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April 22, 2018 - Episode 498 (F5 Live: Refreshing Technology)

This week, mobile messaging gets more confusing, Capcom shows why free-to-play is annoying and AT&T announces a new streaming service under oath.

Best and Worst Laptop Brands 2018 - Episode 166 (Piltch Point)

This week, Avram Piltch discusses our favorite topic of the year: LAPTOP's Best and Worst Laptop Brands. Every year, the company creates a report card for the top 10 brands, with LAPTOP reviews, design, support & warranty, innovation and value & selection all factoring into the scores. This year, Lenovo once again reigns supreme, and Samsung and MSI sit at the bottom. Avram explains why and what it means for consumers.

Google Doubles Down on Unbelievably Confusing Messaging Strategy

Over the past few years, it has been nearly impossible to understand what Google is up to when it comes to messaging. They have rolled out several services, all with a similar and tragic fate: abandonment. When the service isn't abandoned entirely, it has features stolen for another platform, as was the case with Google Hangouts, which lost features to Google Allo. Google Allo, the not quite WhatsApp clone, is the most recent service to be abandoned by the company. The service was never widely accepted, possibly because at launch the service didn't really work - at least not how anyone would have wanted.

The service launched with only an iPhone (not iPad) and Android phone (not tablet) app. To use the app, you needed to use your phone number (like WhatsApp), but only on a single device. If you logged in using the same number, the original device would log out and delete your profile and chats. It seemed that absolutely nothing was saved on the internet. That also explained why it took a full year before you could use the service on desktop, though the sign-in process was even more insane and still only supported a single desktop.

After only 19 months in service, Allo is officially being retired. That's probably file, being as no one was using it. The entire development team is being transitioned to a new project within Google named Chat (not Google Chat). While it would seem that Google's next desperate attempt at messaging would be an Android-focused close of iMessage, the company has another idea that is even less likely to succeed.

Chat is designed to be a carrier-backed Rich Communication Services platform, intended to help carriers support the decade-old messaging standard. RCS supports almost everything that iMessage supports, while being carrier and platform agnostic. In the US, the big 4 all support various and fragmented versions of RCS, but only Sprint supports the full standard. Chat would give carriers another way to implement the technology. Interestingly, the reason Sprint supports the full standard is because they use a platform called Google Jibe, which seems like it would be a direct competitor to Chat, another confusing decision from the company.

Google has worked with most of the carriers around the world, as well as over 50 manufacturers, to implement the technology. While Google claims that they expect it to be available within the year, comments from some carriers suggest otherwise. T-Mobile is expected to be complete in by the end of June, but Verizon and AT&T have not announced a timeline, while US Cellular has said they have no plans to implement it at all.

In addition to phased roll-out, the other issue with Chat being carrier-dependent is that, like SMS, it is not encrypted communication. That means that it will be susceptible to the same privacy issues as SMS. Governments can request your Chat history from your carrier, and the data they receive will be easily readable. Since RCS is internet-powered, someone on an unprotected Wi-Fi network could also get your data. This is different from how iMessage, Signal and Telegram, which are similar services, all perform, being fully encrypted.

Keep Your Phone Clean and Germ-Free with PhoneSoap (PLuGHiTz Live - Special Events)

Think about all the things you touch in a day. You might use a grocery cart, push an elevator button, open a door knob, or shake hands with a co-worker. All of these things can put bacteria onto your hands. Next, you touch your smartphone and transfer bacteria onto it. PhoneSoap can sanitize your smartphone, tablet, and more.

PhoneSoap is a UV sanitizer for devices like phones and tablets. It uses UV light, similar to what hospitals use to sanitize devices. Put your smartphone into the device. Once you close the device, the light comes on. The UV light will stay on for about ten minutes. At that point, your smartphone is sanitized. The UV light will sanitize up to 99.9%.

PhoneSoap also works as a charger, so you can charge your phone while it is being sanitized. It is priced at $59.95. There is also a PhoneSoap Wireless that is priced at $99.95. PhoneSoap XL is priced at $119.95. It can sanitize tablets and other objects that will fit inside it.

Check out these models that are available at Amazon:

PhoneSoap 3: https://amzn.to/2HMiEHf

PhoneSoap 2: https://amzn.to/2qLNK9L

Interview by [livedanielemendez" class="UpStreamLink">.

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Remarkably Superior Encryption on Drives by SecureDrive (PLuGHiTz Live - Special Events)

Encrypted external hard drives and USB memory sticks have been around for at least a decade, but most of the time it's either locked or unlocked: if you have the password, you're in. SecureDrive has a solution that changes this binary reality, and makes the security better and more nuanced. Nuanced security means that, even if you have the password, you may not be able to access the device.

SecureDrive specialize in hardware encrypted data storage. They've three product ranges with varying capacity (1 - 5 TB) to address different security and storage requirements.

  • SecureDrive BT, which uses Bluetooth and an app for authentication
  • SecureDrive KP, which uses keypad authentication
  • BackupDrive, which backs up files and encrypts them with built-in anti-malware

For the rapid transfer of large files, all the devices use USB 3.0, and for security, it's pending FIPS 140-2 level 3. That's pretty secure.

The unique part of the SecureDrive solution focuses on the BT model, which uses Bluetooth and an authentication app. Instead of the drive only being locked or unlocked, the solution allows additional controls for geofencing and time schedules. For example, the SecureDrive BT can be set to only unlock between 9-5 M-F or only if the unit is physically within company premises. In addition, there's remote management so authorizations can be revoked and the drive remotely wiped.

The drives are assembled in Ohio, USA, and they're available for purchase priced at $299-$499. The remote management feature is a subscription service.

Interview by [livescottertz" class="UpStreamLink">.

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Get the Perfect Pint with HOPii Personal Micro-Brewery (PLuGHiTz Live - Special Events)

Microbrews and local brews have become a staple of restaurants and bars across the country. Wanting to get in on the action, many people have taken to trying their own craft beers at home. It is not, however, a hands-off process, meaning that the need for assistance is usually high, which is where homebrew technologies come in.

Enter the HOPii Personal Micro-Brewery, a device designed to help make sure your home brewing experience is the best it can be. If you are a novice beer brewer, you can use HOPii's self-guided option to receive the recipe, while the device does all of the work of brewing, monitoring and letting you know when the beer is perfect to drink.

If you're more experienced, you can use the "Brewer's Mode," which is designed to allow you to be in charge. You can pick your ingredients, design your recipe and then ferment your wort, dry hops, etc., to determine the exact taste you want. Once the beer is ready, HOPii can even bring the beer to the ideal temperature of your choosing.

The company is coming off of a $382,000 Kickstarter last year, and is currently taking pre-orders through Indiegogo InDemand. For $399, you'll receive a HOPii for 33% off (the retail price will be $600), with an estimated delivery of June 2018.

Interview by [liveallantesparks" class="UpStreamLink">.

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Superior Tracking of The Most Important Environmental Conditions with Yes It Is (PLuGHiTz Live - Special Events)

Tracking environmental conditions is important for many industries. This is particularly the case with food & drink and pharmaceutical companies. Often products have to be kept below a certain temperature and any deviation above this means that the product is not longer deemed safe for consumption. French firm Yes It Is is working hard to provide a continuous unbroken record of the environment surrounding these types of goods.

Traditionally the recording of environmental conditions is done by equipment installed in the building or the refrigerator. To match the data to a particular product means that the time in and out needs to be recorded so that relevant periods can be checked. Wouldn't it be better if the sensor was small enough and battery powered so that it could be packaged in with the product? There would then be a complete and unbroken record of the environmental conditions from production to use.

The folks at Yes It Is are working hard on this problem and are developing tags that have a year's worth of battery life, record the environmental data and can be scanned by a smartphone to retrieve the data. The plan is to have the tag small enough to fit in a label within a year!

Interview by [liveallantesparks" class="UpStreamLink">.

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Be In the Know of Radiation Around You With the Amazing Rium (PLuGHiTz Live - Special Events)

Geiger counters are great for detecting and measuring ionizing radiation but their biggest flaw is that they can't discriminate between the different types of radiation; alpha, beta or gamma. Icohup's Rium detector addresses this with a compact and stylishly wooden unit. Allante and Billy discuss the benefits of radiation detectors without mentioning a single nuclear disaster.

Winner of a CES Innovation award, Icohup's Rium uses scintillation spectrometry technology to not only detect levels of ionizing radiation but also the type. This means that the Rium can determine if the radioactivity is natural or industrial, or if it's a Cobalt, Uranium or Cesium source. The Rium unit is about the size of a packet of biscuits and is tastefully made of wood. Not sure if there's a scientific reason for this, though it looks good anyway, and the small size means that it can be carried by a drone to record radioactivity in potentially hazardous areas.

Data is collected and displayed by a nearby smartphone and with geotagging of the radiation information, maps can be built easily to show radiation hotspots. The data can be transferred either by Bluetooth or by USB. The Rium will be available shortly from Icohup for EUR399 (about $500).

The company is also currently in development of other detectors, such as carbon monoxide and radon gas, for future production.

Interview by [liveallantesparks" class="UpStreamLink">.

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Brilliant New Sunglasses That Double as Headphones (PLuGHiTz Live - Special Events)

We all enjoy listening to music when we're on the go, but headphones an get so cumbersome and even earbuds can be uncomfortable - and both block out the world around you. Echo Music solves this problem with their MusicLens sunglasses that give you a stylish option to listen to your tunes.

MusicLens sunglasses let you listen to music through bone conduction technology. You don't have to wear headphones, and no one else will be able to hear that you are listening to music. Bone conduction technology is the conduction of sound to the inner ear through the bones of the skull, which can protect your eardrums while you listen to high quality music. MusicLens sunglasses use this technology to reduce the sound leak you would get from headphones.

MusicLens connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, but unlike traditional Bluetooth headphones, the music can be stored right in the glasses. Download music from your phone, or from the Echo Music app, to the MusicLens sunglasses., and use the buttons to turn it on or off, to adjust the volume, or to have the Echo Music app autoplay. In addition, MusicLens will automatically take your phone call within five seconds.

There are several styles and colors of MusicLens to choose from. Pricing for MusicLens with prescription lenses is $88. Classic Ladies or Classic Mens styles are priced at $99. MusicLens Fashion style without storage is $120, or $199 with storage.

Interview by [livedanielemendez" class="UpStreamLink">.

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April 15, 2018 - Episode 497 (F5 Live: Refreshing Technology)

This week, Apple wants employees to stop talking, Google wants to stop forgetting and the FTC wants YouTube to stop tracking.

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