Thursday, January 1, 2015

VOIP



Alternative….

© 2015 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BOB SKIDMORE

CORRESPONDENT


Voice over Internet Protocol, or more commonly, VOIP, is a communications method of using the Internet to make and receive phone calls in much the same manner as traditional landlines offer. The difference is that you are using your Internet connection as your telephone connection to one of many providers of VOIP while using and not eliminating the phones already in your home. While VOIP is quite often used in business applications, this article will be concentrating more on residential use.

First you must decide what your needs are. Do you primarily make domestic calls or do you have family and friends in foreign countries? Perhaps you’ve rarely called outside the USA because of the cost factor, but would if affordable or even free? There are many providers of the VOIP service, but they’re not all the same when it comes to reliability, connection quality, cost, customer service, and optional convenience extras. They will all provide a special modem, but ask if it’s included or if you must purchase and/or fulfill a contract to be not charged for it.

(TIP: The speed of your Internet service plays a role in how many VOIP phone lines, not phones, you can have. This is why a business needs to evaluate if they should switch all lines to VOIP or perhaps limit themselves to one or two lines for long distance calls.)

There are two service providers that I highly recommend. The first is your local cable company. They probably already provide your Internet so the addition of VOIP can become part of a bundle offering at a minimal additional cost. They also offer in-house installation and 24/7 technical support. The down side could be limitations to “domestic calling only” without adding additional costs. Extended service areas are usually sold as an upsell and in blocks of minutes. Additional feature offerings vary and may be subject to additional charges too if they are even available.

(TIP: Some fax machines, especially older ones, may not work well with VOIP. Check with the manufacturer of the fax machine about compatibility. These days more people are using EFax thus making this a non-issue.)

(TIP: To maintain service when power outages occur it’s wise to add a small, inexpensive battery backup, UPS. Connecting your VOIP modem, Internet modem and router will keep you up and running during most power outages. Naturally, you should also connect the base stationmaster of your cordless phone system so they are operational too.)

(TIP: Connection to your prewired home phone system is simple. There normally is a master jack where your in-house phone system connects to the traditional landline provider. Disconnecting this and then connecting the VOIP modem activates all your home’s phones. Connections are all made with a common cable featuring RJ-11 plugs.)

(TIP: 911 calls may not register your location at the 911 call center.)

The second provider I recommend is Vonage. They provide the modem at no cost if you maintain the service with them. While they do not offer in-home technical service, they do offer 24/7 live technical support via phone, live chat or email with the installation being simple and quick. Since most technical issues are with your Internet service provider, problems with Vonage are minimal or non-existent. The communications quality and reliability is outstanding and what other providers consider optional cost extras Vonage includes. As new features become available they usually include them at no additional cost. One of the outstanding features is “Extensions”. Extensions is an App that works with most smartphones and allows you to make worldwide calls, save your domestic plan minutes and receive calls. Plus it includes caller ID while using your Vonage account. It puts your home phone on your smartphone worldwide at no additional cost. It also gives you the ability to accept calls from your home phone or to see who just called you there. Since you smartphone works on either a cell data plan or wi-fi, the possibilities are endless. Vonage allows two smartphones to use this app at no additional cost.

(TIP: When traveling out of the country you should avoid using the data side of your smartphone, as costs can be very high. Instead, hotspots, available in most cities and airports, work well at little or no cost. Also, the Vonage modem can be taken with you when you’re traveling providing phone service wherever you may be and with all the features.  It’s great for vacation homes too! You can setup a Vonage account in other countries too.)

(TIP: Should you experience no apparent connection when using the Extension feature for outgoing calls on your smartphone, try airplane mode and turn on wi-fi. If that still does not work reverse these steps. Some wi-fi hotspots filter calling apps from working.)

VOIP is the way telecommunications is going. The day of the traditional phone company is quickly disappearing. Many have already abandoned such service in place of a mobile phone. However, there are many advantages of maintaining non-cell service as well and VOIP is a great cost saving choice.

More information is available at: http://bit.ly/14FYSrU

GADGETEER’s RATING: ★★★★★

Graphic credit: Picgif

Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at bob.thegadgeteer.skidmore@gmail.com, or followed at twitter.com/bskidmore for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, make any legality of use claims, or endorse any of the products he reviews. His opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings. Some information for this article may be gathered from various news sources available to the author.


Monday, December 1, 2014

TeamViewer





© 2014 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BOB SKIDMORE

CORRESPONDENT


Most of us have had the need to control our home-based computer from another computer, iPad or iPhone. First of all it’s an easy way to access files stored there, or to make changes. Secondly it makes it possible to override a remote computer for the purpose of assisting someone with technical support. So, how’s it possible?

Over the years there’ve been several solutions including Apple’s Remote Desktop software. While these solutions worked there always seemed to be limitations. TeamViewer GmbH, a German company with North American headquarters in Tampa, Florida, has what appears to be a reliable solution available in 30 languages. TeamViewer was originally designed for commercial applications with a one-time starting cost of $750 or more depending on the company’s size. TeamViewer also offers a free version for private, non-commercial users, which we will be discussing in this article. Now I’ve tried them all, but this one works and it’s fast and reliable! Here’s how….

Simply download the TeamViewer software to your Mac, Windows, Linux, iPad, iPhone or Android platform. Works on just about anything including cross platform connections. Once you’ve registered your set to go. It’s that simple!


When you access the TeamViewer icon a window pops up. One side (ALLOW REMOTE CONTROL) shows your ID and password which changes with each session, not to be confused with your personal password that does not automatically change. The other side (CONTROL REMOTE COMPUTER) is for use by the controlling device. You give the user of the device that wishes to control you computer the newly generated ID and password. They in turn bring up the same window display and enter the code information you supply in the right hand side and then click on the connection box. The remote computer’s desktop will appear on their desktop allowing full access to programs and files. Unlike other software that I’ve tested, control and response is immediate. No delays, even when accessing computers in far off lands.

(TIP: Many equipment and software tech support agents have TeamViewer as one of their tools. Naturally, you must have it too if you want their assistance in this way. Once you log out the connection is lost forever thus eliminating any security concerns.)

The uses for remote access are endless. Perhaps you maintain a detailed address book or have Quicken on your main computer and don’t want these files stored on portable devices. Maybe you’re having trouble installing or using new software and need an expert to fix and show you what to do. Having the capability of controlling your computer from remote locations opens up many new possibilities and it’s safe since you control access with unique ID’s and passwords that change after every use.

GADGETEER’s RATING: ★★★★★

TeamViewer download: http://bit.ly/1i8qhqo

Graphic credit: TeamViewer& Google Image

Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at bob.thegadgeteer.skidmore@gmail.com, or followed at twitter.com/bskidmore for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, make any legality of use claims, or endorse any of the products he reviews. His opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings. Some information for this article may be gathered from various news sources available to the author.


On November 14th THE GADGETEER was featured on CRN TALK RADIO’S BARRY FARBER SHOW, being interviewed about gadgets. This show will be repeated several times and is also available in the archive section of CRN’s web site under: 11/14 – SEND NO MONEY. THIS SUCCESS SECRET IS FREE. FIND A NICHE NOBODYS OCCUPYING. STUDY. WORK. AND MAKE THE NICHE YOURS: http://bit.ly/1BDBudp


CRN Broadcasts 24-hours daily. CRN's radio networks can be heard from coast-to-coast on Cable Television Systems, Satellite Dish, and worldwide at crni.net. On most cable television systems, CRN is featured on the public information channel.  On digital cable systems, CRN's digital talk channels are listed right after the music service. Check your local cable listings for availability. CRN is also available in Southern California on PAX TV KPXN Channel 30's SAP (Second Audio Program) channel.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

WEEBLY ~ Web Site Creation



© 2014 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BOB SKIDMORE

CORRESPONDENT


Creating a website has always been a challenge for those not knowledgeable in what is known as HTML protocol. In previous articles, I have reviewed various software that was a giant step forward in making website creation easier for the novice. Since then, a number of sites are now offering true drag and drop programs as part of their website hosting offerings. For the uninitiated, hosting means a service that publishes your website using your existing Internet address. If you do not already have an Internet address, a/k/a domain name, they can generally provide one as an optional extra and at an annual cost. One such site is weebly.com. They not only offer their own web hosting service, but also partner with several others who offer Weebly’s website creation software for free.

(TIP: If you use the weebly software with one of their partners be aware that you cannot redirect your newly created site to Weebly.com. I strongly suggest using Weebly for the site creation software, hosting, and domain name/address, if you do not already have one. It is best to keep everything under one vendor as it makes life easier when making changes or updates. Also, take note that Weebly stores your site’s template in the cloud and not on your computer. This means that the host always retains rights to its release thus preventing its use elsewhere without their permission or possible extra charges.)

(TIP: If you use a domain name currently in use on another site and wish to redirect it to a different host such as Weebly, you will need to advise the provider of that domain name to redirect it to the new host site. This can be done by you supplying the necessary technical information to the provider or requesting that the provider do it for you. Most domain name providers will do this at no cost. Weebly has a standard email form that you can use for this purpose which contains all the technical data needed should you be redirecting the domain name to their hosting service.)

The Weebly website creation software is a true drag and drop program. You simply drag/drop the feature options from the menu on the left side of the template design screen and then enter the desired text, video, audio or JPEG files.

(TIP: Content changes and or additions are easily made by just bringing up the design template and making the changes or additions just like you did when you created the page. Once done hit publish and the content changes are now on the site for all to see.)

A full selection of background themes, fonts, sizes, effects and social media icons are available for the choosing. You use your computer’s cut, paste, spell check, and highlight functions along with the Weebly tools. What could be simpler? The results are truly professional and are automatically re-formatted for mobile and tablet use.

(TIP: As is the case with designing any creative project, look at other sites similar to your theme for layout and other creative ideas.)

The Weebly Group, founded in 2007 by three college friends, saw a need and made it happen. They offer email, live chat and phone support (844.493.3259), in addition to a FAQ selection on their web site.

(TIP: Intro-Tek Creative Guides, publishes, CREATING A FREE WEBSITE USING WEEBLY.COM. This softcover, “show-and-tell”, book written by Jill E. Poyerd, is an easy to read, step-by-step tutorial that will answer many of the questions you may have and offer the reassurance that you’re doing everything correctly. Her presentation is geared towards the fine arts and photographic field, but you can easily relate what she says to what you’re trying to do. It reassures you that you are on the right path and is chocked full of many tips and tricks too. It is well worth the $40 and it is available at amazon.com)

If you’ve wanted to create a website, but thought it was too complicated or too costly, weebly.com may be your solution. It’s available in eleven languages. The use of the on-line creation software is free. Four hosting offerings range from FREE to $25 monthly and include ecommerce and business capabilities. An on-line “web stats” report is always available on your computer or via a smartphone app so you can easily see the number of hits by page, search terms that were used, and referring sites.

GADGETEER’s RATING: ★★★★★

Graphic credit: picgifs

Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at bob.thegadgeteer.skidmore@gmail.com, or followed at twitter.com/bskidmore for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, make any legality of use claims, or endorse any of the products he reviews. His opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings. Some information for this article may be gathered from various news sources available to the author.

##

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

APPLE WATCH




“OH, THERE’S ONE MORE THING” ~ 
A timely statement from Apple’s Tim Cook…

© 2014 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BOB SKIDMORE

CORRESPONDENT


In the 15th century the wristwatch evolved from a spring driven clock that was invented by the German craftsman Peter Henlein. While improvements have certainly been made, the concept of keeping time in some form or another hasn’t really changed. In recent months we’ve seen various attempts to change that with the introduction of the “Smartwatch”.  On September 9th Apple’s Tim Cook may have changed that when he said, “Oh, there’s one more thing”, taken from a phrase that the late Steve Jobs always used, Tim introduced the APPLE WATCH, and then proclaimed, “Apple’s most personal product, ever”. This announcement had so much world-wide interest that it overloaded the Internet… Did you notice it’s not part of the “i” family, a sign the “i” symbol may be on its way out?

What makes the Apple Watch stand apart from all the other Smartwatches? First off, the rectangular watch with rounded edges, looks like a fine timepiece that adapts for right or left hand use automatically. It’s available in two sizes for men or women and three different models. Then with the push of a button you can interchange from a wide selection of wristband styles. The models include, The Watch, in either polished or space black stainless steel, The Sport, anodized aluminum in silver or space gray, and The Watch Edition, a 18-karat gold design developed to be twice as hard as standard gold. All models feature a polished sapphire crystal protective covering over the display and use a traditional side mounted watch crown to navigate the menus thus preventing obscuring the display. The watch face can be selected from many available designs. Apple Watch truly has the look of a fine watch and doesn’t give the appearance that you’re wearing a bulky electronic gadget! It’s really not a computer on your wrist, but rather a sophisticated link or remote control and display for your iPhone.

So, what does the Apple Watch do that makes it so unique? Well, it truly integrates with Apple’s iPhone models from the 5 series on up. This is something that was not typically possible with other Smartwatches. When linked to your iPhone you can make and receive calls, receive and text messages, read, mark and delete emails, control music, use Siri, walkie-talkie communication, calendar reminders, GPS turn-by-turn directions that tap on your wrist indicating the turn, remote camera operation, make purchases with *Apple Pay, and fitness/vital sign tracking that can be sent to others. Fitness and vital sign tracking could open the door for many life saving technologies in the future. Now that’s a comprehensive list of useful features with many more to come. I especially like knowing when a call is coming in because the watch taps you on your wrist. It also shows caller ID and text messages at a glance without having to pull out your phone. In noisy areas this can be a big plus.

The battery life is still a deep secret. The display only turns on when the watch is moved to a ninety-degree position, a feature that exists on other smart watches that conserves battery drain. Charging is accomplished by magnetic induction, a form of wireless charging.

The Apple Watch will be available some time in early 2015 with a starting price of $349.00. The Gold Edition may be very expensive, perhaps as high as $5000.00.



Earlier I referenced *Apple Pay as a feature. This is a service commonly known as mobile wallet. The concept is to negate the need for credit cards by simply communicating between your iPhone and a merchants’ special reader thus authorizing the payment of a sale’s transaction between the merchant and your bank. Apple has already aligned itself with several large merchants and service providers to make this form of payment possible some time in 2015 or sooner. A quick note, Wal-Mart and Best Buy have stated that they will not participate as they plan to use another form of a mobile wallet. Some have said mobile wallets will eliminate the need for credit cards as a form of payment and severely impact PayPal, but let’s not be too hasty as many people still do not have iPhones or Smartphones and may never have them. Also, even though Apple indicates that hacking will not be an issue, it seems someone always finds a way to break the code, after all it is Cloud based technology. Boy, true technology on the move and where’s Dick Tracy when we need him?

Graphic credit: Apple

Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at bob.thegadgeteer.skidmore@gmail.com, or followed at twitter.com/bskidmore for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, make any legality of use claims, or endorse any of the products he reviews. His opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings. Some information for this article may be gathered from various news sources avail