The HDMI Rule Book

 

 

Q: Why am I having trouble finding an HDMI to DisplayPort cable? Does that type of cable exist?

A: The short answer to this question is yes, but only on the black market. The long answer is that there are very strict regulations on how HDMI cables are designed, manufactured and marketed. According to the HDMI consortium, who sets all the rules for HDMI products, the only way the HDMI label can be used is if both ends of the HDMI cable are matching HDMI to HDMI. If one side of the HDMI cable needs to be altered, it must be by an adapter. The only exception to this rule is an HDMI to DVI cable, which manufacturers are still allowed to construct.

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) as a technology is patented to what’s called the “HDMI Forum,” which consists of 87 companies who are proprietary owners of the HDMI technology. Manufacturers must pay royalty fees to the HDMI Forum for the use of the HDMI name. There are strict guidelines that enforced by the HDMI Forum, from cable specifications right down to the packaging.

Fahrenheit 451

Did you ever read the book Fahrenheit 451 back in high school? The premise of the dystopian story was very futuristic, and the premise was that someday TV’s would be as big as walls, and books will be outlawed and subsequently burned. Welp, in the year 2015, the first part is nearly true.

When it comes to TV’s, if your idea is “the bigger the better,” then you are going to be stoked for this years’ new releases. Several new TV’s were unveiled at this year’s CES trade show, and all of them are impressive. Here’s a preview of a few standouts in the group.

Sony’s “floating” TV has been designed to disappear into the wall, and with an ultra-thin width of 4mm it just might do that. 4mm is thin. Like really thin. Thinner than an iPhone thin. When pushed against a wall, the floating TV looks like it is a part of the wall. The floating TV technology is still brand-new, so it will cost you a small fortune. Projected costs for the TV are somewhere around $37,000. That’s about the price of two VW Jetta’s. Size-wise, the floating TV is offered in the 55”, 65” and 75” variety.

Samsung is riding high on their newest release as well. Always one to outdo Sony, they now have an 85” 4K TV that also has elements of a “floating” design as well. It’s the wave of the future.

If you are looking in a lower price bracket, check out some of Sony and Vizio’s new “Ultra Slim” TVs that come with Android Smart TV system installed. These screens live up to their name, with screen widths clocking in less than one inch.They are offering TV stands that make the TV actually look like it’s installed to your wall. You can bag a 55” for around 2K.

This new “floating” TV technology will surely change TV’s as we now know them. We are keeping an eye out for what next year might possibly bring. Hopefully books will still be legalized in the near future.

Parking Heartache

If you live or work in an urban area, you know the pain of parking tickets. That familiar dread we all feel when going back to your car and seeing that piece of paper under your windshield wiper.

The worst part of the whole process is trying to get the ticket paid. Most of us file that ticket somewhere in our car, only to find it months later when the cost of the ticket has doubled. Even if you are on top of your game and pay it online in a timely manner, it’s still a nuisance. Going to the parking ticket website, entering in all your information, credit card number and so forth. A surprising amount of people still go home and pull out their checkbooks and send it out in an envelope, stamp and everything. Soon all that nonsense will be a thing of the past.

This week the makers of the app TicketZen are pairing up with PayByPhone to give you the ultimate parking ticket experience. By allowing you to scan your parking ticket, and to use your saved information to pay the ticket, getting that ticket paid could not be quicker. The best part is that it’s through an app on your phone.TicketZen has been around for awhile, but has only been available in a number of big cities like San Francisco, Boston and New York. The pairing with PayByPhone will allow the app to blow up and be offered in every city.

Paying a parking ticket is still annoying; it still feels like throwing money out of an open window. At least now it will take a little less time to get it all over with.

 

Google Goes Back to School

Continuing on the Google front, it looks like some more new things are on the horizon. Google Classroom is gearing up to be released later this year in September, but they are offering up a sneak peak starting this week.

Through the Google Classroom app, teachers can create classroom plans for their students, and will allow them to organize assignments into the “reviewed” and “not reviewed” categories. Students can also submit their work through separate apps that will work with Google Classroom, and because it is cloud-based, the documents can be accessed anywhere.This will also allow students to turn in homework through the app. This might be a tough thing for students, considering all their excuses why they forgot their homework just went out the window.

Right now while Google has the app in the pre-production stages, you can apply to start using the limited preview and see what it’s all about.

 

Google Translate goes Mobile

Google emerged with details this week that they are finally dropping their “Google Translate” talk-to-text app. Over 80 “popular” languages will be recognized in the app. Google also sped up their “real time conversion engine,” which will allow the app to operate in real time voice-to-text. The app will also feature a new technology called Word Lens, which will allow you to also snap pictures of signs in other languages and have those translated to English as well. This is big news for world travelers and may make your life a lot easier if you are planning a trip to a foreign land. A mobile app that allows you to effortlessly translate between languages has been talked about since back in 2013. As for an actual release date, Google states that we can expect this for Android and iOS “soon.” A confirmed date is expected this week.

Big in 2015

CES finished up their 2015 show today out in Las Vegas, with bunches of new products freshly unveiled. CES, which is short for “International Consumer Electronics Show,” is a huge four day trade show which highlights the coming year’s cutting edge technologies, as well as product debuts from the world’s heaviest hitting manufacturers. CES sets the tone for what techies everywhere can look forward to all year. Last year curved televisions were all the rage, as well as the introduction to 4K resolution and 3-D printers. We have some highlights of a few products from this year’s show.

Quitbit:

If you are like me, one of your biggest new year’s Resolutions is to FINALLY quit smoking this year. And this is totally different from last year, when we had the same resolution, but no gadgets to help! The Quitbit lighter will track your smoking trends, like how long it’s been since you smoked last and what time of day you tend to smoke more, which will help you pinpoint when to start cutting back. The Quitbit has a free app that will help motivate you to quit smoking by calculating you how much you are actually spending on cigarettes, and how much you will save if you quit.

The battery is impressive, with one single charge lasting a whole week. You can also sync your lighter to your phone, so there are no worries about losing THIS lighter, like the countless others you have lost before. Quitbit’s tagline is “the last lighter you will ever need,” which if it works, may very well be.

The lighter will even get you in touch with its own social media page, so you can get support from other quitters. The lighter is priced at $99 and is available for pre-order now, with an expected ship date in March.

SmartMat:

If you are looking to tone your body this New Year, take a yoga class. If you want to perfect your pose, pick up a SmartMat. This yoga mat can you give you feedback on up to 62 different poses by using a conductive grid 20,000-point grid over a piezoresistive layer, although it looks like a normal yoga mat to the naked eye. The idea is to have a yoga instructor

The Smart Mat is available for the pre-order price of $297 http://www.smartmat.com/home

 

Smart Sock:

These socks, which have pressure sensors embedded in their soles, will give you feedback on your running technique and form. The socks look like normal everyday running socks to the naked eye.

These socks are available for pre-sale and are available for $199.

Razer Nabu Smartband:

 

Track your daily activity with this wearable smartband, and also track your sleep habits too. If you are trying to lose weight this is big, it can tell you how many more calories in the day you need to burn, and how much rest you should be getting. But that’s only a small function of the Razer. It will also let you know who’s calling you, texting you and will let you know when other wearer’s of the smartband are around. This allows users to make their own personal social circles. This Razer is literally the next big thing.

As CES wrapped today, be on the lookout for a bunch more product introductions and explanations of some cool new technologies.

New Your’s Resololution: Jot it Down!

Do you remember keeping a diary when you were a kid? The habit of keeping a journal of your life may have fallen by the wayside after junior high, but studies show that documenting everyday occurrences can lower blood pressure and is widely known to soothe the soul. In present day, it’s as easy as downloading an app. Studies show that jotting things down to remember throughout your day, as well as writing before you sleep, will help you get a better night’s rest. Check these apps out:

iJournal:

$1.99: This app is designed to be part notebook and part diary, so it is tailored to either spilling your darkest secrets or taking some chemistry notes. These notes will be password protected, so you can keep your secrets to yourself.

Private Journal:

This free app is unique because it allows you to load music into specific entries, helping to better express your current mood. Private Journal also gives you a calendar to choose specific dates of different events. This app gives you ultra pass code protection so you can journal your most private thoughts without fear of being hacked. There is also a specific spot for you to record your dreams along with your journal entries.

Memory Book:

.99 cents: If you are a traveler, this app is designed specifically for you. Memory book allows you to select locations so you can pin-point the exact location you were at for certain entries. You can insert your pictures under the location marker, which makes it a neat way to keep track of your travels and your different encounters out on the road.

My Daily Journal:

$1.99: This journal app is cool because it is easily personalized. You can change fonts, background colors and add pictures to your journal entry. This app will allow you to upload your journal to various social media pages or your personal blog. If you so choose to share your deepest, darkest thoughts.

A Commercial Christmas Story

A Charlie Brown Christmas has been playing on repeat for the last few weeks, as it does every Christmas season. The moral of Charlie Brown’s story is that Christmas is too commercialized, and it leaves Charlie feeling empty and sad. This is an age-old predicament around the holidays. A Charlie Brown Christmas was released almost fifty years ago back in 1965, and yet the same problem exists today. Everyone still talks about the commercialism that surrounds Christmas; but when and why did it happen?

The commercialism of Christmas can be traced back to the early 1940’s, when Christmas celebrations were limited to upper-class families. Kids from poor families might find an orange and some nuts in their stockings, while children from wealthy families would receive lavish gifts under the tree. Thus began the have/have not Christmas divide in the United States. Miracle on 34th Street, which was released in 1947, was one of the first motion pictures that dealt with the commercialism of Christmas. This movie featured drunken Santa’s, greedy kids and giant retail chains cashing in on the Christmas Holiday.

The commercialization of Christmas worsened throughout the 1950s, as the focus on Christmas became less and less about a Christian celebration, and more about gift giving and taking children to see Santa at the local Macy’s. In the 1960’s the traditional Christmas tree was traded in favor of stylish tin trees of the era. Although the trees were neat, it signaled a break in tradition and ultimately a new and stylized Christmas.

In later years such as the 90s and 2000s the day after Thanksgiving’s “Black Friday” became a big deal, with early Christmas shoppers camping out in front of Best Buy stores and fighting each other in Wal-mart’s around the country. People go shopping in the middle of the night, stay in ridiculous lines and sometimes even get trampled, all in the pursuit of a good sale.

At the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas, young Sally quotes “All I want is what I have coming to me. All I want is my fair share.”

Who knew that little Sally’s sentiment would last through the decades.

A Real Gem

Wearable technology has been all the rage this year, although thus far it has mostly consisted of neon colors, plastic watches and goofy looking glasses. In 2015 that will change, at least for women. A different kind of wearable tech was introduced for pre-sale this winter, named “Ringly.” By sending off a slight vibration, this little ring can alert you when your meeting is coming up, when certain people are calling or texting and even alert you when your Uber arrives. It will also give you a buzz when you have calendar alerts, Facebook or Twitter notifications or when that guy finally hits you up on Tinder. This is a classy looking cocktail ring; the only giveaway that this is wearable technology is the little LED light under the ring’s stone. But you can have that option turned off if you choose. When the ring is not functioning, it doubles as an everyday pretty accessory.

The Ringly comes in a few different styles, and is available in precious and semi-precious stones; your choice will be reflected in the cost. With cool names like Daydream and Stargaze the ring comes in black onyx, pink sapphire, rainbow moonstone, emerald or Tourmalated quartz. The price range for these gems is $195.00 to $260.00. Through the Ringly app you can program what programs and apps you want to choose to set your ring off. The app will be available for free this January in for both iOs and Android.

Insta-Roid!

Looks like Polaroid has potentially found a way to pull themselves out of the slump they’ve been in for the last ten years. Ever notice how Instagram’s logo resembles a little Polaroid camera? Now that little camera has come to life, and the company is cashing in on the resemblance.
Polaroid stuck with their roots, and the little square camera has instant picture printing capabilities just like the Polaroid cameras of yesteryear. Long gone are the days of shaking your picture in order to dry it. The Socialmatic will use the new “zero ink” technology for printing 2”X 3” pictures, so the picture will be dry right when it pops out, no ink cartridges needed.
One of the coolest features of the Socialmatic is that it has what they are calling a “mood assistant,” which is a little LCD display in the upper right hand corner that will let you know what’s going on with the camera. It lets you know what the current weather conditions are via cute little suns and clouds, and will give you little smiley faces when an ideal picture opportunity arises.
In true kitschy style, you can also add clip-art and text to your photos before printing. This is ideal for teenage girls, as most of the clip-art emoji’s revolve around kissy faces and little hearts. The Socialmatic has 14 megapixels for the front-facing camera, two megapixels for the “rear facing” camera, which are all the rage these days.
The Socialmatic comes with a hefty price tag of $299, which is considered an expensive by current camera industry standards until you remember that this camera doubles as a printer. There is a cost for the printing paper as well though, so keep that in mind when purchasing the Socialmatic. The camera is now available for pre-order, and is expected to be released the first week of January.