Barkings! | The Small Dog Apple Blog

A blog about our business, our industry, and our lives. You'll find posts from everyone at Small Dog and if the dogs could blog, they'd be here, too!

(RSS) and (ATOM)

Fody Personal Weather Station: A Review

When I saw that we had started to carry the Fody Tempus Pro Bluetooth weather station, I was immediately interested. At my apartment, I had a really old, pretty cheap, wireless thermometer I was using to help me figure out how to dress myself for the conditions outside. You know, t-shirt, sweater, jacket, full Antarctica-grade parka…it is Vermont after all. The problem I always had with it was that the remote sensor couldn’t get wet, and there just weren’t many places I could put it. Last year I got a slightly better thermometer base station that used a wired thermocouple that could easily be passed out a closed window. The thermocouple is sealed and can get as wet as you want. That worked a lot better, but the base station features weren’t as good. I didn’t like the way it recorded min/max temperature.

So when I saw the Tempus Pro, I thought it might be able to solve all of my problems. In addition to indoor/outdoor temperature and indoor humidity, it also records outdoor humidity, rainfall, barometric pressure, windspeed and wind direction. Instead of all that data going to a limited base station, it goes to my iPad, where I can quickly see trends, share it with friends on Twitter or Facebook or just email myself the raw data.

I had a few concerns such as whether or not the radiation shield on the outdoor temperature sensor would work. You have to install the Tempus Pro in an open location so that wind and rain can be recorded, but this most likely means it’ll be in the sun too, which would completely mess up the temperature reading. The radiation shield actually does an amazing job at preventing that. I haven’t seen any excessively high temperatures recorded even when the station was baking in the sun.

Setup was very easy for a device that’s actually doing a lot of complicated things. The outdoor station transmits its data to the indoor base station that is plugged into the wall for power. This transmission is probably very basic radio since the range is quite a bit more than is possible with Bluetooth and the outdoor station only uses three included AA batteries. The indoor station uses low-energy Bluetooth to relay indoor and outdoor sensor data with your iOS or Android device.

Once everything is paired and running (which is easy to do if you follow the order indicated by the instructions), you will see real-time data being displayed on your iOS or Android device via the Fody app. It also builds graphs of historical data so you can watch trends. One of the things I liked most about the app was the alerts feature. I can set high/low alert thresholds for any of the sensors. I set up an alert for when the outdoor temperature falls below freezing. A few times this past week, I was sitting on my couch and heard my iPad chime. It was an alert letting me know it had fallen below freezing outside. Very cool! You could also set other useful alerts for things like excessive rain, or high winds.

Overall I think the Tempus Pro is a pretty neat device and the simple use and setup belies the actual complexity of having your own personal weather station. If you’ve ever been curious about setting up a personal weather station at home, or just want something a bit more than temperature readings like I did, you won’t be disappointed with the Fody Tempus Pro.

Comments Closed

Go Wireless!

I am a huge fan of wireless technology. I have been slowly updating my home office to be as wireless as I can with speakers from Sonos and all of my computer accessories from my keyboard to printer are wireless as well. One area that I had not ventured into yet has been wireless headphones. I am often working at home, and because my office space is part of my main living space, I often have to have headphones while working. It was only recently that I started to use wireless headphones and frankly I can’t believe I hadn’t started to use this technology sooner! Urbanears has a bluetooth option in their popular Plattan line up, the Plattan ADV. I was able to easily link the headphones to my computer and no longer felt tethered to my desk when working. With the bluetooth headphones I could easily leave my desk for a glass of water or to let dogs out without missing a beat. The battery easily lasts all day and unlike some other bluetooth headphones, you can easily plug them into your computer or device directly with a cable should you forget to charge them. I also linked up these headphones to one of my iPads. These headphones allow you to have them linked with up to 8 devices, so you can easily use them from one device to the next without having to pair and unpair constantly.

Over the ear headphones are great for around the home and office, but not the most practical when you’re exercising. As mentioned a few weeks ago I have begun trying to get out and move more in recent weeks, and carrying my iPhone in my hand or pocket when out for a run was becoming a bit of an annoyance. The Ourdoor Tech Orcas are the perfect solution. With the bluetooth on my Apple Watch I easily paired these headphones with my watch, synced a playlist to my watch and left my phone behind! The headphones are lightweight and comfortable. I am not a fan of in ear headphones and I was skeptical that these headphones would work well for me, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well they stayed in my ears and with the quality of the sound. Many in ear headphones begin to wiggle out of your ears or provide sub par sound quality, but these headphones have truly made me change the way I think of in-ear headphones. As an added bonus they also feature a built in microphone. This feature isn’t something that I can say I have taken advantage of, but it’s certainly nice to know I could take a call if I needed to.

Comments Closed

New Magic

Along with the new iMacs Apple also introduced the Magic Mouse 2, Magic Keyboard and the Magic Trackpad 2. The Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Keyboard 2 come standard with the iMac.

The first thing you might notice about these new input devices is that they no longer require disposable batteries, but rather have built-in lithium-ion batteries and a lightning port to charge your device. It will require a little change in habits because you don’t want to be right in the middle of important work and find that your battery is dead. Fortunately, they charge up fast and will give you plenty of warning with the battery is low. As an example, a two-hour charge on the Magic Keyboard will last about a month.

The other important thing to note about these new input devices is that they REQUIRE OS X 10.11 El Capitan.

Magic Keyboard

With the same technology used in the MacBook’s keyboard the new Magic Keyboard features a lower profile design that delivers full sized keyboard function while taking up 13% less space. The back of the keyboard features a Lightning port, and on/off switch and the Bluetooth antenna window. The Magic Keyboard and all of these new input devices feature “automatic pairing”. Basically this means that you plug in the included lightning cable to the USB port on your Mac and you are paired. No more typing codes or putting the device in discoverable mode.

You can charge the Magic Keyboard by plugging it into your Mac and continue to use the keyboard as a wired keyboard until it is charged, too. Unplug it and it automatically switches over to Bluetooth.

The Magic Keyboard is $99.

Magic Mouse 2

The major improvement to the Magic Mouse is the built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery. There is now a lightning port on the bottom of the mouse to charge the Magic Mouse 2. Fortunately, the Magic Mouse 2 fully charges in about 2 hours but if you are in a bind you can plug it in for just 2 minutes or so and get a full day’s use from the Magic Mouse 2.

There are numerous internal improvements with fewer moving parts. The newly shaped feet should give the Magic Mouse 2 superior gliding and tracking.

The Magic Mouse 2 sells for $79

Magic Trackpad 2

The Magic Trackpad 2 has had the most changes of these input devices. It also features a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery that fully charges in about 2 hours and will provide about a month of typical use. It features a 29% larger surface area than the original Magic Trackpad.

Most importantly, Force Touch is now available! Force sensors detect how hard you press and then tell your Mac what to do based upon these subtle differences in pressure. The Magic Trackpad 2 incorporates the Taptic Engine that provides you with tactile feedback when you activate Force Touch. Force Touch also lets you click anywhere on the trackpad with equal sensitivity.

Force Touch is being supported by more and more Apps and you can use it to find word definitions, Force click on a date in email or messages and Calendar will pop up so you can create a new event. Force click on an address in that same email and up pops Maps to show you how to get there.

The back of the Magic Trackpad 2 has an on/off switch, Lightning port and Bluetooth antenna window.

I am really looking forward to giving this new Magic Trackpad a work out and will report back to Kibbles & Bytes readers.

The Magic Trackpad 2 sells for $129

Comments Closed

Seven Siri Tricks

Siri is great for resolving trivia disputes, setting reminders and even texting or sending email but Siri is also a talented assistant. Here’s a few of the more non-intuitive tasks Siri can accomplish:

1) Split up that restaurant bill and add a tip

Ask Siri “What’s a 20% tip on a $105 bill split among 3 people and Siri will not only tell you what the total tip would be but also how much each of the 3 owes.

2) Flip a coin

Siri will bail you out if you do not have a coin to flip if you ask her to flip a coin. Or if you are killing time and want to play dice, ask Siri to “throw the dice”.

3) Counting Calories

Siri can help! Ask Siri how many calories are in that Big Mac and Siri will tell you that you are consuming 520 calories.

4) Take a Selfie

Ready to take that selfie and find yourself looking for the camera app? Just tell Siri to take a selfie and boom!, the camera app will open. Siri isn’t smart enough, yet, to ensure you have the front facing camera active so you might have to click that first.

5) Name that Tune

Siri integrates with Shazam to listen to the music. Ask Siri “What is this song?” and with some help from Shazam, Siri will let you know and if you click on the result it will play that song if you are a subscriber to Apple Music.

6) Find your Friends

If you use the Find My Friends app you can ask Siri to find them by asking “Where’s my wife?” and assuming that your wife has agreed to share her location in the Find My Friends app, Siri will let you know where she is.

7) Convert Currency

If you are traveling out of the country you can use Siri to make those currency conversions. Asking Siri “What is 100 euros worth?” today reveals it is worth $112.49.

Comments Closed

Keeping Up with Ever-changing Browser & Internet Security Standards

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in our newsletters, specifically Kibbles & Bytes #941 & Tech Tails #932 .

Encryption is used to keep your private information safe on the Internet, whether it’s credit card numbers and contact info, your search queries, or iMessages to loved ones, by making them unreadable by anyone other than the sender and the intended recipient. The last year or so has been crazy in the realm of Internet security, with a number of vulnerabilities and weaknesses being found in various encryption methods & software. It seems to have been further snowballing lately as security professionals scrutinize all the pieces of the puzzle, but it’s all with the goal of keeping everyone’s personal information safe.

While security professionals are improving encryption methods & software, companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla are working to make sure that they’re including those improvements in their operating systems and web browsers. The Payment Cardholder Industry (i.e. credit card companies) have data security standards (PCI DSS) which everyone from merchants (including us) to banks need to comply with to ensure that personal information and credit card data is handled securely from end-to-end. Other industries have similar requirements and many tech companies also strive for the greatest in security. Naturally, with the ever changing Internet security landscape, those standards are changing as well. Some of the most recent changes will mean that a lot of older computers, devices, and browsers will no longer be able to access some secure websites.

So, how can you ensure that your data is secure and that your devices will be able to connect to all the secure websites you frequent on your Macs and iOS devices?

First, it’s important to run the newest major version of OS X on your Macs and iOS on your iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch) that your devices will run. Fortunately, OS X 10.11 El Capitan is a free download and will run on Macs released as far back as 2009 (or earlier, depending on the model). iOS 9 is also a free download and will run on iPhones & iPads released back to 2011. Of course, it’s always best to verify your software and peripherals are compatible with the latest operating system version prior to upgrading to new major version (e.g. OS X 10.9 Mavericks to OS X 10.10 Yosemite or iOS 7 to iOS 8).

Second, make sure you’re applying the latest OS & security updates. This is relatively straightforward as the App Store on iOS & OS X (or Software Update on Mac OS X 10.6.8 and earlier) will show you available updates. In OS X 10.9 Mavericks & OS X 10.10 Yosemite you can make sure important system & security updates are installed automatically (this is best if you have high speed Internet) by checking the “Automatically check for updates”, “Download newly available updates in the background”, and “Install system data files & security updates” checkboxes in the App Store pane in System Preferences. That way, you won’t even need to remember to check. Similarly, on iOS you can automatically download updates & apps by going to Settings > iTunes & App Store and turning on the “Apps” and “Updates” switches.

Third, and most important, is to run the most modern & secure web browser you can. Apple’s own Safari browser (which is included with OS X and iOS) is fast, efficient, and has excellent integration features, but it is only kept up-to-date for the current & previous version of OS X and the current version of iOS. Fortunately, there are other good alternatives which you can run on older, and current, versions of OS X (listed below by OS X version):

OS X 10.9 Mavericks – OS X 10.11 El Capitan (Intel):

OS X 10.7 Lion – OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion (Intel):

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (Intel):

Mac OS X Tiger 10.4 – Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard (PowerPC G3/G4/G5):

Safari will be updated automatically along with other OS X updates, but Chrome, Firefox, and TenFourFox will need to be kept up-to-date separately. Fortunately, they each offer an option to automatically check for updates, so you’re alerted when a new version is available. By doing this, you can rest assured that you’re taking full advantage of all the hard work that the security industry is putting in to keep everyone safe.

Additionally, for those who are running an old PowerPC Mac with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger or 10.5 Leopard, the team behind TenFourFox have done an amazing job producing a custom version of Firefox to keep your Mac compatible with new websites and recent security improvements. Other parts of a version of Mac OS X that old are going to be inherently less secure than the latest version of OS X, but a browser can help keep your old Mac useful a little longer.

Naturally, there are still phishing attempts, insecure websites, and malicious software that you’ll want to keep an eye out for, but by keeping your OS and browser up-to-date, you’re greatly reducing risks from invisible, undetectable theft of your information.

Comments Closed

Previous Page Next Page