The Digital World

Smart facts about smartphone shopping

New or used? Buy or lease? You may think that I’m talking about cars and in most cases you'd be right. However, those same questions, and more, can apply to smartphone shopping.

I recently replaced my smartphone, which was just couple months shy of 3 years old but due to technology’s built-in obsolescence was becoming long in the tooth. I asked myself similar questions and did my homework before setting foot in a store.

The myriad options you are faced with when you walk into a store can be daunting, and outright intimidating, so doing your homework is a good way to prepare. Here are some of the things you want to think about before going shopping.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 21, Posted 10:02 AM, 11.03.2015

A looking glass into the digital world

You may recall the WBVO issue where I compared smartphones to chameleons, saying, “I consider smartphones to be the 'chameleons of the digital world' because their utility can be adapted for any situation, much as a chameleon changes colors to blend with its environment.”

While helping my friend pick a replacement mobile phone recently, that chameleon analogy was not working for him. Thinking on my feet as he complained about the lack of flip phone choices, I explained to him that smartphones are like Swiss Army knives, with “apps” being analogous to the various tools a Swiss Army knife holds … that was an analogy he understood right away (maybe being a Boy Scout five decades ago helped him too).

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 20, Posted 10:00 AM, 10.20.2015

My email pet peeve

Let’s face it. Even with all the various communication tools the internet has given birth to, email is going to be around for a long time. After all, mankind has been writing letters for a long time and we still do even with the advent of email two dozen years ago.

The utility of writing letters remain the same, whether in the real world with pen and paper or in the digital world through email, which is to convey a message.

Personally, I still prefer certain kinds of messages, like cards and love notes, on paper rather than an email. The card my wife hands to me on Valentine's Day, or the Father’s Day card my son crafts, have an inexplicable power to stir up emotions that electronic communications can't match.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 19, Posted 8:42 AM, 10.06.2015

Keeping up with family and friends

Are you getting tired of people asking, “Are you on Facebook?” every time you go out? You might as well get used to it!

If you haven’t embraced social networking, such as Facebook, as one of your communication mediums to stay “connected” with family and friends, you may be in the minority. In 2014, Pew Research Center said 87 percent of our adult population use the internet. Of those online adults, 89 percent of ages 18 to 29, 82 percent of ages 30 to 49, 65 percent of ages 50 to 64, and 49 percent of ages 65+ use social networking.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 18, Posted 8:58 AM, 09.15.2015

Is Windows 10 Microsoft's redemption?

If you use Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, and your computer is receiving Windows Updates monthly like clockwork, you may have noticed a new icon in your System Tray. This icon is a reminder of your eligibility to upgrade to Windows 10 for free if you upgrade within the first year of Windows 10’s availability; users of pre-Windows 7 versions and/or users upgrading after the first year will pay $99 to $199.

For budding Windows computer users, the “System Tray” is where the current date and time are shown, flanked with small icons representing system functions such as the speaker, wired networking (or bars showing wireless networking strength), or battery gauge if it is a laptop computer.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 17, Posted 8:46 AM, 09.01.2015

Be inquisitive before back-to-school tech shopping

I love the movie "Groundhog Day" where actor Bill Murray, playing a weatherman named Phil, eventually realizes that he is living the same day over and over again. It feels like just yesterday that my wife and I survived the back-to-school gauntlet of getting our son ready for another school year!

Whether you are a proud parent sending your child off to college or your child is starting as high school freshman this fall, tools entrenched in the digital world are increasingly on our back-to-school shopping list.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 16, Posted 9:36 AM, 08.18.2015

Reducing risk of being victimized by 'Stagefright'

Tak is on vacation this week, so it's time to open the mailbag. Please look for his latest article in the next issue!

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DIGITAL WORLD

I saw a news segment on TV about a virus that can affect hundreds of millions of smartphones in use today. They mentioned Google’s Android but not the iPhone. I use a smartphone but it is not an iPhone. Do I have to be concerned?

I was about to hit the door but vacation can wait as it is a staycation in our backyard paradise!

Before I address your question, I need to demystify smartphone operating systems. An operating system, “OS” for short, is the software that manages the hardware and the apps. It is analogous to your brain that gives the signal to, for example, to raise your right hand when you want to.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 15, Posted 9:42 AM, 08.04.2015

Wearable technology for all

You may have heard the term “wearables,” whose etymology can be traced back to the earlier efforts of bringing the processing power of a desktop computer to something you can wear.

In the early days of wearable technology, I had my share of people telling me “you look funny with that hideous thing on your arm/head/chest.” Maybe I was lacking fashion sense, which to this day my wife agrees, or since 0’s and 1’s run through my veins I felt nothing was wrong with my fashion statement.

Admittedly, early incarnations of wearable computers did have clumsy form factors on top of being difficult and frustrating to operate, rendering the efficacy of such device questionable.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 14, Posted 9:13 AM, 07.21.2015

Thanks for the memories, Vincent!

My wife tells me not to go grocery shopping when I’m hungry. Hate to admit it but it’s not a typical old wives tale either because I am drawn to the junk food aisle when I’m hungry! I wonder if my uber WBVO editor will advise me not to pen an article when my emotions are running high … I guess I'll find out!

Recently our dog, Vincent, a 15-and-a-half-year-old mix of Rhodesian Ridgeback and German Shepherd, went to heaven. To honor his memory my wife decided to make a scrapbook.

In the old days it was just a matter of going through a shoebox full of photos to pick the pictures to use in the scrapbook. But when we got Vincent from the Lorain Animal Protection League, digital cameras were starting to replace our 35mm film-based cameras. I remember our first digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix 800, very fondly. It took great pictures and handled action sequences decently too. I have many shots from when our neighbor, a retired teacher, taught Vincent how to catch a Frisbee early on.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 13, Posted 9:56 AM, 07.07.2015

Internet Street Smarts: Minimize email hacking with two-step verification

Don’t be intimidated by the title of this article!

Enabling two-step verification, also referred to as two-factor authentication, when offered as an option by your email service provider and increasingly at other digital-world-based services, can decrease the likelihood of nefarious entities being able to use your stolen credentials.

Analogous to how you are asked to provide two pieces of identification while queuing up at the TSA checkpoint before proceeding to your flight’s boarding gate, after enabling two-step authentication you will first be asked to type in your password when accessing your email account but password alone will not get you to your inbox.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 9:28 AM, 06.16.2015

Broken TV gives chance to try new streaming service

As we near the halfway point of 2015 we continue to see new threats emerging in the digital world. To provide you with valuable tips, the Internet Street Smarts series will continue to be interspersed between issues.

Threats aside, there are countless benefits that can be reaped from utilizing digital world tools. As discussed earlier this spring, one of them is what is known as “cutting the cord.” Simply put it often refers to getting live TV programming through the internet instead of the traditional duopoly of cable TV or satellite services.

I had an opportunity recently to test out the SlingTV service from Dish Network. Although Dish Network, like its main competitor DirecTV, delivers TV programming via satellite, SlingTV is a streaming service that delivers programming through the internet. Streaming live TV programming is a nascent industry so the landscape is changing almost daily to give consumers more options.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 11, Posted 9:23 AM, 06.02.2015

Internet Street Smarts Tip: Browsing secure websites

Growing up in Japan I really enjoyed being a Boy Scout. To this day there are skills I acquired during my scouting years that I still use. Although this is not one of those skills, learning how to encode messages so only my friends and I could decipher and read them made us giddy.

Throughout history, from military adaptation of the Enigma machine to send coded messages to the frontlines, to the current day application in the digital world, use of encryption continues to be critical in guarding secrets and protecting individual privacy.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 10, Posted 9:37 AM, 05.19.2015

Internet Street Smarts Tip: Always fly with your wingman

In military aviation, specifically in relation to combat fighter pilot theory, a “wingman” protects the pilot of the lead plane, while in formation/pair flight, from adversaries. Although a simplification, a fighter pilot’s blind spot is their rear position of the plane, aka the six o’clock position in military parlance, and phrases such as “watch my six” have become common even in non-military popular culture.

Using this analogy within the context of building Internet Street Smarts you, too, have one or more wingmen as you fly through the digital world. These wingmen come in the form of software applications, software upgrades and frequent security updates from operating system vendors, to name a few. But why are wingmen even necessary in the digital world?

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 9, Posted 9:13 AM, 05.05.2015

Internet Street Smarts Tip: Use 'real world' common sense

First in a series of short tips on internet safety.

Although the lines are blurring rapidly, we live in a duality of worlds. One is the "real world" that we are born into; another is the "digital world" that augments and increasingly affects the very fabric of our culture.

Growing up in Japan I didn’t go through a formal municipality-sponsored training like Safety Town yet I wouldn’t doubt that every culture introduces street smarts as part of early childhood education. I do recall the constant stream of reminders from my parents and teachers on topics such as not going with strangers.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 8, Posted 9:33 AM, 04.21.2015

Act II: The method and madness of 'cutting the cord'

Part two of a two-part series

In the first installment of the series about "cutting the cable cord," I explained that considerations did not require, or hinge on, your internet connection. However, an internet connection, which I often compare to public utility lines coming into your home, is required for the considerations we explore today.

Know your TV viewing habits

Due to the nascent, but very rapidly evolving, landscape of streaming live TV programming through the internet, many channels are still not available as of today. Making a list of the channels you currently enjoy watching regularly may help you make honest assessments as to which channels you must have versus those you can live without when weighed against other parameters such as monthly entertainment cost savings.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 7, Posted 10:00 AM, 04.07.2015

Act I: To cut or not to cut, that is the question

Part one of a two-part series

“Cutting the cord” has been in the public's conscience, perhaps mainly due to rising cost of "infotainment" and how the internet has changed the meaning of being informed/entertained. Saving money was my primary motive when I cut the cable cord some time ago. I have never looked back!

I thought it would take a little longer before cable's crown jewels such as ESPN and HBO became truly available through the internet in an a la carte fashion. Just look at how rocky the road was for the music industry to accept digital music.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 6, Posted 9:44 AM, 03.17.2015

Old habits die hard

Has this happened to you? My credit card was compromised twice in a year and each time the issuer reversed the charges, canceled the card and overnighted me a new card.

Currently the media is ablaze with reports on the recent personal information heist from Anthem. The health insurer launched a website, anthemfacts.com, to help impacted customers, including fraud protection tips and sign-up information for complimentary credit monitoring. Unlike a compromised credit card we can't simply issue a new birth date or Social Security number, so this Anthem compromise, to me, was a watershed moment that made me cringe.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 5, Posted 9:31 AM, 03.03.2015

Gut instincts in the digital world

Are you handy with fixing things around your house related to electrical, plumbing or even technology? As a self-proclaimed geek, I can only say yes to the last item. If you are intimidated by technology, I am equally intimidated by the idea of trying to fix an electrical or plumbing issue around our house.

Granted, things have gotten better because instructional videos, from how to fix a washing machine to changing a lighting fixture, can be found in the digital world. But sometimes even a detailed video from YouTube doesn’t solve my emergency. For those times I rely on the product’s or service’s support department to get me out of a crunch.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 4, Posted 9:05 AM, 02.17.2015

What's on your mind?

When it comes to understanding technology, some questions never get old. Although a little early for spring cleaning, we are cleaning out our mailbag today. Please keep those questions coming as I will try to answer you directly or in this column!

What’s the difference between "virus" and "malware"?
Although some people keep the two separate, I like to think of “virus” as a subset of the umbrella term “malware.” The word malware is short for "malicious software” … and a virus certainly falls under that category. They are both something you want to avoid becoming infected with. So practicing good computer usage habits while keeping anti-virus and anti-malware software up-to-date is recommended.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 3, Posted 9:36 AM, 02.03.2015

You don't have to be a geek

My primary care physician called me as soon as an email notification arrived with my electronic health record. She said my recent blood work didn’t show RBC or WBC counts; only a note saying that I had too many 0’s and 1’s (aka language of computers) running in my veins. Then I woke up – whew, it was just a dream! Note to self: do not read fan mail before going to bed as the last one questioned me if I follow what I preach!

Yes, I do “talk the talk and walk the walk.” I also “talk the walk” as I learn something new everyday. How’s that for a mouthful? Anyway, I thought it would be fun to take a look at how yours truly uses his digital world tools.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 2, Posted 9:49 AM, 01.20.2015

Adopting new technology in 2015

As we enjoyed the 2014 holiday season with family and friends, there was yet another end-of-year media frenzy when a major Hollywood movie studio’s operations were brought to its knees due to a security breach; updates to our popular topic of staying safer in the digital world will be forthcoming in the future!

This time of the year is also when traditional media (in the real world) and, increasingly, social media (in the digital world) are ablaze with New Year’s resolution do's and don’ts. I, too, picked up motivational tips from experts on fitness, weight loss and nutrition to maximize the success in converting my New Year’s resolution into a sustainable lifestyle to control my diabetes.

Read Full Story
Volume 7, Issue 1, Posted 9:44 AM, 01.06.2015

If it is too good to be true ...

Coming home after meeting fellow WBVO columnist RJ Johnson (he pens the “Family Observations” column) over caffeine-infused geek talk, I made a beeline to my mailbox in front of the house as I was expecting a book for the long Thanksgiving weekend starting the following day.

Flipping through the stack of letters, I noticed an airmail addressed to me. It was posted through “Royal Mail” which I guessed was England’s equivalent of our United States Postal Service but who did I know in the UK? As they say, “curiosity killed the cat” and this cat, yours truly, couldn’t wait to find out ...

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 25, Posted 9:34 AM, 12.09.2014

Tech deals not limited to Black Friday

Being bilingual and bicultural I tend to get curious about many things that I didn’t grow up with in Japan. Although “etymology” refers to what a certain word may have meant hundreds or thousands of years ago, for me it might as well apply to culturally unique events unilaterally.

For example I never knew that the phrase “Black Friday” dates back to pre-1961, was used to describe the downtown streetscape of Friday after Thanksgiving in Philadelphia circa 1975, and eventually spawned the current usage where it marks the beginning of a profitable month for the retailers to end the year.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 24, Posted 9:26 AM, 11.25.2014

Moshi moshi, this is VoIP calling

Is the above title Greek to you? No, my uber WBVO editor was not sleeping on the job when I slipped in a gibberish title! The phrase “Moshi moshi” is how the Japanese answer a telephone call and it roughly equates to “Hello” in English. Wouldn’t this be a good question for my favorite TV quiz show, "Jeopardy"? Who knows Alex Trebek’s phone number?

Speaking of phone numbers ... “To VoIP, or not to VoIP, that is the question” is repeated often these days. It may not be important to understand the whole inner workings of VoIP, which stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol,” as it can become too geeky. So here’s the crib sheet on what may matter to consumers:

  1. VoIP saves money by putting calls through the internet.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 23, Posted 9:46 AM, 11.11.2014

Just like gas or electric, internet is another utility

As an Ohioan you probably know that Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, or PUCO for short, publishes a guideline, including an interactive website, where you can shop around for natural gas and/or electric energy suppliers.

Using the analogy of natural gas, electricity and water lines coming into your house, the internet is just another utility line coming into your house to enable you to access the digital world. Just like your electricity line connects to the public electricity grid to power your house, your internet (or often referred to as “broadband”) line connects to the internet – aka the cloud. Traditionally internet services were, and still are for the most part, provided through the same physical line as your cable TV or telephone – “cable internet” and “DSL” respectively.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 22, Posted 9:37 AM, 10.28.2014

Staying safe in the digital world

Each week seems to bring a new attack in the digital world, aka cyber attack, against companies that hold our sensitive information. With the currency of the digital world being our information, and not greenbacks as in the real world, it will get worse before getting better. Also regulation is still catching up in the digital world requiring breached companies to report the incident sooner than later; it wasn’t always like that in the past.

Technology is just a tool; “people” use the tool following a “process” through which value may be created. After each publicized cyber attack the media usually uncovers and expounds on how the decisions people made, and the process in which the tool was used (or not used), are partially or wholly responsible for the breach of our information.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 21, Posted 10:10 AM, 10.14.2014

On the edge of the IoT revolution

I hate needles. I like chronograph watches. I am a Type 2 diabetic. These are true sentences about me, but if mentioned without context, can seem unrelated and would make a boring article. But if mentioned during a discussion about “wearable technology” and what “Internet of Things” mean, latter being a more conceptual terminology starting to lap the tech jargon circuit, I can use them to connect the dots.

Let's start by demystifying Internet of Things, “IoT” for short. IoT is a conceptual term starting to lap the tech jargon circuit. It is a concept where all things in the digital world, aka gadgets, have intelligence to communicate with each other. Further this communication between gadgets is possible because of the ever-shrinking computer circuitry, aka “brains” of the gadget, that utilizes the internet to communicate.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 20, Posted 9:42 AM, 09.30.2014

A smartphone as your pet chameleon

I consider smartphones to be the “chameleon of the digital world,” because their utility can be adapted for any situation, much as a chameleon changes colors to blend with its environment. Each “app,” short for application, that you use on your smartphone morphs one physical device into many useful tools, depending on your needs at any given time.

While pet chameleons requires a stream of non-monotonous diet (they’ll stop eating if you feed them the same thing over and over) and a heat lamp to mimic their natural habitat, smartphones have no such demands; just charge their battery nightly to keep them happy.

Apps empower you to use your smartphone for making phone calls, sending emails, navigating unfamiliar roads (aka GPS), listening to music, capturing Kodak moments, storing contacts, forecasting weather on demand, and the list goes on and on.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 19, Posted 9:58 AM, 09.16.2014

Locating the USB 3.0 port

Tak is on vacation this week. Please look for his latest article in the next issue!

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DIGITAL WORLD

I just replaced my 6-year-old desktop with a brand new laptop I bought online. The product page said it comes with a USB 3.0 port but I can't tell which is the USB 3.0 port as they are all black USB sockets.

The telltale sign of a USB 3.0 port, the latest version of computer connectivity and faster than the previous USB 2.0 specifications (but backwards compatible), is the blue socket; earlier versions were black sockets.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 18, Posted 9:48 AM, 09.03.2014

Email address like a license to cruise the internet

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier. The tools entrenched in the digital world, whether they are devices such as smartphones and tablets, or services like online banking and social networking, are supposed to empower you to get the job done faster and more efficiently so that you have more time for important things in your life in the real world.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 17, Posted 9:44 AM, 08.19.2014

Mom, Dad, I need a new computer

It’s upon us, the marketing blitzkrieg of the back-to-school battle cry. School supplies vendors, including technology manufacturers, vying for your hard-earned cash. As parents we know the chaos of a new school year is less than four weeks away so let's do our homework while the children enjoy their last days of summer vacation.

Maintaining a household budget is high up on our list and purchasing technology such as computers for our children may stretch our household budget. Yet basing technology purchases solely on rock-bottom pricing may not necessarily make the purchase appropriate for your children’s scholastic needs.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 16, Posted 9:31 AM, 08.05.2014

Social media assists 'Decision 2'

Every morning since LeBron James became a free agent on July 1, our son asked my wife where "King James" will go next. With a sigh of relief on her face that Friday afternoon of July 11 when James revealed the answer to "Decision 2" online, my non-geek wife commented on how powerful technology is and especially how efficient social media is in dispersing information. I wholeheartedly agree with her and I see signs of my geekiness rubbing off on her!

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 15, Posted 9:38 AM, 07.22.2014

When the digital world takes over your basement

I don’t know about you, but my wife nags me about getting the eWaste out of our basement. So one day last week I finally decided to venture down to the dungeon, err basement, to see what all the fuss was about. I’ll never admit it to her but boy is she right – I have accumulated a lot of eWaste over the decades!

eWaste (no, that “e” in front of the word waste isn’t a typo!) is short for “electronic waste” and refers to computers, printers, TVs, VCRs (remember those?) and other electronic devices and gadgets that have surpassed their useful lives. Disposing of old computers is not as simple as taking them to the curb for regular city garbage collection. But most importantly, before disposing of an old computer or other electronic device that you have used to store information, it is imperative to make sure the information is not retrievable by anyone else.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 14, Posted 10:05 AM, 07.08.2014

Frugality in the digital world

Many things I learned, I learned from my parents; most probably you did so too. I believe passing of knowledge and wisdom through familial generations takes place worldwide. One of the virtues that was instilled upon me when growing up in Japan, which to some extent is still how I relate with my material possessions, was to not waste anything. The mantra was that one can fix anything and nothing is too old to toss out.

How is this, basically the concept of “frugality,” pertinent to a column on demystifying the digital world? Specifically does frugality apply to digital world possessions? I’m exploring this because I’ve seen a worrisome trend in the past couple months that could lead to some computer users becoming a victim. Ignoring the warnings and continuing to use Windows XP machines leaves users open to the risks of a computer virus of identity theft.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 13, Posted 9:06 AM, 06.24.2014

Summer vacation technology tips

Summer is upon us and some of you may have overseas summer vacation plans. Although we usually do not have to be concerned about being assessed additional fees for using wireless phone, messaging or data services while traveling within the United States, you can still get a sticker shock in your monthly wireless service bill following your overseas trip. To avoid that, do your homework before hopping on that flight with your digital-world sidekicks such as smartphones and certain types of tablets with capabilities to connect to the wireless data services.

The digital world has a lot to offer when it comes to your communication needs abroad. Preparation and a little compromise can enable you to stay in touch with family back home. Earlier this year we talked about smartphones, tablets and how “apps,” short for applications, are what we use to get things accomplished when using these devices; apps are the hallmarks of what makes a smartphone “smart” – i.e. other than just yapping on the phone.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 12, Posted 9:12 AM, 06.10.2014

Tips on shopping for a digital camera

If you own a smartphone you always have it with you; it is part of your wardrobe. The capability to take pictures with better image quality than the non-smartphones of yesteryear makes it the tool of choice for capturing your “Kodak Moments.” My wife has told me this repeatedly and she loves sharing these pictures via email, making smartphones indispensable to her.

Yet depending on the situation I still carry our digital camera to events. I’ve noticed that my digital camera produces better quality pictures for printing, is less prone to missing the “Kodak Moment” (my smartphone has shutter lag, the time between pressing the button and actually capturing the image, missing the spontaneous shots), and for a photography hobbyist it affords me more manual control like I was used to in the old 35mm film camera days.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 11, Posted 9:00 AM, 05.28.2014

Digital camera without owning a computer?

“Can I use a digital camera even though I don’t own a computer?” Many people ask me this question because it is getting very difficult to find a store that sells and develops a roll of 35mm film. For many who ask this question, my answer was not what they expected ...

As I always remind readers, the disruptive innovation called the internet has changed everything. Although humans have been tinkering with photo capturing contraptions since the 1600s, let’s just say practical photography, i.e. preserving and curating your memories as photos of "that moment,” started in the mid-to-late 1800s. For over a century there were evolutionary changes to photography, although to me Polaroid Instant Camera was one innovative product to hit the market. Then technology gave birth to digital cameras and the internet further pushed the photo capturing capability to smartphones, tablets and now “wearable” technology such as Google Glass.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 10, Posted 9:39 AM, 05.13.2014

Going smart TV shopping

Cathode ray tube TVs, “tubes” for short, used to easily last a decade. When a tube gets older the night scenes may become harder to discern but short of taking a baseball bat to the tube, it continued to work.

I consider smart TVs, just like computers and other electronics, commodities. They have a shelf life where obsolescence is expected due to technology’s rapid evolution cycle.

As explained in the previous article the ability to “stream,” i.e. receive, content from the internet and display it directly on the TV is what makes a smart TV “smart.” This assumes you have, or will get, an internet connection. I also mentioned that you can make a “dumb” TV smarter through the use of a streaming media player. Today we look at what other specifications are important when comparison shopping for a new TV.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 9, Posted 9:48 AM, 04.29.2014

What makes a smart TV 'smart'?

My good friend is a geek but he doesn’t even own a smart TV, let alone a flat-screen TV, and his 12-year-old 55-inch rear projection TV doesn’t work anymore.

So the weekend after the Super Bowl we went shopping for a new TV and sure enough we were bombarded with sales pitches on smart TVs! We politely listened but my friend swiftly bee-lined to the loot that he already had his mind set on; obviously his wallet was much lighter and controlling his decision. (You can guess who ended up paying for dinner later.)

That night a light bulb in my head went off and illuminated the otherwise dark bedroom: why don’t I write about smart TV shopping in my future column? So here we are, first in the series of tips on buying different technology gadgets, where we’ll try to answer this question today: what makes a smart TV "smart"?

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 8, Posted 10:05 AM, 04.15.2014

Analogy to demystify technology

The world of technology is full of jargon. This jargon adds to the mystery and further builds upon the intimidation barrier against embracing technology.

I find the use of analogies to be very effective to demystify jargon and the underlying technology.

RAM, HDD and CPU are often thrown at you when shopping for a new computer.

  • RAM, or random-access memory, is akin to your desk in your home office – it's your workspace. If you have a small desk, you will have to constantly replace things from your desktop to make space. For a computer, replacing things from RAM slows things down.

Read Full Story
Volume 6, Issue 7, Posted 9:18 AM, 04.01.2014