Keeping Up With The Kids: Are You Tech Savvy?

Back in the days when we were at school computers were pretty basic. ICT tended to focus on microsoft word and there were very few programs you could access easily to understand the world of computer aided design or image editing.

Our children though? Well they can create perfectly edited photographs on their phones and navigate their way through any new technology that is thrown at them. They laugh at our inability to send text messages, eye roll at our use of text speak or emoji and have to educate us on how to take a photo which doesn’t have a thumb in the way. If you are struggling to keep up with the youngsters then it’s time to make a change!

First things first, let’s start with the old school technology. The computer. Laptops are now a common item in most households but are you making the most out of your laptop or do you just use it for emails and surfing the web? Did you know there is almost nothing you can’t do if you have a computer. Granted some programs may require extra tech or cost a fair whack of money, but it is still possible to do anything if you have an internet connection, a few wires (although we hardly need those anymore) and a little bit of knowledge.

Here’s a great example. Remember your old holiday films taken either on a cinecam or as the years went by, a camcorder. Today you don’t need any of that. Providing you have your mobile phone or, better still, a HD camera such as a Go Pro you can shoot high definition footage which can be downloaded (wirelessly) to your computer. Once on their you can create your raw files into amazing films. If you want to create a really professional finish you could try a Premiere Pro Training course. This will teach you the art of video editing so when you get back from your recent holiday, it’s you impressing the youngsters with your awesome films.

Photo editing is even simpler. With sites such as Instagram you can tweak any snap you take on your phone, crop it, add a filter and then post your work of art for the world to see. No longer are we getting a simple photo of your evening meal, Generation X are actually taking wall worthy images and adding definition and mood straight from their mobile device. You can now give the impression you live a far cooler life than you actually do. The selfie craze went mad and is still going strong. Apps such as Facetune give you all the tools of a professional photo editor. You can slim your face down, smooth your skin, make you eyes bigger and even change the background of your photo. With technology like this available it’s no wonder the photographic industry is taking a bit of a hit. We are all mini professionals!

Keeping your eye on the latest wireless tech isn’t just about making you look cool in front of the younger generation. Knowing what products are out there and understanding how they work can help you reduce the costs of your monthly outgoings. You can also keep your family safer.

Amazon released the incredible Alexa this year. This small wireless device can be hooked up to any electrical products you have in your home and give you the power of turning them on or off with just your voice or the integrated app software. You can ensure your lights are never left on by simply asking Alexa to turn all the lights off. Or you can ask Alexa to order your shopping for you. She can’t go and let the delivery man in for you but we probably aren’t too far off that happening. You can also control your heating from Alexa or your phone too. Switching it on and setting the temperature so you can work the system around you, not the other way around.

CCTV has been available on the market for years, but with the development of tiny HD cameras we now have incredible quality and even night vision or thermal vision. The camera can be left running all day and set to record when movement is sensed. The recording can be delivered straight to your computer or your mobile phone. Obviously this is brilliant for home security but is also useful if you are out and want to check on the babysitter. Or to see how your pets cope when you aren’t around. Not that we recommend spying on your children, but when you start leaving them on their own, it’s quite reassuring to know you can check what they are up to from your tablet. That’s if they haven’t gone one step ahead of you and worked out where all the spy cams are hidden. Kids are smarter than you, remember?

We are even using tech to pay for our dinner now. Contactless payments mean you can use a chip in your card to tap the merchant device and instantly make payments without having to use your pin. Reducing the time we queue and making checkouts a little less congested. There is currently a strict limit on what you can spend, whilst the technology becomes more secure this will increase.

Finally, the smart 3D TV. Can you imagine if someone told you 20 years ago that your TV was not only going to be able to access all information in the whole world at the touch of a button, but that you could stream live video from your laptop without any wire connections or that 3D was going to be available in every home that had the money to afford it? What our TV’s can do now is nothing short of a miracle. From the size, to the picture quality to the sound. We might still need to ask the teenagers for a little help navigating the system but we’re pretty sure if you come home with a TV like this you are going to earn loads of tech spec brownie points.

Get With The Program: Learning To Code

As computers become more omnipresent in our lives, coding knowledge is becoming more and more in demand. With enough programming knowledge you can create your own website, build your own app, develop your own software and even engineer your own hardware. If you’re considering learning to code from scratch, here are the steps you should take.

Choose your language

First you will need to choose your programming language. Different languages are better suited to different applications – for example C++ is good for creating games, Java is good for mobile apps and PHP is specific for web programming. Some languages such as Python are more versatile. Most programmers learn multiple languages – once you know one, the others come more naturally as they rely of the same basic principles.

Take a course

Self-teaching yourself code is possible, although you’ll probably still want a few tips and pointers. Books, blogs, video tutorials and online training courses can be good for learning at home. If you work better with other people, a coding workshop or a short course may be more suitable. You can even hire private tuition.

Experiment

Once you’ve got to grips with the basics, it’s time to start experimenting. From here you can start to build your own code and better understand how to enable certain functions. Use open-source software to research other codes that people have discovered and shared. Try writing your own basic processes from scratch. Soon you will be able to start a full project of your own.

Build your own program

Eventually you will be ready to build your own program. You should start with something basic and work your way up to building a professional program – one that you may or may not wish to commercially sell.

Building something complex may require assembling a team, largely because it will be time-consuming and allocating tasks could speed up the whole process. Before building a program, you should lay out a design document to follow. From here you can start developing until you have a working prototype. This prototype will then need to be tested for bugs. You can get friends and family to test it, or – if you are creating a commercial product – you can hire a test group of professionals and download a test management solution to record any bugs they find. Learning to deal with bugs is a frustrating but essential part of programming.

Eventually, once you have ironed out bugs, you will have a fully-working computer program, which you can try and sell or use as a personal project to put in a portfolio.

Getting paid to code

There are all kinds of avenues you can take from here. You can develop your own software based on your own idea, work freelance turning other people’s ideas into realities or work for a software development company following set projects and a set wage. There are all kinds of areas that you can specify in from web design to PPC marketing to video games development to mobile app development to business software development to creating digital security and protecting against hacks. The world is your oyster.

Mobile Tech: The Past, Present, And Future

Mobile tech is a huge talking point for anyone that loves technology. What we want to do today is take a look at its past, present, and future. What was mobile tech like a decade or so ago? What’s it like now? And, what will it be like in the future? Find all this out here:

Past

In the past, mobile technology was incredibly simple. It was all about creating a device that you can carry around with you to send messages and make calls.

Then, it evolved to a device that allowed you to take pictures and access the internet. In the past, if your phone has internet connectivity, it was seen as something quite remarkable.

Mobile technology was very basic when it first burst on the scene, but things have definitely changed since then, as you will see in the section below.

Present

We’re currently living in a world that is absolutely dominated by mobile technology. The smartphone boom is real, and everyone has at least one mobile device of some sort. Perhaps the key piece of mobile tech right now has to be apps. Mobile apps are huge, they’re useful across so many different industries, and there’s an app for just about anything. It feels like if you have an idea, you just need to find a mobile app company and they can turn that idea into an app. Apps bring people closer to businesses and news outlets because an app sends notifications and provide people with updated information without them having to do anything.

As well as mobile apps we see loads of other tech related things too, such as biometric scanning and incredibly cameras. Most phones now come equipped with fingerprint scanners as an added security measure. Likewise, most mobile devices also have cameras capable of shooting pictures and videos in extremely high-quality resolutions – we’ve even seen a 4k smartphone camera!

To sum up, there are loads of current trends in mobile technology. Apps are huge from a business standpoint, whereas security and cameras are big things from the consumer view. We’re also seeing a few trends that are laying the foundations for future mobile tech, and they’ll be discussed below.

Future

It’s always difficult to predict the future, but we can be fairly certain of a few future mobile tech trends. Most notably; virtual and augmented reality. Mobile devices will soon all be compatible with virtual reality headset, and that will be reflected in the new types of games and apps that are developed.

Similarly, augmented reality will be a huge thing from an app developer standpoint too. We’ve already seen augmented reality games like Pokemon Go be a huge hit. In a few years, most apps will try and integrate augmented reality in some way.

How can we be sure of this? Because there are already a few smartphones and developers that are getting on this trend. Just look at Samsung and their VR headset, or Google and their Google Cardboard.

As you can see, mobile technology has come a long way since its inception. Even though things are very advanced now, it looks like there’s still a very bright future too.

Technology Can Save the World!

For a lot of people, we’re living in pretty scary times. Climate change is the sort of thing that seems so huge that it often feels as though there’s pretty much nothing that we can do about it. For some, the solution is just to avoid thinking about it, something that is certainly not going to do anyone any good! But that doesn’t mean that you should just be constantly worrying about it either. In fact, there are some things that are making a real difference to our impact on the environment, and many of those things are coming from the world of technology. There has been a major push over the last few years toward tech that can help work against the damage that has been done to the planet. So, in the spirit of helping people feel a little bit more positive about the world we live in, here are some amazing ways that technology is saving the world.

Solar power

It’s truly amazing that such an incredible, renewable source of power and energy has been right under our noses for so long. Of course, the problem for the longest time has been how to actually harness that power in a useful and productive way. Over the last couple of decades, there have been some incredible advances in solar technology, but there are some that are just around the corner that just might revolutionize it all over again. Things like solar windows have shown that it’s possible to integrate solar cells into all manner of items. Check out this article on powertechnology.com to find out more about the incredible things that solar windows can do. Within the next couple of decades, solar cells could be incorporated into pretty much anything: homes, clothes; you name it!

Electric vehicles

Let’s face it, the burning of fossil fuels is the major source of humanities major impact on climate change. Of course, a great deal of that impact is down to large companies, factories, and industries, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t also an impact on a more personal level. The vehicles that we drive have undoubtedly had an impact on the environment. The issue is that we simply need our vehicles to get around. That’s where companies like theelectricrider.com come in. By producing affordable electric vehicles, companies like this are making clean, energy efficient transport available to far more people than ever before.

Nuclear energy

A lot of people tend to feel very odd at even the slightest mention of nuclear energy. The image of radioactive disasters and massive levels of destruction end up coloring people’s opinions despite the fact that it has the potential to be an incredibly clean, renewable resource. There are now new types of reactors that are designed to turn nuclear waste into power. We’re not quite at the level of nuclear fusion yet, but many of these fission reactors are far safer and more viable than anyone could have ever predicted. Many of these reactors aim to put the fears and concerns that many people have about nuclear energy to bed permanently.

The iPad Health Dump

The Ipad has literally changed the way of entertainment over the last few years. First, it received some criticism. Some saying it was just a big phone without the phone, and that there are various security issues with it. However, it has stood the test of time and it has become a grade a companion for millions of people across the world. The Ipad is used expertly by many, but there are still some areas of concern for some. So, here are some hints and tips that can not only help you get the best out of your Ipad, but to keep it safe too.

Use A Case

So many people don’t use cases or screen protectors. Their size makes them more vulnerable to a drop than a phone. Make sure you protect it. Get a solid back case that wraps around when not in use. You can use a screen protector too if you wish to keep the screen free from scratches and abrasions. You can find some cool cases at ithingum.com. Depending on what you use it for dictates the case needed. For example if you work on a construction site get something solid and hard, but if you use it around the house something softer is fine. Don’t ruin your Ipad by a silly drop. Mistakes are made, so try to protect it as much as you can.

Virus Protection

Staying with protection, you also need to protect it from external threats. Many people think their phones and tablets aren’t at risk from viruses, but they are essentially computers and as a result can become affected just the same. You open a dodgy email attachment that has been designed to attack IOS then you could be in trouble. They have built in security, but you would be better off using software to protect it from attack. You could lose all kinds of photos, messages, and other memories if you haven’t backed it up in some time. Here are some of the better security apps you can make the most of.

Don’t Leave It In Direct Sunlight

You may have seen the message that comes up. Warning that the system cannot work because it is too hot. This is a great addition by Apple that can stop it breaking, but remember, it still gets damaged. Doing this can sizzle the internal components. You may not notice anything right away, but over time it make become sluggish and not charge properly. Don’t leave it in direct sunlight because it will be damaged, if you have to keep it face down and ensure it is under a cover for enhanced shade.

Charge It Right

Try to ensure you charge the device right so that it doesn’t lose charge over time. The newer products are better but if you have an older one and you don’t charge properly you could end up losing huge chunks of it. This is why sometimes it jumps from certain numbers down to one or two, simply because the device is confused. You can find the correct charging methods from Apple themselves.

Just In Time, the Brave Browser Becomes My Default

Last night I saw a respected security professional I follow on Twitter mention the Brave web browser, and how good he thought the mobile version is. Brave was started by the Mozilla Project co-founder Brandon Eich, and is based on Chromium, the open-source base that Google Chrome is constructed upon.

Today, I caught wind that Chrome is soon going to prevent you from doing things such as disabling its DRM management feature called Widevine. The problem with this is summarized here:

…a single browser may now require two different DRM plugins to play all DRM content. These plugins have their own security issues, but unlike with the Flash vulnerabilities, security researchers are banned from looking for them, due to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). That means malicious hackers, who already engage in other criminal activities, may freely take advantage of all the vulnerabilities they find in these DRM plugins before companies discover them on their own.

In short, because of the closed nature of the DMCA, we end users are at risk unnecessarily, and we will soon have no ability to disable this plugin should we wish to do so.

Enter The Brave

Brave offers a browser that works on all platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux) and on mobile. It blocks ads by default, blocks malware, and is lean and fast. Putting user privacy and security at the forefront, along with speed, this thing is a powerhouse as it forces https on websites and prevents malware-serving advertisement networks from invading your workspace.

But the difference is the paradigm shift in supporting advertisers, as opposed to simply blocking them out completely:

Brave intends to keep 15% of ad revenue for itself, pay content publishers 55%, ad partners 15% and also give 15% to the browser users, who can in turn donate to bloggers and other providers of web content through micropayments.

I have yet to figure out how or if that will work, exactly, and it doesn’t seem to be fully impemented in the browser yet, but it seems like a great way to solve the elephant-in-the-room problem the Internet faces today: how to earn money and keep users safe at the same time, so that they don’t need to run ad blockers and anti-tracking plugins?

Stay tuned for more info as I learn it, and as I figure out Brave.