Thursday, August 28, 2014

Findster’s GPS tracker locates missing kids or pets, with no monthly fee.

There are a number of gadgets, both new and old, that allow parents to geo-locate their children – or let puppy parents track down a wandering Fido – but many of these either fall short of the task at hand by relying on Bluetooth alone, or require a monthly fee, like the FiLIP smartwatch for kids or the Amber Alert GPS, for instance. A new gadget now in the works called Findster differentiates itself through the use of proprietary RF technology, which allows for a longer range than Bluetooth, as well as no monthly fees.

The Findster team, based in Portugal, includes founders Virgílio Bento, David Barroso, Paulo Fonseca, André Ferreira, Márcio Colunas and David Dieteren, whose background includes a mix of experience in hardware, software, and design.

Not a parent himself, Bento admits that the idea for Findster came to him after he went looking for an affordable GPS tracker for his dog, who would sometimes become lost. But he was disappointed that most of the better GPS trackers required a monthly fee – which was hard to swallow given that the gadget wasn’t something he would need, except on a handful of occasions.
After deciding to tackle the problem himself along with the Findster team, Bento realized that there was a bigger need than just hunting down missing pets.

“People with kids told us, that is perfect for my kids. And we thought, okay, maybe we have a different segment here that’s important to acknowledge,” he says of the device’s transition in the far more crowded, and potentially more profitable, “kid tracker” space.

The founders began work on the device last year, and raised $67,000 during a prior crowdfunding campaign whose goal was $50,000. They’ve now just opened up an extension to that campaign to allow additional backers to get in. With still nearly a month left to go, Findster has raised over $11,000 so far on the new campaign.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Paper business cards may be dying. Check out this cool replacement.

The humble business card still hasn’t been killed off by digital alternatives. Being handed a piece of dead tree with contact details printed on it in ink arguably increasingly stands out in an age when digital data is so cheap and mutable.

But paper inevitably presents a barrier to accessing and utilizing the data thereon — hence alternatives such as QR code business cards, and business card scanning systems like CardMunch.
Well, here’s a third alternative in the making: SwivelCard is a paper business card that — by way of a spot of patented printing and some clever perforations — also includes a USB stick interface so the business card can be stuck into a USB port and then point the user to a particular webpage.

The webpage you associate with individual SwivelCards can also be changed — so you could update it with content specific to the person you’ve given a particular SwivelCard to, for instance. One suggested scenario there is for a wedding photographer to personalize the photo content they showcase to a potential client, for example.

And, being as it has a digital interface, the SwivelCard also includes the ability to track usage — so you can see where your business cards have ended up, and how much people are accessing them. So it’s a paper business card with analytics.

How does the SwivelCard manage to stick a USB drive onto a piece of paper? “We invented a way to print a USB drive onto/into paper.  We use a special metallic ink to print the USB contact strips & embed a small chip in the paper,” says the startup.

For those without a USB drive, the card does also include NFC and a printed QR code so the data can still be accessed in other ways.

At present SwivelCard is a patent and a prototype. Its makers are raising crowdfunds on Kickstarter to bring their smart business cards to market, but have already doubled their original target of $10,000 with a further 33 days left of the campaign — meaning they have the means to deliver on their promises.

They’re offering taster packs of mini versions of their SwivelCard for $29 and $79 but if you’re after the full fat offering — which includes all your details printed on it, with a design of your choosing — it’s now a $289 Kickstarter pledge for a pack of 200 SwivelCards, so these smarter paper business cards don’t come cheap.

If all goes to plan, the makers are aiming to ship packs to backers starting from this October.

Source: Tech Crunch

Monday, August 11, 2014

If you use Facebook on your mobile device, you have surely seen this message to upgrade. We urge you not to.

If you’re anything like your neighbor…you probably use Facebook on your phone way more than you use it on a computer. You’ve been sending messages from the Facebook app and it probably always asks you if you want to install the Facebook Messenger App.

It’s always been optional but coming soon to your Facebook experience….it won’t be an option…it will be mandatory if you care to send messages from your phone.

No big deal one might think…but the part that the average Facebook User doesn’t realize is the permissions you must give to Facebook in order to use the Facebook Messenger App. Here is a short list of the most disturbing permissions it requires and a quick explanation of what it means to you and your privacy.
  • Change the state of network connectivity – This means that Facebook can change or alter your connection to the Internet or cell service. You’re basically giving Facebook the ability to turn features on your phone on and off for it’s own reasons without telling you.
  • Call phone numbers and send SMS messages – This means that if Facebook wants to…it can send text messages to your contacts on your behalf. Do you see the trouble in this? Who is Facebook to be able to access and send messages on your phone? You’re basically giving a stranger your phone and telling them to do what they want when they want!
  • Record audio, and take pictures and videos, at any time – That means that the folks at Facebook can see through your lens on your phone whenever they want..they can listen to what you’re saying via your microphone if they choose to!!
  • Read your phone’s call log, including info about incoming and outgoing calls – Who have you been calling? How long did you talk to them? Now Facebook will know all of this because you’ve downloaded the new Facebook messenger app.
  • Read your contact data, including who you call and email and how often – Another clear violation of your privacy. Now Facebook will be able to read e-mails you’ve sent  and take information from them to use for their own gain. Whether it’s for “personalized advertisements” or if it’s for “research purposes” ….whatever the reason..they’re accessing your private encounters.
  • Read personal profile information stored on your device – This means that if you have addresses, personal info, pictures or anything else that’s near and dear to your personal life…they can read it.
  • Get a list of accounts known by the phone, or other apps you use – Facebook will now have a tally of all the apps you use, how often you use them and what information you keep or exchange on those apps.
After reading more about it and studying the permissions, I will personally avoid downloading the new app to my phone. I still have my Facebook app, but I just won’t use the messaging feature unless I’m at a computer.

Source: CBS Local

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Congratulations, Internet. You've successfully raised $55,492 so an Ohio man can make potato salad for the first time.

His crowdfunding effort on the website Kickstarter closed Saturday night. It became a social media phenomenon since it launched a month ago and the contributions came from nearly 7,000 people. Half of those gave less than $3 and 860 gave $35 or more, according to data posted by the site.

It wasn't to sponsor the culinary creation of a famous -- or even skilled -- chef. When asked what type of potato salad he would be cooking up, the man behind the project, Zach Brown, admitted he didn't have a recipe in mind, nor any experience.

"I'm not sure. It's my first one. Probably whatever is easiest," he wrote.

His effort began with a $10 goal and quickly caught steam. In the first week, Brown raised $11,000. Along the way he set new benchmarks for success. If the effort raised $3,000, for example, he promised to "rent out a party hall and invite the whole internet to the potato salad party."

After exceeding his goal many times over, Brown pledged to do some good with "our little Internet joke about potato salad." In an op-ed for CNBC, he promised to donate "a significant portion" to an endowment fund at a non-profit to support hunger and homeless efforts. The non-profit, The Columbus Foundation, said the fund would "be sure there is a legacy left from the campaign."

Brown has a lengthy list of other commitments. In exchange for the money, crowd funders promise their contributors something in return -- like the hundreds of commemorative t-shirts, hats and cookbooks Brown offered. To all 6,911 donors, he committed to "say your name out loud while making the potato salad." And he owes 3,330 contributors a literal piece of his effort: "a bite of the potato salad."

Source: CNN Money