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, whoever they may be. I think that such a risk should be printed in bold, 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.

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 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. Keep on your toes that 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.

We may not live forever, but our Facebook page will

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.

Raspberry Pi Sweet Spot

About two years ago a mini computer about the size of a credit card was unleashed on the market. It’s able to connect to computer monitor or a TV and it can handle most things that a regular sized computer can. You can play computer games with it, create spreadsheets, surf the interwebz, watch high resolution videos and it even has a camera to take pictures or videos. The Raspberry Pi was developed in the UK by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and was originally designed to teach kids the ins and outs of computer programming in a super affordable way.

They started with two models; the first is called “model A” and retails for $25, the “model B” version for $35. This week the company released an upgraded version of Model B, aptly named “Model B+” and it is already on shelves ready for purchase. The computer will have some upgrades and will still be the low price of $35. There were two USB ports added, for a grand total of four ports. They also lowered the power consumption level, and added a micro SD slot. The B+ also has kept with the same ARM-based BCM2835 processor plus an HDMI port and it still comes with the same 512MB of RAM.

This is great news for anyone who wants to pick one up for their child or even themselves to play around with and learn some cool new computer tricks. The possibilities are endless with this little pocket sized computer.



Nikola Tesla’s 154th Birthday

Nikola Tesla was born on July 10th, 1856. Tesla is quite the fascinating figure in American history. Tesla was known for being an eccentric figure and brilliant inventor. Unfortunately he did not get credit for many of his inventions, and was often overshadowed by more well-known inventors of the time. His story is something of a sad one.

Born to Serbian parents in the Austrian Empire, Tesla became an American citizen at the age of 35 and lived much of his life in New York.

Some of his credits include breakthroughs in radio transmission, X-Ray technology and an alternating current electricity supply system. In his lifetime, Tesla acquired around 300 patents for his inventions. He spent a good portion of his life attempting to create an intercontinental wireless transmission, to no avail. He worked for some time under Thomas Edison, who he later accused of stealing his ideas and underpaying him.

He never married and had no documented relationships. While living in New York in the late 1800’s it has been documented that Tesla was a stylish figure, standing at 6’2, very thin and well-dressed; Tesla was considered to be well manicured and quite fashionable.

Tesla stated in numerous interviews that he rarely slept, and that he preferred short naps to an actual full night’s sleep, preferring instead to work late into the night.

In lieu of human companionship, Tesla took to feeding and caring for pigeons across the street from the New Yorker Hotel, where he lived for the last portion of his life. In his later years, Tesla hinted in his later years that he had regret about never marrying. There was a particular pigeon that he was fond of, and he was quoted as saying: “I have been feeding pigeons, thousands of them for years. But there was one, a beautiful bird, pure white with light grey tips on its wings; that one was different. It was a female. I had only to wish and call her and she would come flying to me. I loved that pigeon as a man loves a woman, and she loved me. As long as I had her, there was a purpose to my life.”

In 1943 at the age of 86, Tesla died at the New Yorker Hotel. He was found by a hotel maid. At the time of his death Nikola Tesla was said to be penniless.



No Country for Dead Electronics

Planning on jet setting internationally anytime soon? Better charge your phone before you come home! TSA (Transportation Security Administration) announced this week that as an extra safety measure they have started regulating on “dead” cell phones that cannot be turned on at the airport security gate when flying into the US. TSA hasn’t released any information on why this new guideline has been set into motion, except that recently a possible security threat was suspected by the way of an electronic device. It sounds like the grumbling has already started amongst frequent flyers, naturally. People will miss flights if they have to leave their phones; visions of mass delays surely dancing in everyone’s head. While annoying, this is just another precaution to ensure a safe flight, and it seems like a small price to pay for peace of mind. I will gladly take off my shoes, charge my phone and bend over backwards if it means getting to my destination alive and well. It’s not like flying has been an enjoyable or relaxing experience for anyone in the last thirteen years.

Whether TSA will be providing chargers for dead electronics still remains to be seen. Most airports do have charging stations available, but usually they are located past the security checkpoint. And it seems like they are always in use. Waiting passengers will sit and hog up all the chargers until their phones and tablets are as juiced as they can get. I experienced this frustrating reality a few times at LAX and SFO when my phone died. During popular travel times it’s not uncommon to see throngs of people hovering over the charging stations, impatiently waiting their turn. Maybe this will finally set in motion the widespread use of wireless charging. Until all that gets sorted out, remember to keep your stuff charged up and alive before hitting the airport.