A new use for Google Glass

By now, you may have seen some articles about Google Glass. Well the NYPD may take to using it as a crime-fighting tool. They have bought a few pairs for testing. They would be able to see any info they have on a potential suspect by instantly reviewing their history: mug shots, warrants, etc. They have purchased these through Google’s Glass Explorer program as they are not available for consumers yet. The Glass Explorer program allows you to sign up and if a spot opens up for you to try it, you will be contacted. Maybe “RoboCop” isn’t so far-fetched.

~ Jody Victor

Amazon made easier

Looking for a specific item? Now you can go to the Search function within the Amazon shopping app and see not only Scan It but Flow. If you click Flow, it will open the camera so you can take a picture of the item you would like to buy and it will search for that or similar items and put them in a list for you. Flow seems to recognize a product without even showing a bar code. Simply hold the item in front of the camera on your phone and you will little dots working to identify the item. If it recognizes it, it will add it to your history and show a green check mark. If it doesn’t have the item it will tell you that you cannot purchase it from Amazon. Scan It works by scanning the barcode only.

~ Jody Victor

Let’s take a look at SkyDrive

Yes, Microsoft SkyDrive. Only it won’t be called SkyDrive for much longer. It will be changing its name to OneDrive. They want to emphasize that it’s one place to keep all your stuff (photos, videos, files, etc.) SkyDrive Pro will become OneDrive for Business. One nice feature about this cloud drive is that you can access other computers’ files by using an access code and allowing that device/computer to fetch files. Nice when traveling. You’ll just have to leave your main computer on so you can access it.

~ Jody Victor

The Worst Password list

Every year, SplashData comes out with a new list of “worst passwords” for the year. The list for 2013 is out now. Their data is taken from “millions of stolen passwords posted online.” Is yours one of them?

The password “password” has fallen to #2 this year as “123456” has taken the number one spot. In light of the recent credit card numbers being breached from retailers, are they able to use your number to try to log into your accounts too?

They suggest you use a different password for every site. Don’t use the same password for entertainment sites as you do for email or banking sites. Too hard? try a password manager like SplashID Safe or LastPass.

~ Jody Victor

Email may just have gotten easier…

Microsoft and Godaddy have partnered to make it easier small businesses to use Office 365. The email will be connected to your domain name. Plans start at $3.99 per user per month for 5GB storage. This includes 2GB storage on SkyDrive. The other plans offer 50GB email storage and 25GB storage on SkyDrive for $8.99 per user per month; for $12.49 per user per month, you get full access to Office 365 with desktop apps on up to 5 PCs and Macs and access to mobile apps on iPhone, Android, and Windows phone.
Learn More

A Personal Cloud Worth Looking At

If you ever want a personal cloud to access all your files from anywhere, look into the Transporter. It allows you sync your files, images, videos from anywhere with any device. The nice thing about the Transporter is there are no monthly fees. You pay for the device and you’re done. You can start with a basic device for $99 using your own USB hard drive and choose the capacity. Other options are 500 GB Transporter for $199, 1TB Transporter for $249, or a 2TB Transporter for $349. With the last 3 comes a Transporter Library which is a set of folders not synced but can be shared with others. Check it out. At the end of the video on this page, you have a chance to get a free one.

~ Jody Victor

New Cat Gadget

If you have a cat you would like to keep occupied, then the new Egg gadget is just what you are looking for. Currently a kickstarter project, Egg says it is not a toy but a cat companion. The Egg is shaped like an egg but inside there is an offset motor, rechargeable batteries (through your USB phone charging cord), and you can configure different modes on your computer interface.

The Egg will move back and forth (even over carpet), shake, make sounds, sense obstacles and reverse direction, sense interactions with your cat or kitten and try to excape if your kitten/cat grabs it. There is still time to order yours. Funding period ends January 25, 2014.

~ Jody Victor

Couple of new products

Need a last minute gift? With Moments.me, you can take your pictures and turn them into a photo album. Download the app to your iPad. Use the pictures from your camera roll, facebook, or dropbox. Put your album together and pick up your new photo book the same day at any Walgreens or Duane Reade starting at $19.99.

If you’re looking to make your house smarter, look into Zuli Smartplugs. Not quite on the market yet, you can watch their progress on KickStarter. These plug into your outlets and through a smart phone app using low energy bluetooth, you can control your lights and appliances through the app. Zuli’s Smartplugs can detect and trigger customized actions when you walk in or out of a room.

~ Jody Victor

Drone on…

Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos recently revealed in a 60 minutes interview, it’s plan to try to deliver packages to those who live near fulfillment centers with drones. He called them “Octocopters” because of their having 8 legs. As of now, it still needs to pass FAA approvals. Amazon is calling this service “Prime Air” and hopes to have it available in 4-5 years.

Groupon has a tongue-in-cheek answer to the Amazon drone.

~ Jody Victor

It’s Cyber Monday!

Last year we found out how Cyber Monday got started. This year we will look at some shopping tips.

Here are some safe buying tips and cautions:

  • Only buy from reputable retailers.
  • Make sure you have a physical address and phone number.
  • Send an email to make sure it is active.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau in the seller’s area.
  • Find out about warranties and returns.
  • If you buy overseas, be wary of any recourse under US jurisdiction.
  • Don’t judge by a fancy website.
  • Make sure the website is secure – that it has https at the beginning of the address when you enter your personal information and that a lock is shown somewhere on your browser.
  • Don’t click on popup advertisements.
  • Use a credit card, not a money order, personal check or debit card. Credi card payments can be withheld if there is a dispute. With a debit card, once the payment is made it’s gone from your account.
  • Shop around so you know the price range of the item. If it seems too good to be true it may not be legitimate.
  • If you are using public wi-fi, make sure it is secure.
  • Turn off Bluetooth. This will lessen the risk of others capturing with a nearby device.
  • Read the terms of service before purchasing.
  • Be careful if purchasing digital items like books or music – they can’t be given as gifts but are downloaded to you account. You can purchase gift cards/ecards instead.
  • Save or print your receipts so you have a record.
  • Don’t forget that shipping may add to the cost if it’s not offered free or if your purchase doesn’t meet the minimum amount for free shipping.
  • Be alert for potential charity and donation scams.

Safe shopping!
Jody Victor

Some tech ideas for Christmas 2013

I thought you might like to consider some of these tablets for Christmas this year:

From Amazon: The Kindle Fire HDX 7″
This is the 3rd generation Kindle Fire. This is the one you see on the TV commercial where the guy pushes the Mayday button and a customer service rep pops up in the corner. The rep can walk you through problems or even take over your tablet. You can download the Amazon Kindle Freetime app that allows parents to control the time limits and apps if you let your children use it. The drawbacks are, you don’t get full access to the Google Play store, you have to download apps from Amazon’s appstore. You won’t find some of the popular apps like Gmail, Google Maps, Google Drive. There is only a front-facing camera. $230.

From Google: Google Nexus 7
This runs the newest version of Android, 4.4 Kit Kat. It has a rear and front camera and is preloaded with standard Google apps. $229.

From Samsung: Galaxy Tab 3 7″ Kids
This tablet was designed specifically for kids. It comes in fun colors with a rubber case to protect it. I thas big buttons, limited access to settings, and kid-type apps preloaded. It has front and back cameras. $190.

From Apple: iPad Air
This is the latest iPad (5th generation). It is thinner and lighter, faster with better video. There are a few versions – based on size (16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB) and connectivity (Wi-fi or Wi-fi and LTE). Prices start at $499.

From Apple: iPad Mini with Retina Display
Very similar to the iPad Air in a smaller package. Starts at $399.

~ Jody Victor

Dropbox and cloud managers

Many people use Dropbox to store some files to share at work. But did you know you can have a second account and merge them?
You can have a personal account as well and merge the files so they are both available. Another alternative is to log out of one account and into the other to keep the accounts separately.

On a Windows PC, you can make a second user account and have one Dropbox account associated with each profile. Then to access each account, you can just “switch user” on the PC.

There are a few applications out there that allow you to sync ALL your cloud accounts (at least the ones they support) but it will cost you. Here are a couple:

Oxito.com – Different pricing: PC only, $39.99, iOS $9.99, Android $9.99, Windows 8 RT $9.99; Premium Bundle: All above for $95.90/year or $9.99/month. Comes with a 14 day free trial.

cloudHQ.net – This comes with 3 plans: Personal for $9.90/month or $99/year; Premium Plan for $17.90/month or $179/year; Business Plan for $29.90/month or $299/year.

~ Jody Victor

Tech news this week

Motorola Moto X. Now you can customize the Moto X not only with AT&T, but also Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon in the U.S. This applies to phones starting at $100 for 16GB with a 2-year agreement. Wood backs may run an another $50.

Motorola Moto G. Comes out this week. This is expected to be a lower-priced version of the Moto X.

iPad Mini with Retina. Still waiting…

~ Jody Victor

Android KitKat

The latest version of the Android OS is called KitKat (in keeping with the theme of sweets in alphabetical order.) It is the successor to Jelly Bean. This Android version 4.4 made its debut with the Nexus 5 smartphone. This phone retails for $349 for 16GB and $399 for 32GB at the Google Play store. So far it is only carried by T-Mobile and Sprint. We hear it isn’t compatible with Verizon. Shame.

They are running a contest with KitKat – the crispy wafer bars that is. The KitKat bars with the Android on the wrapper has a special code inside. The prizes:
Grand Prize: Google Nexus 7 (1,000 available)
1st Prize: $5 credit for Google Play (150,000 available)
2nd Prize: A coupon for a free 8-oz KitKat Minis Pouch (20,000 available)

Good Luck!

So what’s new in KitKat?
No need to touch the screen – just say “OK Google” to launch voice search, send a text, get direction, play a song…
Faster multitasking – faster more accurate response. Listen to music while surfing the web.
Smarter caller ID – if it isn’t in your contacts, it will search Google Maps for a listing.
All messages together – All SMS and MMS messages in Hangouts app.
Emoji – on the keyboard – express yourself!
Print – print to a cloud printer or HP ePrinter (or any other printer that has an app in the Google Play Store) from your phone.
Access your files – you can use Quickoffice to open and save files on Google drive.

Currently, KitKat is only available on the Nexus 5.

~ Jody Victor

Devices making their debut

Jody‘s crew was out and about looking for what’s coming out new before the end of the year. Here is what we found:

From Nokia:
Lumia 2520 tablet. This runs Windows RT operating system. It has a 10-inch HD screen with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 processor, a 6.7 megapixel camera, a keyboard. It has LTE and wi-fi. Cost is about $499.
Lumia 1320 and 1520 smartphones. Both run Windows Phone 8 and have 6-inch screens. The 1520 has a full HD screen, LTE and quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, 32GB storage, expandable to another 64GB with a MicroSD card, 20 megapixel camera. Cost is $749. The 1320 comes with dual-core processor, 720p screen resolutio, 5 megapixel camera, LTE. Considered a lower end, will cost $339. Because of their larger screen size they are considered “phablets”.
Asha 500, 502, 503 phones. These are lower end phones that Nokia hopes to better compete with Android. The 503 has 3G for $99. It comes with a 3-inch screen and 5 megapixel camera. The 502 has a 3-inch screen as well but no 3G. It will be $89. The 500 will cost $69 for a 2.8-inch screen and 2 megapixel camera. All 3 have wi-fi and hold 2 SIM cards.

From Apple:
iPad Air. This iPad is thinner and lighter than previous models. Prices range from $499 to $929 depending on capacity and connectivity options. It comes with a 9.7-inch LED backlit Multi-touch display, A7 chip, FaceTime HD camera with 720p HD video, 5 mega-pixel photos, 1080p HD video recording. You can get this in wi-fi or wi-fi + cellular.
iPad Mini. Has all the great features of the iPad Air in a smaller size. The price varies from $399 to $829 – just $100 cheaper than its iPad Air counterparts for same size and connectivity.

Sidenote – This is for sale but Microsoft has a 383-inch screen Surface 2 Tablet in Trafalgar Square, London. Read about it here.

Another robot…

Last week we found a couple robots from Willow Garage. Well this week we found another one. This was developed by some people who left Willow Garage to start their own company, Unbounded Robotics. They are taking orders for YOUR new robot! UBR-1 will be available Spring 2014. The cost is $35,000. It is ROS-enabled (Robot Operating System), an open-source platform that you can enhance yourself by logging in remotely and writing programs.

UBR-1 can unload a dishwasher, fetch beverages, set the table. You can plug into its computer with one of the USB 3.0 expansion ports. It has a continuous run time of 3.5 hours and idle time of 10 hours.

Are you ready for this?

~ Jody Victor

Need a Robot?

There are a few types of robots you can get as a consumer. Willow Garage has a few offerings:
PR2 – a one-armed robot powered by ROS (Robot Operating System). You can watch a few videos of what it can do here, like play pool, fetch beer, clean up empty cans.

Turtle Bot – a small robot also powered by ROS. It can explore your house on its own, build 3D pictures, bring you food, and more. You can get a complete kit for $1,399.00 to build your own or $1,995.00 built for you from I Heart Engineering. You can also get it fully built for $1599.00 or the kit for $999.00 from Clearpath Robotics (not everything is included and it is currently sold out.)

~ Jody Victor

Have you heard of Nest?

Nest is a “learning thermometer.” You can teach Nest by turning it up and down as you need to adjust heat. It learns your lifestyle.

Why use Nest? It can save energy. It can sense you left and adjust automatically. It takes about a week for Nest to program itself as it learns your schedule and needs.

Nest.com says it only takes about 30 minutes to install. You can do it yourself – similar to changing a light fixture. You can adjust Nest via computer or app as well.

Find out more.

~ Jody Victor

Not every one uses the Internet

Jody‘s crew found an article citing one in seven Americans don’t use the Internet. In the article, Steven Vaughan-Nichols talks about a survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project from May 2013 that 34% of the Americans not using the Internet aren’t even interested in it. They say it’s not relevant to them. 32% say it’s not easy to use, frustrating, and they are afraid of spam, hackers, spyware. 19% state it’s too expensive to own a computer or pay for connection.

Nearly half of the non-Internet users are over 65. Maybe some of you tech-savvy youngsters can help your family connect!

Is your device safe?

Jody‘s crew found a couple of interesting stories this week:

1. iPhone fingerprint reader is claimed to have been hacked. The Touch ID is supposed to be more secure than a password. They encrypt your scan and place it in an isolated spot on their A7 chip. You can use this to make purchases as well. But a group from Germany has claimed to be able to hack the fingerprint ID. What does this mean? Maybe not that much. DigitalTrends.com points out the lengths that have to be gone through to make a fingerprint readable in order to break in.

2. Android Device Manager is a way to lock your device and erase all your data should your Android phone become lost or stolen. You can check to see if your device is registered on Google (go to your account then your dashboard. It will show your devices. Then if one of your devices is lost or stolen, go to https://www.google.com/android/devicemanager and you will have the option to make your device ring, erase all the data, or lock the device.

News about Apple products

Tomorrow, September 10, Apple will reveal its new iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. Along the heels of this reveal is iOS 7. It promises to make everything look different. Here is an early preview look.

There has been much speculation as to what the new iPhone will feature. The 5S model is the more expensive one that is rumored to have a fingerprint sensor, dual-LED flashlight and upgraded hardware. It also is rumored to come in a variety of colors including gold.

The 5C model will be a low-cost model possibly made of plastic and in a variety of bright colors.

iOS 7 may also be released tomorrow.

You may be able to find iTunes Radio app in the Apple store tomorrow as well. It has integrated some features from iTunes Genius. There will be a free version with ads as well as a paid version.

Interesting news from Facebook and Yahoo

When you tried to choose your username for a Yahoo account, did you have difficulty finding the one you wanted because it was taken? Well now you can make a watch list of names you would like (your 5 top choices) and if those accounts have been inactive for a year, you may get your wish. According to their blog, you will have had to fill out the wishlist last month to obtain it for free. Otherwise, it will cost a mere $1.99.

Facebook now has shared photo albums. Suppose your family had a reunion. Everyone who took pictures could upload them all to the same album! Think of the possibilities: weddings, other milestone events. The album creator can share access with up to 50 contributors, who can each share up to 200 photos. There are 3 privacy settings: public, friends of contributors and contributors only.

~ Jody Victor

What is privacy?

Privacy is the state of being private. Private means you personally own something. In the world of the internet, privacy is no longer considered a right. You may have heard in the news the recent items about NSA and Google or NSA and Microsoft (Skype). If you are using one of the big companies for email or documents, you cannot expect privacy anymore.

Jody’s crew came across an article by Bernard Marr titled Google: Forget Privacy When Using Gmail. Google has admitted to reading emails in order to target for advertisers. They consider you as turning over their information to a third party when you use their service. So if they are targeting you with advertisements from your emails and you share you computer, you cannot expect to keep a surprise a surprise from someone in your household.

Another article by Bernard Marr is about How Facebook Exploits Your Private Information. What he says in this article causes me to pause before I click a “Like” button. This too is used to target you for advertisers. Facebook can even track you when you go to other sites gathering even more information on you. Facebook even has “face recognition” capabilities to track you and your friends from the profiles you have filled in.

Use caution when sharing any information via Facebook or Gmail. Know that there is no such thing as privacy anymore.

~ Jody Victor & Crew.