Weekly Round Up 6/15/18

 

 

Um, anything more sophisticated than the Self-Check out lines in Walmart will be hard for the American Public to master, guys.
No more grocery checkout lines: Microsoft may rival Amazon with tech that cuts out the cashier

 

Well, if nothing else is working….
Using tech to stop phone-wielding drivers

 

We don’t hear enough good things about Tech these days….
6 ways tracking tech is changing the world for the better

Whatever happened to just going to camp and being a kid?
NDSU summer tech camp designed to encourage young girls to pursue a career in technology

My favorite story of the week…
Apple closing tech loophole police use to crack iPhones

Please God, No. Make it Stop.
Drone swarms are the new fireworks lighting up China’s skies

 

Trump will never be able to wrap his tiny, barely used brain around this….
The Guy Who Created Oculus Has Now Made Surveillance Tech That Acts As A Virtual Border Wall

Literally what they do best….
Apple Shuns the Tech Industry’s Apology Tour

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App of the Week: Actions by Moleskine

Moleskine’s productivity app is as addictive as its notebooks. The legendary notebook maker’s third app is the epitome of simplicity.

 

By Jesus Diaz of fastcodesign.com

The infinite descending spiral of chaos that I call “my life” is always in dire need of organization. While I should probably give up and embrace the madness, from time to time I’ve tried different task managers, apps, and tools in an effort to reign in the four horsemen of my personal apocalypse (work, family, friends, and hobbies).

Today, I gave Moleskine’s new Actions app a shot.

Moleskine–the manufacturer of the popular paper notebooks of the same name–has been trying to gain a foothold in the digital space for years. Its first app, 2015’s Journal, tried to mimic the feel of real-world Moleskine journals using a terrible skeuomorphic interface. It never made it big and got lost in a sea of journal apps and bad reviews. By 2016, Moleskine had seemingly realized that replicating physical products in the digital world was pointless. It released the
Moleskine Timeline app, an elegant and clean calendar application with a minimal interface that reviewers call simple and effective.

The company’s new Actions app builds on its success, integrating with Timeline (as well as Siri) to keep you on track. It’s a to-do list that turns your items into “actions,” whether that means errands, homework, or something fun. And just like Timeline, its interface is so clean, simple, and precisely laid out that using it feels a little like unwrapping a real Moleskine journal and smelling it with a deep breath–though it doesn’t try to literally replicate that feeling with its design.

Unlike plenty of other to-do apps, Actions doesn’t try to nest tasks, establish any multi-step processes, or organize your actions in any way except by time and category. It simply allows you to create to-do items in the form of cards that get clearly laid out on a timeline.

On the app’s home page, you’ll find the “Schedule,” with your pending tasks organized on a linear weekday timeline: Today, I have to go buy some bonito for Saturday’s lunch. Tomorrow, finish that illustration of David Bowie. Sunday I have to fix a chair and Monday get a blood test. Each of these tasks can belong to a color-coded category, so I can see what I’ve to do at a glance.

Actions also has a “Logbook” section, which keeps a record of all the tasks you’ve completed. At least for me, it’s a necessary thing for personal satisfaction and mental closure; I get a kick out of completing tasks and striking them off on a list, and I also like to look back to savor it. Your completed actions pop up in your Logbook after you’ve completed them, and you can set exactly how long it takes for them to be logged.

Finally, there’s the “Lists” view. Here you can set up the categories to classify your actions (and see the latest tasks in each category). Each category can be color-coded for easy identification (all my Co.Design-related tasks are a nice gray, for example). Picking a color is a nice playful touch that contrasts with the general sobriety of the interface: colored circles appear on the screen like moving molecules, stopping for you to make your pick. If you press on one of the circles and throw it, it will bounce around like a ball for a second.

And that’s it. The actions are always shown in card form, color-coded by category. With a right swipe you can mark an action as complete, and with a left swipe you can reschedule it. You can also set them to repeat, but instead of pre-filling the rest of your life with repeated actions (like “Laundry”), the app will only add the recurring task once the previous instance is complete or expired. The latter is a nice touch that avoids adding unnecessary clutter to your digital life.

There are many task managers out there. Many of them are very good. I’ve tried most, and they always seem to do too much. Eventually, they complicate your life more than simplify it. There’s a point at which organization can turn into its own arduous task. On the flip side, some of these apps try to be simple–like Apple’s Reminders–but end being confusing and limiting.

Actions gets it right, avoiding the pitfalls of either side with good UX and clean design. A tight set of features coupled with simple UI forces you to unclutter your tasks, mentally, as a first step to tackle them in your daily life. After all, refocusing on the bare necessities is the key to a better life–online and off.

Download Actions for iOS
Not available for Android as of this posting.


Do you have a favorite Task Manager App? Tell us about it in the comments below.

How to: Enable Markup Annotation Tools in MacOS

 

By Tim Hardwick of MacRumors

Recognizing the utility of Markup annotation tools, Apple has extended their availability in recent versions of iOS, but it’s worth bearing in mind that you can access a similar and equally useful annotation toolset within several native Mac applications.

In macOS, accessing an application’s Markup toolbar lets you draw on and annotate images or PDF documents within the app using arrows, shapes, and text. You can also use it to quickly sign a document with your digital signature.

We’ve highlighted which native apps support Markup in this article. But before you can access the toolset in desktop apps, you’ll need to check that the relevant extension is enabled on your Mac. Keep reading to learn how it’s done.

How to Enable the Markup Extension in macOS

  • Click the Apple () symbol in your Mac’s menu bar and select System Preferences….

  • Click the Extensions preference pane.
  • Click Actions in the left column of the Extension pane.

  • If it isn’t already ticked, Click on the box next to the Markup extension in the right column.

One of the most useful Markup integrations can be found in Mail. Once you’ve dragged an image into your message, hover your mouse cursor over it, click the arrow button that appears in the upper right corner, and select Markup from the dropdown menu.

Your attached image will be foregrounded with the Markup toolbar across the top, ready for you to apply your annotations.

Markup can be accessed in the same manner within TextEdit as well as some third-party document editors. To test whether it’s available, simply hover your cursor over the image once it’s inside your document and look for the arrow in the upper right corner.

In Preview, the Markup toolbar has its own button next to the Search input field on the right of the taskbar. You also get a few extra Markup tools here, like Adjust Color, Adjust Size, and Crop, so if you can’t annotate an image within your application of choice then Preview should be your next stop.

Finally, the Markup toolset is also accessible in Apple’s Photos application: Next time you’re editing an image, click the Extensions icon (the three dots in a circle) and select Markup to enter annotation mode.

Do you find Markup useful? Tell us in the comments below!

How to: reboot your router following urgent FBI warning about viruses.

Hundreds of thousands of Routers could be infected.

 

By Daniel Paez of Inverse.com

Even if your internet is running smooth and speedy, you still need to restart your router. On May 25, the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a public service announcement to everyone with a router in their home or office warning that an unidentified group of cybercriminals may have mounted a large-scale attack on networked devices across the globe.

The FBI advised people to reboot their routers to “temporarily disrupt” the malware that could be infecting your device. The government agency also recommended you make sure your device is fully updated, secured using a strong password, and is encrypted.

Here’s a breakdown of what the FBI said happened and how you can reboot or reset your router, just in case your network was compromised.

In its warning, the FBI said that the agency didn’t yet know how or where the initial infections began, but the scope of that attack has grown significantly. Hundreds of thousands of home and office routers have been infected with malware known as VPNFilter.

“The actors used VPNFilter malware to target small office and home office routers,” stated the announcement. “The malware is able to perform multiple functions, including possible information collection, device exploitation, and blocking network traffic.”

Cybersecurity firm Symantec recently published a list of devices that are known to be more vulnerable to this type of attack. It went on to say that most of the devices that are targeted are known to use default passwords or have not been updated to the latest version of its firmware.

If you’ve ever had problems connecting to the internet and have called tech support, the person on the other end of the line likely had you unplug your router. Rebooting — or power-cycling — your router gives it a fresh start and is generally one of the first steps recommended when troubleshooting your network device.

The FBI states power-cycling could interrupt VPNFilter, though Symantec states that this type of attack can persist even after a reboot. If you own one of the devices that are known to be susceptible to VPNFilter, you might want to reset your router to factory settings. This will require you to set up your WiFi all over again, but better safe than sorry.

How to Reset Your Router to Factory Settings

  • Rebooting: Unplug your router from its power outlet, don’t just turn it off. Wait about thirty seconds before plugging it back in. Finally, give the device a couple of minutes to turn back on.
  • Reset: You’ll find a small button on the back of your device that is labeled “Reset.” Holding this down will remove all customizations including passwords, usernames, and security keys, effectively wiping everything other than the latest version of firmware from the device. This will restore your router to its factory settings. From there you’ll need to follow your router’s set up instructions or call your internet service provider for assistance to get back online.

 

How do you feel about the FBI’s warning? Do you have tips on protecting your router and home network? Sound off in the comments below!

App of the Week: DuckDuckPro

A Year of DuckDuckGo – a review

 

By Tom Wood of designwithtom.com

I’ve been using DuckDuckGo as my default search engine instead of Google for about 12 months. This is why I could never go back.

1. Privacy

The main reason I switched over in the first place was a privacy concern. Spawned from a talk by the irrepressible Aral Balkan, the notion of corporatocracy was first lodged in my brain. Google weren’t just storing all my search history, but they were using it for all manner of things except for the one thing they assured me it was for; improving my searching.

With a Privacy Policy written in clear English, DuckDuckGo are all about you.

2. Quality of Search

Using Google you’re subject to what is known as the filter bubble. The filter bubble is where your search results are conditioned by the history of your previous searches. That means that different results are shown to different people. Not everyone who searches for Donald Trump (or guns) sees the same thing.

There is no filter bubble on DuckDuckGo. The ability to switch which local region you’re searching in gives you more options and ultimately, a truer search.

3. Design

Look at it. Look how clean it is! Don’t like how it looks, then head straight to part 4!

Lose the visual clutter of Google, and the mismatching styles and enter some gentle alignment and you get DuckDuckGo. Search for a topic like Airbnb and you’ll get a tidy summary (from Wikipedia of course) at the top of the page, and some genuinely related links to the right. All of this in your search results.

Search for an HTML snippet like <td>, and you’ll get an HTML table in correct syntax ready for you to copy and paste. Occasionally a StackOverflow answer will even appear up there!

4. Customization

So you don’t like how it looks and you prefer Google. Why?! Only joking.

You can change how DuckDuckGo both looks and behaves. You can change the default ProximaNova font to Helvetica Neue, or the colour to pink. You can change the way links open, or stop the favicons from displaying. You can truly cater it to your tastes.

5. Instant Search

You know how Google can give you the results to basic arithmetic, or tell you the weather without having to leave your search results? Well DuckDuckGo have been doing that for longer, and arguably, they do it better.

The weather is supplied by the wonderful and gorgeous Forecast.io (now renamed DarkSky), the clean strokes and bold lines are a breath of fresh air.

But perhaps the cleverest thing, is DuckDuckGo’s ability to play a song from within the search results. Try it. You can play a Soundcloud tune without ever having to leave your search results.

Oh, and if you search for “Stopwatch” you get (you guessed it) a working stopwatch.

6. !bangs

Bangs are the most useful part of DuckDuckGo. A bang is when you type an “!” followed by a letter, and then type your search query to instantly search on another site. Directly. Use wikipedia right from DuckDuckGo; “!w trainspotting”, or thousands of other sites.

You can use it to search Google if you need to, !g or !guk or even !maps. It’s such an intuitive way of searching. Visit DuckDuckGo for the full list (or submit your own)

It’ll work with !wikipedia, or !stackoverflow, !verge, and so on and so on (9,088 at the time of writing. Wow).

But the best part? DuckDuckGo does all of this anonymously, and if you don’t know why that’s a big deal (or if you don’t care) then I implore you to watch Aral’s talk below.

 

Download DuckDuckGo for iOS here
Download DuckDuckGo for Android here


Do you have a favorite browser you use for security? Tell us about it in the comments below!

How to: Convert Several Images into a Single PDF Using Preview

 

By Tim Hardwick of MacRumors

Over the years, Adobe’s PDF file type has become a universally accepted method for sharing digital documents. The format’s cross-platform adoption means the documents can be viewed on almost any mobile device or computer, so it’s no surprise to find that macOS includes native support for viewing and creating PDF files.

In the Preview app, for example, it’s possible to create a single multi-page PDF document out of several separate image files. The feature is particularly useful if you need to share a number of scanned documents over email or digitize something for reference. Keep reading to learn how it’s done.

HOW TO CONVERT SEVERAL IMAGES INTO A SINGLE PDF

In Finder, select all the images you want to include in the PDF. To do this, drag a box over several images files using your mouse cursor, or select them individually by holding the Command key and clicking them one by one.

Right-click (or Ctrl-click) one of the highlighted files and select Open With -> Preview in the contextual dropdown menu.

 

In Preview’s sidebar, drag the thumbnail images into the order that you want them to appear in the PDF document. Use the Rotate button in Preview’s toolbar to change the orientation of individual pages (drag a selection over multiple pages to rotate several at once).

In the Preview menu bar, select File -> Print…, or use the Command+P keyboard shortcut to bring up the Print dialog.

Click Show Details to expand the Print dialog and browse the full set of options. Make sure the All button is selected in the Pages options. Note that you can double-check the orientation of each image by clicking the arrows below the print preview, and use the Orientation buttons to correct any if required.

 

Select Save as PDF from the PDF dropdown menu in the lower left of the Print dialog.

The Save dialog will appear. Give your new PDF a name and choose a save location. Fill in the Title, Author, Subject, and Keywords fields if desired (these details are searchable in Spotlight). The Security Options… button also lets you optionally set a password to open the document, copy from it, and/or print it.

Click Save when you’re done.

Note that the Save as PDF option can be accessed from the Print dialog window within a number of macOS apps, not just Preview. You can use it to create PDFs of web pages viewed in Safari, or Word documents opened in Pages, for example.

Do you have any slick Preview tips? Tell us about it in the comments below!!

App of the Week: Acorns

 

 

By Investmentzen.com

Summary

If you have never heard of Acorns, that is about to change. To save you time from scouring the web for quality Acorns reviews, we went ahead and put together everything you need to know here.

Acorns uses the “micro investing” approach by allowing you to round to the nearest dollar for every purchase you make and investing the difference. All those pennies start to add up and compound over time, and best of all it happens automatically when you make purchases you would normally make anyways!

Account Minimum
$5
Fees
$1/month or 0.25% per year for accounts greater than $5000.

Expert Walkthrough

What is Acorns?
Saving money today can be difficult. That amount of people who are investing in their future is far lower than it should be. Nearly 7 in 10 Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. It doesn’t have to be this way!

It can be difficult to reach the goal of a comfortable emergency fund or even starting to save for retirement. It takes both time and attention. With how busy life gets, these two things are not always easy to find.

Now Acorns has entered the game and is helping people in this exact situation. This is a service that allows you to get your feet wet with investing with little to no knowledge required. With such an inventive idea, we’ve put together this Acorns review for you to see how they can help you start investing today.

Acorns is revolutionizing the way millennials invest. They are taking charge in a time when it is well known that most people are not saving nearly enough to guarantee a comfortable retirement. This is a problem! Retirement can be as long or longer than your working career, so you want to make sure you are planning for it.

This is why Acorns allows college students to pay absolutely no fees for four years. Once you provide a valid .edu email address, you won’t pay a dime to Acorns for the remainder of your four-year degree.

Acorns does an excellent job explaining the investing process to beginners. Throughout the experience of signing up and investing, key terms are defined in a digestible format. This way, you know the implications from every action you take within your investment portfolio.

 

 

How Does it Work?

Acorns enables you to round to the nearest dollar for every purchase you make and invests the difference automatically.

These pennies are invested in one of six asset allocations. Each portfolio is made up of different Exchange Traded Funds (ETF). These options allow you to decide how aggressive or conservative you want to be.

The portfolios that are available are:

Conservative
Moderately Conservative
Moderate
Moderately Aggressive

Each of these portfolios are balanced differently to aim for your desired level of risk.

It really is that easy.

In addition to “Rounding Up” you have the option of contributing lump sums on a weekly or even daily basis.

This method takes more effort because you have to go out of your way to send money initially, or regularly. While it is a great way to get in the habit of investing, Acorns mainly focuses on sending a few cents on each transaction you make. It is done in the background so you may even forget it is happening.

There is no cost to sign up, but a $5 deposit is required to begin investing.

It is easy to login and check your balances and performance of your investments. Acorns will automatically reallocate your funds to fit the asset class you have selected.

This way, if the small business cap stocks have a good month, you won’t have too much tied up in that sector after the rally. Your money will be redistributed to other asset classes, potentially limiting the risk of losing these gains.

Pros

Acorns has changed the game for millennial investors. Although those from all walks of life use the service, the younger generations are taking advantage of this micro investing approach more than others.

Acorns makes investing easy. With a “set it and forget it” methodology, in a way it forces you to begin investing by rolling in few cents for every purchase you make.

This is a great way for college students who may not have access to a 401k plan to build up a savings account. Acorn investments will grow just as if the funds were placed in an individual mutual fund with an investment bank.

They do all the work. When you sign up with Acorns, the hardest part of your job is initially deciding where you want your money and linking your cards (which is not difficult). After that, you are saving money.

Acorns also offers a mobile application for iOS and Android devices. Take a look at the Acorn app reviews in the app store to see what people are saying. The feedback is overwhelmingly positive. The app is helping so many people, there may be use of a full Acorns app review in a future article.

Acorns is very useful if you are just beginning to learn about investing. They make it very easy by doing virtually all of the work for you. Your everyday purchases contribute to your savings.

From the time you swipe your linked card, you will decide which asset allocation you want to invest in. Acorns puts your money in a well diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds.

 

 

Cons

Acorns isn’t perfect for everyone. This service is not a way to replace a 401k or Roth IRA. The lack of tax benefits may steer some away.

The fees to use the service can be rather high when combined with a low account balance.

If you take advantage of the Round-Up program that Acorns offers, the pennies you are contributing will add up over time. Depending on how much you spend, you could be hovering under $20 for quite some time.

A $1 fee on a $20 balance is a 5% fee. When compared to retirement accounts with other financial institutions, 5% would be extremely high.

You can of course lower the fee percentage by depositing a larger initial amount, which would dilute the $1 fee to a lower percentage of your total savings.

Limited investment options. Acorns does offer 6 different assets allocations that are well diversified. However, hundreds more options can be found by dealing with a commercial investment company like Wells Fargo or Fidelity.

 

 

Is Acorns Worth It?

Acorns is an amazing tool to get started with investing. If you do not have a company offered retirement account like a 401k, it allows you to put your money in the stock market with little barrier to entry.

It is not a way to replace a 401k or Roth IRA. Acorns does not provide a match like most companies, and the growth is not tax deferred or tax free.

The passive nature of using Acorns works well for investors who want a hands off approach. With reallocating and depositing done in the background, you have more time to focus on other things in your life.

If you would rather get a root canal than learn about investing, then Acorns could very well be the solution to your problem. Use this Acorn review and decide for yourself if this method of investing will be beneficial for you.

Download Acorns for iOS and Android

Do you have a favorite investment app? Tell us about it in the comments below?