New Tech Update: Amazon Alexa can now respond to running water, bleeping appliances, & can now order presription pills

Amazon has improved sound detection for routines and made Amazon Pharmacy customers eligible for Alexa's prescription refill skill. The modifications were detailed in Amazon's Alexa monthly report for November, which also mentioned the US launch of Conversation Mode and the arrival next week of the wall-mountable Echo Show 15.

Amazon first announced its ambitions to allow custom sounds at its autumn event in September, but it doesn't appear that users can write custom sounds just yet - instead, Amazon has introduced two new noises that Alexa can detect. With the new version, the device can now detect sounds such as running water and beeping appliances.

For example, if you want Alexa to detect the chime of your dryer, you may set up a program for Alexa to notify you when your dryer turns off. Dogs barking, kids crying, sleeping, glass cracking, and smoke alarms ringing were the only sounds the device could distinguish previously.

Additionally, if you’re an Amazon Pharmacy customer, you can now say, “Alexa, refill my medications,” when you need a refill on your prescriptions. Alexa will provide you with updates on when your medications are delivered, and you can also ask Alexa to call Amazon Pharmacy if you need any assistance. In the past, the ability to request refills through Alexa was only available to Giant Eagle Pharmacy customers.

Amazon has also fully rolled out Conversation Mode for the third-gen Echo Show 10 in the US, something that it started adding to devices in November. You can opt in to the feature by saying, “Alexa, join the conversation.” After that, you can speak more “naturally” with Alexa without using a wake word.

Anyone in the room can talk to Alexa if they face the device's camera, according to Amazon. If Alexa is directly addressed during Conversation Mode, she will respond, and if she is interrupted, she will pause. The blue border that appears around the screen of the Echo Show indicates that Conversation Mode is active. Simply say, "Leave this chat" when you wish to turn it off.

 


BlackBerry now on smart cars

Were you a big fan of Blackberry? Well, you're in luck.

The smartphone pioneer is shifting its attention to smart cars and their QNX technology. They recently partnered with Amazon to create a new cloud-based platform called BlackBerry Ivy. The BB Ivy collects real-time data and makes recommendations about available parking spaces, road conditions, and where the nearest gas or electric gas station is.

The purpose of BlackBerry IVY is to help automakers and automotive suppliers create personalized driver and passenger experiences and improve the operations of cloud-connected vehicles. BlackBerry IVY will support the more rapid development of new customer experiences and unlock new revenue streams and business models. It accomplishes this while reducing costs by moving processing to the edge and reducing raw data transmission. It also improves overall operations with enhanced data visibility and access.

BlackBerry's QNX software is already installed in 195 million cars.


Best switch for large networks: TRENDNET TEG-224DG

What Ethernet switch is the best?

We think the best Ethernet switch for your network depends on how many ports and features you need, but if you’re just looking for a few more Ethernet ports for wired connections, the Linksys SE3008 Gigabit Switch is a great option. It has eight ports, an easy plug-and-play setup, and simple Quality of Service (QoS) features that prioritize audio and video streaming.

About TRENDNET TEG-224DG

  1. ETHERNET PORT CONFIGURATION: 24 Gigabit RJ 45 ports provide high-speed network connections to devices and a 48Gbps switching capacity allows data traffic to flow smoothly, reducing traffic bottlenecks.
  2. ENERGY SAVINGS: The 24 Port Gigabit GREENnet Desktop Switch, model TEG S24Dg, provides high bandwidth performance, ease of use, and reliability, all while reducing power consumption by up to 70 per cent. GREENnet technology automatically adjusts power consumption as needed, resulting in substantial energy savings. Embedded GREENnet technology works right out of the box with no management requirement.
  3. Desktop Design:  Sturdy metal Ethernet desktop switch with a built-in power supply is well suited for desktop or rack-mount installations. Its fanless design is perfect for quiet environments that require a silent operation.
  4. PLUG AND PLAY: Simply power up the switch and plug-in connected devices. No software to install or configuration is needed.
  5. TRENDnet LIFETIME PROTECTION: Lifetime TRENDnet Manufacturer Warranty.
  6. LOW NOISE OPERATION: Fanless design lowers energy consumption and eliminates operating noise.
  7. MOUNTING OPTIONS: Optional Rack Mount (sold separately) Rack-mountable with ETH 11MK rack mount brackets.

 

 


Recognising Excellence in the European IT Channel

Now in their twelfth year, the European IT & Software Excellence Awards 2020/21 will showcase the cream of European software, solutions, Information, and Communication Technologies.

The awards are designed to recognize and reward excellence in the UK and European channels and include categories that are open to Solution Providers, ISVs, VARs, Systems Integrators, MSPs, Service Providers, Vendors, and Distributors.

The finalists and winners will be recognized at the European IT & Software Excellence Awards Dinner which will be held in London on 19th October 2021.

New categories for 2020/21 will recognize innovation, marketing campaigns, and specialist software delivered in a variety of ways, including SaaS, cloud, and hybrid.

Organizations wishing to enter the European IT & Software Excellence Awards or interested in sponsorship opportunities can find further information and details of the categories at: www.iteawards.com

The entry deadline has now been extended to Wednesday 31 August 2021.


Apple's MagSafe Battery review

In this review of the MagSafe Charger, you can read whether this magnetic charger is for you. How handy is it and is the MagSafe charger worth the money? We discuss the pros and cons with our experiences with the MagSafe charger.

I'm sure I speak for all Apple fans when I say I was looking forward to the AirPower, Apple's first wireless charger. The AirPower wasn't just a typical wireless charger with an Apple logo, as Apple frequently does. It has to accomplish something remarkable, such as charge your iPhone and other devices without issue and with accurate placement. However, the proposal proved to be a little too forward, and the AirPower never materialized. That is not to say that Apple has been idle, as we now have a new wireless charger from the company. The MagSafe Charger is especially for the iPhone 12series and has the main twist the magnetic attachment. Is the MagSafe Charger a must-have? Or is it better to ignore the new charger? In this review of the MagSafe Charger, we provide the answer.

MagSafe Charger review: in short

These are the main features of the Mag Safe Charger

  1. Easy to attach to the back
  2. The magnetic wireless charger is available for iPhone 12 models and higher.
  3. Can Charge with up to 15 w
  4. Available from 45 euros
  5. Round disc with aluminum housing.

For this MagSafe Charger review, we tested the regular charger. Apple also comes with the MagSafe Duo Charger, a combination between the MagSafe charger and an Apple Watch dock. This model is expected to be available later this year for an unknown price.


Best Small Business servers of 2021 so far

If you are a small business enterprise and you are not sure what server is best for you, here is the best recommendation we know would be suitable for you.

Sure, this can be initially more expensive than dedicated server hosting or renting your own bare metal server, but in the long-term, it will almost certainly prove to be the more cost-effective option, even by comparison to cheap dedicated hosting deals.

Dell PowerEdge T30

A Xeon dream with plentiful connectivity on offer.

Reasons to Buy: 

  • Fast quad-core Xeon processor
  • Room for six internal disks

Specifications

  • CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1225 v5
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics P530
  • RAM: 64GB
  • Storage: Up to six SATA HDD
  • Connectivity: 10 x USB ports, HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, serial, PS2, Gigabit  Ethernet
  • Dimensions (W x D x H): 17.5 x 43.5 x 36cm)

There are so many different servers out there, and that means that you’ll sometimes have to sort through entire price lists in order to find the best small server for you. Just look at the Dell PowerEdge T30 – you can buy it either as a barebones or as a fully configured server. Aimed at the entry-level/SoHo market, the T30 manages to fit in a ton of expansion potential into a tiny, mini-tower-like chassis, and it even comes with a wealth of server features by default, which makes it a perfect alternative to an office workstation.


Apple have done the coolest drag and drop demo ever

Apple debuted its latest macOS version today at the Worldwide Developers Conference, along with a feature dubbed Universal Control, which allows you to use your Mac's mouse or trackpad to control the cursor on an iPad or another Mac's screen, reaching into and across many devices. On the surface, it may not appear to be revolutionary, but Craig Federighi did something pretty remarkable during the demo: he moved his cursor onto an iPad, then clicked on a photo and dragged it across two other machines to place it into a Final Cut timeline.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PcKvaW5jzw

While Logitech's Flow and programs like Synergy have also enabled users to easily switch between PCs, it's not always as remarkable in practice - some solutions require specific hardware, some don't support true dragging and dropping, and still, others have cumbersome configurations. Apple's version appears to be flawless.

It is worth noting that, according to Apple’s site, there are a few small caveats for Universal Control — it will only work with three devices (so Apple was showing its full capabilities in this demo), and it won’t work on every device getting the new versions of macOS and iPadOS.

Here’s the list of Macs that can initiate Universal Control:

  • MacBook Pro (2016 and later)
  • MacBook (2016 and later)
  • MacBook Air (2018 and later)
  • iMac (2017 and later)
  • iMac (5K Retina 27-inch, Late 2015)
  • Mac mini (2018 and later)
  • iMac Pro
  • Mac Pro 2019

As for iPads, it’ll work with:

  • iPad Pro
  • iPad Air (3rd generation and later)
  • iPad (6th generation and later)
  • iPad mini (5th generation and later)

While the function works with iPads, it must be activated on the Mac – thus if you were hoping to transfer a file to your Mac using an Apple Pencil or your finger, you're out of luck (as fun as that sounds).

Apple claims that the function requires no setup (other than having your two devices logged in with the same Apple ID and Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Handoff turned on), but we won't know how fast and reliable it is until we test it. Will it work every time you place your iPad next to your iMac, or will you be tapping your fingers on the desk waiting for them to understand they should be communicating?

Obviously, we'll have to wait and see how Universal Control works in practice, but the demo makes it appear as though everything just works - Federighi moved the machines close to one other and could switch between keyboards, mice, and screens. It makes for a great demo, hinting at the everlasting goal of computing: being able to use all of your gadgets together, regardless of form factor or operating system (though, of course, this version of the dream ignores non-Apple devices).


Windows 10 Tips and Tricks: Life - Changing Productivity Hacks

For most computers (about one billion, to be precise) that OS has Windows 10, your PC is nothing without your operating system. Windows has been around long enough to be able to find the way around the last edition even for a technical incompetent. However, you don't just want to be able to use Windows 10 if you are a technology enthusiast; you want to master it. Only then can you appreciate your system's success and use what you and your program, the omnipresent OS, can do as a consumer.

In order to optimize the OS relationship with your pc and ensure it works as you want with your computer, we have described some of the handiest Windows 10 tips and tricks. This means tips for optimizing productivity apps for Windows 10, memorable Windows 10 hacks, guides for troubleshooting Windows 10 to keep your backpack and answering your queries.

Windows 10 Troubleshooting Tips

If you’re the kind of person people call when they can’t get their system to work properly, you’ll want to get a firm grasp of all the following Windows 10 troubleshooting tutorials.

  1. How to Fix a Windows Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)
  2. How to Use a Minidump File to Fix Your Windows BSOD
  3. How to Factory Reset a Windows 10 PC
  4. How to Boot Windows 10 in Safe Mode
  5. How to Find a MAC Address in Windows 10
  6. How to Monitor Your CPU Temperature 
  7. How to Test RAM: Making Sure Bad Memory Isn't Crashing Your PC
  8. How to Pause Windows 10 Updates
  9. How to Fix the 'Page Fault In Nonpaged Area' Error in Windows 10

Apple set to debut a foldable iPhone in 2023

For Apple, the question isn't "if" they'll create a foldable, but "when." We've been hearing talk about it since at least 2017, but nothing has come to fruition yet. And, in fact, it's usually best to stand back and let others go first, so they can see what works and what doesn't in the real world.

According to a respected industrial analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is expected to launch a folding iPhone with 8-inch QHD+ flexible OLED display in 2023.

Kuo told investors that he reached that conclusion based on his new industry survey in a recent note from MacRumors. SDC will function as the sole display provider "and the sole DDI fundry provider is Samsung Foundry," added Kuo.

The analyst anticipates that Apple will embrace the silver nanowire contact solution for TPK due to its advantages over Y-Octa technology for SDC.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OesVttlQVF8&t=91s

Kuo believes that the company aims in 2023 to ship between 15 and 20 million foldable iPhones based on Apple's requested capacity. He predicts more folding components are going to be a must and help build the next major upgrade super cycle.

The new crop of folding smartphones doesn't trick to blur the distinctions between smartphone and tablet, as Kuo correctly points out. They are also a little tough around the edges because manufacturers still deal with design and durability problems. However, Kuo finally sees flippables as devices that combine the mobile, tablet and laptop components into a single computer more seamlessly.

 

 


Sony has released a more powerful wearable AC

Sony has revealed a follow-up product to the Reon Pocket, an app-controlled "wearable air conditioner" that the company launched last year after crowdfunding it on its own website. The Reon Pocket 2 looks similar to the original model, but Sony claims that the newly built internals can achieve up to twice the level of heat absorption, resulting in more efficient cooling efficiency. Sony also claims that the sweat-proofing in the Reon Pocket 2 has been improved, making it more suitable for light workout situations.

The previous model was primarily marketed as something to wear with a special undershirt to make summer commuting more bearable, but Sony is emphasizing more flexible use cases — especially golf — this time around. The company has collaborated with sportswear brands such as Le Coq Sportif, Munsingwear, and Descente to create a line of golf clothing with pockets for the unit.

Sony has also created a neckstrap accessory to enable the Reon Pocket to be worn with regular clothing. Previously, you had to purchase a slew of pocketed undershirts from Sony.

The Reon Pocket 2 is out today in Japan for 14,850 yen (about $138). No word on a release elsewhere.