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    May 4, 2015
    Microsoft’s New IE-Killing Browser

    Has there ever been a bigger announcement than the idea that Microsoft–who worked very hard and spent much harder–to win the original browser war versus Netscape decades ago,  Since then, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and dozens of other browsers have popped up and nipped away at Microsoft’s browser supremacy over the years, and they’re everything IE isn’t:  fast, light, clean, secure, etc.  Well, rather than giving up, Microsoft is giving in and rolling out a fast, light, modern browser of their own.  The rumored Project Spartan is now Microsoft Edge, and it’s shaping up to be an in-house IE killer.  Here are five ways Microsoft Edge will be a huge improvement over Internet Explorer.

    Honestly, anything is an improvement over IE at this stage.  Firefox might be sluggish, but it’s faster than IE.  Chrome might be very light, but it also doesn’t have all the security issues that routinely crop up on IE.  I can only hope that it lives up to the hype and that there’s pretty prompt corporate adoption, because I’m tired of being handcuffed by regular IE and not being able to use Google Chrome due to work requirements.  Then again, if Microsoft’s new browser won’t support a bunch of the necessary stuff in the background to run corporate software, this might be a big mistake.

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    May 1, 2015
    Sprint Unveils Free Airport WiFi

    One of the perils of traveling is the inability to find reliable connectivity.  During a trip to London a couple of years ago, the only place I could really get solid WiFi in the city was, guess where?  Heathrow Airport.  It made things a lot easier for me while waiting for boarding and all that fun stuff, but when I got stuck at O’Hare Airport in Chicago for seven hours?  Nothing.  Nothing but books to read and no real way to get online.  Thankfully, Sprint customers won’t face the dilemma of having to pay for what so many places give away for free.  Sprint is teaming up with airport WiFi controllers Boingo to give free access to its customers.

    “By enabling customers to move more smoothly between trusted Wi-Fi and cellular, our customers will have a better mobile experience in more locations, all while lowering their cost of data usage,” said Sprint’s CTO Stephen Bye.

    Of course, this isn’t at every airport, just at 35 specific airports mentioned in a Sprint blog post.  Still, that’s a start.  Maybe Verizon can pick up the bill at some other airports, or AT&T can provide WiFi at truck stops?  The important thing is that free WiFi is starting to really take root in the public sector.  Here’s hoping it continues to advance; if I can get free WiFi at the world’s busiest airport, surely they can roll out WiFi coverage at other major airports.

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    April 29, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Panorama

    Via Twisted Sifter

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    April 28, 2015
    A Power-Free Washing Machine

    Sometimes you just have to wash some clothes, but you don’t have the ability to do so.  Maybe your washing machine is broken.  Maybe the power is out.  Maybe you’re traveling and you’re not wanting to pay for the price of a trip to the laundromat for just a few things.  Either way, a company called Yirego has come up with a $129 solution to the problem.  The Drumi is a power-free washing machine powered by the foot, not the cord.

    Of course, the machine isn’t going to replace your full-sized washing machine, but if you have access to soap and clean water and some time to dedicate to stepping on a foot pedal for awhile, then you’ll have six or seven pieces of clean laundry once you hand the stuff out to dry.  But the Drumi functions as both a washer and a spin-cycle to drain excess water out of the clothes.  If you’re a traveler, this seems like a really interesting investment that would fit pretty well in the back of a car or in a trunk for traveling purposes.

    If you’re interested, the Yirego Drumi is available for preorder at yirego.com.

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    April 27, 2015
    Best Buy Will Now Take Apple Pay

    The wave of the future is the payment app.  I have a payment app for a local coffee chain, and it’s making things a lot easier for me.  Not that I get to buy that much coffee, but to swipe a thing and have it be my payment method, loyalty card, and order tracker all in one, it’s pretty convenient rather than handing over multiple plastic cards.  The future, I guess, is Apple Pay and Apple Pay-like products, and Best Buy is no longer willing to wait for the future.  Best Buy is going to begin taking Apple Pay immediately, having updated their iOS app to reflect the chance in corporate policy.

    Best Buy is one of the companies involved closely in the Merchant Customer Exchange, which is developing Apple Pay rival CurrentC.  I guess this is a sign of a lack of support for CurrentC on Best Buy’s part, which makes sense because CurrentC is far behind schedule in terms of development when compared to Apple Pay.  No sense fighting the current when your own product isn’t ready.

    “Today’s consumers have many different ways to spend their money and we want to give our customers as many options as possible in how they pay for goods and services at Best Buy,” reads a Best Buy statement.  ”The acceptance of Apple Pay in the Best Buy app is the latest enhancement for our mobile platform.”

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    April 23, 2015
    The Apple Watch App Store Is Live

    The Apple Watch has been spectacularly popular, selling out preorders and creating a whole lot of interest in a little wrist-sized product that promises to become the first in a long line of wearables.  But a smart watch is nothing without a way to put cool stuff onto said smart watch.  That’s where the apps come in.  The Apple Watch App Store is now available.

    Of course, nobody really has an Apple Watch quite yet, but still, it’s nice to know that they’ve already got a lineup of apps ready at launch.  Indeed, there are 3000 waiting, not including the ones built into the Apple Watch.  The Apple Watch app store was first introduced in iOS 8.2, but now if you’re looking to poke around, persistence will get you a reward.  Most users are reporting that it takes multiple presses of the button to get into the store, but if you’re willing to keep clicking, eight or ten clicks should be enough to get you in.

    Unless, of course, Apple clamps down on the store and takes it offline again.

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    April 22, 2015
    Tesla’s Home Battery Plan

    Batteries in the car?  That’s old and boring.  There’s a whole new frontier for battery power, and it’s the place you spend most of your time.  That’s right, the future just might be home battery power, and it looks like the company that brought the electric car to the forefront will be doing the same for your home utility service.  Elon Musk and Tesla wants to put battery packs in your home or business.

    Now, the batteries are expensive, with current packages starting at $13,000, though some utility companies will offer rebates on the units, which offer 10 kilowatt hours of power (there are also 440 kilowatt hour commercial devices).  The devices typically charge at night, when utility and electricity charges are cheaper.  The devices are 3 feet high by 2.5 feet wide, and need to be installed a foot and a half off the ground.  Still, they can be controlled via online app or smartphone app, and if they offer utility savings that can be quantified and the batteries don’t wear out in five or ten years, it might be worth it.

    Here’s a fun question, though: will the Tesla battery also function as battery power for a house during a power outage?  If so, well, then it might be worth the investment should the price come down to the point of a similarly-powered generator.

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    April 21, 2015
    LED Bulbs 2 For $5

    LED bulbs are the next big thing for the house.  Actually, they’ve been the next big thing for awhile now, but they’ve been too expensive for msot people that I know to take the plunge.  A bulb that lasts 10 years is great, but paying $10 or more for a lightbulb is a tough proposition, even though they save energy and produce light almost as good as incandescent bulbs.  Fortunately, Philips understands, and Philips is going to lower the entry barrier for the LED world.  Philips will offer their A16 LED bulbs for 2 for $5.

    Now I’ve got a couple of LED bulbs, and I do like them, but at the same time, they’re costly.  I bought some LED holiday lights to use as incidental lighting on my stairs, which I like quite a bit, but the individual bulbs are still hard to swallow price-wise.  (Also literally, because they’re glass.)  At this price point, though, I’m thinking about making the switch, or at least buying up as many LEDs as I can afford at one time to replace my old bulbs as they burn out.  The light might not be as nice as the old days, but for that price, I think I’ll be okay.

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    April 20, 2015
    Faster Phone Typing Tips

    One of the best and worst things about smartphones with touchscreens is that typing is either easier or a chore.  If you have deft fingers, you won’t have a problem.  If you’ve got stubby fingers, then you’re looking at some trouble.  Whenever I type a search or something on my phone, it takes entirely too long because I have to hunt and peck.  There are lots of ways to speed up typing on your phone, and CNN Money has highlighted some of them.

    I have gotten a typing assistance program that allows me to drag and swipe my words by dragging a finger from letter to letter; there are also predicative technology things involved to help figure out what I type and how I type it.  However, one of the things I never would have thought to do was turn the phone to landscape mode to make the keyboard bigger.  Am I just thoughtless, or is that something that nobody thinks of that might make things easier without any special keyboard software?  It’s so much easier than talking to your phone to make it type words, or trying to keep track of a writing stylus.

     

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    April 17, 2015
    Verizon’s New FiOS Skinny Bundles

    One of the problems with cable television is the fact that you’re paying a lot of money for channels that you might not want.  Not everyone wants ESPN.  Not everyone wants SyFy or E! on their dials.  Some people have very specific television tastes and needs, and for those people, there’s not a ton of choice.  Cable networks have a vested interest in bundling, so rather than getting a sports-only package, ESPN has to come bundled alongside a lot of other ABC/Disney channels.  Verizon is looking to shake up that status quo with a bunch of new FiOS ‘skinny’ television packages.

    The new offering is called FiOS Custom TV, and it sounds pretty awesome.  First of all, there’s no required commitment, so the two year contract is only for those that want to lock in slightly lower rates or who know they’re in it for the long haul.  After 30 days, you can drop any package you don’t want without fees.  The basic cost is $55 for the base package, which comes with two of seven other packages:  sports, sports plus, kids, pop culture, lifestyle, entertainment, and news & info.  Other additional packages are $10 a month.  For those looking for TV and Internet together, it’s $75 a month (before taxes and fees) for a 2-year commitment.

    “This is an entirely new way to personalize TV,” said Tami Erwin, president of Verizon’s Consumer and Mass Business group, in a statement.

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