Saturday, April 23, 2022

Drone has advanced features, nice price

I’ve wanted to get a personal drone for several years but the ones that had the features I wanted were beyond my budget. Then I discovered the EC 20 drone from UNTEI. 

This is a drone made for adults. It’s not a toy for the kids to play with a smash up. It comes with a high-resolution 4K camera and, a controlling app and GPS auto return home capability. The brushless motors are high quality and the battery delivers more than 40 minutes of flight time. 

The drone is east to pair with the manual remote. But for the advanced features you’ll want to get the WOWI FLY app which is available for free in the iOS and Android app stores. 

When the app is linked to the drone, you phone’s screen presents a view from the drone’s camera. That makes it easy to find your target for shooting video or taking still photos.

The remote has multiple control buttons including one-key launch, an emergency landing button, camera controls, and auto return. 

The WOWI app delivers more advanced options. For example, you can tell the drone to fly a circle pattern above your head or fly a mapped route by entering waypoints on your phone screen. You can also tell the drone to follow you from behind.

The EC 20 comes with a custom carrying case, a 256GB memory card and two rechargeable batteries. This is everything that I wanted in a drone that’s available on Amazon for less than $250.

Check out my video below to see how much fun I had learning to be a drone pilot.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Datagrasp helps companies manage security defenses

It seems that hardly a day goes by when we don’t hear about some company, organization, or government agency falling victim to a data attack or intrusion. 

As international tensions heat up following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, more American companies are strengthening their data defense measures. Many are using expert consultants and online tools to help them verify that they are taking the correct steps. 

Datagrasp was founded last year to help corporations and other entities discover and analyze potential security risks. It provides a cloud-based platform that clients user to determine how well their organization adheres to current compliance laws and policies. 

Datagrasp provides a digital toolbox that can be used by any designated person within an organization, no security expertise required. The system guides users through the process of examining their security programs and organizing their documentation and audit trails so they will be ready when auditors come knocking.   

The Datagrasp system collects and stores documentation on internal and external audits. It also creates an internal audit checklist that includes a ranking and comparison to current business practices and processes. Audit reports and risk analyses can be retrieved quickly using the Datagrasp dashboard.

Some of Datagrasp’s primary assistance tools are available for free in the starter package available to companies with five or fewer employees. They include a security assessment, risk register, and compliance checklist. 

Packages for large businesses or enterprises are also available. For more details, visit the Datagrasp website.

Monday, March 28, 2022

WeGym brings high-tech to resistance bands

If you believe what you see in television commercials, you would think you have to have an expensive exercise bike or weight machine to get a solid workout at home. But many fitness experts say that a good set of resistance bands can also deliver a solid workout without devoting half of a room or half of your credit card. 

The WeGym Resistance Band System is a good example of how much can be done with resistance bands. This set is affordable and portable. It can be used almost anywhere, indoors or  outside. And get this: it also has the ability to track and record your exercise routines on a mobile app.

The primary items in the kit are a pair of the Rally X smart resistance stretching bands. Each band can be adjusted for the type of exercise that you want and the amount of resistance that suits your body and condition. 

The tip of each band contains sensors that determine the band's resistance level and your stretching reps. It also has a Bluetooth transmitter that sends the collected data to the WeGym app. The app is available as a free download on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store.  

The kit includes what WeGym generously calls a User Manual, but don't expect it to be a lot of help. It's really just a sheet of paper folded into 3-by-6-inch pages. The photo illustrations are small and dark and the text is downright tiny. 

Fortunately, you won't need the "manual" to connect the bands to the accessories. That's just a matter of snapping carabiners onto loops. There's more guesswork involved in connecting the tracking tips to the WeGym app. The printed instructions are confusing and peppered with grammatical errors. But if you've ever connected an app to a wireless speaker or headphones, you can probably muddle through.

The good news is you may well appreciate these exercise bands and the associated app even if you don't set them up to log your workout metrics. 

I especially like the Rally X bands for their versatility. They can be used for either freestyle routines or anchored to a stationary point such as a door or a basketball goal post. 

For freestyle, attach the bands to the wrist and ankle loops that are included with the kit. For stationary stretching, clip handles to one end of the bands, then connect the other ends to an anchor spot. The kit includes a pad and short straps that can be slipped into a door jamb for a secure anchor spot. The kit also has a strap to wrap around a tree or post.

Once I had the bands set up, I needed a little help to get started. That's where the video workout routines on the app came to my rescue. The app contains a library of video how-to workouts for anyone from beginners to regulars. 

I started with a 5-minute, low-intensity "Newbie" routine designed to strengthen abs, arms and back. According to the video, this exercise will result in "42 Kcal" burned. I'm guessing that mean 49 calories, and that sounded perfect for a sofa slug like me. 

The videos are well made and easy to follow and they begin with some simple stretches before moving on to the resistance bands. The app also offers music tracks for workouts with choices like "Cheerful burning music," which sounded more my speed than "Blood burning music.".

I also like how all of the bands and straps fit into a small mesh bag that WeGym thoughtfully provides. Even fully loaded, the bag weights less than 3 lbs. and is small enough to find a spot in my carry-on luggage or my car's trunk. And  the WeGym Resistance Band System is available on Amazon for less than $150. 

So now I'm out of excuses. If I don't shape up, it won't be because I can't afford the tools or don't have room for them.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

iLive speaker gets the tailgate party started

The national college basketball tournament kicks into high gear this week and that means fans from Portland to Pittsburg will be gathering to cheer on their favorite teams.

Some will be sharing burgers and beer in their back yards while others will be tailgating football style outside the arenas where their teams will tip off. Wherever they gather, they’ll need a portable sound system keep the party rolling and the iLive Bluetooth Tailgate Party Speaker would like to be invited.

The Tailgate Party Speaker is a Bluetooth speaker blown up to the size of an airport travel bag. It even has a pair of wheels on it bottom side and a pull-out handle, making it easy to traverse a sprawling arena parking lot or even an actual airport terminal.

Unlike the bulky boomboxes of the 1980s, the Tailgate Party Speaker is powered by internal rechargeable battery, rather than big pile of expensive D cell batteries. The speaker refuels using a standard USB-C cable, making it more lightweight, environmentally friendly and far cheaper to maintain.

The front panel of the  Tailgate Party Speaker supports a wide range of audio sources, starting with a Bluetooth connection to any mobile phone. Got an iPod or other digital audio player that doesn't support Bluetooth? The speaker has a line in jack that accepts a 3.5mm audio cable. 

The panel also offers slots for a USB thumb drive or an SD memory card. And there's a built-in FM radio for tuning in a play-by-play game broadcast. There's no built-on antenna, but iLive says plugging in an audio cable will improve broadcast quality. 

A one-line display screen shows the speaker's battery level, audio source and track information, and FM radio frequency. And when music is playing, colored LED lights mounted behind the speaker grill begin to pulsate. 

Other features include buttons to pause or play, skip audio tracks for USB or Bluetooth sources, scan for FM channels or move between different audio sources. There's also an input jack for a large format microphone plug, in case party guests want to torture each other with their favorite karaoke songs, complete with echo enhancement.

That's a lot of features for a speaker with a booming bass that typically costs less than $70. You can find the iLive Tailgate Party Speaker on the iLive website and in several online catalog stores, including Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods. Look for model ISB380.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

This pouch makes tracker tags more useful

As I get older, I get a little more forgetful, so I'm happy to have  technology fill in the missing gaps in my memory. 

The contacts app on my phone remembers the telephone numbers and email addresses of friends and family members. A calendar keeps tract of important dates, my bank's website tracks and pays my bills, and a digital notebook stores my grocery shopping list.

And I was especially delighted to see the arrival of those little wireless tagging devices made by Tile, Apple, Jiobit and other companies. 

I've used them more than once to find my keyring and a misplaced backpack. And then there was the night when a tag steered me to where my car was parked in a massive (and unlighted) parking lot.

Now I've discovered a new accessory that will make these tags even more useful. It's a small zipper pouch called Tracker Keeper whose inventor is currently raising production financing with a campaign on Kickstarter. 

The Tracker Keeper measures about 3 inches by 2 inches - large enough to hold one of those tracker tags while small enough to be discreetly stashed in an unobtrusive location. 

That's the idea behind the Tracker Keeper. Picture the pouch strapped to the seat rail of a bicycle or behind one of the legs on a piece of machinery like an air compressor or gas powered generator. It can be easily attached to just about any item that might be attractive to thieves or vandals.

And although the pouch was designed to hold those diminutive tracking tags, it can also be used to stash and protect keys, cash or other small items. The pouch and zipper are made of waterproof materials. It has a sturdy D-ring to snap it on a carabiner and it's packaged with several attachment accessories: 3 nylon loop straps, 3 rubberized twist ties, and 10 zip ties.  

The Kickstarter campaign has a goal of raising $17,680 before the end of March. Backers who pledge $12 will get one Tracker Keeper with accessories. Supporters who pledge $80 or more get a retail pack of 10 keepers.

To get a closer look at the Tracker Keeper and see more reward options, visit the Kickstarter campaign page and follow Tracker Keeper on Facebook.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

This web cam is for the birds

My house has web cams that monitor pets and kids indoors and people who come to my front door or travel down my street. My next camera may be for the winged visitors.

The Bird Buddy is a bird feeder with a built-in camera that will give you a face-to-face view of the dining customers. And a connected app will also identify each bird species, tell you the types of food that they like, and offer a sample of their bird songs.

In addition to providing bird information and profiles, the company hopes the data that users collect will assist conservation efforts by tracking bird migrations and populations around the globe. 

Bird Buddy feeders are scheduled to ship this spring for $235. The company iOS currently accepting pre-orders.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

New wearable ring will monitor blood pressure

Health monitoring and tracking devices keep getting smaller and more affordable, A good example is the Movano Ring which made its debut at this year’s International CES.

Moving already makes a ring that collects data on your sleep, heart rate, heart rate variability, and body temperature. A new version will also  monitor for health problems such as hypertension, an issue for nearly half of all adults in the US.

The company has applied for FDA clearance. If successful it would become a certified medical device. The ring is expected to arrive in the second half of 2022.

For more details, check out his article in Interesting Engineering


Wednesday, November 10, 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.   

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