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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 16, 2015
    Ten Killer Smartphone Apps

    It seems like every day I spend a few minutes looking at new apps for my smartphone.  I never thought I would be one of those people, but as it turns out, smartphones and the apps they contain really do help to make life easier.  The abundance of “best apps” lists for various smartphone platforms don’t help my curiosity or my app-based wanderlust.  Here’s another list of 10 killer apps, and there are some great apps included.

    Of the apps that interest me most are the parking and traffic apps.  I generally don’t run into traffic a lot on my day-to-day, but whenever I have to go anywhere in the general direction of downtown to see a sporting event, attend a concert, get a nice meal, or just go poking around various tourist traps, there’s always a problem.  A) where do I park and B) where can I park cheaply?

    The BestParking app, as highlighted on Kim Komando’s list, is one I’m really going to check out.  I only hope it works in my town, because there are a lot of parking places and they can be anything from $3 to $10.  I’m also interested in the WAZE app, which is the traffic app.  Perhaps it’ll help me avoid some construction.

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    April 14, 2015
    Apple Chops Down Selfie Sticks At WWDC

    What hath the camera phone wrought?  Apple has done more for the taking of selfies than any company with its iPhone, but now the Cupertino consumer electronics company has decided to put an end to the newest selfie sensation before it can take root at the Worldwide DevelopersConference (or WWDC).  Apple is banning the selfie stick at its annual gathering of tech luminaries.

    “You are not permitted to make audio or audiovisual recordings of WWDC or take professional photographic or video equipment, or wearable recording devices into Moscone West or Yerba Buena Gardens.  In addition, you may not use selfie sticks or similar monopods within Moscone West or Yerba Buena Gardens,” read the show’s guidelines.

    Part of me thinks that if I’m paying $1,599 to attend a conference, I should be able to bring anything reasonable to make my experience better.  However, selfie sticks are pretty obnoxious and, as a rule, I’m not in favor of swinging around a phone on the end of a giant claw and risk smacking strangers (or myself) with some sort of aluminum stick.  I guess it’s Apple’s rules, and that Apple can block whatever they want from its conference.  I have no doubt there’s going to be plenty of people willing to make that compromise, leave the stick at home, and enjoy the show.

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    April 13, 2015
    Google’s Anti-Spoiler Technology

    Last night was the debut of one of the biggest shows in the television arena.  HBO’s Game of Thrones is a full-fledged sensation, with millions of downloads (both legal and illegal), millions of season sets sold on home video, and tens of millions of devoted viewers every week.  The only thing the fans are more passionate about than the show is avoiding spoilers.  They’re very hard to get past if you use any kind of social media, and on some days, you need to avoid Twitter and Facebook completely if you want to stay spoiler free.  Google wants to save us from spoilers.

    There are a lot of different systems that broadcast what you’re watching to social networking, but Google is going to use that technology to block out spoiler-filled search results, possibly by blocking or blurring all posts about a specific subject (Game of Thrones, for example) while you’re actively watching said program.  Apparently, the system would also be able to determine where certain mentioned events are in the program, so if you’re not all the way to the part where the thing happens, you won’t see anyone raving and ranting about the thing until you get there (unless you choose to see it).

    I’m not sure if it’s technology that will actually work, but I love the idea.  Having to shut myself off of social media until I catch up on TV is getting to be old.

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    April 10, 2015
    Apple Watch Sells Out In Pre-Order

    If you stamp the Apple logo on something and push it out to the public, people are going to buy it.  No matter what the product, it seems like Apple is raking in money hand-over-fist.  The Apple Watch has sold out in its pre-order debut.  Not a huge suprise, but what is surprising is how Apple is handling its new product.

    You can go to the Apple Store and look at Apple Watches, but you’re very limited if you want to actually try one on.  Only 21 US stores will allow customers to try on the high-end Apple Watch, dubbed Edition, and I’m pretty sure most of those are clustered in major metropolitan areas where people have between $10,000 and $17,000 to spend on something like a smart watch.  There are 34 stores outside the US that will have a try-on ready Apple Edition.

    There are 54 different combinations of watch, band, and size, all of which presumably have the same features, so I imagine the watch you try on might be very different from the actual watch you buy (or want to buy).  One cool feature: the watch adjusts itself for left or right hand wear by rotating the screen in much the same fashion as your phone will rotate its screen based on how you’ve got it in your hand.

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    April 6, 2015
    Amazon Dash Stops Dashes To The Store

    The other day I wanted spaghetti, so I asked and was granted a reprieve to have a nice spaghetti dinner.  Water boiling, ground beef browned on the stove, box of spaghetti at the ready, and… nothing.  No spaghetti sauce anywhere to be found in the house.  Depressing; we instead had tacos without lettuce, which was fine, but not the same.  Eventually, I got my spaghetti, but again, we didn’t have garlic bread.  That’s three meals thwarted, all because of something missing in the cupboard.  Wouldn’t it be great to order missing groceries and household supplies with a push of a button?  Amazon certainly thinks so.  Amazon has announced Amazon Dash, a stickable button you place at key locations in your home to order supplies when you run out.

    The buttons are reusable, but they’re programmed to work with the Amazon mobile app.  When you push the button labeled Tide, for example, Amazon uses your payment information to order Tide.  Pretty cool, right?  Well, it gets even better.  Some products auto-detect when they’re getting low and order themselves for you.  Imagine never running out of detergent or toilet paper or other stuff like that?

    “Dash Button comes with a reusable adhesive and a hook so you can hang, stick, or place it right where you need it,” says Amazon of their new product.  ”Keep Dash Button handy in the kitchen, bath, laundry, or anywhere you store your favorite products.  When you’re running low, simply press Dash Button, and Amazon quickly delivers household favorites so you can skip the last-minute trip to the store.”

    Whirlpool is the first partner to work with Dash to ensure automatic reorder, but I’m sure plenty of other smart electronics will follow suit soon enough.  What’s to lose?

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    March 31, 2015
    Chromebit: A Computer On A Stick

    It seems like everyone wants to make a stick.  It’s probably the hottest form factor for consumer electronics since the tablet, and it’s becoming increasingly omnipresent to find some device to plug into  your television to make it do something impressive.  I personally have an Amazon Fire Stick for my upstairs television, and everyone I know has some sort of stick, be it a Cromecast, an Apple TV stick, or something else of that type.  Basically, right now, most stick devices are used to help connect to the internet and stream video in some way.  However, there’s a lot more you can do with that form factor, and Google is going to be pushing those limits.  Google is putting a whole computer on a plug-in HDMI stick.

    The stick has been dubbed the Google ASUS Chromebit, and it packs a LOT of punch for a small form factor.  It’s got 2GB of RAM and 16 GB of onboard storage, and it is powered by the same kind of ARM processors that currently power smartphones.  So it’s small, powerful, and shouldn’t have heat concerns.  It will also be powered by Google’s Chrome OS operating system, so it will be very light and very potent, provided app makers jump on board.  The Chromebit will also support Bluetooth devices, so it’s useful as a real computer should you want to run Microsoft Office 365 or search for a movie on Netflix.

    The key point, though, is the price.  It’s going to be under $100, cheaper than Intel’s $149 Compute stick, and it doesn’t require any other special features or additional devices.  That’s a really impressive deal!

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    March 30, 2015
    Project Spartan Is Now Available

    The time of the Internet Explorer is coming to an end.  Microsoft’s venerable browser has held off all challengers, even down to modern strugglers like Firefox and Google Chrome, but it’s got a lot of baggage to the name, some good, but mostly bad.  It’s that bad noise that comes along with the name that is causing Microsoft to scrap one of it’s best-known products.  It’s a new world out there, and with a new world comes new requirements and a new centerpiece web browser.  Microsoft’s new browser, Project Spartan, is now ready for testing.

    Of course, if you want to test spartan, you need to also test Windows 10, but since it’s free, why not?  If you’re already testing an experimental build of an OS, go ahead and add onto it with an experimental browser.  It’s Microsoft’s next-gen replacement for Internet Explorer, after all, so may as well get your hands dirty.  It’s all designed to be faster, run cleaner, and make sharing that much easier, as well as to allow people to write notes directly onto websites.  So yeah, it sounds pretty cool.

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    March 25, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Eclipse

    Via Reddit

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    February 14, 2015
    Google And Mattel Turn The View Master Into The Virtual Master

    In 1939, the View Master made its debut.  It was used to help fighters in World War II and it was used to prep doctors for delicate surgeries.  Now the toy is getting a new lease on life thanks to a great partnership between Mattel and Google.  The View Master is coming into the virtual reality age, thanks to a little help from Google.

    The 3D View Master is a partnership between Mattel and Google, using Google’s Cardboard VR viewer.  It’s pretty cool technology, all things considered.  Not only do you get the cool 3D view, you’re now able to enter the world.  The new View Master is an app that works with smartphones and uses reels to activate the various programs.  You slide your phone into the location, you point the View Master at the circle, and then the program starts up.  At certain points, you can click on a button on the phone to explore the world you’re looking at in more depth.

    All in all, it’s a very fun way to revitalize an old technology, and I really hope it takes off, because my ViewiMaster is still gathering dust at my parents house in its carrying case with its discs.  If there was a good way to bring that to life again, I’m a happy kid.

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