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Category Archives: Computer Hardware

Facts About a Personal Computer

You might be surprised to know that the first computer came in the year ‘1945’. The early computer history tells us that the first electronic digital computer called “ENIAC” (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was introduced in 1945 in Philadelphia and it consumed so much electricity that lights in the nearby town dimmed every time it was switched on! Can you imagine how huge it was? It weighed 30 tons and it required 1500 square feet of floor space! Initially the computers were so huge that they used to occupy a big room. The size was reduced gradually, but the working and storing capacities were significantly improved. The development of the microprocessor lead to the evolution of personal computers. These days, you can find numerous types of personal or desktop computers, for example, portable PCs, laptops, palmtops, etc. The way a PC works with different gadgets is just incredible. Now that the prices for good personal computers have come down considerably, even the schools in the developing countries can afford PCs. Owing to the increasing demand, they are now commonly available in the market.

Personal Computer

Even though laptops are becoming more popular, there is still a big market for desktop PCs. Kids and adults both love playing PC games. A PC takes care of all your personal things. While buying a PC, you have more choices than ever before. Companies like Dell allow you to design your computers and you can have a PC right like you want it to be! They build a system just for you. You have to decide about computer uses, whether you want to use it for playing games/music, or for business or for photography, and they provide the required things. With the help of computer software, you can use your PC as an intelligent typewriter. By using the Internet, you can send/receive mails and explore the vast treasures of information. Over the years, computers have become smaller but powerful. They have become faster and more user-friendly.

Facts
According to the available statistics, it took 38 years for radio to reach 50 million users, 13 years for TV, and only 5 years for the Internet.
One of the most amazing personal computer facts is that early hard drives in PCs held 20 Megabytes (MB), and the price was about $800 whereas an $8 flash drive today holds 2 Gigabytes (GB) computer memory. That’s a 100-fold ‘decrease’ in price for a 100-fold ‘increased’ computer performance!
PC viruses are little files or codes that have been written to ruin your computer. So you need to install an Anti-Virus scanner, no matter you’re connecting to the Internet or not. AVG antivirus is quite popular today. A ‘firewall’ is another way of defense which helps block other computers and programs from connecting to you and playing with your stuff.
Computers history facts inform us that first commercial computer was introduced in 1951 by John Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly from UNIVAC Computer. In 1953, International Business Machines (IBM) entered into the field of computers.
The first computer mouse was introduced in 1968 by Douglas Engelbart at the Fall Joint Computer Expo in San Francisco.
The first consumer computers were introduced by IBM in 1974/75. In 1981, Microsoft introduced the computer operating system of the century. User-friendly Microsoft Windows was first introduced in November 1985.
Tim Berners-Lee in 1990 first coined the phrase ‘World Wide Web’ and he is considered as father of Internet. The Internet gained popularity with the release of the first popular web browser Mosaic in 1993.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built the first Apple computer from parts they got for free from their employers. Their idea of a ‘PC’ was rejected by the employers!
One of the most amazing PC facts is that the computer mouse, the windowing GUI (graphical user interface, use of icons), laser printing and the network card were all developed at one company, ‘Xerox’ in Palo Alto, California.
Do you know that the computer in your cell phone has more processing power than all the computers in the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander that helped 2 men to land on the moon?
I was really surprised (and pleased) when I came to know that the popular programming language COBOL was invented by Admiral Grace Hopper, the first female admiral in the US Navy.
One of the latest products, pocket PC, has brought the world more closer. Now we can be in touch with the world while we are on the go.
Tablet PC, ultra mobile PC, laptops, notebooks, home theater PC, workstation, are all different types of personal computers. Microsoft and Intel are the dominant players in the PC market.
PC WIZARD is amongst the most popular and essential system information programs available in the market. It is designed for detection of hardware and for some more analysis. It can identify a wide range of system components and support the latest technologies and standards.

Edsger Dijkstra’s quote, “Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes”, reflects the process of evolution of technology. Most modern PCs are lightweight and they can perform almost any function. They are so versatile that they can meet almost any need. Moreover, to use a computer, you don’t have to be a computer or electronics expert. One of the most important personal computer facts is that in the life of a computer, time goes fast. What is hot today will be lukewarm tomorrow! Facts about computers that belonged to the previous decades may seem quite funny; but they make us feel more proud of human intelligence.

Macintosh Computers

The Macintosh 128K, released on January 24, 1984, was a commercial success. It was the first personal computer which came with a mouse and a graphical user interface. With the passing years, Apple Inc. evolved and today, it is a business giant in the field of computers.

History

Jef Raskin, a human computer interface expert from America, was an Apple employee who came up with the idea of building an affordable and easy-to-use computer. In 1979, Raskin started planning for building a team that would bring his idea into reality. He soon formed a team of Bill Atkinson, a Lisa team member, Burrell Smith, a service technician and others. Soon, they started working on Raskin’s idea. The first Macintosh board that their team developed had a 64 KB RAM, used a Motorola microprocessor and featured a black and white bitmap display.

By the end of 1980, Smith, one of the team members of the first Macintosh team, created a board that ran on a higher speed, featured a higher-capacity RAM and supported a wider display. Steve Jobs, impressed by this design, began to take interest in this project. His ideas have highly influenced the design of the final Macintosh. Jobs resigned from Apple in 1985.

The following years witnessed the development of desktop publishing and other applications such as Macromedia FreeHand, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator, which helped in the expansion of the desktop publishing market. It was also during these years that the shortfalls of Mac were exposed to the users. It did not have a hard disk drive and had little memory. In 1986, Apple came up with Macintosh Plus. It supported some excellent features like the parallel SCSI interface, a megabyte of expandable RAM, and support for attachment of peripheral devices. The MacPlus was produced until 1990, making it the longest-lived Macintosh.

In 1987, Apple brought about HyperCard and MultiFinder, which endowed Macintosh with multitasking features. After Macintosh II, Macintosh SE was released. The Macintosh SE supported the Snow White language and the Apple desktop bus mouse and keyboard.

Claris, a computer software company formed as a spin-off from Apple Computer in 1987, brought the Pro series to the market. Their line of products included the MacPoint Pro, MacDraw Pro and others. By the early 1990s, Claris had become immensely popular. Claris released ClarisWorks, which later came to be known as AppleWorks.

In 1991, Macintosh came up with System 7, a 32-bit rewrite of their operating system. They soon introduced Macintosh Quadra 700 and 900, both using the Motorola 68040 processor. They also established the Apple Industrial Design Group to work on further developments in their operating system. The year 1991 witnessed the creation of the PowerBook Range by Apple. In the following year, Apple started selling their low-end Mac, Performa. In 1994, they started using the RISC PowerPC architecture developed by the alliance of Apple Computer, IBM, and Motorola. Their new product line was a huge success.

Apple has always had to face fierce competition from Intel and Microsoft. After the return of Steve Jobs, Apple had a ‘no looking back’ period. They introduced an all-in-one Macintosh and called it iMac. It was a great success. In 1999, they came up with iBook, their first laptop computer. The Mac Mini launched in 2005, is the least expensive Mac till today. Mac OS 9 evolved to Mac OS X that was based on Unix. Mac OS X came up in 2000. The MAC OS remains to be one of the most popular operating systems till date.

The glorious history of Macintosh computers convinces us of their bright future.

Basic to Ensure Computer Security

Everyone talks about computer security i.e being secure online but how many of us actually practice the effective security tips? Then when hackers or viruses attack, we look around to attach blame. Well, prevention is better than cure, so it pays in the long run to secure your system in advance.

Set up user accounts
One computer, many users, is a security disaster waiting to happen. Your files and data are your personal, private content and should be protected accordingly. To prevent other users from seeing or accessing your data, set up user accounts on your PC. A user account shows an individual’s specific data and not what is present on the entire system. It also specifies privileges on shared data, such as deleting/editing operations and what software can be installed on the machine.

This feature is especially useful when kids and adults use the same machine. What if your child accesses your important work files and deletes them by mistake? With a separate user account, he/she can only view certain files and cannot modify or delete them. Even if you are the sole user of the PC, set up a guest account, in case someone else needs to use the computer.

Secure your wireless network
With wired Internet access, there’s little risk of someone encroaching on your network. But wireless networks do have holes in their security, so as the owner of the network, you need to be vigilant. Setting up password-protected network access is the first step. You need to assign a network name and password to your Wi-Fi network. Use the latest wireless encryption methods like WPA or WPA2. Do not reveal your network password to others.

Arm your computer with an anti-virus program
The best defense is a good offense. One of the most basic computer security guidelines is installing an anti-virus software. Installing security programs like an anti-virus, keeps your computer round-the-clock safe against viruses, malware, Trojan worms etc. and other malicious programs. For better protection, try to install complete security suites, that provide Internet security and firewalls along with anti-virus software.

Be regular in updates and virus scans
Just installing an anti-virus program will not protect your PC. You need to keep it up-to-date with regular virus signature and threat updates. New viruses and malware programs emerge online each day. Another bad trait of viruses is that they keep trying to find new ways to enter an unsuspecting computer. The only way to counter such attacks is to update your security programs on a regular basis. You should also scan your computer regularly for dangerous programs. Schedule periodic scans, once-a-month scans, scanning new added devices and automatic full system scans, to ensure your PC is threat-free.

Install parental control software for kid-friendly computer usage
Keeping your computer secure definitely involves keeping your kids safe from cyber enemies. Aside from explicit and adult content, you need to filter and monitor what your kid is up to online. Social networking sites in particular, are fun online places to socialize but they are also preying grounds for the depraved. Parental control software allows you to set filters and block sites as well as receive warnings when suspicious activity is taking place online.

Block unwanted search results
You can even change your web browser’s security settings to block certain sites and filter out objectionable content. Such settings are not as powerful as parental control software but it helps to be extra secure. You can find this feature in the Tools option of most browsers. With search engines like Google, you can fiddle with search preferences settings.

Download wisely
Whether it is a picture, an MP3 or a game, downloaded files are an excellent way for malicious software to enter your computer. Once you download and install or use a file, there’s no telling what it will do to your machine. So be extra careful when it comes to downloading. Download files from trusted and preferably certified sites. Sites offering free, cracked versions of software programs are especially dangerous, as some cracks can contain malware.

When a download begins, you are asked to save the file before the downloading actually starts. Read the file name and its extension carefully, to ensure what you want is being downloaded. While installing a program, read the license agreement and make sure, only the program you want is being installed. Sometimes spyware and hidden programs are bundled into the installer program, and are installed secretly along with your software. Scan your PC for threats after downloading files from the Internet.

Be careful with emails
Getting and sending emails is easy, going through your inbox for mail, that is actually relevant, is not. Email inboxes are storehouses of junk mail, spam, advertisements, forwards, mail and many times, a hidden threat. You can keep your inbox sorted and clutter-free by using spam blockers and filters. Threat-wise, try to avoid opening emails from senders or addresses you don’t know.

A key sign of a malicious email is poor language. Weird, nonsensical text or poor grammar or even bogus-seeming email addresses are some signs of a harmful email. Be especially wary of email attachments. Check the file extension. Files with .exe, .pif, .com,.bin or .bat extensions, can be malicious. If you do not know the sender of the email, do not open or download such files, just delete the mail. Instead of opening the attachment from the mail itself, save the file, let it download and scan it, before opening it.

Secure your data with backups
Sometimes no matter what steps you take, you lose data. Part of being secure is having a fail-safe or backup to fall back on, in case something bad happens. So in case a virus has attacked your files or data is accidentally deleted, your data is never really lost, if you have a backup of it. Backup your data regularly, either by storing it on physical devices like CDs or by backing it up on a network. Set a system restore point for your PC, so in the event of a system crash, you can restore your PC to a particular working state with your data intact.

Be smart with your passwords
Passwords are supposed to keep your individual settings and data safe, so you need to keep their true value or the actual password safe. This means, do not write down all your passwords on a piece of paper and keep it lying around. With numerous passwords, it’s understandable that remembering them all is difficult. So you can write them down but the place where you store this info, should be secure. And once in a while, please change your passwords. If in case, they are revealed, updating the passwords can render all hacking attempts as naught. Another safety precaution is the “remember me” option in most secure sites. If multiple users access the same PC, do not select this option.

The above computer security tips are just the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to securing your PC. For every good advancement in technology, cyber evil seems to get even more evil, so it pays to be vigilant in today’s cyberspace.

Computer Security

Computer security is that branch of information technology which deals with the protection of data on a network or a stand-alone desktop. As every organization is dependent on computers, the technology of its security requires constant development. Here are the different types of computer security.

Hardware Security

Threat
Even if the computer is not plugged into a network, a person can open its cabinet and gain access to the hard drives, steal them and misuse or destroy the data saved on them or, damage the device altogether. It is also necessary to remember that in case one dissembles his computer hardware, the risk of losing coverage of warranty becomes very high.

Protection
The security of computer hardware and its components is also necessary for the overall protection of data. If a stand-alone system contains some important or classified information, it should be kept under constant surveillance. Locking system for a desktop and a security chain for a laptop are basic security devices for your machine. Certain disk locks are available in various sizes, which control the removal of the CPU cover protecting internal components of the system.

For example, you will find disk/tape drive lock, computer case lock with cable and padlock, security cables, etc. A disk lock guards all the internal access points located on the CPU and protects them.

Software Security

Network Security
Computer networks are an integral part of any organization these days, as they facilitate the free flow of data and services to the authorized users. However, such networks also pose a security threat in case the data is classified and confidential, thus making network security a vital necessity.

Threats
As the data is available only for authorized users, it is possible for hackers to pretend to be one, by providing the correct user name and password. Computer network security can be disrupted or encroached in the following ways:

Denial of Service
Denial-of-service is meant to disable a computer or a network and can be executed with limited resources. It is one of the most common forms of attacks by hackers and can effectively disable the whole network of an organization. Denial of service attack makes a computer resource unavailable to its intended user.
To carry out this kind of attack, hackers generally flood a network or the access routers with bogus traffic. They also make attempts to disrupt connections between two machines and prevent individuals from accessing a service.

Trojan Horse
Trojan horse is common and one of the most potential threats to computer security. They are malicious and security-breaking programs, disguised as something which is considered as non-malicious by the security software. They are a useful tool for hackers who try to break into private networks. Hackers generally attach Trojan horse to a file, which triggers a virus or remotely controlled software, giving the hacker complete control over the computer.

Viruses and Worms
Viruses and worms are well-known for their destructive nature and the property of replicating themselves. They are basically pieces of computer program codes, which are written by hackers and other computer geniuses.

Sniffing
Sniffing is the act of intercepting TCP/IP packets while they are getting transferred on a network. The interception generally takes place through simple eavesdropping done by a hacker.
Protection

Firewall
It is one of the most essential type of network security in today’s world of Internet. Firewall is a filter that prevents fraud websites from accessing your computer and damaging the data. However, a firewall is not a great option for securing the servers on the Internet because the main objective of a server is granting access to unknown users to connect to various web pages.

Security Software
Along with firewall, try installing a good anti-virus and security software to enhance the security level of your computer system.

Data Security

Threat
Although uncommon, hardware malfunction can prove to be a major threat to your data in the computer. The life span of hard disks is always limited because of surrounding factors and this can amount to a severe loss of all your files saved on the disk, if there is no proper backup of those files made on any other system.

Protection

Keep Backup
It is important to avoid data and information loss in case of hard disk crashes. The only solution is to regularly keep backups of all the data on other media such as magnetic tapes, CD-ROM, etc. It is a good practice to store the media off-site and in case of a disk crash, restore the information from the backup media onto the new disk.
In case a backup media is not affordable, one should try to store the files on at least two different media devices. These media devices should be systematically kept at a place which is safe and secured, as the information contained may be confidential. People usually have backup for database files, spreadsheet files and large documents. As the technical constraints are always there, it is better to take regular backups, in order to avoid any loss of information.

Clean-up Software
Install a software program on your computer that will clear all the old, unused files and registry keys. It will also help to detect malware and save your computer from a severe damage caused by it. Keep your system in the loop of latest updates and security alerts or else, it will become vulnerable to security threats.
It is important to keep a record of technical support consultants and software documentations, like manuals and guides to make them accessible to the staff members of the company.

Positive and Negative Impacts of Electronic Devices

Nowadays, children as young as two play with electronic devices. These devices include video games, television, mobile and apart phone apps, computers, tables, and PSP games. Children tend to be active consumers and many electronic products are targeted to the youth market. It is also true that parents use gadgets and devices to keep their children quiet and in one place for a period of time.

Electronic devices can be useful but also have negative impact if they are over-used. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of allowing a young child to use a computer or electronic device.

Benefits of Using Devices

• For children younger than preschool age, electronic devices may help to stimulate the senses and imagination. Some use may help to promote listening ability, learning sounds, and speech.

• Electronic devices and games may encourage cognitive learning and the development of analytical skills. This may in turn help children build innovative thinking and investigation skills, strategic thinking, and creativity.
• Using computers may improve manual dexterity and build computer literacy.
• Mastering games builds confidence and develops hand-eye coordination.
• Games that encourage players to move up levels and earn high scores may help develop mathematical and engineering skills, as well as the motivation to meet goals.

Drawbacks of Using Devices

• A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that children spend more than seven hours per day on an electronic device on average. They can use electronics, but do not know how to tie their own shoes or swim.

• It is important to children to spend some time for outdoor activity with family and friends. The times spent on the devices may curb some outdoor activities.

• When children play violent games for a long period of time, they are tends to be more aggressive. They are more prone to confront their teachers, peers, and relatives.

• Children who spend significant time on devices may have difficulty concentrating on their studies.

• Excessive computer exposure can be addictive. This can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, poor health, time management, and eating habits.

How to Manage a Child’s Computer Exposure

It is impossible to completely eliminate electronic devices from a child’s life, but there are ways to decrease their negative impacts.

  1. Know the rating of the game and television programs your child wants to use or watch.
  2. Do not set up electronic devices in a child’s bedroom.
  3. Make media rules. For example, place a time limit of how often or long a child is allowed to use an electronic device, including games and television.
  4. Monitor your child’s media consumption, including video games, television, movies, and the Internet.
  5. Communicate with your child about what they observe in video games, television program or movies. Ask them how they feel about the media they have access to and discuss it with them.

Augmented Reality in Virtual Shadow

This has been hailed as the year of virtual reality. By the end of 2016, four major headsets backed by tech giants such as Facebook, Sony and Samsung will have debuted with the promise of providing total immersion inside virtual worlds. But tech industry leaders still say that augmented reality technologies which blend virtual elements with the real world offer even more promise in the long run.

You would be forgiven if you got the impression that the future is all about virtual reality. Maybe it’s because Hollywood and pop culture have already spent years putting the idea of virtual reality in many people’s heads through films such as “The Matrix.” Maybe it’s awareness of virtual reality benefiting from a previous boom and bust cycle of mainstream excitement in the 1990s. Or maybe it’s simply the fact that the latest generation of more refined virtual reality headsets have grabbed all the headlines recently. Whatever the case, it’d be easy for casual news readers to miss the fact that much of the tech industry is betting big on augmented reality instead of virtual reality.

When Apple’s Tim Cook said that the market for augmented reality would be larger than virtual reality in an ABC News interview, he was not making a visionary statement about the future. Instead, he was simply stating the common wisdom in Silicon Valley. A survey of 650 startup founders, tech company CEOs and investors found that two thirds believe revenue from augmented reality (AR) products and services would surpass revenue from the virtual reality (VR) market. The VR market is currently far bigger than the AR market, but a separate report by the consultancy firm Digi-Capital predicted that the AR market would reach $90 billion by 2020 compared to the VR market’s $30 billion.

Augmented Reality’s PR Problem

So why such a huge disconnect between the attention focused on virtual reality and the predicted rise of augmented reality? Part of the issue may be the fact that augmented reality probably remains even more baffling and mysterious than virtual reality for most people. Google’s commercially unsuccessful Google Glass experiment did not enlighten many folks about augmented reality outside the tech industry.

Virtual reality did not always dominate augmented reality in terms of public attention. Starting in June 2009, interest in augmented reality surpassed interest in virtual reality—based on Google searches and news coverage—for almost five years. But by February 2013, interest in virtual reality had begun skyrocketing in terms of both Google searches and news coverage to overshadow augmented reality.

It wasn’t until the phenomenal success of the free-to-play mobile game “Pokemon Go” this summer that many Americans and people around the world finally got their first taste of what augmented reality could enable. Millions of people roamed the streets and backwoods while staring at their smartphone screens in the hope of catching and collecting rare Pokemon specimens found in specific real-world locations. Some experts have since pointed out that “Pokemon Go” isn’t quite augmented reality, but the important thing is that it got many people thinking about augmented reality.

But even the “Pokemon Go” phenomenon and related flurry of news coverage about augmented reality may not have completely solved augmented reality’s PR problem.  A recent ReportLinker survey found that more than half of Americans said they’re still unfamiliar with augmented reality as a technology. On the other hand, just over half of Americans say they would use augmented reality sometime in the near future.

The Early Mobile Advantage

The success of “Pokemon Go” does hint at the short term advantages of augmented reality over virtual reality. It’s easy for anyone with a smartphone to download and play the free-to-play mobile game, which means the game had access to a huge market of customers. The analyst firm AppAnnie reported that “Pokemon Go” had been installed more than 100 million times as of early August.

By comparison, it’s harder to experience the wonders of virtual reality without dropping some dollars on a VR headset. Cheap Google Cardboard headsets costing $15 and up can provide smartphone users with a taste of virtual reality experiences downloaded through mobile apps, but the more sophisticated VR headsets can cost hundreds of dollars. Augmented reality’s mobile advantage was cited by Andrew Ng, chief scientist at Baidu Research in Silicon Valley, as a big reason why he was especially “bullish” on augmented reality in the short term.

“It’s just really, really tough to ship hardware to hundreds of millions of people and to convince hundreds of millions of people to spend tens or hundreds of dollars to buy your AR or VR goggles,” Ng said in an interview on the Sinica Podcast.

Baidu is China’s search engine giant equivalent to Google. The Chinese tech giant has already begun rolling out augmented reality games and enhancements for advertisements through its existing mobile apps. That means it can already push augmented reality out to the hundreds of millions of Chinese people with Baidu’s apps installed on their smartphones.

The earliest big-name augmented reality headsets such as Microsoft’s Hololens and Magic Leap may not go on sale for the general public before 2017 and will likely cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. That presents the same or even higher price barrier to customers as many of the most expensive virtual reality headsets already on the market. (It’s worth noting that Microsoft and Magic Leap often describe their headsets as “mixed reality” technology, which includes augmented reality.)

Beyond the consumer market, both virtual reality and augmented reality will almost certainly find uses and customers in industry, academia and the military. In the long run, it’s likely both markets will generate plenty of revenue for the tech companies pushing out related products and services. But Silicon Valley seems to be placing its biggest bets on augmented reality’s mix of virtual and real worlds.

7 gadgets to help Health

Gadget Health

Vivofit 2 is for those who don’t want another device to charge regularly. It has a 1-year battery life and a backlit display that shows time and activity stats for steps, distance and calories. It features Garmin’s move bar that remind you to stay active with audible alerts. Keep in mind that its sleep mode has to be set manually through the app.

GARMIN VIVOSMART HR
The Vivosmart HR is one of the cheapest bands with a continuous heart rate tracking feature. It has a touch display that shows your activity stats and even connects to your smartphone to show notifications. It has a move bar that reminds you to move around in case you keep sitting for too long. A full battery charge easily lasts around 5 days.

MI BAND
Xiaomi’s Mi Band is the cheapest wearable tracker you can get that works amazingly well. It does not have a display but syncs all the data to your smartphone app wirelessly. It tracks your steps, distance, calories and even has auto sleep monitoring. You can choose different colours of the band to suit your style and a single charge lasts over a month.

FITBIT BLAZE
Some of us don’t want to have a fitness band as well as a wrist watch—the Fitbit Blaze is the answer to this issue. It is a smartwatch focused on fitness. You get continuous heart rate tracking, colour display, activity and sleep tracking along with dedicated modes for tracking different kind of activities. Battery lasts around 5 days on a single charge.

WITHINGS BODY
This futuristic looking weighing scale uses a technique called biometrical impedance for your body analysis. It comes with the company’s position control technology that guides the user on where and how to stand on the scale so that it can get accurate measurement. It can measure your weight, BMI, fat mass, muscle mass, bone mass, hydration level and then store it in separate profiles for up to 8 different users. All the data is synced wirelessly to the Withings Health Mate app (iOS and Android) automatically making it easy to keep track of any changes on a day to day basis.

WITHINGS WIRELESS BLOOD PRESSURE MONITOR
As the name suggests, this is a blood pressure monitor that automatically syncs your blood pressure results with the Withings smartphone app. Using the monitor is very easy—just slip-on the monitor on your arm and it will automatically launch the Health Mate app on your smartphone which will give you step by step instructions on how to properly measure your blood pressure. The synced data to the app is then shown in an easy to understand chart.

GOQII
Goqii deserves a special mention for creating an entire ecosystem around tracking health and fitness along with a personal coach service. The company works on the model of charging subscription for their coach service and provides the fitness tracking band for free. You get a sleep fitness band with an OLED display and a battery life of up to 14 days.

All the data collected by the fitness band in terms of activities and sleep is synced with the Goqii app where it is analysed by your coach. The coach then identifies areas where you need to focus in order to be healthy and provides regular advice via chat or voice call. They also have a doctor service now available on the app who works with your coach to help you make healthier lifestyle choices.

10 Greatest Gadget Ideas

ON New Year’s Eve, don’t be surprised to witness more heartfelt celebrating than usual was not a year noted for its tidings of good cheer, and plenty of people will be happy to see it go.

Still, there were inspiring and gratifying success stories if you knew where to look — and the high-tech industry was one of them. Google Earth redefined how we think of our planet, the Razr phone proved that people do care about beauty, and the iPod — well, you know all about the iPod.

But some of the year’s greatest joys weren’t new products, but aspects of new products. Here and there, you could find tiny touches of brilliance: clever steps forward and new spins on old features that somehow made it through committee, past the bean counters and under the radar of marketing departments.

Here they are, the 10 best gadget ideas :

THE FOLDING MEMORY CARD — After taking a few digital photos, the next step, for most people, is getting them onto the computer. That usually involves a U.S.B. cable, which is one more thing to carry and avoid misplacing.

SanDisk’s better idea is to take the memory card out of the camera and stick it directly into your computer’s U.S.B. port.

That’s possible with the SanDisk Ultra II SD Plus card. It looks just like any other SD memory card, except that it folds on tiny hinges. When you fold it back on itself, you reveal a set of metal contacts that slide directly into the U.S.B. jack of your Mac or PC. The computer sees the card as an external drive, and you can download the photos as you always do — except that you’ve eliminated the need to carry around a cable.

THE VOICE MAIL VCR — Voice mail is a delightful invention. But trying to remember which keys to press — for replay, skip, delete and so on — is not so delightful, especially if you have more than one voice mail system to learn. Thanks to Palm, then, for adding VCR-style buttons on the touch screen of its coming Treo 700W cellphone. You just tap Skip, Play, Delete, or whatever. The phone remembers which touch tones to play so you don’t have to.

THE FRONT-SIDE TV CONNECTOR — The home-theater explosion is all well and good, but one less exciting aspect never appears in the photos: the rat’s nest of cables. Depending on how permanently your TV has been built into your cabinetry, getting behind it to plug or unplug something is either a royal pain or a full-blown construction project.

Hewlett-Packard’s latest microdisplay (rear projection) TV sets solve the problem sweetly and simply: everything plugs into the front. A broad tunnel lets you hand each cable to yourself from the back, an illuminated connection panel makes it easy to see what you’re doing at the front, and an attractive door hides the whole ingenious system.

THE BIGGER-THAN-TV MOVIE — Most digital still cameras today can also capture video big enough to fill a standard TV screen (640 by 480 pixels) and smooth enough to simulate standard TV motion (30 frames a second). But Canon’s PowerShot S80 model goes one step further: it can capture videos at even higher resolution (1024 x 768 pixels).

Why on earth would you need a video picture of higher resolution than the TV itself? Three reasons. First, your videos will look better on high-definition sets. Second, the videos fill much more of your computer screen when played there. And finally, that’s so much resolution, you can isolate a single frame and grab it as a still photograph.

TV À LA CARTE — It’s always seemed crazy that TV companies would spend $1 million an episode writing and producing a program that is shown only once. Yet the obvious solution — making past shows available for purchase on the Internet — gave TV executives nightmares of teenage download pirates run amok.

It took Apple to persuade them to dip a little toe into the Internet waters. ABC took the first plunge, offering iPod owners five shows’ worth of archives for a perfectly pitched price of $2 each — and no commercials. NBC came next with a broader menu of shows. The concept was a hit, the floodgates have opened, and the era of downloadable, reasonably priced, lightly copy-protected TV episodes is finally upon us.

THE OUTER-BUTTON FLIP PHONE — First came the cellphone with a hinge (the flip phone). Then came the flip phone with an external screen, so you could see who was calling. Problem was, this arrangement deprived you of the option to dismiss the call or send it to voice mail. If you opened the flip phone to get to the Ignore button, you’d answer the call — unless you’d turned off the “opening phone answers the call” feature, in which case you lost one great convenience of having a flip phone to begin with.

The solution? Add buttons on the outside of the phone. When a call comes in to the LG VX8100, for example, its external screen identifies the caller — and the small buttons just below it are labeled Ignore (let it ring until voice mail picks up) or Dismiss (send it directly and immediately to voice mail). You get the best of all cellular worlds, without ever having to open the phone.

THE FREE DOMAIN NAME — A domain name is what comes before the “.com” in a Web address — like NYTimes.com, verizonwireless.com or MarryMeBritney.com. Getting your own personal dot-com name has its privileges — for example, your e-mail address can be You@YourNameHere.com — but it costs money and requires some expertise.

It took Microsoft, of all companies, to make getting your own dot-com name free. Its new Office Live online software suite for small businesses, now in testing, will offer a domain name, Web site and e-mail accounts free. Yes, you’ll see ads on the screen (unless you pay for the adless version) — but plenty of people won’t mind viewing them in exchange for a free, professional-looking Web presence.

THE MODULAR DVD SCREEN — If you tallied up the amount of money you’ve spent on L.C.D. screens, you’d probably go white-haired in horror. One on your laptop, one on your digital camera, plus screens on your Game Boy, camcorder, portable DVD player, car dashboard and so on.

Audiovox has taken a small step toward reducing that redundancy with its Shuttle DVD player. It’s a portable, battery-powered DVD player (available in three screen sizes) that hangs from the driver’s-side headrest, for the benefit of the young audience in the back seat of the car. But the beauty of the Shuttle is that you can also buy docking stations for it: a car-ceiling mount, for a more permanent and central position; an under-cabinet mount, complete with AM-FM radio, for the kitchen; a cable-ready tabletop stand, with stereo speakers, for the home; and so on. The player and screen move with you from place to place, so your investment isn’t sitting wasted every time you leave the minivan.

THE FAMILY-PORTRAIT BURST MODE — If you’ve ever tried to take a family portrait, you know about Ansel’s Law: the odds of somebody’s eyes being closed increases geometrically with the number of people in the group.

That’s why Casio digital cameras, in self-timer mode, automatically shoot three consecutive snaps, a fraction of a second apart. You’ve just tripled your odds of getting one decent shot.

THE HYBRID HIGH-DEFINITION TAPE — JVC and Sony developed the first camcorders capable of recording in spectacular wide-screen high definition. This would have been a perfect opportunity for them to introduce yet another type of videocassette — some expensive, proprietary new format that wouldn’t fit any other camcorder (and would generate millions in sales).

But they didn’t. Instead, these HDTV camcorders record on everyday $4 drugstore MiniDV tapes, the same kind used in regular camcorders. In fact, you can mix and match high-def and standard video on the same tape. It took a lot of engineering to cram so much more video data onto the same amount of tape, but for home-movie buffs, it was a surprising, generous, kind-hearted move.

6 new gadgets in 2017

Office, home or on the go modern life is a constant buzz. And it’s here that new gadgets and gizmos help save time make life simpler. With the year wrapping up, there’s renewed hope in new technology. We give you a sneak-peek into six gadgets that are likely to hit the mart in 2017.

Samsung foldable smartphone:
Samsung has been reportedly working on the foldable phone for years. Reportedly, the Korean giant is brainstorming over two kinds of foldable phones, including a dual screen one with a flat screen on both sides. One of them is slated to hit the market mid next year. The smartphone is rumoured to have two flat displays on each side, with a hinge between the two displays that will allow the smartphone to have a foldable design. And once the device is folded, the displays will be inside and will be no longer visible.

iPhone 8:
Well, an Apple product and no rumours? Unlikely! The buzz is strong that the new iPhone 8 is going to be a major refresh, with the Home button, which will allow an edge-to-edge glass display, getting booted out! Apple also intends to include a new kind of technology that will allow the screen to act as a fingerprint sensor. Rumours are also rife about Apple intending to use a flexible OLED display rather that the LCD panels, that will eventually make the device lighter and also offer more vivid colours and contrasts. With the iPhone’s 10th birthday bash coming up, Apple might also include long-range wireless charging.

iPad Pro:
Staying with Apple, there is a buzz about the new iPad Pro as well. The upcoming iPad Pro will be seen in three different sizes – 12.9 inch, 7.9 inch and 10.9 inch – with some design changes, too. The tablet’s bezels may be tweaked too to make more room for the display and the new tablet is expected to come with 32GB RAM native storage, housing the brand’s yet-to-be introduced chipset A10X.

Google Smartwatch:
Google is expected to launch its smartwatches next year. The two Android Wear smart watches have been codenamed Anglefish and Swordfish. Anglefish is the high-end variant of the two and will be larger and thicker than the latter. It will have a distinct crown button on the left with a small shoulder button on the top and will be equipped with cellular connectivity, which will support both GPS and LTE. Meanwhile, the Swordfish will have a single button protruding to the left and will be compatible with the Android Wear Mode watch bands and will not support cellular connectivity.

Nintendo Switch:
Next year looks good for gamers! The iconic video game company will release its new gaming console, the Nintendo Switch. This will feature a multi-touch screen and will support up to 10 touch points. It will also feature a 6.2 inches display screen with 720p resolution.

Xbox Project Scorpio:
Xbox project Scorpio, which is expected to be launched in 2017, is said to be five times more powerful compared to the current Xbox One version. It is expected to come with a VR headset and six teraflops of graphical power. It would also feature a newer and more powerful chip. Microsoft has already confirmed that the Xbox Scorpio will have a memory bandwidth of 320 GB.

Recycling electronics

Before you do anything, you’ll need to back up your data so that you have it available for your new device, and wipe it, so that nobody else gets their hands on it. Instructions for doing that will vary from device to device, so refer to your instruction manual or ask the internet.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll be looking for a way to get rid of them. If they’re relatively new and desirable then you may be able to pass them on to friends or family to extend their life, or potentially even sell them on eBay.

For a more philanthropic option you may wish to consider donating them to charity. Places such as the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity will accept second-hand inkjet and toner cartridges, for example, and will even come and collect phones and gadgets if you have a large enough quantity of them to warrant a trip.

Likewise, Parkinson’s UK will take phones, iPods, laptops, sat-navs and camera – as well as antiques, jewellery or even cars, for that matter.

If they’re older, or broken, then recycling them may be the best option. Recent European legislation – the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE), to be exact – now says that companies which make electronic gadgets must also have a facility for recycling customers old gadgets when you sell them a new one. For example, when you buy a new toaster, the company is obliged to recycle your old one if you ask them.

Many large manufacturers now have special programmes set up to handle this. Apple, for instance, has a programme whereby you can send in your old phones, iPads or computer (Mac or PC). The company will then check to see if the items are worth anything, dropping the money into your bank account if they are. If it’s not worth anything, they’ll still responsibly recycle it for you.

You can also send in any iPod or mobile phone – no matter who manufactured it – and receive 10 per cent off a new one through the Apple Retail Store. This is good news for you, as you get a discount and clear out those kitchen draws, and good news for the environment.

Other companies, such as Samsung, have got around this by instead making a donation to the Distributor Take Back Scheme, which in turn runs a network of 1,100 recycling sites across the UK that handles items made by a range of manufacturers.

In short, whatever your device, there’s likely to be somewhere that will dispose of it responsibly for you, free of charge.