Chromecast – an Impressive Piece of Technology for a Small Price

Have you ever needed a cheap, flawless way of watching movies on your TV? The Google Chromecast is a HDMI port based mini computer that plugs right into your TV. To control your Chromecast, all you need is a WiFi connection and a smart phone/tablet (Android, iPhone) or computer (PC, Mac).

What you need to know about the Chromecast, however, is that not all apps can be used with the Chromecast. All of your favourite apps should work, though. For example, you are able to stream movies and clips from YouTube, Netflix and HBO GO or maybe you prefer sports and want to use Watch ESPN with your Chromecast. If that’s not enough, and you want more freedom, you could stream your Chrome tab right to your TV. The list of supported apps is long, and it keeps growing continuously. A complete list of which apps that function with a Chromecast device can be found here.

The quality overall is really great, and it can even stream in HD without any problems. There are two things that could improve. The loading speeds of certain apps and better support for local files. A way to view self-made video clips is to get a local Plex server running on your PC or Mac, and share it over your local internet. This way, you get really good quality and smoothness because it all happens within your local internet. However, it is quite impractical and troublesome for the average Joe. Another, simpler, way to do it is to drag a local video clip into your Chrome tab on your PC or Mac, and then cast that tab to your Chromecast. You would typically experience quality loss if your streaming item requires higher bandwidth such as 720p and 1080p clips. The reason for this is that the Chromecast is not adapted for this. It all really depends on what kind of connection you have.

It is without any hesitation a good buy. Although it already is in a really good stage, it will receive a lot of improvements over time.

The Ultimate Car for The Tech Fanatic

For a very long time, all cars have been pretty much the same in driving conditions: Gas, Clutch, Shift, Brake. The Tesla Model S is here to change that. The company Tesla Motors has for a long time been rather unknown to a lot of people, but since the Model S breakthrough, I have felt that they are getting a lot more recognition.

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As a tech devotee, I can say that this is my dream car. The car is equipped with a 17 inch touchscreen that controls just about everything in the car. Fans, Media, Navigation and Web Browsing are all operated through the touchscreen. Other than that, you can also view the consumption and range of the car’s electric motor and a lot of other functions. The Tesla Model S gets firmware upgrades regularly that affect and improve the car and the changes can all be viewed online.

Another thing that may appeal to you, is that the car has an autopilot. The car can actually drive itself and switch lanes. All you have to do is tap the turn signal. How is this possible you ask? Well, the Tesla Model S has a camera, radar and a 360 degree sensor that can read the traffic and adjust to it.

If you also like speed, you must know that the “Performance” version of the car (P85D) can do 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 3.1 seconds, despite it’s heavy weight at 2,239 kg (4,936 lb)

Now, there are things that I don’t like with the car. A fully charged Tesla S can cover around 430 km (265 miles) of land before it has to stop and recharge. That is actually a lot for an electric car. The problems are the charging times. It all depends on which battery you have for your car, but unless you are charging at a Tesla Supercharger station, you can count on that you will probably have to leave your car to charge overnight if you used it the same day. It all varies on how long based on what kind of outlet you are using. Using a 240v/24A outlet, a full charge could take up to 15 hours. There are, however, faster options to consider.

There are so many more features to discover about the Tesla Model S and the bottom line is that this is a really nice car. Not only because of all of the functions it delivers, but because of it’s looks too.

iPhone Release Patterns – New iPhone Incoming?

Since 2012, Apple has released five different iPhones. All of which were released around 20 September each year. Does this mean that this year’s iPhone will arrive 20 September 2015?

The answer is no. No one knows for sure when the new iPhone will be released. Nothing has been confirmed yet about “the new iPhone”. All we know for sure is that there will be a successor to the current iOS 8, the brand new iOS 9. Developers can actually already access iOS 9, but the public beta will first be available in July 2015.

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I do not want to bore you with rumors, but let us speculate and think about what has happened in the past.

The iPhone 4S was an upgrade to the predecessor iPhone 4. It was released with SLIGHT change of looks, a better processor which made the phone significantly faster, a better camera and the phone assistant Siri. The S in 4S actually stands for Siri.

The most important visual change to the iPhone 5S in comparison to the former iPhone 5 was the home button. Apart from that, it also got a new processor, a camera upgrade and the fingerprint sensor Touch ID.

So what can we expect from the new 2015 iPhone? Will it be the iPhone 6S? Or the iPhone 7? Recent Apple products have been getting the Force Touch feature, and maybe the new iPhone will too. The Force Touch feature can sense whether you are pressing hardly or softly on your touchpad or touchscreen.

What we can expect are hardware upgrades such as camera and processor. Let us just hope that they will bring us a new feature with the announcement of the iPhone 2015, such as Siri or Touch ID.

The Beginner’s Guide to DSLRs

You probably have not thought about this, but have you ever seen someone who owns a DSLR and is photographing with a flash in broad daylight? Think about it. Is the flash really assisting the photographer a warm sunny day in July? Does it contribute to a better photo? In this case, the photographer is most likely using the Auto mode.

So would you like to become a better photographer without having to learn EVERYTHING about the DSLR and all the technical terms? Here is how in a very simple guide.

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There are three elements we must cover. ISO, aperture and shutter speed. The Auto mode sets these three automatically depending on where you are shooting and what.

A very basic description of ISO is that it has to do with the amount of light that you have in your environment. Change the ISO to 100 or 200 if you are shooting outside on a bright day. If you are indoors, set the ISO to 800 or 1000 tops. More than so can make the picture grainy.

Have you ever seen a picture where the people in it are in focus, but the background is blurry? The setting that can make this happen is aperture, also known as f stop. If you buy a medium-end DSLR and an objective is included, you will probably not be able to set the f stop all too low. The lower the f stop, the more blurry the background will be.

For example, if you want to take a picture of two people, you would set the aperture or f stop to about 2.0 – 3.0. Since most stock objectives only go down to f3.5, you will have to stay there. If this is the case with your objective, I would stay at that aperture at all times. Only exception is if you are shooting landscape pictures. In this case, use the maximum aperture you got!

Shutter speed is the amount of seconds your camera is “taking in” from the thing you are shooting. If you set it to 1/20, the shutter will stay open for 1/20th of a second, and collect all light from where you are aiming for that period.

The basics of shutter speed is that if your object is moving, you will need a faster shutter speed, for example 1/1250. If the object is standing still you could typically use a slower shutter speed, but I would never go slower than 1/100. If your shutter speed is very slow, for example 1/20, the slightest movement while the shutter is open can make the picture blurry. This is why you want faster speeds unless you have a steady hand.

Now, when you know a little more about the three most important functions of your DSLR, it is time to use them to take a great photo!

First of all, use the wheel on the top of your camera and switch it over to the “M” which stands for Manual.

I always begin setting the ISO. If you’re in a darker setting, set the ISO a bit higher, and if the setting is brighter, set it lower. Knowing exactly how to set the ISO is not always easy, but you should really try playing around with it and see what fits your liking the most.

If I am at a party or wedding, I normally set the aperture to f3.0 and use it at all times. If you feel that the picture is too blurry at the edges, or someone’s face is getting blurry outside of the center of where you are aiming, you could increase the aperture.

Say you are at your children’s prom and you want to photograph your children with his/her prom date and you need that cool effect where the background is blurry, you will need an objective that can go as low as f2.0.

Now, about the shutter speed. I never shoot in Live View. I use my DSLR’s screen for all the info I really need. Try setting the ISO at 600 and the aperture as low as it goes, and aim somewhere. You will see a meter on the screen that looks something like -1…2…0…1…2+ 

If you cannot see the light meter on the screen, try looking through the viewfinder. Furthermore, sometimes the negative and positive sides of the meter are opposite depending on the camera.

Beneath the light meter there should be a marker or an arrow. You will typically want to keep the marker in the middle, around the 0. Going more to the or the  will make the picture brighter or darker and staying at the 0, your photo will have a proper balance in lighting. To adjust the marker, use the scroll wheel on the top right of the back of the camera. Using the wheel will actually adjust the shutter speed.

You can really imagine the ISO, aperture and shutter speed forming a triangle, where you have to find the middle. By setting these three neatly, the meter will find it’s middle, and you will have a good balance in the triangle.

I hope that you learned a bit more about photography today. May all of your future pictures be amazing!

Cloud Computing and You – The Revolution at Your Door

Cloud computing is something that’s been around for a while, but more and more people are becoming aware of it at a level that makes sense for their lives. Consider Amazon’s S3 data storage system, or even the Cloud Kindle Reader. Everything is about the cloud, a central location for all of your files to go. Cloud computing doesn’t have to be a trend you miss out on, however.

It’s all about thinking about your needs. For example, if you don’t have a way to back up your files normally, you definitely want to look at going with cloud-based data backup. This eliminates the need for expensive backup software that still relies on everything to be set up properly on your need. That just wouldn’t make sense in the grand scheme of things. You are much better off thinking about as cloud based solution that allows you to pull down your files from just about anywhere.

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Another point that you want to think about is the security that’s used on the other end of the service. Proper encryption is going to be a must. There are always going to be some files that you might not be comfortable with putting in the cloud. Anything that has your personal financial information on it shouldn’t be in the cloud. There have been cases of data breaches, but thankfully they are becoming rarer and rarer over time.

The future of cloud computing is pretty bright. Think over what you need to accomplish, and then find a cloud based service that can make that happen. Good luck!

Shifting to Mobile Marketing Is Easy – Here’s How to Make it Work!

Are you trying to accomplish mobile marketing without all of the errors, mistakes, and delays that usually plague such problems? No problem! In fact, you’re actually in good company. Many businesses are trying to do everything they can in order to leverage mobile technology. At first glance, many companies felt that the medium, was really too new to do anything with.

However, upon further analysis you’ll actually find that mobile users are much more receptive to advertising and marketing than you might imagine. This is because they really do want to have services and even products that match their interests. The troubles in advertising usually start when companies think that targeting isn’t important. In the mobile arena, it’s very important to make sure that you’re really using the right targeting that’s going to get your goals accomplished.

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Shifting to mobile marketing is easy — you just need to know how to make everything fit together. The first part of the equation is always the right foundation. Without this, you really don’t have anything to build your mobile marketing “house’ upon. So in order to fix this problem, you need to get the right mobile marketing solution right at your fingertips.

 

As the market becomes more and more uncertain, it’s easy to assume that people are going to stop spending money. However, this is a short sighted assumption at best — when given the right mix of products and services, people will find a reason to indulge at least once in a while. So your mission is going to be reaching out to your potential customers in a way that speaks to them.

In the age of smartphones, mobile technology has become more interactive than ever before. This will allow you to make your audience feel included and welcome in just about any campaign that you can think of. So don’t be afraid to let your creativity run wild and free — mobile marketing is the perfect place to test out new campaigns and see what your audience thinks. Without trying, you just never know what will happen, so check it out for yourself today!

Thermal Imaging Cameras – How do they work and what are they used for

Thermal imaging cameras can be used in a number of different circumstances to visualise temperature that cannot be seen by the naked eye, there is technology within the cameras that is quite fascinating, as is the numerous applications that they can be used for.

The only drawback of the piece of equipment is that they are very expensive to purchase, but it possible to hire them out which is probably the best option. If you hire test equipment, it means you can use them only when they are needed. This means you can save money and not have a piece of equipment lying around not getting used for most of the year.

Thermal Imaging Cameras

A thermal imaging camera is an infrared or thermo graphic type of camera which forms an image of radiation which to the naked eye is invisible; it does this in a very similar way as a regular camera would take a photograph of visible light.

The camera also takes different wavelengths compared to a normal camera.  A thermal imaging camera captures wavelengths as long as 14,000 nanometres compared to the visible-light cameras which work in a range between 450 – 750 nanometres.
Infrared cameras are not very different compared to digital cameras today. The lens is used to bring in the information, but instead of visible light, it detects radiation. The detected radiation is then converted into electrical symbols which are then combined to form the image. (more…)

7 alternatives for the almighty Photoshop

Adobe’s Photoshop is definitely the number one photo editing software on the market, and the latest version CS5 brings in so many more features, you’ll simply remain amazed at what it can do. Even though all of this means the interface is a bit cluttered, that is nothing compared to the possibilities it gives to photographers and other people whose profession includes editing any kind of images.

Of course, web designers, who have to work with websites that are composed of 50% images every single day, couldn’t just look from the side and got in on the action. And guess what, Photoshop can easily accomplish all of their tasks, too! If you’re striving to become a professional web designer or photographer, you’ve most definitely already been told to acquire a version of this wonderful software.

But the main problem with it is that it costs quite a lot of money, and if you’re just starting out or are simply an amateur that needs to do a couple of edits per month, you may not want to shell out those money.

With that in mind, a lot developers got together to create free alternatives to Photoshop, some of which accomplish the same things at the same quality, and yet are completely free. Here is a list of the most popular Photoshop alternatives that you can find on the Web.

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GIMP.

GIMP is the most popular free alternative to Photoshop, and I’d be very surprised if you haven’t heard of it until now.  It’s got every feature that Photoshop has and therefore, can accomplish any image editing task you throw at it. From simple effects to editing huge photographs with dozens of layers and masks, GIMP can do it all. The only gripe of most new users is the unfamiliar interface, which is pretty hard to use. But now, this can easily be fixed using the open source and free GIMPShop, which transforms the menus to be exactly like those in Photoshop. Install them both and you practically get a free clone of Photoshop!

Paint.NET.

This application, built on top of Microsoft’s abandoned Paint.net project, is a wonderful photo editing tool that can do 90% of all tasks you may need. It’s got advanced support for layers, a ton of tools to modify your pictures, a lot of integrated special effects and a nice interface that is pretty easy to use – if you’re an amateur or moderate user, this is everything you’ll ever need.

Picasa.

Picasa is a much lighter alternative to Photoshop and the above two apps. It is free, it’s made by Google, it looks gorgeous with all the AJAXy special effects, and it lets you do any kind of basic edits on all of your photographs – what else do you need? (more…)

Waiting For Black Friday To Get New Tech – You Might Want To Strike Now

Decisions, decisions. Do you wait for a piece of technology to go on sale during the usual sales rushes, or do you go ahead and get it because you need to use it now? With the holiday season about to be in full swing, this is a question that more and more people are honestly asking each other. It’s not because we’re into being materialistic, but nobody wants to miss out on a good deal.

The trouble is that the typical Black Friday sales are getting weaker and weaker over time. The recession has hit retailers hard, and that means that they’re going to have to cut back on the type of inventory that gets cut. Once those doorbusters go out the window, you’re left with inventory that really isn’t all that great. Sure, there’s going to be some legendary deals to be had if you really want them, but the truth is that you’re better off thinking about the bigger picture than just more technology that you don’t need.

For example, the Kindle Fire is coming out soon — November 2011 to be exact. That’s right around the corner, and that’s something that a lot of hardcore eReader fans have been looking forward to. Does that mean that they should suddenly stop getting excited and just wait for Black Friday? Sure, the Kindle Fire might be out in time for a good BF rush, but you’re better off striking while the iron is hot — and you have the money to do so.

Why? Well, things happen. People change. Things come up. You always want to make sure that you have things in place when you want them, not when you think the price is going to go down. There’s going to be a high demand for a lot of technical gear this year, and if you don’t strike fast, you’re going to find yourself left out. And really, who wants to be -that guy-, anyway? (more…)

The New Holiday Shopping Tips for Tech Fans

The holiday season is in full swing, and we’re all counting down to Black Friday. Of course, if you’re not in the US, then Black Friday really isn’t the discount spree that matters to you. Still, many retailers are doing a lot of sales during this time of year because they know something basic: when people are in a mood to buy, they’re going to buy. They might not buy from you, but they are certainly buying from someone else. Gearing up for Christmas is very important, so if you’re thinking about getting some tech goodies for your friends and family, you need to make sure that you’re shopping effectively.

Avoiding returns and shipping costs is the name of the game. Returns tie up your money and slow you down from shopping, so avoiding returns is critical.

The best way to get your shopping is done is as follows:

First and foremost, you need to think about all of the technical gadgets you have planned to buy. Do they really match up with what the recipient of your gift honestly needs? If your granny isn’t good with touchscreen cell phones, there’s no reason to buy her an HTC Evo 4G, you know what we mean? She’s going to be grateful that you bought her something, but you’re buying her something more complicated than what she wants to use. When we give gifts, we want to give gifts that actually work out in our favor. We want to make sure that we can find something that actually handle their needs quite well. Ideally, you should be listening to them all year round to really make sure that they are using good tech and it’s fitting their lives.

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Of course, if you really want to give someone a touchscreen, then you can always think about who would really get a kick out of it.

Comparison shopping is honestly the name of the game now. If you’re only going to one site above all others without looking to see if it’s the lowest price, then you’re paying more. That’s just the way it is. The first site you land on generally has a higher price than others. Now, if you’re getting some whiz bang bonus, then it’s okay.

Look at free shipping deals — if you’re going to shop, bundle all of your purchases up as much as possible so that you don’t have to spend money on shipping. Believe it or not, shipping can really be pretty expensive when you have a lot of items. Retailers online have realized that people get really worked up about shipping, which means that they can offer deals to get more people interested.

Check out coupon deal sites in order to make sure that you’ve really squeezed all of the discounts out that you can. It’s possible to get some really good deals as long as you’re looking for them. Why not start shopping today?

The longer you wait to begin your holiday shopping, the more stressed out that you’re going to be. It’s better to make sure that you really are looking into just about anything and everything that you can, in order to not only save money, but give your friends and family exactly what they’re looking for this holiday season!