Gadget Grave http://gadgetgrave.com Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:59:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Bright Future of Educationhttp://gadgetgrave.com/the-bright-future-of-education/ http://gadgetgrave.com/the-bright-future-of-education/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:00:17 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=4173 Whatever you may believe about public education today improvements should be on everyones agenda. The bright future of education with technology provides new ways for students to gain rich experiences for a fraction of the cost of years before. Students can easily experience safe content monitored information super highways and gain information with ease; it might be obvious why this might worry many. Are we creating a digital dependency in students to just look everything up on Google? If so, is anything wrong with that? What do you really know about the potential for technologically enhanced classrooms across the globe?

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World collaboration is an idea of creating a safe environment for students to collaborate with a group across the planet from each other via the internet. Schools can get special grants that pay for a number of devices as well as grants that pay for high speed internet to deliver high quality streaming content. While no system is perfect and there is always room for improvement, many schools comply strictly to safety standards implemented by the federal government. This makes it possible for schools with lower income to deliver a quality experience to its students. For instance a simple projector, a cheap laptop with internet access and a dark room with a blank wall would facilitate the above experience for under $500. While simulation is not reality it can be a great substitute when there is no alternative. It is simply not feasible for every public school to take 300 students on a journey to egypt, and not even possible for them  to explore the pyramids in a way that they could right back in the classroom via a web browser. 

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Understanding how each and every person learns and facilitating lessons in a different way is a good place to start if bulleting a list of advances technology has afforded us. While this may sound like a robotic approach to such a sensitive subject of learning abilities it has actually sparked innovation in the way we address those so-called “abilities”. The question is no longer why students are getting left behind, its what can we show them to help them understand. Each student can manipulate tech in the classroom in a way that suits their mode of learning, as long as we are asking the right questions it won’t matter that information is at their fingertips. Good questions probe beyond simple answers and require us to think on a higher level to deliver great answers. Multiple technologies whether it be tablets, laptops, or even kinesthetic technologies can be made available to students to help them collect and understand data in different ways.

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Creating critical thinkers has been the goal of public education for quite some time. Specific technologies in assessment allow us to monitor students strengths and improvement needs in real-time, thats kind of a big deal. When I was in public school I never dreamed of the teacher asking all of us a question and in real time submitting our answer! This also allows teachers the ability to track each specific students progress through each step of the lesson and to develop individualized plans for each student in the classroom. Teachers are required to have IEP’s for many students and this program is a successful method for developing strengths in the place of weaknesses for many students. Technology allows the teacher to offer targeted help for every single student.


If you want to know more about how to safeguard your computer for the student in your house, bring yourself and your computer into Gadget Grave and we can show you how to do that as well as install the necessary tools to keep you safe for the long haul. Our preventative shield package is right at $129.99 and ensures top notch protection for your families computer!

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Browsershttp://gadgetgrave.com/browsers/ http://gadgetgrave.com/browsers/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 14:00:37 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=4125 According to several major news outlets, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning to individuals from using Internet Explorer.  Also NBC and PC World

 

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Why?  Apparently there is a major vulnerability that has been discovered. This weakness allows hackers to obtain all access to your computer.  There is a remote code execution- dubbed- CVE-2014-1776 that allows hackers to gain the same access to the computer as the owner of the computer.

Microsoft is scrabbling to fix the issue but it has yet to be resolved and users should download another browser until the security hole is fixed. This weakness is one of the reasons I do not use Internet Explorer – that and all the pop-ups and spyware that infect a computer.

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There are several viable choices for browsers.  Chrome is one of the top browsers.  Since it debuted in 2008.  It is fast and can be ran on most systems- including Windows XP and Vista, which Microsoft no longer supports (causing a person to use an older slower version.)  Flash is part of the design and requires no extra downloads as well as plug ins are “click-to-play.”

Another great feature of Chrome is the interaction between Google and the browser is cool.  I can sign into my Google account and Chrome can load up all my bookmarks on any computer, it remembers sites I frequent on a new tab I open.  It is more secure and you can download an ad-blocker that works very well (no commercials while using Pandora!).  The browser pops up a red display- meaning something is not right here – when you visit pages that are not safe and does a good job with phishing site blocking.

This browser is free and available for most Apple products, Windows and Android devices.  I recommend this browser- especially if you use Google.

Another choice is Firefox.  This browser has remained a steadfast choice among computer users.  The browser is fast and looks great.  Firefox offers Web audio support and still remains the most customizable browser available.  Firefox offers “’Panorama’ tab organizer” that organizes all those open tabs in an easier view.  Battle of the Browsers Firefox has always been a leader and introduced a DO Not Track system.  You have three choices- “Do Not Track, Track, and Don’t tell).  This browser is still the second best in market.

Firefox is available for almost all Apple and Microsoft products as well as Android and I still use this browser.

Opera 20 is another free browser.  This browser offers a sleek, minimal design.  The browser is fast and is compatible.  The browser is considered on of the most innovative browsers and it uses the Chrome interface.  Opera offers plenty of malware, and other warnings built into the page to help keep you secure.  Opera is one of the safest browsers says PC Mag.

While Microsoft Internet Explorer is having a major security breach- do not panic, there are other choices- other options.  It is good to switch up your browsers; all are relatively easy and a lot like Internet Explorer.  If you do not like using another browser, you can switch back when the security is fixed.

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Snapfishhttp://gadgetgrave.com/snapfish/ http://gadgetgrave.com/snapfish/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 14:00:33 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=4123 Have you heard of Snapfish.com?  This program is a great place to store all your photos.   Snapfish is just a photo storage center, but a place with simple editing tools as well as a store.  Snapfish offers printing through their website or you may send to Walgreens, Wal-Mart and other stores within your town.  You can print all different sizes, books, blankets and other items.  Also, you can ship your items to different locations- to friends and family as gifts.

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When you first sign up, you receive free items plus Snapfish offers promotions all the time.   Snapfish offers unlimited online photo sharing and storage, professional=quality prints and gifts, free uploading from your mobile device and other services free.  http://www.snapfish.com/snapfish/aboutUs.

You sign up through an email address.  When you first log in, the site opens into a welcome page.  This page contains your recent albums on left and on the right, there is a yellow box that lists Upload photos & Videos, order prints, shop, share and mobile apps.  The site is relatively easy to maneuver.

Another great thing is that your information is private unlike other sites, where your pictures are shared with others.  I use mine for personal and business reasons.  I can send and pay for pictures and I can pick up pictures at the One-hour studio at Wal-Mart or Walgreens.

The editing offered by the site, is simple and easy to use but does not offer complex editing options as other sites.  I suggest you use your favorite editing software- then upload the pictures.

Your pictures are organized by date.  When you upload, you can name each album or leave the date uploaded as the album name.  The picture quality is amazing and I encourage all my friends to use Snapfish.

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PC Magazine stated that Snapfish had great editing tools when it comes to creating personalized cards, calendars and other custom products but sometimes the work did not look as good as other sites.  The review talked about Snapfish’s final product,  I have not had this issue but I usually order and pick up my stuff from Wal-Mart.  http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,1859065,00.asp

Top Ten Reviews rated Snapfish as 10 out of 10.  Pros being an easy app and site and a con being that pricing changes depending on store you pick up your photos from or due to the fee charged for shipping.  http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,1859065,00.asp

A blogger and photographer reviewed Snapfish with three other sites similar to Snapfish.  According to her blog, more people voted for Snapfish then the other 3 places- stating clearer pictures.  Check it out here!

The reviews are good with their quality differing in the reviews.  I have used Snapfish for all my storage and to send, share and print pictures.  I have had a free collage sent to my house that was a great photo and I was complete satisfied with the results.  I also send a lot of my pictures to Wal-Mart to be printed.  It is an easy way to get prints quickly.

I suggest trying Snapfish.    You can use it to back up your photos on your smartphones and pictures stored on your computer.   I wish Snapfish would have existed about 10 years ago- as I did lose many memories due to a hard-drive crash.  I have searched long and hard and use Snapfish for my personal photos and have set my photography clients up an account for quick, safe and secure access to their pictures.

 

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The game of LIFEhttp://gadgetgrave.com/the-game-of-life/ http://gadgetgrave.com/the-game-of-life/#comments Sun, 22 Jun 2014 14:00:51 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3865 I must say I usually don’t buy apps but this one I did. I remember this game from when I was a kid and thought it was fun. Everyone has at one point played this as a board game. Remember the plastic scenery and that spinner!! The decisions of being an adult, getting a career, going to college, getting married and having children even retirement. Well it is the same here. Everything I remember from the board game is here. You must take a path (fork in the road), and choose if you want a career, or go to college. Over the years the game has changed, going from cash to the current version which award life points. This is a joint effort between Hasbro and EA and I must say the graphics are absolutely outstanding! The 3D animations are pleasing to the eye and are actually pretty cool when moving around the board. You choose your cards at various parts of the game and more than a couple of times made my wife mad from taking half her inheritance. And the spinner the most iconic part of the game is true to the original.
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To get a good spin you will have to spin it like a rotary phone, kind of annoying but it does work. Spin the spinner, and the app takes care of the rest, moving what looks like a minivan around the board. Every once in a while the app pops up saying you owe money, receive money and the amount you owe the other player. Every once in a while you will have to make a decision for instance, do you want to be a doctor or a mechanic?
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My biggest gripe is you are basically along for the ride. You also have to sit and wait your turn and sit through the other players turn. The saving grace is you have the option to speed up the animations and skip the computer players  whole turn. Also when you are playing multiple players up to 4 you do have to pass the device around, not a big deal but still. But with all the drawbacks this is a fun gave to pass the time. My wife and I along with my 7-year-old son played a few round and he was excited when he got married and had kids. Even though this game was actually meant for kids I found it enjoyable.
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In conclusion there could be some tweaks made to the game to make it more interesting and work across more platforms. This is available on the IOS devices and I do believe it is not compatible with android tablets. Since I don’t have a tablet I was unable to test it there. So if you are trying to pass the time by yourself or with the kids say at a Doctors office. That this is great to keep everyone entertained. Screen shots and a market link are below, and at only .99 cents well worth it. (for me anyway).
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Back uphttp://gadgetgrave.com/back-up/ http://gadgetgrave.com/back-up/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 14:00:11 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=4127 Back up what, you ask.  Back up anything important that you do not want to lose.  When it comes to your phone, you should back up your contacts, videos, pictures and other information you find important and need.  Backing up is simple and but could take time.

I know you do not believe that it is important to back up your stuff, because you take care of your phone, ect; BUT lately people have questioned how to recover pictures and other data on devices that are no longer functioning..  Accidents happen daily and it is heartbreaking to lose pictures and other information.  How many numbers do you have memorized?  Where is little Johnny’s first homerun picture?  On your phone?  What will happen if you drop your phone in your pool?  What if your phone just quits working?  Backing up saves you from trying everything under the moon to retrieve data- that in many cases is unrecoverable.

Below are some simple ways to backup valuable information.  These ways could take time but to know your important information is always retrievable, that is worth the time.

With Android, there are several different ways to back up your information.  First, you can change your settings so all your pictures are saved to an SD card.   The card is great extra storage and it is removable- so if the phone crashes- then your pictures and other items are on your SD card transfer to your new device or to your computer.

Also, you can connect your Android device to your computer and backup your items.  You have to connect as USB storage- then move your pictures and other items over to your computer.  Just as you would a jump drive; if you use a MAC, then you need to download Android File Transfer to connect to your computer.

Another way is to use your backup services offered by your carrier, Verizon offers “  cloud storage,”  which is free up to five gigabytes.

 

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A few other cloud storage clients!

AT&T offers a similar service for certain customers called AT&T Locker .  You have to be a AT&T Mobile Share Value Customer and you receive 50 gigabytes free.

You can back up your contacts to your Gmail account as well as use Google Drive to store pictures and other important data.  SMS and call logs require an app.  Many are offered free through Google Play Store and these will backup any information you want.  One I like G Cloud Backup.cloud-storage-2

Apple does seem to have an advantage over Android when it comes to backing up your stuff.  You just need to backup to iCloud or connect your phone to your computer and back up through iTunes.  This great feature allows individuals to back up everything regularly and they do not have to worry about what happens when their phone quits.  Also, iCloud allows you to track your phone if it is lost or stolen.

A great way to backup your computer is use an online “cloud service.”  Google drive is free up to 15 gigabytes and you can add 10 extra by adding your smartphone- you have to download an app that is free. .bigstock-Cloud-Computing-29952392

Do not hesitate and back up your information.  You never know when it could be lost forever.

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New Phoneshttp://gadgetgrave.com/new-phones/ http://gadgetgrave.com/new-phones/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 14:00:55 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=4129 Two New Phones worth a 2nd glance and their contribution to the next wave of smartphones.

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For several years, smartphones have increased in popularity.  With their fragility, these phones tend to break easily- especially the iPhones and almost all screens (unless you own a Casio or other indestructible phones.  Phones are trending to be better for its users and more durable.

First- Sony is introducing an amazing new rendition of Xperia – called the Xperia Z2.  This phone is water and dust resistant.  Their website boosts that the phone is life proof and shows the phone falling into water- which it can go up to one meter of water for about 30 minutes (You MUST make sure all the port covers are secure!).  The phone’s screen is only 5.2 inches and it weighs less than 6 ounces.  It is thin and sleek.  You can use up to a 128 gigabyte micro SD card  and it has the highest amount of RAM in smartphones- three gigabytes of RAM (the Note 3 has 3 gigabytes of RAM but most Android devices have 2 –http://www.phonegg.com/top/60-Highest-Ram-Amount–and Apple is 1–http://www.phonegg.com/phone/3291-Apple-iPhone-5s-A1530-64GB).The camera is not too shabby either, boosting 20.7 megapixels and image stabilization.  The video quality is said to be four times the pixels of HD and twice the resolution.  There is a “Timeshift mode” that allows a person to “shoot 120 frames per second then select individual scenes to slow playback”

The Sony Xperia Z2 is following the same ideals of its competitors.  Owning Sony products- you will see an increased similarity between each device as well as NFC tags and other products that will connect to your phone.

This phone will be released sometime in May- being pushed back due to not meeting stock standards and the amount of preorders.  Pricing has yet to be released.  If this phone lives up to its hype THEN it will be a great phone.

The rumors floating about the iPhone 6 boosts its nearly indestructible body.  Using Liquidmetal to make most of its interior- the substance is used currently as a layer around the metal parts of the iPhone 5S.  If the rumors are true about the Sapphire glass- then the screen of the iPhone 6 will be nearly indestructible.  The Apple iPhone 6 is set to release sometime this year. iphone61

You can see the Sapphire glass in action here

 

Both phones will having amazing points and will revolutionize the smartphone arena.

With the phones becoming “indestructible” people need to remember that no matter how indestructible these phones are becoming there will always be vulnerability to the phones.  The phones made to withstand water- require the owners to double and triple check the ports to ensure proper protection.  Nearly indestructible screens are just digitizers and the LCDs could still become damaged from falls.  I would not suggest testing your phones indestructibility as things happen and even the most indestructible phones finally break.  I cannot wait to see what the world of cellphones holds for consumers.

Of course as electronics break, there will always be GadgetGrave to repair your devices.

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Apple Maniahttp://gadgetgrave.com/apple-mania/ http://gadgetgrave.com/apple-mania/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 14:00:37 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=4133 Every day, I answer the question- what are the differences between the iPhone 5 series.  One thing all have in common is the added materials and less glass composition of the phones.  This is great who found the iPhone 4 series fragile.

Exactly what are the differences between the phones?

First up is the iPhone 5.  This phone has a four-inch screen.  Weighs 3.95 ounces and is composed of aluminum.  The camera is 8-megapixel and the front is 1.2 megapixels.  The hardware consists of an Apple Mania A6, dual core- 1300 MHz with one megabyte of memory.  Built-in storage begins with 16 gigabyte with 32 and 64 gigabytes available.  The phone colors are black and slate or white and silver.

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The iPhone 5C is similar to the 5.  The phone has a four-inch screen and 8-megapixel camera and 1.2 megapixel front camera.  The body is completely different- composed of polycarbonate.  The processor is not different but the graphics processor is different.  The phone has a gigabyte of RAM and storage begins at 16 gigabytes and can increase to 32 gigabytes.  You cannot get this phone with 64 gigabytes.  The great and different feature of the phone is the color choices.  You can choose between green, yellow, blue, pink and white.

The iPhone 5S steps up a lot from its predecessors.   The screen size is still just four inches and is composed of aluminum.  The camera is only 8 megapixels but consists of a new technology allowing larger aperture, pixels and sensor- increasing better picture quality.  The two-tone flash helps with more accurate coloring in photos.  The phone’s hardware is an A7 dual core 1300 MHz and contains the same 16-gigabytes of storage but increases to 64 gigabytes.  The color choices for the phone are silver, gold and space gray.  The iPhone 5S has a fingerprint scanner made from Sapphire glass.  This glass is supposed to be the second hardest substance in the world.  The Sapphire glass is rumored to be the next screen for the iPhone 6.

The iPhone 5S is for anyone who loves a fast processor and a better camera.  The phone is light; great looking and the reviews rate the phone higher than its predecessors.

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With the iPhone 5C- it is about customization.  If that is what you crave then this is the phone for you.  The camera is still good and the lightweight design makes this a sleek phone.  The drawback is that the phones highest capacity is 32 gigabytes so if you crave a 64 gigabyte- then choose the 5 or 5S.

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The iPhone 5 is not too much different from the 5C BUT is made of aluminum – which some people like better than the polycarbonate.  The color choices are limited but both shades are sleek.

The iPhone 4 and 4S are still popular models due to their low cost.  These phones still viable options but are really slow compared to the new models but repairs for these phones are relatively inexpensive.

The next highly anticipated iPhone 6 will take the market by storm as well as continue to keep Apple Mania lovers happy and competitors vying to break through the market.

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Android Maniahttp://gadgetgrave.com/android-mania/ http://gadgetgrave.com/android-mania/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 14:00:24 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=4131 With all the new phones coming out, which one should you choose?  With all the choices one can have a hard time deciding. I thought when the Moto X was released, that it was the phone for me.  It has some great features- completely customizable, you can increase internal storage to 32 gigabytes, and a decent camera at 10 MP.  It is a bit small compared to other phones but it is rated high- between four and five stars. A BIG downside is no external storage and if you use a lot of apps, then you will need to buy the 32-gigabyte version. Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 3.51.38 PM

Then there is the LG G2.  This phone has an amazing design but the back buttons are different.   The back button did throw me off at first but while using this button- when you need to increase or decrease the call volume- it really is easier than traditional side buttons.  The reviews are mixed with this phone but most agree it is a great phone.  The camera pictures are good at 13 MP and videos in 1080p HD. The main issue with the phone is no external storage and getting use to the buttons being on the back of the phone. . If available, purchasing the 32-gigabyte internal storage phone is the better option. If that is not enough, there are two more contenders.

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First, there is the HTC One M8.  This phone has a sleek design, fast processor and comes in either 16 or 32 gigabytes.  The phone has amazing sound and cool features like Ufocus- which allows you to focus after the picture has been snapped, photo filters and “seasons” which add drama to your photos.  The back camera is only 4 megapixels but the front camera is 5 megapixels.  The phone is a great gem and worth a look if you are in the market for a new phone. As always, Samsung has added a great phone to its lineup.  The phone is the Galaxy S5.  This phone is quite fast, comes with up to 32 gigabytes of internal storage PLUS a microSD card slot that will support 128 gigabytes.  The camera is 16 megapixels and the video is 4k- which is better than 1080p. But there is a downside, the S5 misses points with critics for its design.   If you need a lot of storage or a great camera then the Galaxy S5 is the phone for you.   If you want a phone that is completely customizable THEN the Moto X is your phone.  Even though the back camera is not the best HTC does boost a 5-megapixel front facing camera- great for all those selfies and the extra photo software is an added bonus.    The G2 is a great phone and would be good for those who can adapt to the back buttons. Always choose phones based on what you want in the phone.  It is ok to look at reviews, check around, go to stores and test devices (listen to the sales people) but overall always choose a phone that fits your needs, wants and one that you love.

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Net Neutralityhttp://gadgetgrave.com/net-neutrality/ http://gadgetgrave.com/net-neutrality/#comments Thu, 29 May 2014 14:00:01 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3870 Right now overwhelming boredom is rolling over you as you fall into a deep, peaceful slumber. Net neutrality is probably not a word that you care much about at the moment. In light of a few recent changes I thought it might be a good idea to give you the ugly truth about what could be happening soon. Imagine walking into a public library and grabbing one of your favorite books and sitting down to read it. As you read this book one of the librarians approaches you and says “Sir, how would you like to pay today”. The librarian would then explain to you that unfortunately because of the wear and tear to the library that specific book has caused over the years, what with all kinds of people wanting to read it all the time, there would now be an added charge to read that book. “You could certainly browse through are free titles up towards the front”

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Don’t know what Net Neutrality is? Go here and Learn more!

This kind of logic is the same that some very large Internet service provider’s or ISP’s here in the U.S. seem to be using. Net neutrality is quite literally, freedom on the internet. The ability to go to whatever legitimate website you choose to go to for free is being threatened. The saddest aspect of recent legislation is how it will affect education, public libraries, college students and low to middle income families who have young children in school. The principal up until recently is that the ISP’s were to be sort of a “dumb” pipeline from you to the world wide web, much like your telephone line or cable. A recent ruling by a federal appeals court has set this idea into motion. Basically your ISP’s without net neutrality in their way, can freely slow down websites that they simply don’t like. They may also charge you to access certain premium tiers of internet. Are you mad yet, just wait.

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Another perspective shines a less than flattering light on the FCC, the supposed loser/winner (I’m scratching my head too) in a recent battle against Verizon. Usually when things like this happen we are told that those big mean companies are causing all the problems and they want to rob schools and middle to low income families, families with young children in school etcetera. What if it wasn’t Verizon or At&t or any other large ISP that was truly leading this fight. The FCC is spinning the loss in court as a victory that establishes the ability of consumers to go anywhere and view anything legitimate on the web free (I’m scratching my head again). Could it be that the FCC is really just laying the foundation for tightly restricted legislation over our internet content. It would certainly seem like that is their intention, considering the only reason net neutrality was struck down was because it lacked legal framework needed to substantiate the FCC’s authority in the matter.

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While both are compelling arguments, it might be that neither are good for us consumers. The hope is that we stop big businesses from getting too big so that they discriminate and  help out other deep pocketed clients more than their everyday consumers. The concern is that we’re trusting a government (who has a history of breaking trust) to legislate responsibly and not acquire more and more control as they mound legislation like a gigantic political snowball. It could be nothing, but if you take a look at how the rest of the world gets their internet you’ll be thankful for the way yours is delivered, at least for now.

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Data Storagehttp://gadgetgrave.com/data-storage/ http://gadgetgrave.com/data-storage/#comments Sun, 25 May 2014 14:00:57 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3863 Data Storage: I see it all the time, someone comes in to the shop to have their computer looked at and gets the awful news that their hard drive has failed. It’s not something anyone wants to deal with and if you have irreplaceable pictures, videos or documents they can all be gone within seconds. Hard disk drives are mechanical and thus prone to failure. A good bump while your computer is running is enough to cause permanent damage and potentially cost you thousands of dollars for data recovery. Solid State drives are a new resilient figure in storage technology, and while they are resistant to most shock and have zero moving parts, they can absolutely ruin your day as well. Solid state drives have been known to encounter a problem and be blank in a matter of seconds as well, which might be simply not recoverable. The solution is cloud based data storage, the problem is who do you trust with your life’s music, moments and work.

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Dropbox is the data storage giant that I hear about the most. While it is the most widely known I personally am not sure about their security. Dropbox gives you about 5GB free to start out with (pretty standard) but also gives a nice friend referral bonus of 500MB per friend that joins up. The rest of the plans are about par for the course coming in at $99 a year for 100GB of data storage, which can also be paid month-by-month. The only thing I don’t like about Dropbox is their website is a little stuffy. To get help you have to submit a help request, or you can browse the forums for information. If you’re looking for simplicity look no further, although to me it feels more like a locker crammed with your files. Dropbox does have an app that will auto-upload your camera roll, I know mine is always packed!

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iDrive is a simple online data storage solution that comes with 5GB for free. This site boasts private key encryption and makes it plain that no one sees your data (which you should already be doing all the time) which get you 20% off all day every day. They also have live chat for customer service and technical support thats open 24/7. I heard about iDrive on the radio and thought I’d check it out, the paid plans are the cheapest I’ve seen from a reputable company at $49.50 for 150GB which is fantastic. They are known to run half price specials occasionally. They also give you 1GB of data storage per referral, yup 1GB per referral and you get little ½ Gigs for doing simple things like following on twitter, or installing the mobile or desktop app.

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Box.com is a pretty nifty online data storage utility that gives you 10GB free up front. Other than that its mainly focused for a business, its highly customizable in that regard. While you do get a generous starting capacity of 10GB, it doesn’t look like they offer any freebie upgrades like the others. This looks like an excellent program to use in a pinch if you have a large camera roll needing backed up. One cool feature they have in the paid subscriptions ($10 for 100GB) you have the option to search full text throughout your files and pictures and documents. This would come in handy if you knew you wrote the paper about Freud but you can’t remember what the title was. Just start typing Freud and you’ll have it.

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Traveling with Technologyhttp://gadgetgrave.com/traveling-with-technology/ http://gadgetgrave.com/traveling-with-technology/#comments Fri, 23 May 2014 14:00:57 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3861 There’s a ton of things that I try to remember to take with me when I travel with technology, my pillow, extra socks, phone charger and so on. I have tried to compile a list of nifty things that  might not be on your list of things to pack, but should be…

 

Surge Protector- I know it doesn’t seem like it’s essential, but if you’re like me and travel with a few gadgets you never know what the outlet situation is going to be. When you’re away you might not think about charging your laptop, phone, tablet or even electric razor but its going to come up. Too much to pack? Check out this travel surge protector for 20 bucks! It eve

Get it here!

Window Mounted Universal Phone Holder- These things are great!  If you use your phone for GPS, watching movies in the passenger seat or pretty much anything while moving down the road one of these will help you tremendously. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get one either. There are cheaper models out there but this is the one I use and it’s lasted for two years. You can also stick the suction cup to the outside of windows to get great timed camera shots with you’re traveling buddies without that punk you don’t know taking off with your phone.

Get It here!

Power Inverter- If traveling by car this is a must have to charge your AC only devices, mostly your wonderful laptop! Why would you take your laptop on a trip when you’re smartphone does just about everything? Trust me if your trip is over one night you will get sick and tired of watching Netflix on your phone. I often have the opportunity to ride rather than drive so I can tether my phone and work efficiently on my laptop because of a power inverter. Whistler makes a nice one that’s relatively inexpensive coming in under $25

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Get It Here! 

I can tell you from experience that if you work on the road or make a yearly road trip there is no substitute to having your laptop on board. Traveling with technology doesn’t have to be hard though. Really there are about 30 things I could mention that can make a trip easier and really not take up much space. We seriously took a third of our pictures on vacation this year with our nifty little window suction cup phone holder thing. Simple things like these can make your device that much more useful. Yelp! can find you the best places to slip into local life while saving you time and money, the reviews are golden for finding what you need fast. The app is free and you can sign up free as well at www.Yelp.com.

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Google Opinion Rewardshttp://gadgetgrave.com/app-review-google-opinion-rewards/ http://gadgetgrave.com/app-review-google-opinion-rewards/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 14:00:11 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3857 Hi this is Frank, everyone love stuff for free. Being that type of guy, I will be reviewing free apps from the Google Play store. The app I have today is pretty awesome as that it gives you play store credits! Now who wouldn’t want that!!!

Don’t let anyone tell you that your opinion isn’t worth squat. Your opinion is pretty valuable to Google, and they will pay you for it. There are two caveats,  1.  You have to be in the US and 2. You will be paid in Google credits. When it comes to credits for digital content on the play store, I for one can be happy with that. You can spend it on apps, games, music, books, magazines, and videos.

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You will initially need to give details including your age, sex, and location in a easy quick survey and then you will do a couple of sample surveys. Once this is done a survey that offers Google Play credit will be available and you should see it or receive notification from Google. Some surveys don’t offer any credits and are also available that you can opt to take part in You’ll only have a certain amount of time to complete any of the surveys though, so keep that in mind.

More information on Google Opinion Rewards here!

The application comes from the Google Consumer Survey group so the surveys center around product usage and shopping habits. I even had one that asked if I like golf! They can be anything though logos, or vacationing surveys anything goes. Once a survey is ready a notification will pop up in your taskbar roughly once a week. There are no right or wrong answers here. It is nothing too taxing, and usually takes about a minute or two of your time, and most definitely an easy way to pay for that .99-cent app or book you have been wanting. Google does not specify how much you will get paid or the amount of questions you will answer, but I have found out and found the process is fairly quick and easy. So far the max I had got was 1 dollar! Easy peasy.

 

Also your answers will be anonymous, but you will still have to provide a Google wallet account in order to collect your cash. The first survey tests whether or not you are eligible to take part in the program and typical Google fashion it’s not meant to taken seriously. Heck even one or more of the questions might even give you a sense of deja vu.  So if you are looking to pick up a few credits to spend on an app or two when you have free time. Click the link below to get the app and is compatible with devices running Android 2.2 or later, so why not check it out. I have posted some screen-shots below to get a gander of the interface, simple but effective for sure.  If you have any Android questions feel free to contact me at androidguy@thehardengang.net.

 

Get the App:

Available_GooglePlay_Button

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Toolbars, Extensions and Pluginshttp://gadgetgrave.com/toolbars-extensions-plugins/ http://gadgetgrave.com/toolbars-extensions-plugins/#comments Mon, 19 May 2014 14:00:06 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3853 The three main contributors to a browser being slow are listed above. Most of the time when a customer brings in a malware infection, its because one of the three have been downloaded and have malware attached. A good rule of thumb for the internet is if it seems too good to be true, it definitely is. Let’s say you found a link to that media you’ve been wanting to watch for awhile, only problem is you don’t have the correct plugin to watch it. This is a red flag, if you’ve already had your computer sometime and not had any trouble viewing content online, you more than likely don’t need any more help.

Need Chrome extensions that are trusted? Go here! 

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Plugins are browser helpers that perform different operations and when they work correctly are supposed to speed your experience up. Unfortunately the bad ones far outweigh the good ones and you should be very choosy of the ones you install. If in doubt run a Google search for the name of the extension you are installing with the word “malware” behind it and see what comes up. If there have been known instances of malware attached to that specific plugin, it will be talked about in the forums and Google will find it for you. Most of the time when you install a bad plugin it came with an extension and installed with that. You can easily remove these in Google Chrome unless you are already infected with malware in which a change is not possible. Adblock plus is a great example of a plugin that doesn’t have any malware, its actually my favorite and it’s free!

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(Some of my current Toolbar Tools)

Extensions are a bit tricky because there are so many that are good. You can essentially use the same technique listed above to determine the reputation of the extension you’re trying to install. Extensions come from multiple sources and one of the worst is the dreaded click-through installations that we all do. Make sure and read before you click next on ANY installation. Always read what other programs or items the installation is trying to add on. You don’t want anything other than what the program you’ve downloaded came with. If you’re trying to download a program that plays any media format for free or something like that these are well known to be infected with adware and malware. Your computer could be serving ad’s because you didn’t pay attention to what you clicked. Don’t worry we’ve all done it!

Toolbars are ugly little areas that clutter up your browser. With the new browsers there is simply no need whatsoever for these pesky things. Pop your browser open and within seconds you can search right out of the address bar. This feature has been around in most browsers for a few years now. The only thing that toolbars do is take the browser longer to start, load a page or really do anything. These types of software are a waste of your time and will only slow you down. Not to mention they usually come packed with adware and malware, both of which will slow your computer down badly. In other words, I don’t know of any toolbars that are worth using.

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Google Househttp://gadgetgrave.com/google-house/ http://gadgetgrave.com/google-house/#comments Sat, 17 May 2014 14:00:05 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3818 Nest is a company that if you haven’t already heard, designs smart thermostats and now smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for your house. The idea was that the thermostat would be able to learn from your habits and use those habits to save you money on your energy bill. Both the thermostat and the new smoke/carbon monoxide detector can be remotely monitored when connected to your home wi-fi. The feature of being able to monitor and control the temperature in your house or know if a fire has started with an alert anywhere with your smartphone is pretty amazing.

See our other blogs including Google

Now that you know a little more about Nest, what do you know about Google? Google started as a simple search engine with great results and has slowly built itself into a goliath tech company. Recent developments in the company look like something out of science fiction, which really is the best kind of technology. Google Glass is a great example http://www.google.com/glass/start/ of what kinds of bleeding edge tech Google is currently working on. They want you to have a simple yet amazing experience with minimal effort. The information of the world at your immediate disposal. Now imagine these two companies working together. This is only the beginning of an unbelievable journey into the future

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When I was a young kid growing up in Arkansas I was super interested in technology and I always thought the day would come where you could walk in your door, say “Hello, House” or something like that and the wheels would start clicking. Lights would come on at your verbal command be it whispered or not. Heating and Air controlled to fit your comfort level and designed to give you absolute control no matter where you are is just the beginning for Google. Imagine your entire house being at your command, or getting real-time data on how much water your using, or what your energy efficiency is for a single day. It really is something to think of all the possibilities that could soon be a reality for society.

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While the reaction to this kind of technology seems to be highly anticipatory, there are a couple of facets that could be a deal breaker for quite a few of us, at least for now. Technology that is capable of doing all the magical stuff we want it to do comes with two costs, one is the whopping retail price you’ll pay and the other is the cost in privacy. Google glass comes in at around $1500 if you can get a spot in the explorer program to try it out. The Nest thermostat is the most expensive you’ll probably ever buy at $249.99, and the carbon monoxide/smoke detector is $129.99. If those prices are scary to you think about the privacy issues that arise with systems like these. If Google were to develop products controlled by your voice or over the internet in any way, there will be a data trail. A possibility that someone else out there could see what you see. Google has some of the best security in the world but it doesn’t help that they along with many other internet giants are forced to share their data with other not so reliable entities.

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Note 3http://gadgetgrave.com/note-3/ http://gadgetgrave.com/note-3/#comments Thu, 15 May 2014 14:00:24 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3313 At a whopping 168 grams, and a massive 5.7” 1080p screen, the Galaxy Note III has to be the largest out of the family thus far. With 3GB of RAM (under 2GB available?), and 32GB (standard) of internal storage, this phone is a powerhouse running Android 4.3. Samsung has filled the Note 3 with so many pen-based gestures, you’ll be hard-pressed to use it without the S Pen. When pulling out the S-Pen you’ll first notice a gesture menu open.

 

Check out are Note 3 Tips and Tricks Blog Here

 

Samsung-Galaxy-Note-3-Preview-001-box

I was a little bit curious how this would be handy for the everyday Tweet, Text, or Call. But it’s definitely a handy feature for your average monkey suit business man or woman. The speaker grill on this phone was mysteriously placed on the bottom bezel, likely to make the device as thin as it is. I was let down by the performance of the loudspeaker. Music and calls sounded crystal clear, lows and highs where they should be, but it just wasn’t as loud as I’d expect from a phone so big. The camera on this device was almost constantly a let-down. Low light, great light, even taking photos inside of a light box appeared blurry with any amount of zooming. Maybe I’m just spoiled by my iPhone 5S, but a phone that cost $299 on a 2 year contract should have a stellar image sensor. The front camera was spot on, with “Beauty Face” Making selfies all look fantastic, even in low-light situations. Android 4.3 didn’t seem to feature anything I haven’t seen before, I’m still confused as to why it exist and isn’t just a reiteration of Android 4.2. Samsung’s Sense UI is as expected, the same as on the Note II. The design of the device is almost completely different, though. They ditched the organic, pebble design of the SIII days and went for the same sharp, executive design of the SVI. With a straight, ribbed bezel and flat screen on the front, and an interesting soft leather texture back plate.galaxy-note-2-vs-galaxy-s4-1

 

The review unit I had (black) wasn’t color coordinated at all, and it actually made the device unpleasant to look at. I had a Blue-steel colored screen, with a chrome bezel and a black back plate. The actual performance of the device was quite impressive, with a score of over 35,000 on Antutu, However on Geekbench 3 my iPhone 5S outscored it several times. As any techie will tell you, though, Benchmarks don’t make the device, however this phone had the speed to back those scores up. Battery life on it was unexpectedly fantastic. I had mine from Friday – Monday, and Friday afternoon I had charged it up to 100%, and was at 30% when I turned it in Monday. That’s with heavy use, with at least eight hours of screen on-time.Note3-HandsOn-24-580-100

 

 

Check Out Engadgets Review Here

To sum things up, The Galaxy Note 3 should have been called the Galaxy Note 2S, seeing as the only thing they really changed was the design, processor, and the camera (sadly… The Note 2 Camera was GREAT!). I can’t see any reason to spend $300 ON CONTRACT to buy this device, when there’s so many other great devices out that don’t cost as much, and are more pocket friendly.

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Wii Fit U Shows Promise in Nintendo Innovationhttp://gadgetgrave.com/wii-fit-u-shows-promise-nintendo-innovation/ http://gadgetgrave.com/wii-fit-u-shows-promise-nintendo-innovation/#comments Tue, 13 May 2014 14:54:58 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3926 I recently saw a commercial for the new Wii Fit U set up and it looks amazing.It’s been a while since I’ve seen the Wii Fit in action, and I have to admit the U part makes all the difference I’m impressed. The new system allows You can take benefit meter with you not only tracks your steps but also your acceleration and atmospheric pressure changes to determine your altitude throughout the day. For instance, running up steps would burn more calories than walking on a flat surface. You can then sync your fit meter to the Wii Fit U profile you created and get detailed graphical information hour by hour of your activity the calories you burn your progress in the game. You can also take this information and apply it to different famous locations around the world to conquer a FitMeter challenge. Basically a fun way to force yourself to think about exercise all the time!

The Wii console has always been different from others, the graphics aren’t phenomenal the games that aren’t made by Nintendo are sometimes lackluster. The system is designed to be fun and custom fit for you and Nintendo has accomplished becoming a staple in American gaming. I still remember when we got our first Super Nintendo. We had Mario to start out with and it was pretty awesome. You didn’t have to ask for more quarters to keep playing just like our old Atari but the graphics were very nice. Through the years and all the games, Nintendo has kept its audience captive and developed loyal fans because of their commitment to making it memorable. While they have drawn some heat over the past several years for “under-performing”, Nintendo seems to never really be focused on what the other guys are doing, they seem to only be focused on making their system better.

The new Wii Fit U is packed with technology that is cutting edge these days. If you wanted a similar product to do these functions of recording your altitude, acceleration and count your steps all while being able to sync and give you a nice graphical interface with a progress bar, you’d be looking at close to $200 for that little gadget alone. Nintendo has made the FitMeter available for $19.99. While the Wii U comes in a little higher ($299.99) than traditional Nintendo systems, the system is worth what you pay for it. The future of Nintendo probably doesn’t reside in one fitness game, but I do think it’s a great step in the right direction. If you haven’t seen the things to come on Wii U, you should definitely check out some of the new Nintendo titles coming out as well such as Mario Kart 8 which comes out this Spring.If you’re having issues with your console, bring it in and let us take a look. The service fee covers diagnostic @ $29.99 and goes towards the cost of repair!

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Minecrafthttp://gadgetgrave.com/minecraft-craze/ http://gadgetgrave.com/minecraft-craze/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 15:13:43 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=4060 If your children are anything like mine, then Minecraft is a part of their game collection.  Minecraft has grown from just a PC game to one that you can download to almost any platform (is not available for Playstation 4, Vita and Xbox One- but coming soon).    In our house, we have the two PC versions, the Xbox 360 and an Android pocket version.  Our kids have played this game since the beta version and have increased awareness among their friends prompting my cousin and my friend to purchase this unknowing game for their children.   Ya, I have answered many questions concerning this game to my children’s friends.  All four the kids play and they play together frequently.

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Minecraft started out strictly PC/Mac in 2009.   Mincraft has no specific goals but there are achievements that you can complete.  There are different materials to gather- coal, iron, wood, and stones- that are used to build houses, weapons, and torches plus the worlds are infinite.  In the beginning, you needed shelter and weapons for nighttime crawlers such as zombies, spiders, ect.  The game has expanded to include player vs. player- but it is not necessary.

The game’s graphics are “old school” (like the first Nintendo) but requires a decent video card to run. (https://help.mojang.com/customer/portal/articles/325948-minecraft-system-requirements) The game has expanded and now there are different MODS (modifications)- such as the Iron Man Mod that turns your character into Iron Man and a Hunger Games Mod.  (http://www.minecraftdl.com/the-hunger-games-mod/)

 

Minecraft is one of the top games- Game Informer rated it 9.25 for the Xbox 360 edition (http://www.gameinformer.com/games/minecraft_xbox_360_edition/b/pc/default.aspx)

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While the Android market has it listed as the third most popular paid downloaded game (http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/37798/Top_Android_Game_Apps_Minecraft_Pocket_Edition_Ranks_High_In_Debut_Week.php).

 

IGN.com (http://www.ign.com/articles/2011/11/24/minecraft-review) gave the game an overall rating of a 9.  Metacritic rated 93 out of 100 and 7.4 out of 10 (http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/minecraft); while Gamestop rated the game an 8.7 out of 10 (http://www.gamespot.com/minecraft/).

 

 

Minecraft does not advertise but has grossed 322.4 million in the last year.  When it first released the Xbox 360 version in May 2013, it sold over 11 million copies.  The Playstation 3 was released in December of 2013 and by January- sold over 1 million copies.  All due to word of mouth-   (http://www.polygon.com/2014/3/20/5531046/minecraft-mojang-profits-doubled-2013).

 

This game is an interesting game where kids of all ages get into playing- downloading free modifications, all versions, getting their friends involved and making YouTube videos.  These YouTube videos are averaging about a million a year- (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpIMqWkIs2E) for the most popular videos.  My kids are all about watching these videos- getting ideas and tips.  My friend’s sons watch the videos more than playing the game.

 

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Overall, it is a cool game that has commanded a place among many children’s gaming collections.  The game is not bad- without Mods- there is no nudity and low violence (unless you play player vs. player).  Go and try this game- it seems simple but becomes very addicting.  If playing is not your thing but you want to know more about it- then go to YouTube and watch the millions (80,900,000) of videos on how to play Minecraft. (https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=minecraft).

 

 

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Malware Maintenance Basicshttp://gadgetgrave.com/malware-maintenance-basics/ http://gadgetgrave.com/malware-maintenance-basics/#comments Sat, 29 Mar 2014 12:00:18 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3930 Routine maintenance is important for your house, vehicle, teeth and your computer. As much as we procrastinate and put those things off they eventually get our attention. The point of maintenance is to try and avoid the frustrating and sometimes painful attention getters. One area of our lives that often is taken for granted is the correct operation of the computers we use. It’s easier than you think to protect your computer from most malware and even remove most simple forms.

 

Removing malware from your computer is impossible without some kind of anti-malware software, the foundation of which is an anti-virus. Most anti-virus suites today have adware, spyware, everything-ware removal software with them but they still aren’t as thorough as using multiple specialized scanners. Think about it like getting multiple opinions from several doctors, each specializing in their own field working to give you a clean bill of health for free. That’s right, most of them are free. For antivirus software Microsoft Security Essentials is free and actually is now called Defender in Windows 8, Avira and AVG are also great free programs. Each one of those programs offers realtime virus scanning as well as a sleek interface that isn’t too bulky on system resources.

 microsoft-virus-protection

Cleaning up a mess is a different beast altogether. If you are already infected and your computer is already a little berserk you would need to have put so99me nice portable programs on your computer. Malwarebytes Free Anti-Malware is one of the best at removing unwanted malicious programs on your computer. I recommend you start by re-booting in Safe Mode by tapping F8 on startup, and running this program or one like it as there are several other free ones that are really good. There are a great many resources at www.bleepingcomputer.com that can assist you in cleaning up the damage done by malware. For instance, if every time you search for something it goes to some crazy ad-filled website  you could run adwcleaner which you can find at bleeping computer.  Hitman Pro actually has a tool called kickstart which will make an emergency bootable USB that kicks the crap out of most malware.Luck favors the prepared. Be prepared with free emergency scanner programs preloaded or saved on a flash drive.

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Avoidance is a fantastic way to keep your computer clean. If something sounds too good to be true on the internet it probably is. You can always tell the kinds of websites that have the potential of installing malware on your computer because they almost always are associated with getting something for free. Games for free, 10,000,000 free holiday screen savers, free iPad’s! These harmless surveys always sell your information to other ad agencies who want to clog your computer with targeted ad’s designed to catch your eye like, “Economists predict boom in Fort Smith real estate click here to speak to a live qualified agent!!!” . It’s all bad stuff, and the best way to avoid it happening to you is to stay away from sites that are ad heavy. If you don’t recognize the extension, chances are you probably don’t need it. Ad-Block Plus is about the only extension I use across the platforms of Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer and it can help eliminate a lot of the mess. If you do get infected and it doesn’t look good, give Gadget Grave a call before you give up on it. We can save you the headache and protect you from malware with a 90 day warranty each time. Our Gizmo  Shield starts at $129.99 and includes all the good things you see above and then some to help back that warranty.

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Game review: Minigore 2http://gadgetgrave.com/game-review-minigore-2/ http://gadgetgrave.com/game-review-minigore-2/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 12:00:50 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3936 Next we have a cross platform game Minigore 2 this is available for the Android and iOS devices. The game will set you back $2.99 on the app store and free on Google Play. The reason it is free on Google is there is a small advertisement up top, it doesn’t hinder gameplay at all. Minigore is a top down shooter, that throws you in the flay as soon as you load up. The dual stick controls are easy to manipulate and fire. The graphics are excellent and the hordes of baddies are everywhere. The auto-aim function can be used but since I am a fly by the seat of my pants guy I chose to for-go that. Once you start the first stage and clear it the second stage starts up without pause. There are special zombies that are thrown in the mix at each stage to keep you on your toes.

minigore-1-app-review

The game is kind of weird, in that it’s kind of level-based, as far as I know there are 7 different levels to play, but it’s also based to be endless. There are many objectives to be completed for extra coins, but the ultimate goal is to kill the boss. The boss will usually comes in right at the beginning of the level, but it will come back after a while to finally take on the player again Of course, it’s all about the loot!                 

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You will earn coins from killing the zombies and from completing all the mini-objectives you are tasked with and at anytime in the game you can go to the shop to upgrade, unlock weapons, characters and stages. The coins you earn and upgrades are numerous. This is good as you will most definitely need them to complete the higher levels. If you die it’s ok as you will just re-spawn and continue the battle. When you kill the boss glory is yours. I must admit I love the unyielding waves of zombies because it is a blast to play. There are even humorous catchphrases from each character which adds to the playability and arcade like gameplay.

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Minigore 2: Zombies isn’t just how a game should feel, it’s how the genre should have evolved long ago, and those who have been itching for a mindless romp should dig in right away. This game is literally a pick-up and play, you will be thrown straight into the zombie fest and you can chose to stop whenever you want. The enemies are randomized and the mini bosses and level bosses keep things fresh. There are plenty of upgrades to buy thanks to the ridiculous amount of gold you collect throughout the game. The only drawbacks are the rates of the weapon drops. There are either an overabundance or the scarcity of weapons. This makes it harder when you drop a weapon and pick up one that you don’t need or want. While there is not a lot of depth to this game, Minigore is the perfect combination of fast pace action and cartoonish appeal to make this game a joy to play.

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FatSecret Apphttp://gadgetgrave.com/fatsecret-app/ http://gadgetgrave.com/fatsecret-app/#comments Sun, 23 Mar 2014 12:00:26 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3938 Fitness…fitness….fitness

 

The New Year has arrived and many of us are trying to stick to our New Year Resolutions- lose weight, be nice, ect.  There are a few good apps to help with weight that are free.  One, I have used (need to more regularly) is FatSecret.  When I first discovered the app, it helped me lose 10 pounds.  The app is simple and easy to use and helps you stay in control of your weight loss.  The only way to lose weight is to change your eating habits, lifestyle and cutting calories/exercising.  FatSecret helps you take control of counting calories and makes it easy and painless.

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When you open the app, you complete a small questionnaire- Sex, weight, height, and activity level plus email and password.  After your account is set up, the app opens to a new screen that gives you a very short crash course in using the app- but it is simple.  The app reviews your current weight, how much weight you want to lose and your activity level to determine the amount of calories you may consume daily.  You can change the amount of calories you want to consume each day if you do not like their calculation.  As you eat, you scan the barcodes found on food items or you can use the search function to find what you are eating.   You can change the serving size and the app automatically adjusts the calories and adds to your grid.  FatSecret tells you how many calories you have left after each entry.    FatSecret has a list of different activities ranging from housecleaning to running with an estimate of how many calories burned.   Each activity burns some calories plus you can add your own activity such as elliptical machine.  FatSecret includes many restaurant menu items listed as well.  The app adds your daily caloric intake and the calories you burn throughout the day – showing you the deficit in calories thus weight loss or if you are trying to gain weight, show you how many calories you need to gain the weight.

The one thing I love about the app is I can see what I am eating and how many calories I have left; plus with exercise, it helps me make sure I stay on track and lose the pounds I want/need.

Cnet reviewed the app and stated “Calorie Counter is the essential app to simply find nutritional info for the food you eat and easily keep track of your meals, exercise and weight.”   Read more here: http://tiny.cc/hoqzcx

 

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Download the app here:

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With a busy lifestyle, the app takes little effort but does not help with motivation to stay on track.  There is a new feature to the app that showcases tasty recipes.  The recipe offers list of ingredients, how to prepare, nutritional information and a button that imports the information to your food diary.  I love to review and try new recipes, especially since my house is full of individuals with food allergies and other health problems making it difficult to prepare meals.

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The app is available for free from iTunes and the Google Play Store.

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BitStripshttp://gadgetgrave.com/bitstrips/ http://gadgetgrave.com/bitstrips/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 12:00:13 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3932 My addiction is BitStrips.  The short comics are cute, funny and I love the little stories they portray.  BitStrips started on Facebook but there is a free app available for iPhone and Android phones.  Once downloaded, you can sign in either through Facebook or by email.   You “design” yourself and then begin browsing the comics available.  You may choose a friend to be in your comic with you.  If your friend does not have BitStrips yet, it’s ok.  You will be able to make their avatar for them and the friend will receive an invitation to BitStrips.

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The app has been on of the top-ten list of downloaded apps since its release and many people still post the fun comics on Facebook- yes; I am one of those people.  The app has developed a new phrase.  I get “BitStriped” from friends and I have “BitStriped” friends. This app and its popularity led to ABC news to write a story on the app- http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/bitstrips-comic-strips-facebook-explained/story?id=20682124.  The app does contain a few bugs but many apps do as well and luckily, I have not had this problem.  Most reviews for the app are positive and the major negative to the app is the inability to be a little more creative. (http://www.comicvine.com/articles/bitstrips-app-lets-anyone-make-their-own-comics-on/1100-145859/)

One reason I decided to review BitStrips is because they are using their popularity to help teachers in the classroom.  http://www.bitstripsforschools.com/ .The program is not free but its popularity and ease of use would make it a great way for teachers to help their students learn.  In this day in age, it seems that teachers struggle with ways to compete with technology.  BitStrips combines popular apps with learning.  The site offers many package deals as well as yearly contracts.

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With paid access, you are able to browse through all topics offered.  The topics range from Math, Science to social issues and even ESL.  A teacher can create their own comics, teach critical thinking skills as well as develop lesson plans.  BistStrips for Schools allows teachers to create their own virtual classroom that is private.  You can search by grade or subject.  It allows you to review work and provide feedback to each child, privately.   The website even has a blog for teachers- http://blog.bitstripsforschools.com/.

Many reviews for BitStrips for Schools are positive.  This website, http://awesomeeducationtechnology.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/bitstrips-for-schools/,  discusses the benefits for using the app in classrooms.  The writer likes the creativity and discusses the negative he sees- the limited “design” aspect of the comics.

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The website Graphite rated the app for schools as a 3 out 5 for learning and teachers rated it 4 out 5 (http://www.graphite.org/website/bitstrips-for-schools ).   Many pros to BitStrips for Schools is the creativity it allows for the students while doing hands-on learning for many usual “boring” or “mundane” tasks.

BitStrips is fun and I love seeing the new comics as well as everyone’s comic.  BitStrips for Schools seems like a great idea and something that schools should look into doing.  Both apps are sure to be a hit with kids- old and young.

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Pixlr Expresshttp://gadgetgrave.com/pixlr-express/ http://gadgetgrave.com/pixlr-express/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 13:00:14 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3928 In the world of selfies, everyone is looking for easy but good photo editing programs.  With Picnik gone, people try all kinds of photo editing apps to edit their pictures.  I have come across Pixlr.  This program has three versions available online- compatible with Mac and PCs as well as two versions available for smart phones including Apple (http://pixlr.com/ ).   When you go to the website, there three boxes- so you can choose the photo editing you want to try.

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(desktop view)

Pixlr Editor requires skills in photo editing, as it is similar to Photoshop.  This program allows you to manipulate the photos, as you want.  There are no preset ideas to add to your photograph.  This version is not available for cell phones.

The second one is my favorite.  Pixlr Express combines preset borders, filters, effects, overlays and other ways to edit your photos.  This one is very easy and allows you to adjust everything yourself for a personal look.  I love the idea of applying the effect then adjusting it to help the photo.  It also has a collage feature.  This version is available for smart phones and is free.

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I love the ability to take the standard possibilities and make it my own.  The Pixlr Express is easy to use and quite fun.  This is easy to use and you do not necessarily need any skills, you can play and adjust until you like the picture.

The last one is the Pixlr O-Matic.  This program has preset filters.  They are the same ones from the Piklr Express but you do not get to adjust each.  This program is simple and requires no skill.  You upload the picture, apply the filter then download.  It is simple and easy to use.

Reviews for the app are high and Cnet ranks the app as a 9.1 out of 10 (http://online-image-editing-review.toptenreviews.com/pixlr-review.html ).   Cnet states that it is one of the best offered but does not allow a commonplace or a way to automatically upload photos to social media sites like Facebook.  AndroidPIT rated the Pixlr Express - http://www.androidpit.com/pixlr-express-review and gave it a rating of 5 stars for being easy to use, ability to share and easy to use navigation and controls.

At the Google Play store, the app has a rating of 4.6 stars.  Most like the app and like how easy it is to use.  The app for the phone has a few bugs but when used on the computer, I have not come across any problems.

The app on your phone pulls pictures from your phone, choose a picture, edit then it saves in your gallery- under a new folder- Pixlr Express.  It is sweet and simple.

You do not download the program to your computer and this is not appealing to those without Internet at home.  When you first arrive, you pick which Pixlr you want to use.  You can edit one of your photos or select one of theirs.  It opens up and you edit your photo- it will save to the same directory so do not forget to rename the photo-so you do not override the original photo.

Download the App today

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My Favorite Music App’shttp://gadgetgrave.com/favorite-music-apps/ http://gadgetgrave.com/favorite-music-apps/#comments Sun, 09 Mar 2014 13:00:51 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3868 Songza- This app was the first one I had experienced of its kind. You could just tell the app what you were doing and with your help it would bring on a heap of great music that fit that moment pretty well. It really is a really neat app that is easy to navigate and pretty reliable. The free version has some ads but if you’re bothered by this kind of thing you can upgrade and get the ads removed for $3.99 and access to Club Songza for extra content. As you can see the ad is pretty ugly and occasionally you will see a full page banner ad. Those little categories have sub categories and are just a few of the many different scenario based stations you can check out. It’s actually pretty spot on for me most of the time and I rarely tap the skip button!

Songza

Probably the most popular and resilient related artist mix-up app out there. It’s pretty simple you type in an artist you like and Pandora finds music like that for your eclectic listening needs. I use Pandora every day at work and I generally get a nice mix of the music I want to hear. If I had more time to customize my stations they might be a little better, but I don’t. Pandora is more of a filler for me and while I like the simple set it and let it go design, I personally like a more well rounded collection and sometimes I just want to hear what I want to hear right then!

Pandora One is the upgrade for this particular app and it delivers an ad free experience as well as a desktop app that features higher sound quality than the iPhone app and an increased number of skips across the board. It cost about $3.99 a month which in my opinion is only worth it if you have time to fine tune your stations.

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It’s hard not to like Spotify. As a kid I always wanted to be able to just type in a song and listen to it right then.  With Spotify you can actually do just that, accessing any song, anywhere is made possible. The cost is $9.99  which isn’t too bad, but its a little hard for me to justify with my other subscriptions monthly when money is tight. The discover section shows you artist that Spotify thinks you’re going to like and most of the time its right on the money for me. It can even tell you what people around you are listening to these days. I have found that feature to be quite useful when your bored and looking for something new.  The design is great and it seems to work pretty smoothly.  You can download all those songs that you pulled up instantly if you’re paying the monthly subscription up to 3,333 songs and play them offline as long as your device can hold that many.

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Buy a Used Computer This Yearhttp://gadgetgrave.com/buy-used-computer-year/ http://gadgetgrave.com/buy-used-computer-year/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 13:00:46 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3934 Every single day I work on building solutions for the customers I serve. Electronics these days can fetch a hefty price on the retailer’s shelf. Fortunately there is a guaranteed way to get a great deal on just about any new electronics. Many computers are scuttled for numerous reasons every year because they are outdated, broken or whatever. Most of the time there is very little if anything wrong with them and if they are brought through the right channels end up on a shelf near you for a fraction of the cost of a new one.

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What makes computers unique from other pieces of hardware is that they keep their relevance for many tasks for long periods of time. A computer capable of running an operating system more than 10 years old is still able to do most common tasks that we do all the time. Picking up a computer that sells retail $800 for $400 never makes you feel bad. I don’t even feel buyer’s remorse when I get a deal that good. Wondering if the laptop has any problems? Never buy a computer without first starting it up and giving it a test run. You’ll want to put any prospective machine under a little pressure. Are you in a location where you can fire up a browser, if so navigate to YouTube and run an HD video. This will stress the computer out a touch and should tell you if the computer has a difficult time dissipating heat or has any problems with stress on the system in general. If you love to watch your TV shows in HD and don’t like lag then you might want to sign in and try it out. Last but not least check out the hard drive, theres a free little program called CrystalDiskInfo that can help you determine the operating hours of the hard drive thats inside that used computer you’re looking at.

 

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Computers rarely have issues that aren’t revealed upon a couple days of testing. Truly testing a computer from top to bottom can take time, making sure each component does what it is supposed to be able to do is of great importance. After all, isn’t owning a computer supposed to simplify your life? With the right setup and a careful eye on the specifications you can nab a great computer at a super low price. One of the reasons we offer a 6 month warranty on the laptops we sale is because of our confidence and constant mindset of providing you with solid computers. All that being said, what are you looking for in a computer. If you can give us an idea of what that is we can save you money and find the right unit for you(If cosmetics aren’t important to you then look for laptops with cosmetic blemishes, most blemishes have no effect on the computer’s hardware, although dropped laptops pose many risks). If you want to be sure you’re getting a great deal on a solid used computer come talk to us at Gadget Grave we can help you find one.

Like this blog? You might also like Mac Vs. PC, Check it out!

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Gadget Grave is Giving Away 2 FREE Miley Cyrus Ticketshttp://gadgetgrave.com/gadget-grave-contest/ http://gadgetgrave.com/gadget-grave-contest/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 15:13:31 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3982 Gadget Grave Contest!

 

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Gadget Grave has teamed up with 102.7 The Vibe to give away 2 Miley Cyrus tickets at the BOK Center is Tulsa Oklahoma on March 13th.  You have to sign up in person and the drawing will be held this saturday March 3rd.  We are going to have a live remote with the DJ’s saturday from 12PM – 3PM.  Stop by and say hey!

 

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iDevices Discounted Until March 15th

We are also giving 25$ off iPads, iPods, and iPhones until March 15th!  We are overstocked and need to move our inventory.  Swing by the shop located at 4900 Rogers Avenue Suite 103i (next to game exchange, in the Quarry Shopping Center).

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App Review: Flappy Birdhttp://gadgetgrave.com/app-review-flappy-bird/ http://gadgetgrave.com/app-review-flappy-bird/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2014 12:00:14 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3940 You know I love games as much as anyone. I browse the app store looking for things to occupy my down time. My daughter was talking about a game called Flappy bird and how she loves to play the game as well as her friends.  So I download it, you mean devil bird! You think how bad could it be?  Some games can be addictive like The Game of Life and Angry birds. The game is simple, tap the screen and the bird goes up. You must maneuver through breaks in pipes without touching them. Simple right? I would rather sit at a dentist with the drill going full blast! The graphics are Super Mario’esk (pixel shaped) and gameplay is highly addicting. All this adds to the charm and sucks you in. I am talking 8 bit here folks! Sounds are simple also maybe 3 total! You will be flapping away when a stupid pipe decides to jump in front of you! Come-on you know the feeling! Be for-warned you will be hitting a lot of pipes. There are times when the bird dies for some reason. I don’t know if the developers put an invisible wall in this for kicks or what. My next-door neighbor’s daughter was playing and I was like wow; I can do this! Tapping away carefully for 1 hour and I finally got past the 3rd pipe. ARRRG! It is still haunting me. If you use your login for Google Plus you can be ranked and compete with others. I was ranked 6th in my circles which is cool since the top spot has scored 41! How in the world can you get that high without breaking your phone from frustration?

 

                                

 

This game is addictive for sure. Everyone here at Gadget Grave is playing it! It’s a great way to see who’s going to be sweeping the floor in the morning. You want to compare scores with friends and family to see who has the higher score and how far your friends and family have gotten. Eventually you will get the hang of it but I haven’t yet. I actually want to throw the phone and be done with it! But it beckons me, taunts me, “pick up the phone” you can do it! And I am sucked in AGAIN. This game sucks you in by frustratingly difficult. The real reason I keep playing is seems so easy that you will want to not give up, It cant be that hard and you prove yourself wrong again and again. This app is available on Android and Google play. Free as always, because everyone knows I am a free type of guy. There are ads but it is only on the start of the game and when you fail, and you will most definitely fail numerous times. Ok…Ok I do love this game for the challenge you got me! Go ahead and give it a go, you will regret it almost instantly when you cannot stop playing. Trust me. You can get this from the Apple app store and Google play. The links below for this game and sorry Aspirin not included.

Similar Games like Flappy Bird? Try Birdy Dong

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Update**  Flappy Bird is no longer available for download.

Still want to play the game? Click here for an online version!

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Inexpensive Home Media Tweakshttp://gadgetgrave.com/inexpensive-home-media-tweaks/ http://gadgetgrave.com/inexpensive-home-media-tweaks/#comments Sat, 22 Feb 2014 12:00:28 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3855 There are several ways to build an inexpensive home media system that can make everyone in the family happy! Here are some ways that you can get the experience of some of those super expensive systems right in your home for a fraction of the cost.

 

Sound systems can be super expensive and come with a bunch of junk that you don’t need many times. If you want an inexpensive sound system for your home entertainment system check out computer speakers. These are typically a fraction of the cost of big brand surround sound systems and the sound quality is fantastic. While the wattage on these smaller units is almost always much lower, for most people turning up to a volume that would showcase that is not neccessarily an option. For instance, I can turn my cheap computer surround system half way up and it comes in loud and clear outside my house. A good place to find speakers like this is either Wal-Mart or Amazon.com. I got my first set at Wal-Mart and kept it for 7 years, no crackling, no shorts and still sounds great today.

 

Smart TV’s are able to connect to Netflix, Hulu and other online media streaming sites. The price of these units has gone down a little but they are still expensive to the average joe. If you own a computer and want to watch netflix on your regular old LCD you can probably do that with just a couple of cables or less. Does your laptop have an HDMI out? This would be ideal seeing as how HDMI is plug and play high definition audio and sound, and most TV’s have HDMI inputs. If your laptop doesn’t have an HDMI out, does it have a VGA out? VGA is a 15 pin output on the side of the laptop, many HDTV’s have this option, the only down side is no sound. If you are going to use VGA to hook your laptop up you’ll need something for audio as well, like an auxiliary cable to go from the headphone port on your laptop to the line in, if available on your TV. Then you can use your laptop with the biggest monitor in your house, your TV! Access any website you want to and watch whatever content you want.

 

Once you have assembled your home media center I know you’ll be impressed by the ease of use as well as the quality of the entire system. There are many other ways to build inexpensive home media centers, for instance if you don’t have a laptop you can build a media center for $200 or less with the right parts. I typically build them for around $350 fully loaded if that gives you a better idea. They are wonderful little machines that can obliterate your cable bill. If you’d like to see a media center in action search youtube for media center setups and see some of the different ways people set them up.

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Viggle Rewardshttp://gadgetgrave.com/viggle/ http://gadgetgrave.com/viggle/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 12:00:48 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3942 In today’s economy, people are always looking for ways to save money, get money or rewards, ect.  There are so many apps popping up, promising “free stuff” and it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which ones are worth the time.  I have decided to try as many of these apps as possible.  This article will review two “reward” apps.

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First up is Viggle.  This app gives you reward points for watching TV.  Simple enough?   Downloading and installing was easy as well as signing up- just signed in using Facebook but the ease ends there.  Viggle listens to your television and you earn points for watching.  I am not sure how to really earn points.  I used this app while watching Pirates of the Caribbean and it seems easy but you do not get many points- to maximize points, you must use the app throughout the show in order to earn more than five points.  During the AFC/NFC championship games, you could earn extra points by “playing” their game.  Viggle just is not very convenient unless you take the time to constantly have the app “listen” to your television and you have time to watch television.  Using this app- for a week, I gained a little over 1000 points.

There is a part to earn points while listening to music, but I could not get this app to work.  Overall, it takes about 3000 points to cash in for your reward.  The rewards range from 10% off of gifts, restaurant gift cards and other gift certificates for places not located in Northwest Arkansas or the River Valley area.  Over all, the app is less than impressive and not worth the time.   This app even has its own Facebook for complaints-   https://www.facebook.com/pages/Viggle-Sucks/444968472193344 but does seem to be filed with mixed reviews.  I do not recommend this app and have uninstalled from my phone.

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The second one is called Scantopia.  This app requires some work, but it gives you cash, tokens and coupons.  You scan items; each item gives you cash and/or tokens.  After you have at least three dollars, you can cash out and the tokens are used to entries for drawings consisting of cash, televisions, candy and other items.  The app is a bit time consuming but when you are in the store, you can scan items as you shop or scan items at home.  Scantopia is better than Viggle as it is easier to gain access to “rewards” than from Viggle.  If you want a way to gain a little extra money and possibly win prizes, this app is for you.  It is easy to use and each day, they offer a special item that the first 100 people get extra money for scanning the item.  I did not have any problems using this app and still use it daily.  The reviews are positive (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.luckylabs.scantopia&hl=en ).  I like the app but do forget to scan items at Walmart and other stores.

The apps listed are both available through iTunes and the Google play and both are free.

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Internet Privacy, What You Might Not Realizehttp://gadgetgrave.com/blurred-lines-informationprivacy-might-realize/ http://gadgetgrave.com/blurred-lines-informationprivacy-might-realize/#comments Tue, 18 Feb 2014 18:58:56 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3946 Any device that connects to the internet has the capability to share data about you. The apps that we use every single day on our smartphones collect data and share information whether or not your realize it.Compare our privacy to just 20 years ago and you will see a stark contrast. As the information age progresses the communication gap in the world is slowly closing. Americans handoff privacy to multiple outlets. So, what happens to all the collected data about our lives and what kinds of data is being collected? The type of data being collected about you depends on what your accessing. There are startling flaws in our privacy these days that can compromise our safety.

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Last year Facebook reported over 1.11 billion users. That number is shocking, but not unexpected. Most are drawn to Facebook with the hopes of connecting to distant family or friends. Being able to share photos and videos of our lives makes us happy. The truth is that numerous agencies and sometimes malicious people gather information on Facebook. Think about posting pictures from your awesome vacation on Facebook. Meanwhile everyone on your friends list (whether they are actually your friend or not) knows you’re not home. Likely they have seen the inside of your house and some of the nice things you own as well. Many companies monitor Facebook for potential and current employee’s embarrassing photos or stated opinions. Before you make the argument “What I put on my Facebook is my business” if your privacy settings aren’t perfect it’s everyone’s business. Everything you post, share, like or comment on is visible, and once information is online it’s pretty well permanent.

 

Click here to learn more on how to keep you internet life more private.

Buried beneath all of the ads we see on a daily basis is a booming and complicated business whose product is your personal information. Each step you take online leaves a footprint that can be traced back to you. Data mining is the new and dangerous business that uses your information to try and sell you junk! Each time you sign up for a subscription or a new service online your choosing to give away more of your personal information. Sites like Spokeo.com prove just how easy it is these days to retrieve this information. Anyone who wants to find you or find about you can pretty easily and quite affordably. Each little fragment of data collected about you is worth about a fraction of a cent, and there are many fragments throughout the course of a normal day. If you use a smartphone, access a computer, have a library card, order magazines sign up for ANYTHING free online you’re injecting a plethora of information on the web.

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What does this all mean? It means we are sacrificing our privacy for the free flow of information. Why are we doing this? Because we want the world to see our lives, but at what cost. Realizing the damage done by data mining isn’t easy, after all we assume that accessing the internet is a private way to gain information. Just because the person looking at your information doesn’t know you, doesn’t make it any less wrong. Next time you sign up for something think about that.

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Technology for a Healthier Planethttp://gadgetgrave.com/technology-healthier-planet/ http://gadgetgrave.com/technology-healthier-planet/#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2014 12:00:32 +0000 http://gadgetgrave.com/?p=3944 Bill Gates recently made a statement regarding breakthroughs in technology being the key to better health care, check out this article on Forbes. He believes this and has dedicated the rest of his life towards advancing that cause, and has made the prediction that by 2035 we will see almost no more poor countries with lacking health care. More and more companies are climbing on board the health technology train. Why not? Don’t we want to live longer and want to experience every last waking minute here as healthy as possible? There are big things coming that will hopefully help us do just that, and plenty of tech giants with their own innovations leading the pack. Technology can be a game changer for treatment of anything  from common ailments to some of the worst diseases of our time.

 Medical technology has progressed rapidly and recent breakthroughs have the world in awe. People are able to walk again and be mobile after a debilitating injury because of exoskeleton technology. Progress indeed has been made when we are able to restore other senses with technology such as sight and hearing. We inch closer every single day to breakthroughs that might one day cure cancer or stop other once incurable diseases in their tracks. Apple might be developing a revolutionary watch that tracks your everyday health habits including sleeping habits,movement and speed analysis when walking to determine how many calories you’re burning. Advanced pedometers are only the tip of the iceberg. We all hope to live a longer life, could our electronics soon be monitoring our everyday health as well. New devices for diabetes management now allow patients to carry an all-in-one kit to monitor their blood glucose levels and recent breakthroughs in the field suggest future instantaneous no-prick readings.Temporal scanners like Scanadu can send feedback to a smartphone for five different vital signs by simply pressing it to the forehead for 10 seconds. You get accurate readings of temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen and heart ECG.

 

 

What does the future really look like? Seeing a video of a woman hearing for the first time,or a man walking upright who was previously bed-ridden is simply amazing! Every year we land on the moon again in a new frontier of electronics, but what about our life quality. Only a few years went by and the smartphone industry exploded, to the point where very few people in the US aren’t carrying one. The frontier of medical technology is ever expanding and as the tech gets better, so does our understanding of the human body. To design our everyday devices around making our lives better, the marriage of technology and health science is unavoidable. We do want to live longer, happier more connected lives and we want our health care to be less complicated. Technology holds the key to a happier, healthier future.

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