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Category Archives: Software

This App Can Tell You When Your Local McDonald’s Ice Cream Machine is Busted

 

Every so often, a genius comes around with a revolutionary idea that changes the world overnight. Penicillin, the Polio Vaccine, the Internet are all fine, but they never answered life’s greatest question; is the McDonald’s Ice Cream Machine down?

Say hello to Ice Check, an app which allows users to update the status of local McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines. Just like Waze, or gas price apps, other users will bit the bullet and report the status of whether you’ll be able to get that McFlurry, or whether you’re stuck with a 6-piece McNugget.

I downloaded the app and the good news is that my nearest McDonald’s has a working machine, the bad news is that the nearest McDonald’s listed is 50 miles away. Bummer.

Available now on the iOS App Store for free. The app’s not on Android yet, guess they’re stuck playing the guessing game.

TheVerge ]

3 Smart Home Automation Items That You Can Easily Start With

Etekcity Smart Plug Mini Outlet

There’s no debate that the switch is the easiest smart home item that you can start with. If you go with the Etekcity Smart Plug Mini Outlet, you can readily control your lights and track your energy usage through the VeSync app. Plus, it works with Amazon Alexa, SmartThing, HomeKit, Google Home, and IFTTT. Pretty handy switch for only $35 for 2.

Amazon Echo

Of course, if you want to start your home automation, don’t miss out on smart speaker assistants. Amazon Echo is probably the most popular one today. It can do a lot of things like check your flight schedules, answer any of your questions, give you traffic updates, and a whole lot more. It’s kind of expensive, but today, you can score an $80 off and get one for only $100!

TP-Link Multicolor Wi-Fi LED Bulb

Lastly, we have the lights. Lighting automation is the easiest type of home automation to break in. This TP-Link Multicolor Wi-Fi LED Bulb is dimmable and can work with Alexa. You don’t even need a hub to start using it. It’s only $40 a piece today.

How to Avoid Getting Your Smart Locks Hacked

How to Avoid Getting Your Smart Locks Hacked

You would be surprised at how countless people have shared their horrible smart lock experiences. Smart locks, apparently, can be a little dumb when it comes to security.

Take for example the case of a 31-year-old smart enthusiast living in Missouri. He went all in on the smart home and was dumbfounded when his neighbor walked up casually to his front door and yelled, “Hey Siri, unlock the front door.” Siri complied.

His mistake was to place his iPad in the living room for his convenience. Sadly, his iPad didn’t have passcode authentication, making toying around his smart lock ridiculously easy. His smart lock story went viral online and got a spotlight in Forbes.

This is not meant to discourage you from going for a smart home. This is just to remind that you of the precautions that you need to take so your smart lock will not get hacked.

Password authentication

I know, it’s basic, but passwords are like the pawns of your kingdom. You have this extra layer of security of defense that drives off people who are just playing around like the neighbor in the story. Enable passwords in your devices and your Wi-Fi network.

Make your own network

Smart home devices need to have a network so they can understand each other. Usually, you’d just connect it to the Internet, the holy place where everyone can have access to everything. If you want your smart home to be safe, you’d want to create your own, separate network.

This has a downside, however. First, it takes time to setup. Second, some features of your devices (ie, Amazon’s Alexa search feature which needs the internet) wouldn’t work. This setup is recommended if you control your home devices via automation and physical smart switches, like sensors that’ll trigger your lights.

Invest in smart locks from reputable companies

If the second suggestion doesn’t appeal to you because of the limitations, the best that you can do is to invest in smart locks from reputable companies like August, Kevo, and Schlage. These companies protect their businesses and their clients by continuously reinforcing their security. They usually release security updates regularly.

There you go. If you do these things, you can protect your smart locks from getting hacked.

3 Totally Lit Smart Bulbs That Work With IFTTT

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The easiest way for anybody to get started with building a smart home is through the lights. They’re the easiest to setup and some don’t even need a hub — just the bulbs, a decent Wi-Fi connection, and your smartphone.

To take your lighting a little further, you can turn to IFTTT (If This, Then That) for no-sweat integration. You can set schedules, dim the lights automatically, and switch them on a couple of minutes before you get home. Here are 3 totally lit smart bulbs that have ready-to-use IFTTT recipes for you to use.

Philips Hue

We’re starting with the most popular bulbs, the Hue. The IFTTT recipes for Hue include turning the lights on/off at certain times, during sunsets or when you get home; switching the colors to blue when it rains outside; making the colors loop when you feel like it, and dimming down the lights.

WeMo Lights

You can find practical recipes on IFTTT for WeMo like switching the bulbs on and off when you get home or when it’s raining outside or track the bulb’s energy usage in your Google Drive. But there are fun uses too! You can make the bulb dim a little bit when you get an email from your SO or get notified of your favorite football team’s score with your WeMo bulbs.

LIFX Bulbs

LIFX probably has the most number of available IFTTT recipes online and they range from practical to smart-home interactive to the unnecessary, but charming.

As expected, there are recipes that turn on the lights on/off when you arrive/leave, fade the lights so you wake up gently in the morning, and flash the lights when your doorbell rings. Then, there are fun recipes which make the bulbs blink when you’re mentioned on Twitter or Facebook. Or recipes that make the bulb flash your team’s colors everytime they score!

You can get any of these bulbs, but in case you want the bulbs with the most number of available IFTTT integrations (the LIFX bulbs), you can get one at a $15 discount with the code LIFX15.

[Get $15 Off on LIFX Color Bulb]

Receive Gmail’s Powerful Features On Other Email Accounts

Gmailify

The following article is brought to you by The Tech Info Group. -Ed

Non-Gmail accounts are getting an upgrade with the “Gmailify”application. Get the full features of Google email without the need of a Gmail account. Now, you have the option of keeping your old email address from another provider and receive the complete features of a Gmail account. When somebody enables Gmailify, they’re getting the benefits of a Gmail account without moving to the @gmail domain.

The Benefits of Gmailify:

  • Users get spam protection. The Gmail service identifies spam from patterns and user preferences. Spam gets sent to a separate folder and, at the top of the email, will be a label that explains why the message got sent to spam. Google filters the spam from your email.
  • Emails will be automatically sorted into tabs such as “social” and “update.” This is a default organizational tool that lets users get to the important stuff quickly and enjoy the fun stuff without pause.

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Video VoIP Calling Comes To iPhone

2f04a702d349 By Gaurav Kheterpal

Somewhat old news here, but you should know that Apple has removed all restrictions that prohibited making Video VoIP calls on 3G networks using the iPhone. The iPhone SDK has also been modified in order to give developers access to the Video VoIP APIs. This means you can use either iCall or Fring (which supports Skype) to make Video VoIP calls on your device and the only catch is that your carrier must allow VoIP calls to work on 3G in addition to WiFi (good luck). While stability of video is an issue with both these apps, it’s still a welcome move by Apple.

Video calls are fun, make sure you try it out on your iPhone!

VIA [ Daemon News ]

Microsoft Outlines Windows 7 Upgrade Program

windows7-sb

By Shane McGlaun

We talked earlier about pricing for Windows 7 now that its launch is getting closer. The OS will debut in October, which is only months away. Many are expecting great things out of Windows 7 and it better deliver where Vista failed.

Microsoft says that anyone who buys a Vista equipped PC starting on June 26 will be eligible for an upgrade to Windows 7 for free. The catch is that only certain versions of Vista are eligible for upgrade. That means if you buy a cheap computer running Vista Basic, you get no upgrade.

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ATM Hunter for iPhone available from MasterCard

atmhunter

By Shane McGlaun

Last time I was in California for a conference, I spent a good hour trying to find an ATM to get some cash to eat lunch. I hate not being able to find an ATM and even in my hometown at times, it can be hard to find a place to grab some cash.

MasterCard has announced a new application for the iPhone and iPod touch called ATM Hunter that will find ATMs near you. The application uses the location functionality of the devices to pinpoint ATMs nearby.

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iHound Software Will Help Your Stolen Gadgets Phone Home

ihound software logo

By David Ponce

If this fantastic bit of software works as advertised, getting your stolen gadgets back from the miscreants who took them will become just a little bit easier. iHound Software is a free download that, once properly configured on your device, will automatically contact you as soon as it’s plugged into another computer via USB. You’ll get an email with the IP address of the computer it’s being used on, and it will even print out a dandy report which you can then bring to a police station. Hopefully you can then get your ISP to cooperate, and help locate the twit who thought it cool to swipe your iPod.

The software works on a variety of devices (list here), and is able to track up to three devices. The company plans on keeping this free, though they may release a Pro version in the future.

[ iHound Software ]