Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Three-way charging stand cured cable chaos

As I added more Apple devices -- iPhone, watch and AirPods -- my bedside table began to look like a snarl of snakes. I had a charging cable for each device and a wall outlet that was overrun with charging bases. The KKM Wireless Charger put an end to all of that. 

Now I have a wireless charger for my phone and watch and a cradle for my AirPods case with everything connected to one cable. 

The phone sits upright where I can see alerts and text messages. The watch faces the bed and serves as a clock while the pod case sits securely in a cradle with a Lightning tip at its center. Everything is organized and accessible. 

The cradle for the pod case is designed accommodate both the standard AirPod case and the wider case for the AirPods Pro model. One caution: Make sure that the phone is placed in a spot where a light just below it shows blue. If the light is red, the phone is off-center and not charging. 

And, although the three-way stand will take up a fair amount of table real estate, the single cable connection could make it a good travel option.  


Thursday, October 21, 2021

An app for a night on the town

Planning an evening out on the town typically starts with a lot of thumb work. You peck away on your mobile phone searching for restaurant websites and their menus. Then more searching for local concerts or sporting events. 

How about a movie? What’s playing and what are the showtimes? After you’ve juggled a bunch of apps and you finally have a plan, it’s time message your friends to see who’s in and where everyone wants to meet. 


That’s a lot of work that can make leisure seem downright exhausting. Isn’t there a better way?


A new app called hubub has a solution to all that juggling. Billed as a "Digital Concierge," the app helps users plan a night out by bringing all of those leisure-time listings together into one searchable app.


Once users install hubub and designate their home location, they are presented with lists of events, activities, and venues. Buttons for Concerts, Theaters and Sports display lists of upcoming events in each group. The app casts a fairly wide net, so events include those that might require a two-hour drive along with others that are in the user’s hometown.


Each list can be sorted by subcategories. The concert list can be narrowed to show jazz or classical music while sporting events can be filtered for football, baseball or even e-sports. 

The app is also well-stocked with listings for restaurants and bars. Users can also drill deeper into that data to find specialty restaurant types (Coffee, Brunch, Dessert) or cuisine types (Barbecue, Pizza, Mexican). In most cases, a link offering to reserve a table or order a meal takes you to Yelp where you can find reviews and links to the restaurant's website.  


My search for French food returned listings for a nail salon called French Tips and contractor named Jim French along with the Brasserie Provence, the best of the few French restaurants in my area. The list of vegan restaurants includes Taco Bell and Wendy’s.  


Other hubub listings are grouped under Things to do Nearby. That collection includes museums, movie theaters, art exhibits, libraries, and parks. These listings are all conveniently focused on locations that are in or close to my ZIP code. 


Want your friends to join you? The hubub app also makes that easy. Users can create groups by selecting names from their contacts app. Once you have found the concert or art show that you want to attend, click the Reserve button to add the item to your calendar, then hit the Invite Friends button to share your plan. Your hubub calendar keeps track of all the events in your (hopefully busy) social life. 

 

I found hubub to be a welcome time-saver and a valuable source of information about events and activities in my area. The app will get a lofty position on my iPhone and I expect it to give my thumbs a well-needed rest.


The app is available as a free download for iOS devices in the Apple App Store. For a closer look, watch the video below, visit the hubub website and follow @hubub_me on Twitter.


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

This vacuum can gobble up dirt and liquids

A swarm of 6-year-old hands reached for the cookies on the kitchen counter, then made a beeline for the back door, leaving behind a trail of crumbs and food fragments. They were followed by my 70-pound weimaraner who lapped up some of the spilled food but left behind blobs of water from his drinking bowl.

The abandoned mess was just what I needed, a perfect situation to try out the Dreame H11 Max cordless floor cleaner. 


My laundry room was already home to several floor-cleaning devices. I have cordless stick vacuum, a plug-in floor scrubber and two different dry mops. But I wanted to test drive to test drive the Dreame because it will clean hard floors that have both solid debris and liquids. In other words, it will vacuum, wash and mop all at once.


The Dreame H11 Max arrived almost fully assembled. All I had to do was attach the control handle and two tanks, one for clean water, the other to collect whatever comes up from the floor. The business end of the vacuum has a rotating roller brush, just like my stick vacuum, but this one isn't afraid of liquids.


When I deployed the the Dreame in the wake of the great cookie heist, it made short work of both loose crumbs and canine slobber. The vacuum sensed most of the water spills. It automatically switched to water absorption mode and ramped up the suction level. I also used the button on the handle to manually kick in water to insure that it sucked all of the liquid splatter.


With just a couple of passes, the H11 Max left the whole area looking clean and lightly mopped.


The vacuum's large display screen monitors all of the devices important metrics. It displayed the available battery power and signaled when the clean water was near empty or when the dirty water tank needed to be emptied. A lighted ring around the display changes color to match the amount of dust and debris that is being encountered.


And here's a feature that is especially welcome: The Dreame will comb and clean its roller brush while it sits on the charging station. When the vacuum is powered down, it prompts you to put it on its base and press a button to launch the self cleaning operation. 


The H11 Max model has a voice prompt that will remind you to start the cleaning process and alert any problems or issues. It's controlled by a button that will turn off the voice or adjust its volume. 


In addition to the charging base, the vacuum comes with a replacement roller and water filter plus a cleaning brush. For a closer look at the H11 Max, check out my video below. For pricing and more details, visit the Dreame website. You can also find Dreame on Facebook and @Dreame_tech on Twitter.   


Monday, October 11, 2021

Komeet scooter promises a smooth ride

As gas prices continue to move upward, electric vehicles are becoming a more attractive alternative to the gas-guzzlers we grew up with. And that includes battery-powered scooters, which are quickly getting more affordable and dependable.  

A new e-scooter called the Komeet X9 is poised to begin arriving in November in the US, Europe, and elsewhere. The scooter is in full production in China and Komeet developers are accepting pre-orders at prices that start at less than $500 US or 400 Euros.


The scooter has several high-end features, including an LED dashboard, disc brakes, three gear modes, and an automatic locking mechanism. The Komeet X9 Pro model is powered by a 48-volt battery that gives the scooter a range of up to 62 miles or 100 km. It also has wider tires and a wide 7.2-inch deck. 


The battery is nestled under the deck plate behind a sturdy door that offers easy access to the battery compartment.  Owners don't have to park the scooter near an electrical outlet to recharge it. They just carry the battery into their home or office to plug it in or swap in a second battery.

The scooter has a maximum speed of 25 mph in the US or 25 km/h in the EU. The Pro model has a brushless motor with rear-wheel drive and a 4.7-inch clearance, which makes for a smooth ride on an inclined roadway, speed bumps, or an off-road surface.


UK-based X-Technology is accepting pre-orders as part of a fund-raising campaign on Indiegogo where the money will help ramp up production of the different Komeet models. Deliveries are expected to begin in November and orders include free delivery.

To get a closer look at the Komeet X9, check out the video below and visit the funding page on Indiegogo.  

Friday, October 8, 2021

This service maps websites for free

A key element in the success of any website is getting it recognized by Google and other search engines. That's why an entire industry has blossomed around the concept of SEO: Search Engine Optimization. 

Most search services offer a submission process so the people behind new websites can announce their arrival to the online world. 


But for any chance of success, websites need to submit more than just their home page. Google and the other lords of search recommend submitting a full roadmap pointing to every page on the site.


Building a full sitemap sounds like a lot of work, and it can be. I built several sitemaps by hand back in the early days of the World Wide Web and I would never want to do that again. Today, I wouldn't have to because there's an online service that will create one for free.


At XML Sitemap Generator, site managers can fill out a simple form and get a full sitemap in a few hours or even minutes, depending on the size of the site. The free service includes a sitemap of up to 200 pages in XML, HTML or RSS format. The formats are compatible with major search engines including Google, Bing, Baidu, Yandex and others.   


For larger websites, customers can make a small donation or purchase a Windows download or a WordPress plugin.


For a closer look at the services, visit the XML Sitemap Generator website. You can also check out the service's Facebook page and @createsitemaps on Twitter. 

Saturday, September 4, 2021

AgilityPortal connects remote work teams

Doing business on a global scale presents more than a few challenges and difficulties. While I'm sleeping, I get emails, orders and questions from clients who are starting their work day. And while my two sons live in the US, their employers are based in Europe with digital development teams in Asia. 


And these days, it seems like everyone is working from their homes.


Fortunately for all of us, there are new online tools like AgilityPortal to help far-flung teams connect, communicate, collaborate and succeed. The intranet software platform creates an intelligent workplace that employees can use in an office, from their homes or when they're on the road.


An employee experience component smoothes the onboarding process for new employees by delivering training programs and company information. It also helps employees and associates be successful once they are part of the team with knowledge libraries and training courses. A a social intranet spurs employee interaction and builds collaboration skills.  

 


Other components help employees manage customer needs, control their email and other communication tools and get quick access to sales reports, support materials and answers to their questions. The platform supports integration with a variety of cloud-based service such as DropBox, SharePoint and OneDrive.


AgilityPortal is designed for a remote workforce that uses different devices for different situations. The platform has versions for desktop and laptop computers, tablet devices and mobile phones. It  can be used from a central cloud computer or installed on a company server and secured with identity tools like Microsoft Azure Active Directory and two-factor authentication.


The most widely-used version of AgilityPortal costs $599 and includes up to 60 licenses. The company's pricing page has information about packages for large operations or a version small start-ups, non-profits and educational institutions.

  

For a closer look at AgilityPortal, watch the video below and visit the AgilityPortal website. AgilityPortal is also online at Facebook, LinkedIn and @AgilityPortal on Twitter.


Friday, August 27, 2021

PDF Writer app will scan, edit and store text

Writers, of course, are also readers and they often come across material that might be inspiring or worthy of quoting in an article, book or research paper. PDF Writer is a new app that makes it easy to capture and collect text from a variety of sources.

The app uses the phone's built-in camera to highlight and scan text from PDF documents. Once the text is captured, PDF Writer lets users edit, annotate and revise the text to meet their needs. Users can add a signature, change the text size and font, apply highlights or markup elements.


Text passages can be revised and organized by adjusting font sizes to create headings and subheads. The app offers more than 150 font options and a full pallet of colors. 

 


Collected passages can be saved to an unlimited number of color-coded folders or shared as a PDF, image or rich text file. The folders can also password protected. Editing and file management is all done within the app and does not require an Internet connection.

The iOS version of the is available in the Apple App Store. It runs on Apple devices including the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch running iOS 14.1 or later. It's also available for the Macs that have the M1 chip and macOS 11.0 or later. 


The app is free to download and use. Subscriptions are available for a Premium Pro version.   


The PDF Writer app was developed by RiverFlow App, which also created other PDF-focused apps including PDF Pencil and an app that will merge, scan and split PDF pages. 





Thursday, August 26, 2021

Rockstar Bingo beats the work-at-home blues

For most of my work-at-home friends, every day brings another round of boring business video conferences. And if they can't leave their house or stray very far from their keyboard and mouse, don't they deserve an occasional break to do something fun?

I think I might have a solution. It's a group game called Rockstar Bingo that's starting to pop up both online and in real-world bars and pubs. And it looks like a lot more fun than another Zoom call with the boss.

The game is like traditional bingo, but instead of a grid of random numbers, each player gets five-column digital card showing song titles and artist names in each square. The game host spins songs while players search their cards looking for a match. The winner, of course, is the first player to click a series of squares that spell B-I-N-G-O.

The game can be played at home among friends or family members, or in a pub or similar live setting. All it needs is a host to set it up, a list of players, and a collection of at least 75 songs. The host sends invitations to players who click to the Rockstar Bingo website to exchange their invitation code for a bingo card.

Once players have checked in, the host starts playing tunes and players begin identifying songs and marking their cards. Is that Pink Floyd's "Money" that I hear? Do I have that square? When a player fills in a row, they click the "Call Bingo" button to alert the host.  

Hosts act as the game's DJ. If they're using a paid version of the game, they can select a playlist provided by the game makers, upload their own playlist or connect to one of their personal playlists on Spotify. Rockstar Bingo also maintains a library of public Spotify playlists.   

Hosts can also consult a library of training videos to help them up their game with tips, graphics, checklists, photos and other media assets. There's also a Facebook community that's just for hosts and a Music Bingo Podcast.

In addition to bingo sessions with friends or businesses associates, Rockstar Bingo is also starting to be offered as entertainment in clubs and pubs, like a new spin on karaoke or trivia nights. The game can also be used to keep crowds entertained at sporting events or movie theaters during the warm up period or intermissions. 

Rockstar Bingo is available for free play with groups of up to six players. An ad-free premium version that allows custom playlists and supports up to 30 players costs $29.99 per year. For larger groups, Rockstar Bingo will provide a custom price quote.

For more details, check out the video below and visit the Rockstar Bingo website, their Facebook page and Instagram feed and @RockstarBingo on Twitter. 



  





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