Archive for May 10, 2018

Bluesound Adds Design Flare & Functionality with FLEX SKINS

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 10, 2018 by itnerd

Bluesound has announced the availability of the FLEX SKIN for their affordable PULSE FLEX speaker. Available in four colours (White, Black. Deep Blue and Charcoal) the FLEX SKIN is made of durable, water-resistant silicone rubber and is easy to install, remove or clean. Precise engraved controls are designed into the surface allowing complete control and functionality. Bluesound’s FLEX SKIN is shipping in May with a U.S. MSRP of $29 each.

The FLEX SKIN is made of durable silicone rubber so it protects the speaker’s surfaces from the elements. Though not waterproof, it does add an extra layer of protection to the surfaces to guard against scratches and grime. The SKIN is easy to clean with a damp cloth and is even dishwasher safe. The SKIN is easy to install with no tools and easy to remove as well.

The SKIN is available in four popular colours (White, Black, Deep Blue, Charcoal) chosen to match a wide range of decorating scenarios. Users can mix or match colours to suit the room, their individual taste or the season. SKINs can be easily changed as desired.

For ease of use, precise controls are etched into the SKIN’s surface that match the touch-button controls on the PULSE FLEX itself while the back panel is left available for connections and functionality.

 

Key Features of the FLEX SKIN for PULSE FLEX:

  • Four different colours – Black, White, Deep Blue and Charcoal
  • Colours complement wide range home decorating scenarios
  • Engraved Controls – match perfectly with touch-button controls yet leave back panel available for connections and functionality
  • Durable – tough silicone rubber is water resistant and provides basic level of protection for PULSE FLEX from the elements
  • Easy to install, remove or clean. Dishwasher safe
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Udoq Wins Mom’s Choice Award 2018

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 10, 2018 by itnerd

udoq announced today that it has won the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award – Gold Award for udoq, the first worldwide patented universal docking station for all mobile devices of every brand and generation. After rigorous evaluation by a panel of Mom’s Choice Award (MCA) evaluators, udoq won a best for family-friendly media, product, or service. See the udoq award winning entry at: https://store.momschoiceawards.com/index.php?entry_id=7436.

udoq400 - lifestyle desk

Just in time for Mother’s Day, udoq is a one-size-fits-all station for charging and docking all Android, Apple, and other smartphones, tablets, music players, smartwatches, eReaders, and other devices. Created by the minimalist designers of Porsche and other brands according to German engineering standards, udoq uses an elegant sturdy high-grade aluminum built to last. Mothers love udoq’s fashionable design and innovative patented process which lets the whole family quickly and neatly move and slide back and forth charging cables from multiple devices in one station without the mess and disorganization of tangled cables and lost devices.

Udoq won The Mom’s Choice Award based on MCA’s propriety methodology in which entries are scored on a number of elements, including production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal, and cost. In presenting udoq the award, The Mom’s Choice Awards said, “udoq is the first worldwide patented universal docking system for mobile devices of any brand, size or generation. Various movable and exchangeable udoq connector cables adapt to your Smartphones, Tablets, eReaders, Music Players, Battery Banks or other USB Devices.”

The MCA evaluation program is designed to incorporate the expertise of scientists, physicians, and other specialists, as well as parents, children, educators, and caregivers — experts in knowing what is best for their families. MCA evaluators are bound by a strict code of ethics not only to ensure objectivity, but also to ensure that the evaluation is free from manufacturer influence. The product samples are submitted to the MCA Executive Committee for final review and approval. After evaluation, the samples are donated to schools, libraries, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations.

Available immediately from https://udoq.com/shop-2/, udoq is priced starting at $95, customizable at: https://udoq.com/configurator/. For more information on udoq’s Mom’s Choice Award entry, see: https://store.momschoiceawards.com/index.php?entry_id=7436, website: www.udoq.com.

The IT Nerd 2018 Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Posted in Commentary on May 10, 2018 by itnerd

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and I have a short list of suggestions of a high tech nature that mom would love. If you think that there’s something else that should be on the list, drop me a note and let me know.

Linksys Velop Intelligent Mesh Wifi System – $129.99 USD (1-pack), $199.99 USD (2-pack), $299.99 USD (3-pack)

A great gift for Mom that will benefit the whole family, VELOP sets up in minutes and delivers flawless, ultra-fast, full-strength signal throughout your home. Because not every home is the same, this modular system lets you buy as few or as many VELOP nodes as you need, and place them wherever you need them, making dead spots a thing of the past. With powerful dual-band mesh technology, you’ll get seamless roaming and maximum speed right out to the edge of your network, even when everyone’s streaming their favourite shows. Read the review here.

Telus Drive+  ($50 CAD w 2-year term plus $10/month)

ZTE has entered the connected car space with the Drive +, now available at Telus. Just connect this little gadget to your car’s diagnostic port (standard on all cars since 1996) and you’ll receive helpful maintenance reminders and instant notifications about car trouble, unlocking information to help you keep your vehicle safe. Keep your family safe real-time location updates for peace of mind that your teen driver made it safely to their destination. Driving behavior analysis helps you become a safer driver and minimizes wear and tear on your car. Drive+ also works as an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, perfect for GPS and allowing your passengers to stay connected even while on the road. Read the review of the ZTE connected car device here.

Roku Streaming Stick + – $89.99 CAD

With brilliant picture quality, 4x the wireless range, and a new voice remote, the new Roku Streaming Stick+ is just like Roku’s portable Streaming Stick®, super-charged. The Streaming Stick+ offers high-performance portability and is compatible with 4K and HDR TV’s. The convenience of this streaming player can allow Moms to stream from any location that offers wireless internet. Read the review here.

Roku Express – $44.99 CAD

The new Roku Express is five times more powerful than its predecessor, and offers easy HD streaming at an affordable price. Easy to set up and use, the Express comes with a remote control that makes finding something to watch a snap. And with over 150,000 movies and TV shows available (including lots of free content), Mom and the kids will never run out of things to watch! Read the review here.

Pulse Mini Speaker-$599 CDN

For something more versatile and capable of playing anywhere in the home, the PULSE MINI is more powerful and clear than many players twice its size. With Bluesound you can access and connect to internet radio stations, cloud music services, and your own local music library. Mini setup is simple, easily expandable and portable.

Nomad Universal Cable-$29 to $34 USD

The Nomad Universal Cable is a very practical gift option for mom as you can give her a cable that allows her to charge and sync any device, but her friends can do the same regardless of what device they have. Plus the cable is designed to survive anything. Read the review here.

Hex Brand Transit Tote-$99 USD

My wife had a look at the Hex Brand Transit Tote and described it as a “stylish tote bag hits all the check marks for me and I would highly recommend it to anyone.” Plus her friends loved the look. Thus it’s a safe bet that Mom would love it too. Read the review here.

Emergency Alert System Tests In Canada Are A #Fail

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 10, 2018 by itnerd

All this week, different parts of Canada have been running tests of the new Alert Ready emergency alert system that is supposed to alert you of anything from an Amber Alert (a missing child) to natural disasters. Alerts are supposed to show up on radio, TV, and as a notification on your phone, as was the case with your truly:

The problem is that I was one of the lucky ones apparently. Some people didn’t get the alert while the person next to them did. Here are some examples:

And in the case of anyone in Quebec, nobody got the alert. Though that was due to an employee screw up. But what is clear is that this system which is supposed to keep the public safe doesn’t work. Thus I suspect that there will be a lot of explaining to do by those who put this together, and likely more tests. I for one hope that they get this sorted quickly as emergencies don’t wait until your systems are perfect before they hit you.

ZTE Halts Operations Due To US Pressure

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 10, 2018 by itnerd

Weeks of the Trump administration in the US cranking up the pressure on Chinese phonemaker ZTE have resulted in ZTE shutting down. They employ 75000 people. The news popped up this morning via this PDF. Plus according to a report at The New York Times, manufacturing has been halted at ZTE’s plant in Shenzhen. This could be temporary as the company is still trying to play nice with the US. Or it could be the beginning of the end for them. It isn’t clear at this point. I’m going to guess that it’s the latter as US companies are banned from doing business with ZTE. And that likely includes access to the Android OS.

Now, Chinese phonemaker Huawei is in the same boat as ZTE. It will be interesting to see what happens to them.

Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses The Fact That Android Users Were Constantly Tracked Via Their Apps

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 10, 2018 by itnerd

Android users have been subjecting themselves to continuous tracking, and Google has only now come forward with a fix for its app ecosystem.

For a long time, Google has allowed various apps to monitor network activity on a user’s device, and any app could detect not only other apps on an Android device but also when and where they connect to the Internet. Google Play was filled with hidden trackers, and each downloaded app put the user in a surveillance network.

It still remains to be seen how effective the new fix will be – and what other security holes Android users might encounter.  Up until 2019 – when a new logic regarding the way apps access API (Application Programming Interface) is introduced – most of them will still have unrestricted access to the network activity.

“User tracking without their consent undermines basic  privacy and security,” said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN. “Apps can monitor network activity even without requesting any sensitive permissions. In addition, this privacy hole could easily be exploited for malicious purposes – for example, when user’s browsing history is collected, their online profile can be created. ”

“Although in this particular case it’s up to Google to protect users’ network activity from being tracked, people should use additional means to safeguard their online privacy. For example, by using a VPN, one ensures they can connect to Internet privately and securely,” Kamden added.

Here are 5 tips from NordVPN on how to keep their Android phone safe:

  1. Make sure not to download fake apps – do not click on phishing messages. Original apps from Google Play may have trackers that sell users’ data to advertisers. However, fake apps are even more dangerous. By implanting fake apps on people’s devices, hackers or even governments can piece together text messages, browsing history, call logs and location data. Targets can be tracked and their data can be stolen, because they downloaded a fake version of messaging apps like Signal or Whatsapp through phishing messages received on Facebook or Whatsapp.

 

  1. Get serious about passwords. Most Internet users reuse the same password across multiple accounts. Once a hacker is able to read one of a person’s passwords, they would be able to unlock all their devices and read their emails, enter their bank accounts, and so on. The best way to go is one of the password managers that generate and store different passwords for each account.

 

  1. Accept all software updates & security patches. Android devices – same way as Apple – have recently revealed processor vulnerabilities, designed to hack a smartphone. The only way to avoid these Intel, AMD and ARM chip flaws is to update the phone whenever newest patches are released.

 

  1. Install a VPN. You might have downloaded apps without malware and installed newest security patches, but all your communications and Internet browsing can still be intercepted if you don’t use a VPN. A VPN safely encrypts all information traveling between a device and a VPN server, and is a must on every device, especially if they are using open WiFi networks.

 

Employees Are Productive Only 20% of the Time: Tipi

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 10, 2018 by itnerd

Harvard research shows that in most companies, people spend around 80% of their time in meetings, on the phone or responding to emails, leaving little time for productive work. Older research has even calculated that poor internal communication cost businesses $26,041 per employee per year in lost efficiency.

However, 2018 might be the year of transformation in how company employees communicate internally with the rise of communication platforms that help cut down the time wasted in unnecessary information exchanges.

The Tipi app is one of the newest platforms meant to address various issues resulting from stalling operational communication. It can replace a number of  tools that people randomly use to write down and share valuable content, such as file repositories, email, group email, intranet, internal wikis, and real time chat.

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Here’s how Tipi can help exchange, collect and organise information and manage some of the hurdles of business growth:

  1. Sharing team knowledge through structured notes. Once a company grows, information starts getting cluttered or lost. Ineffective operational information exchange leads to an increased number of emails, meetings and chat messages, slowing down the whole company. Tipi’s platform helps to structure and share information by organizing notes in folders by relevant work topic. It also turns daily communication into a searchable knowledge base.
  1. Transparency. Forming a habit to share information in a transparent way can have many self-regulating benefits. If staff knows that the information they share on a platform can be seen by anyone at any time, they will have stronger accountability about their commitments and deadlines.

 

  1. Rewards and feedback. Employees need to be recognized for their hard work and celebrate their achievements together. Ideas are rewarded on Tipi with other employees adding instant reactions to contributions as easily and intuitively as on social media platforms. According to a recent report, 44% of all employees will organically give each other recognition on a consistent basis when there’s an opportunity.

 

  1. 4. Onboarding and retention. Tipi can help with disseminating the information throughout the company including the information about the company culture. This could be particularly helpful with onboarding new employees, who would be greeted to a team with a Tipi note about the company. Over 80% organisations cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges and that becomes more relevant as companies grow in size.

 

  1. Remote team engagement and communication. International expansion, integration of freelance staff or introduction of an option of remote work is a standard practice in business which is expected to grow. Tipi can save hours on sending emails back and forth, instead organizing the communication by topic, with team members accessing information and collaborating from anywhere in the world.

 

Companies that embrace communications platforms that fit their business purpose sooner, will most likely perform with better efficiency than those who don’t. In the age when automation takes over many parts of the workflow, the leaders are the ones who are the quickest to catch upon innovation and focus on increasing performance and motivation.