Blog Posts by Marc Saltzman

  • Video: High-tech holiday gift ideas

    'Tis the season to buy gadgets for loved ones — or, hey, why not yourself, too? — and this year there's no shortage of amazing tech toys to suit varying tastes and budgets.

    In this informal video I shot for, I show some of my favourite gadgets of 2012, including tablets (iPad mini, Microsoft Surface and Samsung's latest Android slate), music gadgets (headphones and wireless speaker systems), a Canon dSLR, and more:

    I also went to NYC last week to check out Sony's mammoth 4K TV -- boasting a resolution that's four times greater than a regular 1080p HDTV -- but be sure to bring your wallet as it'll set you back $25,000 if you want to bring this puppy home (er, check to make sure you have room for it). Really, you have to see the quality of this thing at your local Sony store as it's ridiculous.

    In this video, I also look at other high-tech toys including Wi-Fi-enabled Blu-ray players -- to turn a regular TV into a "smart" one -- as well as Mattel's Yippits toys for

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  • Is it ok for strangers to follow you on Twitter?

    From the mailbag: "Is there anything wrong with letting strange people I don't know follow me on Twitter?"

    By default, your account is public. Therefore, anyone can follow you on Twitter — just as you don't need permission to follow someone else, such as a celebrity.

    But you can restrict who follows you, if you like. You can opt for a private Twitter account, which means followers must first submit a request for your approval before they can read your tweets. Only people you approve can see your tweets and they won't show up in search engines either.

    If you've chosen to protect your tweets, you can approve followers from your account home page, profile page or by clicking the link in an email request.

    By the way, the Followers link on your profile page or home page will also show you how many followers you have and who they are.

    You asked if there was anything "wrong" with letting strangers follow you on Twitter. It does boil down to your comfort level in sharing information, but it's

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  • Is Canada’s ‘Keek’ the Next Big Thing in social media?

    Have you "keeked" out yet?

    Keek is a Canadian-invented social networking platform that fuses the brevity of Twitter with user-created video usually served up on YouTube.

    The result is bite-sized video clips — no more than 36 seconds in length -- and shared between its growing number of users. The year-old service has been gaining major momentum over the last little while, with more than 2 million new users registered in the last month alone.

    It takes less than a minute to shoot and upload a "keek" from a webcam or mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, via the official Keek app.

    Similar to YouTube, you can see the latest keeks (divided by country, if desired), most viewed (by day, week, month or all time), keeks from people you follow (think Instagram), top 100 users, and other categories. You can read Keekmail (in-app email) or peruse through a list of "klusters," divided into hashtags not unlike trending topics on Twitter. Tap the New Keek button and it launches your iPad,

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  • Tech it out: Cool tools for back to school

    While students might be reluctantly heading back into the classroom this fall, they should at least take comfort in knowing there are a handful of gadgets and gear that could help make the transition a smoother one.

    I recently traveled across Canada to chat on various TV shows and radio stations, sharing some of my favourite tech products for back-to-school time (check out video here, if you like).

    The following are eight such products that make the grade.

    Ultracool ultrabook

    Ultrabooks are one of the hottest trends in the computer space: they're super slim and lightweight, boot up right away and last all day on a single charge. Most cost $999 and up, but the Dell Inspiron 14z Ultrabook, at $699, gives you a lot of bang for the buck. Along with the Intel Core i3 processor (or higher, if you like), this slender Windows computer includes both solid state (flash) memory and a hard drive as well as a DVD burner (unlike most ultrabooks). Students might also like the free Xbox 360
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  • Woo hoo! ‘Simpsons’ game back at App Store

    Fans of The Simpsons can now spend time in Springfield with their favourite characters, including Homer, Lisa, Apu, Krusty, Cletus and Ned.

    The Simpsons: Tapped Out first appeared in the App Store earlier this year but technical glitches forced EA Mobile to pull it for retooling.

    The good news is the new and improved game -- designed for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch -- was worth the wait, but there are still some random connectivity issues that could slow you down. You also need an Internet connection to play, which might annoy some.

    The Simpsons: Tapped Out lets you build up the fictitious Springfield in any way you want. Your help is needed as Homer accidentally wipes out the town when he causes a nuclear meltdown. By completing missions to earn virtual currency, and collecting doughnuts, you can purchase familiar buildings such as Springfield Elementary, Krusty Burger, the Kwik-E-Mart, Gulp N' Blow and Duff Brewery -- and place them in the town.

    You can also purchase shrubs, fences

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  • Obsessed with weather? Download this iPad app

    While the Apple iPad has its own weather information — simply side your finger down from the top of the tablet to bring up your local forecast — weather-related apps that offer more detail are still a popular pick.

    Case in point: Vimov's Weather HD app has been downloaded more than 5 million times worldwide.

    Now, Weather HD 2 serves as a follow-up to the hit iOS app, adding better graphics, new social elements and severe weather alerts with push notifications.

    Those who own the original Weather HD app can download the update for free. Otherwise, it's $0.99 cents.

    At its core, Weather HD 2 shows you the temperature and weather for your area, as well as roughly 2 million other locations worldwide. You can bookmark your favourite spots and even opt for a "Quickview" to see the weather at multiple locations on one screen. Along with current temps and weather, you can quickly swipe to see seven-day and 24-hour forecasts.

    Visually speaking, the app has received a major upgrade, including

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  • Rap like a pro with free Apple, Android app

    If the popular Songify app can turn your spoken words into a melodic song, AutoRap — as the name suggests — is for those who want to rap like a professional.

    And just like Songify, no talent is required.

    The free app works as follows: Simply talk into your iPad, iPhone, iPod touch or Android device about whatever is on your mind and when you're done you'll hear your spoken words transformed into a rap, along with a more melodic "singing" portion that sounds like it uses the same technology as Songify (both are from app maker Smule).

    If you really want it to sound good, try to rhyme your words at the end of each short passage.

    You can play back the creation as often as you like, share it via email or post it to your favourite social network.

    There are two modes: Talk and Rap. With the former, you're talking into your device without hearing anything. When you're done, however, your vocal performance will be processed and played back on top of the background music. In the karaoke-style

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  • How to sync Android smartphones, tablets with iTunes

    While walking past one of those mobile phone carrier kiosks at a local shopping mall, I overheard a sales associate tell a customer the only phone that synchronizes music with iTunes — the popular and free software for PCs and Macs — is an Apple iPhone.

    This simply isn't true.

    There are a few different — and easy -- ways to sync all your music (and podcasts and audio books) with other smartphones, such as Android.

    The simplest way on a PC is to use Microsoft's Windows Media Player which is included in all versions of the Windows operating system.

    Simply connect your Android smartphone or tablet to your computer via a USB cable and a small window should pop up with a number of options. Double-click the one that says "Sync digital media files to this device," which has a Windows Media Player icon beside it.

    If the Music tab on the left of Windows Media Player isn't already highlighted, click Music and you'll see a list of all the music on your computer. Or you can select a particular

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  • Psst, parents: Here’s how to make the web safer for kids

    How's this for irony: while it's the parent's job to protect their children, it's the kids who know more about where they're spending most of their time: on the Internet.

    Understandably, many parents feel helpless because of this "digital divide." But common sense and smart software can help protect the ones you love.

    The following are a few tips to get you started.

    Location, location, location: Rather than placing an Internet-connected computer in a child's room, keep it in a central location in the home, such as a kitchen, family room or any other highly-trafficked area. Kids can feel independent while surfing online but not be "alone." Yes, kids might be online via smartphones and tablets, too, but you can restrict certain areas of the browser in the Settings area, secured by a password, if you're concerned.

    Super software: Filtering software might help reduce the odds your young children will end up on inappropriate websites that contain pornography, hate propaganda, unmonitored

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  • New game arrives from ‘Angry Birds’ creator

    Launching your first original game after a smash hit like Angry Birds is like being asked to replace Mick Jagger as the lead singer of The Rolling Stones. No matter how good the final result is, it'll no doubt be compared to the awesomeness that came before it.

    Rovio is in this precarious predicament with Amazing Alex, the developer's first new game since the incredibly popular Angry Birds series.

    And while the new physics-based puzzler is challenging, entertaining and visually appealing, it doesn't quite have the uniqueness and charm of Angry Birds. This Apple iOS and Android game isn't quite "amazing," in other words, but worth the mere $1 pice tag for puzzle fans (or $3 for the iPad version).

    The game stars Alex, a young boy with a house full of objects. As Alex you must accomplish a number of goals by placing the objects on the screen so that it causes a chain reaction when you tap the "Play" icon. For example, your objective might be to get three bouncing tennis balls into a

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