Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

Welcome to this week’s Tech Spotlight! As always, I’m sharing three tech-related products with you that are fun, interesting, useful, or all of the above. And as usual, you can find all of these items on Amazon. After you’ve read about my finds, you can head straight over to Amazon to place an order with your Prime shipping. This week I’ve found some highly useful tech accessories, as well as a fun new clock for your smart home!

OMOTON Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard

This keyboard from OMOTON is a highly rated Bluetooth keyboard that works with Bluetooth-capable devices. It’s specifically designed to work best with iPads and iPhones—the keypad has hotkeys that are customized for these devices. However, though the hotkeys aren’t guaranteed to work with other devices, you can still use the keyboard just fine with many other devices.

This keyboard makes the Tech Spotlight because it’s a well-reviewed keyboard with everything that’s necessary for typing on your devices. It doesn’t need a ton of bells and whistles—it just works well. It’s Bluetooth, so there are no cords to worry about. It has the keys and the layout you’re used to, so there’s no need to relearn where all the keys are. And the hotkeys can do things like let you control your device’s music and screen brightness.

The Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard uses two AAA batteries, so you might want to consider buying some rechargeable batteries. However, OMOTON notes the keyboard has a long battery life (as long as half a year) because of features like its automatic sleep mode.

Having a Bluetooth keyboard can make using a tablet or smartphone much more convenient. If you’re looking for one, take a look at the Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard from OMOTON!

Seneo Fast Wireless Charger

The Seneo Fast Wireless Charger is a super quick way to charge your device without having to plug it in. It works best for Samsung Galaxy devices, but it can also charge newer iPhones.

This charger can provide a standard charge for an iPhone, but it is able to fast charge Samsung devices when connected with a fast charge adapter (for instance, the one that came with your Galaxy phone). The charger is plugged into the wall, allowing for wireless charging of the device itself. All you have to do is place your phone or tablet horizontally or vertically on the charger.

The charger is also a stand, so instead of laying your phone flat, you can actually see what’s on your phone easily while it’s charging. It also has a light that changes color as the charger connects to your device and then begins charging.

It is important to note that you do need your own adapter to plug the charger into the wall. You also can’t plug the charger into the USB port of your computer. And Seneo makes a point to note that some phone cases will interfere with charging, so you may need to remove your case before charging. However, your case may be thin enough to avoid needing to do this.

A wireless charger like this one from Seneo is a great way to charge your phone without looking for the cord to plug in, and it even makes it easy to continue using your phone as it charges. Head over to Amazon to learn more and add this Fast Wireless Charger to your cart!

LaMetric Time Wi-Fi Clock

This clock from LaMetric is a unique and fun way to keep up with the time and much more in your smart home. The LaMetric Time Wi-Fi Clock uses an artfully pixelated display to show you many different kinds of information, all depending on what you enable.

The clock works on its own, but it’s programmed using the accompanying app on a smartphone. This clock can be programmed to do much more than just tell the time. It can display a large number of other things from the thousands of choices. It can show the weather forecast, email notifications, calendar events, and information from smart devices (like your smart bulb or smart plug). It even connects with Alexa.

The different clock faces include fun pixel art, so each feature you connect adds a little flair to the clock. It also has a speaker, so you can do things like set internet radio stations to play when you wake up. And you can come up with your own clock faces by using LaMetric Developer for customization.

This clock is a cool addition to a smart home. If you want to connect your smart devices to one aesthetically pleasing clock, take a look at the LaMetric Time Wi-Fi Clock!

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

Welcome to this week’s Tech Spotlight! Each week, I’m sharing some fun and cool tech-related products you can find on Amazon. This week’s Spotlight features a wireless controller, a smartphone camera kit, and a photo printer. Take a look at what I’ve found this week, then go on over to Amazon to add some new tech to your cart!

Myo Gesture Control Armband

The Myo Gesture Control Armband is a wireless controller that makes it easy to control your tech. While wearing the armband, you can make gestures and motions to perform certain tasks with your devices. The armband works by reading muscle activity and through the use of downloadable apps in Myo’s store (the Myo Market).

Using this armband, you can control many different things. Its product description mentions its use for gaming, as well as for things like controlling presentation slides and even flying your drone. You can also use the Keyboard Mapper to connect the armband to your keyboard. There are more than a hundred apps in the Myo Market, so there’s quite a bit you can play around with.

The Myo armband is designed to be convenient. It won’t weigh your arm down—it’s light (the description says it’s lighter than most watches). The battery is rechargeable and works throughout the day. And it’s compatible with many devices, including those using Windows 7 and up, as well as many Android, Mac, and iOS devices.

The Myo Gesture Control Armband is a convenient way to control your devices from a distance with just the motion of your arm. Head over to Amazon to find out more about what it can do!

Telephoto lens kit, 4 in 1 Cell Phone Camera Lens

This camera photo kit from ARORY offers a way to take photos from your phone in a new, fun way. Though many phone cameras do offer a lot more customization and options on their own, this telephoto lens kit gives smartphone photographers more choices for their shots.

The telephoto lens kit comes with 10 items designed to make photographing with your smartphone easier and a little more engaging. It does, of course, come with several attachable camera lenses. There’s a telephoto lens that offers 12x optical magnification, meaning photos can be zoomed in 12x further without the photos suffering from a loss of quality. There’s also a macro lens for close-up shots, a wide-angle lens for larger shots, and a fisheye lens for curved shots.

These are not the only items that come with this kit. There’s also a mini tripod with an attachable phone holder, so you can place your phone in the holder and take photos without worrying about a shaky hand or take a photo of yourself that’s not a selfie. To make this even easier, there’s also a Bluetooth remote shutter. Using this small device, you can take photos from a distance without having to touch your phone. There are also clips to hold the different lenses in place, and there’s a cleaning cloth to help keep the lenses clear of any dust or specks.

Many current smartphone cameras offer reasonably high-quality images, and many people rely solely on their phones to take pictures. This kit can improve the smartphone photo-taking experience!

Prynt Pocket, Instant Photo Printer for iPhone

The Prynt Pocket is a small, portable photo printer for use with iPhone. While you’re on the go, you can print previously taken photos or take new ones to print right away. All you have to do is place your iPhone in the printer and you’re on your way to printing photos anywhere.

The Prynt Pocket works with many different iPhones, from the iPhone 5 to the iPhone X. It uses ZINK Sticker Paper, which is an ink-free paper with a sticker backing (so you can also stick your photos anywhere). The photos print within 30 seconds, so there’s not a long wait for your photos. Oh, and if you like your tech to be pretty, there are several colors to choose from—graphite and white both look fairly clean and standard, but there’s also lavender and mint green.

The Prynt app also allows you to do some fun things with your photos. For instance, after you take a photo with the Prynt app, you can also record a short video to go with it. Then when others point their Prynt app at the photo, they can watch the matching video! You can also use the app to tweak your photos with things like filters and text.

If you take many photos with your iPhone (and if you have an iPhone, I’m confident you do), the Prynt Pocket will make a nice new addition to your accessories!

Apple Updates—Animoji, AR Upgrades, & Battery Life

Apple Updates—Animoji, AR Upgrades, & Battery Life

A lot has been going on with Apple over the past week or so. Quite a bit of news has come out about Apple devices, particularly concerning the future release of iOS 11.3 later in Spring. Here are just a few of the things you may have missed recently!

New Animoji will be added

When iOS 11.3 is released, you can expect new Animoji to be released with it! A preview from Apple has announced that four more Animoji will be added, joining the currently available twelve.

As you might know, animoji are the animated emoji that have been available on iOS 11 since late last year. Using animoji, you can make certain characters move based on your own movements and facial expressions. Some of the previously available animoji include a pig, an alien, a panda, and a unicorn.

The new animoji will include two typical animals—a bear and a lion—as well as the fun-sounding skull and dragon.

Apple’s augmented reality has been upgraded

Apple’s preview also discusses their new upgrades to their augmented reality (AR) technology. ARKit 1.5, the newest version of Apple’s AR tech, has been released for developers, and with it comes some cool new updates.

Previously, ARKit could allow users to place objects on horizontal surfaces (like, say, the floor). With ARKit 1.5, users will be able to also place objects on vertical surfaces (such as walls). This is a huge upgrade, making Apple’s AR experience even more compelling. In addition, users will be able to point their phone at a flat item (like a picture on a wall), and their phone will use AR to display any available facts about the item if it’s recognized by the system. For example, if you were visiting an art gallery, you could perhaps use Apple’s AR to find more information about certain pieces you were looking at.

iPhone slowdown to become optional

You may recall hearing a lot of talk last month about how iPhones were being slowed down. People were reporting that their iPhones seemed to slow down over time. Eventually Apple confirmed the speeds of these iPhones were being throttled, says CNN Money, though it wasn’t for some nefarious reason.

According to an open letter from Apple, iPhones were being slowed in order to prevent phones from being shut off as the phones’ batteries aged. Many people were upset this slowdown hadn’t been properly communicated to them, leading to Apple offering a heavily discounted battery replacement for certain affected customers.

Now Apple is going to make things even more transparent and open by allowing users to decide whether their iPhones are slowed down. In their iOS 11.3 preview, Apple describes their upcoming performance feature settings. These settings will make it possible to see whether your phone is set to slow down (preventing your phone from shutting down unexpectedly as your battery ages). If it is set to be throttled, you’ll be able to switch off this feature.

For more about what Apple is up to, take a look at their Newsroom.

What You Might Find in Amazon’s New ‘$10 & Under’ Section

What You Might Find in Amazon’s New ‘$10 & Under’ Section

Amazon now offers a ‘$10 & Under with Free Shipping’ section for those looking for affordable products. The new section became available this past week and could be a great draw for people who like to shop but are on a tight budget.

The ‘$10 & Under’ section currently has 9 categories to choose from. You can choose All if you want to see everything added to the section. Or you can get more specific with the following categories: Women’s, Men’s, Electronics, Gifts, Home Décor, Household, Watches, and Hello 2018!

The section also mentions free shipping. Prime users already expect free shipping, but this section has a draw for everyone—you don’t have to have Prime to get the free shipping. This means you can shop in the ‘$10 & Under’ section without worrying about shipping costs even if you’re not paying for a Prime membership.

Right now the section is a little tricky to navigate, because you can only filter items by the categories mentioned above and you can’t search the section. However, if you have some time to scroll through, you’ll likely spot something that catches your interest.

There are a variety of items in the Women’s and Men’s sections. The Women’s category includes a lot of clothing and accessories. There’s jewelry, like earrings and bracelets, plus there are hair accessories and full clothing items like blouses and skirts alongside miscellaneous small items. In the Men’s category, you can find items like t-shirts, hats, sunglasses, and tie clips. There are also items like water bottles and headphones.

In Electronics and Gifts, there are quite a few items to choose from. The Electronics category has items like iPhone armbands and other iPhone accessories, smartphone cases, chargers and charger cords, and headphones. The Gifts category has a pretty scattered collection of items. There are things like sunglasses, balloons, throw pillows, greeting cards, baseballs, soap, and succulent plant pots.

Home Décor and Household both feature an array of items for the home. The Home Décor section is filled with plenty of throw pillows in all sorts of designs and colors. There are also items like coaster sets, decorative signs and knick knacks, tablecloths, string lights, and curtains. In the Household section, you can find plenty of cleaning supplies, as well as storage containers, lightbulbs, kitchen utensils, and shower caddies.

The Watches and Hello 2018! sections are interesting categories. The Watches section is centered on, of course, watches. There are analog and digital watches with various designs and styles. There are also watch accessories. In the Hello 2018! section, there’s a variety of colorful, glittering items. There are things like earrings, yoga mats, sparkly phone cases, confetti, workout clothing pieces, and to-do lists.

As previously mentioned, going through the available items involves quite a bit of scrolling and just looking for whatever catches your eye. Head over to the ‘$10 & Under’ section of Amazon to see if you spot something you like.

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

It’s time again for our Tech Spotlight! Every week, I’m sharing three of my tech finds with you. This week, I’m showcasing three fairly different products—a body camera, a posture device, and an instrument for art. Take a look at what’s in the spotlight this week, and then click over to Amazon to add them to your cart!

FrontRow FR Wearable Lifestyle Camera

This camera from FrontRow is designed to let you capture moments throughout your day. The camera is meant to be worn, and it can be worn on a lanyard, on your own necklace, or as a clip. Then you can go on with what you’re doing and capture it all with the small camera.

The camera can capture hours of footage. You can also livestream to several different social media platforms, including Facebook. Once you’ve captured video, you can use the app to send your videos to your phone.

The camera itself has a touchscreen and buttons. With the touchscreen, you can do things like look at your pictures and videos, as well as control what the camera is doing. You also have power, media, and home buttons. This way, much of what you do is done on the camera itself, instead of controlling everything through your smartphone.

If you’re interested in trying out a wearable camera and capturing more moments of your day, check out FrontRow’s Wearable Lifestyle Camera on Amazon!

3Doodler Create 3D Printing Pen Set with 50 Plastic Strands

The 3Doodler Create is a fun device that lets you “3D print” in midair. Using the pen, you can draw and build on a surface or in the air. You can create art or even make useful little items.

The 3Doodler Create heats plastic that then hardens immediately as it leaves the tip of the pen. This means you don’t have to wait for anything to dry—you just start drawing! The plastic filaments that are used for drawing are non-toxic and come in many different colors.

In the video on their Amazon product page, people are shown drawing and building things like motorcycles, inventions, a piece for a broken remote, a double decker bus, and more. They’re shown either drawing freehand or using a stencil. Stencils and project ideas can all be found for free online.

Whether you want to get creative with a new art project or build a new invention, give the 3Doodler Create a try!

UPRIGHT GO

UPRIGHT GO is a device that can help you work on your posture. The device is simple—it’s a small wearable and a connected app. After placing the UPRIGHT GO on your back, you can begin to track your posture and make changes.

This device builds a program for you so you can train yourself and improve your posture. It tracks your posture and your progress, so you can look at your stats and see how you’re doing. There’s also a customer care team that you can contact through the app at any time. They can help keep you on track and encourage you to do what you need to do to meet your goals.

Another way the device keeps you focused on your posture is by alerting you when you’re slouching. If you slouch, the UPRIGHT GO will vibrate to warn you that you need to maintain good posture. With all of these features, Upright says you’ll begin to notice your posture improving after just two weeks of use.

Bad posture is an issue for many people, and it can be hard to fix. If you want to improve your posture, learn more about the UPRIGHT GO and see if it might work for you!

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight is back this week with even more fun and interesting tech! As usual, I’m sharing three tech products you can find on Amazon right now. This week, take a look at tech for entertainment, convenience, and learning!

Victrola Vintage 3-Speed Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable with Speakers

This turntable from Innovative Technology makes it easier to listen to a variety of different music sources on the go or at home. Not only is it a turntable, it also lets you play music from your device using Bluetooth.

In addition to using Bluetooth, you can also plug other devices in, like speakers or headphones. Of course, it has its own speakers, so it’s not really necessary to plug in different ones. And since it comes in a suitcase with a handle, it’s easy to take anywhere.

Another interesting aspect of this turntable is its design. There are many different colors and patterns to choose from. If you like visually-pleasing tech, you’ll like this product. There are classic-looking colors, but there’s also a tie dye pattern and even a galaxy pattern.

Check out Innovative Technology’s turntable and Bluetooth music player if you’re looking for a fun, useful, and interesting way to play your music!

GNARBOX – Portable Backup & Editing System for Any Camera, 128GB

GNARBOX is a device for anyone who is serious about photography and carries a camera with them wherever they go. This device is one way to make sure you don’t lose any of your photos while you’re traveling, and it even lets you tweak and share your photos on the go.

Using GNARBOX, you can plug your camera’s card in and back up all your photos while you’re out. You can then use GNARBOX’s wi-fi to connect with your phone, allowing you to work on and share your photos. The app even lets you edit videos, not just photos.

The device is designed to be very portable and avoid wearing down. Its battery life is 4 to 6 hours, and it’s resistant to shock, dust, and water, which is helpful if you’re traveling out in the elements.

If you have a camera and want to be able to save, access, edit, and share your photos on the go, take a look at GNARBOX!

Learning Resources Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set

This Activity Set from Learning Resources is another offering in the fun-but-educational tech toys category. This set helps kids practice coding by giving them something fun to do and getting them involved. Many aspects of coding may appear less than fun at first, but this toy teaches while making it entertaining.

The Code & Go Robot Mouse has kids build mazes using brightly colored maze pieces. Then kids think it through and code the mouse to make it go around the roadblocks, moving through the maze to get to the toy cheese at the end. The mouse itself is also bright and fun-looking, and it also makes sounds, has lights, and moves at two different speeds.

The product description notes that this toy works on several important areas of learning. Kids can learn about critical thinking, as well as problem-solving. And of course, it introduces kids to basic concepts of coding. It does all this while keeping kids’ attention by being visually appealing and “hands-on.”

Head over to Amazon and read more about Learning Resources’ toys and how they might fit with the kids in your life!

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

It’s time again for our weekly Tech Spotlight! I’m sharing tech that’s fun, interesting, educational, or just cool. Take a look at this week’s finds and then head over to Amazon to add them to your cart!

Makey Makey – An Invention Kit for Everyone

This tech toy lets kids and adults experiment and come up with ideas for new fun inventions. The kit is a small circuit board with alligator clips. Using these alligator clips, you can turn all kinds of different objects into something new.

For instance, the product description mentions a “banana piano” more than once. This invention can be made by using a virtual online piano, Makey Makey, and some bananas. Placing the alligator clips on the bananas turns them into piano keys. This is just one potential fun invention—their description says there are thousands of things to come up with.

Not only can it be silly and fun, it’s also meant to help people learn. The idea for Makey Makey started at MIT. There are lesson plans on Makey Makey’s websites, and the hope is that people will be encouraged to really think and be creative.

If you or your child want to learn and have fun at the same time, check out Makey Makey’s kit, and then get creating!

Navdy – Heads Up Display & GPS Navigation

Navdy provides the services you might have grown used to having in your car, displaying them in a convenient way. The device’s display projects the information you want onto your windshield so you can keep your eyes forward on the road, and it since it’s a transparent display, it doesn’t unnecessarily block a chunk of your vision. Information is displayed in the distance and in full color. It also promises to be visible in bright light, and it dims when it gets dark out.

It also helps you avoid having to turn to pick up or handle your phone. You can use gestures to swipe with Navdy, letting you answer your phone and perform other tasks. And since it can read information out loud to you, you won’t feel tempted to dangerously attempt to read information or messages.

You can do a number of different things with Navdy. Perhaps most important is its navigation service. It uses Google Maps, so if you already use that service, you won’t have to get used to a new one. You can also use Navdy to take calls, listen to and send messages, and play music. Plus you can set up a customized “dashboard” that shows information like how much gas you have left and how fast you’re going.

Whether you use a navigation service every now and again or want to keep up information during a drive, Navdy can work for you. Check it out on Amazon and make driving more convenient!

SZJJX RC Drones, Foldable Remote Control Wifi Quadcopter

This drone from SZJJX has some particularly fun and useful features. The drone can be used for multiple purposes and can be controlled in more than one way.

SZJJX’s drone is convenient because it can be folded when not in use. This means it won’t be particularly bulky if you’re taking it somewhere. It also has two speeds, LED lights, and a wind-resistant design.

What might be the most fun, though, is the HD camera with its wide angle lens. This camera can be used to take photos of cool shots from the air. It can also be used to experience the drone in flight. Your phone can be connected to the drone’s camera, allowing you to watch video from the drone while it’s in the air. You can even use a VR headset while watching the video.

The drone has a number of other interesting little features, like its “gravity sensor” and “altitude” modes. You can also use their app to create a flight plan by drawing where you want the drone to go.

Drones are becoming more and more affordable and accessible, and this drone seems to be a highly-reviewed and fun choice. Take a look at all of its features on Amazon!

Tech to Get You Through Winter Weather

Tech to Get You Through Winter Weather

Depending on where you live, you might be dealing with some unpleasant cold weather lately. (If not, I’m a little jealous of you.) As always, many of us are dealing with dropping temperatures, freezing rain, blizzards, or a little bit of everything winter has to offer.

There’s a lot that goes into things like weatherization and car care, so of course, this article should act as a supplement to the basics. Specifically, in this article, I’ll be sharing a few ways you can use tech and the internet to make it through winter!

First things first: focus on safety

The most important thing to remember during inclement weather is that you should always stay focused on safety. There are some suggestions in this article that are mostly for convenience or money-saving. However, you should always carefully look into safety tips for different situations.

To go over winter weather tips, take a look at the National Weather Service’s Winter Resources.

For your home

Reduce energy
You might want to consider how you can best save energy while keeping warm in the winter. There are many things you can do to cut back on energy use. One way you can reduce energy is by upgrading your thermostat.

For instance, one affordable thermostat is Lux’s Programmable Thermostat. This thermostat doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles, but it’s helpful because you can program it to change the temperature while you’re away. It can also be set to turn the heat back up at a certain time, so when you get home, the temperature is comfortable again. This way you don’t have to worry about wasting heat for hours every day.

If you have more money to spare, you can also try one of the popular smart thermostats. One option is the ecobee4. It’s much pricier, but you can do additional things like change the temperature from an app and use its integrated Alexa voice control.

Cuddle up
You can keep extra warm with a cozy blanket. Maybe you have roommates who aren’t as bothered by the cold, or maybe you just like to curl up under warm blankets. Either way, an electric blanket might make winter easier to endure.

Sure, electric blankets aren’t new tech. But there are better options than there used to be. For example, Sunbeam has a queen size electric blanket that is designed to actually be comfortable while also letting you set the different sides of the blanket at different temperatures, and it has an auto-off feature.

If this is a bit too costly, there are cheaper options available. Just make sure to buy from a brand you trust, and always use an electric blanket as intended to avoid accidents!

Prepare for power outages
Aside from the usual preparations, make sure you have a way to keep your devices on if the power goes out. You might just need or want an inexpensive, low-power battery pack. Or you could look into full-blown backup generators.

You can find small portable chargers for just a few dollars. Aibocn has one for just under $10. If you want more than just one or two charges from your battery pack, Anker has many portable batteries available. Their 20100mAh battery pack can charge some devices up to 7 times from just one charge of the pack.

Consider everything you’ll want to charge during a power outage, and then consider purchasing a battery pack that can charge what you specifically need.

For traveling

Clear your windows
If your windshield is frozen over, you can use a variety of products to melt the ice and scrape it off. If you want to potentially make things even easier, try adding a new device to your collection. There are ice scrapers available that plug into your car’s lighter outlet and heat up to help melt the ice while you scrape.

One example of this is Zone Tech’s Ice Scraper. It’s heated, uses a squeegee to clear away water, and is designed to avoid scratching windows. Launch Innovative Products has a similar heated ice scraper. This one also has a light so it’s easier to see while you’re scraping.

Warm your seat
If you get out early in the morning, you might have come to dread sitting on your car seat because it gets so cold. Some cars come with heated seats, which is great, but if you have an older car (or don’t have the money for actual heated seats), you have options. Specifically, you can purchase heated seat covers.

There are quite a few of these products on the market, and many of them are reasonably priced. A good example of this is Wagan’s Heated Seat Cushion. The seat cushion is held down with straps, and it’s powered by plugging it into your car’s lighter outlet. You can even add an adapter for extra when you buy it, letting you use the seat cushion other places, like at your desk.

If price is less of an issue, there are also heated cushions with more features. SNAILAX has a seat cushion that can heat and cool, so it works year-round. It also plugs into the lighter outlet, and this cushion automatically turns off after 30 minutes, helping prevent things like overheating.

Keep your drink warm
Warm drinks are important during the winter, especially if you have to leave the house to go to work or run errands. Whether you’re drinking coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or any other hot beverage, it can sometimes be difficult to keep them warm after leaving home.

Naturally, there are products meant to help combat this issue. The electric mug from GEEPIN is one option. It’s a thermos that plugs into your car’s lighter outlet and keeps the liquid inside it hot. You can also just use it as a kettle and make drinks with it on the go. It seems to heat quickly and get hot enough to take care of those icy winter days.

You might also consider a cup warmer. If you enjoy stopping at a coffee shop to pick up a drink, you can keep it warm with something like the Auto Cafe Take-Out Hot Cup Warmer. Like many of the devices mentioned, it’s powered through your lighter outlet. It fits the typical cup of coffee, plus it only turns on when a cup is placed in it, and it turns off once the cup is removed.

For your devices

Get weather alerts
Making it through winter is a little easier if you’re keeping up to date with the weather. Sometimes, despite checking the weather regularly, something can be missed or come seemingly out of nowhere. Weather alerts are a great way to overcome this issue.

There are many ways to get weather alerts. If you already have a weather app on your device, you probably already have access to alerts. Apps like Accuweather and Weather by WeatherBug have options in the settings to get severe weather alerts. If you have a weather app, check the settings to see if you have this option.

There are also apps that specifically cater to sending weather alerts. There’s AlertsPro, which uses the National Weather Service to provide warnings and alerts. Then there’s NOAA Weather Radar & Alerts (by Apalon Apps), which can even let you get alerts for numerous different locations.

Check in with friends and family
If there’s been a serious winter weather event in your area, your friends and family might be worried about you. If you have the Facebook app (or access to Facebook some other way), you may be able to easily let everyone know you’re okay.

If enough people let Facebook know about a serious event that’s occurred, their Safety Check will be activated. This feature is found in the “Crisis Response” section on Facebook. This feature lets you check in and say you’re okay.

Of course, the situation has to be extremely serious, and Safety Check might not be activated even if you’re in danger. In this case, you might consider simply posting on Facebook that you’re safe and then tagging specific friends and family in a comment to the post. It may not be quite as effective, but it can get some peoples’ attention.

Make a shopping list
Shopping to prepare for a winter storm is usually not particularly fun. Stores can be chaotic if winter weather is coming. One way to get in and out more quickly is to make an easy-to-follow shopping list beforehand.

A shopping list app can be particularly useful. You don’t have to carry paper and a pen, plus you can quickly add and remove things as you need to. Try using a popular app like List Ease (for Android and iOS) or Grocery iQ (for Android and iOS).

The Latest on Self-Driving Cars

The Latest on Self-Driving Cars

Advances have been being made on self-driving cars for quite some time now, and they’ve taken hold of many peoples’ imaginations. Self-driving cars open up a world of possibilities, from driverless deliveries to being able to work while on the road. This week, more news has been released about some companies’ plans for their own self-driving vehicles.

A new version of an autonomous car from Toyota Research Institute has just been unveiled, according to The Verge. Toyota’s latest test vehicle is called Platform 3.0, and it’s a Lexus with sensors and cameras.

What’s getting people excited is Platform 3.0’s range of vision. Its sensors can see 360-degrees around it, and most importantly, they can see up to 200 meters (or about 656 feet). TechCrunch reports that the vehicle has a weather- and temperature-proof roof panel, as well as a trunk (which was not in previous versions). It’s going on to be displayed at CES, a gathering for “innovators and breakthrough technologies” from the Consumer Technology Association, according to CES’ website. The plan is to start production of Platform 3.0 this spring.

Meanwhile, Aurora Innovations, a company started by an engineer who previously worked with Google on their self-driving cars, is in the news. The Verge is reporting that Volkswagen Group and Hyundai are now partnering with Aurora Innovations in a step toward creating autonomous cars.

VW and Hyundai plan to vehicles available in different cities. Hyundai will use Aurora Innovations’ tech in one of their SUVs, according to CNN Money. VW, meanwhile, wants to use the tech in a number of vehicles and use the vehicles for ride-sharing. Both of them also currently plan to release their vehicles commercially in 2021, just a few years from now.

These fully driverless vehicles may not be here yet, but it’s still exciting to know they’re getting closer. Of course, there will be limited production and very high costs. But the advances in technology and current plans for more self-driving cars are a good sign of what’s to come.

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

I’m back with another installment in the weekly Tech Spotlight! I’m discussing fun, useful, or downright cool tech-related items available on Amazon every week. This week features a very useful charger, a time-saving and convenient smart device, and some tech for the kids in your life. Check out what I’ve found this week, then head over to Amazon and add some tech to your cart!

Solar Charger BernetPow 24000mAh Battery Pack

If you like to hike or camp, or if you just like to go out for the day without having to look for an outlet, a portable charger can help. This solar-powered device from BernetPow is a great option for anyone looking to buy a portable charger.

BernetPow’s Solar Charger is a highly-reviewed but reasonably-priced portable charger. The charger can be powered using its solar panel. It can also be charged at an outlet. The product description notes that the solar panel shouldn’t be relied on as the primary way to charge, but of course, having even some solar charging available could be extremely helpful.

This charger can charge three devices at once with 2.4A charging. It’s able to charge most of the typical devices, like an iPhone or a Galaxy. The charger also has a “safety system” meant to prevent things like overcharging or short-circuiting. Also, its listed item weight is 12.3 ounces, which isn’t the lightest option out there, but it’s pretty typical for a decent, high-powered portable charger. And interestingly, it comes with a tiny USB fan that can be plugged in to keep cool in the summer.

This charger also has some features that help prevent wasting a charge. It will automatically stop charging your devices once they’re full, which keeps the battery from charging for no reason and is better for the device. Also, the charger itself will shut off once it’s not longer in use.

If you’re looking for a good new portable charger, check BernetPow’s solar charger out for an option that works well without breaking the bank!

Flic – The Wireless Smart Button, 3 Pack

Flic is a smart button that makes it a little easier to perform actions on your smart devices. Using the Flic app, you can set your button to do just about anything. Each button has three ways to trigger it—with a click, a double click, or a long press. Each of these triggers can be set to something different, and they can also be set to do more than one thing each.

Flic can be used to control your smart devices, like your lights, your thermostat, or even the camera on your phone. It’s meant to be convenient and time-saving. Since it has an adhesive backing as well as a clip, it could be attached near your doorway so you could turn on the lights and the TV as soon as you walked in the door. Or you could clip it on your sleeve to control your music while working out.

This smart button uses Bluetooth to connect to your device, and it has a range of “roughly 50m,” according to the product description. It also is resistant to “weather and dust,” and the battery lasts quite a long while—over a year, in fact.

If you don’t have any smart products, or if you use your smartphone very little, this might not be all that useful for you. But if you want to be able to control your music without taking your phone out, or if you want to quickly perform actions with your other smart devices, take a look at Flic’s pack of three smart buttons.

Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit

This Electronics Discovery Kit from Elenco is a fun offering in the arena of kid’s tech. More and more companies have been producing educational toys that help kids get excited about different areas of tech. This particularly kit has kids 7 and up figuring out how to connect electrical circuits to build interesting projects.

The pieces all snap together, which means there’s no trouble connecting the different parts. The circuit pieces are color coded and perform a variety of functions. This includes a speaker and switches. Using these pieces, kids can work on 101 different projects. The product description mentions fun projects like a musical doorbell and a light police siren.

Aside from these 101 projects, Snap Circuits Jr. can be upgraded by adding other Snap Circuits kits to it. This means that even once your child is done playing with the 101 projects in this kit, more components can be added to complete even more projects.

Kits like this offering from Snap Circuits Jr. could help children develop a love for tech and help with things like problem-solving, working with parts, and following instructions. Check out this kit and the others they offer to see which is best for your child!