Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Why I use Bing for Web Searches and News?

I have been a big fan of Bing. I started using them mostly because of Bing Rewards which has now become Microsoft Rewards. Obviously, I appreciate the fact that they pay me to use them, but other reasons include their beautiful background images and easy access to top news.

Let's start with Microsoft Rewards. They will pay you a small amount for each web search which amounts to about half a penny a search with limits of up to about 15 cents a day on desktop and another 10 cents a day on mobile. They also have little quizzes and activities that pay a bit more. This may not sound like a lot, but it gives me at least an extra $5 a month for reading the news and searching the web. Things I do anyway.

As far as the search engine goes it's not bad. When compared side by side, Google may be slightly better, but I really love the interface. I normally don't have an issue finding what I am looking for. The Mobile app has great features. It allows you to see nearby gas prices. You can see local restaurants and browse movies. It even has a built-in barcode reader if you want to compare prices when shopping or scan QR codes.

I also like the interface for browsing the news. Which happens to also count as web searches for rewards. You can browse through top news based on headline images and clicking each brings you to a web search on that topic. It also has an option to search news based on categories, so if you want to see just tech news you can look just under that category.

Looking for other ways to make money check out this post 10 Apps that Pay you or Save you Money

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Smart Kitchen: Wi-Fi Connected Cook Tops

I've always imagined smart homes moving toward talking appliances. While you can't yet talk to these cooktops they do have some interesting features. Including inductions heating, Wi-Fi, flex zones, and Bluetooth.

First, they offer induction cooktops which have the advantage of not only heating food and water faster they don't get hot without a pan on them in case you turn on the wrong burner. If you are interested in an induction cooktop I would recommend checking out this article by Consumer Reports.
The interface is beautiful and looks very futuristic. It allows you to control it with the touchscreen or using removable knobs, which also makes cleaning easier. It even has a virtual flame feature so you can visually confirm what is heating. 

This Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled cooktop also allows you to monitor and control it from anywhere. While it doesn't seem like an earth-shattering feature it does allow you control things without being right next to it. Personally, I think it should be Alexia enabled and allow voice controls, but we will probably be there soon. Learn more about this Samsung model here

Check out how technology is affecting the environment here.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Essential Technology for Travel

Top 10 Essential Technology for Travel

1. Smartphone 
There is very little you can't do these days when you have a smartphone. Make sure to check that you will have service where you are going and that you won't be charged a fortune. I have T-Mobile and they include data and texting in an enormous number of destinations and calling is cheap too.
Smartphone is Essential for Travel

2. An International Power Adapter
This one gets a spot high up on my list just because of how important it is when traveling abroad. I recently took a trip and didn't realize how necessary it would be for my laptop. If you want to power most computers and phones you just need an adapter, but if you are planning to power other devices make sure to check the voltage otherwise you may have to buy a power converter as well. 

Power adapter that simply converts an outlet

3. A Back-Up Power Brick Battery
This can be invaluable if you will need to charge on the go. I find that I need it less than I used to now that many planes and buses have USB ports and power outlets. It's still great to have for the peace of mind it offers.
Back up power brick to charge phones and tablets

4. Compact Headphones with a Normal 3.5mm Jack
I find it very useful to have an extra pair of ordinary headphones. This isn't necessary for everyone, but since my phone doesn't have a headphone jack I don't often think about needing them. I carry a standard pair of Apple Earphones. These are nice for in-flight entertainment too.

Normal 3.5mm corded Apple Earphones

Interested in more about travel tech. Check out my last post on in flight technology

Monday, March 5, 2018

In-flight Technology

I recently had the opportunity to take a relatively long international flight after not having flown for a bit. My flight was with United Airlines, and it offered a number of features. While nothing overly new it was the first time I got to experience most of them.

One of the best experiences for me was the in-flight entertainment system. It offered an impressive number of recent movies along with on-demand shows. The touchscreen-based system worked very well on one of my flights, but the screen was not very sensitive on the other flight, which is ok for movies, but difficult if to want to play games on it. There were also a number of people with faulty systems on my flight. Unfortunately, the flight attendants were unable to fix it for them, but they offered them some money or frequent flyer miles for their inconvenience. It would still be a long boring flight without them if you were counting on them for your entertainment.

The flight was also equipped with WiFi. It was quite expensive, but a nice thing to offer. It very useful if you need to access your email or grab a file. I purchased a 1-hour pass for $5.99. It was limited though so you couldn't stream music or video and you couldn't access WiFi calling. This prevents my phone from even being able to send texts, although WhatsApp and iMessage still worked for messages.

If you need to power up any of your devices the flight also had a standard US outlet as well as a USB port at every seat so you could power up all of your devices while you fly. This was nice because it allows you to land with your phone fully charged.

There is still a long way they could go, but I am very impressed with where the technology has gotten. The best features are still limited to longer flights, my connecting flights had almost no tech features. We are almost at the point where you can stay completely connected even while flying.

Learn the travel essentials I would never leave home without here.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Ultimate Smart Home Device iRobot Roomba 690

iRobot Roomba 690 on charging base

After having had the iRobot Roomba 690 for about a month now I am quite impressed. It's shocking the things it can pick up. From wood chips to cat litter it can pick up some impressively difficult things. I love not having to walk on litter anymore.

The Roomba 690 is super easy to use and even though it takes a couple hours to clean it's not very intrusive unless its right near you. Sometimes when it's in other rooms you wonder if it's still running it's so quite.

Although there are a lot of complaints about it not making it home I find that it's quite reliable. There have been a few occasions where its gotten stuck or ran out of battery but its usually pretty good. I think the weirdest thing is that it will tell you it's done cleaning but still spends a long time on its way back to its base.

This vacuum does require a little bit of maintenance. I like to empty the vacuum every day and am impressed by how much it picks up. I keep a ziplock bag near its base and just dump the waste in and seal it up.  It also requires frequent brush cleaning. At least if you have pet hair. It's not particularly difficult, but I find none of the tools work better than just pulling it out with my fingers.

I can't believe I waited so long to get one of these. It keeps my home cleaner and less dusty, it's less bothersome than vacuuming and it cleans under furniture.

If you like this post check out my post on Decorating a Smart Home to Make it Actually Look Smart

Why I use Bing for Web Searches and News?

I have been a big fan of Bing. I started using them mostly because of Bing Rewards which has now become Microsoft Rewards. Obviously, I ...

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