Net Neutrality at Serious Risk, Please Take Action

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You may have heard that the FCC is planning to dramatically roll back regulations that have ensured Net Neutrality.  What is Net Neutrality?  It basically ensures that you can reach any web site on the Internet without restriction, be it outright blocking or decreased speed to the point that it could become too frustrating to use the site in question.

What a very real example?  Do you use Google for searches?  Do you have FiOS from Verizon?  Here is a very real scenario.  Verizon recently purchased Yahoo, a competing search engine and free email service to Google and Gmail.  Now let’s imagine that you have Verizon FiOS for your broadband Internet access.  Up until now, under the Net Neutrality regulations, Verizon or any Internet Service Provider, like Comcast, Time Warner, Metrocast, Cox, etc., are required to allow you to browse where ever you wish and use what ever apps and services you want online.  Under the proposed roll back, Verizon could block you from getting to Google’s sites, apps and services, unless you upgrade to a more expensive plan that would allow it.  Or they could simply throttle the speed at which you could get to Google, making it difficult, if not impossible to use.

Each year, I travel to Washington, DC as part of the annual CompTIA DC Fly-In.  Each year, we have various guest speakers and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and hearing from a few of the FCC Commissioners.  One of those is the current Chairperson, Ajit Pai.  The first time I heard him speak, I was impressed with him, but I am thoroughly dismayed by his move to roll back Net Neutrality.  It serves only one purpose, to restrict equal access online, earn the ISP’s more income and pander to special interests.

To be fair, Chairman Pai has made some reasonable arguments for why some of these regulations may not be what is needed to ensure equal access, but I still find more flaw with his proposal that reasonable examples to support a roll back.

I encourage you to contact the FCC and your elected members of Congress to express your opposition to the roll back plans.  The FCC is voting on December 14 and if enough voices are heard, we have the ability to help affect the outcome of that vote.

If you value an unrestricted Internet, you want to take action.  Here is a link to one web site that makes it easy to do so.

https://www.battleforthenet.com/

T Minus 2 to Black Friday: Today’s Recommendation

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If you are thinking of cutting the cord, your options have never been so plentiful.  From Smart TV’s to streaming media devices, it may actually be possible to cut the cord this year.

One of my favorite streaming devices is the Amazon Fire TV.  It’s a small HDMI dongleFireTV that plugs in to the HDMI port on your TV.  Amazon sells three versions, the Fire TV Stick at $39.99 is the smallest and portable.  The current version does not yet support 4K video, but still delivers impressive quality, at 1080p, on any TV.  The Fire TV is $69.99 and does support 4K and HDR video.  There is also a bundle that includes an HD antenna to pick up local digital broadcast networks.

If you are an Amazon Prime member, you have access to an incredible library of content and apps to really make the Fire TV and impressive media device.  Each version also includes the Alexa enabled voice remote, which lets you search and control playback with your voice.

With live TV services like Hulu Plus with Live TV and YouTube TV, you now have access to more services than ever.  Most concerns with cutting the cord are around access to local broadcast networks, including syndicated sports broadcasts.  Amazon Fire TV and many of the other streaming services now have options to satisfy just about every viewing desire you may have.

If your cable bill is really starting to bother you, this may be the year to explore cutting the cord once and for all.  Even if you are not yet ready to cut the cord, these devices make a great gift that will allow the recipient to explore the world of entertainment beyond what the cable company delivers.

Today’s Recommendation: Accessories for Safety

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I’ve blogged about Scosche before.  They are, without question, my favorite manufacturer for mobile accessories.MagicMount

Especially here in New Hampshire where we have a tough hands-free law, if someone on your gift list is still taking their and others safety in their own hands, you will want to give them the gift of safety.  Get them a Magic Mount and tell them it’s time to be hands-free!

Scosche’s Black Friday Sale is underway and I encourage you to check it out.  From the wide array of mounts for your car and home, to portable batteries, cables, speakers and more, there is a gift for everyone available on their site.  Happy Shopping and most importantly, Happy Hands-Free Safety!

5 Days to Black Friday: Today’s Recommendation

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If you lose things, like your keys, etc., a Bluetooth tracker could be just the answer you are looking for, or rather for that person on your gift list who is constantly misplacing things.

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There are two great products to choose from, Tile and Trackr.  Both are very similar, so you may with to read some of the in-depth reviews of the devices to decide which one may be best for you.  The main differentiator between the two is how they address the battery.  Tile is a self contained plastic device that you cannot replace the battery in.  When the batterytrackr is no longer working, you have to trade in your Tile and purchase a new one, at a discount.  Trackr uses a standard coin cell battery, so you are able to replace the battery when you need to.  Another difference is that Tile is waterproof and Trackr requires a 3rd party case to be.

Both have apps for your smartphone to help you locate lost items.  I even have a client who has used one of these to prevent things from going missing, just by having it attached to the device that somehow kept disappearing around the office.  Now that one of these trackers is attached to the device, it seems to always be right where it is supposed to be.  Pretty smart if you ask me.

Here are a few of the comparison reviews I think you will find helpful in deciding which one of these trackers may be right for you or a person on your gift list:

  1. Tile vs Trackr: What’s the Best Tracker for Finding Your Lost Stuff?
  2. TrackR vs. Tile: The Lost-and-Found Face-Off
  3. TrackR vs. Tile – The Great Debate
  4. TILE vs.TRACKR – ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN (Bluetooth LOST & FOUND Trackers) (Video)

Bluetooth Headphone Recommendation: Apple AirPods

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There are so many Bluetooth headphones on the market today, it is really hard to know which is the best, or which would be the best gift to give.  To be sure, almost any pair will be a welcome gift, but one pair does stand apart from the crowd and that is Apple’s AirPods.

airpods-610x340If you are an Apple device user, pairing your AirPods with your Mac, iPhone or iPad is just super simple.  The good news is, you can also pair your AirPods to any Bluetooth device, like a Windows PC, so while most Apple products only work with other Apple products, AirPods cross platforms nicely thanks to complying with the Bluetooth standard.

What makes the AirPods the Bluetooth headphones to beat are their size, weight, sound quality and compact charging case.  As far as untethered Bluetooth headphones go, the sounds quality is tough to beat.  What I mean by this is that there is no cable connecting AirPod Coverthe two AirPods, each is independent, so you won’t have to content with a cable running behind your neck.  AirPods are light and fit nicely in most ears.  I will admit that the fit of my own is not as snug as I might like, but they stay in place and deliver nice sound quality and also work seamlessly for phone calls as well.  When I am active, working out and wearing them, I slip them into a pair of covers with hooks, to hold them snugly in place, especially while running.

AirPods have been hard to get ahold of, but Apple seems to have caught up with demand and they are once again readily available.  That said, I expect they will be a very popular item this holiday season, so I would not procrastinate if you have these on your gift list.  Grab them as soon as you see them.

557954-bose-soundsport-free-inlineI will also mention one other pair of similar headphones that I think are an excellent alternative to AirPods and those are the Bose SoundSport Free.  They are larger than AirPods and relatively new to the market, but build on the success of their tethered version, so I suspect these are an excellent choice as well.

Whatever you decide, you will have one very lucky recipient to receive a pair of Bluetooth headphones this holiday season.

Today’s Recommendation: Abode, the Connected Home Security System

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While this may seem like an extravagant recommendation for gift giving, I still think it’s worth the recommendation.

If you’re in to smart home technologies and home security, the Abode home security system is a great choice.  It’s simple to install and maintain and easily expandable if you want to add sensors to your system over time.  It also has powerful home automation integration, so you can be sure that you receive alerts when your system detects anything from a burglary to a water leak.  Alexa integration allows for voice integration as well.

The system connects to your home Internet and includes cellular backup for constant

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Abode Gateway

connectivity to a professional monitoring service.  You subscribe to this service on a monthly basis, with no long term commitment.  The system is controllable via a smartphone app and a web application that provides impressive control and customization to tailor your system to your needs.

The Abode home security system is not as well known as some of the other competitive systems on the market like Simplisafe, but in my opinion, due to it’s vast integration capabilities, future proof technology, redundant connectivity options and reliable professional monitoring service, I think it’s one of the best options.  Starter kits are available for $299 and up, with basic monitoring starting as low as $10 per month.

Another Great Gadget to Give

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Sorry not to have posted yesterday.  Wound up being a very busy day, which is always a good thing, so I will get caught up with my daily recommendations today.

Keeping with the theme of portable charging, if you have an Apple Watch and find AppleWatchChargeryourself running low on power during your day, here’s a handy and inexpensive portable Apple Watch charger that is not much larger than most car key fobs.

This little unit has a built in battery that will fully charge an Apple Watch in under 3 hours.  If you just need a quick top-off, to get you through the day, it does so efficiently and quickly.  The charger is re-charged with a standard Micro-USB cable, so if you have the myCharge Hub that I posted yesterday, you can re-charge this with that.  You’ll have everything you need to stay powered up on the go or during a power outage.

Anyone with an Apple Watch should appreciate this little gift, which costs less than $40 and can be found on Amazon.  The link will take you to one of the models that I recommend.