RSS Feed

Technology

It’s Time to Transfer Those Old Home Movies

By on August 1, 2017 in Technology

Home movies have been around for the better part of 100 years. However, they were not so simple or economical at first. Anyone could own a 16mm film camera and shoot movies that way. The cost of the film and the developing charges could be considerable, however. Eventually, the smaller 8mm and Super 8 formats helped to bring down the cost, and both the cameras and projectors were smaller.

Consumer grade video cameras became prevalent in the 1980s, with people first shooting on Beta and VHS. Other more compact formats came along, like VHS-C and Video 8. Both the cameras and tapes were cheap by this point, and the convenience of video resulted in some people accumulating many tapes of home movies. Digital eventually replaced analog via DVD-R and digital files, both of which have some advantages over analog videotapes.

So what of all those tapes from the ’80s and ’90s sitting in people’s basements? Unfortunately, they are all deteriorating. No format lasts forever and even properly stored videotapes will degrade over time. That means even lower quality for a picture that already does not live up to high definition standard of today. However, memories can be irreplaceable, so it would be a shame to lose that 35 year-old footage of your daughter’s acting debut in the school play or your son’s first time on the football field.

You can buy a VHS/DVD-R recorder and transfer the contents of the tapes to DVD-Rs. Unfortunately, the market for these devices has declined in recent years, so they are becoming harder to find. There is also the alternative of having the tapes transferred by a professional video service. These are not hard to find, but if you have a large number of tapes, the cost can be quite high (the charge is often $25-40 per tape).

Don’t take too long to decide. Those tapes are not getting any younger and your precious memories could end up lost on an unplayable VHS.

When is a Child Old Enough for a Smartphone?

By on July 21, 2017 in Technology

Technology is increasingly a part of almost everyone’s life and a large percentage of the population now has a smartphone. Children seem to become tech savvy at younger and younger ages now and they are asking their parents for smartphones at an age when most of us would have been content to own a tape recorder.

Do you have a child asking you for an iPhone? Are you curious about what is the appropriate age for such a device? According to Influence Central, some kids are getting their first phones by age 10 and, occasionally, even younger.

Part of the problem that comes from determining an appropriate age is that no two children are alike. Some children demonstrate maturity and responsibility from a young age, while others can take considerably longer to successfully demonstrate comparable advancement.

We all know (possibly on a very personal level) how addictive smartphones can be. Parents sometimes have great difficulty getting their kids to do their homework and chores already; give them a phone and the situation will likely become even more problematic.

There is also the fact that smartphones can give children access to just about anything on the internet, if the phone plan includes data. Certain filters will block out content on home computers, but parents can have a much harder time policing what their kids are watching on phones.

The cost of the device is also a factor. While certain cases provide adequate protection for day-to-day use, smartphones are not toys and may not stand up to the amount of wear and tear a child can put them through. There is also the fact that kids do not demonstrate the same level of thought about where they put their phones, so it could become lost.

From a science standpoint, the prefrontal cortex does not finish developing in humans until they are in their 20s. Its functions are related to impulse control; children and teens simply do not possess the same degree of control in that area.

All in all, my advice is to adhere to licensing rules: don’t let your child have a smartphone until they are old enough to get a license and drive a car.

Have You Cut the Cable Cord?

By on June 19, 2017 in Technology

Cable television was seen for decades as the main source of home entertainment. While it seems laughably small now, the fact that cable could provide dozens of channels meant so many more possibilities than the basic 13 you could get on old TVs.

However, changing times have eaten away at cable’s dominance. While premium services like HBO and Showtime meant that you could watch uncut movies at home in the early ’80s, home video’s rise during this same period meant you could do the same thing via VHS/Beta and Laserdiscs, and well before the twelve months it typically required those same movies to make it to cable.

However, the arrival and increasing popularity of the internet has been the real enemy that cable companies face. At first, surfing the net just meant a new and enjoyable distraction that caused people to spend less time in front of their televisions. However, when streaming video became more reliable and better quality, people realized that they could then run this into their TVs and see content for free.

Of course, streaming is not always free, but when a service like Netflix charges only $9.99 per month and offers thousands of possibilities, the $100+ that many people pay for cable quickly seems a lot less desirable. While it’s true that cable still offers a multitude of choices, and remains the only way to see certain things, many people are happy to do without in order to save money. Let’s face it: how many channels do you actually watch out of that gigantic cable package?

This had led more and more people to “cut the cord” and drop cable altogether. This seemed unheard of as little as a decade ago, but the changing nature of technology has made cheaper alternatives readily available.

What is your preference? Are you a cable holdout or do you rely on streaming services to provide your home entertainment? Click the comment button and let us know!

 

Does Celluloid Still Matter?

By on June 16, 2017 in Technology

Films used to only be shot on film, hence the name. 35mm was the main production and exhibition format for major motion pictures for decades, but now it is all but extinct. While film was, and remains a viable medium, digital offers advantages that the studios just couldn’t pass up. Movies can now fit on a hard drive that costs only a couple hundred dollars and costs very little to ship, as opposed to 35mm prints, which are expensive to make and send to theatres.

Digital is also much more cost effective in terms of shooting. Film costs money to buy and process, requires frequent magazine changes, and can only be viewed once it has been processed. Digital is so cheap that many productions simply leave the cameras running in between takes, and the results can be viewed instantly on-set, which makes the director and cinematographer’s jobs easier. Amateur filmmakers also benefit tremendously from digital’s versatility and ease of use. It is entirely possible to shoot a whole movie on a camera that costs a couple thousand dollars, and editing and mixing are possible on your average laptop.

Despite this, some directors are adamant about only shooting on film, including such heavy hitters as Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino. 35mm screenings are now so rare, that many film buffs head to them for the sense of nostalgia that ensues.

However, does the average moviegoer notice or care? Almost certainly not, which is all that the studios really worry about. If the public is happy, then they are, too, especially with the millions they are saving in print and shipping expenses.

One area where digital falls short, however, is preservation. No one knows for sure how long a digital file can be stored without corruption, but a properly stored negative or 35mm print can last as long as 100 years. Thus, film will almost certainly continue to have its uses going forward and that ought to make buffs happy.

Are You Taking Advantage of e-Marketing?

By on June 12, 2017 in Technology

The world wide web has really changed the way people do business, not only at work, but also in their personal lives. If you have a business and do not have a web presence, you are missing out on some major potential clients. Even if you do have a website, if it isn’t active and optimized, Google will mostly ignore you, which makes it harder for anyone to find you.

Fortunately, there are specialists out there who can help. You can employ the services of a digital marketing agency. These firms use experts to analyze your website so that you can know what is right and wrong about your approach. They will offer suggestions on how you can make your page easier to navigate, more pleasing to look at, and all around more effective at satisfying the needs of customers.

SEO stands for search engine optimization. That means making your website more effective at attracting potential customers using search engines, like Google. You can ask an SEO company about how to make your site more active and an industry thought leader. These make you appear more important and worthwhile in Google’s eyes, and that leads to increased web traffic.

Blogging is an excellent way to do this. You don’t need to write something every day, but having yourself or another person on staff writing about some aspect of the business a couple times a week really helps. These pieces do not always have to be about what you are selling; in fact, it is a bad idea if they are because no one likes reading advertisements all of the time. Make them related in some way to what you do, make them informative, make them friendly, and make them instructional. Offer something of value to the reader and not just an ad.

Will 2017 be the year for E-bikes to go mainstream? 4 Reasons Electric Bicycles are Catching On

By on April 19, 2017 in Technology

Most of us will never be able to afford a Tesla, so maybe e-bikes are the green vehicles were all looking for?

4 Reasons Electric Bicycles are Catching On

In terms of getting around, bicycles are pretty much the greenest way to travel, short of just walking. But if you want to get somewhere nearby quicker than walking, cycling is a great choice. If you’ve been thinking about e-bikes, or still haven’t even heard of them, here are 4 reasons why the industry is blowing up.

More E-Bike Options

If you follow tech, you’ve probably noticed the rise in e-bike and e-bike related accessories on sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Crowdfunding is the most popular way for start-up companies and products to raise money quickly while also raising awareness and the profile of their public image.

Crowdfunding sites are a good way to figure out where consumer demand is growing, as well. Smartwatches rose to popularity through several successful crowdfunding campaigns, notably Pebble. E-bikes are close to the same stage, but without the product fatigue that’s hitting the wearable industry. Sondors was one of the first companies to introduce an affordable e-bike for the masses, and since then there have been plenty of others. At this point, there is a new e-bike company looking for crowdfunding every week.

Interest Among Baby Boomers

The Baby Boomer generation has been the one to define the markets. Because of them, car making companies made record profits over the past few decades. Now that they’re getting older though, many are looking for different ways to get around that meets their new lifestyle.

As they retire, they won’t need a commuter vehicle anymore. Instead, travel will most likely be concentrated to local destinations. Bicycling has always been a great past-time for older retirees.

As muscles get older and joints get stiffer, e-bikes are the perfect solution for those that want to keep on pedaling.

The World Is Going Green

While it may not seem like it in some countries, the world is going green. Most populations are aware of their energy use and carbon footprints and want to reduce them.

Look no further than the rise in EVs like Tesla. Every single other major car company has introduced or are working on the next generation of electric cars. Production of cars is a huge energy expenditure though. Because of all the materials needed, buying a new car–even an electric one–can be a bad choice for the environment.

E-bikes are small, energy-efficient, and ultimately, the best choice for an electric vehicle.

Prices are Dropping for E-Bikes

Finally, the main reason why any technology catches on: the price. Once the general population can justify making a purchase, a tipping point is reached.

For e-bikes, it looks like when they are sold near the $500 mark, it piques the attention of consumers. The Sondors bikes were the first to hit this price point, and subsequently were wildly successful. Other crowdfunded bikes that focus on affordability have likewise been successful.

As prices for batteries drops, the cost of e-bikes will only continue to drop.

They’re already meeting the price of the high-end non-electric bike market. Once they hit the same price as department store bicycles, I predict we’ll see a huge shift in e-bike sales.

Get ready for the e-bike revolution!

Android TV Boxes: Everything You Need to Know About Free TV Boxes

By on March 21, 2017 in Technology

What are android boxes? And why are cable companies trying to stop them? You might have seen in the news recently that several large TV service providers have set their sights on a new enemy, taking those that sell Android TV boxes to court. But if you’re like most of the population, you’re probably curious about what exactly is an Android TV box?

remote-control-android_TV_Box

If youre a techie, you probably already know what an Android box is and likely already have one. But for many, the technology is still a little bit confusing. If youre in the latter camp and are looking to reduce or cut your dependence on cable TV, here is a summary of what they are and what they can do.

What is an Android TV Box?

The name itself is pretty explanatory, but to break it down in simple terms: its a box that plugs into your TV and runs Android. Basically, its pretty simple and unless youre well versed on Android, youre probably still not very impressed. What is impressive is what this allows you to do.

Android was originally developed for phones and tablets, but the beauty of it was that it was built off of Linux, an open software, and Android itself is open to any and all. This openness and freedom is an amazing thing and because of it, we have other technologies using it that go far beyond the scope of its original intent.

One of these unforeseen uses for Android has been to put it onto TVs.

When an android box connects to a TV, you end up with a smart TV. This smart TV doesnt cost you an extra $1,000, though. And most Android boxes remain open and easily modifiable, whereas Smart TVs are typically fairly locked down in what you are able to do.

An Android box, for example, can easily access the millions of Apps that have been created for Android.

What Can an Android TV Box do?

Now that we know what it is, the next question is what can it do? Weve already established that they run Android, just like your cellphone. What you might not realize is just how much video you can access from the Android OS.

Apps like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, Youtube, Acorn and more can all be installed and give you access to more video than you could ever watch.

Android-TV-apps-1

There are also other apps that can provide access to pirated video streams from all over the web.

If youve never used an android phone before, getting used to an android box might take you a little bit of time, but the capabilities of having the OS on your television is likely worth it. And despite large cable service providers trying to stop the sale of them, the increased attention that they are forcing onto the technology will probably have the reverse effect. The times are changing and the way people access their video content is entering a new age: the age of internet television and android TV boxes.

 

Android Oreo? What Will Android 8.0 Be Called?

By on February 25, 2017 in Technology

As we all know, each yearly major haul of Android comes with a new, sweet name. To add to the fun, Android devs have followed a tradition of naming the newest version of Android after a sweet confectioner’s treat. This started back with version 1.5, which was affectionately called Cupcake. Then came Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb (which was a tablet only version), Ice Cream Sandwich, Jellybean, Kitkat, Lollipop, Marshmallow, and finally the most recent version of AndroidNougat.

See the pattern? Each new version starts with the next letter of the alphabet.

Historically, it’s about this time of year that we start to hear new things about the newest upcoming version of Android OS. One of the things that techies love to speculate about is the name that Android will be bringing to the new version. What we do know (based on the pattern) is that Android 8.0 will start with the letter O.

A big (and obvious clue) let loose by Hiroshi Lockheimer (the head of Android, ChromeOS, and Chromecast) in his Twitter might be proof for some:

android_oreo

But I think this is too easy. And why would he make it look so obvious? No, as great a name as Android Oreo is, I think we should be looking outside of the *cookie* box.

Here are my top pics:

  • Android Oh!Henry
  • Android Ovaltine

You know what? There’s a remarkable lack of sweet treats that start with O…

Android might be stuck with Oreo. Or maybe they’ll skip right over O to P. Android Pineapple has a nice ring to it!

Are Smartwatches Dead? Why Smartwatches Are Failing

By on January 23, 2017 in Technology

Do you have a smartwatch? Do you know somebody that does have one? The newest technology trend of the past few years might have missed it’s shot to go mainstream…

Smartwatches burst onto the tech scene with a bang. The pioneer in this space was the Pebble watch. Before this, no one had really thought of smartwatches and the idea of having a secondary screen on your wrist was still an idea of science fiction. When Pebble made it’s debut on the crowdfunding site, Kickstarter, its success made smartwatches a viable idea.

Smartwatch

I was one of the few early adopters that backed the project, and after a few delays, became one of the first to strap a smartwatch to my wrist. The experience was generally a good one. I could personalize the way it looked and withouttaking out my phone, be notified of when I got a phone call or text, or change the song I was listening to. It quickly replaced the watch I used to wear.

But that’s the thing: I always wore a watch.

While I found myself wearing my Pebble everyday, even upgrading to the Pebble Time when it came out, I knew others that bought smartwatches, whether they be Android Wear or Apple Watches, that stopped wearing them after a short time. And that’s the problem. For those that don’t normally wear a watch, having a smartwatch on your wrist is just another thing to remember to put on and bring with you when you go out. It’s a gadget that doesn’t do anything different or better than your smartphone.

People were looking at smartwatches the wrong way: they are a replacement for your wristwatch, not your phone.

That’s why Android Watches and Apple Watches need to stop trying to cram in more features. They need to realize that it should be a watch, and not a wrist mounted smart phone.

Pebble were one of the few companies to get this, and they prioritized the Pebble as a watch. I believe they began to misstep when they decided to start adding in health tracking features. A watch doesn’t really need that. Not surprisingly, Pebble weren’t able to hang on much longer after unveiling their newest gen to Kickstarter. The watches never even made it into production.

Pebble’s loss of their vision on the primary focus of a watch most likely chipped in on their recent demise and ultimate selloff to Fitbit. Here’s hoping that the next generation of Smartwatches learned something. If Fitbit focuses on creating an amazing watch, then add in smart capability, they should be on track to pick up where Pebble left off. If not, I worry that smartwatch users like me will never again get the devices that we truly need.

Nintendo Switch–Nintendo’s Comeback Story? Price, Launch Date, and Titles Revealed

By on January 18, 2017 in Technology

It’s no secret that Nintendo, in the console business anyways, is on the ropes. Thanks to a confusing last gen naming debacle. most consumers didn’t even bother picking up a Wii U. Nintendo is doubling down on their newest console, the Nintendo Switch.

Last week’s unveiling of the new system brought with it a list of answers for questions that have been speculated on since the console was first announced last year. Unfortunately, the answers weren’t what many hoped for…

The biggest question was that of the price. Nintendo announced that the new system would be $299 USD ($399 CAD). Pricier than the Wii U was at launch and more expensive than many had expected.

Nintendo-Switch

The other announcements revolved around the launch titles. Unless you’re a fan of Zelda, this is another disappointment. The newest Legend of Zelda game will be arriving with the Switch, but little else besides that. In total, there will be an underwhelming four launch titles.

A new Mario title is in the works, but likely won’t be seen until closer to the end of 2017.

Despite these misgivings, the system could still go big. The Nintendo Switch appears as a much more premium product than the Wii U before it. A lot of engineering and thought went into the console and it’s revolutionary controller setup.

The new console will hit store shelves on March 3rd 2017.

So far, the reception has been positive. Most reviewers that laid hands on the console praise it’s comfort and quality. The console’s portability, a large selling factor, also appears to hit the sweet spot of being large enough to play on, but small enough to bring along comfortably.

The interest for the console seems promising, and it will likely perform better than the Wii U did before it. Anecdotally, online pre-orders for the console appear to be strong. While Nintendo have not released any numbers, it may be difficult to find one. In Canada, major retailers like Amazon and Best Buy quickly sold out.

Personally, I’m rooting for Nintendo on this one. While the company has a strong nostalgic following, the Japanese firm does have a strong grasp on developing quality, enjoyable games with strong, memorable characters. Let’s just hope that the new Nintendo Switch will help Nintendo hold it’s own for another round with the big players, Xbox and Playstation. Playstation released it’s newest console, the PS4 Pro, last year and Xbox will be bringing their PC-level console to market before the end of this year. Good luck, Nintendo!

New Nextbook Flexx 12 Flip Convenient 2-in-1 Tablet

By on January 2, 2017 in Technology

Later this week media and industry will take over Las Vegas looking for the newest trends in tech for 2017.  E FUN, a leading designer and manufacturer of mobile lifestyle products, has announced they will be showing their Nextbook Flexx 12 Flip 2-in-1 Tablet.   The first in a new series of Flip 2-in-1 tablets from Nextbook,  the unit comes with a  large 12.2″ screen and support for a variety of A/V formats makes it ideal for watching videos, reading, listening to music, and looking at photos. Its sleek, modern design and combination of Windows 10 and a detachable keyboard make it an effective tool for professionals on the go and students.

“With a hearty 12.2″ IPS touchscreen and 1920×1200 high-definition resolution, the Flexx 12 Flip 2-in-1 tablet delivers exceptional image quality for watching videos, reading, working or any task that is viewing intense,” commented E FUN managing director and VP of sales Jason Liszewski. “Plus, the detachable Pogo pin keyboard easily flips the unit into a convenient laptop.”

E FUN's Nextbook Flexx 12 Flip

The Flexx 12 Flip will come with Intel’s new seventh-generation core processor, Kaby Lake, along with an Intel GEN9 LP graphics processor, and the ability to be configured up to 256GB of combined internal and external (microSD card slot) storage capacity.   A stylish metal case supports the device during use and protects the device when not in use.

Built-in Bluetooth 4.0 and 5G Wi-Fi 802.11ac/b/g/n connectivity options allow the unit to be used virtually anywhere. It will also have a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery that will provide users up to eight hours of power, plus a Type C port allows for an easy, reversible connection. To ensure you can capture that special moment quickly, the Flexx12 will have a  front camera and 5M rear camera with autofocus.  E FUN has also preloaded apps such as Vudu movies and TV, Flixster to find movie theater schedules and locations, Barnes and Noble Nook, and more.

LG’s Levitating Speaker to Debut at CES

By on December 27, 2016 in Technology

With the ever changing world of technology evolving every day, companies are always trying to redesign the wheel.  LG Electronics announced on Monday it will launch a futuristic Levitating Portable Speaker.  It’s not enough that it’s Bluetooth and that it offers great sound, but it will wow your visitors by floating in the middle of its platform.  In addition to its striking looks, the versatile speaker provides users the ability to seamlessly play music, podcasts and other audio content in the home as well as outdoors.

LG Levitating Portable Speaker

“The PJ9 wireless speaker is an exciting combination of audio design and innovation, offering the perfect balance between performance, beauty and versatility,” said Tim Alessi, head of product marketing at LG Electronics USA. “This latest addition to our growing lineup of premium wireless audio devices will not only turn heads, but it makes the bold statement that LG is committed to exploring new concepts and pioneering innovative audio designs for consumers around the world.

Using powerful electromagnets housed within the Levitation Station, the PJ9 achieves a stunning visual effect of floating in mid-air, untouched by any surface or wires. At its core is a 360degree omnidirectional speaker with turbine blade-inspired design and deep bass courtesy of the subwoofer embedded inside the Levitation Station. The PJ9 also features Dual Passive Radiator technology to reproduce flush mid-range tones and crisp highs for enhanced sound quality.

When the PJ9’s 10-hour batter begins to run low, the smart portable speaker automatically descends to the Levitation Station and begins to charge wirelessly with no intervention required from the listener and no interruption in music playback. To add to the excitement, LG has made the  PJ9 weatherproof so it’s able to withstand adverse weather conditions. If that wasn’t enough, the PJ9,  has a Multipoint technology, which enables the speaker to connect to two Bluetooth devices simultaneously!

Top