4 GHz will support up to 450 Mbps or 600 Mbps dependent on router class. That comes with the standards you may see on router boxes as 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, or 802.11ac. Not sure what mine was since it’s not printed on the box itself, I found the manual for it online and found it has all the above! So let’s chase this rabbit and find out what the difference between these classes are.

802.11b was better than the original 802.11 standard in July 1999. It brought the speed up to 11 Mbps. 802.11g, brought about in 2002, is supported by all devices and network equipment and supports up to 54 Mbps bandwidth. It is the least expensive to buy and run. 802.11n came about in 2009 and gives up to 800 Mbps bandwidth, an improvement over 802.11g but a little more expensive than 802.11g. 802.11ac has the fastest maximum speed and best range but more expensive. It uses dual-band wireless – thus the 2.4 and 5 GHz we can now see. Its bandwidth is 1300 Mbps on 5 GHz and up to 450 Mbps on 2.4. This is also called Wi-Fi 5. There are a few other 802.11 standards. 802.11ad is fast but the device must be within 11 feet. 802.11ah is a lower energy but goes beyond the reaches of 802.11ac.

So now I’ve learned that I am seeing two bands because of the 802.11ac standard. The 2.4 GHz band happens to be used by other things as well. Old cordless telephones as well as garage door openers and baby monitors for instance. The 5 GHz band has fewer connections and higher speeds, however the shorter waves makes it harder to penetrate walls. You may need to use extenders for this band. If your device can use ethernet, then that will be the best connection you can have. The 5 GHz band is best used for streaming where you would experience less interference.

802.11 Standards Explained
Difference Between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz

Rare Apple-1 Computer up for auction this month

This is your chance to own an original Apple-1 computer from 1976. It was restored in June and is up for auction. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak made 200 of these computers.

The auction will be held by RR Auction where you can register to bid on this item. The auction begins September 25, 2018 at 1:00 PM ET. You can bid by phone or online at https://www.invaluable.com/

Tech Mystery Box

$250 for $1,932 worth of tech! So the Victor crew came across this YouTube video of someone opening up 2 boxes filled with tech returns to Amazon. It shows him unboxing 2 big boxes of tech products from Bluetooth speakers, earbuds, headphones, car speakers, and a lot of other miscellaneous products. Some of the items were clearly used and ready for the trash but some could be resold on eBay or Craig’s list. Some items were worth more than the $250 he spent on it.

So we were wondering how to purchase something like this. It turns out there are liquidators that get these types of items and sell them to people that go back and resell them again (even on Amazon). (See links below for more info.)

https://www.directliquidation.com/liquidation-102/buy-amazon-customer-returns-pallets-online/
https://www.directliquidation.com/liquidation-102/buy-resell-amazon-customer-return-pallets-electronics/

Need Ideas for Father’s Day?

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:
Roku
Apple TV
Chromecast

Headphones/Earbuds

eReader:
Nook
Kindle Fire
Kindle Paperwhite

AI device:
Google Home
Amazon Echo
Apple HomePod

Fitness Tracker

Video games

Charging dock for all his gadgets

Subscription service:
Amazon Prime
Spotify
Sirius XM
Pandora
Hulu
Netflix

BattleBots

“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.

Vaunt Smart Glasses

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.

“Farm Fresh” Amazon

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.

Bloomberg
TechCrunch

Digital Cameras

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.

Source:
http://www.digital-photo-secrets.com/

Fireworks of the Future

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.

Lost your keys?

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.

Do you NEED a screen protector?

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.