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Homido Provides VR Headsets Better than Cardboard & Less Expensive than Others

In Android, Apple, Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Google, Hardware, Mobile, Opinion, Review, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

Get in line to order your Oculus Rift VR headset. Sure you can pre-order them now. But be prepared to fork out several hundred dollars for them, $600 in fact. In the meantime, if you want to experience Virtual Reality, immersive surrounding video and even augmented reality, there are plenty of other ways to experiences this in a much more budget-conscious manner. Google has provided Google Cardboard which is an inexpensive, but flimsy, VR headset and a way to see 3D videos that allow you to look around in a “practically there” type of experience. And there are games available on smartphones that let you play by moving your head. Even media establishments like the New York Times are providing Google Cardboard to allow its subscribers to immerse themselves in video stories that filmed to see depth and let you look around. But, if you want something in between the cheap and fragile Google Cardboard and the expensive and potentially scarce Oculus Rift, there are two other solutions by Homido – the $15 Homido mini and the $80 Homido.

HTD - Homido & Homido midi - side view of Homido VR headset

So what is a VR Headset? VR stands for “Virtual Reality” in case you have been missing all of the hype around this immersive technology. In fact, this type of technology has been around since the 1800’s. The stereoscope was invented by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1838. A flat, two-dimensional image can be viewed with 3-D depth using stereoscopy. Essentially, two different images (offset slightly) are presented uniquely to each eye and the brain is able to interpret this as a multi-dimensional image, giving it depth of field. The bulky device that Wheatstone invented used drawings since photography hadn’t been invented.

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Asking for Children’s Email Addresses in Stores – Bad Practice or Even Illegal?

In Family, General, Opinion, Parenting, Safety, Security by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

My 11-year old daughter was excited. She and her similarly-aged friends were going to head to downtown to do some Black Friday shopping. Escorted and ushered around by the parents of one of her friends, the girls made their rounds from store to store, picking up “amazing” deals at a variety of stores. They even did a little shopping for themselves. One deal that my daughter did turned out to not be that amazing after all. As she was checking out at a store that has both online and brick & mortar (I won’t give the name – let’s just call it “123 Company”) stores, the clerk casually asked her for her email address. I only learned about this later, as she asked me how she could stop all of the “123 Company’s” emails that were “spamming” her email inbox. This clerk’s action, which I’m sure happens all the time at other brick & mortar stores around the U.S. — designed to grow the marketing database — is, in my mind, quite questionable and potentially illegal. So can stores ask for children’s email addresses?

Asking for children's email address - @ sign

Luckily for my daughter, we were able to easily unsubscribe from the “123 Company’s” email list together. It was quick and painless. At least, I hope it was (and is). And, as we were doing this and I was telling her that even the process of clicking “unsubscribe” on an email is potentially dangerous, given that spammers often look to see if there is anyone “on the other end” of the email, it did give me a great opportunity to talk to her about online and offline privacy, protecting personal information no matter where you are and who you are speaking with, and how children under 13 are pretty much “prohibited” from using websites that have personal information collected (part of the reason why she doesn’t have all of the social media apps that some of her friends do have). This is where COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) set up by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is important to know about.

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How the Brydge Keyboard Transforms an iPad Mini into a MacBook

In Apple, Case, Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Hardware, iPad, Opinion, Review, Tablet, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

There are many different types of bluetooth keyboard and case solutions available for iPads. And many of these are extremely similar. From black plastic clamshell designs, some with pivoting displays to even the snap-on Apple smart keyboard currently available for the iPad Pro. But what I have found to be rare is a design that truly looks like it is stamped from Apple’s design. That is, until I got my hands on the Brydge keyboard. Suddenly, my iPad Mini has been transformed into almost a MacBook.

HTD Brydge Keyboard - keyboard

The Brydge Keyboard Design

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HighTechDad’s 2015 Tech Gift Guide of Reviewed Products

In Apple, Case, Cellular, Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Hardware, iPhone, Opinion, Review, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

I thought that I wouldn’t be doing a 2015 Tech Gift Guide but then I thought back on all of the products that I have had the pleasure of reviewing over 2015 and decided I WOULD actually create a roundup of all of the tech that has entered my household this year. The products that I tend to review are ones that I feel bring important technology to the family environment. This is pretty much the premise behind why I created this site and what drives me to write. Not all technology works within a household. It all depends on what your family or household values are, what you believe to be important and if you view technology to be a helpful tool or not. Obviously, I value it, but I like to keep a critical eye open to what works and what doesn’t. Many of my reviews, those found here in my 2015 Tech Gift Guide, talk about how a particular product works within my family and how it may work within yours. Obviously, people find different types of value in technology, some things are great for some people and others could care less. Regardless, hopefully some of you will find my 2015 Tech Gift Guide helpful.

I realize that it’s pretty close to the deadline for holiday shopping, so forgive me for the lateness of this post. But for those of your still scratching your heads, here are a few products that I have reviewed in 2015 with links to the reviews of products worth mentioning and adding to your holiday shopping short list. These are listed chronologically (oldest reviews are first).Read More

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Parent & Child Drones, Drone Safety Tips & Parrot Bebop & MiniDrone Review

In Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Hardware, Opinion, Review, Safety, Sponsored, Technology, Video by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

Humans have always wanted to fly and see like a birds, to soar and swoop while gazing down or far off into the horizon. For the most part, flight has been restricted to professional pilots, hand gliders, skydivers, hot air balloon, RC hobbyists and the like, that is until drones flew into the scene and landed with consumers. Now you can pick up a drone at a local consumer electronics store or online and leave gravity behind. Personally, I have long had the desire to try out a drone, and in fact, I was able to do so many years ago when Parrot announced the AR.drone. The drone marketplace has matured in the five years since I flew the AR.drone. Not only has the technology improved, allowing for HD video, longer flight times, more accurate flying and even better entry-level drones even for kids, but also there is increased scrutiny, privacy concerns and even new regulations being legislated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requiring drone owners to register their drones. While regulations are coming because of concern for public safety, this should not prevent you from learning how to safely fly drones, either as adults or as children (with adult supervision). I recently got to introduce droning to my daughters, using two new drones from Parrot, specifically the Parrot Bebop and the Parrot MiniDrone Night Drone.

HTD Parrot Drone - Bebop & MiniDrone

What was fun for me about this airborne journey was the learning process. The two drones offered to me by Parrot provided an opportunity to both be child-like (for the learning process) and an adult (for the safety and teaching process). These two Parrot drones are much like a parent and child, one is larger and one smaller, one has many complex features and controls and one is much simpler to fly, but with both, you always need to be safe and careful.

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I Almost Fell for this Google Docs Phishing Scam! Watch Out!

In General, Google, How To, HTD Tech Tip, Opinion, Safety, Security by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

I just received an email from a friend. The subject was “INVITATION” and the contents of the email simply contained the words “[name withheld] has sent a message regarding the following document: [withheld] Invitation Hello guys, remember to login and check it out.” I removed the name and other personal information to protect the innocent. I hadn’t heard from this person in a while but everything on quick scan looked legitimate. And, I almost submitted my personal login information on a site that also looked legitimate. But then I stopped. Something didn’t feel right. Here’s why I stopped in my tracks and why I now know it was a Google Docs Phishing Scam.
HTD Google Docs Phishing Scam - email

I’m going to dissect this a bit. And the order listed below doesn’t actually represent the order of actions that I did. I will put “warnings” that people should look for if they receive something they think is an email phishing scam.

The image above shows the email that I received. It looked almost familiar. It was very similar to other Google Doc notifications I had received in the past. It showed the person’s name as well as a project or site that I was familiar with. Warning #1 – there was no photo of the person in the email. While this isn’t that big of a warning, many people on Google Docs do have a profile picture.

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Twelve South BookBook iPhone Case Review – Made For Book Lovers!

In Apple, Book, Case, Cellular, Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Hardware, iPhone, Opinion, Review by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

My wife loves buying iPhone cases with various patterns and prints or simply clear ones where she can put a picture. Most of these she has picked up at mall kiosk stores, much to my dismay as the prices often match the quality and don’t offer the protection that an expensive iPhone truly deserves. There was nothing that unique about these kiosk iPhone cases. But a few years ago, I stumbled across an iPhone case that I knew she would love, particularly because she loves reading and we have a pretty nice collection of old and new books alike. And, I wasn’t wrong. She thinks this unique iPhone case that I’m talking about is the best one that she has had, and many of her friends agree. It’s the Twelve South BookBook iPhone case for the iPhone 6/6S Plus.

So why would book lovers or antique fanatics like this iPhone case? (And do note, Twelve South has versions for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5!) Mainly because the BookBook iPhone case looks exactly like a vintage book. In fact, it could be easily hidden on a shelf with other books and nobody would know the difference between an actual book and the BookBook iPhone case (see the photo below). But the case has many more features than simply looking like a book.

HTD Twelve South BookBook iPhone Case - hidden on shelf

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Ding Dong: Ring Doorbell Brings Wireless Video & Voice to your Door

In Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Hardware, Opinion, Review, Safety, Security, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

Doorbells are old technology and pretty much on the door of any home or dwelling. In fact, the doorbell’s history has been pretty “boring” over the years. The first doorbell actually ran on compressed air and was developed by William Murdoch in 1817. Wire that transmitted an electrical current to ring a bell was used by inventor Joseph Henry in 1831. According to Wikipedia, the wired doorbell was pretty widely used by the 1900’s. A pretty big advancement recently was the wireless doorbell which allows you to put the doorbell button and the chime box pretty much anywhere in your house assuming they are linked. More recently, however, doorbells have evolved even more, giving new meaning to the term “wireless,” to the point where you can actually see the person ringing the door bell and have a two-way conversation with them, from anywhere in the world using your smartphone. This is what the Ring doorbell professes to do, and it actually works quite well.

The Ring doorbell evolved from a Kickstarter campaign of a product initially called the “DoorBot.” The DoorBot supposedly didn’t too to well, so the Ring doorbell is the evolution of what the company learned, and in my opinion, they learned a lot. The Ring doorbell is extremely easy to install (especially if you just go down the wireless path) and just as easy to use, and makes a great addition to any home simply because it is useful and does what it is supposed to do.

You might be thinking…a doorbell is just a doorbell, right? Wrong. The Ring doorbell is also a great security device. Once configured, it can detect motion by its night-vision camera up to 30 feet away. So you can know if someone is approaching the door, well before they even ring the doorbell. And, if they don’t ring the doorbell, the Ring doorbell will still capture the movement and save to cloud storage. And you are notified throughout the process via smartphone or tablet app.

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