How to Take Your Smarthome Traveling


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Smart phone controls of a hotel room.
zhu difeng/Shutterstock

Just because you’re leaving home doesn’t mean you can’t take smart home tech with you. Whether you’re camping, road tripping in an RV, or staying in a hotel, you can bring some of your smarthome tech with you.

Put Google or Alexa in Your Vehicle

Roav volt with google assistant in a car

Just because you aren’t home doesn’t mean you can’t have your favorite voice assistant. Some cars manufacturers are baking Google Assistant and Alexa into the infotainment system, but even if you’re in an older car, you still have options.

Anker makes both an Alexa and Google version of its Roav product. The Roav looks like a standard car charger, but it syncs with your phone and your vehicle’s speakers to give you a voice assistant on the go. You’ll need a data signal from your phone for the devices to work of course.

Amazon did announce the Echo Auto, but it’s invitation only right now, so third-party options are the only viable choice currently.

Or if you’re using a hotspot, you could take your Echo Dot or Google Home mini with you. Some hotels are starting to include Echo devices in guest rooms as well.

Determine Your Internet Options

Verizon Jetpack hotspot viewed from front and back.

Many smarthome gadgets require the internet to work. Your video doorbell, cameras, Wi-Fi devices, all need some network access to enable all the features they provide.

So as a first step, determine what your internet access is going to be. If you’re tent camping, you may not have convenient internet access; or if you do it may be slow. But if you’re staying in a hotel, or you have a mobile hotspot with good reception, then you have more options to consider.

Keep in mind that most hotels have a guest login page, which can prevent Google home and other smart devices from reaching the internet. If you have an Amazon Echo, there’s a process for working with web browser sign-in pages. But for everything else, you may want to consider a travel router.

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5 Travel Apps to Find Interesting and Unique Tourist Spots on Your Trips


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Tourist hotspots are easy to find, but the fun part of traveling is discovering unique and offbeat places. These travel apps will help you find something different and fun to do on your next trip, apart from suggesting the must-visit attractions.

We’ve already talked about some decision-making travel tools to find a destination that fits your needs. Once you’re there, you need to figure out what to do. From asking friends for recommendations on a map to free guided walking tours, here’s how you can make the most of your vacation.

1. Triptipedia (Web): Tips by Travelers and Locals

Triptipedia, an alternative to wikitravel and wikivoyage, has user contributed travel tips and guides

Wikivoyage and Wikitravel have a worthy rival in Triptipedia. Even if you use the two famous Wiki sites, you should also search this alternative for unique travel tips and advice in the form of personal experiences.

Triptipedia is completely user-generated, which means fellow travelers and locals add information about any place. The difference from the Wiki sites is that each entry about a place is like a blog post. A visitor or a local will share their insights on the city and the attractions. This also gives you the chance to comment on that post and get advice directly from the contributor, unlike Wikivoyage or Wikitravel.

The Travel Tips section is worth a look regardless of where you are going. These are often generic travel tips, such as how to plan a family trip. Try the Tours and Activities tab to find local experiences, most of which are paid.

2. The Culture Trip (Web, Android, iOS): Free Alternative to Lonely Planet

The Culture Trip is one of the best free travel guides on the internet and a free alternative to Lonely Planet

The Culture Trip is one of the best free travel guides on the internet today. It covers most cities in the world, with an emphasis on helping tourists discover the history and culture of that place in non-traditional ways.

Each destination has multiple articles and videos, all of which is original content for The Culture Trip. It lets you create a wishlist of items to see based on these. Some cities have full guides that are as good as any travel agent’s efforts. I’d recommend downloading the app because you can then save articles and videos offline, which can help save data when you’re in a foreign country.

Like Atlas Obscura, one of the best sites to randomly pick travel destinations, The Culture Trip points out a side of the city that you won’t easily find in travel guides. That’s what makes it special, and worth a gander even if you’ve picked up a Lonely Planet.

Download: The Culture Trip for Android | iOS (Free)

3. Where Would You Go? (Web): Ask Friends to Plot a Map for You

Where would you go (WWYG) lets you ask friends for travel recommendations and interesting spots on a map

Google Maps has made it easier than ever to find your way around a city. So much so that if fellow travelers and locals told you where to go on a map, you’d manage the rest alone. That’s exactly what you can ask friends for with Where Would You Go (WWYG).

WWYG doesn’t require you to register, yet creates a unique map for you. Add your point of origin or first stop, your final destination, and a few preferences like the number of hours you’re okay with traveling between two places or whether you’d prefer to stay in one place.

With your input, WWYG will create a map with a unique URL. Share this URL with your friends, or even on travel forums. People can add spots they think are particularly interesting, along with a comment on why they recommend it. WWYG can create the best possible route for you to see all of these points, but I’d still use Google Maps for that part of the exercise.

4. TravelChime (Web): Planner and Mapper, Especially for Groups

TravelChime lets groups of travelers make itineraries and plans together on a map

Whether you’re traveling alone or in a group, it’s a good idea to map all your points of interest in one app. TravelChime lets multiple users create a common itinerary, although you can use the app as an individual too.

The easy interface of TravelChime makes it special. Once you sign up and invite your friends to edit it, you can create lists, such as places to visit, food and drinks, etc. Now search for a place and add it. You can also use Google guides, available within the app, to add common touristy points of interest.

Like WWYG, you can ask non-group friends for advice by sharing the link to your map. But they will need to register or login with Facebook or Google.

The best part about TravelChime? Once you’re done building the itinerary, you can export it to Google Maps. It’s a unique map that you and your friends can follow, with all the places of interest mapped neatly on it.

5. FreeTour (Web): Find Free Walking Tours and Budget Activities

Most major cities have volunteers and guides that conduct free walking tours of certain parts of the city. It can be difficult to find these with a Google search. FreeTour aggregates major budget-friendly activities in one place.

The app lets you filter the activities by price, rating (powered by TripAdvisor), languages, and categories. Apart from walking tours, you can try cruises, day trips, food and drink, nightlife, private cars, or Segway tours. Interesting activities can be added to your favorites to check later.

Each activity has a detailed description, along with ratings from customers and user reviews. And there’s a precise map pin for the meeting point. FreeTour has a large community, so you will find reviews and ratings for almost every activity, which makes it easier to find out information.

Download: FreeTour for Android | iOS (Free)

The Essential Travel Tools

Everyone has their own style of travel that they prefer, but it never hurts to get a few more ideas. While the above apps will tell you which spots to check out, there is more to traveling than that.

From expert travel blogs and itinerary planners to customized packing lists and cheap ticket finders, our list of these cool travel tools will help you have a safer and more enjoyable trip.

Read the full article: 5 Travel Apps to Find Interesting and Unique Tourist Spots on Your Trips

Activision Unveils the New Call of Duty Game


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Call of Duty is back, with another instalment of the popular and extremely long-running series being released in October 2019. It’s titled Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and, as the name suggests, is a reboot of the Modern Warfare story arc.

A Brief History of the Call of Duty Franchise

The first Call of Duty game was released way back in 2003. It was called Call of Duty, was set in World War II (as all first-person shooters were back then), and was released on PC. It was a great game, but no one predicted it would spawn so many sequels and spin-offs.

Call of Duty 2 was released in 2005, and there has been a Call of Duty game released every year since then. The Modern Warfare titles, set in the present day, have been the best-received games in the series. Which explains Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

What to Expect From Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

The new Modern Warfare is likely to be the most realistic Call of Duty game ever released. Infinity Ward, the developer responsible for the game, wanted Modern Warfare to look and sound like real life (and death). And built a new game engine to make this possible.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a soft reboot of the Call of Duty franchise. It’s a reimagining of the series designed to be relevant for 2019. Which means less black and white, and more shades of gray. And characters making decisions you won’t agree with.

This is a game designed to affect you emotionally. And not always in a good way. While previous Call of Duty games have focused on a shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later approach, Infinity Ward hopes that Modern Warfare will impact you on a different level.

When Is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Coming Out?

Call of Duty Modern Warfare will feature a single player story campaign as well as the usual multiplayer modes. The campaign follows two story strands, one where you’ll play as a special-ops soldier, and the other where you’ll play as a rebel fighter in the Middle East.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will be released on October 25, 2019 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Like the best cross-play games out now, Modern Warfare will support cross-play between PC and consoles. However, there isn’t going to be a season pass to buy.

Read the full article: Activision Unveils the New Call of Duty Game

How to Change the Notification Sound & Call Ringtone in Facebook Messenger


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When you hear a “ding” on your phone, chances are it’s a new notification for Facebook Messenger, and it could be a fairly painful sound depending on how loud your volume’s set. Thankfully, you aren’t stuck with this singular alert option, so if you’re unhappy with both this sound and the call ringtone, you can change it to something else — something less distressing.

The catch? You need to be running Android. If you’re an iPhone user, you’re stuck with Messenger’s default “ding” sound for notifications and the default Messenger ringtone. However, there are a few tiny adjustments you can make… more

Fix Power surge on the USB port error on Windows 10



Power surge on the USB port

Power surge on the USB portLike every other port, USB ports also come with power rating. The default power output of a standard USB port is 0.5 amperes. If you notice that phones charge slowly on USB ports, you know the reason now. Sometimes, Windows […]

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How to Hide Contact Photos from Your Apple Messages List & Conversations to Declutter the Interface


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The Messages app on iOS features contact photos for every one of your conversations — including group chats. Even if you don’t have a picture for a specific contact, their initials will appear instead. For non-contacts, a generic profile avatar appears. These give threads a bit of flare, but if you’re looking for extra privacy or don’t enjoy the look, you can easily hide those images and icons.

Removing contact images in Messages keeps prying eyes away from them, but it also frees up space where your conversations live. When hidden in the Messages list, more of the last comment in a… more

MobiScribe: An E-Ink Display That Writes Like Paper


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Do you enjoy the feel of writing on paper, but aren’t a fan of the inconveniences that come with actual paper? A new device called MobiScribe might be exactly what you’re looking for, as it takes E-Ink technology and a stylus to create the look and feel of paper but without the drawbacks. Or at least, that’s the goal.

MobiScribe Features

When it comes to taking notes, keeping schedules, and drawing, there’s nothing like the feel of pen and paper. While MobiScribe isn’t actually paper, it promises to feel much closer than writing on a tablet or a laptop.

MobiScribe is all about taking some of the conveniences offered by modern technology and combining them with the comfort and feel offered by old-school pen and paper. The E-ink tech provides a look and feel that’s closer to paper than a tablet, but the apps and Wi-Fi allow it to do more than a regular piece of paper ever could.

There’s a preinstalled Note app that offers all kinds of functionality that would require a wide range of notebooks. There’s a general note pad, music writing sheets, graph paper, and plenty of other types of paper to choose from.

The device has pressure sensitivity, so as you push down harder with the stylus, your pen, marker, or pencil will become darker, just like it would on a real piece of paper. Though you don’t need to worry about breaking the tip off the pencil, which is a nice bonus offered by modern technology.

Outside of writing and drawing, you can also use MobiScribe as an e-reader for a variety of ebook files. It supports .mobi, .epub, .pdf, .txt, azw3, .azw, .fb2, .prc, and others. If you have a book you want to read on this device, chances are great that it’ll support it. It even supports comics in the .cbz and .cbr formats.

MobiScribe Availability

The team behind MobiScribe is seeking funding on Indiegogo to bring its E-ink notepad to market. It’s exceeded its funding goal by a large margin and is currently in the production stage, which means you can still pre-order one, but it hasn’t started shipping yet. However, you won’t have to wait too long, as they plan to ship the devices in August 2019. If you’re interested in ordering one, you’ll need to spend $214. That’ll get you the notepad, a cover, and a stylus.

As with any crowdfunding project, there are risks involved and there are some things you should consider before deciding whether to back one with your hard-earned money.

Read the full article: MobiScribe: An E-Ink Display That Writes Like Paper

DUEX: A Thin Portable Second Monitor for Any Laptop


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Working on a laptop is great. You can kick back on the couch, at your local coffee shop, or just about anywhere else. But the one place laptops can’t compete with desktops is with multiple displays. It’s amazing how much more productive you can be when you have two displays in front of you.

However, a new product called DUEX aims to bring the experience of working on multiple monitors to laptops—and it aims to do it without adding too much bulk to your portable computer.

DUEX Features

DUEX is a 1920×1080, 12.5-inch display that connects to the back of a portable computer. You place the magnetic adhesives to the back of the laptop, put the screen on those adhesives, plug it in, and slide the screen out. From there, it works like any second screen.

Interestingly, DUEX can slide out to the left or the right side, or it can be turned around and faced outward to be used for presentations.

Because the screen is tucked away inside when not in use, the device promises to be durable. Obviously, if you’re going to be carrying DUEX around on your laptop, it runs the risk of taking some hits, so being durable is necessary.

The screen is lighter than you might expect, coming in at 1.5 pounds. To put that into perspective, a 13-inch MacBook Pro weighs in at 3.02 pounds, so you’ll be increasing the weight by about 50% if you add a DUEX to a Pro. Additionally, it’s 0.48-inches thick, so it won’t add too much to the size of your laptop.

The creators of DUEX promise that it’ll work with Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS, and Android, so you should be able to use it with your laptop without issue.

One major concern with adding a second display to a laptop is the battery drain. While the creators didn’t spell out exactly how much it’ll suck down a laptop’s juice, they did say that the device is Energy Star rated to minimize the amount that it will drink down battery life.

DUEX Availablity

The creators of DUEX are deep into their funding campaign on Indiegogo. They’ve already shipped the first batch to backers, and they’re shipping the next batch in June. If you’re interested in preordering on, you can do so for $222 (the final retail price will be $250).

Even though this project is already in the shipping stage, you do need to be aware that there are some risks involved in backing a crowdfunding project, and it’s not necessarily the same as a traditional pre-order.

Read the full article: DUEX: A Thin Portable Second Monitor for Any Laptop

The 6 Best DIY Security Camera Apps and Software for Linux


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Security is a major concern in the tech world, but we’re not just talking about phishing attacks and malware. Old dangers, like break-ins and theft, threaten our homes and businesses, which is why there’s a market for top quality surveillance systems.

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Thankfully, you don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars for a surveillance system if you’ve got a spare PC running Linux and a few spare cameras. The DIY route will be cheaper and give you more control—as long as you pick the right software. Here are the best Linux security camera software options for you to try.

1. ZoneMinder

ZoneMinder Linux InterfaceZoneMinder is an awesome option for a do-it-yourself surveillance system. Professional features shape ZoneMinder into the perfect solution for household and commercial security alike. It comes with compatibility for both IP-enabled and standard PC cameras. If you’re on the go, Android and iOS apps let you monitor your cameras remotely.

You’ve got plenty of options for configuring ZoneMinder to your own requirements, with both live video and regular image stills supported. Email and SMS notifications help you to stay informed, even when you’re not monitoring directly. Additionally, ZoneMinder offers user access levels to let you limit who has access. It’s pretty flexible with options to zoom, tilt, and pan cameras.

Linux CCTV users benefit from installers for various distributions like Ubuntu and Debian, but you can also compile from source if you’d prefer. You can deploy ZoneMinder on low-powered devices like a Raspberry Pi, too.

2. Xeoma

Xeoma Chain Linux Interface

If you’re looking for easy-to-use Linux IP camera software, Xeoma is a good option—it markets itself as “childishly easy” video surveillance. It has a modular approach, letting you add in the components and features you need as you set your system up.

This Linux security camera software is feature rich. It’s compatible with everything from typical USB webcams to Wi-Fi CCTV cameras. You can connect up to 2,000 cameras to a single Xeoma installation, making it perfect for commercial use.

Screen captures from all monitors at once, remote access, and motion detection are all features that make Xeoma a good option for users. It also supports mobile access, with SMS and email alerts, as well as remote access to archives, cameras, and settings. You can also take advantage of different storage settings, delayed recordings, and even algorithms to avoid false positives. This latter feature is great for users with pets or small children.

While it’s available for purchase, Xeoma does offer a free edition with a few limitations (eight cameras, three modules per chain). Overall, Xeoma is a simple but comprehensive option for keeping an eye on your home or workplace.

3. Motion

Linux Motion Camera Software

You can probably guess from the name, but Motion monitors, well, motion. This free program detects if a major part of a picture from a video signal has changed. Written in C, Motion was created specifically for Linux distros with the video4linux interface.

While it saves video when movement is detected, Motion also includes time lapse settings for regular monitoring. You can also set Motion to save as either video or images. It runs headless and a GUI isn’t needed, giving it a lightweight footprint compared to other Linux surveillance software competitors.

That’s what makes Motion such a great choice if you’re looking to build a cheap DIY network video recorder (or NVR) to run on low-powered devices like the Raspberry Pi. It’ll record your surveillance images or video digitally, either locally (on an SD card) or over your internal network.

Motion might be lacking in features compared to other Linux NVR software, but it’s a good option if you’re looking for a basic motion-sensor camera system.

4. Bluecherry

If you want to exclusively run open source software, Bluecherry is the Linux NVR for you. It’s a cross-platform video surveillance system so you’re free to run it on other platforms if you’d prefer.

Installation is simple, with a one-line install script available for Ubuntu, Debian, and CentOS. It supports over 2,600 IP cameras, with playback for recordings or live streaming available from your browser. Unfortunately, Bluecherry lacks its own mobile app for Android and iOS, but it does support integration with IP Cam Viewer.

While Bluecherry is free and open source, paid support packages are available for business users. With a rich feature set and paid support options, Bluecherry is a great option for both business and residential use.

5. Ivideon

If you’re designing a DIY surveillance system on a budget, you should consider Ivideon. The system requirements are among the lightest you’ll find for any DIY DVR—you can run Ivideon on an Atom-powered PC with 1GB RAM and just 500MB of storage. You’ll need at least 11GB available for daily video footage storage if you want to store locally, however.

Despite a low resource footprint, Ivideon is a service integrated with the cloud, with notifications and playback available over the internet. You can also store your recordings using Ivideon’s cloud storage.

Installation is pretty simple. You can either download and run an installation script or run the individual commands from a terminal window yourself. Like many other video surveillance systems, Ivideon offers a mobile app for Android and iOS devices. It officially supports the most recent Debian and Ubuntu releases, but it can be installed on other distros.

Home users have a range of plans to pick from, including the basic (but feature-heavy) online plan for free, although business users will have to stump up for the $5/month package.


Kerberos Linux is another free NVR software for Linux, compatible with almost all Linux-supported cameras. It’s cross-platform so you can run it on Windows and macOS as well as Linux. You can even download a docker container to set yourself up in minutes without any configuration.

With support for Raspbian, is the best option for users looking to create a surveillance system with low-powered tech. Notably, also has a clean, modern and easy-to-use web interface.

If you don’t want to spend a long time setting up, configuring or maintaining your system, then is one of the best options for you on Linux. While it’s free, certain features (like viewing your cameras remotely) requires a cloud subscription, starting at under $2/month.

Stay Safe With Linux Security Camera Software

Building your own DIY Linux-based surveillance system can help protect your home and business from more traditional threats. They can also play a part in building a smart home with other DIY projects available to try.

If DIY-ing your own system sounds a little too complicated, then don’t worry. Pick up one of the best wireless home security cameras instead.

Read the full article: The 6 Best DIY Security Camera Apps and Software for Linux