Archive for December, 2012

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It may not always be easy to find a discount deal on Apple products, but you can land one if you know where to look:

— Go for refurbished. Apple sells its own refurbished Macs, and they come with a one-year warranty. Go to the “Special Deals” section of Apple’s website. Or try to create a personal RSS feed on latest offers.

— Deal site is another great way to find discounts on Mac products. You can find discount codes and coupons for retailers like MacMall, and MacConnection.

— There’s always eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist — but go in with eyes open. With eBay and Amazon, see if the seller takes returns. With Craigslist, see if you can meet in a public place and take the laptop for a spin — and don’t pay new computer prices for something that’s used.

Check out these tips and more in USA TODAY’s new daily digital video series TECH NOW.

Posted in Great Gadgets, In The Press, TechNow

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From snapshots to posed portraits, smartphones have become the camera of choice for snap-happy photo lovers. In this TECH NOW, how to use that same smartphone to enhance any photo with three colorful apps.

Go back to the ’50s with PocketBooth. This cross-platform app takes rapid-fire shots of your friends. You can add filters for that antiqued look, and arrange images into a strip you can then share or print. It’s available for Apple’s iOS gadgets, Android and Windows Phone.

Or … bring still photos to life with Flixel, a free iPhone app that animates a single detail from any shot you choose, giving the illusion of a mini movie.

Then take a walk on the wild side. Wash your photos in funky pop art colors with a 1960s vibe using the psychedelic Photo Tropedelic app available from iTunes ($1.99).

Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy award-winning consumer tech contributor and host of USA TODAY’s new daily digital TECH NOW . Email her at Follow her on Twitter: @JenniferJolly.

Posted in Great Gadgets, In The Press, TechNow, TechStyled, Tips & Tricks

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Apps have literally come to life this holiday season. From interactive plush toys based on the popular Talking Tom and Ginger the Cat characters, to a free customizable sound-equalizer app from RadioShack, here are a few ways to resuscitate that tired gift list.

Talking Tom, the app that more than half a million people are playing with, is an interactive plush toy. Just turn it on and Talking Tom will talk via the app. There are other characters available too.

Here’s another idea. A pair of headphones to tune it all out. The Auvio Elite headphones from Radioshack also use a free app as a customizable equalizer – to create clean, clear and comfortable sound.

Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy award-winning consumer tech contributor and host of USA TODAY’s new daily digital TECH NOW . Email her at Follow her on Twitter: @JenniferJolly.

Posted in Great Gadgets, TechNow

Predator Proof Your Child's Gadgets: watch video here.

1:23PM EST December 12. 2012 – Handing over a shiny new smartphone or tablet to a youngster is like giving them keys to a sports car and wishing them luck on the freeway. In this TECH NOW, find out how to head off inappropriate content, over-use and even Internet predators with simple steps that even a non-techie parent can manage.

— Set the rules. Have a heart-to-heart about the rules of cyber-conduct. Let them know this is about keeping them safe, which is your job as a parent. Print out, sign and post a family Internet contract so that expectations and consequences are clear.

— Set up content filters. You can set up filters that even your tech-savvy teens can’t hack through.

Android, Apple and Windows devices have settings or apps that with just three to five steps let you “set and forget” a list of filters. You can password-protect your settings, too, so that your kids can’t (easily) outsmart you and undo them.

— Install surveillance software. The next level of protection is surveillance — with the understanding that you’re using these tools to protect, inform and empower your kids, not to spy on them. After all, teens need to learn about the trust, respect and privacy that comes with growing up. For free filters, try K9 Web Protection. It blocks sites in more than 70 categories, including pornography, gambling, drugs,violence/hate/racism, malware/spyware and phishing.

Additionally, the FTC this week said it is investigating whether some apps violate kids’ privacy rights by quietly collecting personal information and sharing it with advertisers and data brokers. The FTC recommends these six steps for parents:

— Try out the apps your kid wants to use so that you understand the content and the features.

— Use device and app settings to restrict a kid’s ability to download apps, make purchases through the app or access other material.

— Turn off your Wi-Fi and carrier connection using “airplane mode” to disable any interactive features, prevent inadvertent taps and block access to material you haven’t approved.

— Look for statements about whether the app or anything within the app collects kids’ personal information. If you can’t find disclosures or assurances that information collection and sharing is limited, consider a different app.

— Check whether the app connects to social media, gaming platforms or other services that enable sharing photos, video or personal information or chatting with other players. If so, see if you can block or limit those connections.

— Talk to your kids about your rules for downloading, purchasing and using apps, and sharing information online. And make sure you tell them why it matters.

Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy award-winning consumer tech contributor and host of USA Today’s new daily digital TECH NOW . Email her at Follow her on Twitter: @JenniferJolly

Posted in Connected Kids, Cyber Safety, Digital Parenting, Top tech news

Cisco study on Internet habits of Gen Y population reveals how the need to stay connected drives every facet of their lives: from work to shopping, friendships to family

SAN JOSE, Calif. – December 12, 2012 – It’s 6 a.m. Your morning alarm shrills piercingly. You sit up groggily, stretch and yawn. It’s time to get ready for school or work – what do you do next? Get dressed? Take a shower? Brush your teeth?

Ninety percent of Gen Y surveyed worldwide said they check their smartphones for updates in email, texts and social media sites, often before they get out of bed, according to the 2012 Cisco® Connected World Technology Report (CCWTR.) There are 206 bones in the human body, and the smartphone could plausibly be considered the 207th for Gen Y. Two out of five said they “would feel anxious, like part of me is missing,” if they couldn’t use their smartphones to stay connected.

Based on a survey conducted by InsightExpress of 1,800 college students and young professionals aged 18 to 30 across 18 countries, the report examines how Generation Y uses the Internet and mobile devices to connect with the world around them. The report reveals their behavior and attitudes about the creation, access and privacy of the enormous amounts of data being generated daily by smartphones, sensors, video cameras, monitors and other connected devices.

Mobile devices are just the beginning. As more and more people, processes, data and things join and interact on the “Internet of Everything,” the volume and potential value of all the data generated by those connections grow exponentially.

Key Findings of the 2012 Cisco Connected World Technology Report
The new morning routine: toothpaste, toilet paper and texting
Gen Y does not want to miss anything. Checking their mobile devices for text, email and social media updates is how they start their day – often even before getting out of bed. For this generation, information is real-time, all the time.
– Nine of 10 respondents globally will get dressed, brush their teeth, and want to check their smartphones as part of the morning ritual for getting ready for school or work.
– For employers, this is meaningful because it demonstrates that the workforce of the future is more agile, more informed and more responsive than any previous generation. They live to connect and communicate.

Me and my smartphone. From morning through night, Gen Y stays constantly connected.
– More than one in four Gen Y respondents (29 percent) say they check their smartphones so constantly that they lose count.
– Globally, one in five checks a smartphone for email, text and social media updates at least every 10 minutes. In the U.S., two out of five check at least once every 10 minutes.
– One-third of respondents check their smartphones at least once every 30 minutes; in the U.S., that figure jumps to more than 50 percent.

Connected or addicted?
– Sixty percent of Gen Yers subconsciously or compulsively check their smartphones for emails, texts or social media updates.
– Of those, women are more driven to connect: 85 percent of women versus 63 percent of men find themselves often compulsively checking their smartphone for text, emails or social media updates.
– Over 40 percent of respondents would go through a “withdrawal” effect and “would feel anxious, like part of me was missing,” if they couldn’t check their smartphones constantly.
– Of those compulsive smart phone users, 60 percent wish they didn’t feel so compelled.

They’re everywhere!

(Courtesy Isaac On Tech)

Smartphones are used everywhere, even in the most private of places. The craving to stay connected means that the lines between work and social life/family life are blurring. People check for work updates and communicate at all hours from every place imaginable. Time is elastic: For Generation Y there are no clear markers between “the workday” and personal time – both blend and overlap throughout the day and night.

Is romance dead? Globally, 3 out of 4 respondents use smartphones in bed.

– Don’t forget to wash your hands: Over a third use smartphones in the bathroom.
– Set a place at the table: Almost half of the global respondents (46 percent) said they text, email and check social media during meals with family and friends. More than half of American respondents (56 percent) use smartphones during social meals.
Watch out! Dangerous as it is, almost one in five admits to texting while driving.

About the Study
The third in an annual series, the 2012 Cisco Connected World Technology Report, was commissioned by Cisco and conducted by InsightExpress, an independent market research firm based in the United States. The global study consists of two surveys: one focused on college students and workers aged 18 to 30, and the second focused on IT professionals. Each survey includes 100 respondents from each of 18 countries: United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, Poland, Turkey, South Africa, India, China, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.

Posted in Cyber Safety, Digital Parenting, Top tech news, What The Tech