Friday, December 13, 2013

On The Road With A Powerocks Magicstick Extended Battery

Highly Recommended
Just back from a quickie business trip – my first with a Powerocks Magicstick 2800 universal extended battery for my phone. When I travel I’ve always been careful about phone use just in case I need to make an emergency call, check for an important email, text etc.  I never seem to be able to find an electrical outlet when I need one. The Magicstick eliminates these worries. 

I’ve been reading Leander Kahney latest book on Jonathan Ive, the head of Industrial Design at Apple. It’s really opened my eyes to intuitive design, simplicity and absence in clutter. The Magicstick has that Jony Ive / Apple feel. It comes in a bunch of different colors (mine is black) and includes a micro-USB-to-USB cable for charging up the Magicstick and a nice little bag to keep it in. 

It’s a small (sort of reminds me of a BIC cigarette lighter at 3.5” long, and 7/8” in diameter) 2800mAh portable battery that you pre-charge using an included micro-USB-to-USB cable. When it comes time to charging the Magicstick you just plug the charging cable in and charge it up. When you want to charge your phone or other portable device you just plug the cable that came with the phone or other device into the Magicstick standard USB port. On the opposite end of the Magicstick there is a smart push-button LED that shows charge status. Blue light = 70% - 100% full, Green light = 30% - 70% full, Red light = 1% - 30% full. 

I was able to get two charges on my old iPhone 3GS (from approx. 20% to 100% and yes I still have an old iPhone) with one fully charged up Magicstick. It will charge Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, Blackberry, etc, etc, etc devices - basically anything that will charge using a USB connection.  Simple.

A nice little stocking stuffer, grab bag, office swap gift, birthday present, etc - The Captain and I give it our highest rating of 5 out of 5 Gordoccinos 

You can get more info on the Powerocks website

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Online Tracking, Consumer Profiling, Data Collection and You

Well - it's the holidays when we're using the web along with those credit cards a lot more frequently. Ever wondered who's watching you online?  And who the heck you are giving your personal card info to when making online purchases? Ever also wondered if there was anything you could do to protect yourself a little more? Well, others have too.

Abine, a Massachusetts company spun out of MIT in 2008, has developed some pretty nice tools that allow web users more control over their personal data. These accessible tools allow you to choose when you want to share your information, control your personal data, and provide the ability to protect your online privacy. Before we get to the products - here's some interesting tidbits from an Abine fact sheet:

Online tracking, consumer profiling, and data collection are happening wherever consumers go on the web, usually without their knowledge or approval. Consumers are the product being sold. Social networks, ad networks, and e-commerce sites collect every last byte of personal information they can, combining consumers’ online activity with their offline lives. The consequences of all this data collection are growing and real: lost job opportunities, higher prices, more spam, lower credit scores, identity theft, and more. Let's look at some tracking info and stats:
A tracker is a connection that your browser makes when it loads a webpage that’s intended to record, profile, or share your online activity. Usually these connections are made to entirely different companies than the website you’re actually visiting. The most common types of trackers are:
  • Javascript: 43% 
  • Images, such as 1-pixels: 14% 
  • iFrames: 14% 
  • Flash cookies: 5% 
Abine collaborates with the UC Berkeley Center for Law and Technology on a recurring Web Privacy Census. The most recent Census found:
  • The use of third-party tracking cookies on the 100 most popular websites increased by 11% from May to October 2012. 
If present trends continue, the amount of online tracking will double on about 2.5 years. 
  • Google has a presence on 712 of the top 1,000 websites 
  • 26.3% of what your browser does when you load a website is respond to requests for your personal information, leaving the remaining 73.7% for things you actually want your browser doing, like loading videos, articles, and photos.
  • Google makes 20.28% of all tracking requests on the web 
  • Facebook makes 18.84% of all tracking requests on the web 
5% of the top 1,000 websites use social networking code that can match users’ online identities with their web browsing activities, and nearly 25% of the web’s 70 most popular sites shared personal data, like name and email address, with third-party companies (Wall Street Journal, 12/2012).
So... how do you protect yourself?
Abine has just rolled out DoNotTrackMe 3.0, a browser extension that stops online trackers from finding your contact and credit card info.  Here's a DoNotTrackMe sample screen shot.

In addition, the company is giving out unlimited Masked Cards through December 26. The Masked Cards work with any credit or debit cards you have, allowing you to create disposable credit card numbers for each online purchase you make, preventing having to give out your real card info. 

The company also makes a product called MaskMe which keeps you private as you browse and shop the web, and creates and manages secure passwords and DeleteMe which removes your public profile, contact and personal info, and photos of you from leading data sites. 

Cool stuff. Check them all out.

Monday, December 2, 2013

What is Bitcoin and how does it work?

You may have heard last week that a single Bitcoin unit reached a value of $1000. Lots of people have been asking lately about them. So.... what are they and how do they work? Here's some details snagged from, a site that was put together and went up last week from Mt. Gox.
What is Bitcoin? Bitcoin is a digital currency you can use for personal transactions or business at high speed and low cost. 
How are Bitcoins created?
Instead of being made on a printing press or by a central authority, Bitcoins are created through software available to anyone. Individuals and groups willing to dedicate computer processing power to support the Bitcoin network are rewarded with Bitcoins for their work. This process is known as mining. Most Bitcoin users do not mine, but purchase or trade for their Bitcoins. Mining doesn't affect the average Bitcoin user much, but is still a very important part of the Bitcoin ecosystem.

How are Bitcoins secured?All newly mined Bitcoins, along with every transaction, are publicly recorded. This record is known as the blockchain. While the blockchain records transaction details, it does not record any personal identifying information about the senders or recipients. The blockchain is a critical feature to maintain the transparency of the Bitcoin system, and make counterfeiting or double spending impossible.  
How do you use Bitcoins?Let's look at a step-by-step example. Say you want to give some Bitcoins to a friend to pay for gas on a roadtrip. You’ve both got the bitcoin app on your mobile devices and have internet connectivity. 
  1. Find out your friends wallet address by typing, pasting, or scanning it. You can then save the address to use later if you want. 
  2. Convert your desired currency amount into Bitcoin.Verify the desired payment amount and send.  
  3. The amount in Bitcoin is now deducted from your balance, and entered into the blockchain as a transaction so they cannot be spent twice.  
  4. Your friend immediately sees the unverified transaction. 
  5. The transaction is verified on the network, and then deposited into your friends wallet.
Be sure to check out the along with the Mt Gox site for more details.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Google "Glass Explorer"

"Humanity pending confirmation; to date, no real persons have ever been known to wear and/or enjoy Google Glass." 

- from a post at Seattlish.

Well..... sort of...... key phrase here is to date. If you follow tech at all you've heard about the self proclaimed  "Glass Explorer" who got kicked out of the Seattle Lost Lake Cafe for refusing to either remove or turn off his Google Glass headset or leave the restaurant. Well, the "Explorer" ended up leaving and then posting a Facebook note complaint requesting 
“an explanation, apology, clarification, and if the staff member was in the wrong and lost the owner money last night and also future income as well, that this income be deducted from her pay or her termination.”
As much as I enjoy new technology - I really don't see the need in a public restaurant to keep your Glass going. Can I see a use for a Glass type product - of course - lots. Would love to have a pair on while fishing for example. But sitting in a restaurant wearing one..... nah. Don't even want to think about someone walking into a public restroom with one on. 

We all carry phones with cameras now. If you want to take a picture or video of your food in a restaurant use your phone.

Looking forward to my next Seattle visit and dining at the Glass free Lost Lake.