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
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
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.
There’s a lot of great content in the Apple TV app, and Apple wants to help you discover it by offering notifications for new content. If you find this less than helpful, iOS lets you modify (or disable) these notifications.
A lot of TV notifications you receive aren’t even for content you’ll be able to watch. Often, the TV app will remind you a new season of a popular show is starting, and when you tap on it, it offers to help you sign up for a subscription to watch the show! How thoughtful! Often these notifications are more annoying than anything, so it’s probably a good idea to just turn them off.
Fortunately, it’s straightforward to turn off notifications for the TV app on your iPhone or iPad. First, jump into the Settings app.
Tap Notifications > TV.
To disable all notifications, toggle the top switch to off, and you’re all set.
For those of you keeping track, this is only the latest in a string of blows to UWP. When Microsoft decided to move Edge to Chromium, that decision meant converting its browser from UWP to a native win32 app. Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore told The Verge at the time that UWP lacked the maturity of win32 and thus missed out on essential features like multi-monitor support.
Before that, Microsoft stopped developing the UWP version of its Office apps for a relatively straight forward reason. It wasn’t necessary; you won’t find a Windows device that can’t run win32 apps anymore. After all, Surface RT is long dead, and Windows Phone is fresh in the grave as well.
Ultimately, UWP comes with a significant issue: it only runs on Windows 10. And while Windows 10 is growing, that leaves out a large market of users who haven’t (or won’t) make the upgrade, and limits cross-platform capability as well. One of the benefits of deciding to move Edge to Chromium is the browser will be available on Windows 7, 8, 10, and MacOS. Until now Edge has been Windows 10 only.
Microsoft maintains that UWP is alive and well, and so long as it continues to support the platform that’s technically true. But as we saw with Windows Phone, support from the company isn’t enough. Developers have to do something with it too. [The Verge]
In Other News:
Target put out a recall for its store brand “Hey Dey” 3-foot lighting cables: Target needs you to bring back your “Hey Dey” lighting cables. Apparently, they suffer from minor issues like electric shock and fires. The company says it sold 90,000 units, so if you buy Target brand lightning cables, you should check if you’re affected. [MacRumors]
Nreal wants to sell you a pair of $499 AR glasses: Nreal’s new AR glasses look almost like cheap plastic sunglasses, yet somehow worse. In some ways that’s an improvement over large headsets other AR glasses require. The company drove down the price by using your phone for the glasses’ brain, rather than include a computer unit like Magic Leap or Hololens. Here’s hoping the AR looks better than the hardware. [Variety]
Microsoft wants everyone to know—update or get wormed: We previously reported on a critical vulnerability in the remote desktop protocol. The problem was so bad, Microsoft took the unusual step of releasing a patch for Windows XP, in addition to 7, 8, and 10. Now the company is reminding everyone to take the update, as it sees evidence an exploit for the problem exists. [ZDNet]
Gigabyte matches Corsair with an incredibly fast SSD: Not to be outshone by Corsair, Gigabyte announced a new AORUS NVMe Gen4 SSD. The drive can hit up to 5,000MB/s read speeds and 4,400 MB/s write performance, which is significantly faster than Samsung’s fastest NVMe SSD. The downside is you’ll need a new AMD motherboard capable of support PCI-E 4.0. Intel is still playing catch up and only supports the 3.0 standard. [Engadget]
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 may drop the headphone jack and physical buttons: Citing unnamed sources, Android Police says it has high confidence the next Samsung Note won’t have a headphone jack. Or physical buttons. Instead of a volume rocker or power button, the phone would have capacitive and pressure sensitive areas. The only source that can verify this is Samsung of course, and they’re not saying what’s what just yet. [Android Police]
Facebook is working on voice-controlled products: Portal was just the beginning. Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company is working on several voice-controlled products, though he didn’t provide any details past that. Additionally, the social network wants to bypass Google and Alexa and release a new voice assistant. Digital Trends points out that with Facebook already installed on so many devices, its voice assistant could be a real contender. We’ll let Cortana cry in a corner about that line of thought. [Digital Trends]
Lego is releasing an Apollo 11 Lunar Landing set: It’s the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and there’s no better way to immortalize the event than to enshrine it in Lego blocks. The building block company set June 1st as release date and $100 price tag. The set contains 1087 pieces including astronauts and the lander. But that doesn’t appear to include any moon rocks for you to inevitably step on, causing you to regret all your life decisions. [GeekWire]
Apple increases over-the-air app downloads to 200MB: To keep you from going over your cellular data limit, Apple limits over-air-downloads to a specific size. Until recently that limit was 150MB, but now the company raised that cap to 200MB. That’s a boon for app developers, who try to keep their apps under the size limit for fear that going over would prevent spontaneous purchases. It’s also pretty helpful to anyone with an unlimited data plan, as they don’t care how big the app is. [9to5Mac]
Our brains do magnificent things that we readily take for granted. One example is tuning out multiple voices in favor of a preferred speaker. If you go to a noisy restaurant, so long as the background noise isn’t overwhelming, you can ignore what nearby people are saying and readily listen to your spouse, children, and so on.
Hearing aids, however, can’t do this. The devices can cut out generalized predictable background noise, like traffic, but focusing on one voice over another remains elusive. If you’ve ever tried to use a voice assistant like Alexa while somebody else is also talking, you’ve seen this limitation in action. Likely the voice assistant failed to understand you, and that’s because it couldn’t tell which words were important and which to discard.
Currently, the closest option we have is directional microphones that cut out sound behind your head in favor of audio ahead of you. I can say from personal experience, that helps but also leads to an issue of needing to turn your head towards the person you want to hear. In a restaurant where you may have people sitting next to you and across from you, that leads to a good deal of head swiveling.
Whether you’re a web designer debugging your site’s source code or just curious about what a site’s code looks like, you can view the HTML source right in Google Chrome. There are two ways to view the HTML source: View Source and Inspect using Developer Tools.
View Source Using View Page Source
Fire up Chrome and jump to the webpage you want to view the HTML source code. Right-click the page and click on “View Page Source,” or press Ctrl + U, to see the page’s source in a new tab.
A new tab opens along with all the HTML for the webpage, completely expanded and unformatted.
Inspect Source Using Developer Tools
This method uses the Developer Tools pane in Chrome and is a much cleaner approach to view the source code. HTML is easier to read here thanks to the additional formatting and the ability to collapse elements you aren’t interested in seeing.
Open Chrome and head to the page you want to inspect; then press Ctrl + Shift + i. A docked pane will open alongside the webpage you’re viewing.
The weekend’s right around the corner, but you can get all your shopping done today. The internet’s loaded with great deals and discounts. Naturally, we’ve picked out a few favorites.
Right now, you can pick up a Google Nest Hub for just $67. This is the ideal smart display for most homes, and it could make the perfect Father’s Day gift (might as well get that shopping done early). If you aren’t interested in a smarthome device, then you should check out the $50 Nintendo 2DS (refurbished and sold on eBay by Nintendo), or the $100 Monoprice 3D Printer.
Laptops and Desktops
If your computer’s running slow, it may be time to upgrade. Buy a discounted Windows laptop, desktop, or iMac.
To enable the light theme, head to Settings > Personalization > Colors. To quickly open the Personalization section, you can right-click your desktop and select “Personalize” or press Windows+I to open the Settings window and then click “Personalization.”
Click the “Choose your color” box on the Colors pane and select “Light.”
This feature requires your PC has the May 2019 Update, which is Windows 10 version 1903. You won’t see this option if you’re using an older release of Windows 10.
For the previous Windows 10 default with a dark taskbar and light apps, select “Custom,” set your default Windows mode to “Dark,” and set your default app mode to “Light.” You can also select “Dark” in the color list for a dark desktop complete with dark File Explorer windows.
Anker is a well-known brand in the mobile space: the company’s battery packs and other accessories are simple, functional, and thrifty. Anker hopes to bring that same vibe to its Soundcore sub-brand, now expanding into home theater.
The Infini series consists of two cheaper soundbars, the standard and “Mini,” both offering stereo sound at under a hundred bucks. But the Infini Pro is an interesting proposal from Anker: premium, powerful sound, with a simple setup that appeals to non-audiophiles who want better audio from their TV.
It uses a 2.1 setup with an integrated subwoofer and very few frills in terms of connections or settings but adds in Dolby’s Atmos kinda-sorta-surround sound and Bluetooth to help justify the higher $250 price tag.
And for the most part, it succeeds. Anker’s minimalist approach to design will undoubtedly be welcome by people who don’t know—or care—what ARC or optical audio cables are. The simple setup makes it easy to get good sound from more or less anything with barely any thought. This comes at the expense of flexibility and a higher cost—$250 might be more than some are willing to spend.
Keep It Simple, Soundbar
Building off the critical success of the Infini and Infini Mini, Anker keeps things simple with the Pro. At a little over three feet wide and 4.5 inches deep, the bar is bigger than many in this price range but justifies the size with the integrated subwoofer and top-firing Atmos speakers hiding behind the fabric wrapping.
There’s something notable in its absence, however: a screen. Even cheap soundbars often include a small LED for basic audio and source management, but the Infini Pro does without. Instead, it uses a short row of LEDs, opposite the hardware buttons on the top of the central unit, to indicate connection and input status.
On its own, that’s not a bad idea. Keeping the user interface to a minimum is a good call for something that’s going to be sitting in front of your TV. But while the LEDs are pleasantly obscured when you’re watching from a chair or couch, that means you’ll need to stand up to see if the input you’ve modified has any effect. It’s a surprising whiff in terms of usability.
Elsewhere in the box, you get some minimal documentation and an infrared remote, which has a simplified control setup that looks very similar to the mini remotes from Roku, Apple TV, et al. The remote is minimalism done right, with an intuitive layout that nonetheless manages to find a logical spot for every function. After a couple of days, I could control everything I needed to without relying on a backlight. Which is good, since the remote doesn’t have one. You’ll also get some small, flush brackets for mounting the soundbar to a wall.
Not Looking For a Hookup
The Infini Pro’s input options are a bit sparse, but they should get the job done for the vast majority of users. HDMI pass-through and HDMI ARC will take care of things for most TV and receiver connections—though if you have an audio receiver, I doubt you’d be looking for an all-in-one soundbar solution. Optical audio input and a standard headphone jack are there if you want to keep things even simpler. The rear panel includes what looks like a USB 3.0 port, but the manual says it’s for service only: it can’t be used for an audio connection or directly loading local music.
Did you just install the May 2019 Update? If so, there’s more than 10 GB of data wasting space on your hard drive—we had 24.6 GB! On a laptop or tablet with a limited amount of storage, this can fill up your device quite a bit.
If you have a computer with a large amount of available storage, you might not even notice this useless data. It’ll stick around for 10 days until Windows automatically cleans it up. But, if you’re pressed for space, you’ll want to clean it up as soon as possible.
These Files Let You Downgrade for 10 Days
Upgrading between “builds” of Windows 10–like from Windows 10’s October 2018 Update to Windows 10’s May 2019 Update–is treated the same as upgrading to an entirely new Windows operating system.
When you upgrade to a new “build,” Windows creates a Windows.old folder that contains the system files from your “old” Windows installation. This allows you to “go back” to the previous build of Windows 10 if you experience a problem with the new build.
However, this folder can use more than 10 GB of space on your hard drive. Windows will automatically remove it after 10 days, but you can remove it sooner to free up the space immediately.
Warning: You should only do this if your PC seems to be working properly. If you have some issue with the new version of Windows 10 on your hardware, you won’t be able to “go back” to the previous build without completely reinstalling Windows after you wipe these files.
You can go back to the last build of Windows 10 you had installed by navigating to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery and using the “Get Started” button under “Go back to the previous version of Windows 10.” This button is only present if the files are still available on your computer.
Advances in technology should, in theory, make your job easier, but sometimes it feels impossible to get it all done. These productivity techniques can help.
If you’re struggling with being productive, you’re not alone. A quick Google search of “how to be productive,” yields 190 million search results. You and just about everybody else out there are looking for ways to get more done.
Thankfully, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are a lot of tried and true productivity boosting systems out there. While all these systems can be useful, finding the one fits in with your lifestyle can be a little overwhelming. This quick guide to six popular productivity techniques should make it a bit easier for you to find ways to ramp up your workflow.
History: This time management technique was created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. The term Pomodoro is Italian for tomato (Cirillo named it after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer he used.)
What is it: The premise behind this technique is that you are training your brain to focus intently for short bursts of time, with the idea being that you can accomplish more in short, focuses bursts of intensity, over longer, distracted chunks of time. The Pomodoro technique is made up of six different steps:
Choose a task
Set your timer for 25 minutes
Work on the task for until your timer goes off
Mark your progress on a sheet of paper
Take a quick break (about 5 minutes)
After every four 25-minute segments take a longer break (20 to 30 minutes)
Effort: Easy. All you need is a timer and a willingness to stay focused for less than half an hour at a time.
Drawbacks: Some people don’t like that it’s such a rigid method for focusing, and it’s focused strictly on time-on-task work without any system for organizing or managing your tasks.
History: This history is a bit murky, but one of the earliest records of time blocking is in Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. Many well-known people like Elon Musk and Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn CEO) say that time blocking helps them get more done and have time for family and personal events.