Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What would happen if the power went off?

This Saturday at about 2:00am I lost power for about 9 hours. The freezing temperatures blew two transformers and 1500 people were without power. This continued over the weekend in different areas of the county. I'm sure most people don't expect something like this to happen in Florida, but it did.  All this would come right after watching Armageddon Week on the history channel. To make a long story short the main area of focus was how quick our society would change by a pandemic.

If to many people became ill from an unstoppable flu strain there would be no one to do the work because most-likely there would be a national quarantine in place . Between the numbers sick and lost to the flu there would be no one around to take care of the things that enable us to do the things we love like blogging, social networking, using the internet, and run the electric companies. Everything we have come to use or rely on would be gone with no power and become meaningless overnight. So my tech tip for today is make sure you have the necessities for you and your family. In a catastrophic event here's are a list of the things you would want to have.

#1- Nonperishable food that could last your family 90 days and plenty of water. You can go 30 days without food, but only three days without water.

#2- Plenty of extra basic medicines and antibiotics if you can get your hands on some.(More soilders died in the Civil War from infections than gunshot wounds)

#3-Lot's of batteries, battery powered radio and a Ham Radio to communicate with people. 

Everything we do or accomplish in life requires some form of preparation. All though an event like this may seem unlikely it never hurts to follow the old Boy Scouts motto of "Be prepared".

Monday, January 11, 2010

Secure your PC with Facial Recognition

If your a fan of automation like me you will love Luxand Facial Recognition software (and not just because its free). After downloading and installing Luxand it will do a quick scan of your face with your web cam (make sure you have sufficient light). Then it will show you the name of your PC and ask you to enter your password. Restart your computer and  log back in with your good looks. It's pretty simple and you want have to use your password again. Just added Followers to the Madden Corner so please feel free to sign up.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Why you Shouldn't Go Cheap on Your Next Cell Phone

In the past few years the cell phone has morphed into the smart phone. I got my first cell phone in 1999 and it was a pre-paid. I only had it for an emergency. Now I can't leave the house without it. Having a quality smart phone is one of the most important purchases you can make these days. Smart phones have more bells and whistles, but they still make calls. Don't be intimidated by all the things an IphoneMotorola Droid, or the newly crowned Nexus One from Google can do.

First when you buy a smart phone always get insurance. Most high end phones cost over $500 dollars without a contract, and I'm sure you don't want to cough that up yourself when you accidentally drop it in the toilet (like my wife did 2 years ago). The next reason to go with a high-end phone is because technology is always changing. I bought the HTC Mogul in November 2007. In March 2009 I started having problems with my phone. I called the insurance company and the HTC Mogul had been replaced by the HTC Touch Pro so they upgraded me to the newer phone.

When you have an expensive phone and something goes wrong you will never be down graded to something lesser. That's were the extra few bucks a month comes in handy for the insurance. I did have to pay a $50 dollars deductible, but the phone retailed for about $540 bucks at the time. That's a small price compared to what it would cost if you don't have the insurance.

Timing is also key. As a Sprint customer I can get $150 dollars off a new phone every 2 years. So know what your carrier offers and with possible rebates the price of new phone could really drop. If you need some help here is a smart phone guide to let you know what each of the top phones can do. I hope everyone has a great weekend. See you on Monday.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Why you should buy a PS3

If your not a gamer your probably thinking why do I need a PS3? The PS3 is more than a gaming console. I know the Wii gets a lot of hype, but would you rather have a game system or an entertainment system? I've had the PS3 for about 4 years now and it's been great.. I also told before most would commit that Blue Ray would over take HD DVD.

#1- The PS3 has a Blue Ray player and a cell processor so powerful the Air Force is buying over 1,500 of them to link and build a super computer.

#2- If you listen to music at home then leave the 5 disc changer alone. Store all your music on the PS3 and link it to Windows Media Player to download your content directly from your computer, or stream it to the PS3.

#3-Got a digital camera? Pop out your memory card and look at those photos you just took. Then save them to the PS3 which can provide you with a secondary backup. ( You can create playlist for both music and photos)

#4- Always have movie night with the PS3. Get a Netflix account and they will send you a disk that will allow you to stream movies instantly to the PS3. Movies titles can also be purchased from Sony.
#5 Want to keep up with the latest news and gossip? Get a wireless key board and surf the web from the comfort of your favorite chair.

#6 Do you already own the PSP? Stream all your content from the PS3 to the PSP from any wifi spot.

#7 Last, but definitely not least is the gaming. PS3 has over 700 titles out right now. Think your not a gamer? If you like Monopoly or Jeopardy, or any of the other classics then think again..

Think video games are a waist of time? Researchers at the University of Rochester in New York found that "those people who play action video games can process visual information more quickly and can track 30 percent more objects than non video game players".

So if you have been on the fence, or just wondering about gaming systems consider the value a PS3 could bring to your digital life. (No Sony is not paying me, but I wish)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Photo Morph and make a baby

Ever wonder what your kids may look like? Well Face Research can bring you one step closer to that answer. The site is run by two experimental psychologists at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. They are interested in "how people read faces and the ways in which this relates to experiences". Just sign up for an account and upload your photo's to get an idea of what your off spring may look like with your perspective mate, or just have some fun to see what your kids would look like with your favorite star.  This is a research project so data is taken for informational purpose only, but no identifiable data will ever be used or published (Face Research FAQ).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How I saved $1200 a year by getting rid of my landline and moving to Skype

Late 2008 to the early part of 2009 I spent 6 months in Baghdad, Iraq. What made time fly was the ability to communicate with my family and friends via Skype.  I signed up for Skype's Unlimited U.S and Canada plan and got a local number U.S number that allowed people to call me and leave messages. The commercial internet in Iraq is not even close to what we have in the United States, but Skype worked very well. That got me to thinking why am I paying AT&T $100 dollars a month at home when I could have Skype for about $60-70 dollars per year?

So when I returned from Iraq I put my thoughts into action. I didn't want to be tied to a headset like I was in Iraq so I started to look for a Skype phone. The first one I bought was the Belkin Wifi Phone, but after getting it setup the sound quality was very poor and the volume was extremely low at the max level. So I returned it the next day. After returning the phone I went to Walmart looking for something else and came across the GE 2 in 1 Skype phone.

The GE 2 in 1 phone allows you to connect one to your computer and the other connects to the main base unit. Giving you the freedom of placing another phone anywhere without being connected to the computer. The set up was simple and took about 10-15 minutes. The call quality is very good and you have access to all your Skype contacts from the phone.

If you're not ready to make the leap from land line to Voip the GE 2 in 1 can be used for both Voip and land line calls. That way you have the option of keeping your land line and go with the very basic service (AT&T local only with no extras is around $15/m)  and use Skype for all your long distance calling. Which would still be a huge savings per year.

Your computer needs to be on to use Skype, but in the Skype settings you can setup call forwarding. That way if your computer is not on it will forward calls to your cell phone, and forward  calls if you don't answer in a certain number of seconds.  Another added bonus is Skype can be used on your Windows mobile or Iphone.

The last thing I love is the ability to block annoying phone calls. If by chance a telemarketer gets your new number, simply block the caller and you will never hear from them again. Something traditional land lines don't do well in my experience. So if you have been looking for another way to make your cash go further give Skype a try.

Monday, January 4, 2010

UnHub- URL Shortener and Bar

UnHub is url shortener service that gives you a little more. You get a digg like bar at the top of the page you forward. The bar provides stats and information on the person who created the link. So every time the link you create is retweeted or forwarded to someone else they will be able to link back to you. This is can be a great tool to get people familiar with your blog or website. Checkout the video below from Unhub.

UnHub Demo from Vinicius Vacanti on Vimeo.