Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Yardian brings smarts to home water systems

I live in the Midwest where our issue with rain is there is often too much of it. My son, on the other hand, lives in an arid part of Northern California where his lawn and garden beg for water almost every day and where the local authorities have tight control over water usage.

I thought about him when I came across the Yardian. It's a smart sprinkler manager designed to fit nicely into his lifestyle and into the Internet of Things. It not only manages your irrigation schedule, it also works with a mobile app and responds to Amazon's Alexa.

The Yardian is a replacement for the typical irrigation controller with its arcane settings and setup commands. The Yardian helps with the switch by providing numbered stickers for the wires and on-call assistance. It reminds me of how easy it was to swap out my decades-old thermostat for its slick successor, the Nest.

Once you have the wires plugged into the Yardian, you set it up using the free app available in the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. The controller connects to your home WiFi and takes it orders from the app.

During the setup process, you'll tell the Yardian where you live and what utility provides your water. Why does that matter? Because, like my son's water provider, your utility might have restrictions on how much water you can sprinkle on your property and when you can do it. Last summer he could only water after sundown and he could get in trouble if any of it landed on his concrete driveway.

Linking the Yardian app to the local water company lets you check on local rules and restrictions. And Yardian maintains a database of water restrictions to automatically revise a user's watering schedule to match local rules. It also checks local weather forecasts to optimize watering schedules.

The Yardian control box also contains a video camera to provide continuous monitoring of the area around it, typically a yard or garage. And the system can be set to automatically activate a sprinkler head when it detects an unwanted animal.

The Yardian watering manager is available directly from Amazon. A system to manage eight watering zones costs $159.99 or 179.99 for 12 zones.

For more details about the Yardian system, check the video below and visit the Yardian website.




Monday, May 20, 2019

Where to get a logo animation in minutes

When I started recording Gizmo Editor videos a few years ago, I wanted to include my logo with each production. The typical approach would be to overlay a graphic in one corner of the video.

But that seemed be pretty boring. What I really wanted was an animated video that would add some energy to the opening frames.  What I didn't want to do was to pay several hundred dollars to get one.

If that's your situation, I suggest a visit to Introbrand. It's a website that can make a logo fly, spin, swoop, and maybe stand up and bark.

The whole creation process happens on the Introbrand website and takes only a few minutes. Here's how it works:

Visitors start by selecting a look and style from among nearly 100 templates in the Introbrand library. Then they upload their logo in a common graphic format, adjust the colors and select a musical background. Click the "Next" button and the site will produce a web-quality 360p preview version in about three minutes.

The free video contains a watermark, so you'll want to buy a higher quality animation for real-world use. The premium versions, with resolution up to 4K, start at $37 and come with a bit of professional hands-on polishing.

For more details and a closer look at the service, check outage video below and visit the Introbrand website.


Sunday, May 19, 2019

App connects tourists to Bali drivers and guides

I think I'll add a visit to Bali to my bucked list. I’m too old to appreciate the island's surfing beaches, but there's apparently plenty of other intriguing things to do, from an exotic animal safari to ancient Hindu temples.

And while I don't have airline tickets or a place to stay, I've got a driver and that's a start.

My Internet browsing led to me to Gajah Tour, a service that offers cars and drivers to full- or half-day visits to nature areas, historical sites and other Bali adventures.

The service recently launched a mobile app that lets users schedule tours or an airport pickup. Gajah Tour says it will match a visitor's interests with drivers and experienced tour guides. The app describes 30 different Bali tours and lets users communicate directly with their driver.

There's an overview of all of the tours and services at the Gajah Tour website and the app can be downloaded for free in the iTunes App Store or the Google Play Store.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

ZeusPro boosts a router's WiFi coverage

There's a reason why most WiFi routers come with antennas. Those pointy Batman ears emit the radio waves that deliver your Internet connection to your devices: phones, tablets and speakers as well as door locks and security cameras.

And all's well unless your network had dead spots. In my house, the signal can tail off when I get too far away from the router or behind too many plaster walls.

One way to attack that problem is by focusing the signal on the problem areas. That's what the ZeusPro WiFi amplifier does. 

The ZeusPro uses a curved surface to concentrate and amplify a router's radio waves in the same way that the curved surface of a satellite receiver amplifies transmissions from space. And it doesn't require an electrical connection.

The ZeusPro, developed by Mizeus, is designed to strap onto the existing antennas on a wireless router. Once it's in place, Mizeus says the device can boost a Wi-Fi signal by two or three times and decrease lags and disconnections during online gaming. using two ZeusPros can enhance WiFi coverage over a 36-degree footprint.

The ZeusPro is currently on sale for $9.99 or $18 for a two-pack, at the Mizeus website.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

App guides you to a perfect day

I believe that most people have the knowledge to create the type of life they want, they just don't have the perseverance to pursue their goals.

There are too many distractions in our daily lives. Dealing with work, family, children, money and other daily issues issues sap or energy and attention, leaving little time to devote to the thoughts and practices that bring us peace and happiness. Me time just boils down to sleep time.

A new app called My Perfect Day is designed to help us fallible human focus on things that are important to us while finding a measure of daily happiness.

The app is divided into four primary elements: Journaling, Breathing, Habits and Affirmations.

Journaling gets users' attention every morning and evening and guides them through a set of questions that focus on the things in their lives that bring them the highest level of happiness and overall fulfillment.

Breathing and Habits sections prompt users to pursue activities that contribute to their physical and emotional well being. Proper breathing routines can keep our bodies infused with fresh oxygen while Habits remind users to exercise, talk with partners or maintain an active social life.

And Affirmations deliver words of encouragement that keep users moving along their chosen path. Here's an example:

I am the architect of my life; I build its foundation and choose its contents.

The My Perfect Day app is scheduled to be released on May 1. The initial version will be for iPhones and other iOS devices. To get a closer look at the app, check the video below and visit the App Store preview.

Website has tips for app makers

If there's any doubt that we are rapidly moving into a fully mobile world, the latest Internet traffic statistics should put that to rest.

According to one report, more than 52 percent of worldwide website traffic in 2018 came from mobile phones. That's up from less than 44 present just two years earlier.

With mobile apps contributing a substantial amount of that traffic, it's little wider that businesses and organizations that were content to provide a simple website just a few years ago are now expanding to offer a dedicated mobile app.

Create.app is a website that offers a variety of free and useful tips and suggestions for anyone considering building their own app.

In one section, the site provides a step by step tutorial for using Mobincube, a software package that promises to create a simple app in as little as 20 minutes. For people who don't have professional programming experience, there's another section that looks at services such as Fiverr and Upwork that will connect potential clients to professional programmers.

For people who have a mobile app, Create.app offers tips for using social media and other channels to promote the app and increase visibility.

For more details and to read all of the tips and ideas, visit the Create.app website.    

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

App lets churches offer on-demand rides

Thanks to Uber and Lyft, the idea of getting an on-demand ride in someone’s personal car no longer sounds like such a crazy idea.

Now a digital entrepreneur has developed a system that lets church members use their smartphones to get rides to services and related events.

Like Uber and Lyft, ChurchRyde uses companion apps for passengers and drivers. But unlike the ride sharing services, there are no fees or credit cards involved.

ChurchRyde is designed to be used by churches and similar organizations to create carpools by pairing volunteer drivers with members who need transportation.

It uses a central platform to match rider requests with available drivers. Churches that register to use the app are responsible for setting a service area and approving drivers.

Apps for users and drivers are available for free in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

For more details, check out the video below and visit the ChurchRyde website.



Friday, March 22, 2019

Service trains and launches affiliate marketers

In the days before the Internet changes all the rules for everybody, companies that produced goods to sell relied on distributors to get their products into stores. The distributors were the so-called middlemen who earned a commission by connecting manufacturers to retailers. 

Today, many distributors have been replaced by affiliate marketers. The affiliates set up blogs or websites to function as online stores, fine-tune the message for high search engine visibility and collect on the resulting sales.

Becoming an affiliate marketer is easier and cheaper than leasing a storefront on a busy highway, but it’s not a walk in the park. That’s why Wealthy Affiliate has built a thriving business by helping affiliate marketers take the plunge.

Wealthy Affiliate says it will help members develop or choose a niche business, build a website, host a domain and show members how to build online traffic and a customer base.

The service also trains members to choose products to sell and build relationships with product sources.   

The About Us page on the Wealthy Affiliate website doesn’t identify the company’s home location or the full names of founders and executives. But it does share some philosophical quotes from top executives, like this one from a co-founder named Kyle:

You cannot make people love a service, you have to create a service that people love.

Potential members who want to test drive the WealthAffiliate system can sign up for a free starter package that includes two websites, a week of live coaching and the first of seven training sessions. A Premium membership costs $49 a month and includes 50 websites and full training and support.

For a closer look, visit the Wealthy Affiliate website.     

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