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Bamboo, Bluetooth & Bass! – Review of ARCHEER A320 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

In Audio, Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Hardware, Review, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

There are tons of Bluetooth speakers available in the market. To review each and every one would take years. And even in my household, we have 5+ Bluetooth-powered speakers in various rooms. And these are of varying quality. Some are water-resistant. Others have clock-radios. And others are quite elegant. But for me, there are two important factors that make up a good Bluetooth speaker: design aesthetics and sound. I recently received an ARCHEER A320 Bluetooth speaker and was able to check off these two requirements.

The first thing that I was impressed with when I unboxed the ARCHEER A320’s was how heavy it was. And, that it was larger than I had expected (from only having seen the pictures). While heavy doesn’t always equate to a good thing, in this case, it did give the feeling of quality. All too often, I have found Bluetooth speakers to be really light weight and consequently feel cheap. This is not the case with the A320’s.

HTD ARCHEER A320 - front view

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7 Tips to Building a Brilliant Website

In Cloud, General, How To, HTD Tech Tip, Sponsored, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

When you build a new house, you start with a dream. You decide what you want in terms of layout, rooms, common areas, size, and much more. Once you have those wishes and desires mapped out in your mind, you get a designer or architect to put your ideas to plans and paper. After that, you begin building, tweaking and fine-tuning the design as the construction progresses. And finally, once everything has been built from the foundation and up to the roof, you can truly make it your own with furniture, paint, decorations, and the like. Essentially, you create the structure and fill it with the content and make it a living space. In much the same way, building a website, particularly a blog, goes through many of the same steps.

Build Something Brilliant - Liquid Web - Under Construction

Disclosure: This post was written by me through an activation with HireInfluence on behalf of Liquid Web. Although I received compensation for participating in the campaign, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Want a True “Smart Home”? The Sense Power Monitor Gives You Energy Insights Using Machine Learning

In Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Hardware, Review, Technology by Michael Sheehan9 Comments

Many of us have Smart Homes but are we actually smart about our homes? That is to say, while you may be able to interact with a variety of connected devices around your home, do you know when anything is on or off from anywhere? Or do you know how much energy a particular device you have is consuming? Or do you know how much energy is being consumed at your home all of the time? These are the very questions a new connected power device called Sense is trying to figure out, day and night. And Sense is using machine learning to do so. I recently install the Sense in my electrical panel and the insights I’m already getting are making me check the Sense app many times a day.

Sense Power Monitor - in the boxWhat’s really interesting is I got a preview of this type of technology back in 2010 as part of an Intel Influencers program. Deep in the Intel Labs, a few others and I saw how an electrical device could be “identified” by the electrical fingerprint it put out. Essentially, when any electrical device is powered on and running, it puts out a digital signature. You can think of it like a voice print that can not only identify what is being said, even contextually, but also who is saying it. The voice of a child saying “I want to go to the zoo” looks differently than an adult saying “the garage is dirty.” And even more precisely, one person saying “I went to the WHITE house” is contextually different than someone saying “I went to the white HOUSE.” These types of nuances can be differentiated in voice, pronunciation, emphasis, and other nuances.

Machine learning actually unlocks a lot of potential when it comes to interpreting huge sets of data. And this is exactly what Sense is trying to do. As more Sense devices are installed and start sucking in vast amounts of data, and that data is compared, it begins to identify patterns and signatures of electrical devices. The more data that is uploaded and analyzed, the smarter and more precise the data analytics becomes, and the more accurate the device identification also becomes.

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What is a Mesh WiFi Network & How Does the NETGEAR Orbi Do It Better? (Review)

In Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Hardware, Review, Technology by Michael Sheehan4 Comments

Testing various WiFi routers is starting to become an informal hobby of mine. Although I recently removed multiple WiFi routers from my home and consolidated all of my SSIDs under one name to make things simpler, I do have two NETGEAR routers running currently, the Nighthawk X8 (my primary router – see my review here) and now a NETGEAR Orbi (model RBK50) which provides additional coverage in other areas of my house. The Orbi was added so I could experience a new trend in WiFi- mesh networks. So I decided to “mesh” around. (Sorry.)

NETGEAR Orbi Mesh WiFi Router - 2 pack

Before I dive into my review of the NETGEAR Orbi, let’s talk a bit about what a mesh WiFi network is. With a traditional WiFi router, your wireless network is broadcast from a single source, namely the router. Technology has evolved a bit with traditional routers, with new WiFi standards emerging. The latest mainstream standard is 802.11ac which many modern devices now have. There is a new standard coming, 802.11ad, and a few routers are emerging that support that, but for now, the 802.11ac router is the one to really consider the best for right now.Read More

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Why “Unlimited” Data Plans Might Actually Be A Good Teaching Moment for Families

In Cellular, Consumer Electronics, Family, General, Mobile, Opinion, Parenting by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

For the past year or so, my family has tried to share. It hasn’t worked out so well. What I’m talking about is mobile data sharing. There were always 1-3 members of my family (yeah, I’m usually one of the guilty ones) who gobbled up most of the shared data. But now, with the new “unlimited” data wars upon us, I can shift my parenting lesson from “sharing” to “managing your own actions.” Let me explain.

My family and I were part of one of AT&T’s family data sharing plans. Many mobile carriers have this. Basically, every month the members of your shared plan are given an allocation of pooled mobile data. Some carriers (like AT&T) also allowed for unused data from the previous month to roll into the current month. Our family of 5 had a pretty big pool to draw from — 30 GBs. Last year, we were usually able to roll some data forward each month.

Then the holidays happened and everyone got upgraded iPhones. And that pool of data dried up really quickly. For the past few months, we actually hit overages. At $15 per 1 GB, those added up, especially as we were all basking in the glory of larger screens and better performance.

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How To Fix RSS Feed Validation Error for WordPress Site Name with Trademark

In Fix It, General, How To, HTD Tech Tip by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

A while ago, I decided I wanted to add the trademark symbol (™) to my WordPress site name – HighTechDad – so that all pages and articles would have “HighTechDad™” tagged on to the end of each page title. This process was easy enough to do, but little did I know that by doing it, it would actually break my RSS feed’s validity. While not many people use RSS directly anymore, there are content aggregation sites (like Feedly) that pull in RSS feeds in order to display the content. I’m not a web developer so the fix was not something immediately apparent to me. And I did a bunch of investigation to try to first understand the issue, and then to fix it. Alas, I failed. But I was saved by the coding expertise of Shane Bishop, the brains behind the incredible plugin, EWWW Image Optimizer which can compress the images on your WordPress blog in order to make it serve content faster. (By the way, I highly recommend his plugin!) So, I can’t take ANY credit for the fix that follows! (Just the documentation of it.)

Here’s what the issue was. Since an RSS feed is essentially an XML document, this XML document needs to adhere to some very strict standards in order for it to be valid. But first, a little background. I have my feed “hosted” with Google’s Feedburner service (an RSS service which lets you not only host a feed, but also “clean it up” and add other options to it). While Google hasn’t killed the service, it really has discontinued any development on it. But it still works. Recently, I was adding my site to an Influencer service, and part of the process was to add in my site’s RSS feed. When I did that, the service couldn’t pull my feed. It was broken.

So, I went over to the “Troubleshootize” tab on Feedburner and decided to check the “Original Feed Validity” (which uses to do so). The result I got was interesting.

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Delivering More Than Just the Mail – USPS Delivers Innovative Experiences!

In CES, Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Sponsored, Tech News, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

There is nothing more exciting or magical than receiving a package. Knowing that someone took the time to carefully place the contents into a box instantly creates a connection. For well over 200 years, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been delivering these connections to the receivers. But this is changing, allowing the sender to participate in this connection. And the USPS is driving innovation and personal connections through a series of prototypes and technology explorations as recently exhibited at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Showcase (CES).

USPS - Innovation that delivers

I was invited to CES by the USPS as an influencer to explore these innovations that expand the experience. And, as part of this program, I received an early prototype of a device designed to create shared connections. Known as “The Most Wonderful Ornament,” this gadget is more than just some cool technology. It actually is a means to connect with friends, family or loved ones regardless of distance. Let me explain.Read More