How to include technology in your design scheme

How to include technology in your design scheme

When it comes to creating an interior design scheme that works for you, it’s important that you create a space that solves problems, provides support and improves your quality of life. One of the best ways for you to do this is by embracing the benefits of technology. This will help you to modernise your design scheme and to fill it with features that are sure to impress your family and friends. With so many options available to you, it can be hard to know where to start. Below are four suggestions that will help you get inspired.

Corner of an all-in-one home printer

Your office space

If you have a home office, this is one area where technology will play a big part. Firstly, you’ll need to decide whether you’re going to invest in a desktop computer or a laptop. You’ll also need to look out for a suitable printer. If you’re tight on space, you should try to find a printer that also works as a scanner and even a fax machine. Once you’ve set up all of your devices, you should also invest in cyber-security and create a backup plan for any data loss disasters. You should trust Secure Data Recovery to protect your technology. This is the best way for you to ensure your home office stays up and running and always exists as a functional space.

Using an iPad in the kitchen

Your kitchen

If you’re a real foodie who loves to spend time in the kitchen, you should explore the many opportunities that technology provides for you. One option is to have a television screen mounted on the wall of your kitchen. It’s ideal if you like to follow cooking tutorials from all of your favourite chefs. Alternatively, you could create a mounted platform for your tablet or smartphone. You could also introduce smart technology into your property and sync your oven timer to your phone. That way, you can move around your home without forgetting about your culinary efforts.

Electric noise masker

Your bedroom

In order to enjoy a good night’s sleep, it’s important that you limit your exposure to the blue light of tablets and smartphones before you go to bed. However, other kinds of technology will work incredibly well in your bedroom. For instance, you could invest in a white noise machine. This is a brilliant way for you to take control of your sleeping pattern and to enjoy a deeper sleep. You could also sync your light switches with your smartphone. That way, you don’t have to get out of bed when you’re ready to drift off.

Multi-media setup in a living room

Your home entertainment area

Another fantastic way for you to include technology in your design scheme is by creating a home entertainment area. Instead of relying on basic television speakers, you should think about investing in a high-quality sound system. They will help you to get the most out of the shows and films that you are watching. You could also use your sound system to blast your favourite tunes around the house. It will come in especially handy when you’re throwing a party or completing a deep clean of your entire property!

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Top 5 Christmas gadget gifts to get this holiday season

Gold paper wrapped Christmas presents

It’s that time again! The most wonderful time of the year. The season that brings families together in the spirit of giving and joy. Depending on how good you are with picking presents, there might just be a tinge of terror mixed in with all the merriment.

We’ve all been either the perpetrator or the recipient of what can honestly only be described as a less than stellar gift. Maybe even a terrible one. We’re looking at you, pair of socks and multi-coloured, comedy sweater!

As much as we know that gifts are not really what Christmas is all about, it certainly helps to feel confident about the presents you bought and to see sincere joy and amazement in your loved ones’ faces. If in the past you’ve stood in shops, helpless and surrounded by too much choice, this article’s for you.

We’ve decided to take on the role of Santa’s elves and help you come up with some fantastic gift ideas. We’ll focus on gadgets in this post. Gadgets always make great gifts because they tend to be functional and useful, new ones are launched each year, and there’s such a variety available today that it definitely isn’t solely the domain of dads or teenagers any longer.

So, without further ado, let’s see what great Christmas gadget gifts you can get to help spread some festive cheer this season.

XBOX ONE X

Xbox One X

Proudly dubbed the “World’s most powerful console” by its creators, you can rest assured that any console gamer in your family would be absolutely thrilled to receive this gift. Playing games in native 4K HDR has been the dream of gamers for a long time now. To make things even better, all pre-existing Xbox One games will be compatible on the X so it’s a great choice as an upgrade. Especially considering the recent release of some big game titles such as Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Shadow of War that can now be taken full advantage of.

Who’s it for?

Practically any console gamer you know would be ecstatic with this gift.

Alternatives

  • PlayStation 4 Pro: Very similar to the Xbox One X, this console was brought out as a more powerful version of the PS 4. Although not as powerful as the One X, PS is known for the most tantalising, exclusive games.

DJI Mavic Pro drone

DJI Mavic Pro drone

What might have seemed like just a fad a few years ago, they have proved to be anything but. Drones are still popular and more in demand than ever. We’ve only recently begun to realise the potential for these awesome gadgets, for even the average person. From shooting incredible holiday videos to drone racing with VR headsets, they’ve captured the imagination. The DJI Mavic Pro Drone is a higher-end drone and comes packed with capabilities that more than justify that price tag. It has a 12.35 megapixel stabilised camera that can shoot 4K video in up to 30fps and boasts a 27-minute flight time.

Alternatives

  • Parrot Bebop 2: This is a more affordable and slightly lower-end alternative. The biggest downsides being that it’s not as easy to pack up and go as the DJI and doesn’t feature the same build quality.
  • GDU O2 Plus drone: A more direct competitor for the DJI Mavic, this drone features almost all the same capabilities and has a very similar aesthetic.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite e-reader

Amazon Kindle E-reader

What better gift can you give to the bookworm in your family than a Kindle e-reader? A device that lets you store hundreds… even thousands of books on a single, hand-held, lightweight, portable, tablet-like device? What’s even better, is that the E ink electronic screens are anti-glare so that they don’t strain your eyes and can be read in bright light with ease. Some newer models also come with built-in LEDs to self-illuminate in low light conditions. To top it off, these devices provide you with the widest access to books straight from Amazon itself. The Kindle Paperwhite and Oasis are variations that come enhanced features such as higher resolution screens and the Oasis is even waterproof.

Who’s it for?

Anyone who loves books and is constantly on the go.

Alternatives

  • Kobo Glo HD: The Kobo Glo HD is a like for like replacement for the Amazon Kindle. It’s definitely one of their staunchest competitors in a market dominated by Kindle. This specific model has a similar screen and most of the same features as the Paperwhite.

Sphero R2D2 droid

Sphero R2-D2 app-enabled droid action figure

Since the start of the Star Wars story all those years ago, our hearts & minds have been captured by the adorable and capable android, R2-D2. This unlikely looking droid managed to be both cute, yet completely indispensable with its emotive beeps and bleeps and multitude of tools. The newest in a line of in-phone, app-controlled droids, this one promises to be just as much fun and rekindle your love for Star Wars.

Who’s it for?

It’s suitable for all ages. As long as you can play games on an app you can handle this droid. A fantastic gift for any Star Wars fan in your family or one who has a love for novel gadgets.

Alternatives

  • Sphero BB-8 app-enabled droid: The BB-8 managed to do the seemingly impossible: become a worthy successor to R2-D2 and be just as adorable. It came out a few years ago and reviews have been mostly positive.
  • BB-9E app-enabled droid: This is the “evil twin” of the BB-8. Most users will prefer the BB-8 but this is a great addition if you want to complete the collection.

We hope you’ve found some fantastic and appropriate Christmas gift ideas on our list! Now, with your shopping list done you can finally sit back, relax, and take in all the merriment going around this festive season. If nothing else, maybe you’ve found an idea for a present you yourself want and can now go hint to your family members. And don’t forget to set up your workstation for the new year with a desk from Jason L!

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Price Points: Universal USB charger cables

Universal USB charger cables | H is for Home

Do the chargers on your tech devices wear out after just a few years? Ours do! Currently, the one that charges Justin’s tablet is being held together with a thin strip of gaffer tape. My phone charger is literally hanging by a few wire threads.

If we were people that upgraded our devices every time a new version was released we probably wouldn’t have this problem – new device… new charger.

Needless to say, every device has a totally different connector… so each needs its own cable! A genuine iPhone charger from the Apple shop will set me back £19 and one for the iPad Mini, also £19.

The solution is one of those universal USB charger cables which fits up to 10 different devices. We can get one for less than £2 and it will charge both our phones AND Justin’s iPad.

  1. 4 in 1 multi-pin universal USB charging cable – Android, iPhone 4 5, Samsung Note3: £1.99, eBay
  2. 10 in 1 multi-functional universal USB charger/data cable for mobile phone/MP3/MP4/GPS: £4.91, MiniInTheBox
  3. Retractable charging cable, 4 in 1 multi-functional universal USB charger cable for iPhone, Android, MP3, MP4 etc (white): £7.99, Amazon

4 essential ways to care for your tech devices

 

4 essential ways to care for your tech devices

You need to care for your tech devices in much the same way as you do your own body – looking after both inside and out. Whether it’s your mobile phone, desktop, laptop or tablet; games console or smart watch you need to look after both its hardware and software. These items can be pretty expensive to buy and to fix; having to live without them is unthinkable for some! Here are the top 4 things you need to do to properly care for your tech devices and keep them in tip-top condition.

Invest in screen protectors, covers and cases

Black leather iPhone cover

If you’re anything like us, you use your computer and phone whilst eating or drinking at the same time. Even if you think you’re being really careful, they still tend to get a bit sticky and grubby. Keep your devices clean with anti-bacterial spray cleaner and a specialist cleaning brush set for getting between the spaces on your keyboard.

Keep them clean, but also make sure you keep them covered… especially if you’re clumsy and prone to dropping things! Start with a clear screen protector – they only take seconds to apply, but they stop the glass getting scratched and can help save it from shattering. Enclose your mobile in a leather iPhone case, it safeguards from daily wear & tear and makes it look great at the same time. I use my iPad for following recipes as I cook; I use a case with integral stand to keep it upright and clean… save a few buttery fingerprints here & there!

Install anti-virus software

Install anti-virus software on your tech devices

One of the most stressful and scary things that can happen to your tech device is unknowingly installing a virus, Trojan horse or some other kind of malware. It can completely disable your machine and can cost a lot of money to get someone to put it right. And you may even unintentionally infect the devices of friends, family and work colleagues. These situations can be easily avoided by installing anti-virus software – and there are some good, free ones available.

AVG Anti-virus (AVG AntiVirus for Mac® | AVG AntiVirus FREE | AVG AntiVirus for Android™)

AVG AntiVirus includes real-time security updates, scans for both malware and performance issues, and even catches malicious downloads before they reach your device. It blocks unsafe links, downloads and email attachments.

Avast Security (PC, Mac & Android)

Avast is one of the largest security companies in the world using next-gen technologies to fight cyber attacks in real time. They have an immense cloud-based machine learning engine that receives a constant stream of data from our more than 400 million users.

Keep your hard drive spick & span

Snail on a keyboard

There are a few, simple things you can do to keep your devices running quickly and smoothly. By freeing up disk space you not only stop your device becoming sluggish, you also extend your battery life. Always keep your apps updated, developers are always tweaking them, fixing bugs and improving performance. Quit, don’t just close apps that aren’t being used. Don’t simply put files into your trash – delete them completely by emptying the ‘trash’/’recycle bin’. Keep anything that you don’t need every day on an external had drive – especially large files such as images, music and video.

There are lots of useful apps that can help you keep many of them are free or cost very little. Here are just a few.

AVG Cleaner (AVG PC TuneUp® | AVG Cleaner™ for Mac® | AVG Cleaner™ for Android™)

It quickly finds any hidden clutter you may have accumulated and clean it with just one click.

MacBooster (Mac)

This is a Mac maintenance tool to clean up junk, boost performance and remove malware and viruses.

AppZapper (Mac)

Everybody loves the drag and drop nature of OS X. Drag an app into your applications folder, and it’s installed. You’d think it would be that easy to delete an app – just a matter of dragging it to the trash. But it’s not. Apps install support files on your computer that generate clutter. Introducing AppZapper. Simply drag one or more apps onto AppZapper. Then, watch as it finds the extra files and lets you delete them with one click.

Reno Uninstaller (PC)

Has powerful features to uninstall programs scanning for left over files, folders and registry entries after uninstall.

Disk Diag (Mac)

Disk Diag is a free, simple and efficient tool for cleaning your Mac. It takes the hassle out of finding which files are clogging-up your Mac hard drive by instantly scanning and discovering what’s taking-up space.

Monolingual (Mac)

Monolingual is a program for removing unnecessary language resources from macOS, in order to reclaim several hundred megabytes of disk space. It requires a 64-bit capable Intel-based Mac and at least macOS 10.12 (Sierra).

Removing unused language packs is different for Windows® operating systems. Read about going about it here.

Prepare for if it gets lost or stolen

Mobile phone lost in undergrowthcredit

No one wants to think about the possibility of their device getting misplaced, lost or stolen; but it happens to people every, single day. There are things you can put in place if, in future, you need to locate a lost or stolen device.

For Mac products – iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch and MacBook – the Find My iPhone app is a security essential.

Find My iPhone will help you locate your missing device on a map, remotely lock it, play a sound, display a message, or erase all the data on it.

For missing iOS devices, Find My iPhone also includes Lost Mode. Lost Mode locks your device with a passcode and can display a custom message and contact phone number right on the Lock Screen. While in Lost Mode, your device can keep track of where it has been and report back so you can view its recent location history, right from the Find My iPhone app.

If you have an Android phone, you need to enable the ‘Remotely locate this device’ and ‘Allow remote lock and erase’ settings in the Google Settings app. You’ll find them under Security → Device Manager. If your Android device goes missing, log into the Android Device Manager on the Google website and it’s location will be mapped out. From here you can ring, lock or erase your phone’s data.

Windows phones also have built-in settings to track missing mobile devices. You will find them here: Settings → Privacy → Find my phone. Tick the box to ‘Save my phone’s location periodically and before the battery runs out to make it easier to find’. So long as you have done this you will be able to search for your phone’s whereabouts via your Microsoft account. From here you’ll be able to ring, lock or erase it’s data.

Doing these four simple things will ensure that your tech devices will enjoy a long and prosperous existence!

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Cabling your new home for the future

Cabling your new home for the futurecredit

Home automation of today would have been considered magic just fifty years ago. Lights turning on and off as you move through your house, motorised blinds that adjust on their own, music of your choice being piped into the room you’re occupying and security, power and environmental controls being adjusted just as you arrive home after a hard day’s work. One system can take action based on the input or the status of another, all without any human intervention.

The mainstay of this magic is the wiring. If you take the right steps concerning your wiring when building your home, then you will be ready for most new technologies that will be available in the near and not-so-near future. With the proper cabling, upgrades to any of your systems won’t require you to uproot the existing cables from the walls to install new ones. You’ll just need to replace the equipment and devices on either end. Even if you don’t have the cash to create the systems of your dreams right now, you can install the appropriate cabling for it and take advantage of it when you have the funds. The most expensive part of any home automation system can easily be the labour costs involved with the installation of new wiring!

Before you begin laying down cable, it’s a good idea to develop a plan. It’s actually a good idea to develop a plan before doing anything in life, but that’s enough philosophy for now. It may also be a good idea to get the help of a professional at this point. Decide what you need and where. Electrical and mechanical automation, network communications, telephony, television, video, security and audio are systems that can be included in your plan, but this list is by no means exhaustive. Depending on the applications you’ll require, you must then choose the proper types of cables.

Any British cable supplier can provide the myriad of cable types for any and all home automation and smart home needs, so acquiring the cables should not be a problem.

You can begin your plan by making a list of all the rooms in the house and deciding what applications you want each to have. You can also make a list of functionalities that you want everywhere, such as audio and smart lighting. Think about the long term as well. How will your needs change over the years? How about when the kids grow up, or the guest room is converted to an office? Even if you install cable that you never use, it will still be worth it.

Future-proofing your house in this way will not only allow you to enjoy the benefits of home automation and smart home functionality, but just the very presence of the cabling in the walls will end up increasing its resale value.

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Christmas gifts of the day: Affordable tablets

Selection of affordable tablets | H is for Home

Technology has become a favourite Christmas present for many people. Tablets are gaining in popularity each year, not as small and fiddly as some smart phones can be, but not as large or expensive as laptops.

With a tablet you can store data, take photos, watch tv & films, listen to music, browse the internet and keep up with friends and current affairs on social media.

We’ve chosen to compare tablets that are of similar size and with, in most cases, similar storage capacities. Depending on what you’ll mainly be using it for will dictate the best one for you. For example, if your kids are going to be sitting in the back of the car watching films or playing games, you want something with a long battery life. If you’re going to be toting it around in your bag each day, you want something lightweight. If taking photos is your thing, you’ll want one with a 5 megapixel camera.

  1. Lenovo Tab 3 7″ 8GB tablet – black – £49.99
    • 5 MP camera
    • up to 10 hours of battery life
    • 9.9mm thick, 300 grams
  2. Fire Tablet, 7″ display, Wi-Fi, 8GB – £49.99
    • 2 MP camera
    • up to 7 hours of battery life
    • 10.6mm thick, 313 grams
  3. HIPSTREET Titan 4 7″ Tablet – 8GB, black – £49.99
    • 2 MP camera
    • up to 10 hours of battery life
    • 10mm thick, 300 grams
  4. Huawei Mediapad T1, 7″ Android tablet, 8GB, WiFi only – black – £79.00
    • 2 MP camera
    • up to 8 hours of battery life
    • 8.5mm thick, 278 grams
  5. SAMSUNG Galaxy Tab A 7″ tablet – 8GB, black – £113.99
    • 5 MP camera
    • up to 11 hours of battery life
    • 8.7mm thick, 283 grams
  6. ASUS Transformer Book T100HA-FU006T, 2GB 2-in-1 laptop – £179.99
    • 5 MP camera
    • up to 12 hours of battery life
    • 8.38mm thick, 590 grams
  7. Apple iPad mini 2, Apple A7, iOS, 7.9″, Wi-Fi, 32GB, Space Grey – £219.00
    • 5 MP camera
    • up to 10 hours of battery life
    • 7.5mm thick, 331 grams