Sunday, October 1, 2017

Ask My Buddy Alert App



Summoning Help With Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home and Microsoft’s Cortana Devices….

© 2017 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BOB SKIDMORE

CORRESPONDENT


Last year I featured Amazon’s “ALEXA” a/k/a “ECHO” in my March column. http://www.goo.gl/TFX7GF Since then many similar devices such as Google’s “Home” and Microsoft’s “Cortana” have appeared in the market place. While all these devices offer many neat features, none actually summon help. Amazon’s “Echo Connect” will be available later this year in the U. S. A., UK and Germany, as an optional, one-time, cost. Since it interfaces with your landline, if you still have one, it could call 911 or other emergency service by turning your ECHO device into a speakerphone that lets you make land-based phone calls by just using your voice.

Ask My Buddy is an app that is loaded into your ALEXA (ECHO), HOME or CORTANA device. It’s a free service, with optional upgrades that connects a user to their personal alert network by voice commands that are recognized by any of the three devices listed above. The free version is designed for use by all registered users and is especially a favorite of senior and mobility challenged individuals. It’s not a replacement for calling 911, but rather a tool for those people trying to maintain their independence, offering the security of knowing help is just a shout away. Accidents do happen and in many cases summoning help can be a difficult thing for anyone.

Ask My Buddy is the brainchild of Pat and Sheryl Coggins. They recognized the need for a service that would interact with these devices when emergency help is needed. In an effort to make this available to the masses they offer it in a free version as well as two enhanced ones. The FREE version gives you a 5 contact list and 10 combined alerts per month. For $3.66 per month you can have 120 alerts per month, 5 additional contacts as well as a multi-lingual feature. Multi-lingual alerts offered are German, Spanish, French, Swedish, Portuguese and Italian with more under consideration. For $5 per month you qualify for all of the above with up to 400 alerts per month in addition to even more upgrades. Both versions allow you to ask your buddy for help by simply stating the request in the following manner. I’m using Amazon’s “Alexa” for these examples, but you would use HOME or CORTANA if that’s the device you have: “Alexa, ask my buddy to send help” ~ This will send an alert to all of your pre-registered contacts and tell them you are in need of help and that they should contact you. “Alexa, ask my buddy to alert Bob” ~ an alert will be sent to your friend Bob who is on your pre-registered list. When you initially set up your contact list you can select how each contact is to be contacted be it text, email, by phone or any combination of the three methods. International calls are possible.

(TIP: Notify your pre-registered contacts that you’ve listed them on this service and explain how it works. It’s important to advise them that an unknown number in West Palm Beach would be notifying them so not to disregard or consider it a robo call or spam. The same would hold true for email and text notifications. You would be well advised to ask each contact to create an address book entry for the West Palm Beach ASK MY BUDDY phone number, 561.231.5676, and text number, 888.734.0751, and label it something like “Ask My Buddy Mom”.  This way your caller ID will clearly identify what’s up when an alert comes in. Please be aware that these numbers can change in the event of an outage and that they do not accept incoming calls. As previously explained, the notification method is pre-determined by you in the initial contact set-up process.)

There is no question that this is a most needed service for all of us, at little or no cost. Hats off to the Coggins’ family for providing and maintaining a life-saving app. At present they are supporting a user base of over 100,000, so your contributions by selecting the upgraded versions would go a long way to supporting the service, which obviously has some operating expenses for the Coggins.

Ask My Buddy is now also available at the Alexa UK store.

GADGETEER’s RATING: ★★★★★

For more information go to:



Graphic credits: Ask My Buddy

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, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products and press releases 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.

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Friday, September 1, 2017

DEVICE ESSENTIALS



Making Cyber Life Easier & Secure….

© 2017 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BOB SKIDMORE

CORRESPONDENT

Here are a couple of gadgets that can make Cyber Life easier and safer for you.


The XTREME 59001 Universal 2-Way Tablet Stand is a neat, compact folding stand. It’s designed to work with most any tablet or iPad. Since it folds up and is very lightweight, its’ portability easily travels with you. The rugged design will hold the weight and size of most pad devices available today in both a horizontal or vertical position. Being adjustable, viewing angles are easy to set making touch screen keypads simple to access and viewing much more comfortable without having to hold the device. This isn’t a substitute for external keyboards previously featured in this column, but rather a convenient, inexpensive solution. The best part, it’s only $4 at 5 Below stores.


I don’t normally recommend stores in this column, but here’s a cost-saving tip. FIVE BELOW stores are a nationwide chain that I was recently introduced to while visiting Cleveland, Ohio. You might compare it to a dollar store with the exception that everything is $5, or below. Hence, the name. Among various merchandise, they have a section devoted solely to Technology at ridiculously low prices. A good place to purchase high quality iPad covers and other accessories cheap! In addition to store locations, you can order items on-line at their web site: http://www.goo.gl/Jiz4hX

With the rapid growth of the Internet we now see more hacking and viruses being targeted to our unattended computers. While not a cure-all, one step in the right direction might be the addition of the NET 7 TECH Internet Network Security Lock Switch


This switch simply installs in-line between your computer and Internet modem. Two standard Ethernet connector ports are provided making for a quick installation. Operation is simple. When your computer is not in use just depress the switch and you are disconnected from the Internet. When Internet use is desired just press the switch again and Internet service is restored. 


It’s also possible to connect it to the incoming Internet feed so all wi-fi and hard wired hookups are disconnected from the Internet. Cost: $27.95 and available at Amazon. http://amzn.to/2gwaOI8

GADGETEER’S RATING: ★★★★★

Graphic credits: Manufacturer & Google Images

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, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products and press releases 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.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

MACALLY ~ A Practical Smartphone Car Mount


A Practical Smartphone Car Mount….

© 2017 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BOB SKIDMORE

CORRESPONDENT


Most of us have smartphones, but what do we do with them when in our automobiles? First off, let me say, I’m not promoting the use of texting or operation of your smartphone while driving your car. In fact, many states have laws against such use coupled with stiff fines.

(TIP: It’s advisable that you check local laws in your state to confirm the legal use of smartphones in your automobile. It is possible that even with Bluetooth, smartphone use may be prohibited when the vehicle is in operation.)

That being said, most new sound systems, in both old and new model cars, do have the capability of linking your phone to your car’s sound system via Bluetooth. This feature allows you to receive and make hands-free calls. If you have Siri, an iPhone feature, you can even tell your phone who to call by simply saying their name and, when prompted, which phone to call. Accessory devices are also available that act as a Bluetooth transceiver. Such devices allow independent connection to your Bluetooth enabled smartphone via your radio. (Scosche MotorMouth III $39.95 www.goo.gl/3jfl4F )

There are a large variety of mounts on the market today. Having tested numerous models, I’ve settled on the MACALLY MCUP for this review. Unlike most of the others, the MCUP fits into your cup holder. Generally, most cars have cup holders that either pull out from the dash, or are incorporated in the center console. The MCUP has a unique, fully adjustable, base that allows for a precise, secure fit in most cup holders. 


By simply twisting the locking knob in one direction or the other you can create a tight pressure fit, or cause the mount to be released. A rather short, stiff gooseneck is attached to the base and extends upward to an adjustable grip that accommodates iPhones, smartphones and other phones between 1.77 and 4.1 inches, in both vertical and horizontal positions. 


This size variable means that even phones in cases or with external battery packs can probably be used. The gooseneck is purposely stiff to minimize movement by bumping or vehicle shift and is remarkably resilient should you accidently bump it.

Having tested many brands and models I found the cup holder design to be the most practical and reliable. Suction cup units can easily detach depending on heat and dampness. Vent grill designs impede airflow, rattle and can easily detach if bumped. The MCUP stays in place, is easily viewed and accessible, naturally, when the car is not operational.

GADGETEER’s RATING: ★★★★★

MSRP: $19.95

For more information go to: http://www.goo.gl/YCH4Yz

Graphic credits: Manufacturer

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, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products and press releases 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.

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Saturday, July 1, 2017

BLITZWOLF ~ Charging Up To Six Devices



Charging Up To Six Devices….

© 2017 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BOB SKIDMORE

CORRESPONDENT


Charging multiple devices can be a real challenge. Typically, the need for individual chargers of various shapes and sizes would be required. In addition, to hook up all this gear could be space consuming using all the various chargers.

The BLITZWOLF BW-S4 desktop charger is a possible solution. It’s a neat new design. A lot of thought went into it, but there’s still room for improvement. The design incorporates 6 USB ports, 3 on each side of the unit. Each port has a dust flap cover to minimize dust. 


When all three flaps on one side are opened it becomes a tray allowing a non-covered smartphone to lie on its’ side. A cool idea, but, since most users have some form of protective or external battery case, or cover, the smartphone may become too thick for the tray. The unit itself is very compact making it ideal for home or travel use.

The BLITZWOLF BW-S4 has an input voltage of 110-240 volts, 60/50Hz at 1.2 amps making it a worldwide device.

(TIP: When purchased in the USA, an AC wall plug adapter for the foreign countries where the unit is to be used would still be required.)

The output voltage is 5 volts, 10 amps DC allowing each port to deliver up to 2.4 amps to the plugged in device. Naturally, the charging speed is determined by how many devices are charging at any one time and what the current consumption is. Devices that can be used include Android smartphones, iPhones, iPads, iPods, GPS, PSP and many digital cameras. Basically any device that uses the standard USB wall charger will work.

The BLITZWOLF BW-S4 is a well-built charger. It has a white glossy finish that matches many OEM chargers that come packed with your device. It certainly gives you a lot of bang, or charge, for the buck! The only shortcoming is the fact that the original intent of laying your smartphone in a fold-down tray is probably not possible, a design flaw indeed forcing me to give it only 4 stars. Definitely a must have if you have multiple devices that use a USB charger.

GADGETEER’s RATING: ★★★★

MSRP: $29.95

For more information go to: goo.gl/DIwefq


Graphic credits: Fizzics & Google Images

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, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products and press releases 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.
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