Tag Archives: Greg Gazin

SIMPLY TECH: Phones ON

SIMPLY TECH: Phones ON

Latest News


SIMPLY TECH: Phones ON

by Greg Gazin

Save money when travelling

Worried about outrageous phone and data charges, many people turn off their phones when travelling, so that they don’t come home to massive cell phone bills. Rules and regulations are starting to change, and there are now more affordable choices.

Your carrier or service provider may offer special travel add-ons to your current plan. While this would be the most convenient route, it’s not the most economical. Canadian mobile phone and data rates are very expensive compared to other parts of the world. In fact, as a result of a 2016 study by Nordicity Group, CBC reported that Canadians pay much higher rates compared to other G7 countries and Australia. In one example, an entry-level wireless package in Canada was quoted at $41.08 (on average) compared to $17.15 for a comparable package in Germany.

Photo, bigstock.com
Photo, bigstock.com

If you pick up a cheap phone when you’re abroad, you won’t have your apps and contacts with you. A great solution is to purchase a local SIM card and insert it into your own phone. Previously this wasn’t an option for Canadians, as phones sold in Canada were locked with the carrier that you were under contract with. Even if you bought an unlocked phone, it would often be locked with the carrier that it was first used with. This all changed on December 1, 2017 when the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) ruled to update the Canadian Wireless Code of Conduct, giving you the right to have your phone unlocked by your service provider upon your request – at no charge. New phones that were purchased after December 1st are to be unlocked.

The carrier that your phone is locked with, must unlock your phone. If that’s Bell or Rogers, call them and they will do so. Telus can’t help you. If your device was previously lost or stolen, you may be blacklisted. Or, you may have an issue if you have an outstanding balance.

When travelling, you’ll still want to use Wi-Fi whenever you can, but in addition to cheaper calling with an unlocked phone, you’ll be able to leverage lower data rates, which is handy when using maps and apps that require connectivity. You can find local SIM cards just about everywhere, like the airport, electronic shops, gas stations and convenience stores. Often they’ll also work in nearby countries.

If you spend your winters south of the border, companies like Vancouver-based Roam Mobility offers complete Talk+Text+Data monthly plans, which may turn out to be lower than your current bill. You can pick up a SIM card in Canada before you go, including 7-Eleven stores.

Do your homework. Newer smartphones should work globally, but there are always exceptions. A local SIM card, as well as a pay-as-you-go phone, will have a different phone number, so you’ll have to alert family and friends. The advantage is that your number will be local to the country that you’re staying in.

Whether you’re travelling or not, an unlocked phone makes it easier to switch providers, and if you choose to sell it, you’ll have a larger pool of potential buyers if your phone isn’t tethered to a specific carrier.

Greg Gazin (a.k.a The Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg) is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger, podcaster (host and producer), and contributes to Canoe.com, Troy Media and Active Life.

GadgetGuy.ca


SHARE  

Featured Products


Simply Tech: Is Your Home Safe?

Simply Tech: Is Your Home Safe?

Latest News


Simply Tech: Is Your Home Safe?

by Greg Gazin

Health Canada recommends that homes be tested for radon for a minimum of three months.

It lurks in your home, but it’s invisible. You can’t see or smell it, but it may just be putting your life at risk. It’s not carbon dioxide – it’s radon gas. Most of us have heard of it, but according to Health Canada, it’s the second leading cause of lung cancer – after smoking.

It doesn’t matter if you’re living in a new home or one from the turn of the century, every home has some level of radon – and it’s that level that determines the potential hazard.

Radon is produced naturally by the decomposition of uranium in the soil under your home. It travels in the form of an invisible gas that seeps into your home because of the differences in indoor and outdoor air pressure. It makes its way through openings like floor drains and sump pumps, as well as foundation and floor cracks, and tiny gaps around pipes that enter the home. As a result, it’s more likely to be more concentrated in basements and crawl spaces, rather than upper levels.

Don’t hit the panic button. Unlike carbon monoxide, or fumes from a fire, that pose immediate danger, radon is something that can be hazardous over time. A professional can test for radon levels in your home, or you can do it yourself with a detection system called Wave.

By Airthings, the Wave looks similar to a typical smoke detector. Once the Wave is installed, initial test results are available within an hour by simply waving your hand across the face of the device – thus the name. If everything is OK, a glow ring will turn green. Like a stop light, it will turn yellow for caution, and red if the reading is in the danger zone – exceeding acceptable standards, which according to Health Canada is 200 Bq/m3.

The beauty of the Wave system is that you get real results from the free companion app. Unlike other test kits, you don’t have to send the data to a lab for analysis. You simply pair the Wave with your iOS, or Android smartphone or tablet, and it will keep track of the radon levels, as well as the humidity levels and the temperature in the room. In addition to tracking current values, you can also plot an historical graph over the previous 48 hours, week, month or year. The app is also designed to track multiple Wave units, labelled as basement, dining room, etc.

You can receive notifications through the app, and receive email and audio alerts when the radon is too high, as well as sync current information when you are within Bluetooth range of the device.

Since radon levels are always fluctuating, the longer the test period, the more accurate your results. In fact, Health Canada recommends that homes be tested for radon for a minimum of three months – ideally during the heating season when windows are closed.

If radon levels consistently read high, call in a professional to help determine what remedial action should be taken to mitigate the situation.

Wave comes with a magnetic plate that can be mounted on any wall with a single screw, and is powered by two AA batteries (included). The Wave retails for $249.99, and is available at Best Buy and The Home Depot.

airthings.com

For more information on radon, and its risks, visit Health Canada’s web section at canada.ca.

Greg Gazin (a.k.a The Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg) is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger, podcaster (host and producer), and contributes to Canoe.com, Troy Media and Active Life.

GadgetGuy.ca


SHARE  

Featured Products


Simply Tech: Safe & Secure

Simply Tech: Safe & Secure

Latest News


Simply Tech: Safe & Secure

by Greg Gazin

Home security in a smart light fixture

It’s always comforting to know that your home, and it’s contents, are well-protected, whether you’re away on holidays, or hunkered down for the evening with a good movie and a bowl of popcorn.

Photo: bigstockphoto.com
Photo: bigstockphoto.com

You may have installed motion sensor lights, cameras and an intercom, but if you don’t remember to turn them on or to set the timer, they’re not doing much good. Instead, you could control all your security features from your smartphone or tablet with the Maximus Craftsman Smart Security Light. Designed to provide peace-of-mind, the Maximus Smart Light, by Jiawei Technology, is an outdoor, waterproof, lantern-style light. It’s as easy to install as an ordinary light fixture, but with a cloud-based app by Kuna, it’s anything but ordinary.

Security features include an adjustable HD video camera with a 160-degree field-of-view that’s housed inconspicuously near the bottom of the wall mount. There’s also a built-in speaker and a microphone to capture audio. All of these features come together in real-time. If someone approaches your door, Maximus’ motion sensor is triggered, the light turns on and an alert signal is sent to your smartphone. At this point, you can view who is at the door and engage in a two-way conversation by pushing the mic button on your app, or you can choose to play a pre-recorded message or greeting. In extreme cases, you can have the phone dial 911 or sound a 100-decibel alarm. All of this, and more, can be configured to execute automatically.

The Maximus Craftsman Smart Security Light is as easy to install as an ordinary light  fixture – but it’s anything but ordinary.

Interactions can be recorded (two-way audio and one-way video), and you can review captured events for up to two hours without a subscription. If you’re away, you can live-stream to check on your property and see if the sidewalk needs shovelling. Program the smart light fixture to detect motion, or to come on at a certain time. A separate weekend schedule can also be programmed.

If a courier shows up and you’re not available, you can talk to them directly to make alternate arrangements. In the event of a fall and you can’t get to the door, you can also give permission for someone else to monitor your system.

The Maximus Craftsman Smart Security Light requires a Bluetooth-enabled iOS or an android mobile device, as well as a Wi-Fi or data connection. To configure your Maximus, download the app and set up a free Kuna account. Available at Best Buy and Home Depot.

maximuslighting.com

Greg Gazin (a.k.a The Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg) is a syndicatedtech columnist, blogger, podcaster (host and producer), and contributes to Canoe.com, Troy Media and Active Life.

GadgetGuy.ca



SHARE  

Featured Products


al_nd17_tech_fi

Simply Tech: Preserve Family Memories

Latest News


Simply Tech: Preserve Family Memories

It’s so easy to capture, and preserve, special moments on video these days. Just grab your smartphone and before you know it, it’s uploaded, saved and and shared for everyone to view. But what about all of those precious moments that are stored away on old videotapes?

REMEMBERING

There was a time (not so long ago) when movie projectors were hauled out and everyone gathered around to watch. Sadly, old film and videotapes were not designed to last forever. Memories that are recorded on tiny magnetic particles on flexible pieces of plastic tape can become dry, brittle and/or demagnetized over time – whether played – or not.

Even if you are conscientious about preserving your tapes, tape players are quickly disappearing and have been known to chew up a tape or two. Through theft, loss, or natural disasters like the fires in Fort McMurray or the floods in Houston, captured memories can be wiped out forever. Unlike tapes, digital memories can be restored, preserved or transferred to a DVD, plus they can be stored online or uploaded to the cloud in a format that everyone can view and enjoy.

The Elgato Video Capture allows you to transfer, store, play and share videos with everyone.

SO SIMPLE

If you have a computer and a player, there is a play gadget that allows you to capture any non-commercial VHS video (or analog video) from a camcorder with composite RCA or S-Video outputs to your computer. The Elgato Video Capture allows you to instantly play the video, store it, and then share it with family and friends.

The Elgato Video Capture includes one piece of hardware with built-in cables, connectors and software. Simply connect one end to your source VCR, camcorder or set-top box, and then insert the other end into the USB port of your PC or Mac. You are guided through the process with simpleto- follow, step-by-step instructions. Choose the correct connection by clicking on one of the two icons, and then select the aspect ratio that you want – 4:3 (for a rectangular oldschool look), or 16:9 (widescreen). If needed, you can also adjust your sound level on the slider-controlled VU metre – and then press START. It really is a no-brainer.

INSTANT RECALL

Once finished, you have the option of previewing it, as well as trimming it at the beginning or at the end, and then saving it to your computer. From within the app, you can launch a player to watch it, add it to your iTunes’ library so that it can be synced with your iPhone, iPad or iPod, or upload it to YouTube and share it with the world.

Digital copies allow you more flexibility. If you’re tech savvy, you might choose to do some creative editing through iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. And, as always, make a backup copy by uploading it to an online service, such as Dropbox or OneDrive, or copy it on to a USB thumb drive.

Precious memories are worth preserving, especially for subsequent generations. Perhaps your children and grandkids haven’t even seen some of the footage that you’ve got packed away. This gadget will bring it to life. The Elgato Video Capture sells for approximately $130.00, and can be found at Dell or Best Buy. It’s a wonderful holiday gift idea for just about anyone on your list – including yourself.

Greg Gazin (a.k.a The Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg) is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger, podcaster (host and producer), speaker and author. He also contributes to Canoe.com, G4TV Canada and Troy Media. GadgetGuy.ca

SHARE  

Featured Products


al_so2017_tech_fi

Simply Tech : Audio Enhancement for Your Videos

Latest News


Simply Tech : Audio Enhancement for Your Videos

Travelling can be cumbersome at the best of times, but with extra add-on costs for luggage, etc., it’s no wonder people want to travel lighter and are leaving their bulky video cameras at home. And with smartphones, like the Apple iPhone 7 with Google Pixel that’s capable of shooting 4K or Ultra HD video, capturing video has never been so easy.

It’s hard to dispute the quality of the image, but what often suffers is the accompanying audio. While there’s a microphone on the phone, there’s often too much distance between you and what you’re recording, so ambient noise is also picked up. Think about the following scenarios. You’re at a noisy airport trying to record a family send-off, or you’re at the beach trying to capture your grandchildren playing in the waves. Their little voices are going to be muffled by the sounds of the wind and the water.

There’s a low-cost solution for this problem, and the answer is the iRig Mic Lav by IK Multimedia. It’s a highquality omnidirectional condenser lavalier (lav) microphone that clips on to your clothing and plugs directly into the headset of your smartphone. The mic comes with a fully adjustable mounting clip to ensure that it’s positioned in the right place, along with a foam windshield to filter out noise from the elements.

With a lav mic, the audio pick-up is always just a few inches from your mouth. With a five-foot-long cable, you can use iRig Mic Lav to record from a distance, or even if you’re shooting a selfie.

The iRig Mic Lav’s mic cable has a dual-purpose jack. It allows you to monitor what’s passing through the mic and daisy chain, along with an additional mic if you want to record two people – features you wouldn’t expect on a typical lav mic.

The first feature allows you to plug in a pair of earbuds or headphones, so that whoever is standing behind the camera can hear exactly what’s passing through the mic. Not only will they see what’s being recorded, but they can hear it as well. If the background noise is still too loud due to the level of the person’s voice, you can reposition the shot to accommodate the surrounding environment.

The second feature is handy if you have more than one iRig Mic Lav. Toggle the switch on the jack of the first mic to ‘input’, and you can connect them together and route the sound from both mics to your phone. This is ideal when you’re recording an interview, or a conversation with more than one person.

The iRig Mic Lav offers broadcast-quality recording, so musicians, presenters, podcasters and videographers can use it for professional applications.

Available through retailers like Staples, Best Buy and The Source, the iRig Mic Lav sells for approximately $60, and is also available in a twopack bundle for around $100. It comes with a zip-up carry case, and can be slipped into a pocket or purse.

In order to enhance the audio quality of your holiday videos, and when you’re recording messages to the kids and grandkids, it’s a handy gadget to have.

Greg Gazin (a.k.a The Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg) is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger, podcaster (host and producer), speaker and author. He also contributes to Canoe.com, G4TV Canada and Troy Media. GadgetGuy.ca

SHARE  

Featured Products


al_mj2017_tech_fi

Simply Tech: Online Shopping

Latest News


Simply Tech: Online Shopping

Without using credit card numbers.

You can shop anywhere, for just about anything, online or with your smartphone – even for groceries. It’s convenient. For some, it’s part of their daily routine. While others might prefer physical shopping, there are those who are hesitant, or even fearful, as it relates to their vulnerabilty when entering their credit card numbers online.

When you hear stories about Home Depot, Target, Marshalls and more recently, a hotel chain in Texas being hacked and credit card numbers compromised, it’s easy to understand.

There’s good news in the online shopping world. Many payment processors and service providers are offering more payment alternatives by simply using a third-party User ID and password each time that you check out. You’re still using your favourite credit card and you are still collecting those valuable reward points, but you’ll never have to enter, or reveal, your number, expiry date or security code to them.

Instead of an identifiable card number, a token or a one-time transaction code is used to transfer payment information, which is totally useless to hackers, and far more secure.

There’s no fee to use these services. Initially, you’d setup an account and create a username or ID, and a password. You’ll likely have to enter your card information once, along with a shipping address, and then validate your account via email or text.

PayPal (PayPal.ca) is one service provider that’s been around since 1998, and they were once owned by eBay. PayPal is accepted at places like Best Buy, Cineplex, Ikea, Kijiji and a donation site called CanadaHelps.org. Upon checkout, you’re directed back to your PayPal account where you discreetly pay using your preregistered Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express (AMEX) card. PayPal can also be used via mobile app.

Visa Checkout (Visacheckout.ca) has been available in Canada since 2014. The beauty of this service is that it’s not limited to VISA. You can also register and pay with your MasterCard, AMEX, Visa Debit and select gift cards. Simply select Visa Checkout at checkout, and it will also automatically populate your shipping address.

A new Canadian starter is Apple Pay, which allows you to make secure purchases online with your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and select Macs. It works a little differently. Using your Apple ID, instead of an account, you can securely add your debit and credit cards from most major Canadian financial institutions and AMEX to a Wallet App. To authorize, you can even use the iPhone’s fingerprint sensor or the side button on your Apple Watch.

ApplePay can also be used wirelessly at select retailers at point-of-sale. You don’t need to retrieve you credit card. You simply hold your smartphone or Apple Watch near the reader.

Google and Samsung have come out with new products as well. The beauty of alternative payment methods is that it’s quick and it’s free. Changing your user ID and password is easily done. In the event that an online merchant does get compromised, all they’ll get is useless information.

Greg Gazin (a.k.a The Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg) is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger, podcaster (host and producer), speaker and author. He also contributes to Canoe.com, G4TV Canada and Troy Media. GadgetGuy.ca

SHARE  

Featured Products