Checking-In Gets a Digital Makeover

Remember the days of hotel keys? Not the flimsy cards they give you nowadays, but the actual metal keys that you picked up from the front desk clerk. Seems like forever ago, right? Well pretty soon those little cards will be a thing of the past as well. This week Hilton Hotels announced that they are going to be launching an app that will let you select room preferences and check in and out all from your phone. By early next year you will be able to unlock your hotel room door straight from the app. Once that is implemented, there will be virtually no reason to visit the check-in desk. This is exciting news for frequent travelers who have to deal with front desk hassles often. Hilton isn’t the originator of the hotel app; Starwood hotels and resorts came out with their app earlier this year. If that name doesn’t sound familiar, Starwood owns the fancy “W” hotels along with chains like the Westin and the Sheraton. With these two heavy hitters offering this service, imitation will surely follow with smaller hotels.

Putting the “V” in Vanity

“Narcissus” by Daneli on Flickr

As if the narcissistic “selfie” craze that’s so popular right now isn’t embarrassing enough, Microsoft announced this week that they are set to release their new Lumia “Superman” phone with one unique feature: a forward facing camera. Looks like Microsoft has decided to cash in on the trend of people shamelessly taking photos of themselves, and is hoping this feature will set their Windows phone apart from the competition. The reality of this phone is that it will save selfie fanatics the approximate 2 seconds that it takes to switch your phone’s camera from normal to forward facing. Then consider that you might want to take a photograph of something other than your own face? There is a time delay for that, hopefully it’s not an action shot.

Naturally the phone will come with the egomaniac’s guide to the Internet; preloaded with all the necessities such as Instagram, Photoshop and Vine. This way you can Photoshop and post your selfie right away! Just remember to filter out all those flaws first; after all no one likes an unedited selfie! The Superman is slated for a late summer release. It’s guaranteed that there will be a lot of people that are into this idea; but whether that percentage will be higher than the group that finds this concept completely ridiculous is still unknown.

Up in Smoke

Beware: If you are using a Samsung phone with a 3rd party battery; your phone just might implode in flames. This week it was reported that a 13-year-old girl in Texas fell asleep with her Samsung Galaxy under her pillow, where it caught fire while she was sleeping. Luckily the smell of fumes woke the girl woke middle of the night, and the flames were extinguished.

Samsung’s owner’s manual does state that 3rd party batteries are not supported, but that is information for the consumers that actually read the fine print, whomever they may be. Perhaps they should consider putting that warning in a much larger print, considering what dangerous situations this could put a user in.

Samsung offered to replace the phone and the burned bedding, although they are sticking to the excuse that the warning is listed in the manual. Hopefully this little girl’s experience will help bring awareness to this possible danger, and will keep it from happening to someone else.

How can I Watch TV From my Cellphone on my Big Screen?

Question:

Ok, I have a 32′ Sanyo TV which has HDMI cable inputs and a CW app on my phone which allows me to watch updated TV shows once they are uploaded onto the app. My question is: Can I watch it on my TV just by connecting an HDMI cable to my phone & into the TV, or do I have to download the movie onto my cellphone? If so, what are the steps?

 Answer:

This depends on what kind of phone you have. If it has a micro HDMI port, which is common, then you can just get a cable that connects your phone to your TV and watch that way. So the type of cable you would need is a Micro HDMI to HDMI.

Spambot Love?

The uber popular dating app Tinder is burning up with more than love and lust this week. It looks like the app has encountered some problems with annoying malware and bots attacking their site. These bots have started creating fake profiles of attractive potential suitors in hopes of luring unsuspecting love seekers to porn and prostitution sites. Tinder has wised up to these antics and is working to block these pests, but now spammers are asking that you leave the website for a 3rd party site, so if you use Tinder be aware. Once you get directed to those sites it will tell you that your age must be verified, and will ask you to enter your credit card. We all think that no one could be naïve enough to actually enter their personal information in these situations, but you would be surprised. Stay on your toes and make sure you are not getting hooked up with a virus-infested bot. Just swipe left. ♥

Airbnb Gets a New Look

The San Francisco startup Airbnb overhauled it’s logo, website and mobile app this week in attempt to bring even more popularity to the six-year-old company. Airbnb is all the rage when it comes to traveling these days. The way Airbnb works is that if you have an available apartment, house or room to rent out you can do so through their website, which also allows you to set pricing and make payment arrangements. So when visiting a new city, instead of staying in a hotel, you can actually stay in someone’s home and get the feeling of living in that city, even if just overnight. The newly revamped website is actually really cool. It asks you to pick a destination city, and for larger cities it gives the background on different areas and what they are all about. The San Francisco destination page gives all the information on the different districts, what areas they are bordered by and what they are known for. The city descriptions are on point and aren’t completely sugar-coated. The listings page looks super professional, and there are multiple pictures of listings shown, so you can really get an idea of where you could potentially be staying. Airbnb states that they offers listings in 192 countries, and boasts over 500,000 listings, ranging from shared rooms and studio apartments to mansions and even a castle.

Now people that are listing their homes, otherwise known to Airbnb as “hosts,” have the option to leave recommendations for bars, restaurants and other neighborhood gems that are off the beaten path. This is perfect for visitors that don’t want the traditional tourist experience. The price of different places varies, but most of the listings on the site are considerably less than a hotel. It still is a gamble however, as unlike a hotel you are not exactly sure what you will be getting. There are no guarantees that the place listed will look exactly like its pictures, and although hosts are supposed to leave the place clean for guests, you never know. A way to avoid any surprises is to check host reviews on the site, and contacting hosts/guests through the site’s messaging option is recommended. This site is definitely something worth checking out on your next trip.

Facebook Immortals

Our Facebook pages will outlive some of us. And now our profiles are all set for that to happen. Facebook announced this week that they have tweaked their privacy settings in the event that a user passes on and their profile becomes a “memorialized” page. This way a users page will still be active, even in the event that the user is not. They are also implementing something called a “Look Back” video for user’s that have passed on. These videos became popular when Facebook generated them for their tenth anniversary. They will include a user’s top posts, important moments and most liked pictures. Sounds a little morbid, but perhaps this will be a helpful tool to grieving loved ones. Time will only tell.

London’s 3-D Makeover

Google announced this week that they are giving their Google maps a little make-over by adding 3-D feature. This will allow you to simulate flying over the city, without the blurriness that comes with normal Google maps. This sounds familiar to Google Earth, but is supposed to give a life-like experience of feeling like you are really in the city itself. London is the fifth city in the U.K. thus far that has been given the 3-D treatment, but hopefully we can expect a U.S. city to be next. Although this is news for Google, Apple has had a 3-D mapping option for about a year. Google mapping is much more popular than Apple however, and Google states that they hope to map the world. Sounds pretty ambitious to the rest of us, but nothing’s impossible.

Digital Underground

Bitcoins can be confusing. They have been around for awhile now, and this week in New York a plan was proposed to protect consumer rights where Bitcoins are concerned. There’s still a lot of mystery surrounding this new currency, or faux currency as some see it. Bitcoins are basically virtual currency. They are not backed by any federal bank, so they are seen as risky. Bitcoins are the first invention in what is known as cryptocurrency: the exchanging of money online through a secure information economy. Some retailers are already accepting bitcoins as a way to pay for goods, and it sounds like the technology is on the verge of breaking through to the more general public. If the New York Department of Financial Services gets their way, there will be consumer protection when using Bitcoins. This would be a big step in the digital money world. Now the rest of us just need to figure out what it all means.

Home Depot Goes Hi-Tech

Home Depot came out with the news this week that they are featuring 12 brand-new 3-D printers in selected stores around California, New York and Chicago. They will have a whole staff dedicated to teaching customers on how to use the printer, and will even help you create little mementos to keep. This is seen by some as a risky venture for Home Depot, as it doesn’t seem to be the correct market for such an expensive technology. On the other hand this might draw a big crowd, curious to see how the new printers work. These will be available for sale both in the selected stores and online. There will be about four MakerBot models to choose from retailing from$1,300 to $2,900.