Tuesday, June 12, 2018

App links skilled workers with people in need

When I began writing for magazines in the early days of computers and electronic games, finding a buyer for my work was drudgery. Using a directory of publishers, I would send typewritten letters to selected editors and wait weeks for a reply - typically a rejection form letter with an occasional; acceptance.

Email eventually made the process much faster and smoother but not nearly as convenient as a new app called Skilled.

The app is designed to connect experienced professionals with people and organizations that need their services.

People looking for freelance
work can post a profile with a description of their skills, experience and rates. Users looking to hire someone can browse the profiles to find freelancers who meet their needs.

Categories currently include Plumbers, Lawyers, Electricians and Handyman services. The app uses GPS to narrow the search to providers who are nearby but it also connects users to workers anywhere in the world. Proximity is not a requirement for some jobs, such as programming or graphic design.

Once the app links someone with a job to do with another person who has the necessary skills, the two parties work out the arrangements and prices.

Skilled is available as a free download in the Google Play Store. You can get an overview of the app in the video below and follow @Skilled62682326 on Twitter.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

GIF Maker simplifies image animation

If you're like me, your Facebook and Twitter feeds are loaded with photos of friends, children and animals doing something cute and funny.

I love seeing the pictures, but my favorites are the animated. When my grandchildren are chasing each other around a tree, a moving picture tells the story best.

Most often, those little action clips are animated image files created using the Graphics Interchange Format, better known as GIF. GIFs have been around since the 1980s when they were valued for their small file size, which made them ideal for transmitting over telephone modems. Programmers later devised a way to animate GIFs by stringing together a series of still images to create a looping mini movie.

A free app called GIF Maker distills the GIF creation process down to a few simple steps performed on your mobile phone. The app will work with a collection of up to 50 still images. It can also capture a sequence of frames from a digital video or record whatever activity is displayed on your device's screen.

Once the source content is selected, users can adjust the speed of the display and save the finished file in high resolution format. For there, it can be shared on Facebook, WhatsApp or Twitter and sent using email or a messaging service.

GIF Maker is a free download available for Android devices in the Google Play Store. You can get more information and see samples of animated GIFs at the Setubridge Technolabs website.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Seam's safety platform records and shares your surroundings

In an era in which danger and violence can appear almost any time or anywhere, we are often anxious to know where our loved ones are and what they are doing.

Phone-tracking apps and car-tracking devices can help provide some peace of mind and now there's a new people-tracker that takes personal monitoring a step further into a connected future.

It's called Seam and it's a personal safety platform that uses a mobile app and a small wearable device. Working together, they let people share their location and environment with selected friends, family member or caregivers.

The app is available now and the wearable device, called Lotus, will be available in June. Lotus is a  remote control that lets the app record a person's GPS location along with the sound and images in their current environment. The images, audio and data are streamed in real-time to up to five chosen contacts who also have the app.

I would have welcomed something like Seam years ago when our teenage daughter told us she was going to a football game, but sometimes slipped away to a party. When our son travelled in South America, we could have joined him online to see the places he visited and the people he met. And Seam would have helped family members keep a closer eye on my mother when she was in the early staged of dementia.

But I expect most users will value Seam for the increased sense of safety and protection they will feel when they are out on their own. The "panic button" feature, for example, will make emergency phone calls to a designated contact or to a local emergency service. Seam says its app is the only personal safety app that integrates with Google Assistant voice control.

The data and images captured by someone wearing a Lotus is stored securely in the cloud for up to 24 hours. An upgrade version of the system, called SeamPlus, allows storage for up to three months and downloading for offline viewing.

The Seam apps are available for free in the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. More details are available on the Seam Technic website and @Seam_technic on Twitter. And you can see the platform in action in the video below.

Monday, May 21, 2018

PPaccepted knows which vendors accept PayPal payments

I've been a PayPal user for more than a decade.  I buy and sell items on eBay where it's long been the accepted platform for sending and receiving payments.

I also use PayPal to transfer money among friends and family members. And I knew that some merchants and services accept payments through PayPal but I didn't know how far and wide that acceptance goes until I discovered PPaccepted, a website that collects and categorizes the may different ways you can spend your PayPal cash.

For example, I didn't know I could pay for airline tickets through ChearOair or buy them directly from Lufthansa. I can order school supplies from Walmart and concert tickets from Ticket Liquidator.

PayPal is also accepted at Omaha Steaks, CafePress, GoDaddy, and ProFlowers. And hundreds more retailers and service providers. That's my estimate after browsing the lists at PPaccepted.

Visitors to the site can browse about a dozen categories, drill down through subcategories and click a link to go to the vendor's website. And they can post comments and feedback about the vendors that they found at the PPaccepted website's database.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Positive Technologies helps lock down business web apps

In the early days of the commercial Internet, putting your business online meant getting an artist to create a digital brochure with a logo, some text ad a few graphics. Interactivity was limited to an email link or a comment box.

Today's online businesses allow customers and partners to order merchandise, enter credit card details or download software. But by opening those digital doors, companies are also inviting trouble in the form of hackers and similar malicious visitors.

Now hardly a day goes by without a report of stolen customer data or ransomware injected through some new web application vulnerability. How bad is the situation? A recent report by Positive Technologies found vulnerabilities in every web application that it tested in 2017 using the company's Application Inspector technology.

Finding cracks in chinks in a business's digital armor is one of the jobs performed by the Positive Technologies' Web Application Firewall (WAF). The device uses a built-in source code analysis module to detect vulnerabilities and create instant "virtual patches" block any attempts to exploit the specific flaws in the web app code. 

Another product called PT Telecom Attack Discovery focuses on flaws in signaling protocols that allow hackers to intercept calls, track subscriber locations and perform other bits of mischief. The company's SS7 Protection Solution uses a signaling intrusion monitoring system and an analysis module to detect anomalous activity on a wireless network.

For more details about the WAF and how it can protect a business website, check out the Positive Technologies website.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

New website covers electric skateboards, scooters and unis

Ever since the Segway was launched in 2002, battery-powered personal transportation devices have been exploding into a variety of sizes, shapes and prices.

At this year's CES trade show in January, I saw hover boards, skateboards, unicycles, scooters, and even roller skates that were all driven by rechargeable batteries.

And now there's a new website called Hover Patrol that tracks, reviews, compares and scores many of the better and more affordable e-vehicles.

The website is divided into four primary topics: Hoverboards, Electric Scooters, Electric Unicycles and Electric Skateboards. The articles cover topics such as street-legal electric scooters, reviews of electric skateboards and a look at off-road hoverboards.

Each segment also offers lists of the best brands and models in each category along with advice articles such as "How to Fix an Electric Scooter," "How to Ride an Electric Unicycle," and "How to Build an Electric Skateboard."

The articles are reviews are available at the Hover Patrol website.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

CureYourPC blog has Internet security tips and advice

You can't expect your car to run forever without some upkeep, maintenance or repairs and it's the same story for your personal computer.

If you want to keep your computer humming and avoid disasters, you need to pay attention to things such as virus protection, malware defense, operating system updates and device drivers.

The CureYourPC Blog can help. It posts regular reports about security threats and reviews of software that can defend against them.

On my recent visit to the blog, I found a review of ad-blocking software and an analysis of the Premium version of the popular Malwarebytes program. Other articles offered Internet security tips that for online shopping, tips to protect your online privacy and an explanation of how hackers use "phishing" techniques to get you to reveal passwords and other personal information.

I especially liked an article that listed bad tech habits -- reused passwords sound familiar? -- with advice on how to break them.

Check out all of the articles online at the CureYourPC blog.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

FastTik connects you to nearby friends

You're probably familiar with the Facebook feature that lets you and your friends note if they plan to attend an event in your area. That's a useful feature, but it doesn't go far enough. Not all of your friends will use it and it doesn't tell you if they are actually there when you are.

An app called FastTik fills in those gaps. It shows you all of your FastTik-using friends who are at a concert, ball game or festival when you are there along with others who might be nearby. You can set the feature to connect you with anyone on your Contacts list, with all FastTik users or be invisible.

Once you connect with another app user, you can exchange text messages, make a voice call or even a video call. The messaging and call features a free and they work anywhere in the world using your WiFi or mobile phone networks.

A recent addition to FastTik's communication menu is instant video messaging. Instead of text, you can exchange short video messages using facial expressions. An instant video message is deleted a few seconds after they are viewed and deleted permanently after 24 hours if the receiving party doesn't check it.

Users can also record and send instant voice messages, which are also deleted after they are heard.

FastTik is available as a free download for iOS devices in the Apple iTunes App Store and for Android devices in the Google Play Store. For more details, check the FastTik website, @FastTik_App on Twitter or the FastTik pages on Facebook or Instagram.

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