Monday, September 11, 2017

MAXPAD is an interactive whiteboard

In school the teacher had the chalkboard and when I was in the corporate world, the manager or director had the whiteboard. Whoever held the chalk or the dry marker ran the show. Instead of collaboration, we got one-way communication.

The MAXPAD is a new invention that has the ability to make meetings and presentations more interactive and more inclusive. The device merges a wall-mounted whiteboard presentation panel with a full-powered Windows computer.

The MAXPAD can display hand-drawn sketches, text or formulas, but it does it digitally using the system’s infrared sensing technology. And the computer can stream content from other sources, including iOS and Android devices. If someone in the group has video or image to share, they can stream from their phone or tablet directly to the whiteboard.

The system can also live stream a video call and return live video using MAXPAD’s built-in HD camera and microphone.

The MAXPAD is available in four sizes with screen ranging from 70 to 165 inches diagonally.

For more detail, check out the MAXPAD website.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The dual-use delimma

Does it count as innovation if someone combines two products into one? I’m not so sure.

One year at the CES trade show, a company displayed a child’s potty that had a stand for an iPad. Another year at CES, I encountered a gym bad that had a battery-powered speaker built into a side panel. Clever, I guess, but not very practical.

Then there was the device released a few years ago that merged wireless speakers with a mousepad.

It was not exactly a hit. A story in Cnet called it “utterly useless” and a gadget blog warned potential customers that “You really don’t want crappy speakers at your fingertips.”

But there is at least one combo gadget concept that deserves some serious attention. It’s the modem-router combo.

We typically by modems and routers as two separate products. The modem connects a single computer to the Internet through the phone or cable system. If you want WiFi — and who doesn’t? —you also need a router.

And not just any router, it has to be one that works with your brand of modem and you better be prepared to do some configuring and tweaking.

In the past few years, cable companies and other Internet providers have begun offering modems that come with a router built into the same package. That reduces set up issues and they often cost less than buying two separate products.

Cable and IP services typically offer modem-router combos for a monthly rental fee but you can also find dual-use devices for sale and buying one outright often saves money.

And tat’s my idea of innovation.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Android race game puts you in the driver's seat

Browsing around Amazon the other day, I came across a full-sized race car simulator for PC and PS3 driving games. It looked like a pretty sweet deal, but only if you had $3,099 to blow.

I think I can be entertained just as well playing In Car Racing on my Android phone. Sure, it doesn’t have a steering wheel or a gas pedal, but it does deliver a straight-ahead windshield view, which is not very common among handheld racing  games.

The latest version of the game lets you steer by tilting your phone or tablet to the left or right. And you just have to touch the screen to accelerate or hit the brakes.

The game includes a variety of 3D locations including busy city streets, bucolic countrysides and curvy mountain roads. Each location presents a variety of challenges from weaving through congested traffic to overpowering a sports car hogging your lane.

The game delivers coin rewards to drivers who outmaneuver their competition, avoid crashes and perform high-speed stunts.

Other features include dashboard maps, steering wheel mods, night racing and the ability to adjust the rear-view mirror.

And here’s the part that I really like: In Car Racing is a free download in the Google Play Store. I already feel $3,099 richer.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Windows app checks global time, weather and exchange rates

When I was planning our last trip to Europe a few years ago, I spent a lot of time on my computer jumping from one website to another.

I remember getting weather reports for Paris, London and other cities, checking the exchange rates in various countries and trying to calculate the time difference in different areas.

I also remember wondering why someone hadn’t wrapped all those elements into a single application?

Now someone has. It’s called mayago WET and it combines a currency converter, weather forecast and world time clock in one stand-alone desktop app for Windows.

The desktop display can show any number of locations selected from a list of more than 1,500.  The weather feature offers the predicted temperature range, in Fahrenheit or Celsius, along with the current exchange rate and local time.

Users also have the option to view a 5-day forecast, see the historical exchange rates for the past 6 months, and compare local time between any pair of cities.

The display can be customized to give it a personalized look and feel and it will support multiple users on the same computer.

The software is available as a free download at the mayago website. You can add additional features by upgrading to the Pro version.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Service offers CRM from the cloud

Over the past few months, we’ve had several service calls at our home. Those folks used to carry a notebook or clipboard with forms for one of us to sign when their work was done. Now they pull out a mobile phone or tablet.

I’m seeing companies of all sizes using software like CRM Runner, a cloud-based customer management tool that was built specifically for service providers such as plumbers, electricians and installers.

CRM Runner is an affordable platform that offers the same features as most of the expensive platforms. Because it’s based in the cloud, it can work with any device, including computers, tablets or mobile phones.

The program supports full communication between a company’s administration and its field operations. It has a scheduling module that tracks where and when the field operations are scheduled and an SMS module that will notify customers when service techs will arrive and advises the field staff when there is a change of plans.

Other features include sales lead management, customized estimates, inventory management, and supplier tracking. It will also manage contractors and store their certificates and licenses.

CRM Runner costs $15 per month. You can get more information about the service and sign up for a free 15-day trial at the CRM Runner website.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Logojoy lets anyone be a graphic artist

It was about five years ago when I hired a professional artist to design a logo for a new digital service and its website. The process took a couple of weeks and multiple revisions before I got a finished product that made everyone involved reasonably happy. The price was about $400.

That’s how the process worked back then. It was complicated, time-consuming and expensive. And that’s why the next time I need a logo, I plan to use artificial intelligence.

AI is the engine behind Logojoy, an online service that puts graphic creativity in the hands of ordinary people like me.

Here’s how it works: You enter the name of your company or service and Logojoy shows you several examples of fonts, colors and styles. Choose five or more examples that you like, then move to the next step to select a color.

Can’t decide? Logojoy helps the process by displaying attributes that are associated with different colors. Red says power and passion, black communicates elegance and formality, and so on. With each step, you move closer to the design that’s hidden somewhere in your brain. You'll know it when you see it.

Once you've created the design that you want, Logojoy will deliver it in high-resolution digital files and give you full copyright ownership plus access to make changes for $65. If you need some human hand-holding, you can add a one-hour session with a professional designer for an additional $100.

You can try the service for free at the Logojoy website, follow @logojoyapp on Twitter and get a closer look in the video below.

Monday, August 7, 2017

IDM offers faster downloads

In my neighborhood, there’s not many options for broadband Internet service. I can get it from the cable company or the cable company. And if I want speedy service, I’ll be on the hook for a hefty monthly fee.

That’s why I’m investigating other ways to get faster downloads. One is Internet Download Manager, a Windows software program that promises a dramatic increase in in download speeds for transferring large files from the web such as games, music, videos.

The people who created IDM say Internet Download Manager is able to segment downloads and reuse web connections to assist it in achieving rapid download speeds.

The software also offers several other useful features. IDM gives users the ability to resume unfinished downloads and download videos from most popular video websites. It also allows users to schedule downloads and set limits on download rates.

The program costs $24.95 and works will multiple versions of Windows, from XP through Windows 10. It integrates with most popular browsers including Internet Explorer, FireFox, and Google Chrome.

For more details and to download the program, visit the download manager website.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Followadder helps draw Instagram followers

Movie stars and other celebrities don’t have much trouble building a big following for the Instagram feed. But the rest of us could probably use some help.

Followadder is automated software that helps Instagram users build their page and increase their fan following.

The program  will  schedule automated photo posts, apply likes to photos and videos, post comments and create lists of users.

Here’s what The Small Business Blog said about Followadder:

You will save time and increase your exposure, expand your brand, create more engagement, and get more followers and likes by automating those tedious tasks on Instagram.

The program promises to deliver real Instagram followers as users work with it’s dashboard controls and its internal search engine that can tune in to locations, hashtags, and other connection points.

For more details, read the full Followadder review at The Small Business Blog and visit the Followadder website.

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