Tag Archives: Apple

smarthphone accessories

3 Smartphone Accessories to Upgrade Your Style


Smartphones are like college degrees. It’s great to have one and often even expected, but nobody is impressed unless you can actually do something cool with it. There’s nothing special about iPhones and Androids anymore; everyone has one. In 2012, a Pew study found that more than half of all cell phone users owned some kind of smartphone. Two years later that number is even higher.

The new toys you can buy to buddy up with your smartphone, now that’s cool. There’s technology out there for iOS and Android we couldn’t even imagine when the first iPhone launched in 2007. And these new gadgets aren’t just for show—some of them actually improve your everyday life.

CarPlay

Sorry, Android. We’re going to talk Apple for just a bit. Car systems are the best way to connect and use your smartphone on the road. Using just a Bluetooth connection, they can play your music, take your phone calls and even read your text messages without ever laying a thumb on your phone’s screen.

There’s just one issue—car systems have to accommodate every smartphone, which means there are glitches from time to time (and constant updates). Apple decided to cut out the middleman and made CarPlay, its own proprietary car system for iOS. The system looks like a small iPad mounted in the car’s center console and connects directly with iOS devices to utilize music, apps, navigation, calls and texts.

Unfortunately, for the time being CarPlay is only available in high-end cars like Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz. So if you’re planning to buy one, congratulations. Otherwise, you can pick up an aftermarket kit from companies like Pioneer.

Samsung Galaxy Gear

It might seem like overkill to wear a watch from Star Trek to pair with your phone, but Samsung has put some serious effort into making Android gear cool in ways that Apple is not.

Think of the smartwatch as a tiny table that connects to your phone. Like CarPlay, you can make calls, read texts, play music and, yes, even keep time. It pairs with any Android phone, but works even better with another Samsung device like the Galaxy Note 3. Best of all, the watch actually looks like a watch, which sets it apart from those hideous Google Glasses.

Nest

Nest (now owned by Google) makes two products—a thermostat and a smoke/carbon monoxide detector—and they both have some nifty tricks. What’s so exciting about household appliances? Well, unlike the Maytag your parents own, the Nest Thermostat learns your heating and cooling habits, and you can even set voice controls from your Android phone.

Is there smoke in your house when you’re not home? The Nest smoke detector can actually send a text message to your neighbors (assuming they’re also your friends, enemies might love to watch your house burn). These two seemingly simple smart devices can make small tasks turn into big wins.

 

Smartphone connection icon

Tech Lovers: Put an End to Dropped Calls and Improve Cell Phone Reception


There are lots of technologies available to help boost your cell phone signal. You could install a signal booster, set up a cell to VoIP antenna, or hop carriers. Which option is right for you depends on your specific situation. We’ll help you decide the best decision for you and your calling habits.

Signal Booster

Using a signal booster, you can improve the cellular reception in your car, home, or office. There are a range of models and options to choose from, but they all work basically the same way. These devices relay the signal between your phone and the cellular tower. This can be a simple repeater or a smart signal booster. The difference is that a repeater will just repeat anything it receives. On the other hand, a smart signal booster will clean up the incoming signal before forwarding it. This can improve call quality while boosting your signal.

Cell to VoIP

Similar to a signal booster, there is a range of devices you can purchase to pickup your cellular signal and transmit your call over the internet. This is a good option when you have a broadband connection in an area with poor cellular reception. However, rural areas will commonly have poor cellular service and lack high-speed internet service. Also, if you’re going to use VoIP, why would you pay for a cell phone bill? You can save a lot of money by switching to a VoIP service and forwarding your calls to your cell phone when you’re away from your home or office.

Switch Carriers

Depending on where you live, the carrier with the most national coverage may not be the best choice for you. It’s much more important to have coverage where you live and work than to simply cover a large part of the country where you don’t typically make your calls. Before switching carriers, always check their sites to see if you’ll get service in your area. T-Mobile has a dedicated page of its coverage maps, with with a zip code finder and detailed information about its network’s range. It also offers a no-contract service that allows you to switch carriers easily if your calls are dropped too frequently.

Deciding What To Do

Now that you see the options you have, you’re probably wondering what you should do. Unfortunately, there’s no one answer for all situations. With some troubleshooting, you can figure out what’s right for your needs. Begin by using your phone to map out the signal strength in your area. If you’re having too many dropped calls at work or at home, take your phone on a tour of that location. Note the places where your signal drops below two bars, or cuts out entirely.

Finding the Signal

If you have at least two bars near a window, you could focus on making and receiving your calls in that area. Simply moving your home office or repositioning your desk can make a big difference in cellular reception. Ensuring that you’re not blocking your phone with your hand or pointing the antenna away from the location with the best reception can also help. If none of these options work, you can consider installing a signal booster. Most of these devices will need to be setup in a location with at least two bars of service.

Jumping Networks the Right Way

Don’t make the mistake of jumping out of a contract with poor reception at home only to find that your new contract has poor reception at work. Instead, you should focus on the no-contract plans that allow you to easily switch if the service doesn’t meet your needs. These pay-as-you-go plans will usually offer the most competitive plans because customers can easily switch services at any time. For this reason, they also tend to offer the best coverage.

How-to-increase-internet-download-speed

Factors That Cause Sluggish Internet Speeds | Why Is My Internet So Slow?!


There are several factors that can contribute to sluggish Internet speeds. If you have a “high-speed” Internet connection, then you should be getting at least 10 megabits-per-second connectivity speeds. The best high-speed connections will deliver as much as 1000 megabits-per-second – faster than a cat on fire! And if you are just managing an average connectivity speed of 25 megabits-per-second, then you are doing fine; surfing and streaming with mad speed.

But what about when your Internet speed is sluggish and slow?

If your Internet service is classified as a “high-speed” connection, and your performance is slow to the point of frustration, then there are some things you can check for, and just maybe speed that slow machine up. You see, the Internet is a huge network of different technologies attempting to come together and communicate with fast efficiency. That, obviously, doesn’t always happen. Your connectivity could be being affected by a variety of techy ailments. Here’s what to look for if your Internet speeds are 8 megabits-per-second or slower:

* If you really want fast Internet speeds, then it’s time to upgrade that 10-year-old Linksys router. You need a modern gigibit-speed router that is designed to accommodate truly fast connections, like 25 megabits-per-second and faster.
* If you already have a gigibit-speed router, then you need to make sure it has been properly configured. Make sure that you password-protect your home network so some freeloading SOB across the road isn’t piggybackin’ your signal; slowin’ down your surf speeds.
* If your network or machine has been infected with spyware or malware, those thieving programs could be sapping the speed from your connectivity. Pay for Norton’s or another top-rated anti-spyware network protector program.
* It could be an issue with your Internet service provider (ISP). In this case, the issue would most likely be short-lived, and rectify itself after a short while. Call your ISP if you think it’s something on their end slowing your connectivity down.
* If the memory in your browser cache is loaded full, then that could cause sluggishness as well. You need to keep as much hard drive space free as possible for the long-term best performance of your devices.
* Today’s web pages move electrons very quickly. If your device or machine is more than three years old, it may not be able to keep up with these zooming electron transfers. Upgrade your device in this case.
* Keep windows that are not in active use closed. Having a load of windows open simultaneously makes your CPU overburdened, possibly causing connectivity sluggishness.

So you see, if you are consistently getting Internet connectivity speeds of 8 megabits-per-second or less, then you very likely are being affected by one of the above possibilities. The list above is not inclusive, but it does touch on the most common issues with Internet speeds – find out more at iiNet http://www.iinet.net.au/internet/broadband/adsl/. Don’t assume that just because you got Time Warner’s best plan, you have high-speed Internet connectivity. Check other possible factors that could be slowing down your surfing experiences. It’s worth checking into because when you have super-fast Internet, life is simply better.

WealthFront Series C Round Headed By Index Ventures Pumps In $35 Million


Palo Alto-based financing administration Wealthfront has raised a Series C round of $35 million headed by Index Ventures and Ribbit Capital with support from existing moguls The Social+capital Partnership, Greylock Partners, DAG Ventures, and various heavenly attendant gurus. Wealthfront gives online monetary arranging and venture administration at reasonable costs.

Propelled in 2011, Wealthfront is presently overseeing $800 million in stakes and will utilize the new supports to further customize its versatile administrations, include building and outline ability, and develop its existing client base.

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Gadget Shopping? Tech That May Put You at Risk


Connected device ownership is now ubiquitous in American culture; a recent study by the Pew Research Internet Project found that the number of Americans ages 16 and older who own tablet devices grew to to 35% in 2013. With a new wave of mobile, wearable, and smart devices rolling off the assembly lines, how does the next generation of devices rate in terms of security?

Malware Goes After Mobile

With the prevalence of smartphones and tablets growing every day, it should come as no surprise that malware developers are targeting these devices. While many analysts have hailed the iPhone 5’s new fingerprint recognition software as a revolutionary development, the reality is that it opens new opportunities for criminals. An ill-intended app may require a fingerprint scan for password protection, which could potentially be transmitted to the app developer.

While this may seem paranoid at a glance, 24/7 Wall St reports that Apple’s recent iOS 6 and 7 update patched a massive potential security concern that may have allowed hackers to intercept ostensibly encrypted iPhone communications. In the past, Apple has been criticized for its patchwork approach to personal data security. iMore even showcased a video released by a German-based hacker club just one day after the release of the iPhone 5, showing the device’s fingerprint-recognition software being fooled by a fake fingerprint. With users storing personal information inside apps and mobile wallets, it is increasingly more important to employ ID theft protection services such as Lifelock, to safeguard personal data, regardless of the security offered by the device manufacturer.

Smart” Device Security

The “Internet of Things” and wearable technology is the next big trend in devices; A recent survey by Accenture found that 46% of consumers surveyed were interested in purchasing a smartwatch, and that 42% were interested in purchasing wearable digital glasses such as Google Glass. With so many devices currently on the marker running on different and unique operating systems, security issues concerning personal data monitored by wearable and smart devices are concerning. SC Magazine reports that security professionals have already demonstrated attacks on everything from smart televisions to baby monitors.

As smart devices and wearable technology penetrate everyday life, the security concern grows. Currently, many manufacturers of devices such as fitness trackers and wearable computing systems have little power to reach consumers and update their products should glaring security issues become apparent, placing the onus of security on the end-users themselves. As many of these devices utilize new technology and sensors, the potential for digital attacks are currently unknown. Security professionals are currently unsure about the potential for a virus capable of transmitting from connected device to connected device, However, they warn users to be aware that the sparkling world of new “smart” technology is still in its infancy, and that developers have yet to face a trial by fire concerning data theft or manipulation. Many security professionals urge users to take responsibility for their own security by insuring wearable and smart devices are always up to date and password protected as these devices proliferate in the near future.

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5 Reasons 2014 is the Year for Online Gaming


Online gaming has come a long way since Internet connected games first showed their faces in the 1990s. These days, online functionality is almost expected in most games. Research and Markets reports that 40 percent of people worldwide play games online, with at least one percent of growth each year through 2017. Social and mobile games are driving this video game market segment, with 20 percent growth overall. 2014 is another exciting year for online games, whether you prefer playing through next-gen consoles, PC, browsers, or mobile.

Titanfall

Titanfall has captured the attention of PC and Xbox gamers when it was announced. The primary focus of Titanfall is its online multiplayer gaming, revolving around large titans that allow gamers to enact massive robot battles. Each large, expansive map is set up for six on six battles, making team-based dynamics important to the success of each game. This is exclusive to Xbox 360 and Xbox One for consoles, and will also see a PC release.

Browser Based Games

Other trends with online gaming are browser-based games utilizing improved HTML 5 technology to implement new features and more compatibility with a range of devices. This is particularly helpful for iOS devices, which have limited Flash support but do support HTML 5. Downloadable games from iWin and other online gaming hubs adapt well to HTML 5 technology, with smooth game play even on lower end systems and devices.

Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim is one of the top selling video games of all time, prompting Bethseda to take the experience online. The Elder Scrolls Online is slated to launch in April, barring any development or beta testing delays, and it seeks to stay away from the free-to-play trends of most recent MMO releases. Instead, they have a subscription based service similar to World of Warcraft, where the gamers pay for the game along with a $15 monthly fee. Since most MMOs have moved away from that model at this point, the gaming world is keeping a close eye on The Elder Scrolls Online to see if it’s going to move the trend back to paid MMOs, or if it will switch over to the more recent free-to-play format.

Live Streaming

The Xbox One and Playstation 4 have integrated streaming and sharing features that take full advantage of their online features. Instead of setting up a video camera for capturing your game play, these systems allow you to capture, stream, and upload automatically. Youtube and Twitch.tv are the platforms of choice for Let’s Plays and live streaming game play, so this integration continues to evolve with online interaction between streamers, video creators, and their audience.

Digital Distribution

Steam has long been a mainstay in the PC world, but consoles are beginning to make the leap for online digital distribution of games as well, such as Nintendo’s Eshop and the services offered by Sony and Microsoft.

Rena Johnson

 

Cybersecurity expert, mother, baker