Friday, December 27, 2013

Notice of IES improvements coming in 2014.

We're gearing up for 2014...starting January 1, 2014, you'll see a few changes here at IES. It's going to be our best year yet! Here's a rundown of what we have planned:
  • New IES logo goes live January 1
    • We are known for our technology and web services. Shouldn't our logo reflect that? We think so!
  • New IES site (iesAdvisors.com) goes live January 1
    • We're simplifying things with a new sleek design that's easy to use and navigate. Plus we're adding live chat operators.
  • New client portal goes live by February 1
    • The features will include:
      • Revamp online bill pay
      • Save time and search or FAQ database to answers for frequently asked questions
      • Can't find an answer in our FAQs? Open and manage support tickets with ease.
We hope these changes make managing your account with us more efficient. After all, time is money!

Monday, December 23, 2013

T-Mobile pulls ahead in the prepaid wireless field with this trick...

Need your mobile Facebook fix but don't have any data coverage? T-Mobile has one option for you.

T-Mobile has tweaked its GoSmart Mobile prepaid wireless plan to offer free Facebook and Facebook Messenger access for all customers starting in January. That means subscribers can use Facebook without chewing up their data allowance or without even needing a data plan.

Rolled out early this year, GoSmart Mobile is aimed at consumers who want low-cost unlimited mobile coverage. The plans range from $25 a month for unlimited talk to $45 a month for unlimited talk and text and 5GB of 3G data.

Mobile consumers can hop onto the program by purchasing a phone directly from GoSmart or by spending $8 for a GoSmart Mobile SIM and installing it on their GSM unlocked phone. Subscribers will be able to access Facebook by logging in from a mobile browser or by running the Facebook app on their phone.

"Facebook's mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected, and we're delighted that GoSmart subscribers, many who don't have data access, will be able to use Facebook for free," Chris Daniels, vice president of partnerships at Facebook, said in a statement.

Source: CNET

Friday, December 20, 2013

This is truly crazy! A 20 year old has built a drivable 500,000 piece Lego car.

500,000 pieces of those well known plastic blocks - and four engines with 256 pistons that run on compressed air. It was designed and built by 20 year old Raul Oaida in twenty months after he and a partner raised tens of thousands of dollars from Aussie backers. It will only cruise at 12-17 mph hour, but as shown in the video, you probably wouldn't want to go any faster.

Source: YouTube

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Been on Facebook today? You may have seen some annoying video ads slowing down your news feed.

The feature offers companies a new way to promote movies and products on smartphones and computers, and is being tested with a small group of Facebook users.

"Rather than having to click or tap to play, videos will begin to play as they appear onscreen -- without sound," Facebook said in a statement. When users tap the videos, the sound will turn on and the video will play in full-screen mode.

Analysts estimate Facebook could gain as much as $8.4 billion per year in revenue once the program is fully rolled out.

But don't expect a flood of video to start clogging up your online experience just yet...The company says only a few Facebook users will see video ads this week. It's testing the feature with one company, Summit Entertainment, which is promoting its new movie Divergent, starring Kate Winslet.

Facebook has been working to improve the video experience for users since September. It says users view, like, share and comment on content more often if videos begin playing automatically.

For users who don't want to see the videos, Facebook suggests quickly scrolling past them.


Facebook also says the new ads will not eat into mobile data plans, explaining that videos will only download when devices are connected to WiFi.

Source: CNN

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

This new light bulb will not only keep your room bright, but it will fill it with all your Bluetooth music.

The AwoX StriimLight B-10 sounds crazier than it actually is. It’s a light bulb, and it’s also a Bluetooth speaker. You screw it in, pair it to a device, and stream music to an 8W LED light bulb. The light socket powers both the speaker and the bulb, so the latter has to be screwed into a socket for the speaker to work.

It produces bright and warm-looking 3000K light that resembles the output of a fluorescent tube. It’ll screw into any E27 Edison mount.

As you’d expect, the speaker is not very good. A single 2-inch, 10W mono speaker in the middle of the LED lamp kicks out mediocre, bass-bereft audio. But those shortcomings are forgivable as the StriimLight leans heavily on gestalt principles.

Pairing it to a device is a simple process: You turn the bulb on, it beeps twice when it’s discoverable, and then you find the “StriimLIGHT” on your device’s pairing menu. Turning the lamp on and off restarts the discovery process if you have trouble finding the bulb in its Bluetooth menu; it’s basically a hard reboot of the bulb.

One little perk is that the StriimLight comes with its own remote control. The included plastic watch-battery-powered clicker is made of plastic, and lets you turn the light on and off, turn the speaker volume up and down, and mute the audio entirely.

At $100, the StriimLight may still be too expensive - at least until the audio quality is fixed. Available at awox.com/EN/striimlight.html.

Above: AwoX StriimLight B-10

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Have an expensive smartphone? Here's how to protect it in the cold weather.

Some smartphones list the optimum range of temperatures in their technical specs. For example, when it's turned off, the iPhone 5S can withstand temperatures between -4° and 113° Fahrenheit. When it's turned on, the range is much more narrow. Apple suggests 32° Fahrenheit as the lowest operating ambient temperature. Other phones are rated for much lower temperatures, and some can go as low as -4° Fahrenheit while in operation.

When lithium-ion batteries are exposed to cold temperatures, their performance suffers. When cold, a phone battery can drain faster than normal or it might say it has ample power remaining and then suddenly go dead. The problems are only temporary and the battery should behave normally when the device is brought back up to warmer temperatures.

In the event that your phone does shut down, do not restart it until you're inside and give time for your phone to warm up. Restarting your phone immediately could actually cause more harm to your phone and actually shorten your battery life.

It's not just the battery, smartphones are made up of other delicate electronic parts, like their LCD screens, that can malfunction in extreme temperatures.


Freezing temperatures can also make a phone's glass surfaces more sensitive to cracks and breaks, especially if there's already a flaw or nick in any of the glass. There have been reports of the glass on the back of the iPhone shattering in extreme cold temperatures. In Finland, where the average high temperature in the winter is 1°C, the government Consumer Agency has warned citizens that the phones might suffer performance issues in the cold weather.

To keep phones from getting too chilly, don't leave them alone in the elements, like in a parked car. Stashing them inside pockets closest to your person, where they can absorb some of your body heat, is best. If you do need to leave it behind, turn the phone off instead of just putting it to sleep.

Cases also help to keep phones warm. There are even cases especially built to regulate a phone's temperature in extreme situations.

If you're depending on the phone to make outgoing calls in case of an emergency, say while driving on icy roads, keep a back-up power source with you.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Merry Christmas! Our staff's top 5 tech toy picks are finally here!

The biggest trends this year are robotics, toys that come to life with apps, and toys that get you to do something - including go play outside. So don't worry, our handy list will help you pick out a perfect present! The best part? We've actually played with every single one of the toys on our list. While some look and sound good in commercials and online, there are a few that will drive you, dear parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles - absolutely nuts. Oh, and don't forget the batteries!

Razor electric scooter, $150
Topping out at around 12 miles per hour, Razor's electric scooters are a great choice for tweens and teens. They're stylish, reasonably affordable, and extremely durable. This encourages kids to get up off the couch and go outside, even if it's just for a spin around the block.

RoboMe, $100
This futuristic robot can run around on it's own, or use an iPhone as its face and brain, allowing it to perform a ton of cool tricks and tasks. It can act as a remote video camera, remote-control explorer, and kids can even reprogram it to say whatever they want. Fun and educational at the same time.

Lego Mindstorms EV3, $350
This isn't the same Lego set you grew up with. It's a hands-down standout for harnessing creative and thought-provoking programming potential. With infrared sensors and motion detectors, kids can quickly create complex models that blast, grab, strike, slither, roll, and shoot, in as little as 20 minutes, right out of the box.

Of course, almost every kid will want an iPad and iPhone. Our advice is to go for the iPhone 5C and iPad mini or Samsung Galaxy tablet (a cheaper alternative). Set up basic parental controls, and make them responsible should their new shiny gadget get lost, stolen or broken. We don't recommend these devices for kids, but rather for teens.

Monday, December 9, 2013

It's Computer Science Education Week and schools across the country have kicked off the Hour of Code campaign.

In the state of Massachusetts:

  • There are 20,499 open computing jobs in the sate of Massachusetts alone.
    • That number is growing at 3.2x the state average!
  • There are 2,134 computer science graduates.
  • Only 120 schools teach computer science.
The Hour of Code is an opportunity for every student to try computer science for one hour. During Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 9-15), we're making history and recruiting 10 million to join in and do the Hour of Code.

video
Source: HourOfCode.org


Friday, December 6, 2013

Microsoft to kill off Windows 7 preloaded software next year.

The long, slow march toward end-of-life of Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system is under way.

As of October 30, 2013, Microsoft ceased selling boxed copies of Windows 7 at retail. This October 30 cut-off date doesn't mean that OEMs or retailers are no longer selling PCs with Windows 7 preloaded, although it is becoming much more difficult to find. Although most major retailers have made the switch to Windows 8 or 8.1, OEMs can continue to sell PCs preloaded with Windows 7 until October 30, 2014.

Mainstream support for Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 installed isn't ending until January 13, 2015. Microsoft will continue to provide security fixes for Windows 7 for free until the end of extended support, which is January 14, 2020 - unless Microsoft ends up extending that support date, as it did with Windows XP.

Everyone better buckle down. It's going to be a bumpy ride with Windows 8 and 8.1, especially with no new operating system plans in sight.

Source: CNET

Thursday, December 5, 2013

This amazing new piece of technology provides secure & easy access to all your credit and ATM cards.

Coin is a connected device that can hold and behave like the cards you already carry. It works with your debit cards, credit cards, gift cards, loyalty cards and membership cards. Instead of carrying several cards you carry one Coin.

You can use a Coin everywhere cards are accepted including dip-style card readers and ATMs. Use a Coin just like you use your cards now at gas stations, restaurants, the mall, the gym, or other places you frequent.

The convenience and security seems to be worth it for only $100 (or $50 on a preorder at OnlyCoin.com).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Can't remember 4 digits to unlock your iPhone? No problem - use your face!

Awarded to Apple on Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark, a patent called "Personal computing device control using face detection and recognition" envisions a method to access your iPhone and other devices based on facial detection and recognition. As such, your face would act as a password, allowing only you to answer a phone call and perform other tasks.

The technology would start by scanning your face in order to record all of its unique features, such as texture, color, size, and shape. You could run the same process for any other person whom you want to use your iPhone.

In response to an incoming call, your phone would scan your face to make sure it matches that of an authorized user. If so, the call goes through, and your iPhone displays the usual incoming call screen. If not, the device remains in lock mode with only the ringtone chiming away.

The same security could apply for incoming e-mails. Looking at the iPhone would alert you to and display an e-mail. An authorized face would prevent the e-mail alert and hide or block the actual message.

The technology seems most at home on a mobile phone. But Apple's patent points to its use on other devices, including TVs, PDAs, and personal computers. As one example, your PC's screensaver could react to your face rather than to a preset period of inactivity.

An approved patent doesn't necessarily mean this technology will become a reality. But Apple did take a first step in password evolution with the introduction of its Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5S. Facial recognition is already used by other products, such as Microsoft's Kinect and Sony's PlayStation. So using your face to drive your iPhone seems like a logical step at some point down the road.

Source: CNET