Thursday, March 30, 2017

Chatbot has hotel deals for Messenger users

One reason that I am steadily increasing mu use of Facebook’s Messenger app is its versatility. i can send short messages to people without knowing their phone number. It supports group conversations and it’s the foundation of Marketplace, a community-based swap meet available on Facebook’s mobile app.

And now Messenger will deliver travel tips and news about discounted hotel rates.

Mermaids Jetsetter is a chatbot app aimed at women who love to travel. The service uses artificial intelligence technology to find and share hotel bargains. It also sends interesting posts by travel bloggers and questions from a travel trivia game.

The creators of Mermaids Jetsetter say they also plan to add the capability to search listings on AirBnB.

To add the chatbot to your personal Messenger account, click to Mermaids Jetsetter in your browser or search “Mermaids Jetsetter” inside Messenger.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

AutoDock promises easy phone charging

Every few months we’re presented with new advancements in mobile phone technology, yet the best brains in that business have yet to deliver a fast and convenient way to recharge the phone’s battery. A corner of my kitchen is still devoted to a snuggle of cables with different plugs for different devices.

But the people who invented the AutoDock are convinced they have a better idea. Its a phone dock that automatically connects the phone to the proper cable plugs and immediately begins delivering a fresh charge.

The charging station works with all of the standard connection plugs: iPhone’s Lightning, Micro-USB or USB-Type C. Users choose the proper tip for their phone and make a one adjustment at setup. Then, when they slip their phone into the AutoDock - as shown in the animation below - the charger makes the connection and begins working.

The charger will work with multiple phones that use the same type of connector plug and with phones in a protective case, so long as the cases have a similar thickness and don’t obstruct access to the charging port.

The AutoDock can be used as stand-alone charger or connected to a computer for syncing and data transfers. And it’s designed to be compatible with any type of fast-charging technology.

To finance production, the AutoDock will be the focus of a funding campaign scheduled to launch in the first half of April. To be notified about the launch date and early bird deals, sign up with your email address on the AutoDock website and follow @the_autodock on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Antivirus app protects Androids

Viruses and malware typically target desktop or laptop computers, but because we often use the same web browser on our mobile devices, they can also be at risk.

That’s why we’re seeing an increase in security apps created for mobile operating systems like Android and iOS.

An Android app called Phone Security: Antivirus & Clean wraps a variety of useful utility programs into one protective app. The key feature is an antivirus scanner that uses a cloud-based engine to scour the phone for the latest and most common threats.

The app also includes a feature that improves the phone’s memory by deleting background applications; a PhotoVault, which stores selected images in a password-protected location; and AppLock, which hides apps that you don’t want colleagues or family members to see.

The app also includes a stealth browsing mode and a battery monitor.

Phone Security: Antivirus & Clean is available and a free, ad-supported app in the Google Play Store.  

Monday, March 27, 2017

Service turns gift cards into donations

Gift cards are a fine concept, but they sometimes fall short of their purpose. We often get cards for businesses we don’t patronize and don’t completely exhaust cards that do get used.

A new service called Gift Card Tank has a way to turn gift cards into money for charity.

An organization with a good cause to promote can set up an account on Gift Card Tank that lets them collect donated cards. They can use standard page on the website to accept donated cards or create a special page for their group’s own website.

Donors enter the details about the gift card that they are donating and Gift Card Tank converts the card into cash. The charities get the money through PayPal. Gift Card Tank deducts a processing fee but does not charge to be part of the program.

To get more information, visit the Gift Card Tank website and click to the FAQ page.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Smart door locks come to mobile homes

One of the more welcome additions to our home is a battery-powered digital lock that I installed on our front door. It eliminated fumbling for the door key in the dark and it can be programmed to give a special access number to service people or a cleaning crew.

While high-tech locks are becoming more common on single-family homes and small businesses, they have also become an option for mobile home locks.

A new website called Mobile Home Locks & Door Knobs includes the Samsung Digital Door Lock among its list of the best mobile home door locks.

The Samsung lock, shown above, incorporates a variety of access options, including a keypad and a fingerprint scanner. The website also has a review of another high-tech option, the YL 99 Keyless Electronic Keypad Lock from SoHoMiLL.

The site offers advice on choosing the best lock for mobile homes and a DIY installation and repair guide. Another section discusses options for knobs and locks for interior doors

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Website covers tech news from Pakistan

Facebook is in trouble in Pakistan. There’s a petition circulating that asks the government to temporarily shut down Facebook because of “blasphemous content” and Facebook is sending a delegation to the country to meet with government officials.

I know about the controversy because I’ve been dropping in at Techlist, a website that covers a wide variety of technology news in Pakistan. That’s a country where residents are just as tech hungry - and tech-savvy - as anywhere in the US or Europe.

The site is run by a team of technology enthusiasts who have experience working for large tech companies and startups in Pakistan. The site is a blend of articles about local IT along with analysis of tech startups, product reviews, and interviews with founders and executives.

Recent articles have reported on a government plan to tax Pakistan’s eCommerce industry and on college students in Karachi who have developed robotic legs to be worn by disabled persons. The site also had the Pakistani spin on Apple’s release of a new red iPhone and on the growth of mobile payment options.

Techlist looks like a valuable resource for anyone who wants to keep up on technology news in Pakistan and get a perspective on what’s happening in the Pakistani version of Silicon Valley.

Why male enhancement pills are like smartphones

Innovation in the consumer electronics industry follows a predictable pattern. A company develops a new and innovative product like a smartphone or portable music player, and sells scads of them at high prices.

But the new gadgets soon get competition from lower-priced alternatives that expand the market and drive down prices. I remember when the first DVD players cost almost $1,000. Now, you can buy one for less than $50.

There’s a similar cycle at work in the world of pharmaceuticals and health supplements. In the 1990s, scientists at Pfizer discovered sildenafil as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. Sold under the brand name Viagra, the drug quickly created a booming demand for male enhancement products.

Today you can find comparisons of a variety of products designed to “assist in improving erections in men, semen production, and overall performance” on websites like OMG Brah!. The site's Featured products include VigRX Plus, Maile Extra and ExtenZe.

While OMG Brah! doesn't sell the products, it offers links to sites that do and all of the featured products can be ordered for under $100 - far less than the cost of their brand-name prescription competition.

I’m hoping that a similar product cycle will take hold in the electric car industry. I’m ready for an alternative to my gas-slurping vehicle - I just don’t want to pay the price of a Tesla.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Security expert warns about social network malware

For several years, I’ve been telling friends to avoid clicking on any web ads that don’t look completely legit. I tell them about one friend who had to pay more than $200 to have malware removed from her computer after letting her nieces play with her PC.

Now computer security expert Joseph Ikhalia says I should also warn them about clicking on videos posted on Facebook and other social media.

Ikhalia’s website, called Social Network Criminal, promotes a series of videos and a Facebook app that he created that teach users how to detect and avoid malicious content posted on social networks.

Each video features a security expert called Dr. Sleeky and a victim of a social network malware attack. In one video, a victim discovers that her electronic dissertation documents have been corrupted and Dr. Sleeky explains how she could have avoided the attack.

The app is currently available only for Facebook users, but Ikhalia says he is developing versions for other social network platforms.

For more details, watch the video below, visit the Social Network Criminal website, and check out  @IkhaliaJoseph on Twitter where you'll find links and tips related to social network security.

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