News Ticker

Vivint system provides home security and automation

April 9, 2016

Over the past three decades I’ve experimented with do-it-yourself home automation systems to control lights and appliances. This post first appeared in the San Jose Mercury News But now, instead of a DIY system, I accepted Vivint’s offer to lend me a professionally installed system that includes an Internet controllable thermostat, front door lock and doorbell camera along with [...]

Snapchat adds playful video & audio chat features

March 29, 2016

Even though I helped write the Parents’ Guide to Snapchat, I’ve never been a heavy user of the service. Sending a picture that disappears in 10 seconds isn’t high on my priority list. But thanks to some new features, I’m starting to have fun using Snapchat even though I’m a lot older than its prime millennial audience. The company just released an update they’re calling Snapchat 2.0, [...]

iPhone SE vs. more expensive iPhones

March 27, 2016

The most obvious difference between the two phones is size and price. The iPhone SE starts at $399 and has a four-inch screen compared to a starting price of $649 for the 6 S with its larger 4.7 inch screen or $749 for the 6S Plus with its 5.5 inch screen. The SE has the same A9 chip so expect similar performance and the rear cameras have the same 12-megapixel resolution though the front selfie [...]

AlertSec encryption service for PCs and Macs

March 23, 2016

Just about everyone now knows that iPhones are encrypted but that’s not the case for PC and Macs, including the laptops people carry around. Those laptops are vulnerable to theft and loss and even if you have a password, you’re not fully protected because there are ways to break in using “brute force.” For example, there are thumb drives that hackers can plug into a [...]

How Facebook (and soon Instagram) prioritize what you see

March 17, 2016

Facebook-owned Instagram has announced that its changing the order of the posts people see “to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.” In this regard, it’s following in the footsteps of its parent company, which made a similar change several years ago. I’m not sure when and exactly how Instagram will implement this change nor whether they will let users [...]

Do you know your ‘Curious Quotient?’

March 13, 2016

You’re heard of IQ but did you also know that you have a CQ? That’s your “Curious Quotient,” which, according to Curious.com CEO Justin Kitch can be measured and expanded via the company’s new game of lifelong learning app for iOS. The game starts out with the CQ Wheel where users respond to questions to determine their goals that can be tracked along key [...]

Amazon announces portable and BYO speakers versions of its voice activated Echo

March 3, 2016

I’ve been a big fan of the Amazon Echo — that cylindrical shaped speaker that you control with your voice to play music, online radio stations, listen to Kindle or Audible books, control home appliances and more. You can even ask it for a news briefing, the weather, traffic or to tell you a joke. Now there are two new versions. A $90 Echo Dot that is just like the original Echo except [...]

Facebook’s new Reactions emojis are great, but I still prefer comments

February 25, 2016

I have mixed feelings about Facebook’s new Reactions product. On one hand, I applaud the company for offering users a wider range This post first appeared in the San Jose Mercury News of emotional responses they can easily make to other people’s posts but I worry that it might cause some to make fewer comments the old-fashioned way, by typing their original thoughts. Until Wednesday, [...]

The inside story of Facebook’s Reactions: Beyond ‘Like’

February 24, 2016

By now you may have heard that Facebook’s “like” button has company. In addition to saying that you like someone else’s post, you can now say Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry. The initiative, said Facebook engineering director Tom Alison, came from CEO Mark Zuckerberg who, last year, told staff that he wanted to allow people to give feedback on newsfeed posts other than [...]
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