How to play Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, Deezer and more in your car for under $12

The automotive industry is lagging behind the rest of the technology world, it always has. We moved on from CDs years ago, first to downloads such as from the iTunes Store and then onto streaming services from the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, Deezer, and more. We will show you how you can have all this music, in your car, wirelessly.

You can already listen to these services on your computer or phone, or stream wirelessly to your speakers via Bluetooth or TV via a Chromecast.

So why can’t you do this in your car? If you’re purchasing a new car you may be lucky and find that it has Apple’s CarPlay or Google’s Android Auto built in. If so, stop reading now and go explore this option.

For the rest of us we don’t have this option. My car just has a standard CD player. But there are still brilliant options which stream music from your (or your passenger’s) phone. In addition, if you use apps such as Apple Maps or Google Maps for navigation you’ll have both Spotify and your navigation instructions through the car speakers. So, your three options are:

  1. Plug in. If you can find the aux in or line in of your car stereo you can plug your phone’s headphone port into this. You’ll need a cable with a headphone plug on one end and, depending on your stereo, another headphone plug or a pair of red and white plugs. See these links as examples:
     


     
    The problem with this though, is that the cables become dangerous and they can get caught up in the car. Also your passengers in the back will struggle to join in.

  2. Bluetooth. This is our recommended option. With this you wirelessly pair your phone over Bluetooth to the car and then play audio over the car’s speakers. Anyone in your car can pair up and there will be no dangerous wires draped across the car. In this setup your phone is the transmitter so you’ll need a Bluetooth receiver which plugs in to that aux port you found. These cost less than $16, and are a brilliant solution that everyone can join in with. We’ve tested this model which plugged straight into the aux socket in our car and paired immediately to our iPhone.
     
  3. FM transmitter. If you can’t locate the aux port on your stereo then neither of the above options are going to work for you. However, I’ve yet to come across a car that does not have an FM radio, so you still have an option. What you need is an FM transmitted that plugs into the headphone socket of your phone, which you set to broadcast on a particular FM frequency (be sure to select one that doesn’t clash with an actual radio station in your area). You then tune your car stereo to this radio station and you’ll have your music. If you are on a long drive you may need to adjust the broadcast frequency if you clash with a local radio station. You’ll need something like this:
     

With one of these three options, you’ll be streaming music over your car stereo with very little cash or time invested.

Review of Home Security Cameras: Canary, Nest Cam, iSpy, Tenvis and DIY!

Home security no longer needs a massive investment of cash, huge installations and loads of mess. There are modern, contemporary solutions available at a great price. Here we walk you through a few of your options…

Canary
Canary are a relatively new entrant to the home security market, but they are definitely disrupting it.

The canary is a device which sits on a surface (table, shelf, etc) and as such it need no complex installation. The device is controlled and accessed via a mobile app with support for iPhones (find the app here) and Android.


Setup is easy, using the app you hook the Canary up to your wifi network, add members of your household to the device and then position it sensibly so the wide angle camera gets a good shot.

Videos are motion activated and streamed up to the cloud. This is important because if a thief steals the actually canary, you’ll still have all you videos. We’ve found the motion activation to be a bit sensitive, causing it to be set off by pets regularly. Recent software updates enable you to control the sensitivity of this though.

On top of high definition video with audio, the Canary also monitors the temperature, humidity and air quality of your home. This means that you should be alerted to fires also.

When there is movement in the house (and the app has detected that you are not home) you will get a notification with the associated video. You can then take action, either calling the emergency services or setting off a rather loud alarm in your home.

What’s particularly convenient, and perhaps unintended with the Canary, is that it doesn’t actually look like a camera. This means that you can leave it on a table surface and thieves won’t hide their faces from it!

Beyond the cost of the initial device, Canary offer you subscriptions which determine how long your videos are stored in their cloud service for (and hence are available in the app).

All in, for the price, the Canary is a very well equipped, useable and capable device. As it requires no physical installation into the building it is great for renters, but to be honest the usability of the app makes it great for home owners too.

Find it on Amazon here: Canary All-in-One Home Security Device

Nest Cam
Nest (now owned by Google) have been in the home automation market for some time now. Their Nest thermostat has been a massive hit in the US, and their Nest Protect Smoke Alarm has gained good traction in the UK too.

The Nest Cam is their home security offering (although it is advertised as having uses beyond security), and looks a lot like a traditional webcam.

It comes with some handy clips so that it can be mounted in various places around the home. Again, it requires a web connection and everything is accessed through their mobile apps and, a big bonus if you are already a best user, it will talk to your thermostat or smoke alarm.

Unlike the Canary it stores everything (in the cloud) rather than just motion activated clips, although it has ‘algorithms’ which determine when you need to be notified.

As with the Canary there is a storage plan which determines how long the videos are stored online for you.

Find it on Amazon here:Nest Cam Security Camera

Wifi Camera with PC Software

This option is a rather DIY approach, but is very flexible. You will need three things:

  1. A network camera, preferably with a wifi connection
  2. Software to control video recording from the camera
  3. A computer to store the videos on

Optionally you may also require some kind of cloud storage such as Dropbox, Microsoft Onedrive, Google Drive or iCloud.

First up you need to configure your camera. We found the Tenvis range acceptable cameras that produce recognisable images. However the quality is low and the colours are just all wrong. To configure the camera you first have to plug it into an ethernet connection (physical network cable), discover the camera’s IP address with the Tenvis discovery tool, log in using the web browser interface and finally connect it to your wifi network. The web interface is not particularly simple and is for the more technically minded.

You can then move your camera around the house (assuming you’re in wifi coverage) and view a live feed from your camera over your home network.

Next you need some software to control the recording of images. We use iSpy which is free and good software. You can configure it to store videos when they are motion activated and you can tweak many many parameters to do with video configuration and storage – again, not for the faint hearted but certainly a powerful tool.

This could be it with you up and running with a video recording system. However, we would recommend that you store the videos in a cloud storage device so that if your computer is corrupted or every stolen you still have your videos.

Summary
There is no real compelling case to go for the DIY solution anymore (unless you have a webcam kicking about the house).  The solutions from both Canary and Nest are very comprehensive and seriously simple to use.  We’d take either, but would recommend the Canary for the simple reason that it doesn’t actually look like a camera!



Google’s USB-C to HDMI adapter working under Windows 10

I’ve been looking for a decent USB-C to HDMI adapter for my laptop for a while now.  I expected my Dell XPS 13 laptop to have a mini display port, but it just comes with a USB-C port.

There are lots of discussions on the web about poor quality USB-C cables, so I wanted a recognized manufacturer. I couldn’t find anything from Belkin etc.

I first invested a phenomenal amount of money in an Apple USB-C to VGA adapter designed for the MacBook (click here to see it on Amazon) on the assumption that it should have Bootcamp available drivers. Whilst this worked, the image quality was rather poor with the image appearing slightly fuzzy. Maybe it’s a driver issue, or some incompatibility with the Dell, but it doesn’t make for a great viewing experience.

I then came across a Google branded USB-C to HDMI adapter designed for the Chromebooks.  This, incidentally, is half the price of the Apple adapter.

The upshot is that, even though it is not designed for a Windows laptop, it works brilliantly.  Windows 10 recognized it immediately with no complicated setup or driver hunting.  The image is crystal clear and audio is delivered over HDMI as it should be.

It’s highly recommended and can be found on the Google Store here.

In fairness, there a few other USB type C to HDMI adapters on Amazon that are from brands I don’t recognize but that may work well, I simply can’t comment.


Great apps for Windows 10 tablets

So, you’ve got your new Windows 10 tablet, maybe it’s a nice shiny Microsoft Surface device… now you’re going to need some apps to get you going.

If you’re running a Windows 10 laptop or desktop PC, this guide still applies to you however you have a wealth of programs that can be run in desktop mode (sure, you can run them on a tablet… but it may make you hate your tablet!).

This guide will list each application, along with a direct link to the Windows Store to download them.. No need to go searching!

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle for Windows 10

Amazon Kindle for Windows 10

Everyone knows Amazon’s Kindle service. It’s the most popular e-reader out there, but you don’t have to use a physical kindle. This is a great application lets you access your library, read your books and keep in sync with all your other kindle devices and apps.

Download Amazon Kindle for Windows 10 here

Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, OneNote Mobile & PowerPoint Mobile

Office Mobile for Windows 10
Office Mobile for Windows 10

OK, not one app but four. These apps are specifically designed for a touch interface. This means that you won’t have lots of fiddle tapping on an interface designed for a mouse, and you don’t need to install the desktop version of the Office suite. You can view, edit and share the documents you work on, saving them to cloud services such as OneDrive and Dropbox.

Download Office Mobile for Windows 10 here

Netflix

Netflix on Windows 10
Netflix on Windows 10

I couldn’t live without my Netflix subscription, and sure, you could watch it in the browser but with a dedicated app you have native performance and an optimized touch interface. All we wish for here is that the app would support our Chromecast as it does on iOS and Android.

Download Netflix for Windows 10 here

Flipboard

Flipboard for Windows 10
Flipboard for Windows 10

Windows 10 actually comes with a pretty good news app by default, and we’re not knocking that… Its live tile is really good. However, you really can’t beat Flipboard for its coverage and scope for customization. Of course, it is free..you just have to sign up for an account..

Download Flipboard for Windows 10 here

Skyscanner

Skyscanner on Windows 10
Skyscanner on Windows 10

Your tablet is your travel companion, so book some trips. Skyscanner’s Windows 10 app hunts down the best deal for you so that you don’t pay over the odds. It is all touch friendly and lets you filter by flight duration, time of day, airline, airports and more.

Download Skyscanner for Windows 10 here

Minecraft

Minecraft for Windows 10
Minecraft for Windows 10

This is the ultimate classic game, now under the Microsoft wing. It does cost a few bucks, paid through the Store, but its worth it.. It’ll keep you entertained on those long commutes!

Download Minecraft for Windows 10 here

One Calendar

One Calendar for Windows 10
One Calendar for Windows 10

The built in calendar application in Windows 10 is a bit of a let down. Important features are just missing. Good job that One Calendar is here to step in. It is a fully featured calendar which syncs with most of your cloud services including Google Calendar.

Download One Calendar for Windows 10 here

Facebook

Facebook for Windows 10
Facebook for Windows 10

Admit it, you can’t do without Facebook can you! Facebook for Windows 10 offers a snappy, responsive and familiar user interface. Pin the app to your start menu to get nice snippets from your timeline without having to open the app.

Download Facebook for Windows 10 here

Of course, there are some key applications and functionality missing, which we’re hoping will appear soon.  We’d love Chromecast support and please, where is the Spotify app?


HomeKit enabled iDevices announce tighter home integration

iDevices are one of the leading suppliers of HomeKit enabled smart home devices and today they are announcing gear that offers tighter integration into your home.

The Verge reports that iDevices announced that they will make switches, sockets and dimmers that integrate directly into your home by sitting in the wall… You know… Like normal switches do.

This means that those who want smart tech don’t have to leave lights and sockets permanently switched on (causing conflict between the switches and the smart tech) or feel like you’ve retro fitted something to your house.

Light switches work like light switch should, but they’re also smart inline with iDevices’ usual smart home gear.

This is also the first time this has come to a HomeKit enabled system.

You can see some of iDevices’ existing kit on Amazon :

The full article by The Verge can be found here:

http://www.theverge.com/2016/1/5/10706816/apple-homekit-light-switch-power-outlet-idevices-ces-2016

How to scan receipts and documents with your iPhone 

Gone are the days when you have to have your computer to hand to scan documents – you can do all this from your iPhone (or iPad)!

When on business to may need to quickly log that expense receipt; alternatively you may need to scan that contract as you head out of the office.

Scanner Pro is an iPhone application which lets you use the camera in your phone to easily create PDFs or JPGs of you documents or receipts.  Just point the camera at the paper and the app will recognise the border of the document meaning you have a nicely cropped image. You can even add a password to PDFs to secure them.

Once scanned the images can be printed, emailed or sent to a number of cloud services including Dtopbox, Evernote, Google Drive, iCloud or Onedrive).


SSH on Windows 10

Windows 10 is a great new operating system, however for programmers that need to access their Linux based servers it does not have the built in tools required. Don’t fear, they can easily be added with no weird hacks required as we explain below…

SSH

SSH is the most common secure remote access protocol for Linux servers. Windows users have always been able to download Putty, however this is rather clunky these days. A much better option is to install a free Windows app from the Store called Remote Terminal. You can find it at this link.

This app provides all the SSH functionality you would expect whilst keeping within the Windows 10 theme.

There are also some handy management tools, allowing you to save your frequently used connections; all you have to do is click the connection you desire to be presented with the usual ssh password prompt. You can even ditch the passwords completely and manage your keys from within Remote Terminal.

Pasting into your remote shell is easy. On my laptop I two finger press the trackpad to bring up a bunch of options, including paste.

The app is completely free and can be downloaded from the Store at the following link:

Remote Terminal on the Windows Store

SFTP

SFTP allows you to transfer files to and from your remote server in a secure fashion. It is usually accessed via the shell on a Mac or Linux system.  
To transfer your files over sftp in Windows we recommend Netdrive (http://www.netdrive.net). This application does cost $45 but it plugs straight into Windows Explorer and we find it well worth the small investment.

 In addition to accessing your servers it supports a bunch of cloud storage services which may be useful if that’s something you’re after.

Removing location (GPS) data from iPhone pictures

When you take a picture on your iPhone it will have your location data which stored in the image as meta data, assuming that you are using the standard settings.  This can be read by anyone that has the image.

This is great for organising your pictures, but sometimes you’ll want to remove this information for privacy purposes. Maybe you’re posting a picture online publicly or you’re simply sharing it without wanting people to know where it was taken.
One option is to change your phone setting so that location is not stored. However, this won’t work if you’ve already taken the picture and location is actually really useful for your personal pictures.

The alternative is to use an app. We use an app called Geo Destroyer which is fantastically simple to use. It cost a small fee, but this is tiny and well worth it. You can find it in the App Store here:

First take your picture as usual, then fire up the Geo Destroyer app:

Remove iPhone location details
Geo Destroyer App

Hit choose and select your image from you camera roll:

Load your photo
Geo Destroyer App

Hit share and select Without Location (this will keep other meta data such as time of day etc.. You can remove this too if you like by selecting the Without Data option):

Select Without Location
Geo Destroyer App

Then share by your chosen mechanism. You can save it, or could even just email it to yourself. We select full size image to keep the maximum image quality.

Share iPhone image without geo
Geo Destroyer App

Here’s the link to the Geo Destroyer app on the AppStore again invade you missed it.

Geo Destroyer – Geotag Remover, Photo data Privacy Tool – Christopher Collins

Zoostorm Home Desktop PC User Review

Zoostorm is a British PC manufacturer that those looking for a well built desktop PC at a good price should look towards.

The model we’re reviewing has an Intel Core-i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 1tb hard drive and Windows 10 Home pre installed. All this comes in at just £394.93 with free delivery from Amazon. However, Zoostorm have a wide and comprehensive range of PCs available so there will be other models to suit your requirements.  Amazon has the same spec PC listed, albeit with a slightly different case:

The first thing you notice is that the computer is big, physically. It is not in a slimline or sleek case, it is a good old fashioned tower case. This means it’s more likely going to sit under your desk rather than on it. Computer enthusiasts will like this as you can easily open the case to access all the components but space conscious users may be concerned by this.

The performance for a home PC is good. We’ve used the PC for email, web browsing, editing word documents, photos and video management, and some remote access to work computers. This isn’t a gaming powerhouse, but the price reflects this.

The model we tested didn’t come with wifi. This means that we hooked it up by plugging a network cable into a powerline network (that is a wired network that runs over you home electrical system). We found this to be too slow and eventually installed a wifi card. Installation was easy as the case is so big, and the performance of the card was good. We used the following wifi card:

TP-LINK TL-WDN4800 N900 Wireless Dual Band PCI Express Adapter

The PC doesn’t come with any speakers, so you’ll need some headphones or a set of cheap pc speakers. You’ve probably got some kicking about the house/office.

Build quality wise the tower case is well built and sturdy. There are no corners cut here and the computer feels like a premium product. The computer is supplied with a keyboard and mouse, which are perfectly usable although the mouse in particular has a somewhat budget feel. Again, consider the price though and this becomes more acceptable.

In summary, if you are looking for a slim, small PC this isn’t for you; if you are looking for a powerhouse PC this isn’t for you; however if you are looking for a great value PC with good performance (which can be easily modified and upgraded) then you really should consider a Zoostorm PC.


FreedomPop: mobile data just became free

FreedomPop has been active in the USA for some time now, but it is only recently that they’ve come to the UK.

Why should you care? Free data – that’s why. There have always been deals from the mobile networks and MVNOs that give cheap data, but nobody has given it away completely free before.

FreedomPop uses Three’s network, so they don’t own the infrastructure themselves, but that makes no difference to you the consumer and Three he a very robust data network.

They don’t just do mobile data, they offer free texts and calls too – however this is offered via their app (click here for their iOS app) as a voice over IP solution so you don’t get the QoS you would with a network based voice call. However, we’ve only used FreedomPop for data so we can’t comment on much else.


So, the free allowance gives you 200mb if data per month. Whilst this isn’t a lot (and certainly wouldn’t suffice for heavy usage…but you can upgrade at competitive rates), we find it plenty for staying online between the office and home, etc. It’s worth noting that FreedomPop isn’t our main mobile connection, but the nano SIM has been used in an iPad mini and a 3G dongle with great success.

You do need to pay for the SIM card and to activate it – a total of £7.99. We assume this is to avoid people ordering hundreds of the cards. This is a one off payment though, and seems manageable to us.

You can get a micro or nano SIM card. The nano SIM slotted straight into our iPad mini. For the 3G dongle we needed an adapter such as this to change the nano sim to a full size SIM:

Mudder 5-in-1 Nano Micro Standard SIM Card Adapter Converter Kit

The 3G dongle we’re using is a great bit of kit, it lasts for a whole day of usage and is small enough to stick in your pocket. It is not 4G but can still push up to 21Mbps over a decent 3G connection:

TP-LINK M5350 3G Mi-Fi Hotspot

In summary, this is actually the real deal. You often hear about free data deals which, when you look into them, have unreasonable caveats such as long term contracts. Whilst there is an initial payment of a few quid, this seems like a great deal for lightweight data usage.