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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

Buyer Beware: Online shopping scams and how to avoid them

Think you’re safe from online scammers? Think again. Last year, identity theft affected more than 13 million U.S. consumers.  According to the Insurance Information Institute, identity thieves have stolen a whopping $112 billion from U.S. consumers in the past six years. These days, online criminals are more likely to target you that criminals on the street. Online hackers and scammers want credit card information and scammer activity will spike during the holiday season. Here are a few easy steps to identify and avoid online scams as you scramble for last-minute deals.

Top 3 Identity Theft Scams

Gift-card Scams: A too-good-to-be-true gift-card offer is tough to pass up, especially with tons of people to buy for and shopping on a budget. An email offer that asks you to enter your banking information to claim it is a sure sign it’s fake. Trusted brands and retailers don’t ask for that kind of information. Coupon Scams: Following in the too-good-to-be-true vein, many online scammers use emails and website pop-ups claiming deals to top gifts and tech gadgets at a discounted price. Clicking on the links to these coupons will typically take you to a site asking for personal information. Thieves take the information entered to make purchases in your name, and steal your identity. Other ways to spot a fake coupon:
  • No expiration date
  • It doesn’t take you directly to the retailers’ site
  • The offer is too good- like over 50% off good
Bad Links: Online scammers who try to steal your information often do so via a method known as phishing. They use emails that mimic legit retailers, or with information that looks like it’s from your bank in the attempt to get you to enter personal information. These links can also often install malware onto your computer. Not sure you can spot a fake? This site gives you a few examples.

Ways to spot a fake:

Look for poor grammar and spelling: Oftentimes you can spot a fake email or coupon just by the amount of misspellings and over-the-top guarantees. Plus, if a link takes you to a site with tons of pop-ups, that’s another dead giveaway it’s not a legit offer. Look for safe payment systems: Apple Pay, Android Pay and Amazon Payments are all great examples of ways to safely pay online. Plus, if you are banking online, or doing anything involving a payment on the web, be sure the site has the lock icon in the link followed by http://. This indicates it is secure and that your data is private. Look for secure Wi-Fi networks: Never purchase something over public Wi-Fi. It doesn’t have the same kind of security measures in place that a home connection would, which means it’s much easier for hackers to access your phone or computer and steal personal information. Buying online can be quick and painless as long as you are taking steps to keep your information safe. Installing Anti-Virus software and Anti-Phishing software on your home computer is another great way to fight hackers and scammers. Plus, you can fight back. If you believe you have been a victim on identity theft, immediately report it here.

Sources:

https://www.rather-be-shopping.com/blog/2016/01/07/how-to-spot-a-fake-coupon/

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-holiday-shopping-tips-story.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/21/one-in-people-now-victims-of-cyber-crime/

http://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/identity-theft-and-cybercrime

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News

What is Mirai botnet and how did it smash the Internet?

On October 21, the U.S. saw a massive outage of Internet sites. Hackers launched three waves of attacks that took out the web operations of Internet powerhouses such as Amazon, Pinterest, Netflix and The New York Times. Many people were left wondering how this could’ve this happened. Let’s take a look at who attacked what, how they did it, and what implications this could have for the future of the Web.  

Who was it?

Two hacking collectives claimed responsibility for the attack: New World Hackers and Anonymous. The groups say they carried out the operation in retaliation for Ecuador cutting off Internet access for Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. However, experts aren't confident it actually was those groups. With Mirai, the open-source tool used to launch the attack, it could have been any other hacker or group.  

What broke?

The attack was on Dyn, a Domain Name Service (DNS) provider. You use a DNS provider whenever you point your browser to a URL like https://livingthetechlifeblog.wordpress.com/. Think of DNS as a switchboard operator. The operator gets your request and finds the IP address of a server that holds the website you want. Then it and connects your computer to that server. DNS is important to the web, and the blackout showed us just how much depends on it.  

How did it break?

The hackers used a technique called DDoS, which stands for “distributed denial of service.”. The "distributed" part means that the attack came from multiple computers in different locations. In any Denial of Service attack, the attacker bombards a website's server with lots of network requests. With too many requests, the server gets overloaded. It can't respond to legitimate requests and the website becomes unreachable. In the attack on Dyn, the botnet (collection of hacked computers used for the DDoS attack) comprised Internet-enabled devices such as remote cameras, baby monitors and printers. Mirai was the malware that infected them. Mirai's creator specifically targeted the security weakness of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices. A hacker shared the Mirai source code with a community of hackers, giving them a powerful open-source weapon. When Mirai infects a device, the device continues to function normally in the household. But in the background, that device searches for and infects other vulnerable devices. These devices form a virtual army that a hacker can use to barrage online targets with traffic. A Computerworld article said an estimated 100,000 devices were involved in the attack, but the total number of infected devices could be half a million. The attack was likely the largest DDoS attack in history.  

Now what?

The Mirai malware is still out there. But while many devices are now infected, not all of them are controlled by the same hacker. In reality, “Mirai botnet” is many botnets that run on the same malware. Security experts have seen smaller DDoS attempts, but it seems competition among hackers to take over devices has fragmented Mirai’s power. It's unlikely that another big outage will happen from the same source any time soon. But the event should spark caution for device manufacturers and consumers alike. The IoT devices in Mirai botnets were vulnerable because they used weak or default passwords. Manufacturers should require strong, unique passwords during device setup. Users should always change the default password when setting up a new Internet-connected device.

News

The Ways to Conquer the Great Grammar Divide

My daughter actually wrote a paper for school – on her phone. I. Can’t. Imagine. I struggle with a simple text. Zeros become 9s, Ps are Os, and forget the backspace vs. M battle. Middle-aged eyes and letter keys that could fit under a chocolate chip? Not a good match. Yet, for this generation, texting and social-media posts are more comfortable than actual conversation. Forget emoticons and all-lower-case entries for a moment. Let’s not concentrate on spelling. (Although another of my kids once texted, “we picked up meet at the grocery store!”) Grammar – the framework of writing – is taking a hit. What role has social media played in this slow-burning yet seismic downgrade of grammar?

The Grammar Police

To let your grammatical guard down among friends is one thing. But what if your words represent a brand? Readers once pounced on typos in local morning newspapers. Now, some people read with similar scrutiny blogs and social media posts. They search and destroy brands who post updates with errors of grammar and spelling. Quick to grill a company for missing commas? Consider this: Brands that relate to their audience succeed. Brands such as Sephora, ThinkGeek and Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center convey personality. They connect not because of impeccable grammar, but with messages that resonate. Friends and contacts like and share content that resonates. They also frequent their content, and buy their products.

The evolving language of communication

There’s always a moment. Your grandmother sends btw in an email. Your own father uses 4 for for and 2 for too in a text. Chances are, they’d stop for a moment if they saw these deviations in ad copy for luxury cars or cereal. So why use it themselves? Corporations, small businesses and bloggers must weigh the cost of hardline grammatical compliance. Is striving for perfection best? Or is there value in a conversational tone that evokes genuine connection? Could it be that we place far too much emphasis on the written word? Our smartphones give us a free pass. We use disclaimers such as please excuse any grammatical errors, sent from my mobile device. If only we could tag this to social media posts, email and pick-up lines, too, right? Grammar sets us off, but it’s not the only evil of the English language. Blogger Mandi Castle, of Cellulite Looks Better Tan, summarized the struggle. She wrote a post titled Things You Should Have Learned in Grade School but Obviously Didn’t, In it, Mandi laments gaffes of a lot and cannot but also it’s and nother and literally and figuratively. “Feel free to share this on Facebook,” Mandi writes. “As I’m certain 99.7% of people who use it daily should have had to sit through Mrs. Lawrence’s third grade grammar lessons because they still say ‘should of.’”

Literally (or figuratively?) the final word

A teacher friend recently graded third-grade grammar quizzes. “I fear for the future of interpretable communication," she told me in a Facebook post. "Yikes.” Kids, though, have jacked up the English language for generations. We often consider it adorable, with backward letters and everything. On the surface, the divide seems sharp: Either you’re a stickler, or you wing it. There’s a lot of rules, though, and even stickler status doesn’t guarantee expertise. It’s unofficial. It seems, though, the key to forgiveness for all writing wrongs is simple: How do you feel about the person or entity who made the mistake? A fan of your favorite team can bust the “you’re-your rule” in exuberance over a victory. You’ll likely thumbs-up the comment, no questions asked. A member of an opposing political party forgets to capitalize Boise, and he'll have upon him a literary wrath of biblical proportions. It’s about how the words make you feel. Unless you’re in the grammar police. Then, you must ask yourself, has the slip-up spoiled the message? Good grammar doesn’t guarantee compelling prose. Imperfect discourse isn’t wholly deemed unfit. A messy cookie is likely more desirable than broccoli fixed to perfection, right? Maybe. I’ll text my kid and ask about that.

3 websites to boost your grammar

GRAMMAR BOOK | This site promotes a book, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, by Jane Strauss. It offers quizzes, a newsletter and a list of grammar rules to follow. LOUSY WRITER | It’s a free online resource to strengthen your writing overall. It includes how-to guides to many parts of speech, as well as tips for writing everything from a thesis to a screenplay. PURDUE ONLINE WRITING LAB | Purdue University hosts this site. It covers grammar and mechanics, job search and professional writing, and popular writing vidcasts.

Mobile & Wi-Fi

Heart, Smiley Face, High Five: Our love affair with emojis

This year, with the iOS 10 update, Apple users got new emojis – some long awaited, such as the middle finger or two-gender options for dancing twins and Sherlock Holmes – and others, upgraded, such as robot and cat emojis. Every day, worldwide, users send 6 billion emoticons on phones or mobile messaging apps. In 2016, on World Emoji Day, Twitter released data on which emojis are the most popular in each country. The U.S. uses the weary face most; France sends out the heart emoji more than any other. Where did they even come from? A guy named Shigetaka Kurita created the first emoji. He worked for a Japanese communication company, and wanted a way for mobile users to send pictures without using lots of data. Thus, the emoji was born. It became popular in the U.S., when Apple added it to their products. Did you know emojis are regulated? A nonprofit called the Unicode Consortium serves as the Sorting Hat for emojis, and they always get the final say. Wait, why do emojis need regulation? The consortium was established 24 years ago to develop standards for translating different alphabets into code. It also regulates and develops standards for software internationalization. They make sure tech products, services and codes can be adapted to different languages and cultures. The consortium gets hundreds of new emoji proposals annually. It reviews them carefully, and approves a few for the public. But some people don’t think it should be up to a high counsel to tell us what emojis we should use. They’ve discussed this at the world’s first ever emoji conference, Emojicon, in San Francisco in Q4 2016. But the consortium was like “Imma let you finish,” but here are 56 new emojis we’ve approved for 2017, and you don’t get a say. Why do we love emojis so much?     Aside from being adorable, they also help us express things we can’t always find the words for — such as during awkward or sad moments. Dr. Owen Churches is a professor of psychology at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia. He conducted research that found we react to emojis the same way we do to the human face. They also help make users more likeable, or soften the blow of what they might be trying to say, and make you more popular on Twitter. From NBA players who tattoo them on their arms, to bedspreads and pillows, emojis have become mainstream. Plus, you can also now read classic literature translated into emoji. (Emoji Dick and Yolo Juliet). Meanwhile, English majors everywhere weep.  


Sources:

https://techcrunch.com/gallery/here-are-all-the-new-emoji-coming-with-ios-10/slide/4/e

http://www.citymac.com/blog/2015/11/02/the-history-of-emoji

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/07/-as-the-world-is.html

http://digiday.com/brands/digiday-guide-things-emoji/

https://www.buzzfeed.com/charliewarzel/inside-emojigeddon-the-fight-over-the-future-of-the-unicode?utm_term=.kyA7dPOrro#.xaNd8x4EE3

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/10628063/Human-brain-reacts-to-emoticons-as-real-faces.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/contemporary-psychoanalysis-in-action/201605/why-do-we-use-emojis

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.

Mobile & Wi-Fi

3 Cash-Back Apps to Make Your Wallet Happy

The words cash back activate my inner skeptic. This especially applies in the world of mobile-phone apps. I can’t give up precious storage space on my Android to apps that could act as malware and not a money-saver. Let’s concentrate on the positives first. A worthy cash-back app should live up to its name. It should … give cash back. Its user should also not need an advanced degree in quantum physics to operate it. That’s golden. Check out these notable cash-back apps. They're worth a little home-screen territory on your phone while they help you to stockpile a little green while you shop for necessities

3 cash-back apps to check out

1. Checkout 51

Free | iOS | Android How it works: Match your grocery receipts with current offers available on the app. Certain offers specify what brand you must buy. Others are non-specific, or go for general purchases, such as bananas or milk, no matter what store you shop for them. What you receive: A check, once your account reaches $20. Does it pay? On the app’s site, The Vancouver Sun is cited as calling Checkout 51 “new-age couponing.” This app makes it a snap to gain back a little spending money on your purchases.

2. Receipt Hog

Free | iOS | Android How it works: Enter photos of grocery receipts to win coins and slot-machine spins. It’s a game, with possible payouts. What you receive: Pay Pal payment, or gift cards. Grocery and drug-store receipts can translate to coins you can use to cash out or trade for gift cards. Big-box and department store receipts earn a user slot-machine spins? for bigger savings. Does it pay? Receipt Hog accepts super-center and membership warehouse receipts, with no stipulation that you purchase food at the time. Receipt Hog keeps your personal data, but you can opt out of them having anything specific. It’s a simple way to build up your Pay Pal balance.

3. Snap by Groupon

Free | iOS | Android How it works: In Spring 2016, this app changed from cash back for product-specific purchases, to retailer-specific promotions. It features more big-ticket items, such as clothing and housewares, than groceries. What you receive: A check, once your account surpasses $20. Does it pay? Groupon’s known for discounts on goods, services, and restaurants. Snap by Groupon won’t fund your country club dues, but you could gain a little spending money.

Tips to avoid dangerous or fake apps

Not all apps on the Play Store or iTunes have undergone rigorous legitimacy tests. Actually, few have. Here’s how to stay safe.

1.      Read reviews

User reviews come by the star system, 1 through 5. The average rating means little. Dig in and read. Why are the 1s so unhappy? Chatter of data usage or text messaging ballooning as a result of this app should get your attention.

2.      Dig into the developer

It’s listed under the app name. Scroll to the bottom of the app page. Locate a link to the developer’s website, and hover over it. Does it lead to a legit website? Also, be on the lookout for a blue diamond icon on Play Store apps. That indicates a Google Top Developer. That’s a good thing. The Google Play editorial staff designates such status based on a developer’s cumulative work creating high-quality and innovative apps.

3.      Install a scam detector

Some apps are designed to steer users away from malicious apps. Some of those apps, however, are themselves malicious. The best scam detectors turn out to be phone savers. The worst among them do nothing but cause the problems you’ve hoped to avoid. On the Play Store, Scam Detector is legit. (There’s a version for iOS too).