Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Variscite has brains for tiny gadgets

A concept called System-on-Module (SoM) is fueling the march of gadgets that are constantly getting smaller and more powerful. An SoM is essentially a computer CPU and its communication components packed onto a wafer that’s just slightly bigger than a Triscuit.

The DART-MX6 from Variscite is just one recent example of how small yet powerful these little biscuits have become. The MX6 supports the NXP/Freescale i.MX6 quad and dual core Cortex-A9 processor.

The MX6 is also stocked with up to 1GB of low-power RAM, support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4, USB 2.0, camera inputs, audio in and out along with the ability to encode or decode 1080p video.

The demand for SoMs has increased along wit the expansion of smart and small devices and applications. SoMs are are being used drones, computer vision devices, robotics, Virtual Reality applications, and industrial machines that require Internet access.

For a closer look at the DART-MX6, check the specs and product details on the Variscite website.

Pinar offers VPNs for Iranians

If you don’t want hackers or government agencies to know what you do on the Internet, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a good way to keep your online activities private. A VPN creates a secure layer or “tunnel” within the public Internet to keep data out of reach of hackers or monitors.

In Iran, VPN use is supposed to be against the law, but that doesn’t stop people, including government officials, from doing it. In March, an online news site published a screen grab from the Iranian foreign minister’s Twitter feed showing it came through a VPN.

Websites such as Pinar VPN offer private network services marketed specifically to Iranians. The site offers subscribers access to VPN tools including L2TP, Kerio, PPTP and others. The VPN  service can be used with smartphones, tablets and computers running popular operating systems such as Windows, Linux, MacOS and Android.

The Pina VPN website also promises 24-hour support by telephone or email and a refund if users aren’t satisfied.

The are more details and a full price list at

Monday, August 22, 2016

Cookies and ice cream star in Sweet Jump Arcade

A new arcade-style mobile game for Androids mixes elements of many game classics, including a high-jumping main character and a lot of sweet treats.

In fact, the main character in Sweet Jump Arcade is a sweet treat. Players can choose to be a fresh cookie, a frosted cake, a cool scoop of ice cream or a sprinkle-topped donut.

The game involves a rising flood of white water that threatens to drown the city and its inhabitants. Players must learn to jump and bounce in order to navigate and survive a growing thicket of tree branches. Along their route, they collect stars that unlock new characters.

Player scores are shared on a leaderboard and players who score at least 300 points in two lives or less can submit a screenshot of their score to be featured on the game’s Facebook page or Twitter channel.

Sweet Jump Arcade is available as a free download in the Google Play Store.

How to easily bring more power to a Galaxy phone

Smartphone hardware has advanced so much over the past few years that it seems to have reached a plateau. Samsung's Galaxy phones and their competitors have hit the sweet spot combination of screen size, thickness and power that appears to please most phone buyers.

But there is still some room for improvement. Battery life, for example, could always be better. And I don't know any Android users who don't grumble about the hassle of swapping batteries or the inconvenience of plugging in a separate booster pack. 

Phone makers have talked about producing a modular phone that would let users customize their handsets, but so far we haven't seen anything that would make us replace our Galaxy phone.
But the people at i-BLADES have a new idea that lets Galaxy owners customize their current phones with a modular phone case. The i-BLADES approach attacks the battery issue with a set of battery packs that easily snap into place on the back of the case.
The packs can be charged separately or while they are connected to the case and the phone. They don't require a cable to connect to the phone and you don't have to remove the phone from its protective case or pry open the back panel of the phone as you would to change the internal battery.

i-BLADES plans to use the modular approach to provide additional features. It already makes a module that turns the S7 into a VR headset. And it has modules that let users add memory to their S7 or S6 with a microSD card.

For a closer look at their cases for Galaxy S7 and S6 phones, visit the i-BLADES website.

Fusioo has a CRM system anyone can afford

Not long before I left the large publishing company where I worked for many years, the company rolled pout a customer relationship management tool that would be used in its 100-plus offices across the US.

It was a highly-rated system and I’m sure it cost millions of dollars. But my employer was a big publicly-traded company, so I’m sure they could afford it.

Today smaller operations such as app developers, design shops and marketing agencies can get powerful CRM solutions at prices that they can afford. Fusioo, for example, offers a system that manages customers and projects for less than $10 a month.

The Fusioo system uses a digital framework that includes both customer management tools and a project management tool. Users can build profiles of both current and prospective clients that include contact information along with descriptions of their needs and a history of the company’s interaction with them.

People entered in the CRM platform can be assigned different roles, such as administrator, developer or client. And clients can be given access to the Fusioo system to streamline communication.

Users can customize the system by adding apps to handle tasks such as expense management, issue tracking and job applicants. Fusioo provides a library of ready-made apps as well as a way to create custom apps without writing code.

For more details, check out the Fusioo website where you can get a free 14-day trial account with no credit card required.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Access Denied wallets block RFID hackers

It’s a pretty scary thought that someone could capture your personal information while standing next to you in a subway car or some other crowded area.

But that’s what can happen if you’re carrying a credit card issued in the past few years and are standing next to someone using an RFID scanner.

RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) is technology used to store and transmit sensitive data through chips built into small devices, including plastic bank and identification cards.

A company called Access Denied makes an RFID wallet that blocks those hacker scanners. The company makes a line of fashionable leather goods that are lined with shielding material that prevent RFID from being transmitted. The wallets used the FIPS 201 standard that the US government established for personal identification verification of federal employees and contractors.

The Access Denied catalog includes a wide variety of RFID blocking wallets, passport carriers and bags for both men and women. Prices start at $18.95.

For a look at the full range of their products, check out the Access Denied website. You can also see videos that show how they work in the Access Denied blog.  

Friday, August 19, 2016

These apps digitize an entire photo album

So you have a nice album full of snapshots that your grandmother carefully glued into place. You’d love to turn them into slide show to display at her birthday party. How can you turn those photos into digital images without damaging the album?
Yes, there’s an app for that. In fact, there are several apps. My favorite is Photomyne because it will shoot and process multiple photos, one page at a time, without removing the photos from the album.
The app will find the edges and corners for each picture and automatically straighten the edges to make a square or rectangle. And it has an editing option that lets you crop the photos, fix colors and brightness levels and add details such as names, location and the year the photo was taken. 
With a couple of clicks, the photos can be stored on your phone, posted to Facebook, or sent to other people in an email or text message.
I take a look at Photomyne, Pic Scanner and other solutions in my latest article posted at My Well-Being

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Posture Stand fights back pain

Just because they call a portable computer a laptop, that doesn’t mean your lap is the best place to use it.

In fact, it’s a pretty bad spot. If you’re anything like me, after a few minutes of typing you’ll be hunched over like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings.

The British company that makes the Posture Stand says it has a solution. The stand is an adjustable aluminum platform that holds a portable computer, tablet or ebook reader.

Approved by the London Spine Clinic, the stand is designed to help prevent postural strain by allowing you to securely raise the position of your device to your natural eye level.

The stand can be used while you’re sitting on a sofa or reclining in bed. It can also turn a conventional desk into a standing desk configured for any height. It’s strong enough to hold a 17-inch laptop computer and it can be collapsed to pack in your luggage.

For more details on the Posture Stand, watch the video below and check out the Back Pain Help website where the stand is available for £49.99.

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