Protect Your Gadgets from Your Kids

 

kids-gadgetsDo you have children in your house and you want to keep them away from your gadgets? Or your nephews are visiting you quite often? It is already known that smartphones, tablets, computers, and any other devices of that kind are simply irresistible for kids, no matter their age. They are not a simple toy; kids can learn a lot by using a computer, so you shouldn’t forbid them access to this kind of devices, just try to keep them safe.

Nowadays, kids are growing up surrounded by such gadgets and they become more tech-savvy day by day. They want to touch everything, to test any gadget, to play with every device. However, most of these devices are quite expensive, and children do not pay attention to it. Also, the Internet offers the possibility to access hundreds of thousands websites, and not all of them are appropriate for kids.

So what is the solution in this case? How can you let your kid use your tablet or computer, and still keeping it safe? A parental control app is the answer you are looking for – it is easy to set up, and it protects your devices from any disaster.

Protect you gadgets from kids

You know that children simply cannot resist computers, tablets, and smartphones. But that is not necessarily good, because they enjoy pushing all the buttons, smearing the screens, and sometimes, even dropping them. That is why, when you think about the protection of your gadgets, you need to start with the hardware.

Protecting a smartphone or a tablet is quite easy nowadays. You can buy a shock absorbing case. Its price starts from $35, but it can go up, depending on your preferences. This case really works and it will protect your tablet even if it is thrown on the floor. You can find such case for smartphones as well. Another popular thing is screen protection. They are a must when you have kids in your house playing with your gadgets. Buy a screen protection before children will find a way to scratch the screen. Also, the screen protection will cover all the fingerprints.

The good news is that you can use screen protectors and case also for your laptop. For example, a satin case for a Mac has the starting price at $37. Furthermore, you can find many other skins and covers if you want to make sure your laptop or screen will be safe, even if a kid is playing with it. But not matter the screen protector you use, you will still need to clean your laptop regularly, if a kid has access to it. For example, you can always hide your desktop’s keyboard behind the monitor, if you want it to be safe and keep kids away from your computer. Another solution is to use a special utility program, like Toddle Keys; it will lock the power button, the keyboard, and the mouse to protect your desktop from children.

And that is not all. With your laptop especially, you need to make sure it is placed on a stabled surface. For example, a laptop on the bed is not a safe solution because kids love to bounce and jump; it will definitely break one way or another.

The safest solution is to buy a special laptop for the kid. You can find dedicated child-friendly laptops that are something between a toy and a computer, or you can choose an old desktop or laptop, or a very cheap tablet and give it to your kids. Then, they can do whatever they want with it. Think about it as a warranty for your own gadgets.

What about built-in parental controls?

If you want to protect your gadgets from your kids, you need to go further than the hardware. Let’s say your device is safely placed on a desk; it has a protection screen, a case, and everything it needs. The kid could still damage it and actually, messing the system is as serious as breaking the device. From infecting your computer or tablet with different types of malware or viruses, to changing your normal setting or deleting applications, it all could happen. Luckily, some of the latest devices have already a built-in parental control. If yours doesn’t have it, you can simply install one. Also, you will need to change some security options, in order to protect all your data.

So, are you curious how to setup a parental control on your laptop, smartphone, or tablet? Here you have some simple instructions:

Windows – With the new Windows 7 and 8 Parental Controls you can do a lot of things, like setting up time limits, give access to specific applications and games, and even block some programs or websites. To access it, you will need to go to Start – Control Panel – User Accounts and Family Safety. Choose Set up parental controls for any users. For websites restrictions and online activity, Microsoft has another option: Windows Live Family Safety. It allows you to block and control web access.

Mac – Comparing with Windows’ Parental Control, OS X’s same program is more powerful. Go to System – Parental Control, and set the limits, including email and messages limits, block applications and programs, and restrict web access.

iOS – To restrict different numbers or application on iPhone, iPad, or iPod, go to Settings – General Restrictions. You will notice these settings request a four digit passcode. A good idea is to restrict to delete or install of different apps. If you have the new iOS 6, you will notice a cool feature called Guided Access, where you can add new users like “kid” or “guest”. They will be able to access only the applications you want.

Android – Unfortunately, Android doesn’t have a built-in parental control. Some devices, like Sony Xperia Android table, have their own “guest” mode. On the other hand, you can always search and install special apps in order to protect your phone from your kids. The market is full of them; you just need to pick one that suits your needs.

Kindle – Kindle Fire just released the new Kindle parental control, Kindle FreeTime. It allows you to set any time limits you want, and to restrict the usage of different apps. You can also create different users’ profiles, according to the people who are using your device.

Are third-party apps a solution?

If your gadgets do not have a built-in parental control, or you think that it is not enough, you can always download and install third-party applications. Usually, they have more features than the traditional parental control programs, so you can add more restrictions and feel safer.

Let’s say, for example, your iOS device jailbroken. If you have an iPhone or an iPad, simply setup more users on the jailbroken. For Windows users, we recommend Returnil System Safe, with is a free app that will clone your system. All the changes you will make will be removed after you restart your computer.

Protecting your devices from your kids is sometimes not enough. You also need to protect your kids from the internet threats. There are many dedicated parental control programs that allow you to lock all the data on your computer, and to monitor the websites that your kid will visit. Many antivirus programs have that feature and they can do it for you. For Android devices, you can use Kaspersky Parental Control, while for Windows, Mac, and other mobile devices, we recommend Net Nanny ($40), Find the best recommends Bsecure Online ($50 per year), or Norton Online Family (Free!).

You can always check your router as well, nowadays they come with parental control features. It will allow you to limit the internet time use and also to restrict different websites. Another possibility is to use Open DNS’s parental control, which can protect all your gadgets that use your home internet. It also gives you control over the websites access.

If you are looking for third-party apps to protect your devices from children, here is a great selection:

Kidzui – This is a special browser for windows, oriented to kids, with a very friendly interface. It limits the children’s access to specials games and websites with content for their age. It costs $7.95 per month, but the price for one year is only $39.95. However, it is free for some computers.
Gube – If you are looking for a special parent control app for your iPhone or iPad, this is the one for you. For only $3.99, this app will show to your kid only friendly and funny videos on YouTube.

Kido’z – This app is similar with Gube, but it is designed for Chrome, Firefox, and Android.

Kid Mode – A parenting control app for Android that will lock kids automatically only into educational games and videos. It has an iOS version as well, but the cool lock feature is not available on it.

With all these applications and different objects to protect your gadgets, there is no better way to protect your devices and your kid than supervising your offspring. Always remember that it is way more important to show your kids how to use the computer, and to stay next to them while they are surfing the web. Guide them through the websites, and show how to have fun. Teach your kids how to use the computer in a safe way, and explain how important is to take care of these devices. Even if they are quite small, with time, they will remember it and he will pay attention to such things. Of course, for your own peace of mind, the above precautions should be taken into consideration.

5 Examples of Insect-Inspired Robotics

Everyone knows that robots are merely lifeless machines, no matter how amazing their abilities may be. However, you may be surprised at how often scientists replicate the features and capabilities of living creatures to increase robotic performance. In fact, there’s even a whole branch of robotics called “biomimetics” dedicated to that single premise. The term biomimetics means literally to “mimic life.” Insects are one form of life from which biomimetic scientists draw significant inspiration for new types of robotic technology.

Functions and behaviors that evolved over hundreds of millions of years in insects can be hard to top. So scientists increasingly looking to Mother Nature and biomimicry for innovative design ideas. The resulting technology is blurring the lines between living beings and machines more than ever.

Silently Communicating Crickets

African cave crickets communicate by using their wings to form airwaves that send a pocket of low-pressure air toward potential mates. The communication is silent, so that predators cannot be alerted to the insects’ presence. Andy Russell, from Monash University in Australia, explains the communication of the African cave cricket, saying, “Vortex rings are produced when a puff of air is ejected through a hole into still air…Vortices like these can travel for surprisingly long distances.”

This means of communication has been replicated by engineers in Australia, allowing robots to silently exchange information with one another. Robots that are able to silently communicate may prove useful for high security applications or in environments where noise is undesirable.

Lightning Fast Cockroaches

Researchers at UC Berkeley studied the way in which cockroaches can scurry up walls and across ceilings. The UC Berkeley project is entitled “DASH,” for Dynamic Autonomous Sprawled Hexapod. Not only do DASH robots have the ability to walk on vertical surfaces, they can traverse gaps and run upside down by using the same movement as the cockroach.

In an article published in 2012, DASH scientists explained that they only discovered the secret to the roach’s movement after reviewing videos of it in slow motion. Now, however, others can see how the cockroach is such a mobile pest – by watching the DASH robot in action.

Swarming Bees

Robobees or “bee-bots,” as they are sometimes called, are in varying stages of development around the world. Mimicking bee behavior, on the scale necessary to replicate an entire hive, means controlling thousands of mini-bots simultaneously. When scientists are able to provide the bee-bots with sophisticated-enough brains, of course, that may be possible. However, scientists have not been able to accomplish this yet.

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Photo via harvard.edu

Even if the ability to create a bee-sized bee-bot is still years away, experimentation and development continue. Research teams around the world are working on problems such as colony communication and robot size. In 2013, New Scientist magazine reported:

Robots have replicated complex insect flight: the BionicOpter, built by German technology company Festo, mimics a dragonfly, albeit one of prehistoric size… The DelFly Micro, created by researchers at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, spans a mere 10 centimeters wing to wing. At the University of Pennsylvania, researchers have used swarms of quadcopters, each small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, to pick up and move heavy objects.

No, we won’t see robobees pollinating orchards anytime soon, but there are still discoveries being made that some day may lead to this possibility.

Intelligent Ants

Ants are known for their ability to work together in order to accomplish a common goal. By modeling ant behavior, scientists are searching for ways to allow robots to team up and repair themselves, travel underground, or share tasks. At the Georgia Institute of Technology, for example, researchers are particularly fascinated in how fire ants create bridges out of themselves. Not only do these creatures form bridges by linking appendages, they are also able to adjust the strength of their grip to keep the living bridge flexible and strong. This means that if the ants sense a weak spot in the bridge they can immediately compensate.

Simon Garnier, a Rutgers University scientist explains, “The construction rules followed by the ants represent a formidable source of inspiration for people working on self-assembling robots and self-repairing materials.”

Other ant-mimicking robots have already been developed. For example, scientists have been able to replicate the insects’ ability to find the most direct path to their goal by using light signals and relatively simple programming. The result is that the robots can now act autonomously to find the most efficient way to tackle a goal. Scientists believe this technology may be applied to road and space design in the future.

Rolling Caterpillars

Caterpillars have soft, flexible bodies along with five or six pairs of legs. They’re capable of generating momentum by rolling into a ball and propelling themselves along a variety of surfaces. This means of locomotion, sometimes called “ballistic rolling,” is currently being used by robots such as the GoQBot, which was developed at Tufts University several years ago. Until GoQBot was invented, soft-bodied robots were relatively slow-moving. The GoQBot, however, uses its silicon rubber body to propel itself nearly 20 inches (one-half meter) in one second. Amazingly, this robot is only ten centimeters, or about 4 inches, long.

Huai-Ti Lin, one of the senior researchers who worked on the GoQBot, commented a few years ago on the possible applications of this new design, suggesting that it could, “…enhance several robotic applications such as urban rescue, building inspection, and environmental monitoring.”

Summary

One might develop a bit more respect for the lowly insect after learning how important their physical structures, sensory features, and means of locomotion have become to scientists developing the next generation of robotics. The evolutionary forces that shaped their development are difficult to top. Now more than ever, insects are leading the way into the future of robotic technology.

References

Bar-Cohen, Yoseph. (2014) “Biologically-Inspired Intelligent Robots Using EAP as Biomimetic Actuation Materials.” NASA. Powerpoint.

Marks, Paul. (2011). “Cave Cricket’s Trick Keeps Robot Chatter Confidential.” New Scientist. 209(2802). March 5. p. 28.

Poeter, Damon. (2012). “Cockroach-like Robot Scurries Over Ledges in Creepy Fashion.” PC Magazine. June. p.1.

Williams, Caroline. (2013). “I, Bee Bot.” New Scientist. 220(2943). Nov. 11. p. 42-45.

“Fire Ants Lock Arms to Keep Bridges From Falling.” (2014). Science Now. Jan. 7. p2.

Lewis, Tanya. (2013). “Ants ‘Use Math’ to Find Fastest Route.” LiveScience. April 17.

“Caterpillars Inspire New Movements in Soft Robots.” (2011). Institute of Physics. Tufts University. April 27.

‘Smart’ Traffic Lights Could Cut Commute by 60%

Here is some good news for commuters and anyone who has a short traffic fuse. Someone has finally “built the better mousetrap” of the traffic light world, and it looks as if the days of spending over 165 hours a year sitting at red lights may be quickly going the way of the dinosaur.

In-Dash Traffic Lights

traffic lightThere are currently two developing ideas vying for the title of Traffic Savior. The first idea involves the elimination of traffic lights completely. Engineers would develop an in-dash system that would alert one vehicle to the presence of another. Using this advanced wireless communication technology, the system would be able to assess how much traffic is coming from any direction. Drivers who find themselves amidst the largest group of cars at an intersection would receive a green signal on their dashboards, giving them permission to proceed through the intersection. Those drivers on paths less traveled would be sent a red signal. Essentially, where the heavy traffic goes, the heavy traffic flows. Engineers working on this system will soon tackle implementation, real time simulation and detection of pedestrians and cyclists as well as a number of fail safes to prevent collisions.

SMART Signal

The other breakthrough making the rounds in traffic circles is SMART (Systematic Monitoring of Arterial Road Traffic Signals) Signal technology. This is a system that gathers data from different points across a traffic grid for real time analysis of travel time, stops and intersection delay. Engineers monitoring this data (again, in real time) can consider preset metrics that would signify a necessary change in red light duration. For example, a traffic light that consistently hosts a line of no less than 15 cars would have its green time extended by a few seconds to allow more vehicles to pass through. Once the line shortens, the engineers would set it back to normal with the flip of a switch. This is already gaining traction as there is similar technology in play at over 100 intersections in Minnesota and California.

The Bottom Line: Sanity

With this advance in communications technology, our time spent in traffic could be cut by as much as 60%. That means we’ll suddenly have an extra half-hour a day – multiply that by 365 days a year – to spend with our families, get work done, or enjoy the hobbies and pursuits that make us truly happy. Car drivers around the world deal with commutes to work, school and the like – making this commute shorter and less stressful would be heavenly. Can you imagine if long lines of stopped cars were a thing of the past?

traffic

The Bottom Line: Economic Uplift

Aside from the ramifications on everyone’s personal lives, Americans would be saving billions at the gas pump. In addition, if the city of Toronto, Canada is any indication (where gridlock costs an estimated $10 billion annually), getting people to work faster means macro-level economic uplift as well.

The Bottom Line: Shallower Carbon Footprint

Lastly, there’s a huge environmental aspect to this technology. Spending less time in traffic means, of course, less time with the engine running, and that means less carbon emissions from our nation’s city streets. This has some saying that the Smart Traffic Light just may be the next giant leap for mankind in regard to climate control.

Review: Tmart 8GB MP3 Player

I was recently given an 8GB Black MP3 Player from Tmart.com to review. I was eager to review the product, as I hoped to add another product to my list of “low priced products that get the job done well”. (I’ve never been one to appreciate the attraction of high priced MP3 players.)

Unfortunately, I found the product very disappointing, nearly to the point of being unusable. It has:

  • No actual manual/instructions
  • No volume control button
  • Difficult to read screen
  • Poor quality buttons that barely work
  • Difficult to navigate interface

The only positive item I note is that it does have a lot of storage space (about 7.5GB free space).

If you’re looking for a low-priced MP3 player, I recommend SanDisk’s Sansa Clip series. I’ve had my 4GB Sansa Clip+ for years and it works wonderfully (even in the rain). You can get one for about $40. It’s hard to beat that!

4K TV – What is it and Why Should You Care?

It’s hard to imagine there’s a TV with picture quality better than the HD we currently have available. And, as a relatively recent advancement to become widely adopted by the general public, it doesn’t seem like it’s time for a new technology to emerge yet. Cue 4K TV – the technology getting all the attention in the industry. What is it and does it mean an end to the standard plasma, LCD and LED TVs most of us have in our living rooms right now? Not quite. Read on to find out.

What is it?
4K refers to the level of high-definition resolution on a TV. 4K video has a resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels, which is four times greater than 1080p, or 1920 x 1080 pixels, currently the best consumer high-definition resolution standard. 4k is also referred to as Ultra-High Definition, Quad High-Definition and 2160p.

While 4K isn’t yet common for the average consumer, a growing number of manufacturers including Sharp, Sony and LG have started, or are planning to start releasing 4K HDTVs in the near. Some are also currently producing 4K projectors and Blu-ray players that will convert to 4K. You might even already have one in your living room.

Why is it important?
Simply put, 4K provides the most stunning picture quality possible today. This is especially true for larger televisions since the larger the screen is, the more pixelated and less detailed the picture becomes. With 4K, however, the picture remains exceptionally more sharp and clear than 1080p on larger screens, even those bigger than 80 inches.

Until now, 3D TV was the up-and-coming technology that everyone in the industry talked about. This is particularly true as many TV companies began showing sets that ditched the pricey glasses in favor of cheaper versions. But, consumers have nonetheless been slow to jump on the 3D bandwagon, and TV makers have turned to 4K as the latest “next big thing.” And, with four times the resolution as the TVs most of us own now, it’s clear why – seeing is believing.

When can I get my hands on it?
So, now that you’re convinced about the wonder that is 4K TV, how can you get one in your own home? Well, that’s the rub. 4K content isn’t readily available to the general public yet, nor is there indication it will be any time soon. It’s unlikely the broadcasting industry will get behind a push toward 4k until it’s popular enough to make it worth their while. The extra bandwidth needed to provide 4K over cable, satellite or the Internet would likely require major infrastructure changes and costs similar those sustained when broadcasters were required to transition to DTV, and that alone is a deterrent. Also, Blu-ray discs don’t currently have the capability to house 4K resolution content, and extra disc layers would have to be added to allow enough space to accommodate a full-length film. So, the bottom line is, until a large number of people start buying 4K TVs and there is a great demand for content to become available, this technology is still several years away from being commonplace.

Cost is another major factor preventing this technology from becoming the rule rather than the exception. With price tags upward of $20,000, not too many average citizens are clamoring to replace their current flat-screen TV that works perfectly well at 1080p with the higher performing 4K.

What’s next?
Some industry leaders (Sony in particular) are “upscaling” content to 4K, and Hollywood studios are increasingly producing films using the technology. This means it is indeed out there and possibly on its way to becoming mainstream. However, with the cost and implementation issues a long way from being resolved, consumers shouldn’t hold their breath or get rid of their current TV any time soon. For now, continue taking the “wait-and-see” approach to 4K TV.

Post is sponsored by h.h. gregg.

Samsung Announces Galaxy S4 Zoom

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When cameras first turned up in cell phones there was more than a little skepticism from the technology market and mockery from photography aficionados. No one is really laughing at the concept anymore as smartphones have taken over the top spot on image sharing sites by a wide and ever-growing margin.  It’s become obvious that the camera people use the most is the one they have with them and the one they have with them is embedded in their phone.  It’s no surprise when convenience triumphs in the technology market.

If a little is good a lot must be better, right? That appears to be Samsung’s philosophy with the latest variation of the S4 Galaxy, called the Zoom, that takes smartphone photography to another level. One could argue the Zoom is more like a camera that makes phone calls and appears to be the second generation of the Galaxy Camera.

Like Batman’s nemesis Two-Face, the S4 Zoom is clearly a device of two minds. One side has a retracting 10x zoom in front of 1/2.3 in 16-megapixel image CMOS sensor, the other side is all S4 Android smartphone. The camera side includes extras like image stabilization, an actual in-camera flash instead of the anemic LED flashlight imitation on most phones and image editing software.

The marriage of phone and camera is further enhanced by some clever software tricks such as the ability to send someone pictures via MMS while on the phone with them without interrupting the call. Of course, there’s no guarantee who you’re calling will be able to view the photos without interrupting their side of the call, but one has to start somewhere.

Other features include dual-band N wifi, Android 4.2 and a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera. The real devil will be in details like photo workflow, battery life and picture quality before I can pronounce the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom the holy grail of point-and-shoot photography but it is an interesting step in that direction all the same.

I could see the S4 Zoom replacing camera purchases for many people getting ready to go on vacation and it’s thin enough they’re not going to resent carrying it around when they get home. It does hint at some interesting possibilities for real-time applications involving photos and videos. My sense is this is going to be a niche model at best, but time will tell.

Quiet Launch For Lenovo’s Powerhouse Y510p

Lenovo quietly let slip the media powerhouse YP510p.  Stylish and versatile.

Lenovo quietly let slip the media powerhouse Y510p. Stylish and versatile.

I must confess that when IBM sold its laptop business to Lenovo, I had my doubts. ThinkPads had always been my go to choice for rock solid business production and selling off the vaunted brand left ripples of insecurity in IT departments everywhere.

I’m happy that Lenovo managed to not only carry on the ThinkPad tradition of solid reliability but over the years has extended the line in imaginative ways without sacrificing the quality of the name. It is a rare and largely unheralded successes in the technology industry.

Lenovo has continued to field some powerhouse beauties in its laptop line and recently let slip the IdeaPad Y510p with little fanfare.

The Y510p is powered by Intel’s new Haswell i7 2.4 Ghz quad core processor paired up with NVIDIA’s 750M GPU. If one GPU isn’t enough (is it ever enough?) the Y510p can accommodate a second 750M GPU in the Ultrabay slot. If you don’t need the second graphics card you can also use the spare bay for more drive storage or another fan for additional cooling.

lenovo-ideapad-y510p-laptop-keyboard

The YP510p features an Accutype backlit keyboard.

Boasting 5 hours of battery life the Y510p is geared toward users who still need big power on their desk for gaming, video editing and other high-powered multimedia tasks. The 15.6 inch LED display has a non-glare finish and the unit ships with a 720p HD webcam and dual microphones backed by Dolby Home Theater audio.

The Y510p is built to move a lot of data with USB 3 which is always on so you can continue to charge your phone or other devices, even the laptop is unplugged. The 1 TB of internal drive space is not blazingly fast but you can supplement it with a 24 GB SSD in the Ultrabay if you need more speed. Other upgrades available include substituting stock DVD drive with a Bluray/DVD drive.

Nice touches to the fit and finish include a brushed metal exterior and Accutype backlit keyboard. Base model starts at $989, Newegg has the model with 12GB of RAM and an 8GB SSD for $1,149.99.

All in all the Y510p is another example that Lenovo is doing a fine job carrying on the name and tradition of IBM’s laptop business.

Battery MythBusters: 6 Facts & Fictions About Batteries

We’ve all read or heard advice regarding batteries and how to keep them going as long as possible. But can you tell which advice is true? Here is a breakdown of a few of the most popular battery myths and what you should do to get the most from your batteries.

Myth #1: You should fully discharge a battery before charging.
battery levelWe’ve heard that fully discharging a battery can help to extend its life. This myth is false and stems from the days of NiCd batteries. A full discharge can actually harm the current lithium batteries. Recharging in smaller bouts is less taxing on a battery. However, a full discharge does aid the calibration system of the battery, which will better predict the remaining battery life. It doesn’t necessarily help the battery; it just gives you a better idea of when you’ll need to recharge the battery. It’s best to only recalibrate the system by completing a full discharge occasionally. Generally, partial charges are all that is necessary to be done.

Myth #2: Rechargeable batteries have a lower capacity than disposable alkaline batteries.

In photo: Sanyo Eneloop Rechargeable Batteries

In photo: Sanyo Eneloop Rechargeable Batteries. Rechargeable batteries are not weaker than disposable batteries.

The capacity of a battery depends on a lot of factors. In a high-drain electronic like a camera or laptop, rechargeable batteries will actually power the device a lot longer than alkaline batteries. While alkaline batteries may be listed as having a higher rating, they are designed for slow power use and drain a lot faster when subjected to high power needs.

Myth #3: Batteries experience a memory effect, which causes them to gradually hold less charge.
This myth comes from the old NiCd batteries, which were known for their memory retention. This no longer applies to newer batteries as they will not “forget” a full charge.

Myth #4: Batteries are worthless past their expiration dates.
You’ve probably seen a date on your batteries or their package. That little expiration date tells you the shelf life of the battery. The battery may start losing some of its efficiency by the time that date arrives, but it still has quite a bit of use left in it.

Myth #5. Putting a battery in a freezer can extend its life.
FreezerHeat can certainly impact the life of a battery. But what about cold? Can cooler temperatures make a battery last longer? This depends on the type of battery. The old NiMH and NiCd batteries would discharge quickly, and freezing them would drastically slow down the discharge rate. The new Li-Ion batteries have since replaced them, however, and do better when kept at room temperature. Alkaline batteries discharge at a rate the equivalent of a few cents per year when stored at room temperature. Storing them in a freezer isn’t going to make much difference unless you live in a very warm climate zone.

Myth #6: Your battery won’t lose its charge if it isn’t being used.
Even if you aren’t using the battery, it is still going to leak a little bit of charge between the terminals. If you leave your device plugged in for a long period of time without use, it could cause the battery to lose its ability to retain a charge. If you aren’t going to be using a battery for a while, the best thing to do is to leave it at a little less than half charge (40 %) and store it in a cool place. (The refrigerator is ok as long as the battery is free from humidity.)

Batteries won’t last forever. Eventually, they will run down for good. However, by keeping some of these points in mind, you can get the most out of your batteries.

About the author:
Steven Kellett is the owner of Electronics Warehouse, an ecommerce store that specializes in batteries and battery chargers.

Windows RT – It’s Dead, Jim

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According to Bloomberg and other sources Microsoft is cutting the price of Windows RT, though that may be a mute issue since few hardware manufacturers are planning on fielding an RT device.

Windows RT was supposed to be Microsoft’s answer to iOS but, like the Zune, it turned out to be a poorly implemented imitation. Microsoft gave RT a few Windows tricks, but the platform is incompatible with many big Windows software applications. Coders had to choose between Windows 8 and RT and that was not a difficult decision for most developers.

Hardware manufacturers are unloading their RT devices faster than AT&T is dumping the Facebook phone. HP and Samsung have dropped support and Acer’s CEO announced today the company is still deciding if they intend to offer an RT device, but definitely seem to leaning toward abandoning those plans.

While the Zune was a blunder Microsoft, and the rest of the tech community, could laugh off one wonders how many high-profile blunders the company can sustain and still stay relevant. The Redmond giant trying to compete with Apple always reminded me of your dad hitting on your college-age girlfriends; part sad, part creepy and a little uncomfortable.

In fairness to Microsoft, Windows RT may have looked like a good idea in the days when Android tablets were really expensive and online productivity apps were still in their infancy. These days cloud productivity has improved to the point many businesses started questioning the cost of Office, Android tablets dropped to the $200 price range and 64 percent of smartphones sold the first quarter of this year will be running some flavor of Android.  The domination of Android makes Windows RT look out of place and Microsoft appear out of touch.

All this culminates with news from the Wall Street Journal that Microsoft is now engaged in a massive reorganization starting with laying off 200 employees in various marketing divisions. As the era of big PCs comes to a close it’s going to be interesting to see if Microsoft can find its footing and a path forward in a rapidly changing technology market.