GNARBOX 2.0: Back-up and Edit Video On the Fly Sans Laptop or Device

If you’ve ever gotten extremely frustrated over losing a “moment” while transferring footage to your laptop to make room in your card or device, then Gnarbox 2.0 is the perfect solution to your problem. After the original Gnarbox successfully debuted on Kickstarter in 2015, its developers lost no time in creating an improved version based on the feedback from its users. It’s now back on Kickstarter with the campaign already exceeding its funding target.

Backing up files is such a necessary task in the photography and video workflow – when you think about it, there’s no way product without intact files. However, enthusiastic users can miscalculate just how much they can store. Increasing the megapixels or changing the capture output can quickly fill up your drive. Another important thing to consider is that when on the go, conditions are unpredictable (inhospitable actually!) so you need a back-up that is rugged, shockproof, and waterproof.

If you are an occassional user, storage is the least of your worries and you can just focus on shooting indelible Kodak moments. But if you had taken an incredible amount of footage and you have no time to edit or make sense of any of it, you do need the portable Gnarbox! Download your videos while on the go through SD or microSD to this 128 GB (expandable) storage solution without needing your smartphone or laptop. Aside from being the go-to ready device, you can edit photos and even 4K video and export to social media.

One touch backup with Checksum Verification and fast transfers (75MB/s SD to 450MB/s USB-C)to pre-set folder trees makes the once tedious job of backing-up fast and easy.  Data is organized by date and camera. Now selling at $250 at Amazon or through Kickstarter, it is compatible with Android and iOS (not Windows), DSLRs, action cameras and drones. Compatible with Action Cameras, DSLRs, and Drones.

Another way to look at it is to see it as a “standalone” computer with its own editing software. It is connected through Wi-Fi and can be expanded to 1 Terabyte harddrive. Whether you are a hoarder of footage or one who meticulously reviews and deletes everything except the choicest morsels to string together into an amazing video, the Gnarbox has a place in your travel knapsack.

The essence of going on vacay is to unwind and there’s practically no point in bringing a laptop. But for the more demanding who find editing on smartphone tacky, the Gnarbox is a reasonable compromise robust enough to bridge your needs from the field to the studio. It is equipped with tools to:

  • safekeep
  • select
  • sequence and render (with rough cuts and transitions) and
  • showcase on any HDMI enabled screen.

With Adobe Premiere, Lightroom, Dropbox, and LumaFusion integrations this sleek box has become more powerful. It definitely is not a replacement for your favorite editing suite but in the field, it does an amazing job and cuts down the time you eventually spend on editing!

Best Budget TV Gift for Father’s Day: TCL 6 Series Roku TV

If you are crazy about Netflix, Youtube, and an almost endless array of shows that you can watch till your eyes drop, then you would appreciate a really good-sized TV with crisp images in colors that pop and sound that sounds like the action was live in your living room. But for those who aren’t very techie, shopping for just the right smart TV is not just about selecting a brand – it’s also deciphering the nuances between LCD, LED, OLED, 4K, HDTV, Full HD etc. because of the huge markup with every upgrade. With cameras, I belong to the school of thought that it’s not the number of Megapixels that matter unless your output is large format. It’s also more prudent since the higher the megapixels, the more expensive the camera gets.  In a similar vein, if you get a lot of pleasure from buying more for less (without, the TCL 6 Series Roku TV will absolutely win over your bargain-hunter heart!

Most experts agree that 50″ or 55″ is a good size for the bedroom or living room in an average-sized home, apartment or condominium. Big enough for a comfortable watch without burning a hole in your pocket like theater homes in the past used to. The TCL 6 Series Roku 55″ TV, considered by experts and users alike as best in the budget class because of its high-end picture enhancements is priced at $649 – about half the price of a Samsung TV. Yet, it does not perform shabbily like other mid-priced generic brands do. With its outstanding picture quality, it’s true value for money with its 4K UHD picture and Dolby sound! What it means is you can say goodbye to lack of detail, humdrum colors or muddy black and whites because of its Contrast Control Zone technology and NBP Photon technology produces “produces a vibrant, rich color palette“. On top of that, Dolby Vision ensures “brighter and more accurate colors”.  And did we forget to mention – it’s great for gaming too!

TCL, once an obscure Chinese brand has now gained a foothold in North America because of its reliable performance and is now the 2nd top-selling brand in the U.S. market and 3rd globally. This growth echoes that of the Korean brand Samsung and if TCL continues this trend without hiccups, it might eventually overtake Samsung for the top spot. At its very competitive price, it is shaking up the smart TV market (and budget American competitor Vizio) for all the right reasons.

And if you’ve experienced the paradox of choice and grown impatient at finding the program you want, the Roku TV smart platform with its “simple intuitive interface” brings all your favorite programs at your fingertips.  With TCL’s simple and straightforward Roku software, you can watch thousands of streaming channels beaming all your favorite news, sports, tech, documentaries, lifestyle, fitness, music, kids, and family shows easily. No more wading through the gamut of 500,000 choices in utter frustration because features are well-arranged and streaming options are easy to find. It’s also cable and antenna-ready, just in case you want it that way. The great thing is that it’s voice-activated and can turn your smartphone into your very own remote control.

Perfect for Father’s Day? You betcha!




IFTTT: Applets That Increase Security, Productivity and Fun

IFTTT, a free web-based service is an acronym for “If this, then that”. It is perfect for people like me who don’t know how to code but want a better integration between Internet-enabled apps and services running on a variety of gadgets. Some portals like Slack now play “nicely” with Google Drive but NOT everything runs as smoothly as this. For instance, we have both Dropbox and Google Drive for downloading photos yet because these two don’t communicate, what we download on one isn’t automatically uploaded on the other.

Applets bring your favorite services together to create new experiences. — IFTTT

IFTTT is one of the popular productivity apps popular for Android devices – in fact, it already installed on mine. iOS version is also available. With the number of productivity apps easily downloaded for free, it is easy to get trigger happy and download more than what’s of practical use. Between business, personal, and social apps, it can be confusing and time-consuming. With IFTTT, simple tasks can be automated and since its launch in 2011, applets had been created to do just that.

In 2014, IFTTT was already valued at $170M and with over 600 apps that work with popular platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Gmail, Slack, Telegram, Facebook, Dropbox, Spotify, YouTube, Google Calendar, Evernote, Skype, Salesforce, MailChimp and more, on IoT devices (Alexa, FitBit, Android etc), a buy-out by Google, Amazon, or Apple may be in the offing soon. In fact, Microsoft has already developed “Flow” and it already has a major competitor, Zapier.

Each applet has a trigger and a resulting action. For instance, if you like a photo on Instagram (trigger), this can immediately be sent to your Dropbox account. A few of the popular things it can do through its “trigger-and-action mechanism” are:
  • Automate web application tasks like posting the same content on various social media accounts.
  • Track mention of companies in RSS feeds.
  • Automate switching on the light with detection of motion.

IFTTT enables you to have better control when using Alexa (Amazon) or Google Assistant while keeping you informed about news feeds and weather forecasts. You can be alerted on your chosen search words and even back up “files, contacts, photos”.

Among the many ready-to-use Applet collections on the IFTTT site are:

  • Applets for Google
  • Applets for iOS
  • Applets for Android
  • Applets for Voice Assistant
  • Applets for Photography
  • Microsoft Applets
  • Applets for IoT
  • Applets for Cars
  • Applets for News
  • Applets for Weather
  • Applets for the home (keeps you comfortable, safe, secure) and more.

However, the paradox of choice from such an extensive array is paralyzing so IFTTT has provided shortlisted Applets for:

  • Marketing
  • Small Business Owners
  • Shoppers
  • Educators and
  • Bookworms.

There are even Applets for Weddings and Music Lovers! With IFTTT, it’s different strokes for different folks – something ultra handy when you are dying for seamless integration between home and office. If you hate to drop the ball on anything (especially work-related tasks), IFTTT is a true GIFT. But beware since some users have found out that performance is less than ideal – it does crash on occasion. But for those who have made it work, it quickly becomes the indispensable interface between your apps and smart devices in your connected life.

Want to create your own Applet, here’s how!


FBI Tip: Reboot Your Router and Stay Safe Against Russian Malware

Last April, U.S. and U.K. officials issued a warning that Russians were behind a major threat to security through business or home smart devices. While the cyber threat was directed initially towards home and business routers running IoT devices, the attack would eventually move on to a massive scale involving water filtration systems and power lines. Sounding like a page from a spy novel, it sounds unlikely in the post-Cold War era but the FBI followed this up with another warning in late May.

According to Reuters, Russian hackers had breached thousands of home routers in the U.S. and could gather information or even shut down traffic. Some quarters considered this to be another witch hunt, just like what happened with Huawei and ZTE in previous years. In an effort to stem the threat, the FBI shut down a website that would ostensibly be used by the Russian hacker group named Sofacy to beam malicious information affecting about 700,000 routers in homes and businesses across 50 countries. According to FBI most of the susceptible devices were bought online. Cisco Systems Inc. claimed that the targeted routers were from Asus, D-Link, Huawei, Ubiquiti, Upvel, ZTE Linksys, MicroTik, Netgear Inc., TP-link, and QNAP; brands that are extremely popular among home users and favored by Internet providers. Sofacy (aka APT28 and Fancy Bear) was also implicated in hacking the Democratic National Committee in the most recent U.S. Presidential campaign.

According to CISCO, the U.S. is not yet under major attack but that it was the Ukraine that was the ultimate target. In a document shared to both the U.S. and Ukraine governments, it outlined how the malware caused millions in damages in the Ukraine and was behind a major power outage.

“The VPNFilter malware is a multistage, modular platform with versatile capabilities to support both intelligence collection and destructive cyberattack operations.” —  Cisco

This particular VPNFilter malware is hard to detect due to encryption so it is best to be cautious. It has 3 stages and persisting to subsequent stages after a reboot at Stage 1 is possible. This is so different from other malware infecting smart devices which seldom survive a reboot. The FBI suggests rebooting your router and downloading updates to disrupt the malware’s action. Though that cut-off communication, there were still infected routers to deal with. It is strongly advised that remote management settings be disabled and passwords changed regularly.

The size and scope of the infrastructure by VPNFilter malware is significant…capable of rendering peoples’ routers inoperable. – FBI

Experts further recommend resetting of SOHO (small home and office) routers and NAS (network-attached storage) devices to factory defaults aside from simply rebooting. Users should also coordinate with their Internet Providers who can reboot SOHO routers and manufacturers to ensure that the most recent patches are installed.

Is this a modern-day “Hunt for Red October”?

Facebook Surprisingly Losing Steam Among Teens – Here’s Why

And just when you thought that it couldn’t be more popular (or controversial), Facebook according to the Pew Research (Internet and Technology) is losing its foothold in this demographic to Youtube, Snapchat, and Instagram. The teens are speaking out and expressing their ambivalence over social media. Some say it makes them feel connected, others say that the “closeness” is superficial and that it encourages isolation, while others fear bullying and the pressure to go with whatever is popular at the moment.

In a prior Pew Research study in 2015, 71% of teens (12-17 years old) were still on Facebook. Today, that has dropped significantly to  51%. But why are American kids abandoning the ship and migrating to Youtube (used by 85% of teens),  Instagram (72%), and Snapchat (69%). Coincidentally, these three more popular platforms are primarily “camera-based” platforms. Facebook is more popular among kids from lower income families: 70% came from those with incomes of $30,000 and lower. Those who patronized Facebook like the fact that it is easier to connect with friends and families from different age groups, find people with the same interests and ferret relevant news. But for those who don’t use Facebook or had reduced their exposure, some claimed that a lot of it had to do with parents “shutting down Facebook”. A disturbing finding is that over a quarter of users find bullying and spreading false rumors rampant on Facebook. One fifth complained that it actually destroyed relationships because of decreased interaction and led to some sort of digital”addiction”.

When asked which social media platform they used the most, only 10% chose Facebook while 35% chose Snapchat followed closely followed by 32% who preferred Youtube. Girls were more loyal to Snapchat while boys gravitated to Youtube more. The slide is so serious that E-Marketer predicts that ” Facebook would lose a further 2.1 million American users under the age of 25 this year”. With 95% of U.S. teens owning smartphones currently, that’s a huge number that can be lost through the cracks – advertising wise since 45% claim to be on the Internet constantly. The Pew Research also revealed 83% of girls play video games while 97% play video games; another reason why the quality and safety of games should be monitored.

“When the 17-year-old turned 13, getting a Facebook account was a rite of passage. Not long after she got the account she realised she didn’t have much use for it.” – Paul Verna (E-marketer analyst)

Personally, although ensuring privacy is now a battle cry at Facebook, the fact that they are playing “matchmaker’ soon is in some weird way, anti-teen and possibly could open a whole new can of worms. Perhaps if Facebook kept it more simple and not push its dendrites into all directions like battling Google on the “apps for business” end, Youtube for video and for pairings then it could focus on what had made it extremely popular in the first place. Some habits die hard and the older demographics are apparently still happy with the appeal of Facebook; but the downside is that tweens may skip Facebook together and flock to Snapchat and Instagram making the user population an aging one.



VIZR: Use Your Smartphone as Display While Driving

Never text while driving – but what’s to stop you from turning your smartphone into the ultimate cool gadget as a display while driving? VIZR turns what could be a dangerous object in the driver’s hands to something which could make navigating easier and the ride safer. VIZR turns your smartphone into a Heads-On Display and works on all vehicles. By using your smartphone as the ultimate hands-free display, you can navigate with GPS technology, check maps, keep updated on traffic, check your driving statistics (including speed) and be alerted on your ETA without ever taking your eyes off the road.

VIZR installs easily with no need for wires and complicated installation. Unboxing to installing on your dashboard and driving sans distractions, takes just about a minute! There is no steep learning curve but you need to be familiar with the apps you install. The universal design adapts to all types of cars and sizes and is extremely easy to use. Using smart technology, VIZR allows you to use your phone features hands-free. Even those with in-car navigation systems eventually find these older systems obsolete and “unsafe” compared to the VIZR-smartphone tandem.

The VIZR retails at $39.99 – a cheap price to pay to see absolutely better at night. The display is more like a cockpit and you can see curbs, sharp turns and even changes in elevation graphically. It is pretty amazing form what you can see in this video from FIXD:

The VIZR turns your smartphone into a transparent screen with all the necessary information to identify routes and traffic conditions to make the trip faster, safer, and more fun. Other apps like ones diagnosing your car’s condition and maps can also be pulled up without breaking your concentration.

The caveat is that though it’s been said to attach well to your vehicle regardless of shape or size, there are reports that it slips. So before taking a long trip, it is best to test-drive and check if the apps you’ve installed are working properly and that the VIZR’s grip is secure. Check the phone’s memory too since you may have many apps running simultaneously. It’s made of plastic and being dashboard mounted may reduce a bit of visibility but overall, it does what it’s supposed to do. For those who struggle with visibility and navigation, it is the perfect affordable budget gadget. But for those who are familiar with routes like the back of their hand, this is one gadget you can live without.

HP Jet Fusion 3D Printer: Beautifully Useful Disruptive Technology

Rewind to the year 2013 when McKinsey Global published its paper on 12 transformative technologies that will impact “business, life and the global economy”. Viewed five years later, the report is affirmed with startling accuracy since advances in mobile Internet, AI, IoT, Cloud, Robotics, Autonomous Driving, Next Generation Genomics, Renewable Energy, and 3D Printing is indeed changing life as we knew it to something digital, connected, convenient and thoroughly functional.

When HP entered the printing industry, Canon and Epson were the top performers and HP printers were considered to be less innovative than the top performers. However, that changed since 2014 with HP’s focus on 3D printing. HP now leads the pack and in fact, according to Forbes contributor, Patrick Moorhead HP’s printing division “represents 35% of HP’s revenue and 70% of its profit”.  Whether in black and white or colored, the NEW HP Jet Fusion 500/300 Series 3D Printers makes prototyping and production fast and accurate. There is a model suitable for your needs, the complexity of operations and size of the enterprise. In its infancy, consumers could only imagine applications to be in interior decor, jewelry, fashion, and tech. Currently, 3D printing is used not just to economically produce prototypes and hasten the design cycle because it allows you to “create, test, and iterate in just hours”. HP 3D printers can now produce intricate thermoplastic parts with accuracy – even for sensitive medical gadgets.

3D printing could have meaningful impact on certain consumer product categories, including toys, accessories, jewelry, footwear, ceramics, and simple apparel.” They predicted that “global sales of products in these categories could grow to $4 trillion a year (at retail prices) by 2025.”— HP report

What HP did to transform the industry and gain market leadership was take 3D printers from prototyping to mainstream 3D printing scalable to your demands. This was barely two years ago but already, the demand for production-grade parts is expected to grow logarithmically, as predicted by Mckinsey. Already, it can produce polymer parts traditionally made of metal at only 20% of the cost and has been mainstreamed into the production industry. Clearly, printing has moved from crafty consumer goods to the production of a record 3 Million Multi Fusion parts last year that included:

  • medical gadgets
  • prosthetics
  • orthopedics
  • helmets
  • cameras
  • car parts and others.

The success of the]itechnology is a fusion of design, materials, and software. It has proven so successful that HP itself re-designed the manufacturing of its products around this technology with about 50% of parts created using the 3D printer. It has also impressed end-users who comprise 50% of its market with its precision and strength. Already, HP has moved from producing the printer to manufacturing the end-user products, all on account of impressive customer satisfaction and burgeoning demands.

According to the HP site, the top-of-the-line HP Jet Fusion 3D 4210 Printing Solution can produce “engineering-grade parts at up to 65% lower cost and up to 10 times faster” for up to 1000 parts per week. The mid-range  HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200 Printing Solution is good for up to 699 parts per week at half the cost and ten times the speed. The newest model,  HP Jet Fusion 500/300 Series 3D Printers is perfect for “product development teams, design teams, and universities”. The next question is whether it could be affordable for you and me; definitely crossing my fingers for that eventuality!



PageCloud: The Best Drag and Drop DIY Website Builder?

Those of us who can’t code (even basic HTML) and have no EQ to learn even basic Photoshop can now create a website with the help of PageCloud. Wix, a similar platform seemed manna from heaven for those like me who have but elementary skills. In fact, if I may say so myself, I guess I nailed it! But after some time, I sort of wanted more and decided to take PageCloud for a spin.

Signing up for the 14-day trial is a breeze. You can do so using your Facebook, Google or email account and get logged in immediately without giving credit card or Paypal information. After signing up, you immediately enter the EDITOR where you literally can customize everything. The great thing about it is that it does the site on both the desktop and mobile view!


The THEMES look fresh and minimalist. Nothing that screams overdone. There’s one that can be adapted for needs -be it a personal website, design, coffee shop and more. After choosing your theme, go ahead and give your site a name. You can always add the domain later.

And for those who have doubts that they could do this, no worries! Once you submit your chosen name, a tutorial video promptly comes up as if conjured by some unseen webmaster! Click on the short video and get your artistic (marketing?) juices flowing.

Text and Photos are easily added. With Text, it’s WYSIWYG so you just basically edit onscreen. With photos, you can easily cut-and-paste or drag and drop from your hard drive, photo-editing application like Photoshop or from the cloud. The images are automatically optimized and easily rearranged. To increase functionality, you can integrate it with around other apps. This way, you can track your site’s performance better, sell, connect a newsletter – pretty much like how you would do it in WordPress without buying all the modules and having an advanced user, designer or developer put it together. With the flexibility and easy customization that PageCloud offers you are at the helm with no fears of dropping the ball. Help is there whenever you need it; from the chat box on the lower right to the knowledge base that’s easily accessible.

Click on the text box to edit contents. You can also change the style, arrange the order and link to external and internal pages. Create a link at will if there isn’t any yet. Don’t let the simplicity fool you. There’s plenty for those who know their way around websites – click on advanced to tweak the script editor, CSS selector, and data attributes.

Images can also be edited, replaced, and deleted. Once you’ve inserted an image just click on the box and you can edit pretty much like you did with the text. You can play around with styles, rearrange, and link. Additionally, you can edit the image SEO, mode and zoom.


Sections can be edited and pages added. Like other regular websites made from scratch, you can add video, forms, and buttons. it’s also so easy to undo, redo, and save. For those who are more adventurous and want to start from scratch, you can do that too.

So do I like this browser-based website creation platform from Canada? Yes, I do! But the caveat is, don’t wing this. Creating a website is not like just putting in everything from the top of your head. Know what you want to put in and use the most succinct text and pictures. It’s all you – just made easier by PageCloud.

Pricing is as simple as the sign-up page. Depending on whether you want to get charged for the whole year ($20/month) or monthly ($24/month) you enjoy:

  • Hosting & Security
  • Unlimited Pages & Storage
  • Expert Su‍‍‍pport
  • Mobile Websites
  • Free Themes
  • Custom Domains
  • 3 Team Members
  • 70+ Integrations

The annual subscription perks are hard to ignore. For the first year, it includes the Free Domain Name and Google G Suite (includes branded email)‍‍‍. And yes, there’s help when you need it so you can have the website that’s been sitting in your mind for the longest time out there where you can inform, sell, and market.

Google’s Neural AI Kits at Target Mainstream Tech for DIY Gadgets

As it turns out, making smart gadgets and cameras is no longer rocket science. And you don’t have to graduate from MIT or drop-out like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs did either. You just have to buy your Google Kits at Target to pull it off. AI kits, both the Voice and Vision versions are now sold at one of the biggest mainstream stores, leveling-up DIY to new heights.

Largely educational kits, for now, the present models are upgrades of last year’s and now uses Raspberry Pi Zero, requires Internet connection and comes with a microSD card, cables, and a speaker. The Voice Kit sells for $49.99 which is a small price to pay to understand AI. This neat package comes complete and enables you to make an Echo/Google Home speaker or device that communicates through the cloud and is capable of answering basic questions and responding to simple requests. It may be fun and engaging but serious enough for those deeply interested in market-learning. Perfect for budding researchers and STEM students, you learn about voice recognition using your own voice commands and working with Google Assistant to build your own smart speaker.

The Google Vision Kit AIY retails for $89.99 does not require the Internet to build your smart camera. It makes users understand facial recognition – and goes beyond detecting faces to identifying emotions using a”joy scale”. It can also recognize about a thousand objects and uses Raspberry Pi ZWH and Raspberry Pi Camera. According to the Google announcement, it features the Intel Movidius chip and is designed for simple neural network applications – but it does process images at 30 FPS.

The interesting part is that you can go beyond these simple projects that demonstrate what AI could do and how it operates to something that Make Magazine claims can solve real-world problems. Using Python API, the RGB and other controls can be further customized and the 4 GPIO expansion pins can be connected to your own hardware to expand capabilities. Make Magazine further challenges users not to be just passive ones but truly interactive as it brings these kits in real, mundane scenarios like:

  • Turn music on when someone walks through the door
  • Send a text when your car leaves the driveway
  • Open the dog door when she wants to get back in the house

In general, reviews were excellent with some caveats on the speed and warnings about instructions. Users found it needed more baseline knowledge but otherwise finds the tech perfect for the “maker generation”.



Nokia: Back to My First (Phone) Love With #ChargedUp?

I confess – Nokia was my first love back in the day when cell phones were clunkier and sported rubber ducky antennas.  The iPhone was still a fetus in Steve Job’s mind and Samsung was more concerned about battling Canon and Sony for camera supremacy. Well, things changed and Nokia, with a fresh infusion $100M, is just getting its mojo back and I am waiting for the opportunity to snap one up after passing-up on this year’s earlier models.

With Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Sony Experia, and Google aspiring to dethrone Apple’s iPhone and Samsung, does Nokia, the industry’s dinosaur have a fighting chance? After the more expensive Nokia 8 Scirocco flagship phone disappointed die-hard Samsung 9 users, will Nokia have better luck with the launch of its new on May 29? Though more durable with its stainless frame, the Scirocco did not have the latest Snapdragon 845 on board and its higher RAM did not deliver better performance. Users also missed the MicroSD slot and the headphone jack. Despite its Zeiss lens, other flagship phones still produced faster and better video.

But recent teasers from HMD is intriguing. Thus far, the U.S. market has been lukewarm to Nokia 6.1 despite its upgrade from Nokia 6. But apparently, Nokia is springing surprises in its May 29 launch in Moscow – and the expected long battery life is just one of them. HMD had already confirmed the introduction and sale of the Nokia X6 in China and other locations as well. For sure the 3(?) new models will go beyond its Oreo usability that features enhanced multitasking, better security features, faster speed, and long battery life.



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