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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Best Smart Home Apps for iPhone & Apple Watch 2017

best apple app for home automation

Would you love to be able check-in on your house from your iPhone?

The home automation market is constantly growing around the world and there are now more devices than ever. We started talking about it back in 2009!

There are tons of beneficial reasons why you would want to control your home, or kitchen appliances, remotely.

You can for example:
  • Set your oven to heat up when you’re on your way home,
  • Turn the lights on during your dark walk home,
  • Switch the heating off if you get that overwhelming feeling that you accidentally left it switched on.
We know that some of the smart hub devices don't come cheap, but they can really make your life so much easier.

If you own an iPhone, you are potentially in the best position possible for home automation, as there are hundreds of apps out there on the official iTunes Store to help you.

Here are some of our favourite smart home apps for either the iPhone or Apple Watch.

IFTTT Applets


In terms of innovation for the home automation market, IFTTT home automation applets are certainly leading the charge.

IFTTT is a free web-based service which connects various gadgets together to generate new actions and responses. They calls these applets nowadays, but used to call them recipes.

You can keep the actions simple, like turning your lights on from your phone, or make them more complicated and unique.

For instance, you can:
  • Set your coffee machine to turn on when you wake up, by connecting your Fitbit and a Belkin WeMo plug.
  • You can co-ordinate your Nest thermostat with the Yahoo Weather app so that when it reaches a certain temperature outside the heating switches on or off.
  • Hilariously, you can even set your Phillips Hue lighting system to turn your lights purple when it rains outside, thanks to a connection between the device and the Yahoo Weather app.
With IFTTT Applets and the clever people behind them, the sky is the limit.

Applets are available for many popular services such as Spotify, Amazon Alexa and Hive, as well as social networks like Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. IFTTT has an app for both the Apple Watch and the iPhone which you can download from the app store.

Get it on the Apple app store here.

iPhone Home App


The iPhone Home app is the easiest introduction to smart home devices. It comes pre-installed on all new iPhones.

It officially launched with iOs 10 in September 2016 as an extension of the HomeKit app, which used Siri to control lights and other smart home products.

The introduction of the Home app means that you no longer need to use various third-party apps as you did with Homekit, so it streamlines the functionality of your phone.

A quick tutorial and checking out Apple support official device requirements and compatibility will take you through the basics, so the Home app is one of the best ways to get acquainted with your smart home before you move onto the more complicated apps.

Alarm.com


Alarm.com was one of the first smart home apps to be developed for the Apple Watch. You can see how it works in this demo.

It allows you to keep an eye on your home simply by glancing at your wrist. You can check that your security system is activated, that your doors are locked, the garage door is closed and your lights are switched off.

It uses location technology to know if you leave your home without locking up, and you can set up reminders, triggers and alerts to keep you up to date.

Get it on the Apple app store here.

Lutron Caseta Wireless


Whilst it’s great to be able to switch your lights on and off from your phone, the Lutron app for Caseta Wireless does so much more.

You can control the shade and temperature of your home as well as dim the lights. The Lutron Wireless system works seamlessly with LED lights, making it the ultimate energy efficient investment. (Thanks Lelia from First Lighting for the heads up on this one)

In the event that you leave your home with the lights switched on, you’ll be sent a notification and you can switch them off with a single tap on your Apple Watch or phone.

Get it on the Apple app store here.

Ecobee3


Ecobee was one of the first smart home systems to offer support for the Apple Watch, so it’s still a big player in the smart home device market.

The app is designed solely to manage the temperature of your home, so you can adjust your Ecobee thermostat remotely in accordance to outdoor temperature and humidity levels.

It gives you readings from temperature sensors throughout your home to create an accurate estimate of how the thermostat is operating. You can find out more in their FAQ's section.

Get it on the Apple app store here.

Loxone


The Loxone Smart Home app is designed to give you control over every aspect of your smart home as a result of one app.

You can control your heating, lighting, security and much more.

There are several different modes available to make the app more functional: room mode lets you adjust all the devices within a certain room and the Autopilot mode lets you create different events and actions. The app easily syncs with services like Spotify, as well as Wallbox so you can set your electric car to charge remotely.

This app is great for homes with multiple smart devices.

Get it on the Apple app store here.

Withings Home


Just be aware you will need the Withings Home HD camera for this app, but it’s a worthwhile investment.

The app is available for both the Apple Watch and iPhone and is a premier device for controlling the security of your home.

You can get a live stream of the camera straight to your watch to keep a watchful eye on everyone from pets to people.

You can condense the whole day’s footage into a few seconds, and there’s even a lullaby function to soothe babies which can be activated from the app. Find out more details on functions available at withings.com

Get it on the Apple app store here.

Insteon


Insteon is an affordable option to create a smart home and it works perfectly with the Apple Watch.

You must purchase an Insteon Hub and connect it with your watch/phone, but once you have done that you can control lots of things remotely.

You can dim the lights, turn on ceiling fans and view a live stream of your security camera. You’ll also receive push notifications straight to your wrist, so you never miss anything important. Having a smart, connected home is one of the benefits of modern society.

Who doesn’t want to be able to control their lights, heating and electronic devices from their phone?

One of the perils can be deciding which system to go for, so do your research and ensure that the app works well with your phone.

Get it on the Apple app store here.

Need an example of how this all works? Check out this video from an Apple fan who has probably installed the most home devices in his 1870 property than anyone else. You'll get to see an example of how cool this to do round the house.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Best MacBook For Engineering Students 2017 Guide

Don't you think you working on a mac is easy and looks stylish?

I sure do plus it it has some serious computing power.

Yes, you can run engineering software on different MacBooks as long as you know the specs needed. Apple make beautiful looking computers that just ooze style and sophistication.

These kinds of machines will let you feel like you are already in Silicon Valley where expert software engineers use them too.

Apple vs Windows

Do you use an iPhone?

Good chance you do which is why you are looking if a engineering software will run on a Mac.

If you already use Apple products then you'll know there are major benefits to staying with the same brand.
  • Easily share files between your iPhone & Mac using AirDrop
  • Take calls & read iMessages form your iPhone on your Mac
  • Free up storage on a Mac by storing files in iCloud automatically
  • Access & listen to your iTunes music on your Mac
  • Stay with an operating system what you already know how to use
A 2011 research poll showed most people would choose to go with Apple vs a regular PC if price was taken out the buying process.

Macbook Buying Tips for Engineering Students

So it’s finally time for you to head off to college.

Maybe you are lucky enough to be going to one of the best places to study engineering in the world like:
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Stanford University
  • University of California-Berkeley
  • California Institute of Technology
It feels like you have been waiting your whole life for this moment, but now you have some trepidations.

There are so many things that you don’t understand about the environment that you are about to put yourself into for the next four years of your life.

If you are an engineering student, there is an added level of stress.

Studying to be an engineer is not an easy major, be it mechanical, chemical, civil, electrical or computer engineering. No course of college study is easy, to be fair, but engineering is one of the more difficult majors for certain.

Math and science are not things that you can pretend you know. On top of that, you may need to buy a few new electronics to help you out.

You will have two vital, very expensive tools with you throughout your college career, and may even keep them with you for your first job.
  1. Scientific calculator
  2. Laptop computer
The first, a scientific calculator, is easier to choose. Many times, professors tell you which calculator to purchase. If you aren’t told the exact model to buy, you are informed about a few options.
Generally speaking, engineers use one of a few select calculators that can handle any calculation that is necessary.
The same is not true of a laptop computer. Computers come in a wide variety of abilities and range from more than affordable to way out of reach. School rarely tell you which computer to purchase, so you’re going to need to think about this decision before you go out and buy one.
Engineering can be a very demanding course of study, both for you, and your computer, so if you want a computer that will last, you’ll have to consider the following points.

Uses of Computers in Engineering

You will use your computer extensively during your time as an engineering student. From designing to modeling, communication to analysis, computers are a valuable tool in the field.



A typical use of computers in the field of engineering is computer aided drafting or CAD. With this program you will be creating devices, optimizing processes, and analyzing previously existing equipment to ascertain how different conditions may impact the design.

For this, you will want a computer that is capable of storing and accessing information quickly.

Recommended Computer Specifications

Freshman entering college or university ask every year is it possible to be able to use a MacBook Pro, Air, iMac for studying and doing assignments?

Yes, you definitely can as long as you install the minimum hardware specs required to run your machine fast and with no big risk of freezing or crashing.

Minimum Specs Needed

To do your work quickly and efficiently, as an entry level you will want a computer with:
  • at least 6GB of RAM,
  • at least 500 GB capacity in the hard drive,
  • a good screen resolution,
  • a dedicated graphics card,
  • a CPU that is an Intel i5 or better.

Recommended Specs for Best Performance

For maximum performance, consider getting a computer with:
  • 8GB of RAM,
  • a solid state hard drive (or SSD for short),
  • a resolution greater than 1600 x 900.

CPU Speed

The CPU speed of your computer will make all of the difference.

Engineering programs, like AutoCAD, use large databases that can take a long time to compile without the proper CPU speed.

You already have enough work to do as an engineering student. You don’t want your laptop to slow you down!

Simulation software and Matlab are also CPU exhaustive, so by purchasing a laptop with a good CPU, you will already be working your way towards better grades.

Operating System

Let us take a step away from purely technical requirements for a second and discuss operating systems.

There was a time when Mac laptops were not compatible with many of the software necessary for engineering. That is not longer the case.

Most programs are compatible with both Mac and Windows now. This means deciding whether or not to buy a Apple laptop for engineering school is no longer a concern.

You will, however, want to get one with enough memory to handle a Windows partition, just in case you run into software that is not compatible with the Mac operating system.

Hard Disk Memory

You’re going to need to install a lot of software, and create a lot of drafts on your new computer.

You’ll probably have:
  • CATIA,
  • ANSYS,
  • Solidworks,
  • and of course AutoCAD.
Not to mention all of your designs, stored on your hard drive.

Despite being an engineering student, you’re also still going to want to download songs, games, TV shows, and movies.

You’re going to need enough storage to handle all of this, so try to get at least 500GB of storage if you want your laptop to last you a long time.

RAM

A high functioning CPU is nothing without a good amount of RAM.

You don’t need to go crazy here, but if you can afford it, it is helpful to have 16GB of RAM. If not, you will need to stay in the 8 to 12 GB range for decent performance.

A capable graphics adapter is more important if you must choose between that and RAM.

Video Cards

AutoCAD, MATLAB, and Solidworks frequently render videos and apply designs in 3D environments. For the efficient use of these programs, you will need a dedicated video card.

A 2GB DDR3 graphics card will fit the minimum requirements, but if you are a gamer as well, you might want to look into a DDR5 graphics card.

Conclusion

Many people think that Mac computers are only useful for graphic design.

The truth is Mac computers can also be used to develop products in engineering.

Most, if not all of the programs required for use during your time as an engineering major are compatible with the Mac OS, and if they aren’t you can always create a Windows partition.

Mac laptops for students are sleek and typically last quite long, so if you are looking to buy a laptop that will last you for at least five years, you may want to consider a Mac.

If you are a gamer, however, you know that this will not work, and you will certainly want to stick with Windows for its superior gaming ability.

Your chosen operating system is not the only important thing.

You need to remember that a computer is only as good as its user. So you need to choose a laptop for college based on your individual wants and requirements. It is also a good idea to check out what your school specifically requires (like MIT for example) for classes, as that will be the most important thing over the next four years.
Thursday, February 16, 2017

5 Reasons Your Website Must Be Mobile Ready In 2017 & Beyond

Good example of responsive website design on all device screen sizes
Responsive Websites Just Look Good, Don't They?
Don't you hate websites that are hard to read on your new iPhone?

I sure do. Nothing worse than trying to read text that runs off my screen or it is so small I have to try zoom in to read it.

Thankfully cellphones don't look like this 1983 concept touchscreen smartphone did back.

Responsive websites have been a hot topic since 2015 or so, yet many website owners, bloggers, and companies have been slow to make the transition due to the changes necessary to adopt a responsive design.

What is a Responsive Website?

“Responsive Design” refers to websites that are developed in a way that allows each element to resize and reorganize on a webpage, based on the screen size of the device it is being viewed on. This means a website will look great on any iPhone screen or Mac desktop/laptop screen.

Bad Example

Here is a good example of a website that is non-responsive:


You definitely don't want that happening on your website. Thanks dequeuniversity.com

Good Example

Here is an example of a website that uses a working responsive design:


Yup, that is this site using a free responsive html theme that is responds to change for any screen size :)

How to Make a Website Responsive

Responsive design is handled through your website’s CSS file and specific sets of rules you specify for each element and each screen size.

Whether you run a baby blog or an eCommerce website, adapting your website to a structure that will provide the best possible user experience for your visitors can pay big dividends in the long run.

Top tip: Check to see if your site looks great on any popular cellphone or mac screen size using this free tool from responsivedesignchecker.com

5 Reasons Mobile First Website Design Is Vital

Did you know the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) have mobile web guidelines?

This is the group who dictate the standards for website functionality, code and design for the entire internet! If they say it has to be, then it has to be done.

We’ve gone out and interviewed several of experts in the field of web design standards to bring you the top 5 reasons your website MUST be mobile-ready and, of course, primarily iPhone friendly now more than ever.

1. Easier Navigation Plus Perfectly Displayed Content

You had to work hard to earn every visitor that came to your site. Why not give them the best user experience possible when visiting your website?

Whether you are driving traffic through social media, search engine optimization, or pay-per-click marketing, you worked hard to generate that traffic and probably can’t afford to throw it away.

A responsively optimized website can mean lower bounce rates (the number of people that exit from the first page they landed on) and longer time on site. More importantly, it means less headaches and more clarity for the visitor when navigating through your tirelessly created content.

2. Display or Hide Certain Elements Based on Screen Size

Want to show a phone number at the top of the mobile version of a page, but not on desktop?

You can do exactly that with a responsive layout.

How about a “Call Now” call to action on mobile versus a “Fill Out This Form” call to action on desktop? This kind of versatility is the magic behind a responsive layout.

The feature set of a responsively coded website allows a webmaster to make decisions that make their content more digestible and relevant. You can cut down and remove lengthy paragraphs or eliminate and even add buttons or images.

The possibilities for creative optimization are endless with responsive html code.

3. Better Conversion Rates for eCommerce & Lead Generation

Great usability comes with business benefits.

You should think of your website as a business. The better you treat your customers (visitors), the more they’ll want to return and do more business with you.

That was a quote from Geoff Gurevich, Director of Digital Strategy at AgencyPPC.com a top Chicago PPC management company. He knows as he looks at client sites & stats all day and to get better ROI conversions on PPC ads you need them to display well on a target page.

The simpler and more relevant you can make your website’s navigation and content, the more likely you’ll be able to flow your user down an intended path.

The result is improved conversion (the ultimate goal you want your users to complete).
For an eCommerce site (product sales), this means more products get purchased. For lead generation sites (contact collectors), it means more contact forms completed and phone calls to your business.

4. Better Search Engine Rankings

Responsive websites are the preferred search engine website layout according to Google’s Mobile Webmaster Guidelines which can mean better search engine rankings for your website if your site is mobile friendly.

Unlike the days of a separate mobile website, responsive websites do not require to multiple sets of HTML. Each HTML webpage will work for all viewing devices, with different layout/styling changes handled through your website’s CSS file.
Google even provided this handy tool to check your website’s mobile-friendliness.

5. Mobile Browsing is Now the Golden Standard

Mobile browsing overtook desktop viewing several years back and is growing every single year.

As these “primary browsing devices” continue to grow even more, webmasters need to consider the experience they are delivering to a large chunk of their visitors.

If your site isn’t up to snuff, the user will just keep moving to the next website.
When deciding which screen sizes are optimized first, our experts overwhelmingly recommended iPhone devices get the most attention, as they make up approximately 40% of the mobile phone market.

Putting it All Together

Updating an existing website to a mobile responsive website may mean redeveloping the whole site, but it if you’re on wordpress, joomla, drupal, blogger or a similar theme-based content management system, you may be able to simply change themes and start making some adjustments.

Even if your website is a bit more involved, the time has come to consider whether the loss is greater than the cost of taking on this update of one of your valued assets.

Just like a car or a house, there comes a time to make those necessary changes and if you find yourself starting 2017 without a stellar mobile website experience, that time has most certainly come.
Monday, June 01, 2015

How Useful is Apple Watch without Your iPhone?


As you know Apple Watch is a cool new wearable gadget from Apple. You may even own it or you may have used similar devices for Android.

How useful is Apple Watch without an iPhone? As it turns out, Apple Watch is quite capable device on its own.

Here's a rundown of what can be done with Apple Watch without it being connected to iPhone.
  • You can use clock functions like clock, alarm, timer, and stopwatch.
  • You can play music from a pre-synced playlist. You can sync Apple Watch with iPhone by placing it on the charger. You have 2GB of space available. Not much but not bad for a watch either.
  • Activity app does not require iPhone either. Apple Watch will track stand, move, and exercise actions. We do not know exactly what amount of data Apple Watch will store, however once the devices are in range, the data will be synced with your iPhone.
  • The same goes for the Workout app. You can use it without your iPhone being in range.
  • You can display photos from a pre-synced photo album. You will need the Apple Watch app on your iPhone to sync the photos first.
  • You can use Apple Pay on your Apple Watch without your iPhone being in range.
As you can see Apple Watch is quite a capable device on its own. However, its full power comes when used together with iPhone.

Friday, May 29, 2015

iOS Text Bug Fix Coming Soon But Here's a Temporary Solution


A couple of days ago a serious bug was discovered in iOS messages app that could cause your iPhone to restart.

Apple has confirmed this problem and posted a temporary solution on their website yesterday. Here's what you can do:

If Messages quits unexpectedly after you get a text with a specific string of characters

Apple is aware of an iMessage issue caused by a specific series of unicode characters and we will make a fix available in a software update. Until the update is available, you can use these steps to re-open the Messages app.
  1. Ask Siri to "read unread messages."
  2. Use Siri to reply to the malicious message. After you reply, you'll be able to open Messages again.
  3. In Messages, swipe left to delete the entire thread. Or tap and hold the malicious message, tap More, and delete the message from the thread.
Thursday, May 28, 2015

Native Apps for Apple Watch Coming this Fall


If you own Apple Watch then we have some good news for you. According to Apple, developers will be able to start developing native apps for Apple Watch from this fall. Until now developers can only customize iPhone apps for Apple Watch. However, with the new SDK (that is Software Development Kit) developers can create apps directly for the wearable gadget.

This shall have a huge implication on the usefulness and usability of Apple Watch. Another advantage is that the native apps shall at least theoretically decrease dependence on iPhone and make Apple Watch a more "stand-alone" device.

This information was revealed by Apple's Vice President of Operations Jeff Williams at Re/code's Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Mr. Williams was pressed to reveal sales figures for Apple Watch. However the only information given was that sales were "fantastic".

The native Apple Watch app SDK will be previewed at WWDC. We will be covering the details as they happen. Stay tuned.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Your iPhone May Reboot Because of an iOS Bug in the Messages App


Some users have reported iPhone restarts after receiving a certain text. It is still not confirmed but it seems there's a bug that causes Messages to crash.

The information has started circulating on Twitter and it seems that hundreds of iPhone users are affected but this alleged bug in iOS.

Stay tuned as we try to find out more details about this and more importantly if, how and when this can be fixed.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Did the Solar Panels Cause Apple Fire?


According to ABC15 there was a fire at an Apple facility in Mesa on Tuesday morning. The fire which started around 11:30 AM was quickly extinguished by the firefighter crews from from Mesa, Gilbert and Superstition Fire and no injuries have been reported. According to the report, the fire was on solar panels on the roof. How did the solar panels catch the fire is still under investigation. Interestingly, there were two fire alarms. A the firefighrets explained, the facility is large and that explains the second alarm. About 50 employees had to be evacuated.

Source: ABC15
Monday, November 10, 2014

Captain Crunch Needs Our Help

Dear readers,

This post is our modest effort to spread the word about John Draper's (aka Captain Crunch) illness and the fundraiser to help this legendary person.

For many, he might be a stranger but for the geeky guys and gals out there Captain Crunch is a true legend.

John Draper developed EasyWriter, the first word processor for the Apple II, in 1979.

Voice activated menus, which you probably use regularly, was made possible by the technology also developed by Mr. Draper.

And did you know why he was nicknamed Captain Crunch? Because he used a toy whistle that came in a box of cereal to carry out one of the most interesting phreaking tricks. In a nutshell, with the trick Captain Crunch could disconnect one side of a phone line while the still connected side could enter an operator mode. What possibilities this could give, you can give imagine yourself.

People like John Draper are driven by passion and idea, not money. Despite his contributions to the technology, Mr. Draper is not a wealthy man and now he needs our help to fight his illness and focus on recovery.

Thanks to the Internet we can help. The smallest donation can make a difference and it's really quick and easy to do so on the fundraiser organized by John's friends. Act now!
Tuesday, October 07, 2014

You Can Damage Your Hair with iPhone 6


iPhone 6 problem saga continues with the latest "-gate" being nothing more nothing less but a hairgate. Not easy to demonstrate as a bendgate, hairgate might actually be issue. But let's first quickly overview the problem.

According to a brief post at 9to5Mac, your hair may get caught in the gap between the glass and aluminum. When trying to free it out, it hurts obviously.

Some commentators have dismissed the issue and dabbed it as a nonsense. However, given the fact that people have experienced similar issues with other high-end devices, it might be true. However, unlike the bending problem, this hair problem is much more subjective.

And of course, it is less costly to verify too. After all, you don't need to bend and destroy your brand new iPhone.

Does your hair get caught in the gap? Have your say.