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Archive for the ‘TECH TIPS’ Category

Depending on which state you call home, you may be spending anywhere from 28 to 46 minutes on average on housework every day. And while this may be significantly less than the amount of time that was generally devoted to home-upkeep half a century ago, it’s still more than most of us would like to be spending on things such as vacuuming, doing laundry, etc. Thankfully, as technology continues to advance and our homes become more automated, we’ll soon see even more of our time being freed-up for more interesting, entertaining, or rewarding pursuits. Here are five soon-to-be-commonplace home devices that will free us all from the merciless task-master that is housekeeping.

  1. Robotic vacuum cleaners

The air you breath may seem clean, and for the most part it is. However, hidden within the drafts and gusts that circulate through your home are tiny bits of particulate matter. Dirt, lint, flakes of dead skin, insect parts—all are small enough to be carried easily through the air without your noticing, but they still have weight. Eventually they settle down, and when they do, they collect on surfaces, especially the floor. We combat this menace by hauling out the vacuum cleaner or broom, but it’s a war that is ongoing. Roomba is an automated weapon designed to help you fight that war. In essence, it’s a robotic vacuum cleaner which regularly patrols your home, vacuuming up dirt and debris as it goes. When it runs low on battery power, it simply returns to its docking station for a recharge. It can even be set to only operate at night, so you won’t have to worry about tripping over it while you’re moving around the house.

  1. Smart washing machines and dryers

Thanks to the washer and dryer, most of us will never have to worry about breaking our backs over a washboard or dealing with frozen laundry on clotheslines during the winter. But just because our laundry appliances are already amazing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s no room for improvement. LG has been developing smart washers and dryers that make it possible to monitor laundry status remotely, communicating the remaining time directly to your mobile device, and sending messages when cycles are completed. They also feature Smart Diagnosis, which means that should something go wrong, the machine itself will do its best to solve the problem on its own. You can also directly download updates as well as specific instructions tailored to wash-types.

  1. Smart Sprinklers

Sprinkler systems that automatically turn on at specific times are probably the only thing keeping our lawns green throughout the long, hot days of summer. Of course, having sprinklers that turn themselves on at the same time every day isn’t always a good thing. For example, if a rain storm is currently dumping gallons and gallons of water into your yard, running your sprinklers is only going to waste money and resources. Skydrop has created a smart sprinkler controller which not only allows for remote operation of an entire sprinkler system, but one that also keeps track of local weather patterns, thus ensuring that lawns and gardens get the right amount of moisture, without forcing homeowners to manually deactivate the system every time dark clouds appear.

  1. Smart dishwasher

Speaking of water, there aren’t many chores that are as water-wasteful as washing dishes. But what can you do? Water is the universal solvent, which means that if you want to be able to reuse those dishes in any state of cleanliness, you’re going to have to run the faucet, one way or another. Still, even if you can’t wash dishes without wasting water, you can reduce the environmental impact of your need to eat off of clean surfaces. The Whirlpool Smart Dishwasher, in addition to featuring remote access via smart devices, keeps track of how much energy is being used by the appliance. They also feature ultra-efficient running cycles, which means less water waste overall.

  1. Smart refrigerator

Grocery shopping is a pain, and never more so than when you don’t know what you need to get. Sure, you could keep a list, but that only helps with items that you consider before you leave the house. If you happen to walk through the pickle aisle and then can’t remember if you have pickles at home, then a list isn’t going to help you much. An internet-connected internal refrigerator camera, on the other hand, could save you some confusion. LG is currently developing a smart refrigerator with a built-in internal camera, so that if you ever need to see what’s happening inside your icebox, all you’ll have to do is log on through a mobile smart device. The refrigerator will also feature LG Homechat, which allows users to actually communicate with their refrigerators regarding fridge contents. The touchscreen located on the outside of the refrigerator door keeps inventory of what food is available and what’s likely to expire soon, and can even offer recipe ideas based upon what foods are inside.

So, stop wasting all of those minutes on housework. Smart technology is giving you back the time you need to follow your dreams…even if those dreams consist of taking a half-hour nap while your robotic vacuum cleaner sucks up your spilled Dorito crumbs. Hey, we didn’t say that you have to use the time well, only that smart devices would be giving you more of it.

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Today’s students are profoundly different than those of twenty years ago. These students come to class equipped with powerful technology. As personal devices become increasingly accessible, they begin to impact students’ educational experiences and expectations. As a result, BYOD (“bring your own device”) policies have become common in the higher education classroom.

Top Hat is a mobile student engagement system that allows students to use their personal devices to interact with course material. Instructors are able to harnesses the multi-functional and robust features of mobile devices to enhance the learning experience for students of this generation. The lecture transforms from passive to active.

Top Hat can be used to conduct assessments, collect feedback, administer quizzes and more. Results are aggregated and displayed in realtime while synchronously updated in individual student gradebooks. Its design is simple and intuitive for students and professors. Beyond these fundamental student response features, Top Hat is the most versatile solution on the market — instructors can create 6 different question types, students can initiate questions, and either can launch long-form discussions that continue beyond the classroom. In addition, it has unique features, such as a “tournament” module that allows students to go head-to-head in a fun competition to demonstrate their knowledge.

Top Hat is a tool for 21st century educators and students. In addition, they have recently published a few ebooks on The Modern Student and The Modern Classroom. Browse their resources page to learn more about opportunities to learn more about their mission and their product here: www.tophat.com/modern-educator-resources.

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Samsung’s current move on the market is more aligned with producing devices that are well-designed to look fancy on any user’s hand. It usually comes with large and powerful screen as well as cameras that mimics the DSLR features. However, we were surprised when they finally introduced a phone that can withstand drops and water splashes – introducing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active. It’s a rugged phone that can be submerged into deep water and can take drops and bumps that common smartphones cannot take. In June, we witnessed the launch of this device in the United States and rumors have it that it will be available to Verizon Wireless  sometime this year. Below, we’ll have a look at this one of a kind piece of gadget from the Korean mobile manufacturer.

IP certified

Sources claimed that the S4 Active is IP67 certified, which means that it passed the standards for Ingress Protection (IP) against dust and immersion between 15centimeter and 1meter.  However, it can only be submerged in freshwater for not more than 30 minutes.

Waterproof design

Not too large and not too small, this device fits perfectly in any user’s hand with a dimension of (5.5 x 2.81 x 0.36 in) at weighs 153 grams. It’s heavier than the original variant by 23 grams due to the extra waterproof case on this handset. Samsung has included a rubber seal on the inner part of the back plate for added protection. The second seal is located at the bottom part of the case to cover the MicroUSB port slot. The 3.5mm headphone jack is sealed from the inside of the device.

Just like the original model, this phone also comes in two colors. But instead of the White Frost, the developers gave it an aquatic look with the splash of Dive Blue color.

Take underwater photos and videos using Aqua Mode

Since it can be submerged for up to 1meter deep, this is a perfect companion for underwater photographers, especially with the inclusion of the Aqua Mode. Before activating this mode, you have to remember to snap the cover in place by pressing the edges of the back plate and just below the camera and flash openings. This procedure ensures that your gizmo is ready for an underwater activity.

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When in Aqua Mode, your device’s buttons are not functional. In order for you to start taking photos or record a video, you need to use the volume keys. Now you can take clear underwater photographs and videos for 30 minutes. Make sure not to exceed the time limit, to ensure no damage is done on your device.

With a ruggedized features, the Galaxy S4 Active is truly one of a kind piece of device that Apple hasn’t tried to combat as of now. Will this handset give the Korean Manufacturer a full edge over the Cupertino Company? Are we going to see a rugged smartphone from Apple soon? Share us your thoughts about it and your own review of this rugged phone.

Courtesy of ShareATT

About the Author:

Sookie Lioncourt (1)

Sookie Lioncourt is a freelancer interests including gadgets, wireless technology, latest mobiles and fashion and design. You can find her where the two intersect, at TechieDoodlers, or follow her on Twitter.

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Earth Globe with mobile phoneIt’s a good time to be a gadget geek. Smartphones have come along way since the original iPhone and Blackberry struggled for dominance. Apple’s touch-screen innovation has largely eliminated the old Qwerty keyboard, and smartphones are packed with processors that could run computers.

The smartphone boon has opened the doors for competition. Apple remains a top player in the market, but in 2012, Samsung’s Galaxy S3 outsold Apple’s iPhone 4s, according to cbsnews.com. Familiar tech companies are making a mobile splash, as well. Search-giant Google purchased Motorola Mobility in 2012, adding a hardware wing to their well-documented software mobile division. Facebook recently released its latest mobile innovation, an integrated app collaboration dubbed Facebook Home.

Smartphone innovation is in full swing. Which device will you choose as your digital companion?

Samsung

Less than a year ago, Samsung introduced iPhone’s biggest competitor yet, the Galaxy S3. It was big, fast and sleek, and consumers noticed. Samsung isn’t resting on the S3′s success, though. In March, the Korean manufacturer introduced the Galaxy S4. Predictably, it’s even bigger, even faster and even more impressive. A mammoth 5-inch 1080p screen connects users with the device, and new eye-tracking technology delivers a “wow” factor. Samsung is riding a wave of momentum, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

Apple

Cupertino-based Apple found a release cycle that launched them to the top of the smartphone market. Introduce a redesigned phone every two years, and upgrade under-the-hood hardware and software on off years. Apple’s grip on the mobile crown might be slipping, but the “Think Different” brand isn’t afraid to innovate. According to Ibtimes.com, Apple could release a less expensive iPhone this fall. If critics had to criticize Apple’s current mobile products, most would point their high price tags. A less expensive iPhone could reestablish Apple as the clear leader in the smartphone industry.

Google

If we’ve learned anything about Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, it’s that they think big. It’s no surprise, then, that when Google officially purchased Motorola Mobility last year, it sent shock waves through the mobile industry. Google could make its next big mobile announcement as early as next month, when it hosts the Google I/O conference in San Francisco. Rumors indicate the coming of an “X Phone,” Google’s first release since acquiring Motorola. Based on Google’s apparent commitment to mobile development, an X-Phone and subsequent smartphones from Google could take the mobile market by storm.

Facebook/HTC

Mark Zuckerberg and company stirred speculation of a Facebook Phone when they announced a mobile event in April. Rumors proved partially accurate. Facebook didn’t release its own hardware, but it did announce a collaboration with Taiwanese manufacturer HTC. The HTC First features Facebook Home, the social network’s expanded mobile application. Facebook Home delivers a comprehensive Facebook experience in any application. Facebook messages pop up like text messages, and the user’s newsfeed updates on the home screen. Social media enthusiasts will appreciate this collaboration.

Blackberry

Blackberry may not be the mobile superstar it once was, but it’s not going away without a fight. Formerly known as RIM (Research in Motion), Blackberry ditched its signature Qwerty keyboard and joined the touch-screen market with the Z10. Computerworld.com noted that Blackberry fans should appreciate the new Blackberry 10 phones, but tech-obsessed consumers may still look elsewhere. Still, the release indicates that Blackberry isn’t afraid to adapt to the times.

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Nowadays, it can be difficult for the average consumer to keep up with the rapid pace of technological development. Most businesses share the same challenge. In fact, the most successful companies gain a competitive edge by continuing to evolve and adapt to these incessant changes.

Home security is one industry that is undergoing wholesale changes in response to technological innovation. The business was born in when Boston inventor was issued the first patent on electromagnetic burglar alarms in 1853. Over a century and a half later, high-tech wireless alarm systems are replacing traditional hard-wired systems as the industry standard. But here’s the kicker: the home security business is beginning to branch outside of – well – home security. In addition to catching burglars and detecting fires, modern security systems are now also being designed to manage energy consumption, control electronic appliances – and much more.

This new and exciting technology is called home automation.

What is home automation

We are now living in a gadget-dominated world. Tablets, smartphones, 3D televisions and other gizmos play an integral role in our everyday lives – and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. The future is exciting, daunting and confusing all at once. As technology continues to advance and give birth to new innovations, it can become extremely challenging to keep up with all of this innovation.

But what if you can make all of this technology work together?

A connected, or “smart home” was once considered a fantasy that could only be seen in futuristic Hollywood movies and TV shows. But now, this technology is not only a reality, but also affordable for the masses.

A home automation system allows you to integrate the various technological devices work together into one simple-to-use application – accessible through a remote control. These systems can be managed within the home, or remotely, using a smartphone, computer or other web-enabled device. Listed below are some of the things a home automation system can do:

  • Control your thermostat and lights
  • Watch real-time surveillance video of your home
  • Play music in any room with connected speakers
  • Control your home theater system
  • Arm and disarm your home security system
  • Remotely lock and unlock doors

Home security adopts home automation

Many high-profile residential security companies have already begun offering these services to their customers. For example ADT (check out http://www.securitychoice.com/), released ADT Pulse in October 2010 – giving their customers the ability to manage nearly every aspect of their home from a smartphone application.

The future of home automation

The shocking part of home automation technology – it’s just in its infancy. Today’s smart devices don’t all run on the same technology (X10, Insteon, ZigBee, etc.), making many devices or systems incompatible with one another.

While it’s hard to know what home automation technology will look like down the road, its future as a valuable commodity is anything but uncertain. According to international industrial company Ingersoll Rand, the smart home industry will reach $2.5 billion in just two years – a 30 percent increase in the number of households with such home automation systems.

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Cali Lewis has been interested in home automation for as long as I’ve beeen following her video blog.  In her highlights from CES 2013 she mentions a few items and her new cohost did an entire segment on one product but I was actually hoping for a more thorough investigation of this subject.  Maybe next year.

Her latest post back at GeekBeat.TV is on home gardening

 

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“Hackacademic” has a variety of meanings. In my current use of it here, I’m aiming for “hacks for the academic”.

I spend most of my professional time, teaching or preparing to teach.  I got an Ipad with the goal that I would strive to have it replace my laptop for in class teaching use. On that front, I have found a few “hacks” that fellow Ipad using teachers may find interesting.

To use an Ipad to present lectures you need to purchase:
1. Mobile keynote for $10.00 
2. Ipad VGA connector for about $30.00 
3. Perfect Browser, an itunes app for around $3.00.
Perfect Browser is a web browser like Safari with one important added feature: It allows you to project web sites onto the VGA projector.

Limitations: 
-No Powerpoints, and no video clips unless they are embedded in the Keynote. 
-Safari web browsing is NOT allowed on the VGA projector (hence the need for Prefect Browser). 

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