Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I highly recommend Phillips Hue lights for your house.


Phillips HUE

Update: If you already have Phillips Hue Light Bulbs, I highly recommend the app Palettes for Phillips Hue Lights. This is a great app for everyday light control. It features group-based controls and custom pre-designed light scenes. I have found it to be the quickest and easiest app for controlling my Phillips Hue lights. 

I cannot overstate this. These lights are absolutely amazing and will completely transform the look  and feel of your house instantly. Here are some of the things you can do with these bulbs.



  • Individually control the color and intensity of every light bulb in your house using only your smartphone. 
  • Set dynamic scenes with an ever changing array of colors
  • Have a dance party where the lights sync to your music. 
  • Turn the lights on and off using a daily timer. 
  • Turn the lights on and off when you arrive and leave the house using GPS
  • Flash the lights when you get a twitter alert or email. 
  • Turn the lights blue when it starts to rain. 
  • Take a photo and mimic the colors of the photo with your lights. 

The Philips 431643 Hue Personal Wireless Lighting system hit the market about a year ago and they have been steadily expanding there product line ever since. The standard starter kit (see Amazon affiliate link below) includes 3 A19 bulbs and a hub. You simply plug the hub into your router using an ethernet cable and use the Phillips HUE app to connect to your phone to the hub. The app includes photo scenes preloaded that you can use to create color scenes. You can change both the color and intensity of the bulb by sliding a marker through the photo. The light will change instantly to any of the colors available in your photo.




Phillips has also added larger 7W BR 30 down lights to their lineup as well as light strips for use under counter tops and furniture, and a plug in light that you can place anywhere to light up an area. 

In addition, the app marketplace for the HUE system has expanded to include many different unique ways to control your lights. My personal favorite is Goldee, which provides dynamically changing scenes. Set it, and watch the colors of your lights slowly change before your eyes. Its pretty amazing. Hue Party is another great app that syncs with you

I highly recommend this system. Its easy to set-up, the bulbs are energy efficient, and its a fantastic way to provide a unique and highly customizable lighting system for your house.



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

icloud login via the web

Most of you may be familiar with logging into iCloud through your iPhone or iPad. However, you may not know that its also possible to log in to icloud via the web using your apple id and password. Icloud login via the web gives you access to the following functions:


  1. Email - Web Based iPad-like email client. Send and receive email. 
  2. Contacts - Working replica of the contact app on the mac
  3. Calendar - Working replica of the calendar app on the mac.
  4. Notes - Working replica of the notes app on the mac
  5. Reminders - Working replica of the reminders app on the mac. 
  6. Find my iphone - Locate any ios or mac device associated with your account. 
  7. iWork - Download all of your iwork documents saved to icloud. 

This is a very useful collection of web-apps if you ever find yourself needing access to your iCloud data when using someone else's computer. 


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How to extend your wireless network

I work in a small office that recently purchased a building across the street to provide warehousing and additional office space. We had a challenge to connect that building's network with our current network. There are a number of ways to go about doing this including vpn and remote desktop. However, the building is close enough that we decided to extend our wireless network to the new building.

We did this using products by amped wireless. The first step was to connect a wireless access point to our current router. The amped wireless access point AP 600EX comes with 30 feet of power over ethernet cable to easily hook into your router. It is also weatherproof so it can be mounted indoors our outdoors. We mounted ours indoors near a window pointing directly at a window across the street in the opposite building.

In that building, installed a wireless range extender (repeater) also from Ampedwireless.com (AP600EX). We pointed this device directly across towards the other device in order to maintain a line of site. This device picked up the signal from the access point and re-broadcast it throughout the new building. I was also able to plug in an ethernet cable and route that to a switch in the new building to extend the connection via ethernet too.

The advantage to this set-up is that the new building is able to share the exact same network that the main building uses, which is much more convenient that setting up alternative connections that route through the internet. Its also relatively inexpensive for a small office. The repeater and access point together were just over $300 on Amazon.com


Friday, February 8, 2013

IT Tip of the Day

Here's a tip for anyone setting up IT in a small office. When you are setting static ip addresses, its crucial to start a spreadsheet of all devices on the network that use an ip address and keep track of those addresses. This includes not only pcs and notebooks, but printers too. You may be able to get away with randomly assigning an ip address and forgetting about it if you just have a few pc's, but what happens if your business grows. Eventually you will lose track of those ip addresses and then you will have a mess on your hands. It can be very cumbersome to go to every device on the network and check the ip address.

What is a ip address:

An ip address is a number that identifies a unique device on your network. In an internal network, each device will have its own unique ip address identifier. This can be either static, or dynamically assigned by your router.

You will also have an internet ip address that will also be either static or dynamic. Static is important to have if you plan to do any sort of remote desktop services set up on your server. Whats my ip? Visit www.whatismyip.com to find out your current internet ip address.

Another type of ip address is your default gateway ip address. This is the address of your router that you use to access the internet.


How to find ip address:

Ip address lookup is different depending on what type of device you are using. In windows, there are a couple of ways to find it. You can open a command prompt and type in ipconfig. You will need to mostly likely look for your ipv4 address. This will also list your default gateway ip address if you have one.
Another way is to go to the network sharing center, then network connections. Click on your network device then click change settings of this connection in the menu bar at the top of the window. In the pop-up box, select Internet protocol version 4 and then click properties. You will see the ip address listed below.

How to change ip address:

You can change an ip address in this same window. Just type over the ip address that you see listed below. Make sure you record this ip address along with the workstation id in your spreadsheet so that you don't accidentally assign the same ip address to another workstation. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

RCA Universal Remote Codes: Still effective?

In the old days, RCA Universal remotes dominated the universal remote category. They were inexpensive, and they had the ability to control thousands of devices. However, programming these remotes were burdensome and required looking up special numerical codes for each device you wanted to control and then entering these codes into the remote. It was painful, but reasonably effective. If you wanted a more advanced remote, you needed to venture into the custom market. 

That changed when logitech released its harmony remote control, which allowed you to plug your remote into your laptop and simply enter the name of each device you own. The harmony remote would examine its database and automatically program the remote for each of your devices. You could even take that a step further and easily program scenes, which would allow to press watch tv for example, and the remote would turn on each device you needed for that task and adjust the necessary settings and inputs for you. It could even dim the lights if you had a remote controlled dimmer. 

The newest trend is the wifi remote app, which allows you to download an app designed to control a specific device over wifi. For example, the LG remote app allows you to open the app and control your lg tv over your home wifi network. The advantage to this is that you can control your device from any room in your house, and you always have your remote (your smartphone) in your pocket. However, the disadvantage is that you often need to open a unique app for each device you own, which can be burdensome. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Delete Cookies

If you want to delete cookies, you will need to do this in each browser that you use. I'll show you how below. Here is a definition of a cookie according to wikipedia,

 cookie, also known as an HTTP cookieweb cookie, or browser cookie, is usually a small piece of data sent from a website and stored in a user's web browser while a user is browsing a website. When the user browses the same website in the future, the data stored in the cookie can be retrieved by the website to notify the website of the user's previous activity.

 Some users see cookies as an invasion of privacy. However, they can also be useful for tasks such as security authorization when visiting secure websites. 

If you don't want any cookies at all, I would recommend using a browser with a private or incognito session. Google's chrome browser has an incognito browser that blocks cookies entirely as you browse.  However, you may find that for many tasks, certain websites will be unusable, particularly those with that require extra security. 

If you don't want to take it to this extreme, you can just periodically delete cookies from your browser. 

In Chrome, go to settings, advanced settings, and select the clear browsing data under privacy. You can select delete cookies and other site and plug-in data and then hit the clear browsing data. Make sure to deselect any other data that you don't want deleted. 

In Safari, select Safari, preferences, remove all website data. You can also hit the details button just below to select only certain sites to delete cookies from. Finally, you can choose the always button under block all cookies to eliminate cookies entirely from your future browsing sessions. 

How to Add a Column to an Excel Spreadsheet

In excel, there are multiple ways to do the same thing. For example, here are 2 ways to add column to a spreadsheet - Excel for Mac version.


  1. Right click the column header and then click insert in the drop down box - this will add a column to the left of the column you selected. 
  2. Click a cell and then right click and select insert. You will see a pop up menu like the one in the image below. Select entire column and select the ok button to add a column to the left of your selected cell. 
  3. Click a cell and click insert in the top file menu and then click columns in the drop down box - this will also add a column to the left of the column you selected.

To delete the column, you will perform the following steps. 

  1. Rick click in the column you want to delete and select delete in the drop down box. You will see the menu shown above. Choose entire column and select the ok button. 
  2. Similarly, you can also select a cell in the column you want to delete, then click edit in the top menu and the delete button. You will see the same pop-up menu as above. Select entire column and then select ok. 

The Perfect Device That Does Everything Well

The perfect device that does everything well......does not exist. There has been a lot of discussion on the new Microsoft surface pro. Microsoft has advertised this as a "no compromise" device that performs equally well as a tablet and a notebook computer. However, reviews so far have been mostly negative. The surface is not as good of a tablet as the iPad, and not as good of a notebook as a macbook....or even a lenovo windows notebook. As a tablet, its slow to start-up, lacks apps, and has poor battery life. As a notebook, the screen is small, the mouse is inadequate, at it doesn't work well as a lap device.

Is there a market for this device? Yes, I'm sure there is. But I believe it will be a relatively small market. Ultimately, we are living in a multi-device world. This idea that there is a unifying device that will solve every problem is a fallacy. Perhaps our technology will evolve in the future to allow this type of device....but I doubt it. There will always be unique advantages to specific form factors.

Unless you have an unlimited budget, I would recommend avoiding the surface pro. Depending on the type of work you do, a smartphone, tablet, notebook combo is still most likely the best option. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

iCloud Photo Sharing

Apples iCloud service includes a number of helpful features that help you with sharing photos on icloud. If you are signed up for iCloud, whenever you take a picture, a copy of that picture is automatically loaded into the cloud. iCloud stores a rolling collection of up to 1,000 photos. After 1,000 icloud begins to delete photos, starting with the oldest ones first.

To share them, go into the photos app, touch photo stream, then touch my photo stream. You will see thumbnails for all of your current photos that are uploaded to icloud. If you touch the edit button, you will be able to select photos by touching them. Select the photos you want to share and then touch the share button. From here you have a few options for sharing:

Mail: Touch the mail icon to email the selected photos.
Message: Touch the message icon to send a picture text message to a friend.
Twitter: Touch the twitter icon to share the photo to twitter - you need to add your twitter account to your iphone in settings.
Facebook: Touch the facebook icon to share your photo to Facebook - you will also need to add your facebook account to your iphone in settings.
Photostream: This is a new feature that allows you to create a photostream that will be automatically shared with contacts of your choice. You can also create a public photo stream if you like. Once created, your contacts will be notified anytime you add new photos to the photo stream. Its great for vacations when you want to keep your friends and family updated with your latest vacation photos.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to share photos using iCloud. Just remember, you still need to back up photos because icloud only stores the most recent 1,000.


Monday, February 4, 2013

10 Steps to Building the Perfect Home Theater


If you have the space, it is surprisingly easy to build a home theater that brings home the full cinema experience. And its relatively inexpensive too. Here are 10 steps to building the perfect home theater.

  1. Buy a projector instead of an LCD or plasma tv. Yes, LCD tv's are approaching 70" in size, but a home projector can easily exceed 100" in diagonal screen measurements. It gives you a true cinematic experience that LCD's still cannot beat. 
  2. Get a good quality screen. Its possible to use a projector against a blank wall, but a wall will never have the smoothness and reflective qualities of a good screen. I recommend Carada's brilliant white screen. Its a great little projection screen company based out of Alabama. 
  3. Buy an AV receiver with plenty of HDMI connections. Modern AV receivers typically have lots of HDMI connections, which enable you to connect multiple devices to your receiver. Get a receiver with at least 4. You can always expand with a switcher, but its less convenient. 
  4. Good speakers are almost as good as great speakers. Only a trained audiophile can pick up on the subtle improvements of extremely expensive speakers. You can still get great quality cinema sound from a good, but not great pair of speakers. I like the infinity primus speakers. Great value for a high quality speaker. Ideally you will want a center channel, front left and right, and rear left and right, plus a subwoofer for 5.1 dolby digital sound. 
  5. Let a subwoofer handle the heavy loads. You can really achieve a big booming sound by pairing bookshelf speakers with a good subwoofer. Set your crossover at 120 and let your subwoofer handle the dirty bass work on its own. 
  6. Buy a programmable remote. Harmony remotes are easy to program and you can set it up to turn on or turn off all of your devices at once. You can also set custom buttons that change depending on which device you are operating. 
  7. Don't overspend on cables. HDMI cables are one of the industries biggest rip-offs. You can get a high quality HDMI cable at monoprice.com for just a few bucks. 
  8. Get a wifi connected smart box. This can be a roku, apple tv, or even an xbox. You will get access to tons of online content including netflix, for a very reasonable price. You can also access your home photos and videos, hop on youtube, and even rent movies for instant streaming online. 
  9. Save your money and skip 3D. Yes, its a cool effect, but the gimmick quickly wears off. Moreover, there is very little 3D content produced each year to justify the expense. 
  10. Get some great sample material to show off your home theater to your friends. The new James bond movies are a great choice, combining huge sound with compelling action. Blu-ray is the highest quality, but a 1080p Apple TV is nearly as good. 



Saturday, February 2, 2013

Universal remote control for iPhone and android

It can be very challenging to manage all of the various devices in your home theater. Older technology required you to buy and universal remote control and enter codes that would control all of your devices. That has changed.

Wifi remote control allows you to use an iPhone, android, or ipad to control your device with a app. I have an lg tv that I can control with an lg app, an Xbox that I can control with the Xbox glass app, an Apple TV that I can control with the apple remote app, a directv box thati can control with the directv app, and a pioneer av receiver that I can control with a pioneer app.

However, this is not always ideal. I love using the directv app while i watch tv because it gives me quick access to favorites and i can find lots of info on upcoming shows. I love using the apple remote app because I can use the onscreen keyboard to type while searching for shows. However, I don't always want to close one app and open another to turn down the volume.

I don't think there is a universal remote that does everything well. Smartphone remote apps do amazing things that you could never do on a traditional universal remote. But a traditional remote can control multiple devices using a single interface. Change channels and volume on the same keypad layout. Logitech harmony remotes do this quite well.

You may also consider a universal remote add on device for the iPhone. Satechi is developing a device that blends smartphones and a traditional universal remote. It plugs into your iPhone and blasts an ir signal to the device you want to control. The app contains a huge database or remote codes so that you shouldn't have to learn codes for each device.

There is no perfect solution. The ideal scenario is most likely a blend of traditional and universal remote. However, you do have more options for device control than ever and you should be able to find a solution that works for you.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

How to set-up an AV Receiver

A good AV receiver is the hub of your home theater system. It connects and manages all of your equipment. You will plug in speakers, your TV or projector, tv set-top box, xbox, playstation, apple tv, blu ray player, dvd player, etc....all into one box.

AV receivers have come along way in recent years with the development of technologies such as hdmi and wifi internet connections. But the basic function of the av receiver is the same. It collects all of the incoming audio and video signals from your equipment and converts and relays those signals to your speakers and video display. Pretty simple.

Here are a few of the top manufacturers of hifi Audio Video receivers:


  1. Denon 
  2. Yamaha 
  3. Sony 
  4. Pioneer 
  5. Onkyo 
  6. Marantz 


I'm going to go over a very common set-up of an AV receiver to give you a basic idea of how to set it up. Here is the equipment list:

LG LED 55" television
Pioneer AV receiver
LG Blu-ray player
Xbox 360
Apple TV
Directv DVR
Klipsch 5.1 speaker system


The pioneer AV receiver is the hub of this system. The incoming signals will come from the Xbox, Apple TV, blu ray player, and Directv satellite DVR box. This signals will be output to the Klipsch 5.1 speaker system and the LG television.

The easiest way to connect your input signals is via HDMI. Most modern receivers will have 3-5 hdmi input connectors. This set-up will need 4 HDMI inputs. If you don't have enough, you have a couple of options. You can either buy an HDMI switcher to add more HDMI inputs. The downside to this is that you have another box you have to use to switch through the incoming signals. The other option is to use component video input cables and either optical or RCA audio inputs.....if your system supports these connections. My preference would be to get and HDMI switcher to give you the added benefit of HDMI....including superior quality picture and sound.

Once you connect the 4 incoming components, you will then need to connect the outgoing signals to the display and sound components. Lets start with the television. Ideally, you will only need 1 HDMI cable to connect your AV receiver to your television. This will send both sound and video to your TV. The sound is only necessary if you will be using your televisions built in sound instead of stand alone speakers. I highly recommend a set of great speakers. Even inexpensive speakers will dramatically increase your sound experience.

The last step is to connect the speakers. Typically, 16 gauge speaker wire will be adequate to connect your speakers. This system is 5.1 meaning you have a center channel, front left and right channel, and rear left and right channel, plus a subwoofer (which is the .1). The subwoofer will normally require a special subwoofer connecter cable rather than typical speaker wire. Your AV receiver should have a connection on the back labeled subwoofer for this cable.

That's it...everything is plugged in. Each receiver will vary in the ways to cycle through the various input channels. Some have a dial, and all will allow you to select this via remote. See your manufacturers manual for further details on this. But essentially, if you want blu ray, you will turn on your blu ray player and then select the appropriate input channel on your remote. The receiver will automatically take that signal and send the sound and video to your speakers and tv.

You will probably also want to calibrate your speaker system. Many of the newer receivers will come with a microphone and an auto calibrate system that is very easy to use.

Advanced settings are a whole other topic and will vary by manufacturer. But if you follow the above steps, you should have a basic idea of how to set up and audio video receiver.


MyMagic+ - Taking Disney tech to the next level

I'm really excited about the new Disney MyMagic+ system that is being launched this year at the Walt Disney World resort. This new system will allow you to book guaranteed ride times before you even get to the park. This will improve on the current fast pass system that requires you to visit a kiosk near the ride of your choice and use your park admission card to get paper fastpass tickets for a specific time window later in the day. Disney is calling the new system fastpass+, and it will use the disney mobile magic app or website to allow you to make reservations in advance for dining or rides times and show times. You can even use your smartphone app to make changes to your advance plans during the day while you are in the park, allowing for some spontaneity.

Finally, you will also get a mymagic+ wristband that will serve as your park ticket, room key, photopass and fastpass+ ticket, eliminating the need to carry around multiple credit card like keys.

Disney has always been the best when it comes to enhancing the guest experience. This new technology promises to make your Disney experience even better. I'll continue to follow this technology as it progresses.  

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

iTunes Match is fixed

The latest IOS update 6.1 has brought back a feature that debut with the original iTunes match release: the ability to download individual songs from itunes match. This feature was eliminated with the release of iTunes 6, and that caused quite a headache for those of us who had come to rely on the feature. This was particularly noticeable when creating playlists. I have a playlist for my daughter that contains all of her favorite songs. Many of these songs come from multiple albums. When iTunes 6 was released, I was forced to download the full album for each one of these songs, rather than just download the individual song.

Itunes 6.1 has fixed this.

itunes match


Now, each song contains a cloud icon to the right of it with a down arrow. Just click the cloud and the song will be downloaded to your device. If you scroll to the bottom, you still have the option to download the entire album as well. Thanks for bringing this feature back Apple. 


Disney World Map: How to use your phone to navigate Disney World

A Disney World Map can be found for free just inside the entrances of each of the parks at disney including the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom. 

However, for those of you who carry a smart phone, the best way to navigate disney is via the free Disney Mobile Magic app. The advantage to using the disney world map on your smartphone is that you can use GPS to navigate your way around the parks. This can be very helpful because disney parks are huge and sometimes difficult to navigate if you've never been there before. 

In addition, you can click on various attractions within the app to get wait times and Fastpass availability. The fastpass is basically a ticket that allows you to jump to the front of the line during a specific time window later in the day. You can also search by Character to find times and locations to visit your favorite disney characters during the day. 

The app has a separate page for each park, that will also show "today's events" for the park. For example, today at 5:40pm you can participate in the move it! Shake it! Celebrate it! Street Parade. This is an interactive parade that stops so that you can dance in the streets with your favorite disney characters around their parade floats. 

Finally, use the disney mobile magic app to find restaurants and make dining reservations at your favorite Disney restaurants. 

Disney provides a fantastic app to enhance your vacation, and those of you who are tech savvy will find your selves one step ahead of those using the old fashioned paper disney world map. 

Sync your Google Account with Chrome

Tech tip of the day:

Syncing your google account with Google's Chrome Browser comes with a number of advantages. It allows you to sign into any Chrome browser on any computer and get access to your bookmarks, extensions, apps, theme, and other browser preferences.

If you have a gmail account, just go the the Chrome browser settings and click sign in with sync. Enter your email address and password and you are good to go.

This is a great way to keep a work laptop and home pc synced up. If you add a bookmark on your laptop, you will automatically see it added to your bookmarks on your home pc. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Logitech Selling Harmony Remote Business

Logitech has experienced a growth problem in their business, and their latest plan is to sell their Harmony line of remote controls and grow other areas of their business.

Harmony remotes are a favorite product here at techstructions. Lets home the new owner continues to invest in the platform.

Universal Remote Codes: A thing of the past

Universal remote codes are typically provided by the manufacturer of the item you are trying to control remotely. It is a code that allows a universal remote to map its controls to that particular device. Typically, when you buy an AV receiver or a set-top television box, you will have the option to program that remote to control your other devices using a universal remote code.

However, modern technology has made the option of controlling your other devices much easier. Logitech is a leader in remote control technology with its line of Harmony remotes. These remotes can be programmed by plugging your remote into your computer. You then simply enter the name of the product you want to control, and Logitech will program the remote automatically to control that device. You can even program certain scenes that would allow you to turn on multiple devices with the push of a button.



Wifi remotes are also very popular. Sound and vision covers four wifi remote apps here. These apps are coupled with an IR blaster that sends out the infrared signals to your devices. You can then use your smartphone as a universal remote.

Many wifi enabled devices such as tv's and set-top boxes also have their own exclusive apps that can allow you to control that device directly. Directv has executed this very well with their dvr app that allows you to change channels, research shows, and program your dvr directly from the app.

So say goodbye to those pesky universal remote control codes. Programming your universal remote has gotten a lot easier.



Tech Tip of the Day: Update your Facebook Privacy Settings

Facebook privacy settings


Facebook's privacy settings can be confusing and they do periodically change. Its good to check them occasionally to make sure that they are set in a way that you expect. 

In the upper right of your main facebook page, you will see a little lock icon. Click it and it will pull down the privacy shortcut box shown above. From here you will see these options: 

  1. Who can see my stuff?
  2. Who can contact me?
  3. How do I stop someone from bothering me?

You will also see a "see more settings" link at the bottom of the window. 

Under each shortcut box is an additional drop down that will allow you to update the settings right from the drop down box. For example, you can lockdown your future posts so that only you can see them, or you can customize this so that you can choose only specific people that will see your future posts. 

If you want to totally block someone, you can click the "How do I stop people from bothering me?" link and enter their name or email in the drop down box. 


If you click see more settings, you will be taken to the page shown above. Click through all of the links on the left to review your settings for each category. 


One setting that I like to lockdown is who can see posts that you are tagged in on your timeline. This prevents an potentially unflattering or embarrassing photo to be posted for everyone to see. 




Monday, January 28, 2013

Tech Tip of the Day: Update your iPhone to 6.1

Apple released its latest update to ios with version 6.1. You can download this by going to your settings -> general -> sofware update - then select download and install.

Here's what you get:


  1. The ability to buy movie tickets via siri
  2. The ability to download individual songs via itunes match in the music app.


While you are at it, go ahead and update all of your apps after you do this. Just go to the app store -> updates -> and hit the update all button in the top right corner. 

This will update all of your apps on your phone to the latest version. If you are curious and have time, expand the description for each app update to see what changes and additions may have been made. 

Thanks for reading today's tech tip. 


Friday, January 25, 2013

Earn a Million Dollars in One Year Using Your Smartphone

Ohio Classic Lotto ticket



Lately, I've been thinking about the idea of making one million dollars in one year using just a smartphone. Its based on a fantasy I have of living on a beautiful beach and earning a living from my iPhone. This fantasy tends to rear its ugly head every winter when the temperature drops to unacceptable levels....currently 19 degrees as I write this.

This list below contains 3 potential money-making careers that require nothing more than a good smartphone and a reliable internet connection. In fact, you could probably get a way with even using an ipod touch and free wifi from your local starbucks.


1.  Write a blog - Yes, you can write a blog from your smartphone. Its not the easiest way to type, but its certainly doable. I use blogger, which has its own iphone app for publishing your blog. The same type of app exists for wordpress. Most bloggers make money via advertising. Its easy to put google adsense ads on your page. These are contextual ads that pay you each time someone clicks on an add. Other options include the amazon affiliate program, which pays you a commission each time someone purchases from Amazon.


Writing a blog is one thing, making a million dollars writing a blog is a totally different task. Its very difficult. For some advice on boosting your blogs traffic, seomoz.org is a great source. There is a lot to learn, but persistence is key. Many bloggers give up too early because it can be frustrating to pour your effort into an article that only 3 people on the Internet will ever read. 

2. Make a youtube viral hit video - Anybody can make a video and upload it to youtube via a smartphone. The challenge is making a video that everybody wants to watch. A viral youtube video can generation millions of visits. But rather than trying to hit the viral video lottery, you may find more success recording videos regularly and attracting subscribers to your content. Are you funny? Do you have a skill that you can teach people? Regular how-to videos on youtube can attract subscribers who will be notified every time you post new content. If you are successful, you can eventually build up a regular audience. 

Enable your youtube account for monetization - All those youtube visits are great, but if you monetize your videos, they will be even better. If you already have a google adsense account, you can enable monetization on youtube and link it with your adsense account. That way you can track all of your ads within adsense and get paid via adsense. 

3. Write a book and self publish to Amazon's kindle store - Self-publishing is becoming a legitimate business. Writers can now publish directly to Amazon's kindle store and earn money directly from sales. There are some great writing apps out there on the apple and android app stores that turn your smartphone into a pretty good writing platform. Check out iA Writer or apples pages app. 

Technically, you will need to use a pc to turn your text into a kindle formatted book, but there is no reason why you couldn't theoretically write an entire book on your smartphone. This guy does it and makes six figures a month


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wifi remote control

Wifi is becoming the new standard for remote controls. Its becoming more and more common for devices to include built-in wifi. In addition, these devices also come with free apps that allow you to control the device over a wifi network.

The advantage of wifi is that the range of your remote is equal to the range of your wifi network. You do not need a direct line of site like you do with an IR remote. For some devices, you do not even need to be anywhere near your house to control the device via wifi.

The best executed wifi remote currently is the apple remote app. This app lets you control multiple apple devices using the single app. You can control multiple apple tv's, as well as itunes software on a mac computer. It even pulls up an on-screen keyboard to make searching for specific titles less painful.

Other devices such as roku, and smart tv's such as LG and samsung also provide free wifi remote apps. Most of the higher end AV receivers also include this feature. For whole house audio, the sonos system allows you to control multiple devices with one wifi app, and gives you the ability to change songs, control volume, and even play different songs in different rooms.

Some newer devices even give you control from anywhere in the world. The nest thermostat can be controlled via the free nest app from anywhere in the house. But you can also view and set your thermostat from anywhere in the world where you have a wifi connection. Modern security systems also often include wireless control from a remote location. Frontpoint security provides a free wifi app that allows you to arm and disarm your security system remotely as well as check the status of your house.

Wifi remotes are the future of remote controls, and you should expect to see more and more devices in the future ship with this capability.

What is LTE?

You may have heard the term LTE in the past year or 2 but most people don't really understand what it is or what it does for you. What is LTE? The simple answer is that it is a technology that helps your smartphone download stuff from the internet MUCH FASTER. How much faster? That depends, but typically LTE can be around 10 times faster in everyday usage. Its as fast or faster than your home broadband connection. Its fast enough to quickly stream music or high definition videos with little to no wait time.

How do I get LTE?

There are 2 things that you need to get LTE. A new smartphone with LTE built in, and LTE cellular coverage in the area where you live or work. Apple's newest iPhone 5 has LTE built in. So do many of the newer android phones. For networks, Verizon has the most LTE coverage, but AT&T is quickly catching up. Sprint still has a long way to go to build out its LTE network. And Tmobile is pretty much not an option right now for LTE.

You can also buy LTE hotspot devices to hook up to your laptop, enabling you to have a high speed data connection when you are on the go.

Do I need LTE?

That depends. For music, 3G coverage is typically good enough to stream pandora or spotify. It also works pretty well for most mobile web pages or apps. LTE is most valuable when streaming video. Thats because video files are larger and the speed and bandwidth of LTE allow you to download video very quickly. You will also notice that webpages load faster and your internet connection will be generally snappier.

How much is LTE?

LTE typically costs the same as the old 3G data network. However, because of the speed, its easy to get carried away and download much more video and data than you did with your old phone. This causes you to reach your data plan limits much faster and you risk paying overage charges for data each month. So if you do switch, keep an eye on this and make sure you don't use more data than you really mean to.

Visit your cellular providers website to check availability in your area. LTE is rapidly expanding so if its not available yet, it will likely be available soon.

Get Your TV Online for Free Legally

There are quite a few options these days for getting your TV online for free. However, it can sometimes get complicated to figure out what equipment you need for the content you want to view. There is not one single solution that will give you access to all of the content that you may want. For example, using an Apple Tv and an iPad (or iPhone/ipod touch), you can use the pbs app to stream the latest episode of Downton Abbey from your iPad directly to your flat-screen TV. And its free. You can do the same thing with the NBC app and get the most recent episodes of your favorite TV shows at no cost. Apple's airplay feature allows you to magically stream the content right from your iphone or ipad to the apple TV.

If you don't have apple products, you may want to try a roku box. For example, my wife likes to watch EWTN. This catholic network has a roku app that allows you to view the livestream of this network directly through your roku box, which plugs right into your HDTV.

Depending on your internet provider, you may also have access to watch espn for free. I have Cincinnati Bell Fioptics, which allows me to livestream espn content directly from my xbox. This is a free service provided through my internet provider.

Another option is to use the new airplay video feature built into apple mac computers. This allows you to mirror your computer screen on your apple tv device, and you can get access to content that may not be available in an ipad app or a roku channel.

Of course, you can always plug an antenna in and get free HDTV from your local broadcast channels, and the quality is great if you can get a good signal.

Equipment needed for free online tv:


  • Fast broadband internet connection
  • Roku, or Apple TV, or Xbox, playstation, Wii, smart tv, Mac PC, IPAD
  • Antenna capable of picking up local broadcasts



For just a few bucks a month you can vastly expand your  available content with either Netflix, Hulu, or both. Both services start at $8 a month. Another option is a $79 annual Amazon prime membership which includes access to thousands of tv shows and movies, as well as free 2 day shipping, and other great features.

Netflix has a huge library of Tv shows with episodes up to the previous season.
Hulu gives you access to current tv shows, but it does not carry shows from all of the networks.
Amazon prime is quickly catching up to Netflix in both Tv shows and movies that are available to stream with membership.

If you are a sports fanatic, you may also want to look at season pass subscriptions to the NBA, NFL, MLB, or NHL. The only downside to these is that you won't be able to stream live broadcasts for your local team. However, its a great option for fans with teams that are in another city. I'm a Pacers fan living in Cincinnati, so I can watch all of the Pacer games using the NBA season pass, and the price is about $30 a month.