4 Apps to Make Traveling Easier

maps 2 goWhen on the road, even the most routine and everyday events can be made difficult. Internet connections can be hard to find, technology may not work correctly (or at all), and you’re forever searching for a free outlet. With all of these hang ups, it can be hard to check email or even locate your flight information in a timely fashion. But thankfully, there’s an app for everything, even for traveling.

Use these helpful apps to make the traveling process go as smoothly as possible, no matter how far you’re headed.

Apple’s Passbook

Coming standard on iOS devices, Passbook allows users to store all their important flight info in one, easy-to-tap location. This also goes for movie tickets, coupons, rewards cards, etc. Handy while on the go, Passbook is also great for everyday events. Simply load boarding passes, rental car info, or whatever other travel documents you need, and continue about your events paper-free.

Google Flights

Tired of searching around for the best deal? Download Google’s free compare app for a second opinion any day of the week. Use it to compare flight prices, or see which airlines are offering the best deals and when. The platform even offers suggestions and lets you know when to buy for the best deal possible.

City Maps 2Go

Out of your data network area? Try these pre-loaded city maps instead. The app offers easy-to-follow maps without the overage fees or slow data time. (Think of them as paper maps, but in a smaller package.) It even locates restaurants, shopping areas, or other specific types of businesses so you can find your way even when your phone has other ideas.

Packing Pro

Take the stress out of packing with this user-friendly app. Make a list of necessary items, and then check them off as you go. Adjust each list based on location, or email family members reminders of what to bring. For a small fee, packing becomes easier with this organized packing app.

Whether needing directions or expatiating your next flight, these apps are meant to take the hassle out of the traveling process. And considering users are on their electronic devices more often while traveling than any other time, pulling up these helpful screens shouldn’t be a problem. Just remember to charge up and log in for a stress-free traveling experience each time you leave the house.

How to reduce, remove, and block profanity online

word filterAs the Internet grows, the ability in which it’s used is constantly expanding. Teens, adults, and even kids of all ages are logging in and seeing what posts the net has to offer. Likewise, they’re sharing, sending, and commenting along for the world to see … whether or not their content is appropriate. Whether containing curse words, questionable photos, or suggestive text, in many areas of the net, there’s virtually no filter to weed out offensive messages. Users are free to post what they want, when they want, leaving the content for anyone to see.

So as a parent, teacher, or someone who just doesn’t appreciate reading the X-rated, what do you do? How do you filer out this inappropriate content?

Report It

On social media, content can easily be reported for being less than kosher. All users need to do is click the “report” button for the content to be sent into Twitter, Facebook, or alternative social media platform. Each post will then be reviewed and determined whether or not it should be taken down. Punishments are even given out to repeat offenders, such as limiting their log-on time or suspending them from a site.

Block It

For those with young Internet surfers, it may be a good idea to invest in blocking software, which doesn’t allow the use of certain websites without parent permission. Settings can be adjusted, based on desired freedom level and age, but the general idea is to keep kids from seeing anything too “advanced” for their years. Parents can purchase a program or subscribe to a monthly service.

This software is often found in schools or public libraries as well.

Scan It

web purifyA new way to look out for cursing or adult content comes by way of scanning. Companies like WebPurify work to check content directly from one’s web browser. By enabling the monthly service filer, users can avoid profanity from any corner of the web, thanks to an algorithm that constantly updates itself. With the service, users can block four-letter words, or a custom list of phrases, in multiple languages. Much similar to page-blocking software, WebPurify charges a monthly fee in order to keep one’s online searches curse-word free. However, the two differ in that scanning services place responsibility on the website owners to stop inappropriate content from reaching kids, not the parents or searchers.

No matter your approach to keeping the Internet clean, there are plenty of options to consider. Through the help of specialized software and workers who are dedicated to keeping sites safe, users of all backgrounds and ages can enjoy a more appropriate virtual space.

How to send your Android device’s photos to Apple iPhoto with Dropbox

android-logoA friend of mine recently got his first smartphone, and it happens to be an Android phone. He asked me how he could get his photos and video off of the phone and into iPhoto on his Mac. I had no idea, so I told him to try to connect the phone to the Mac via USB and see if it shows up in iPhoto like a camera. Unfortunately, that would be too easy and did not work.

The Dropbox solution

After researching the problem on the Internet I determined that the easiest method would be to use Dropbox and its automatic photo upload feature.

Step 1: Install Dropbox on your Mac

Before getting started you need to have a Dropbox account, if you don’t have one already. An account is free and comes with 2GB of storage (with ways to get more free storage through referrals and more). You then need to download and install Dropbox onto your Mac. The application will download automatically when you set up an account. You will need you login information when you install Dropbox on the computer.

Step 2: Install Dropbox on your Android phone and enable automatic photo uploads

Once the account is set up and Dropbox is installed on your Mac, you will want to install the Dropbox app from Google Play on your phone. Once installed on your phone, open the app and follow the steps to set it up using your account information. At one point in the setup you will be given the option to turn on the ability to automatically upload photos from your phone to Dropbox. You want to do this. There will also be an option to only enable this feature over WiFi. If you are on a limited data plan you will want to use the WiFi only option. Uploading photos uses data and you do not want to burn up your plan sending photos to Dropbox. Let the phone do this when you are connected to WiFi instead. If your plan is unlimited the choice is up to you, since you don’t have to worry about a data limit.

Once you complete this step, the phone will begin uploading the images already on your phone to your Dropbox account to a folder called Camera Uploads. It will also automatically upload any photo and video you take to Dropbox from this point forward.

Now you want to go back to your Mac and open your Dropbox folder . The easiest way to do this is to go to the Dropbox icon in your menu bar and click “Dropbox Folder.” The folder will open and you should notice a folder called Camera Uploads. This is the same folder that the phone is not loading your photos and videos into. If you open it you should see all of you content appearing.

dropbox

Step 3: Add your photos to iPhoto

Now you have to get those photos into iPhoto. To do this make sure you are in the Dropbox folder. Drag and drop the Camera Uploads folder to iPhoto in your dock. All of the content in the folder will be placed into an event in iPhoto and you are free to edit and share from iPhoto.

Step 4: Manage your limited Dropbox space

There is one final and important step. Your Dropbox account is not unlimited storage. You want to empty the Camera Uploads folder each time you import into iPhoto and free up that space. To do this open your Camera Uploads folder and choose “Select All” from the Edit menu. Next choose “Move to Trash” from the File menu. At some point you will want to empty the trash, but that is not required right now. This will empty the folder and free up that space. Keep in mind that this only deletes the photos from your Dropbox account. It does not delete them off the phone.

If you followed these steps correctly you are set and able to take photos and video off your Android phone and import them into iPhoto thanks to some help from Dropbox.

Is Firefox the new Internet Explorer for Mac users?

firefox-logoIf you have been using Mac for as long as I have, you remember the days when they came with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer pre-installed. Even if it wasn’t installed, there was a time when it was available for download on the Mac. It was the must have-browser, even if you used a different one like Netscape, Firefox or Safari.

Why would you still need Internet Explorer on your computer? At the time there were many websites that would not work in any other browser. In fact, many websites, especially banking sites, demanded you have IE installed; they wouldn’t even let you proceed without using it. There were other sites that would not load properly unless you were using Explorer. You would access a website, realize it wasn’t working right, try it in Explorer and everything would be fine.

Well, those days are long gone, or are they? Microsoft doesn’t even make a Mac compatible version of Internet Explorer anymore. However, there are still sites that do not run properly in all browsers. I encountered one this morning. I was in Safari and a specific website would not function properly. I tried over and over again and got nowhere. What did I do? I opened Firefox and tried it there. It worked perfectly.

In fact, there are many sites that, just like in the past with Internet Explorer, will state that they run best in Firefox. At my previous employer, we had a site we accessed constantly, but it would only work in Firefox.

While I choose to use Safari as my default browser on my Mac, I still have Firefox installed for those times that I encounter those sites that require it to work properly. Does this mean that Firefox is the new Internet Explorer for Mac users? I’d say it is — not only for Mac users, but for Windows users as well.

Should We Save the Optical Drive?

disc drivesIt’s nothing new to hear that Apple’s latest MacBook models come without a disc drive. They’re sleeker and thinner, and leaving out the “dated” technology allowed the company to pack in more features in less computer. They first did it with the MacBook Air in 2008, and with soaring sales, it’s likely the company didn’t see much of a draw back.

And because few people actually need their disc drive on a regular basis, computer engineers argue that the change is simply moving with the times. Games and CDs now come with digital download capabilities, and most software and entertainment can now be purchased completely online. As for CD lovers, audio book nerds, or vintage game players, a simple attachment can help cross this technological jump.

But what about the rest of computer companies? For now, most full-size laptops are still including a disc drive, but that isn’t the case for ultrabooks or tablets, which are being used more frequently as full-time computer substitutes. Due to both cost efficiency and technology trends, more and more people are finding it’s better to leave the drive behind. Custom models can still be ordered to include it, but not without a hefty price tag. And within only a few years, older models that still host the slot will become outdated, eliminating the pre-made option as well.

In time, it looks as though the disc drive may be almost completely extinct.

What We Lose

Without the ability to physically hold our own copy of music, movies, software, etc., a great deal can be lost. Digital copies are difficult, if not impossible, to lend to others because of DRM. Many downloads are given a one-click lifespan, meaning if a connection is lost or there’s a technical difficulty, you’re usually on the phone with customer support. And once you upgrade to a new device, replacing all your programs becomes a huge headache.

Even with completely legal tensions in mind (no illegal copies, etc.), losing the disc itself takes away a multitude of freedoms. Another issue comes with price, as few digital copies account for much of a discount. Despite not spending funds on physical materials, sales companies offer only a small price difference between their digital and in-person products. If you’re going to take away our ability to lend, can’t we at least save some cash?

Time will tell what’s really in store for our disc drives, and until then, we’ll be sure to borrow and share as many CDs as our drives will allow.

How much social media usage is too much?

social mediaIn a time where social media rules the Internet, it’s easy for users to become overwhelmed with the vast amount of profiles they can host. Between Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., where does one draw the line as to how many profiles are enough? Especially when each platform is trying so hard to draw you in. Now companies host Facebook logins, and they’re constantly tweeting information that can only be seen by card-carrying members. They’re enticing us, and it’s working.

But there does come a point when all the social media is truly overwhelming. When too much time is being spent each day just keeping up with what others are doing online. We comment, like, share, and retweet all their best post from the day. And then we have to post things too, so other people can see them. Before long, keeping up with social media becomes a part time job.

Of course, celebrities can hire others to do it for them. When their day gets too busy, some social media professional is behind the keyboard, telling everyone about their busy day. Then thousands of responses come in. But what about the layman? Those who are logging in and putting up each post the old fashioned way?

Everyday Social Media

On Parks and Recreation, social media addict Tom Haverford is arrested for wrecking while tweeting. His tweets “Gotta pass this lady on the ejkerkj.” And “Just hit a fire hydrant, but I survived. #Unbreakable #WhatsMrGlassuptothesedays? #Whynosequel?” gave him away. As punishment, the judge took away all technology. No email, no phone, no mobile devices.

Should the rest of the world see the same punishment? When overwhelmed with technology, should we cut back? Cold turkey, no more electronics until a solid break has been had?

Of course, usage is different for everyone; we all have that friend who seems to be tweeting every second of the day. But after profile upon profile has been created, even the occasional users get bogged down with social media.

There’s truly no way to say how much to too much time online; that’s up to the individual. But to avoid a scene like Tom’s, or to just keep our heads straight between Facebook and all its minions, be sure to schedule break time each day. Otherwise we may just see what the effects of too much social media can do.

New beverage technology can identify “spiked” drinks

cupsIt seems that each day a new piece of technology is being invented. From new electronics, to items that allow us to live “greener” lives, to those that seem practically unnecessary, creative types are bringing new items into the world. One recent invention, however, can actually help create a safer nightlife environment. By combining chemical reactions to everyday items – plastic cups and straws – bar drinking can now be made safe.

Thanks to Drink Savvy, all users need to do is use a specific cup to know their beverage is free of common date-rape drugs, such as GHB, Rohypnol, and ketamine. Though they host many different street- or nick- names, these are the three main active components in date rape drugs, and each will almost immediately show up when present in Drink Savvy products.

How it Works

Drink Savvy items – plastic cups, straws, and swizzle sticks – react and change colors when date rate drugs are present. The cups contain spots or stripes, depending on the type of cup, when drugs are detected, while the straws and swizzle sticks turn bright red. As a chemical reaction takes place, the color changes, warning the drink owner the drink has been tampered with.

The cups can be purchased by bars or anyone throwing a party. Glass versions are even in the works for a sturdier, earth-friendly way to test one’s drinks. And when the cups can’t be easily obtained, consumers can throw in a swizzle stick or straw for easy identification on the go.

Similar products come in the form of testing strips, which can be dipped into one’s drink. But with beverage products that double as testers, there’s no need to worry about re-testing or waiting for results to come in.

What it Means

With more and more date rape drugging taking place each year, the introduction of products like these means consumers can stay safe while still having a good time. By combining science with actual products that users can transport, Drink Savvy’s efforts bring mobile stability to any party. Thanks to this growing area of technology, practices like drink spiking can soon be greatly reduced, if not stopped altogether.

Though this drink testing technology is not yet available, Drink Savvy is staying active to make others aware about their new inventions. Head to Drink Savvy’s website to find out more on product and research.

Facebook Ads primed to replace Google Ads

facebook_vs_google_featuredFor years, Google has proven to be the giant in Internet marketing with returns paralleled to none. With statistics predicting a growth of up to 77.3 percent this year, you should be expecting Google to make a fortune out of the business that it has continually monopolized courtesy of its firm control over search traffic, YouTube and Google Adsense.

Statistics Show that a new Giant is on the Rise in the Market

Google’s dominance faces challenges from upcoming Facebook, which is taking the ad market by a storm courtesy of its convenient support for mobile devices. In 2012, Facebook claimed $390 million off the ad market. Even though this is a mere 9.5 percent of the total market and minimal compared to what Google earns, it is an improvement for Facebook that experts believe will hold with the values for this year expected to climb to 13.2 percent.

This apparently trivial market percentage covers for over 88 percent of Facebook’s revenue collection in the past 12 months.  Even though Facebook has shown its intent of being more than a social site by venturing into search engine service provision with its Facebook Graph, the ads constantly popping up on your Facebook for Android or iOS app are still the main revenue sources for Mark Zuckerberg and his team.

Is the Growth just for a Season or is it Here to Stay?

facebook-mobile-ads

As the number of smartphone owners grows by the day, the number of hours people spend in front of their computer screens decreases exponentially. The number of people accessing their social site pages and other Internet services through their mobile devices is on the rise making ads placed on such platforms more viable that those targeting PC users. Since Facebook strongly focuses on access while on the go, I believe that it has what it takes to capitalize on this new Internet use trend.

Though Google Ads might still command more clicks per unit time, the price revenue generated per ad on mobile is comparatively lower than what Facebook has on offer. Experts argue that Facebook has an upper hand in the move from fixed to mobile computing since it was born in the era and has had to work out its solutions from scratch, unlike Google which has had to modify its strategies.

Facebook-Mark-zuckerberg

Facebook’s ability to merge mobile and desktop ads (unlike Google that needs different designs for each platform) makes it easier for advertisers to deliver the same content to their audience without incurring extra cost. With Facebook ad efficiency this high, demand for advertising space is bound to go up, and so will the total revenue generated per fiscal year. In essence, Facebook has the winning formula it needs to make it big in desktop and mobile advertising!

Android fragmentation may not be a bad thing after all

Android Fragmentation

Each month, more mobile device designers announce the release of one or more Android devices. Out of 682,000 unique device downloads of the OpenSignal cellular coverage app, the organization recorded 11,868 unique devices, a staggering improvement from the mere 3,997 recorded in the previous year. With the diversity comes the headache of creating apps that work well with the hardware specification variations.

Buyers Can Enjoy Device Flexibility and Feature Sets

As if the hardware specific fragmentation is not enough, Google, the custodian of the open source operating system, further agitates the fray by releasing new versions of the operating system every now and then. By factoring in the variation in operating systems, the number of unique devices in the market is no doubt going to increase. Many people critique this uncontrolled development and view it as a disaster in the making while others believe that it actually works for the best.

To some consumers, the fragmentation is highly welcome since it places thousands of devices on our hands. This gives us the power to make tradeoffs between hardware performance and cost of the device. You can satisfy your smartphone or tablet taste with different feature combinations. This flexibility will let users get no more than what they need from their Android devices and applications.

Developers Can Build Optimized Experiences

Android Fragmentation 2However, developers will most probably not welcome this idea of diversity. Most face the problem of having to scale their applications to accommodate the software and hardware diversities. To avail an application to several devices and OS versions, developers have to go an extra mile and make accommodations that either make their applications bulkier or even take a completely new approach and develop different applications for each unique device.

If developers decide to design different apps for different devices, users will download applications tailored to leverage the strengths their devices have on offer. Even though applications might not be the same in the app stores, users will always have access to an optimized application that works effectively on the device they have at hand.

A Chance for Us to Exercise our Human Resilience

What many people view as the downside of Android fragmentation might actually be a strength. With so many devices in question, there will always be something new to do regardless of the native operating system of firmware a manufacturer loads into their phone. This is evident in the many efforts freelance developers put into the development of customization apps and ROMs. This encourages the birth of new ideas in bid to make inferior devices and operating systems match their high-end counterparts.

As the number of unique devices jumping into the bandwagon increases by the day, developers and buyers just have to look for a way of making the best of this unstoppable event. It is an opportunity to exercise human resilience by converting shortcomings into strengths and scaling the hardware and software shortcomings to deliver applications that do more or less the same tasks regardless of what device they run on.

iOS 7 Home Sharing is now fixed

ios7One of my favorite features in iTunes and my iOS devices is called Home Sharing . Home Sharing  allows you to view/listen to content on any iOS devices by streaming it from iTunes. For example, if I have a movie on my computer in iTunes, I can watch that movie on my Apple TV by using Home Sharing .

Home Sharing on the Apple TV has always worked great. The Apple TV will occasionally need to be reconnected to the computer it is streaming from, but streaming and viewing content in iTunes has always worked fine. Home Sharing on an iPad, iPod, or iPhone has been another story.

Those devices have always seen the content from iTunes, however the way the device has listed that content is another story. Album Art could be wrong even though it is right in iTunes (for example, the movie The Lion King might show album art for National Treasure). Another big problem was that TV shows and seasons where displayed incorrectly. One show might have the name of an episode displayed as the name of the show itself. It might even have the wrong show listed for every episode altogether.

I have tried finding a solution in Apple’s discussion forums and other websites, as well as emailing people I know who are knowledgable about this stuff. I have even tried software to fix the metadata of the files in iTunes. No luck.

One of the biggest annoyances had been that only a certain number of listings could be displayed. If I had a TV show that started with the letter “W” and I had a certain number of shows listed before that series, that series would not appear in the list. I found myself trying to combine and delete certain shows so I could see what I wanted.

However, I am happy to report this seems to have been fixed in iOS 7. Artwork is now displayed correctly and seasons and show names are listed properly. The biggest fix is that my entire library now shows up when Home Sharing is enabled. No longer will it cut off after a certain number of items.

I don’t know why Apple took so long to fix this issue. Of course, if your device is not iOS 7-compatible, this problem still exists. I have a fourth-generation iPod touch that my son uses regularly with Home Sharing, so I guess that will never be fixed. However, for those iOS devices that are compatible, this is just another reason to update to iOS 7.

Techerator is an excellent source of tips, guides, and reviews about software, web apps, technology, mobile phones, and computers.