#TechTuesday – Avoiding the Summer Brain Drain

Students anxiously await summer break. It’s a time to sleep in, hang out with friends and spend lazy days on the beach.

But, unfortunately, it also can undo some of the learning from the recent school year. In fact, many students will lose between one and three months of learning during the summer, according to the National Summer Learning Association.

The phenomenon is often called “brain drain.” But technology is one tool that can help fight it.

Products mentioned:

#TechTuesday – Apple’s WWDC 2017 Announcements

Apple likes to open their Worldwide Developer Conference with some upcoming hardware and software announcements, and this year was no exceptions. WTAM 1100 Newsradio’s Bill Wills and I talk about the upcoming iMacs, HomePod, iPad Pros and iOS 11 on this week’s #TechTuesday segment.

Protecting Against Ransomware

Map of computers infected by WannaCry ransomware via MalwareTech.com

In light of the WannaCry ransomware attacks, NPR provided these 6 key steps to protecting your Windows computer:

  • Back up your computer and store the safety version in the cloud or on a drive that is not connected to your computer.
  • Use robust antivirus software.
  • Keep all the software on your computer up-to-date. Enable automatic updates.
  • Never open attachments in emails from someone you don’t know. And remember that any account can be compromised.
  • Enable the “Show file extensions” option in the Windows settings on your computer. This will make it much easier to spot potentially malicious files. Stay away from file extensions like “.exe,” “.vbs” and “.scr.”
  • If you find a problem, disconnect your machine immediately from the Internet or other network connections (such as home Wi-Fi).

Whole Home Wi-Fi Systems

WiFi networks are the best thing ever. Except when they don’t work everywhere you need them. With the increasing number of wireless devices in your home, you may have discovered “Wi-Fi dead spots”. Areas where the WiFi signal is weak, spotty or non-existent. The solution may be a whole home Wi-Fi system.

A whole home Wi-Fi system can help cover your home with wireless connectivity beyond that of a standard wireless router, provide security and parental monitoring benefits, all without complicated setup or maintenance. This is especially great for homes larger than 2500 square feet, or with complicated layouts.

whwf1.jpgInstead of the familiar router placed centrally in your home, whole home Wi-Fi systems use two or more Wi-Fi nodes that can be placed around you home to give better coverage in all areas, especially those areas that otherwise give you trouble. And if you find you need more coverage, you can add more nodes to your network.

This is very important if you’re looking to upgrade your home with wireless security cameras, garage door openers, wireless doorbells, and other smart home technology. Or even if you just want to lounge around the back yard with your tablet and a wireless speaker.

With the whole home Wi-Fi system, you get seamless coverage as you move from room to room. While a central Wi-Fi router and a Wi-Fi range extender can help provide coverage to a wireless dead spot, devices may lose connectivity as they switch from the router to the extender.

Once you’ve placed the nodes where they need to be, setup of your whole home Wi-Fi system is straightforward, while still allowing you to make use of features such as enhanced network security that alerts you if it detects threats, as well as better monitoring of the online sites and services your children have access to.

Fidget Cubes – Kickstarter vs Knockoff

Knockoff on the left, Kickstarter on the right.

I’ve seen a number of friends post about fidget cubes, both the Kickstarter and the knockoffs. Since I have both, I wanted to share this very brief comparison.

My understanding is that the original developers didn’t patent their creation in a way to prevent the copies, and using Chinese factories to build prototypes and mass produce the final versions didn’t help.

That said, the different cubes I received did have specific production differences even if they included the same overall functions. Both have their strengths.

For example, the Kickstarter Fidget is quieter and has more options on the die face buttons and a better spin dial. While I like the build quality of the Kickstarter overall, I prefer the toggle switch on the knockoff, and there are times where I enjoy the noise the counter dials make as you spin them.

And of course, there’s the price difference, with the Kickstarter running $22 per cube, while the knockoff can be had for about $4 and arrived well before the official order did.

Be wary, though. I ordered knockoffs from two separate sellers and noticed production differences there as well. The one that I preferred can be found here.