• Like many Canadians, I’m embarking on the time-honoured practice this weekend of piling into a car, driving for hours along kilometres of highway, stopping only for bathroom breaks, roadside diners and anything with “world’s largest” in the title. And also like many Canadians, I’ll be carting along my smartphone, unable to fully detach myself from the world of digital comforts.

    For those of you who will be taking a similar road trip this summer, you can make them that much easier and more enjoyable by loading up some of these apps before you head out:

    How to get there: By now you’re likely familiar with the basic mapping software like Google Maps and Apple’s Maps software. If you’re looking for an alternative, though, try checking out Waze or HERE Maps. Waze gained quite a following during the early days of the Apple Maps fallout, and was a popular alternative for many iPhone users for its social mapping approach. Other Waze users can mark maps in an area to help out other drivers by

    Read More »from Make the most of your summer road trip with these apps
  • Hugo Barra holds the new Nexus 7 tablet during a Google event in San Francisco, California, July 24, 2013.I always dreamed of learning all the languages and traveling the world without being bothered by communication barriers. This might not be a far-fetched idea after all and, what is more, it might not require years of intensive study.

    Google is working on prototype devices, which, hooked up to your phone, would enable you to receive real-time translations from a foreign language speaker.

    [ Related: Google takes aim at Apple TV with Chromecast ]

    Many have likened this latest development to Douglas Adams’s prophetic Babel Fish, an animal in his 1979 comic sci-fi novel, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, able to perform instant translation.

    Far from fiction, the device is part of a bigger Google Now project, which seeks to answer the customers’ every need by anticipating their requests.

    While in theory the idea means it could revolutionize the world of communications and become a sort of ‘universal tongue’ challenging the meanings of ‘learning’ and ‘knowing’, polyglots and language teachers

    Read More »from Google’s instant translation devices could turn science fiction into reality
  • Google is at it again.

    The tech giant, which continues to carve out its reputation as the "killer" of Apple products, recently unveiled Chromecast, an HDMI stick that streams music, movies, TV shows — just about anything one can stream — to your HDTV. All for the measly price of $35.

    [ Related: Google gets deeper into hardware with new tablet, TV gadget ]

    So, if you've recently purchased an Apple TV, or perhaps a Roku streaming player, I hope you've kept your receipt.

    Set-top streaming boxes such as Apple TV and Roku can run you a cost north of $100; Chromecast rings in at nearly a third of that cost. Apple TV, outside of its own apps, can only stream content from Apple computers and devices. Chromecast allows streaming from a host of devices: iPhones, iPads, Macs, PCs, and of course Android phones and tablets, just to name a few.

    "Third-party streaming boxes are dead," exclaims Benedict Evans, consultant at Enders Analysis in London, in a Huffington Post story. "Why would you spend $100 to

    Read More »from Google takes aim at Apple TV with Chromecast
  • Earlier this week, we heard about a woman who received quite a shock: while playing a ‘free’ game on an iPad, her daughters managed to rack up $3,000 in in-app purchases. It’s not the first time we’ve heard this kind of story, and it’s definitely not the last.

    If you want to know how to protect yourself from getting a huge iTunes bill from Apple, here are some important tips to keep in mind:

    • Protect your password: The way that the woman’s twin seven-year-olds were able to make so many in-app purchases, CBC reports, was because they knew their mom’s password from watching her enter it in the past. Just like with your PIN number, use some discretion when typing it in – after all, it’s protecting your money the same way.
    • Know what you’re giving your child access to: Despite their groaning and whining, you don’t have to give your children your iPad to play with. Yes, there are lots of fun games on there, but that doesn’t mean the device itself is designed for kids. If you’re not 100%
    Read More »from 5 ways to avoid a $3,000 in-app purchase bill from Apple
  • (Artwork by Hal Lasko)Almost everyone who used a computer in the 1990s has used MS Paint, the drawing software bundled with Windows 95. But there’s a good chance your works of art never looked like Hal Lasko’s.

    Lasko, at nearly 98 years old, has painted dozens of works of art with Paint. Gizmodo reports that Lasko has severely impaired vision, but using the zoom features on his computer allows him to continue creating artwork.

    [ Related: IBM warps atoms into crazy 'Star Trek' art ]

    In the bio on Lasko’s website, it explains that the Ohio artist started a career as a graphic designer before moving on to drafting maps for bombing raids during World War II. Following the war, Lasko returned to graphic design and worked for a range of companies including General Tire, Goodyear and American Greetings. Throughout his career, Lasko continued to work on his personal paintings late at night, when he had the time. After his retirement, he dedicated more of his time to art, eventually being shown Microsoft Paint by his

    Read More »from 97-year-old Hal Lasko uses Microsoft Paint to create stunning artwork
  • Karsten Nohl (Forbes photo)You might think that by not clicking on strange links from your phone, you’re keeping your mobile device safe from identity theft attacks. Unfortunately, some recently revealed research shows you may not be so safe, after all.

    German mobile security expert Karsten Nohl says he has found a weakness in certain SIM cards which could allow hackers to listen to phone conversations and steal personal information.

    “We can remotely install software on a handset that operates completely independently from your phone,” Nohl told The New York Times. “We can spy on you. We know your encryption keys for calls. We can read your SMSs (text messages). More than just spying, we can steal data from the SIM card, your mobile identity, and charge to your account.”

    Nohl discovered the flaw as part of a widespread research project. He and his team tested about 1,000 SIM cards in Europe and North America over two years, and found that about one quarter of the SIM cards tested were susceptible to the

    Read More »from SIM card vulnerability could lead to widespread phone hijacking
  • With half of Canada being caught in the grips of a heat wave this past week, many of us are on the hunt for ways to keep cool. And even when the heat breaks for a couple of days, I have some bad news for you: it’s only July. We’re not out of the woods yet.

    If you’re one of those people who thrives in this heat and are enjoying baking in feels-like-40-degrees temperatures, this article isn’t for you. But if you’re like me, and are desperate for some relief, here are some ways technology can rescue you from the miserable, sweaty torture:

    1. Regulate your home cooling system

    (Image from Nest)During this time of year, the power grids in major metropolitan areas have to deal with the heavy load of running thousands of air conditioning units. This can result in overworking the system, forcing rolling blackouts, and then even though you have that great AC, you’re forced to swelter.

    You can do your part to minimize your impact on the power system by digitally managing the temperature in your home, helping it run

    Read More »from Four high-tech ways to beat the heat this summer
  • In this Oct. 11, 2009 photo, a 64 gigabyte SanDisk Ultra Backup USB 2.0 flash drive is shown in New York.Cyber-security is a big deal to Canadians, and with good reason: with the right information, an identity thief can take out a credit card in your name and rack up debt. Or worse. And based on recently released emails, it looks like the Canadian government isn’t taking digital information safety lightly, either.

    In an email obtained by Postmedia News, it says that senior bureaucrats were considering paying a professional dumpster diving company $15,000 to locate the missing USB drive. It contained the personal information of more than 5,000 Canadians.

    [ Related: Government warned before loss of student loan, CPP data ]

    The email also shows that they also considered burning the garbage, in hopes of destroying the USB key and preventing the information from being found:

    “Bryan is looking (at) burning the garbage so if USB key is there this will protect the department (from ) impact or ‘repercussion,’” a Nov. 23 email from Service Canada corporate security manager Jeanne Dufour said, according

    Read More »from Loss of USB key prompted Ottawa to consider hiring dumpster divers, emails show
  • (Courtesy Samsung)They may not even be on your radar, but Chromebooks are expected to become popular sellers as more users switch away from traditional desktop computers.

    So-called because they run Google's Chrome operating system, the devices present a great and cheap alternative for folks who don't want to lay out hundreds more for a full-blown laptop.

    [ Related: New video shows awesome potential of Google Glass – but don’t be a ‘glasshole’ ]

    I had a chance to test Samsung's version and came away with a favourable impression. At about 2.4 pounds and less than an inch thick, the Chromebook is incredibly light in your lap or tucked away in your bag. The 11.6" screen also helps keep the weight down, though some users may find it a bit small for day-to-day use.

    Running a Google operating system, you'll need to have (or create) a Gmail account in order to use the Chromebook. Signing in couldn't be easier and the OS will be familiar and to anyone who has used Gmail and a web browser (even if it isn't Chrome).

    Read More »from Quick Hit: Samsung’s Chromebook an easy-to-use laptop alternative
  • (Image from Walmart.com)If you’re familiar with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program, you may be surprised to hear that the company is in a new partnership with Walmart. The non-profit organization, normally known for its work bringing laptops to children in the developing world, will now be selling OLPC tablets at the largest retailer in the United States.

    They haven’t completely dropped their original mission, though. According to ZDNet, the aim of bringing inexpensive devices to people who would otherwise be unable to access them is still a key priority. The XO Kid’s Tablet PC comes as a successor to last year’s XO 3.0, but this is the first time the tablet will be made available through a major national distributor.

    And the potential to do good in the United States for children in low-income families is tremendous. Despite how reliant society has become on technology, there are still thousands of school children who don’t have access to a computer or tablet in their homes across Canada and the United

    Read More »from Tablet designed for students in developing countries now being sold at Walmart

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