The fine folks at iClever have dove headfirst into the world of the Internet of Things. The first product down the line, that I have personal experience with is their excellent Smart Plug. This fine device allows you to control any AC device plugged into this, via your WI-FI network, with their dedicated smartphone app. This fine, reliable device is fairly compact, with the housing only big enough to hold the relay, and the wireless antenna.
It has a simple button to help you link the plug to your network, and establish the link to both your router and your app for control purposes. It has a nice app, with the ability to label what is connected to the plug, It states on the home screen of the app, the current weather, humidity, and barometric pressure. It also can pin the connected devices to the home screen for quick operation. You can program the device(s) to have time-sensitive action automation or scenes.
I use this for controlling my living room floor lamp. It has a stubborn twist knob that is hard to reach and turn from one’s couch or seating. Now, I can just turn the lamp on and off from anywhere in the house, and even set it to turn off at midnight, if I forget to before I go to bed. This has definitely improved the quality of my life.
This is a great foothold to start your iClever smart home automation system. This is an excellent company, of which I have a solid, great experience with them and their family of products. The price of this device is $14.99 USD, on Amazon, and worth the money. I cannot recommend this too much, as it delivers. I know that if you try this, it will change your life and you will want more. As always, keep on techin’ . . .
In this world of the Internet of Things, the focus has been on home security, and automation to make one’s home one’s castle. People not only want peace of mind but be in the loop on what is occurring in their domicile. They want to know how their interior is safe, what their pets are up, and how their children are faring. This is a natural desire, and has strong merit.
In days prior, they had to rely on checking in with other family members, neighbors, and possibly on a dedicated security firm that monitors their home. Now, with strides in wireless technology, and the emancipation of the devices that used to require a professional installation and strong, solid contract term, that is hard to break, and with stiff penalties. These changes have allowed the best to rise to the top, and give people excellent choices.
A great company, with upward mobility and customer first designs, NETVUE, has made an awesome splash on this stage, and one of their newest products, the NETVUE Orb Camera is a strong example. Marketed as a wireless indoor camera for a baby monitor and for watching pets (which it works quite well), it also serves as a solid indoor security camera. It uses a 2.4Ghz Wireless Band and is controlled/operated by a dedicated NETVUE smartphone app. This device and app work in tandem to create an inclusive ecosystem that supports multiple NETVUE devices into a single interconnected whole.
I got my unit, through Amazon.com, and it retailed for $54.98 USD. It arrived at my home in a short time-frame. Once I received it, I took it from the packaging material, and gathered together all of the pieces, and started the install. I grabbed the app from my phone app marketplace, first, and then followed the instructions, and added it to my NETVUE account (which I had already set up from before when I was planning my NETVUE device purchase), then added it to my home network. I want to stress that this device, and many like it, only support 2.4GHz wireless band, rather than the newer 5 GHz band found on newer devices, routers, and access points. The reasoning for this is most likely greater operability with legacy devices. Just bear that in mind when you select your IoT devices. I had a few hiccups in getting my camera added to my network, but it can be attributed to light refraction my phone screen in the afternoon light. Either way, if you have issues, they are willing to help you get it worked out, and support you through the whole process.
This device can be placed on a shelf or wall mounted, to suit your installation needs. Where you place it will be dependent on shelving, room size, and lighting conditions. Speaking of which, this device supports low light/night vision (gray-scale), and as such, it is better to place it in such a way that the device does not get overexposed in light, and has a solid light balance for recording. You also do not want to risk the CCD sensor being damaged with prolonged directed light into the iris.
The device is powered by a Micro-USB AC Outlet, and has support for TF card (Micro-SD Card), for recording storage, so you can both power and retain recorded images. These are industry-standard ports and will work well for many configurations and uses. I think you will find it fairly intuitive.
In conclusion, this is a solid device on its own, and as part of larger ecosystem it really shines. I think if you give NETVUE a chance, you will like what you see. It lives up to its promises, and seems to fit a need in many people’s 21st. Century lives. I know that if you try this, you will like it, and wonder why you waited to so long to get on the IoT bandwagon. As always, keep on techin’ . . .
In this world of wireless speakers and Bluetooth devices, it is hard to stand out from the crowd. The experts at iClever have produced a fine example of a device that exceeds the tenents of what it takes to stand out. The device, in question, is iClever’s BoostSound Wireless Speaker. Once you hear this for yourselves, you will see what I mean.
This device has a playback life of 10 hrs. approximately (varies on usage, battery health/life, and charge level). With a speaker device that has 20W of power will give you a strong bass performance, in conjunction with mid-range and high performance that makes speech clear and music sing; the BoostSound is top of the class. Such a long battery life will make this great for not only listening to the aforementioned sound types, but it doubles as a great speakerphone, with A2DP support for clear conservations and long duration communications.
This device not only has sonic playback capabilities but has a blue nightlight. It has three, different light levels for various settings, including sleeping, by being placed near your nightstand to safely see how to check your alarm, ingest food and drink something, or getting up to go somewhere without having to turn on the main lights. This is important, as it will not easily disrupt your sleep cycle. A great bonus for valuable real estate on your desk/nightstand.
You may wonder what this device will run you. The answer is the MSRP of $49.99 USD. This is mainly sold through Amazon’s website for this list price. but it can sometimes be found on sale for less. I know that you will very pleased with your purchase, and it makes a great gift. I know that I will have a one of these under my Christmas Tree for a family member, and I am sure that you will want one, too. Until next time, keep on techin’. . .
In today’s ever-connected world, with our entertainment just a touch away on, our devices, being able to watch anything we own a critical bottleneck. The convergence of various storefronts, services, and platforms has moved the needle towards this future, but gaps still exist. Many purchases from early adopter storefronts, primarily Apple’s iTunes are great purchases, great file quality, features, price points, including a recent wave of fresh 4K upgrades on select video titles (https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/apples-clarification-of-free-4k-upgrade.2078741/), but some titles and studios do know allow this, and certain studios do not allow purchase sharing through a digital locker clearinghouse, such as Movies Anywhere. This might not be a major hassle if you use an Apple device ecosystem (Apple iPhone, iPad, AppleTV, etc.) if you only buy through iTunes. However, if you use devices and equipment from manufacturers, like Amazon and/or Roku, problems may arise.
I can attest to this being an issue, as a disabled person, with a very limited income budget. Buying movies multiple times, in multiple formats on multiple services is not viable. To prevent this from being a major issue, I have set up memberships with all of the major services/studios/publishers and made sure they are all linked. This works for many of my movies and tv series published, but not all of them. I have had to just leave my iTunes movies and tv series, within their “wall garden” and not watch them on my living room tv. I own a non-Apple streaming device, and some of my titles do not participate in the film/tv title sharing, so they only reside in iTunes. There has not been a viable and legal workaround for this impasse, especially with the iTunes application going from a 32-bit software in Windows to a UWP app, with renewed DRM restrictions and protections.
I can announce and attest that this issue has been overcome. The fine folks at TunesKit Software, have created a suite of programs to help manage your smartphone, audio files, and video files. It is in this last category, that we can find the solution that we are seeking. The program to be highlighted is TunesKit M4V DRM Converter For Windows. This program will allow you to convert your purchased A/V media files to be played on any of your devices, legally.
First, you will need to download, and install the program, and get it setup. In order to make this work, you will need to allow the program to close iTunes, as it will need to read your iTunes library for conversion process and finalize the process. This will take a varying amount of time, depending on the iTunes library size and density.
Once that is completed, you can then begain to add your library files for the conversion process. Just select the program you want the DRM bypassed, and then it will begain.
This program will play the program in the background, and transcode the file, to what file type and encoding you selected at the onset of the conversion. In essence, it will use your valid license to playback the file, and once the expeditied sped-up playbacl/transcode is completed., you will have a DRM-free file. You can now go and add this back to your iTunes library; knowing that it can play with any program, media player, and media device (as long as the said devicessupport the audfio and video codecs that were used to make the file).
The age of backups and the online hacks is upon us, and as a result, making incremental backups and file syncing has taken on a renewed importance. As I have stated prior, a backup is when you make two copies, outside of the working copy, and place them in, two different areas for redundancy. If you just make a single backup copy, it is an archival copy, but not truly backed up, as you do not have a safety net, as the primary copy can fail/become corrupted. If that happens, and the original fails, you are out of luck. Keeping track of the copies and their various locations can be hassle, if you rely on manual methods, human error can occur, and things left in the lurch the result. A better approach is to utilize an automatic method, so all copies and their corresponding updates are kept current. The marketplace is crowded, but a fine, simplified, yet feature-packed program to handle heralds from ASComp Software, called Synchcredible 5.101.
The program has a very standardized GUI, reminiscent of most Win32/Winx64 programs, with a simple button/menu system that is easy to use/operate. A systematic wizard that walks you through the process, with various settings that can be toggled, greets you as you enter the program. You create a task, and name it, without much hassle and the processes are very intuitive. I have a master backup drive, which is an external USB hard drive that has a 4TB capacity. You can elect to have your file/folder syncing to be automated and run on a schedule, without needing to activate it manually. For someone like me, who has my computer function as a gaming rig, blog hub, office machine, and so many more roles, I run this task as a manual process. It is easy adding tasks and running these processes, without complication, and error. It could not be much easier. In fact, the process is quicker, smoother, and less intensive on computer resources, than just using the file copy and paste functions built into the operating system. This program can tell you what has changed, what will be created and/or placed on the destination drive, before any files are synced. This can tell you what will be needed in space and file structure, prior to confirming the action.
The very fair starting price point of $25.00 USD is a nice value for a program such as this, and well worth the cost. Not unlike my, other German software firms, they stand by what they sell/create, and their attention to customer’s needs. I know that if you try this program out, along with the other programs on tap there, you will be pleased. Until next time, keep on techin’ . . .
Just two months ago, I brought to your attention the top-tier screen capture software utility by the fine folks at Ashampoo, called Snap 10. Today, I can announce that a new 2017 entry-level version, entitled Snap 2018. This program is still filled with all of the features that you loved from the prior edition, coupled with a couple of improvements, and newfound features in to have at your disposal. If you need to grab images from your screen, this is a fine, basic program to meet that challenge head-on. While I will not rehash what I highlighted before (as you can reference my prior articles on this site), I wanted to showcase some of the newest features, which might resonate with you, my faithful readers.
Not unlike the full suite of Snap 10, they have added support for 3D Games screen capture. It works very similarly to the version contained in the Snap 10 and is an excellent version for non-professional gamers. If you have ever wanted to capture your exploits and share them with the world, you no longer have any excuse, as this is now in the palms of your hands. This is a way for disabled people to share their passions with the world.
The other aspect that I want to highlight, today, is they have added more additional screen capture sizes. The main area of improvement is how they have focused on more fixed window sizes. The importance of that can be found in the renewed focus on 4K gaming and the breakthrough movement of VR. As widescreen, high-resolution gaming has come into its own, within the last decade, and the companion growth of YouTube and/or Twitch.tv streaming. The needs of the aforementioned streamers and audience, requires proper aspect ratio images and videos to embedded elements for their production needs. Knowing that your capture program will capture them at a fixed window size that will match the source makes the process seamless. In short, a vital key component for 21st Century eSports and gaming viewership.
If you adore Ashampoo products, you will like this as it continues their fine tradition, for great, free programs. You cannot beat the price, and that is not something that you can deny. As always, keep on techin’ . . .
Forgive me for being self-serving, but I wanted to bring to the public’s attention the U.S. Government Social Security Regulatory Bylaw to affects disabled people, like myself. As you will see, on my petition on Change.org, a little, know bylaw that is crippling vital financial support and assistance programs from truly helping disabled people and their families from fully being able to be independent and self-sufficient. Please take a look at the petition and considering signing this vital change to our elected representatives, here in America, and in other nations that have similar misguided laws on their books. Thank You!
As with any flagship product from the house of Ashampoo, you know that they will always give you the best to offer in whatever they make, and Backup 11 Professional is no exception. The days that have seen dominance from Roxio and Ahead in HDD and disc backup programs have been surpassed by cloud storage models, and more competitive pricing from their competitors. Gone is the time-frame when a backup program suite has to cost $99.99 USD and above, with a lack of full integration in the operating system UX and seamless Windows System Restore compatibility. In addition, hard drive partition formats have moved away from FAT32 and NTFS to advanced 64-bit UEFI/GPT file systems, where very long file names, dedicated restore partitions, and secure boot environments are the basis for 21st Century computing in its second decade of operation. These require new HDD backup solutions, and Ashampoo Backup Pro 11covers its customers on all of these fronts; for less (especially if you are a prior customer, as you can qualify for significant discounts).
I do not have to highlight the importance of proper backups and security rollback solutions with mass hacks, password theft, ransomware, and the like splashed all over the front page of news sites, the opening of the evening news, social media posts, etc. People should not pay to have their files decrypted, nor should they trust that the criminals will follow through with their promises to do so. The superior option is to back up your files with Ashampoo Backup 11 Pro, in conjunction with any cloud backup service that you have in usage. This allows you to be able go back to a state of non-infection and/or a snapshot of a baseline image of your system, to always fall back on. While a system backup in of itself cannot decrypt or unlock a ransomware attack (that falls to other security software), it is a vital piece of dealing with these attacks.
If the prospect of creating, operating, and implementing a backup regimen has been off-putting, now Backup Pro 11 has made improvements to make it more appealing. As O/S environments have changed material design philosophies over the years, and a greater emphasis on human/natural language is at the forefront, win32 (x86) and 64-bit (x64) apps have lagged behind in business software. Ashampoo has come to the rescue, as Backup Pro 11 closely mimics and takes its inspiration from the UX seen in macOS and Windows 10, with the various panels and options seen in the Settings area of those O/S’s. If you can navigate around those areas and computer options, you can easily accomplish this goal.
One key improvement that operating systems have baked into their fabric is the inclusion of creating recovery media to get back into your system, in the event of a catastrophe. As system builders/manufactures have moved away from including optical drives in their machines. As laptops, and to a lesser extent, desktops have made external HDD drivers, USB flash drives, and dedicated rescue partitions are the contact point for local file access, in place of optical media. The dedicated rescue protocols for the operating systems are designed to update/install/reinstall the operating system alone. With Backup Pro 11, you can not only create a Rescue Medium that takes care of the operating system, as well as additional programs and data support for key things you need to get back in operation. The process is just as easy as making the operating system versions, but more full-featured and inclusive.
Bottom-line, you need a backup solution to deal with these pressing threats, and you will be very hard pressed to find a better one than this fine program. If you have never bought an Ashampoo Backup Pro program before, it will set you back $49.99 USD. As I mentioned before, the upgrade price is only $19.99 USD; a deal at any bargain. No different than Ashampoo’s other programs, a demo version is available for trying out the features to see what you need, before you buy it. Once you join in on this program, you will stick around. Until next time, keep on techin’ . . .
Nearly a year ago, I brought to your attention a preeminent screen capture software utility by the fine folks at Ashampoo, called Snap 9. Flash forward to now, and they have done it again, with the new 2017 flagship version, entitled Snap 10. This program is still filled with all of the features that you loved from before, coupled with marked improvements, and newfound features in abundance to have at your disposal. If you need to grab images from your screen, this is a program to meet that challenge head-on.
While I will not rehash what I highlighted before (as you can reference my prior article on this site), I want to take this opportunity to showcase some of the newest features, which might resonate with you, my faithful readers. As a disabled individual, being able to utilize newer capture features that Snap 10has can help me share my focal point to audience, so too will you be able to use the following features for your specialized communication. Now, without, further ado, let’s dive into the features.
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