New Product Spotlight: USB 3.0

USB SuperSpeed 3.0 is today’s star in our new product category. Although USB 3.0 was developed back in 2008, it’s still not as widely used as its forefather, and not everyone has heard of the newer technology. What’s the difference between 2.0 and 3.0? When it comes down to buying a USB cable, is a Super Speed 3.0 cable a good investment?
The all-around answer is yes.
While most of the world is still using the 2.0 standard, there are a great many products that are currently out on the shelves that have 3.0 capabilities. Most new computers sold on the market today feature USB 3.0 ports. Same goes for newer external hard drives, cameras, cell phones and other accessories. USB 3.0 will come in the same alphabetical styles as always: USB type A is a standard connection, USB type B is a printer connector and USB type C is a micro connector.
When looking at the specification for these cables, you can see the differences and improvements that were made with USB 3.0. Physically the two cables are similar; the pin-out design of the USB 3.0 is similar to the 2.0, as only four pins were added to the 3.0 design. The 3.0 has a blue block that was added to the inside of the connector so that it can be differentiated from other USB speeds. The USB 3.0 type-A standard cables are backwards compatible with devices that have 2.0 ports, so you don’t have to worry about upgrading all of your gadgets.
Speed is one of the most important factors that differentiate the two types of cable.
USB 3.0 is much faster than its predecessor, as the power output jumped from 500 mA to 900 mA with the new technology. USB 3.0 is also bi-directional, meaning that information can transfer in both directions at the same time. The 3.0 now comes with a higher bandwidth and transfer speeds from 2.0’s 400MBps now to 3.0’s 4Gbps, which will minimize the amount of time you are waiting around. USB 3.0 is ten times faster than 2.0. That means movies will download much quicker, and transferring info will be lightning fast.
Make your cables work for you! In the end USB 3.0 will allow you to increase your productivity while saving you time, and you can’t ask for much more than that.

Fiber Optic Vs Copper Cables: What’s the Better Bet?

In the world of networking cables, there is still a little bit of a mystery surrounding fiber optics. How do they work, and how do they match up to copper cables? Which type of cable will be the better investment? Let’s compare.

To start, what are the differences between fiber optic and copper cables? Fiber optic cables carry digital information by transmitting light from one end to another through thin strands of glass, otherwise known as optical fibers. A standard cable, such as an Ethernet cable, is typically constructed with copper wiring and transmits data through an electrical current.

Speed is one of fiber optic’s biggest draws, as new fiber cables operate near the speed of light. Copper cables experience more signal loss, which inherently slows them down.

If you are looking at a long cable run, a fiber optic cable would be the best choice because they transmit data much further than copper cables, and can also transmit greater bandwidth over longer distances. If you are running a standard Ethernet cable such as Cat5e, you will definitely have length limitations. Usually Ethernet switches can be used for longer runs with copper cables, but that will also cause your set-up to be more expensive.

If security is one of your concerns, fiber definitely beats out copper in every which way. Fiber is much more secure and less easy to tap into than a standard copper cable. Because fiber cables do not need to be grounded in the same way that copper cables do, it means that there is much less chance for other digital interferences.

Do keep in mind though that fiber cables need special handling as they are more fragile than standard copper cables. This is due to the fact that glass strands are much weaker than copper. This in turn makes a fiber cable physically lighter than a copper cable. Installations of fiber cables can be more expensive than other cable installs because specialized equipment is needed, as well as an installer who is specially skilled with fiber optics.

So when the two types of cables are put side by side, it looks like in the end fiber is your best bet. Your cable will be faster, lighter, safer and more secure.

How to Throw the Perfect Super Bowl Party

This Sunday, millions of Americans will be hosting Super Bowl parties. If you are one of the millions, here’s how to get the job done right.

The best thing about throwing a Super Bowl party is that they are informal, so you can invite everyone: friends, family and co-workers too. This is a good excuse to fill your home with a bunch of people you like and hope that they all end up getting along.

First things first, you might want to think about re-arranging your family room and add some seating, depending on how many people you have invited. Make sure that everyone will have a good view of the TV. That way you can avoid fights/arguments once everyone starts drinking. Also make sure that you put your valuables and breakables safe in another part of the house. That way your guests will feel free to move around, or jump up and down if they feel the need to.

Food is the central part of any Super Bowl party, and it can really make or break your party’s success. Finding foods that your guests can pick up easily is the key. Chicken wings are always a go-to and you can buy them in bulk. Or even better, you can stop by your local Wing Stop and pick up a bunch of different varieties, which will also save you some time in the kitchen. Just remember to buy a ton of napkins; wings can be a mess. If you have a crock pot, throw some mini-meatballs in and stick some toothpicks next to it. Those are all the rage at sports parties nowadays. Chips and dip are the old standard, as are barbequed hot dogs and burgers. Some things are so good they never need to change. If you want to look super swanky, throw some mini-burgers on the grill and call them “sliders,” which will in turn class up your party. Throw out some guacamole dip next to those chips and your party actually will be classy. Who doesn’t love guacamole?

Besides the food, the second most important part of your party is the booze. If you have a variety of guests coming, then buy a variety of booze. Some people prefer the “BYOB” method of throwing a party, but if you are over 30 and don’t want to supply the liquor, don’t throw a party. Buy cheap beer for your down-to-earth friends. Bud or Coors Light basically can’t fail. Buy a few six-packs of fancy beer too, in case there are some folks that prefer it. If there will be cocktail drinkers there too, pick up a few bottles of mid-shelf liquor. This gives you a chance to show off your bartendingskills. Come up with a few fun drinks, and buy some food coloring to throw in to match your team’s colors. Make sure you have soda on your shopping list too, for the kids and your sober friends.

After all is said and done, don’t forget to relax and have a great time! Take a ton of pictures to document everything. It’s your party, have a blast. Just make sure that you can still wake up for work on Monday. ;)

 

Here’s a link to some official NFL recipes! Check them out here: http://www.nfl.com/superbowl/story/0ap3000000461078/article/super-bowl-xlix-local-recipes

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.