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Best of the Best Series 1: Sites That Will Elevate Your Coding Game

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Best of the Best. This series will examine our favorite things on the web. Look to us for the top picks for assets, resources, and other must-see items online. The lists will be a culmination of surveys, editor’s picks, online reviews and our personal favorites. Looking to learn to code? You won’t have to look far. Code refers to the complex binary instructions written in 1s and 0s. It helps to power computers, smartphones, and even automobiles, with software capable of communicating and receiving data. The onslaught of programs and websites to teach code appeal to an array of users. Children, computer scientists and multitudes in between them use these sites to learn code. With a considerable breadth of code-reliant devices, demand for coders – those who write these binary instructions – has been on the rise for years. Yet, 17 states don’t recognize computer science for high school graduation requirements. The site code.org says 42,969 computer science grads ventured into the job market last year. As of Q1 2017, 512,340 open computer jobs have gone unfilled. Coding isn’t a one-size-fits-all language. Far from it. Code education caters to a variety of needs. We’ve found helpful sites, for those who know the difference between Ruby and Ruby on Rails, and for those who don’t. (They’re different programming languages, by the way.) Some designers up their game with these sites. Others go there for the basics. There’s learning space for bloggers, game developers, website administrators, and more. We’ve chosen the best of the best when it comes to popular categories of code education.  

FOR THE BEGINNER

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Code Avengers

https://www.codeavengers.com/ Code Avengers offers free and for-pay courses. Users pay per course, not a monthly fee, as with some schools. At about $21 per course, Code Avengers’ curriculum is geared for the true beginner. Bigger outfits such as Treehouse and Code School have more offerings. Code Avengers’ laid-back feel and a la carte course selection give it the edge for beginners, though.

Honorable mention

UDEMY | Lots of free, self-paced online courses. It’s also a marketplace for users to sell or offer free teachings through courses. LEARN CODE THE HARD WAY | It’s less a code school and more of a library for code beginners. Following a “learn, then implement” style, it offers online, print and video options.

FOR THE INTERMEDIATE CODER

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Scratch

https://scratch.mit.edu Designed for kids 18 and under, Scratch caters to users of all ages who have a grasp of coding principles. Scratch is by no means an easy platform. Its superpower is that it breaks code into logical sections such as motion and sound. Like Code Avengers, Scratch takes a simple approach to education. Users can download projects from this platform for use in other places.

Honorable mention

LEARNPYTHON.ORG |Python is a code language that uses a simpler syntax than other high-level programming languages, with similar results. UDACITY | This site includes training for several jobs, including computer science and programming. Users can access coaching and standardized feedback tools, and receive verified certificates.

FOR THE EXPERT CODER

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Coursera

https://www.coursera.org/ Coursera has online courses from dozens of top computer science universities. The courses are free, and come in five languages. Video lectures run about 20-30 minutes, a fraction of time a user would spend in class at the schools. Quizzes and tests from college professors and varied final-exam formats set Coursera apart.

Honorable mention

CODEPROJECT | Subscribers can take part in forums and access a Quick Answers section. They can also register for weekly updates. Developers worldwide contribute to the site’s article library. 4GUYSFROMROLLA.COM | Demand remains high for coding on the .NET platform. Experienced coders visit this site for ASP and ASP.NET tips and JavaScript tutorials.

FOR PERSONAL BLOGS

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WordPress.org

https://wordpress.org/ More robust than the free .com version, WordPress.org offers capacity to customize. Popular with bloggers and business site developers, WordPress.org offers custom plug-ins. These create a multitude of functions on a website, such as flash players and PDF readers. The .com entity, WordPress’ free site, works well with beginning bloggers. It includes plenty of contemporary templates for basic blogging.

Honorable mention

GHOST | Site developers created Ghost to make life in code easier for bloggers. Its Kickstarter campaign raised$320,000 in 48 hours to ensure its launch. DRUPAL | While not one of the easiest platforms to navigate, Drupal offers a ton of functionality. This includes advanced menu management and a graphics modifications tool. Bloggers can create advanced sites, boards, social networking pages and more.

FOR VIDEO GAMES

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Game Development @ Tuts+

https://gamedevelopment.tutsplus.com/ This platform can carry the user from beginner to advanced. Experienced game developers offer e-books, free tutorials and online courses. The concept goes for building and designing games. The courses and community discourse cover game development and theory. That includes understanding steering behaviors, creating a 3D city and more.

Honorable mention

INFINITE SKILLS | Go here for user-friendly classes and a vast video library. Some videos are free, and users choose from downloads, DVDs, and on-demand viewing. The site even has an iOS app. GAME CODE SCHOOL | It’s tough to find a more comprehensive course offering. Industry pros offer screencasts on this site, just be aware the material is not for beginners.

News

10 Romantic Gifts (Technically Speaking) for Valentine’s Day

Planning on that classic box of chocolates this Valentine’s Day? A bouquet of roses? Good luck. What’s classic can feel a bit … trite. There’s gobs of competition, too. Why fuss around with something predictable? It’s 2017, people. We’ve come too far to lean on the trusted standards – at least completely – to move the hearts of our valentine. It’s gotten techy, Valentine’s Day. Get with it, with these winners we’ve found. Hurry, though, and don’t wait for the last minute. You’ll find yourself in line for an overpriced and picked-at selection of flowers if you drag your feet.

For those who can pull off the classics

Bloomsy

Bloomsybox.com | $39.99-$48.99 per month To whip out a bouquet on Feb. 14 is expected. Having a bouquet of seasonal blooms hand-picked and delivered to your amor's door? A higher level altogether. Pick (see what we did there?) from three-, six- and 12-month options. They’re delivered with love – and info cards about the blooms, too.

Honorable mention

From Your Flowers | Besides flowers, nothing shows affection quite like confections. Vermont Teddy Bear | Log in and pick out the perfect teddy for your squeeze.

For the succinct wordsmith

Telegram Stop

Telegramstop.com | $7.45 I<stop>LOVE<stop>You. Okay, you’ll want to be more elaborate and creative than that, obviously. Type a love message into the site, something profound and wonderful. Preview what your telegram will look like (not even Thomas Edison could do that!) and TelegramStop will lick the stamp.

Honorable mention

The Holiday Spot | Readymade love letters, for free. For the thrifty and energy-efficient. Love Poetry Generator | An ad-lib approach. Enter factors such as feelings, colors, and verbs, and voila.

For the long-form wordsmith

Kind Notes

Kindnotes.com | $34.95 and up When you can’t say it in one, send 31. Pick a jar, a stationary, envelope style, and ribbon. Pick from ready-made messages of love, or craft your own. The Kind Notes staff with hand-write them on each card. Your darling can read one a day, or one an hour, or whenever they could use a little love.

Honorable mention

Invisible Boyfriend | Or girlfriend. Build a beloved to send you sweet nothings. Baggage not included. Timeless Message | Send a message in a bottle - not an S-O-S - to your L-O-V-E.

For the ‘appy lovers

Avocado

Avocado.io | free The Aztecs considered avocados as symbols of love and fertility. This avocado is also an app, for two and two alone. No virtual PDA. Share chats, photos, lists, and more. Speak your own love language to each other, with taps and swipes. Sync it with Google calendar and it’s your own one-on-one dating app, too.

Honorable mention

Valentine’s Day Special |  You can’t buy love – but you can add it up on this app’s love calculator. Red Stamp | Free iOS app lets you stamp photos with text and send by mail or social media.

For device-driven love

Kissenger

Kissengers.com | $74.99 Send a replica of your kiss to a far-off love through a high-tech transferal device.  The unit looks like a mini water tower with lips.  Lay one on the device with your heart in it, and your connected connection will feel it. When the miles stretch out between you, though, let tech bridge the divide with love.

Honorable mention

SleepPhones | These wireless headphones for bed could save your love life (if you’re a snorer). Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera | Court old-school with your honey with instant photos.

For practical partners

The Trackr

TheTrackr.com | $29.99 Give the gift of not having to rummage for your phone or keys every time it’s time to go. Imagine the quality time you could recoup. TrackR attaches to your love’s oft-lost item. Locate it through the TrackR app. Works with – but isn’t recommended for – use on your actual partner.

Honorable mention

Rainbow8 multi-color LED smart bulb | Set the mood with this Wi-Fi enabled light bulb. Chocolate Smartphone | The only swiping you’ll do on this phone is stealing a bite after you give it.

For those with a song in their hearts

Milktape

Milktape.com | $14.99 Handpick 15-20 songs, straight from your heart. Drag and drop them on your iTunes account. Plug in the USB hidden in the case casing, and let Bon Jovi and Celine Dion belt out all the love you feel inside. You can even scribble love notes on the tape cover like your parents used to do.

Honorable mention

Revolution Turntable | Spin the vinyl on your romantic night – and rip your tunes to an MP3. Mars Levitating Speaker | Dazzle her with space-age, gravity defying musical magic.

For those who could write the book of love

LoveBook

LoveBookOnline.com | $44.95 Tell your love story in a printed book. You create it, from title to cover concept, illustrations, and personalization. LoveBook will print and ship your creation to your dearest, anywhere in the world. Go paperback for the fleeting romance, or hardcover if you’re not even playing.

Honorable mention

Amazon Kindle | Keep your flame kindled with all the love stories she can take in. Smart Pencil Stylus | Nothing says love like a hand-written note sent to your Apple device.

For those who stick together

Tine

Shop.tinetag.com | $9.99-$14.99 Don’t settle for a note to your long-distance love. Send a voice or video message on a tag sticker. Each tag contains a code that holds your message. When your honey scans the code, they receive your message, in living color (or sound). (The app will let you know he's scanned the message, too.)

Honorable mention

Aera Smart Fragrance | Forget candles. Share scents in your room and his for long-distance ambiance. Medis 24/7 Xtreme charger | Ensure his device is ALWAYS powered to get your calls and texts. Every single one of them. ALWAYS.

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Tech

How Fiber Optic Internet works

Video Transcript: You might have heard about fiber optics in the doctor’s office, where it’s used for medical imaging. You also might have heard of fiber optics from someone with super-fast Internet. Fiber optic cables carry the fastest speeds available for Internet – speeds of 100 megabites per second, and up! What does that mean to the average web user? If you’re checking headlines and horoscopes online, the difference won’t be much. Your page will load instantly, as it would with much slower speeds. However, if you’re in a home that loves to stream music or movies, or play games online, and do it all on multiple devices, fiber optic Internet could be life-changing. It can deliver the speed to keep you buffer-free and on top of your game. It’s all thanks to a technologically advanced system of flexible glass fibers that send data through pulses of light. It sounds space age – because it kind of is. Pure glass fibers as thin as human hair make up the core of a fiber-optic line. Bundles of these fibers are bound together inside a reflective cladding. Imagine a tiny flashlight on one end of the cable. Pointed straight ahead, its light beam would stop the first time the cable bent. But if the walls are all essentially made of mirrors, the signal motors on. Fiber optic lines are wrapped in reflective cladding so that light signals bounce around every bend, without losing its speed over distance. A buffer coating protects the reflective cladding and the glass fibers inside, shielding it from damage and breakage. What makes fiber optics such a great choice for Internet – besides all that incredible speed, of course? It is way less expensive than copper wiring, which cable and DSL Internet providers depend on. A fiber optic line can carry way more data than copper. They’re also thinner, and when bundled, they can deliver service faster, farther and to more locations. It takes a high-voltage transmitter to send data over a copper network. Fiber-optic transmitters are way more efficient. Because they don’t use electricity, they don’t get all heated up like copper wires do. Fiber optics can deliver a dependable, fast Internet connection perfect for the connected home. The only downside to fiber Internet is that it’s not available everywhere…yet.

Tech

History of Online Games Launch

We took a look at the history of online gaming all the way from dial-up bulletin boards in the 1970s to augmented reality in present day. Follow the Tron light cycle as it guides you through major milestones in online gaming. Begin >

Tech

10 Insanely Cool Holiday Gifts to Make Your Techie Happy

What I want, is something Boxing-Day-proof. Never mind that I live in the U.S., where Boxing Day remains an idea for our neighbors to the north. The concept is the same. Boxing Day is for getting rid of belongings you don’t want anymore. It's right after you land the goods you do want, for Christmas and Hanukkah. This year I’d like to receive gifts impossible to toss out for years, they’re just that awesome. And I’d love to give gifts that prove impossible to toss out for years, they’re just that awesome. Something other than those gaudy sweater vests and droll board games. We’ve combed the web for top-tier gifts for a variety of recipients. Even the vexing loved ones impossible to buy for. All you have to do is order it, and you’re an instant gifting champion.

For the self-made selfie pro

Spivo Stick

Spivo.com | $49.99 Spi It’s a Hall of Famer in the GoPro world. Ergonomic and waterproof, the Spivo Stick, with its swiveling camera mount, allows users to change perspective 180 degrees with the flick of a trigger at the bottom of the stick. Capture a panoramic sweep of friends and family. Swing your camera in time to capture someone getting sick air. Choose from 12-, 18- or 26-inch models.

Honorable mention

iPhly | Device allows user to operate remote-controlled planes and cars on your phone, through an app. (Car or plane not included.) 53 Pencil | Fresh new stylus for the 53 Paper app for drawing. It’s Bluetooth-powered.

For the serious chef

Cookbook and tablet stand

Food52.com | $24 Food52 No more cookie-dough-stained cookbook pages. No more spaghetti sauce splatters on your tablet. This cookbook and tablet stand, of steel and ash construction, cradles your recipe source out and away from the culinary chaos on your countertop. When dinner’s served, the cookbook and tablet stand cleans in a flash and stores like a stowaway.

Honorable mention

Digital Volumetric Spoon Scale | Replace all your measuring spoons with one digital one. One-Click Butter Cutter | Just load a stick of butter, slice, and add you get perfect pats, every time, for your pancakes, corn, popcorn, grilled cheese, and T-bone steak (who are we to judge?)

For the mindful soul

Spire

Spire.io | $99 Spire It’s the friend who chimes in with a well-timed “relax” when you need it. (Without actually telling you to relax.) Spire, less than an inch long and weighing in just under an ounce, notifies a wearer if they’re tense or haven’t taken a deep cleansing breath for a while. It’ll suggest breathing exercises and meditations to guide you back to center. It’s portable mindfulness, and even comes with an app.

Honorable mention

Brookstone Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager with Heat | Ah. The name speaks for itself. Headspace | It’s a daily meditation app for plenty of Zen in just 10 minutes a day. Billed as a “gym membership for the mind.”

For the off-grid adventurer

goTenna Mesh

gotenna.com | $149 goTenna Be in touch, off the grid. This 4.2-inch device sends text and shares GPS locations through the network of devices. Leave a digital footprint when you’re in the wilderness. With a range of 3 miles in open environments. goTenna Mesh devices (two per pack) use UHF radio waves to create a unit-to-unit network. Water-resistant and dust-tight, the goTenna Mesh carries more than 24 hours of battery life.

Honorable mention

ALPS Mountaineering Eclipse Table | Folds out, with a level for drinks and one for plates and games. It seats four (eight if you don’t mind sitting at the corners.) MPOWERD Luci | This inexpensive, portable solar light will light up your (camping) world.

For the fantastic photographer

Viddy

The Popup Pinhole Company | $35 Viddy There’s a camera in the cards. Punch out the shapes for construction from a sturdy recycled card. In 30 minutes, see it transform into a camera that accepts medium-format and 35mm film. It’s a classic look in four basic colors. Stickers, stick pins and a dollop of craft glue hold together your new camera. No scissors required. Shh – if you give it to a kid, don’t mention that constructing it is educational.

Honorable mention

iPhone telephoto lens | It’s a wonky look to a smartphone that helps capture stellar photos. Just attach it to your smartphone camera, and shoot. Snapgrip | A selfie-snapping aid designed for those who struggle with their selfie-snapping game.

For the hyper-focused cyclist

Hammerhead

Hammerhead | $130 Hammerhead It’s like a GPS, if a GPS guided you with intuitive light patterns instead of robotic demands. Mounted to handlebars, Hammerhead indicates trail patterns and upcoming turns in colors and patterns. It’ll even recalculate your route should you get lost. Hammerhead’s design keeps your eyes on the road and makes just about any ride easy. (Except that 37-mile all-uphill trek some of you insist upon.)

Honorable mention

Scosche BoomBottle | A weatherproof wireless speaker that fits in a bike water-bottle cage. (Don’t forget to hydrate.) VeloComputer | Sensors feed data from your bike ride by Bluetooth to a unit in your seat bag. You get a real-time display of your vitals.

For the superb listener

Even H1 Headphones

Even | $179 geteven They’re headphones that listen to you, for a change. EarPrint technology customizes the user’s listener experience to the way they hear the world. In 90 seconds flat, H1s map eight audio frequencies per ear. They’re made to equalize hearing imbalances droves of us have - but don’t know it. Whether its podcasts or punk rock, what you hear is custom-made for you.

Honorable mention

Hercules DJControl Compact | The closet DJs on your shopping list can spin on the 1s and 2s wherever they go. You get the essentials of mixing, all in a unit smaller than the average keyboard (or loaf of ciabatta bread). Portability status: Extreme. Binauric BOOM BOOM! Speaker | Bluetooth speaker that can also record 3d audio with a smartphone.

For the clean-conscious

PhoneSoap 2.0

PhoneSoap | $59.99 PhoneSoap It’s the cleanliest multi-tasker since June Cleaver. Pop your mobile phone into the PhoneSoap case. While it charges, it receives a marvelous scrubbing – well, with UV rays, anyway. Your phone definitely needs it; Fox News reports a phone is 18 times nastier than a toilet handle. PhoneSoap doesn’t use heat, liquid or chemicals. Don’t lather up your device – use UV rays to keep it nice.

Honorable mention

Airmega | Monitor air quality in your home and maximum energy efficiency with this smart air purifier, and a smartphone app that goes with it. Okki Nokki Record Cleaning Machine | Still spin vinyl? It’s the new way to keep the old school spiffy.

For the globetrotter

Tag Cable

Native Union | $49.99 NativeUnion The top questions asked when traveling are “where’s the bathroom?” and “do you have a charging cable I can borrow?” No more, on the second one, at least, with the Tag Cable. It’s always-ready convenience wrapped in crafted Italian leather. Loop it to your bag strap or key holder, and you’ll have a charging cable with you whenever you need it. P.S. People are going to want to borrow (and swipe) this one.

Honorable mention

Griffin wired keyboard | It’s a real keyboard for your Apple device. Especially helpful when Bluetooth isn’t an option. Luminette Eyewear | It's a device you wear, like eyeglasses with a visor instead of lenses, for light therapy. It can improve sleep, boost energy, and help wearers recover from jet lag.

For the high-tech cook

Pantelligent

Pantelligent | $129 Pantelligent Efficient with a spatula in your hand? Then you’re qualified to step up to Pantelligent. This culinary master of a frying pan uses temperature sensors to communicate with an app. Pantelligent also feeds the cook step-by-step orders. Flip your salmon at just the right time. Adjust the heat on your stove when it needs it. It even comes with an autopilot feature that comes awfully close to having a live-in chef.

Honorable mention

Chefsteps Joule | This gadget melds the old country technique of sous vide – cooking in controlled, low-temperature water – with modern-day tech perfection. An app preheats the water in the Joule to just the right temp. Soda Stream | Feel the fizz: Create sparkling water right from the tap.

News

3 Tech Tools for a Happy, Bright Holiday

I couldn’t wait to get the Sears catalog when I was a little kid. In my preteen years, I moved up to Target fliers that I waited for with as much anticipation. In those pages I’d find dozens of gifts I wanted under the Christmas tree or stuffed in my stocking on Dec. 25. (I estimate 98.9% actually made it there.) That air of anticipation made magic out of ordinary catalog pages. Holiday Anticipation, 2016 style, is a little different. My kids can make wish lists online. Forget visions of sugarplums. Children sneak a tablet into bed and track Santa’s progress online. I wouldn’t be surprised if they could check up on St. Nick on Snapchat. Even before Thanksgiving, Christmastime seems to be here. So why not get a jump start on the season? Here are three online holiday tools for those who just can’t wait for Christmas to get here.

Online Wish Lists

I circled the NFL jackets and Star Wars ships I wanted in catalogs. Kids now can establish a registry, as you might for a wedding. A child can share his or her wish list through Facebook – which increases the chances a family member will pick up the  Wow Wee Coji with Remote at the top of the list. Giftster| For desktop or mobile, register the whole family for gift-giving perfection. Toys R Us | Sign up on the toy giant’s site for all the toys. WishMindr | It’s the app that lets you add gifts from any site – right on your mobile device.

Santa Online

For generations, kids hand-scribbled their wish list to Santa. Today, they can fill out an online form. aLetter4Santa.com promises the Jolly Old Elf will reply to letters submitted immediately. (Now that's customer care). Kids can also color Christmas pages on the site. NORAD Tracks Santa | Starting Dec. 1, check out St. Nick’s progress in his global expedition. Reindeer Cam | Watch Chris Kringle feed the reindeer three times a day. Capture the Magic | It’s the place to get pics of Santa in your living room. How? Magic. (Parents send photos in of living space as it will appear on Christmas Eve. In return, they get a photo of Santa making his rounds in the room.)

 Appy Christmas

Parents herd the kids in to watch Charlie Brown shows for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Why? Their parents herded them in to watch Charlie Brown shows for Thanksgiving and Christmas, that’s why. Now, there’s an app for that. A Charlie Brown Christmas ($5.99, iTunes) | It’s interactive! Christmas Crystal Ball (Google Play, free) | It’s a virtual snow globe for your mobile device. Red Stamp (Google Play, iTunes, free) | Design Christmas cards to have printed and sent. These online resources can help kick off your digital Christmas. You’re on your own for the eggnog.

News

Halloween Inspired Tech Gadgets You Have to Try

Trick-or-Treat Tech

Skeletons, costumes and bags and bags of candy. Halloween is here. And while kids and adults alike are scrambling to pull together last minute costumes and party decorations, we’re here to tell you that there’s more to Halloween than killing it at the costume game—check out these tech gadgets for a spooky and safe Halloween.

Keep track of your tiny Trick or Treaters

Family Signal Want to give your kids the freedom to Trick-or-Treat with their friends, but still keep track of where they are? FamilySignal, a location sharing app, will let you do just that. Just check out the visual map to see where they are on their quest for candy and rest easy knowing they can hit a panic button to alert you and the authorities if anything goes wrong. Glympse Another location based app, Glympse lets your kids send you “Glymses” of where they are or you can request one from them as they are on-the-go. On Halloween night you can set the app to “active” for a certain time period, then have your child select you as a “check-in” recipient through their phone. That way you can see their whereabouts while they’re Trick-or- Treating.

Spice up your desk with these spooky skulls

Skullhub USB Make Halloween great again with the Skullhub USB charger. It’s creepy and effective and you can put candy in it. The skull has 4 USB ports for iPhones and other compatible devices. Skull Speaker This small blue skull packs a punch. Great for blasting beats at a Halloween party or at work, it has a rechargeable battery, 4 hours of playback and includes a USB charging cable and audio cable. Skull Stickers Keep Halloween going all year long with spooky themed computer decals. From a vampire Snow White to skull and sugar skull decals, you can keep the spirit of Halloween alive even after October 31st.

Take your Halloween high-tech this year.

Glowy Zoey LED costume You might have seen the video of the dad who turned his toddler into a glowing LED stick figure. Well now you too can be a Glowy Zoey stick figure and the hit of Halloween parties everywhere. Choose from adult, kid and toddler costumes that boast 150-190 LED lights that can be seen from a mile away. Order yours here, in various colors and throw in some LED slap bracelets to complete the costume. Spooky Lightbulb Decor A light-bulb that plays music and is also Bluetooth capable? The future is here my friends. The Sengled Pulse Dimmable LED Light Bulb can make your porch scarier than ever. Download a freaky playlist, screw in the lightbulb on your porch and hit play from your phone. The neighborhood kids will be running away in no time, saving you plenty of candy for yourself. Vortex Tunnel Absurdly expensive, but fascinatingly fun. Might be good for a corporate Halloween party, or if you own, say, a theme park. Walk into a literal tunnel across a bridge that makes you feel like you’re spinning through time. See if “The Ultimate Tunnel Experience” is right for you.

Sources:

https://www.sengled.com/pages/pulse

https://www.techwalla.com/articles/15-killer-ways-to-spook-up-your-porch-for-halloween

http://www.safewise.com/blog/5-apps-keep-trick-treaters-safe-halloween/

http://www.marieclaire.com/culture/g2437/halloween-tech-accessories/?slide=1

http://www.popsugar.com/tech/Halloween-Tech-Accessories-42513079#photo-42513651

Tech

How Satellite Internet Works

Video Transcript: Satellite Internet is Internet that’s from outer space. Well, it travels to outer space, anyway. Satellite Internet data travels more than 23,000 miles – and that’s just one way! In rural areas, satellite Internet is the best option for high speed. A faster option than dial-up, satellite Internet has undergone tons of improvements in technology and infrastructure in recent years. In many places, satellite Internet speeds can match those cable and DSL carriers offer, even. But, let’s get back to the satellite, orbiting directly over the equator, in space. How does it all work? It all starts in your home. When you type in a website URL on your device, the request travels by wire to your satellite dish. The dish is mounted on your home, where there’s a clear view of the southern sky. This gives your dish the best sightline to the satellite. Obstructions such as trees or buildings could impact your service quality. Installers take these factors into consideration when they choose a spot. A dish sends your request data to a satellite. This satellite is geostationary – which means it orbits the earth at just the right speed to essentially stay in one place. The satellite beams your data to a Network Operations Center – on earth. The NOC retrieves data needed for your request – a webpage, document, audio file – and sends it back to the satellite. The whole process works in reverse. The satellite sends data to your dish, which then goes to your device. Your web request will travel more than 46,000 miles before it returns! All this takes a fraction of a second. It’s not unlike the process of getting Internet from other types of carriers, such as cable, DSL or fiber. Latency can become a factor for satellite Internet, however. Latency refers to a delay in data transmission. For most Internet activity – browsing, sharing, streaming – latency doesn’t impact much. Gaming and streaming on multiple devices, however, can prove problematic. And that’s just with a delay of half a second. Some Internet activity needs more speed than satellite can offer at the moment. However, satellite Internet can be fast enough for a household of multiple users. Check with your provider on speeds and data allowances. You can also download large files during off-peak hours. This usually includes overnight hours, when fewer users are on the network. Satellite Internet providers allow users to schedule bigger downloads during these times. Satellite Internet is a space-age idea. It’s given people in places that had only dial-up as an Internet option a choice. With new satellites launched into orbit all the time, satellite Internet will only get faster.

Tech

Gmail Hacks That Will Instantly Make Your Life Easier

Gmail’s self-explanatory right? We use it every day for work, to keep in touch with family, and to Gchat our friends while sitting in boring meetings. But did you know there’s so much more you can do with it? Whether you want to get organized or just learn a few new shortcuts, Gmail is a much bigger and more magical world than you might realize. We’ve found the best apps and shortcut hacks so you can up your email game, and reach master levels in productivity.

Apps to make email easier

Sortd

Obsessive list makers: Here’s your calling. Sortd markets itself as a “smart skin that lives inside Gmail.” Although that sounds a little creepy, it’s a cool-looking organizational tool that layers over your Gmail, transforming it into practical and customizable lists. Create to-do lists, drag and drop priorities within the list, sort email, snooze emails and get more done.

Gmail Offline

Catch up on email, without worrying about more pouring in. Are you traveling with no access to email? The Gmail Offline Chrome extension lets you stay productive, even without Internet access, and will send emails out once you’re back online.

Mixmax

Mixmax, another Chrome extension, has lots of features to up your productivity. Schedule meetings with one click. Those on the meeting invite can indicate their availability right in your calendar, rather than the hassle of back-and-forth email. Customize email with built-in templates that let you create charts and polls. It also tracks who has opened your messages, and lets you schedule email.

Giphy for Gmail

Sure, sending gifs isn’t a necessity. Fun is a necessity, though, and Giphy is lots of it. When you download this Chrome extension, a Giphy icon will appear in your Inbox and you can spice up emails in no time.

Shortcuts to make your life easier

Preview Pane

If you like the way Outlook provides a preview pane for email, customize your Gmail to have one, too. Just click on the gear icon in the right-hand corner of your Inbox, select Settings, and scroll to the Labs tab. You’ll see a Preview Pane option that you can enable, and see email in a whole new light.

Tasks

If you get email that includes a task or an upcoming event, select the More button in your menu bar, and choose Add to Tasks. A box similar to a Gchat window will appear, where you can create a to-do list.

Keyboard shortcuts

There are tons, and you can find them all here. You can also create your own. Find customizable shortcuts also under the Labs tab – start creating a shortcut for composing a new message or a calendar invite.

Canned responses

Writing the same type of email over and over? What a bore. Save time by turning on canned responses (under the nifty Labs tab). Create and save messages for future reference. These are just a few of the hundreds of hacks to customize your Gmail experience. Explore the array of options under the Labs tab. It provides a plethora of easy ways to make Gmail more fun and help you be more productive.

Sources:

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-best-gmail-tips-tricks-and-extensions-2016-5/#fullcontact-shows-everything-you-need-to-know-about-anyone-who-emails-you-4

http://www.refinery29.com/gmail-help-email-guide#slide-3

http://www.mydomaine.com/gmail-hacks