New doorbell lets you answer the door from anywhere

doorbotIn the growing list of items to become “smart”, now comes the doorbell. Wi-fi enabled, video stream-able, and recreating the definition of privacy laws, this doorbell puts a completely new take on answering the front door. Known as the DoorBot, this new invention brings both safety and technology to the old fashioned knock at the door.

For instance, when traveling or running errands, a user can video chat with a delivery man, asking him to place a package around back or leave it on the porch. The camera also allows homeowners to screen their guests; simply check the camera to see who’s waiting at the other side before opening up one’s door. Whether using this feature to duck salesmen or helping kids identify strangers vs. friends, the DoorBot is bringing convenience to answering one’s door.

How it Works

Equipped with a small camera, when “rang,” the DoorBot notifies users through its free app and allows them to remotely chat with a guest. Connecting to the home’s Wi-fi, DoorBot owners can see a clear view of the knocker, while the guest only hears a voice. This way users can maintain their safety, never even having to mention they are at a remote location. While sound comes out of the device itself, it could easily be a speaker from indoors. Even if home, residents can answer remotely to keep interactions safe and brief.

The DoorBot also runs on a rechargeable battery, so there’s no need to constantly replace its power source. Add on an extra security feature, known as Lockitron, with the device for peace of mind, or stick to this futuristic doorbell for a convenient way to answer the door … no matter your location. In a world where smartphones can provide so many other virtual tasks, why not answer your door as well?

With the security add-on, where users can lock and unlock their front door from their phones, the device runs at about $350. Updated features also help the model stay put, so there’s no worry about doorbell theft.

Whether receiving packages while on business, wanting to protect one’s kids, or just need a way to thwart the salesmen, DoorBot offers a unique approach to the old fashioned, “Who is it?” form of answering one’s door.

Pre-order yours today or wait for them to hit the shelves later this year.

Will the next iPhone have a fingerprint scanner?

iPhone colorsSince the dawn of the iPhone, users have been creeping, spying, and guessing as to what the latest model will hold. Some hunches were correct, while others were a far cry from reality. However, even the most wrong guesses haven’t kept bloggers and Apple users from scouring for the next big rumor.

This time around, it’s speculation as to whether or not the new iPhone will host a fingerprint scanner.

Likely to be used for security purposes, it’s rumored that the phone will “scan” one’s fingerprint before unlocking the phone. Currently, users can enter a passcode when wanting to lock their iPhones from stranger use. And while the scan would certainly be an improvement from keyed-in numbers, there are concerns as to how well the scanner would work. Is there a possibility of faulty reads? Will it be able to accurately read a swipe/scan the first time around?

Alternate theories toss around the idea of fingerprint scanning for games or identification purposes, similar to software used on crime-based TV shows. Though this is far less likely, more futuristic and less personal is certainly the trend our electronics have been taking on.

Alternative Rumors

Another theory being tossed around is whether or not Apple will release a 5S phone, or jump straight to 6, which would be a plastic, smaller version of the 5. The blogosphere has been predicting a cheaper, smaller iPhone for months, though Apple has yet to confirm whether or not these instances are true. Known as the “iPhone mini” – like its iPad counterpart, this phone would likely be more affordable, much smaller, and host fewer of Apple’s signature features. It’s thought that this move will help iPhones appeal to a larger audience.

Unfortunately, even the scheduled release date is still up for debate (though right now the Internet says September). Until the next iPhone officially hits shelves – or Apple decides to break protocol and give away their secrets – we’re left in the dark, guessing at what new, great features it will hold.

New devices help monitor and reduce water usage

How much water do you use throughout the day? Do you leave the sink running while you brush your teeth? Take extra long showers? With a new device, called MyWater, users can learn just how much waste they may be washing down the drain. Simply put in some basic information, plug in the device next to your sink, tub, or washing machine, and follow up to see how your water habits change over time. You can even compare to nearby houses for a real-time comparison.

The company said its goal isn’t to get users to cutback their use by 90 percent – a stat that’s far from realistic. Rather it wants to remind users about their everyday decisions, for instance, using less water to wash one’s hands or setting the washing machine to “small load” when fewer clothes are put into the machine.

How it Works

Setup as an electronic screen (think digital nightlight), the device measures the amount of water going down a drain, measuring speed, frequency, and daily habits. Over time, users can see a chart of how much water they used per day from each spout, and what percentage they’ve decreased (or increased) their usage. The device also measures intake from nearby houses so consumers can see if they’re more or less wasteful than their neighbors. Size of one’s home is also taken into consideration.

The device is yet to be released onto the market, but it taking heavy strides to be on shelves within two years; it’s predicted to cost less than $100.

The WaterPebble

waterpebbleAnother similar device, the WaterPebble, is already available for consumer use. This electronic “pebble” sits in the bottom of one’s drain and measures how much water flows through. What makes the Pebble different is that is shows users when it’s time to stop their water use. A green light means water usage is on the right path, amber shows consumers they’re at the half-way mark, and red means it’s time to turn the water off.

After each shower, water allowance is slightly reduced, encouraging consumers to follow greener habits. WaterPebble can also be restarted at any time to increase one’s shower time or to adjust for a new user.

To get started, users program the Pebble, then place it near the drain. Simply turn the sink on and the WaterPebble will come to life as water touches the device. WaterPebbles cost approximately $10 each.

Consider these devices today for a smart new way to combine electronics with Earth-friendly habits.

GoDaddy remains popular, but offers less than competing services

GoDaddy logoWhen setting out to purchase a new domain, the majority of people head to GoDaddy, type in their hopeful site address, and see if someone has already snatched up the great idea. If not, it’s likely GoDaddy will offer a multitude of discounts, coupons, and .co, .net, etc. options to help bring down the price. (For whatever reason, .coms always set you back the most funds.) Anything to get you to sign up, GoDaddy will do. They have the name, the willing and able customer service, and the clout. But do they have the resources to overcome?

Despite being more popular – likely due to their ongoing commercials – GoDaddy has far less to offer website owners than you may think. Sure they wrap everything up in a nice tidy bow, but service-wise, alternative sites may have far better perks. Such as cheaper hosting fees, advanced spam blockers, and a server that doesn’t regularly get hacked.

Perhaps the biggest downside to GoDaddy is the large, albeit invisible, target on their label. The company has been hacked a few too many times, leaving website owners across the globe without a site. The latest debacle, which took place in September of 2012, left thousands of sites down for an entire day. While few reported actual damage, it’s likely this literal down time cost thousands in web traffic numbers, ad revenue, and sales. And that’s only on the company side; Google likely took a downgrade on daily PPC funds as well.

GoDaddy Backlash

While such a hack has yet to take place since, that’s not to say it can’t or won’t happen again. As an apology, GoDaddy sent out an email with a small discount for users to purchase a new domain – not a coupon for current services; additional funds would have to be spent to see any savings. And because switching hosts is such a significant pain in the rear, it’s likely they lost few sites over the whole incident.

But with multiple options, many of which are cheaper and offer better services, what’s holding consumers back from switching hosts? Especially since domains can be purchased through GoDaddy and hosted elsewhere. Is it the popularity, or the sheer hassle of moving a website? It won’t be long before others are finding the value outside of GoDaddy’s monopoly and taking advantage of these competing offers.

Despite their popularity, there’s much more to web hosting than GoDaddy offers. Consider an alternative before caving to their ways, no matter how user-friendly they may be.

Need advice? Try ChoicePunch

choicepunchEver since the world was introduced to PostSecret, the idea of going to strangers with news became a thing. Dark, embarrassing, or just needing to confess the fact that Progressive’s Flo is was too perky for her own good, the site allowed online users to get things off of their chests. Without the threat of a consequence.

Now, however, the theory of online sharing is growing – but it’s not just secrets that others are sending to the world. Now there’s an entire site dedicated to giving others advice. Found on ChoicePunch.com, users can give advice, share personal stories, or just learn what others have to say. There’s even a private section to keep personal matters from being shared with loved ones (or the rest of the online population).

How it Works

Users can sign up for a free account, and as soon as they’ve confirmed, can start posting. Helping others can be found under the Speakout section, while asking others is known as a Reachout. Simply click your corresponding section, and begin communicating.

When reaching out, users ask a question, give a little background information, and then offer up relatable choices – usually two to four. They can then explain their situation so others have a better idea as to what they’re answering. When speaking out, users head to a main page where questions are displayed with images (ChoicePunch provides them), then they click on a post and give their opinion. This is done by choosing on a specific answer, or write a few sentences about why you agree or disagree.

Profiles also keep track of how many lives each person has touched, like an ongoing reminder of the good that can be done online. And while a majority of the questions are superficial, for instance diet advice, or when to tell a new significant other you’re a parent, there’s also a number of hard-hitting topics that are explored.

No matter the subject matter, though, ChoicePunch offers users an outlet that never before has existed. Instead of going to friends and family members, who may be swayed by background information, unbiased advice can be found almost instantaneously. And without footing the bill for an expensive or multiple-session shrink. By posting questions and answers online, strangers can give and get real-time advice that directly relates to their life.

To start getting real-time advice today, head to ChoicePunch.com.

Why are unlocked smartphones so expensive?

locked iphoneWhen signing a new contract plan, users can walk away with a brand new phone for only a couple hundred dollars. With the right options, rebates, and carrier, users may end up with a free, or nearly free version of their favorite smartphone. But it’s the stipulations that provide a good deal. Factor in contract fees and a lack of flexibility, and there’s very little room for wiggling.

Enter the super expensive “unlocked” phone. Phone service providers saw that their customers needed the option to come and go as they pleased, and they decided to let them. By charging them exorbitant amount. Purchasing a new, unlocked iPhone 5 will cost a hefty $649.99 – $600 if buying from a private party. And that doesn’t even include any service to go with it, phone or Internet. In contrast, signing a two-year contract will bring the same phone to $199.99.

What Gives?

A computer can easily be purchased for the price of an unlocked smartphone. It may not be the best or biggest, but it’s still a computer with all its working functions, software, available updates, and whatever else that makes electronics so expensive. Tablets – the fancy ones – even cost less than an unlocked smartphone. Therefore extra fees can’t be chalked up to hardware, parts, or even display.

So why are such large price tags being slapped on our phones? Many argue that users actually pay more over time with their contract deals, as there is a monthly fee built into service agreements. But unless that charge is named “sales tax” or “4G service,” most users would argue against said claim. Others state that the cell phone companies are subsidizing phone company expenses. True or not, this doesn’t account for why phones cost so much more than tablets and computers. If simple cell phones are given away, it can’t be the calling feature racking up the fees, right?

Is it really just about convenience? Even after one’s contract has been fulfilled, the phone belongs to Verizon, or AT&T, or whatever other service provider has stolen the device’s soul. Users aren’t locked into that phone indefinitely, per say, but without some possibly illegal adjustments, the devices are.

While the public may not understand these serious price hikes, it doesn’t look as though they’re going to reduce anytime soon. Fans of the iPhone simply have to decide whether it’s worth paying a few extra dollars, or sitting heavily under someone’s thumb.

Can you “train” your batteries?

dead batteryAs a lover of technology, it’s likely you’re constantly carrying around one or more chargers. A charger for your phone, one for your tablet, your computer, and any other tech-y items that may require an extra dose of juice. Extend any trip for more than a day, and the necessary charging items and accessories grow tremendously.

But what if there were a way to extend the battery life? Sure there’s phone cases that double as an extra battery, or even solar panels that work to add power, but what about the batteries themselves?

The Fix

For whatever reason, over time, rechargeable batteries lose their holding power. By implementing a charging routine, however, you can work to “retrain” those batteries. No more once-a-day charging, sudden loss of juice, or running in the red. By fully charging a device and then allowing it to deplete itself naturally (use it until it dies), the battery can “reset” itself. While this isn’t necessary every time a charge takes place, waiting until it’s on its last legs can increase power later on.

Why Batteries Die

While it may sound dramatic – electronics power off, batteries die – the loss of electronic fuel can actually be a learned habit. The more batteries become accustomed to receiving more power, the more they will rely on it. Think of your eating habits – if you’re used to having a snack mid-afternoon, your stomach may growl or begin churning in preparation. If you don’t have a snack, however, the stomach remains patient.

Much like digestive systems, batteries follow a pattern. The best way to get the most out of each pattern is to starve them until they can no longer function. (Though you certainly shouldn’t eat this way.) During this power-extending pattern, the battery doesn’t expect added help and electronics can hold power in a more efficient manner.

Fool Proof?

In some cases, batteries may just need replacing. While this “training” method is a great cure for many instances, it’s no substitution for damaged or aged models. When in question, check out chat rooms with those who’ve dealt with the same models, or contact the manufacturer for more details.

To lengthen any electronics’ battery life, try this training method to reintroduce a pattern of full vs. empty. It’s a great (free) way to make your smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, or any other mobile device more efficient. No cords or tag-along chargers needed.

Top five reasons why WordPress is the best “Press”

wordpress-logoWordPress is arguably known as one of the leading content management providers. It’s recognizable, compatible, and free to use – covering all of the online basics and plenty more. But for whatever reason, there are still website owners opting for a buggy competitor, or sticking to basic HTML for their web-viewing needs. As the Internet changes, however, it’s time to stick to a uniform, reliable source, and WordPress fits that bill.

Still on the fence? Check out the top five reasons WordPress is a better website content managing system than your current provider.

5. It’s User Friendly

Whether a beginner or a WordPress expert, the program comes in a simple, easy-to-use package. Updates notify users when they’re necessary, pages are labeled with large tags, and the navigation section provides a descriptive layout of all available actions. New features even come with descriptive tags so users can learn any adjustments with ease. The content management system (CMS) also has a sleek, simplified look so no tasks are bogged down or lost in the action.

4. Free, One-click Upload

When hosting outside of WordPress, the program is as easy to upload as a single click. Even for those without website building experience can do it. Just sign in with your host, upload, and start building pages. As for those who do host with WordPress, the CMS is already available, saving a whole two seconds of work.

3. Unlimited Options with Plugins

Want to upload an RSS feed? A signup box? Social media accounts? A page view counter? There’s a plugin for that … and for hundreds of other add-ins. Just upload and customize to create a completely unique website. Store your content in cloud storage, or stick to design-related features. Best of all, they’re free to use and have the ability to completely makeover a website.

2. Shows Site Data and Traffic

One of the best WordPress abilities is that it compiles and keeps track of all website hits. See where viewers came from (including referrers and keyword searches), how many clicks came in each day, as well as how that compares to the previous month. Over time, charts will show how traffic changes, and how posts affected those differences in numbers.

1. There are Hundreds of Free Resources

Can’t figure something out? Just perform a Google search to see what the experts have to say. Because WordPress is so widely used, there are entire websites dedicated to helping others fix their design, formatting, or other WordPress issues – free of charge. Just ask and search to receive access to thousands of free WordPress CMS tips.

Vine continues to explode after Android release

vineNow that Vine for Android is a few weeks old, users are finding more and more uses for the six-second video app. Owned by Twitter and essentially creating the video form of tweets, Vine is taking the app market by storm. At a year old, Vine even topped Instagram for the most downloaded app among Android users. And the more users that are signing up for the app, the more uses that have been found for this handy little app.

In fact, it’s being used for almost everything. Entertainment, creative resumes, just-for-fun posts, even educational ventures, like sharing recipes or cooking instructions. By using the record feature only when it’s necessary (for instance, to show ingredients or important work history), viewers are able to fill in the gaps between shots. This cuts down on share time while creating unique and creative effects. The hold-when-necessary also provides a unique GIF-like appearance, showing the effect of jerky camerawork without giving viewers motion sickness.

Using the Vine

Because of its unique features – which include sound, stop motion, time restraint, and the ability to share directly to social media sites – Vine has been used for a number of creative video ventures, even more so than its competitors. Reporters are even using the app to share news events as they happen; while video can be recorded, emailed, and posted online, but why not upload a Vine recording directly to Twitter? This feature allows the timeliest of news to be shared while eliminating minimal technology delays.

Like Twitter, users cite one of the biggest perks is the time restraint. Users are becoming far more creative with their time without the ability to drag out pictures or instructions. For instance, with cooking-related Vine videos – ingredients are shown in sequence, along with the recipe in progress, until the final project is reached. During a cooking show, a viewer would have watched 30 minutes of program to see the finished product. But with Vine, instantaneous cuts down on all of the in between nonsense, like rambling or commercials.

Whether you sign up for Vine for a creative new way to explore social media or you’re looking for a trendy way to share information, this app seems to have something for everyone. Just click, record, and share.

To find out more about Vine or to start creating your own stop-motion videos, check out the app on Android and iOS.

Earn rewards for traveling with Ride

rideFor every mile that’s traveled, Ride, a free app, will give you points. Yes, really. Earn 4k points for a free RedBox rental, and up to 80k for $20 at Amazon – and virtually every increment in between.

Simply travel and earn – a program that provides its users something for nothing. No surveys answered, airline tickets purchased, or social media shares required. All you have to do is move, and they keep track of how much distance is traveled. Walking, driving, trains – it’s all covered. So long as you’re moving, Ride is keeping track.

Sound too good to be true?

What’s the Catch?

Even though it doesn’t run off of GPS, Ride is still a bit of a battery drainer. (In order for it to work, the app has to be open in one’s phone background.) It’s also unclear just how it supports itself, since there are no fees or ads. They could be selling location information (though that’s data that sounds like it wouldn’t net much profit), but in a world where smartphones are already on the grid, it’s not exactly a privacy violation.

Another downside is flying, where users could potentially earn a killing in miles. Because airplane mode just doesn’t cut it for air traveling standards, phones have to be completely powered off. This means Ride, along with every other point-earning app, can’t keep track of your location. It’s unsure whether or not Ride calculates the change in location, though that would certainly be a viable solution.

In Use

On average, a little more than two points is earned for each mile traveled. This means, depending on how much one travels, a reward can be earned in as little as a couple of months. Sure this may seem like a bit of a wait (especially vs. reward apps that have a much higher point ratio), but when the miles are already being traveled, why not tack on an added bonus? And considering the only requirement is keeping the app running (shut it off when staying put to save battery life), the decision to use it becomes even easier.

Whether frequent traveler or one who moseys into the grocery store once a week, Ride is a great app for earning outside rewards. Free to use, and virtually maintenance free, consider using Ride today for an added boost to all your errand traveling trips.

Head to TheRideApp.com to get started.