Blog Posts by Marc Saltzman

  • Tech the halls with accessories for smartphones, tablets

    iGuy Family

    What to buy a smartphone and tablet owner? Accessories, of course.

    Loved ones who dote over their smartphones or touchscreen tablets will likely appreciate add-ons that offer added functionality, protection and perhaps fashion to their favorite mobile device.

    Many hundreds of accessories made its debut in 2011, some designed for a specific model -- such as a fitted case for an Android phone or an Apple tablet -- while others can be used with any number of products.

    We'll leave out the obvious ones, like Bluetooth headsets for hands-free calling, but the following is a look at many other stellar options for the gift-giving season.

    Protection and personalization

    Decorate your favourite smartphone or tablet with hundreds of different designs. Toronto-based Gelaskins ($14.95 to $29.95; gelaskins.com) are high-quality skins that affix to your digital device to give it some unique flare; you can also download free, matching wallpaper to display behind the icons. A percentage of each sale

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  • Stream millions of music tracks with free iPad app

    Wall of Sound - 1

    Itching to buy new music this fall, but aren't sure what to pick up?

    You've got a few options: listen to the radio or a streaming service, preview new tracks at your local music store or see what's trending on iTunes.

    Another option is an app called Wall of Sound, a visual jukebox, of sorts, that proves to be a powerful -- yet somewhat limiting -- way to be exposed to new music.

    As the name suggests, the recently updated Wall of Sound looks like a poster comprised of colourful album artwork. You can use your fingertip to swipe in any direction, and you'll see your iPad screen populate with even more music. If you see something you want to listen to, tap the album cover, and it'll launch a 30-second sample from one of its tracks. If you like what you hear, you could tap to see other tracks from the same album, and also choose to buy the song or album from iTunes on the spot.

    Wall of Sound - 2

    The app first analyzes your music collection to get an idea of what you already listen to. For example, Wall of

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  • Why it doesn’t always pay to be an early adopter

    It was just six months ago when Canada's own Research in Motion launched its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, which started at $499.99 for the 16GB version.

    Today, you can pick up the exact same model for $199.99. This aggressively discounted price will remain until December 1.

    What's the lesson here? Unless you thrive on being the first on your block with the latest and greatest gadgets, it often pays to wait a bit.

    In fact, the following are five reasons why it doesn't always pay to be an early adopter.

    Prices come down

    The BlackBerry PlayBook example isn't unique.

    Technology always gets cheaper over time, so those who buy the first-generation of a product are usually paying a lot more than the person who buys the next generation.

    For example, when Sony's PlayStation 3 console debuted in Canada it cost $549 to $659, depending on the version. After numerous price drops over the years, you can now buy a PlayStation 3 for $249.99 — which is also smaller and quieter, with a 160GB hard drive

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  • Latest ‘Zelda’ adventure is bigger, bolder, better

    The most anticipated Nintendo Wii video game of the year is less than a week away from release, but we've got a "first impressions" review for you here.

    Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword ($49.99; rated "Everyone 10+") is a huge and ambitious single-player adventure, and what it lacks in graphics (because of the limitations of the aging console) it more than makes up in engaging gameplay, tight controls and overall value.

    Quite simply, it's one of the most magical Zelda games in the franchise's rich, 25-year history.

    Once again, you play as a young boy named Link, who vows to rescue his childhood companion, Zelda, who was kidnapped by an evil force.

    Zelda — not yet a princess in this prequel to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time— was snatched from the peaceful floating islands of Skyloft and taken to the dangerous surface world below. To aid in his quest, Link is presented with the magical Skyward Sword, which houses a spiritual aid named Fi; she resides inside the blade

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  • How students can cash in on Best Buy’s $200,000 tech fund

    Best in Class - b

    If you're a student or educator, chances are you can benefit from some extra tech in the classroom, be it extra laptops or tablets for a computer lab, cameras and other photography gear for multimedia courses or digital recording equipment for music creators.

    Canadian teachers who make their case in 500 words or less could be eligible for up to $20,000 in Best Buy gift cards, as part of the electronic retailer giant's generous Best in Class fund.

    For the fourth year in a row, Best Buy is giving away a total of $200,000 in gift cards to Canadian schools. Submissions are open until November 17 for teachers with students in Kindergarten to Grade 8.

    With or without help from the classroom, teachers are encouraged to write a convincing explanation on why they believe tech could benefit their classroom and how they'd use the funds. The official question at the online submission site is "How do you plan to use the technology with your students to inspire and enhance their education?"

    It

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  • Your face is a warzone in new ‘AR’ app

    IMG_0382SkinVaders - b

    It's one thing to look in the mirror and see a couple of pimples on your face, but imagine popping alien eggs to prevent them from hatching on your cheeks, nose and chin.

    This is the silly premise behind SkinVaders, a new game that takes advantage of the cameras on the iPad 2, iPhone (3GS/4G/4GS) or fourth-generation iPod touch.

    The free app uses "augmented reality" technology, where a camera captures a live view of the real, physical world — in this case, your face -- but the scene will be augmented with virtual, onscreen objects (i.e. aliens).

    iPad 2 gamers can play with a friend or family member by using the tablet's rear-facing camera -- or you can play by yourself using the front-facing camera. Before the game starts you'll first calibrate the playfield by lining up your face (or someone else's) against the onscreen cutout. This is only required once, unless the person on the screen moves their head too much while playing.

    The first level has a blue alien who appears to be

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  • Boo! Download these free ‘Twilight Zone’ radio dramas

    twilight-zone

    Halloween is around the corner, therefore you're likely going to spend your cash on a costume -- or at least some treats for the kids in the neighbourhood.

    So, couldn't you use a frightfully fun and free download for your favourite smartphone, tablet, MP3 player or computer?

    Whether or not you've seen the classic and often creepy Twilight Zone television series -- that ran from 1959 to 1964 -- you'll likely enjoy the newer audio versions of these episodes, which you can listen to while driving, walking or relaxing at night with the lights out. These sci-fi and horror stories — especially those with a macabre twist at the end — still hold up well today.

    Along with audio remakes of most of the 156 original episodes ($1.95 apiece), there are also a dozen or so new TZ plays to purchase -- but here's how to get six episodes for free. That way, you can see if you like them before buying individual episodes.

    If you go to the Twilight Zone Radio Dramas downloads page, you'll see you can grab

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  • How to wirelessly share music on your iPhone, iPod or iPad

    MyStream App

    If you believe half the fun of listening to a great song is sharing it with friends, a new app might just be music to your ears.

    MyStream is a music-streaming app that lets you share what you're listening to with others on the same Wi-Fi network or via Bluetooth. Consider it similar to using a headphone splitter -- but in this case you need not be tethered to your friend.

    Setting up the free app takes only about one minute as you need to give yourself only a profile name and enable audio streaming. Now, anyone connected on your wireless network (or Bluetooth) will see your profile name under "Streamers" and can tap to open up what you've got to share, be it songs, podcasts or audio books.

    MyStream is meant to expose you and your friends to new music, but the app doesn't promote piracy. You cannot save the song you're listening to, for example. Plus, there's an icon you can tap to buy the song on iTunes.

    You can pause tracks, skip forward or back between them and adjust volume -- but

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  • How secure are your passwords? Is yours on this list?

    If you've been following the news lately, you've no doubt read up on all of the computer attacks, data breaches and cases of identity theft. Consider it a by-product of the information age.

    The first line of defense is creating a strong password, whether it's to unlock your computer or smartphone, protect your wireless network, log in to websites, or secure your voicemail.

    Creating a strong password isn't difficult, but it does take a little more imagination than the common ones most people use -- like "password," "123456," your phone number, or your kid's or pet's name -- all of which are not recommended for obvious reasons. Click here (or see below) for a list of the most commonly used passwords, according to computer security software company ZoneAlarm. Is yours here? Time to change it.

    The following are a few suggestions for password creation, management and protection:

    * A strong password is at least seven characters long and contains a

    combination of letters, numbers and

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  • Free your music with wireless ‘AirPlay’ speaker

    iHome iW1 - a

    "Speaker docks" are a great way to listen to your iPhone, iPod or iPad's music without headphones — plus they can charge up the built-in battery — but what if you want to play on your portable Apple device at the same time?

    The iHome iW1 ($299.99) is one of the first few AirPlay-enabled speaker docks that utilize Apple's wireless streaming technology. As long as you've got a Wi-Fi network, you can tap to play music, podcasts and audiobooks from a digital device and you'll hear the audio through the speaker. You can also stream music between iTunes on a PC or Mac and the iW1, too.

    Setting up the iW1 is a breeze. Simply download the free iHome Connect app and you'll be prompted to connect the iOS device to the back of the speaker via a USB cable. This is only required once to synchronize the devices together (unless you want to charge up your music player). Now, when listening to music on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, tap the AirPlay logo and select iW1 to begin the stream.

    You can

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