All the latest news and "how to" information concerning personal use of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephones, cell phones, GPS receivers, PDAs, MP3 players, audiobooks, digital cameras, and much more.
I believe BrightHouse slows down or even blocks YouTube videos and I suspect they may also slow down (or "throttle") videos from other web sites. If you search on Google for "BrightHouse" and "YouTube," you will see many reports of the same thing from other BrightHouse customers, along with a lot of speculation as to the cause.
I have written several times about the free phone service available from Google Voice (see my past articles by beginning at http://goo.gl/85hom). The FREE service allows you to accomplish a number of things, including:
Direct dial phone calls to to any telephone in the USA and Canada for free!
Direct dial phone calls to to any telephone in other countries at very low international rates.
Use a regular telephone, along with an Analog Telephone Adaptor-type VoIP device (such as those described later in this article). There is no need to wear headphones, you can use any standard telephone.
many cool features, including voicemail transcription, on-line voicemail, contact management, international calling, etc.
I have experimented with a couple of these apps and am very impressed with the capabilities. When first reading about these walkie-talkie apps, I wasn't so impressed. "Who would want to do that?" However, I soon found out when I discovered I could talk with one person one-on-one or with groups of people all at once.
These programs work better than the old Nextel walkie-talkies I carried when working for at a previous employer some years ago.
Cars and mobile phones haven’t had a very happy relationship. For most people, a car/phone interface means a bracket suction-cupped to the windscreen. At best, it means a Bluetooth connection between the phone and the car’s infotainment system, that leaves much to be desired. Trying to rectify this situation, Israeli telecom company Accel Telecom describes its new VOYAGER smartphone as the “first standalone connected car smartphone,” designed with the car specifically in mind.
I love DropBox and use it daily, usually several times a day. I have also written often about the need for online security so I was disappointed to read that DropBox had a major security problem yesterday. The company installed a software update and nearly four hours later discovered that anyone could log into any DropBox account without a password. As soon as the problem was discovered, the company reverted back to the previous software version and tested the process heavily. For those four hours, anyone who was aware of the glitch could have accessed your data stored on the DropBox servers without restriction. Details may be found at http://goo.gl/wdJuM.
While inexcusable, the problem isn't rare. Errors will happen anywhere. This problem happened at DropBox but it could have happened most anyplace else.
The quick reaction will always be, "I won't give my data to anyone. I'll keep it safe and secure on my own hard drive." Of course, that is about as effective as an ostrich sticking its head in the sand. In fact, data stored on your own computer's hard drive is probably as much at risk or even more at risk than data stored on a remote online service.
Have you heard of BitCoin? If not, you probably should learn about it now. BitCoin possibly is going to be the currency of the future. Then again, possibly not. Whatever its future, BitCoin certainly is interesting.
BitCoin operates on a vast peer-to-peer network which is currently comprised of thousands of systems. Your computer could become a part of the BitCoin network. You could even earn a tiny amount of BitCoin currency for doing so. BitCoin’s aim is quite ambitious: to solve many of the issues with currency today, such as:
As predicted last week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs today announced the official release of a new digital storage and syncing service, called iCloud, at Apple's annual Worldwide Developer's Conference. The new service is not a general-purpose cloud to compete with Amazon's S3 or Rackspace's cloud services that allow customers to configure servers and run applications in the cloud. Instead, the iCloud service is restricted mostly to data storage and is customized to integrate with several products found on Apple's handheld computers as well as on desktop and laptop systems. A few of the new services will also work with iTunes on Windows.
Apple's iCloud appears to be a modern service designed to replace the aging and over-priced old cloud service, called MobileMe.
I have written before about the handheld VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand scanner. It is a great tool for use in libraries and archives for scanning documents and even pictures up to 8.5-inches wide (A4 size) and any length. I wouldn't use it on any fragile and delicate documents, however, as the rollers built into the scanner do exert pressure on the item being scanned.
I paid $99.95 for my handheld Magic Wand scanner a bit more than a year ago and I have used it a lot since then. I scan not only things of genealogical interest, but also most of the bills I receive in the mail, owners manuals (after checking the manufacturer's web site to see if the manual is already available as a PDF file), and much more. It is portable and easily slips into a backpack, briefcase, or even the smallest suitcase.
Now I see that the same units are on sale on eBay, listed as "manufacturer refurbished," for half that price: $49.99. That price even includes free shipping. Customers located in New York will pay 8.675% tax but the item will be tax-free in all other states. At this price, it only ships to U.S. addresses.
Do you ever have a need to delete all the information on your Windows computer's hard drive? For instance, if you are about to sell or give your old computer to someone else, you might first want to remove all your personal information.
If you search on Google, you can find a number of stories about private data being retrieved from computers purchased on eBay and elsewhere.
Don't let that happen to you!
Many people are surprised to hear that Microsoft Windows doesn't delete very much when told to delete files. Windows simply marks the space as "available for reuse." In other words, when you tell Windows to delete a file, your old information remains on the hard drive for an indefinite amount of time. It remains available until the operating system eventually writes new information in its place. In fact, even reformatting a disk with Microsoft's format command will leave much information behind. This is true of hard drives, floppy disks, flash drives, ZIP disks, and other storage devices.
One of the neatest new gadgets for the Apple iPhone 4 is the NUU MiniKey - Qwerty Bluetooth Keyboard. To be sure, other companies have earlier created add-on-keyboards for the iPhone but the NUU MiniKey is the slickest implementation I have seen to date.
The physical sliding QWERTY Bluetooth keypad attaches to an iPhone 4. It provides tactile feedback to your typing. It is much easier to type on this keyboard than on the iPhone's built-in "glass keyboard." The keys are also backlit.
(Click on the image to the right to see a larger picture.)
The following is for Gmail users only. Do you receive email messages from spammers or even from legitimate companies that apparently are using mailing lists? You know the type: you get a message or two most every day. It is full of advertising, probably ads you could care less about. At the bottom of the list, there is a statement of "click here to unsubscribe" or something similar.
Personally, I’m always leery of clicking “unsubscribe” from spam emails I receive, because I’ve found they typically end up creating even more spam. It also irritates me to think that these folks expect me to take action to unsubscribe from their junk when, in fact, I never asked for it in the first place.
Now Google has invented an "automatic unsubscribe" feature for Gmail users. It requires very little work to unsubscribe: one mouseclick when reading the unwanted message.
…we’re providing you with an unsubscribe tool for some messages. You’ll see the unsubscribe tool when you mark a message from particular types of mailing lists as spam. If the particular message is a misuse of a mailing list you like to receive, you can Report spam as usual. But if you never want to receive another message or newsletter from that list again, click Unsubscribe instead. We’ll send a request to the sender that your email address be removed from the list. It’s that simple!
I am not sure this works on 100% of the unwanted messages. In fact, I don't know how it works at all and Google apparently is keeping the inner workings a secret in order to keep the information away from spammers. However, I'll settle for even a percentage reduction in unwanted email.
Are you aware that modern-day thieves can read the numbers of some of the credit cards in your pocket or purse without your knowledge? You do not have to remove the credit cards, and the thieves do not need to see the cards. They certainly do not have to tell you that they are collecting the credit card numbers. All they have to do is walk past you in a crowd.
Take a close look at your credit cards, especially the newer ones. Do they have this radio waves symbol? See the image to the right for one example. The symbol on your credit card might be smaller. The symbol might also be on the reverse, as shown in this second picture. Not all vulnerable credit cards have that symbol, however.
The days of paying extravagant fees just to stay in touch with scattered family members are just about gone. The tools for calling around the country or even around the world for pennies per minute have been available for several years. Now those tools have reached a state that simplifies the use and makes this just about irresistible for anyone who wants to stay in touch with anyone else, anywhere.
I have written a number of times about Skype, an online VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service that allows you to make free voice calls to other Skype users all over the world. There is no monthly charge for basic Skype service.
For a small fee, you can also call regular telephones all over the world as well. I have used Skype for several years, and I love it. I typically place all my long distance calls on Skype or on Google Voice, either free of cost when calling others who have Skype accounts, or (when using Google Voice) free of charge when calling old-fashioned telephones in the U.S. and Canada, or prices ranging from two cents to five cents per minute when calling regular telephones in most other countries. Calls to some third world counties can cost more.
Several people have told me, "But I don't want to wear a headset and be tied to my computer when making phone calls. I also don't want to leave my computer on all the time." In fact, you don't need to do any of those. You don't even need a computer to use Skype! You will need a broadband Internet connection, however.
Here is a proposal that makes sense to me. In fact, it seems so obvious and so simple that I am sure the telephone company executives will never understand it: Install a mini cell phone base station on every telephone pole or perhaps on every third telephone pole up and down every street in the country. Then tear down those ugly towers that ruin the appearance of neighborhoods.
The result will be better coverage for all cell phone users, lower costs for the cell phone companies with the savings passed on to customers (that will never happen!), and fewer ugly towers in our neighborhoods. Better coverage? Lower costs? Improved appearances? No, the telephone companies will never do this!
There are at least a dozen methods of carrying emergency information with you. In these high tech times, I would recommend carrying that information with you electronically, as well as on a piece of paper or in a medical ID bracelet. The electronic method allows for storage of more information.
In this case, I am talking about medical information, next of kin, and other information that you might want emergency responders to find. While my mother convinced me to always have clean underwear, it's probably more important to make sure you have easily-findable information on your body as well.
For those with significant medical problems, such as diabetes or heart problems, a medical ID bracelet is a great idea. Medical personnel always look for those. However, the amount of information you can include in a normal medical bracelet is limited.
The American population increases every year, from 281
million in the year 2000 to 309 million today. Yet, according to a
recent Federal Communications Commission report, the number of land line
telephones in the United States has declined steadily each year during
the same period: from about 192 million landline phones in 2000 to 163
million in 2007. That’s a 15 percent net loss. At the same time, the
number of mobile wireless telephone subscribers in the United States has
INCREASED from 114 million in 2001 to 238 million in 2007 — a 109
The reason is simple: we are seeing a big
increase in the number of people getting rid of their land lines and
just using cell phones. FCC statistics say almost one-fourth of American
households have done that already, and the number appears to be
Another handful of people are now using computer VoIP
phones, something almost unheard of in 2000 but common today.
Sprint has begun offering femtocells for its customers that have reception problems in their homes. They aren't the first to offer such a device, but appear to be the first to offer it for free to qualified users, which is how it should be.
Femtocells are like your very own cellular tower in your house. If you have reception problems in your house, your cell phones will connect to the femtocell rather than struggle to connect to towers. The femtocell is then connected to your home network and your voice and data signals are routed through your internet provider and ultimately to Sprint's network. Sprint had an earlier model released in 2008, but this one supports EV-DO.
You have to love technology! A man accused of swiping an Apple iPhone out of a woman's hand in San Francisco was arrested and charged with theft when police found him only nine minutes later. It turns out the phone had been tracking his every move.
The iPhone was being used to test a new, real-time GPS tracking application, and the woman holding it was an intern for the software's maker, Mountain View-based Covia Labs. Covia CEO David Kahn had sent the intern into the street to demonstrate the software. Police say Horatio Toure snatched it and sped away on a bicycle.
Your wireless router broadcasts your Wi-Fi signal on channels ranging from 1 to 11.* As more routers broadcast on the same channel as yours, your router's performance generally decreases. The solution: Scan for the least crowded channels and use one of those.
Could identifying criminals be as easy as holding up an iPhone, snapping a quick pic, and waiting for results? It sounds like a cross between a science-fiction fantasy and a silly joke, but the concept is no laughing matter for officers in the gang unit over in Brockton, Massachusetts.
The city's officers are currently testing a new biometric scanning program--really, an iPhone app--that allows them to use Apple's handheld devices to snap a quick picture of a person's face. The photo is then sent over to a secure network for processing and, if the facial characteristics of a subject give him or her away, the person's identity, photo, and background information are sent back to the officer's iPhone.