Get in the Ring

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 notification 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.

The Techie’s Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide 2014

Instead of repeating last year, and waiting until Christmas Eve to knock out your gift list, check out our holiday gift guide! You still have time to order online and get in time for the holidays.

Tocky Runaway Alarm Clock with Mp3 Player: (Amazon) $49.98. This cute little alarm will jump around your bedroom in the morning, forcing you to get up and turn it off. It comes in a few fun colors like teal, orange and pearly white.

Cyanics Sauna Boy Portable Mini Office Bedroom Humidifier: (Amazon) $8. This mini humidifier is USB powered, and is compact enough to take with you to work or to put next to your bed at night. Humidifiers are perfect for keeping your skin and sinuses hydrated, but they also keep your throat from drying out, which helps combat snoring. This one even has a cute little face painted on it.

Apple TV: (Apple.com) $99. This is still the gold standard of Christmas gifts. You basically can’t go wrong with giving this media streamer as a present. As Apple products almost never go on sale, you can expect a flat rate of about $99 across the board. This streaming box allows you access to Netflix, Hulu and numerous other apps. This makes most sense for folks that are already Apple users, as it also allows you access to your iTunes account, and all the music and apps that you already have stored.

Crosley X UO Cruiser Briefcase Portable Vinyl Record Player: (UrbanOutfitters.com) $98. This tiny record player comes in a bunch of vintage-inspired colors that come in a compact little briefcase. This is perfect for you if your living area is compact; at only 17” wide it’s small enough to fit in a cramped space. The record player plays all types of LPs: 33 1/3, 45’s, and 78’s. Priced under a hundred dollars, this is a steal.

Bodum Brazil 8-Cup French Press Coffee Maker, 34-Ounce: (Amazon) $21.99. Most techies love coffee. This is a gift that works great at home or in the office. A French press brews up a much stronger cup of coffee than the regular drip, which is perfect for killing off any mid-day sleepiness.

Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker: (fitbit.com/zip) $59.95. This cool little gadget is new in the world of “wearable technology” and is an awesome gift for anyone on your list who is trying to get their health in-check. This counts calories, steps and activity levels throughout the day. Download the free app and track a friend’s progress, or compete against them. On top of all that, it’s small enough to clip anywhere.

We here at CableWholesale have a couple of cool options as well, watch for our “Gifts for your Geek” email next week:

Bluetooth 4.0 Portable Vibrating Induction Speaker: (CableWholesale.com) $61.61.This induction speaker is cool because it turns any surface that it’s placed on into a speaker, with a clear sound that handles high volume perfectly. It hooks right up to your phone through Bluetooth and can also be used as a hands-free speaker phone as well. It’s also small enough to throw in your bag and take with you wherever you go.

USB Car Charger: One port: (CableWholesale.com) $4.78 (sale). This little charger is perfect for a stocking stuffer, and is priced under five dollars. A USB car charger will always come in handy; use it for plugging in your phone to your cigarette lighter when you are on the go.

The Woman behind Thanksgiving

Every year millions around the United States celebrate Thanksgiving on the third Thursday in November. Thanksgiving doesn’t just land at the end of November by chance. At this time in the mid-1800s Thanksgiving was celebrated throughout different times in the fall, depending on when the harvest season ended. Modern day Thanksgiving has a set date, and is all about things that make most holidays special; food, friends and family. We all know the story about the pilgrims and Indians, and what Thanksgiving was about originally. How did it become a national holiday though? Here’s a little background.

Although history gives credit to politicians, there is a little known story about a writer named Sarah Josepha Hale, and how she relentlessly lobbied to turn Thanksgiving into a national holiday. Sarah Hale was a published writer and prominent editor of women’s magazines for most of her life, on top of being a widowed mother of five. Hale spent nearly seventeen years writing letters to U.S. Presidents persuading them that Thanksgiving should be a national holiday, as at the time only George Washington’s birthday and Independence day were celebrated. Hale finally got the attention of President Abraham Lincoln, and folklore suggests it was one of Sarah’s letters that led him to establish Thanksgiving as a federal holiday in 1863. This time frame was right in the middle of the Civil War, and Lincoln stated that the United States would “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving, to unify and attempt to heal the wounds of a nation.”

Peace, Love and Pop Art

Today’s Google Doodle was confusing, a rectangle of abstract pop art spelling out the Google name; looks almost like an Andy Warhol painting. When you click on the doodle it gets even more baffling, as it redirects you to a page with a picture of a nun. But this is where it gets interesting.Turns out that this woman, named Corita Kent, was a nun with the Roman Catholic Church and was also a pop artist throughout the 60’s and 70′s. Her artwork had heavy “peace and love” tones, which were quite popular at the time. She even designed  the post office’s “Love” stamp in the 1980s. When you think of Pop Art, most get the vision of Warhol’s “Factory” and all the drugs and strangeness that surrounded it. So it is surreal to think of a nun having anything to do with that type of art. Kent specialized in silk-screening, and helped establish it as a fine art.

You learn something new everyday.

 

Beats by Apple?

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Looks like Apple may have had an alternate reason for acquiring the “Beats By Dre” empire earlier this year. There were many questions about what Apple was going to do with its new 3 billion dollar toy. Rumors are flying around this week that Beats will be designed directly into the next iPhone’s iOs. While current users of Beats Audio might be stoked on this, it also gets confusing on a few levels. What happens to iTunes? Will they get rid of the “radio” feature in iTunes, and leave Beats for the streaming option, similar to Spotify? Naturally we assume that Beats would be an app you would have to pay for, but can the app be uninstalled? Will there be a choice? Apple has had issues in the past with installing stuff on your iPhone you don’t want, if anyone remembers the U2 album fiasco this past summer. Time will tell if they learned their lesson.

Not-so-Smart Speaker

Amazon released their new smart speakerlast week to little fanfare with limited marketing. The Amazon Echo is considered “smart” because it is interactive, and similar to Siri, it will play music, make lists, appointments and answer random questions. Amazon’s version of marketing this speaker was a full-length, cringe-worthy video of a family’s awkward interaction with the speaker, which they named “Alexa,” although it seems you can pick whichever name you please. The video was almost four minutes long and difficult to sit through. The one thing that the video did not address is how the iPhone in your purse or the Android in your pocket can also tell you the temperature, make you shopping lists and give you random trivia.

Another baffling thing that Amazon did was that they included “invite me” underneath the cost of the speaker. Is an invitation really needed? Why do we need to be invited to buy your product? That’s annoying. Is this speaker that exclusive? It’s a strange concept.

The Echo is being sold for $199 to non-Amazon Prime members; $99 to those who are Prime members. The speaker might do well if they drop the price tag down to $99 for everyone. I can’t imagine why anyone would spend $200 on a speaker when they could spend the same amount on a phone that does so much more. $99 is pretty in-range with other higher-end speakers that are being sold out there.

All Hallow’s Eve

Halloween evening is upon us once again. You might celebrate Halloween by dressing up, taking your kids trick-or-treating, or going to a party and drinking some spirits. Whatever you are into on Halloween, here is some little background on why we celebrate it at all.

Although present day Halloween has become commercialized, and is all about cheap costumes and stale candy, its roots are quite a bit darker. The tradition of Halloween goes back around 2,000 years, dating back to what was called “Gaelic Samhain,” which was an Irish festival celebrating the end of summer and the harvest season. The end of October was a bittersweet time of year for farmers, as it meant that a hard winter was coming. During this celebration, Irish folklore suggests that “All Hallow’s Eve” was created. The date of October 31rst was picked as a pre-curser to “All Saint’s Day,” which occurs on November 1rst. It became the thought that on this day, the souls of the dead could come back to roam around and pay visit to their friends and families. October also comes before winter, where the ground may freeze, and souls may have a harder time making it out of the ground.

The tradition of trick or treating became commercialized in the U.S. after WWII. This is when Halloween became less about spirits, and became more about spooky costumes and candy. However which way you look at it, Halloween is the one day a year that we can make light of one of our biggest fears: death. We can stick fake tombstones in our front yards, hang bats and skulls and it’s the one time of year that it is acceptable to do this. This is also a time that we can celebrate loved ones who have passed on. It’s comforting to think that there is still a time of year where they might come visit us. Just as long as it’s a friendly visit!

Stand-Up Employees

Standing work desks have been all the rage for the last few years, helping to  beat the age-old “secretary spread” issue that has plagued office workers everywhere. Sitting around all day contributes to a sedentary lifestyle that can lead to adverse health effects and obesity. Here at CableWholesale, our sales guy Jesse decided to try out a standing desk, and even built it himself. Below is his journey, and a step-by-step process to get your desk in standing position.

stand up desk

“Many of us, myself included, are chained to both a computer and phone for eight hours a day. If you haven’t heard yet about the many health benefits that come with using a standing desk, a recent article from The Smithsonian could literally save your life. By utilizing a standing desk, you will not only help to avoid the many health problems discussed in the article, it can also provide many health benefits such as: improving your mood, reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, increased productivity and reducing back pain caused from poor posture. Click here to read the Smithsonian article.

So now that the guys at SmithsonianMag.com have explained why sitting for prolonged periods can be harmful to your health, I’ll tell you how I built my own standing desk set-up, and how you can do the same. Here is the step-by-step process.

I was lucky enough to have an old monitor and keyboard laying around at home from a previous obsolete computer that I recently replaced.

I also pulled several needed parts from our warehouse:
41H1-27602 (SVGA Splitter) – To split the video signal from the computer to two monitors.
10H1-20203 (SVGA Extension) – To connect the computer to the splitter.
UC-451G (USB to PS/2 Y-Adapter) – To connect old PS/2 keyboard and mouse to the computer.
10U2-02106E (USB Extension) – To make sure I would have the distance needed to properly position my keyboard and mouse on the standing desk.

The next thing I did was unscrew the right portion of my desk from the hinges so that they could be raised to just below my elbows in a comfortable standing position. This allowed for about 1.5″ of slack so when the table was screwed back on top of the hinges, my forearms could rest on top, perpendicular to my body.

After that I positioned my keyboard and mouse to a comfortable position. I then placed the monitor in a location were my eyes could rest at a slight downward angle.

Next I plugged my PS/2 keyboard and mouse into our UC-451G, and plugged the USB end into our extension cable 10U2-02106E. I then plugged the extension cable into the computer, which automatically recognized the two new devices.

I unplugged the active monitor from the computer, and then using our SVGA extension cable 10H1-20203, I connected the splitter 41H1-27602 to the computer and connected the original and my old monitor from home to the splitter.

Lastly, I set the display settings to recognize dual monitors. Now I am working full-time with the best of both worlds.”

Here is the completed set-up:

http://files.cablewholesale.com/mailimages/weekly/cs_2014-10-28_image2.jpg

 

Chatty Cathy

Remember AOL chat rooms in the early 90s? Well, they are no longer a thing of the past thanks to Facebook’s new brainchild being launched last week, which they aptly named Rooms. This Facebook app will allow users to create a themed room about any subject under the sun. You can then invite people to join your chat room and start yakking with strangers about different subjects. This app is a much flashier throwback than its 90s predecessor, considering it has more color options than green and all.

Facebook says that they released this app in hopes of connecting users in different ways. In this case, users have the option to remain anonymous by picking random user names that aren’t tied to their Facebook account. However, there is always a concern when letting people loose on the interwebs with no personal accountability. “Trolling” is a term used for individuals who hang out online and harass others virtually. This can be classified as abusive contents, insults or just being aggravating in general. In an environment where you can say whatever you want, things can get dicey. As of now, Facebook states that chat rooms are invite only. But that wouldn’t seem to help the issue if users choose to stay anonymous. How do you know who to invite? Facebook also says that they will have moderators removing abusive content. For culpable users, the option of being anonymous allows you to create an alternate persona, without fear of being judged. If used responsibly this could be a really cool thing.