In today’s connected world, it’s almost unthinkable to function without an internet connection, and for practical purposes most households need wireless connectivity for everyone to fully enjoy their internet-enabled devices. These tips may help boost the quality and speed of your home Wi-Fi network.
5 Ways to Boost Home Wi-Fi
(Family Features) In today’s connected world, it’s almost unthinkable to function without an internet connection, and for practical purposes most households need wireless connectivity for everyone to fully enjoy their internet-enabled devices, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, televisions, thermostats, security cameras and even refrigerators.
However, with the growing number of devices requiring access to your network, and in some cases even the quality of the connection itself, there can be limitations to your Wi-Fi network’s performance. The problem can be compounded by the reality that increased reliance on Wi-Fi networks isn’t just in your own home or office, it’s around the globe.
Some groups, such as WifiForward, are advocating for increased connectivity across America, including greater access to unlicensed spectrum, which are radio frequencies that consumers can use for a wide range of purposes, including Wi-Fi. Ultimately, greater access to unlicensed spectrum can result in benefits like more reliable connections and super-fast “Gigabit Wi-Fi,” as well as cost-effective wireless broadband for unconnected urban and rural areas.
In the meantime, these tips may help boost the quality and speed of your home Wi-Fi network.
Use up-to-date Wi-Fi technologies. It won’t matter what other steps you take to improve your network performance if you’re using old technology. Be sure your devices and router are all compatible with the latest network capabilities. Equipment that runs the latest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac, is ideal if you’re using multiple devices.
Improve network security. Be sure to regularly update your password and enable WPA2 encryption, which offers greater security.
Know that location matters. Placing your router in an open, centralized area is likely to create a better access point throughout the house. Be wary of walls and other obstructions than can hinder a clear signal transmission throughout the house. An ethernet cable and cable clips are all you need to move your router from its connecting point to a more signal-friendly location.
Reboot your router regularly. Like many devices, an occasional reboot can help improve function. A router that is continually running is processing a great deal of data and even in normal operation some data can become corrupt. A reboot can dump those errors and allow you to resume operations with a clean slate, so to speak.
Update your connected devices. Each device that is actively connected to your network depletes available bandwidth. When a device’s operating system is out-of-date, it can become a data hog, impacting the performance of the other devices you have connected in your home. Check regularly for software and connectivity updates to improve speeds and maximize your experience.
Learn more about constraints of the nation’s current Wi-Fi airwaves and possible solutions at WifiForward.org.
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Often, aging can be accompanied by a change in your ability to manage and move around in your home. That’s where assistive technology – better known as AT – comes in. No matter your age or what type of disability you may have, chances are there is an AT device out there that can help you with everyday tasks. In fact, most people have probably used an assistive device without realizing it. Smartphones, voice command technology and certain types of software all fall under the AT umbrella. AT also includes plenty of low-tech devices, like adapted pencil grips for students with disabilities.
Tools to improve the everyday
(Family Features) Most Americans want to stay in their homes as they age. Not a bad plan, but what if your home doesn’t fit you as well as it once did?
Often, aging can be accompanied by a change in your ability to manage and move around in your home. That’s where assistive technology – better known as AT – comes in. No matter your age or what type of disability you may have, chances are there is an AT device out there that can help you with everyday tasks.
AT isn’t a new concept. In fact, most people have probably used an assistive device without realizing it. Smartphones, voice command technology and certain types of software all fall under the AT umbrella. AT also includes plenty of low-tech devices, like adapted pencil grips for students with disabilities.
There’s an ever-growing variety of AT tools available to help with household chores, work functions, getting around, seeing, hearing, learning and living independently in general. These devices and technologies are designed to help older adults and people with disabilities, but you may find that these tools can make life easier for anyone.
Examples of AT devices and tools include:
The right AT for you
These programs offer:
You can find the AT Act Program in your state or territory at acl.gov/AT. You’ll also find additional information on state AT programs, data about the network of state AT programs and additional resources to help you find and obtain AT that fits your needs.
With more research and awareness around the importance of AT, the future possibilities for living independently in the place of your choosing are almost limitless.
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Administration for Community Living
(BPT) - Do you think you could live without your mobile phone? What about the navigation and backup camera in your car? Could you drive as well without them? Could you get by without your smartwatch reminding you how often to get up from your desk to keep healthy or weather conditions for the day so you know how to dress?
Our obsession with technology and the information it delivers daily has progressed beyond the point of external mobile phones and smartwatches to implanted heart monitors and Fitbits. At one time, consumers were too paranoid to enter their Social Security or credit card number online, but now, they are willing to implant sensors and other wearable technologies into their bodies. In turn, companies are leveraging these devices to collect as much data about their potential customers as possible.
The latest fashion: Wearing data
Think about it: You’re carrying (and generating) large amounts of data everywhere you go with wearable and implanted technologies. This means 24/7 data collection for the companies that manufacture those devices, which in turn helps them create a 360-degree view of the patients, athletes or customers they serve with the appropriate products, services and marketing campaigns.
According to research by Talend, a cloud and big data integration software company, 33 percent of consumers already own wearables like the Apple Watch or smart clothing, and another 30 percent are expected to make a purchase within the next three years. That’s a lot of new sources of data for companies to utilize — and a plethora of information companies can use to more accurately define the preferences and needs of its customers.
How we’re using wearables
Topping the list of today’s most common consumer-use cases for embedded wearables is healthcare (57 percent), privacy (28 percent) and convenience (20 percent), all contributing to the rapid dissemination and uptake of these devices.
Healthcare is the leading use for implanted technologies, with the introduction of advanced-tracking devices such as Medtronic’s FDA-approved Reveal LINQ Insertable Cardiac Monitor with TruRhythm Detection, introduced in March of this year, which is designed to accurately identify abnormal heartbeats. This life-saving device is implanted just beneath the skin and communicates wirelessly with the patient’s bedside monitor, which uploads device data to the Medtronic CareLink network. Once the data is loaded, algorithms can be run to determine if the patient is experiencing slower than average heart rate, which can deprive the brain and other organs from getting enough oxygen. This advanced use of embedded wearables and machine learning helps physicians find answers for patients at risk of cardiac arrhythmias to better manage a range of patient populations.
Outside of healthcare, the second biggest use for embedded wearables is physical security. Several companies have started utilizing biochip implants to replace card keys and manual entry codes for employees. For example, Three Square Market offered employees implanted chips in July to make purchases in their cafeteria and break rooms, open doors, log in to computers and use the copy machine. Approximately 50 employees underwent the minimally invasive procedure, many of whom believe the chip is worth any potential discomfort, as it helps to streamline their daily processes. Though this may seem like a massive invasion of privacy for many, for others, biochip implants present a way to make life easier.
Establishing trust: Should you be worried about privacy of information?
While the results of Talend’s survey seem to point to the fact that consumers are getting more digitally comfortable, with greater trust from consumers comes greater responsibility for companies to understand the many ways they need to protect customer data.
According to Talend’s survey, the most likely scenario that would drive consumers to break up with a brand and take their business elsewhere is a breach of personal data. In fact, 78 percent of consumers want to be assured they have full visibility into what companies are doing with their data. But as implanted and wearable technology becomes increasingly common and technology improves, the trade-off between data privacy and convenience will only increase.
Consider a future of augmented reality where implanted contacts could allow you to visualize and interact with the world around you in practical ways, or a future with implanted audio wearables that translate languages in real time. Would that convenience and experience move you to adopt wearable technology even if it means relinquishing more of your personal information and privacy?
At what point of technology adoption do we all essentially become cyborgs, guided each day by the obvious and subliminal information being fed to us via embedded and external devices? The day of total automation may be here sooner than you think.
If you’re like most Americans, you probably own two or more computers and have three or more smartphones in your house. As you prepare for traveling during the busy holiday season, you’ll likely plan on taking some of those devices with you. Protect yourself and your devices from cyberattacks during the holidays with this guide.
Personal Device Protection During the Holidays
(Family Features) If you’re like most Americans, you probably own two or more computers and have three or more smartphones in your house. As you prepare for traveling during the busy holiday season, you’ll likely plan on taking some of those devices with you. Protect yourself and your devices from cyberattacks during the holidays with this guide from the experts at Trend Micro, and find more information at trendmicro.com.
(BPT) - Bluetooth technology is steadily expanding the role of modern hearing aids from tiny marvels that make use of artificial intelligence to process sound into true, state-of-the-art multimedia hubs now capable of two-way communication.
The primary goal of hearing aids has always been to improve speech understanding. While this hasn’t changed, manufacturers are now building Bluetooth technology directly into the most advanced hearing aid microchips. This lets consumers directly connect to virtually any wireless electronic device, eliminating the need to wear a body-worn accessory.
Let’s take a brief look at how the latest Bluetooth hearing aids are transforming the way we live.
They can now directly connect to any Bluetooth-enabled phone
According to Dr. Elizabeth Thompson, director of business development and veterans affairs at Phonak, previous generations of hearing aids could only directly connect to an iPhone, which greatly limited people’s options.
“Pew Research Center found only 33 percent of American smartphone owners used an iPhone while a whopping 66 percent used the Android operating system,” said Thompson. “Furthermore, another study showed 38 percent of all Americans over age 65 still use a classic flip phone. Until now, there has never been a Bluetooth hearing aid that was truly made for all devices and allowed universal connectivity — including the ability to directly connect to an iPhone, an Android device (e.g., Samsung, LG), or even a classic flip phone that is Bluetooth-ready.”
Bluetooth hearing aids enable truly hands-free calls
The latest Bluetooth hearing aids allow you to answer a phone call with a simple press of a button on the hearing aid. Built-in microphones on the hearing aids themselves feature automatic voice pickup, allowing people to have two-way conversations through their hearing aids. Thompson stated this is the first time this has ever been done with hearing aids.
“This is indeed the first time a hearing aid wearer can have a true hands-free conversation without having to touch the phone at all,” she said. “This is especially convenient in the car, where your phone may be in a pocket or purse, or if you need to have a conversation while leaving your phone on the table or countertop, for example if you’re cooking.”
They stream wireless stereo sound directly from your TV
According to research firm Statista, Americans spend an average of 4.5 hours per day watching TV. And if you are or live with someone who has hearing loss, you probably know that sometimes the volume of the TV can become an issue.
“With a card-sized TV Connector, hearing aid wearers simply plug the device into the back of the TV,” added Thompson. “The ‘plug and play’ TV Connector instantly pairs with Bluetooth hearing aids, allowing viewers to stream high-fidelity TV sound in-stereo at their preferred volume level, independent of other viewers. Wearers have reported a markedly better experience in understanding dialogue, especially when the person on TV is talking fast.”
Bluetooth hearing aids are available right now
While all of these new advances may sound like the future, hearing aids with built-in Bluetooth technology are available today. For more information, visit tryphonak.com or find a licensed hearing care professional who has been specially trained in fitting the latest hearing aid technology.
In the context of cyber security, an action by an unknowing child can impact the entire family. While there are plenty of parental controls and blocks available, they aren’t foolproof. Educating children about the potential risks and how to avoid them can go a long way toward protecting your family from potential cyber problems. Open up a conversation with your children about cyber security with these tips.
5 Tips to Make Sense of Cyber Security
(Family Features) It’s no secret that kids have a sense of invincibility. While that trait can bring some endearing reminders of the innocence of childhood, it can also have some highly unfortunate consequences. In the context of cyber security, an action by an unknowing child can impact the entire family.
The majority of U.S. households are filled with devices that pose a potential threat to your personal security. In fact, according to the 2016 Global Consumer Security Survey by Trend Micro, nearly half of households have two or more computers and nearly a third have three or more smartphones. That means the opportunities are plentiful for missteps to occur.
Despite the many benefits of a highly connected world, the potential for danger is strong. The same study found that 65 percent of respondents’ computers had been infected with a virus or malware. Other concerns included damage or loss of files, children viewing inappropriate content, cyberbullying and ID or password theft.
While there are plenty of parental controls and blocks available, they aren’t foolproof. Educating children about the potential risks and how to avoid them can go a long way toward protecting your family from potential cyber problems.
Open up a conversation with your children about cyber security with these tips from the experts at Trend Micro:
Explore more ideas to keep your kids and family safe online at internetsafety.trendmicro.com.
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In this digital era, it pays to be just as diligent when it comes to virtual properties as it does physical ones. These seven steps can help you create a more secure environment that protects your family from online attacks.
7 Steps to Better Security Online
(Family Features) Virtually no one would park a car in a busy area, leave the keys in the ignition, roll the windows down and walk away. Yet many people who would take precautions to protect their vehicles leave access to their personal and financial information wide open. In this digital era, it pays to be just as diligent when it comes to virtual properties as it does physical ones.
These seven steps can help you create a more secure environment that protects you from online attacks.
Make your device a fortress. Whether you’re using a desktop, laptop or mobile device, taking proper precautions to safeguard the device itself is your first line of defense. Use reliable internet security software, apply firewalls, block pop-ups and prevent sites from logging your location. Make it a habit to log out of websites and regularly delete your history and cookies, especially if you’re using a public system or one that others access regularly.
Shop smart. Only make purchases from encrypted sites and limit purchases to a single credit card that you regularly monitor. It’s a good idea to make online purchases using a card with a clear policy about your liability in the event your card number does get stolen or you unknowingly purchase from a fraudulent seller and need to recoup your funds.
Be wary of strangers. Although social interaction with people you’ve never met is the norm via chat rooms and other internet-enabled sources, it’s still smart to treat those encounters with caution. Never divulge personally identifying information or financial details, and avoid opening emails or following text or message links from unknown senders.
Keep privacy in mind. Know that virtually anything you post online can become public at the hands of someone with ill intentions. This even applies to things you post that you intend only for friends and family to see, as one of them can easily copy and forward on your photos, words, etc. If you’d be worried about the general public seeing it, don’t post or share it.
Go ahead, be vain. Looking for yourself online isn’t really an ego move, it’s a smart one. Periodically searching your own name could reveal information in the public domain that you’d rather keep private or it could point to potential identify fraud.
Monitor your credit and accounts. Particularly if you have an active online life, whether for social, work or practical purposes like banking or shopping, pay close attention to your credit and bank accounts. Hackers find all sorts of ways to get to your identity, but regular monitoring can help you identify a problem before it spirals out of control.
Manage passwords responsibly. If you’re like most people, you probably use the same (or a variation of the same) password across numerous accounts. It’s human; it’s easy to remember. However, once a thief or hacker figures out your log-in credentials, all of your personal information and finances are ripe for the taking. Avoid repeating passwords across multiple sites and change passwords often for better security.
For more tips to protect your family’s privacy and stay safe while online, visit eLivingToday.com.
4 Tips to Make Sense of Cyber Security
It’s no secret that kids have a sense of invincibility. While that trait can bring some endearing reminders of the innocence of childhood, it can also have some highly unfortunately consequences. In the context of cyber security, an action by an unknowing child can impact the entire family.
The majority of U.S. households are filled with devices that pose a potential threat to your personal security. In fact, according to the 2016 Global Consumer Security Survey by Trend Micro, nearly half of households have two or more computers and nearly a third have three or more smartphones.
Despite the many benefits of a highly connected world, the potential for danger is strong. While there are plenty of parental controls and blocks available, they aren’t foolproof. Educating children about potential risks and how to avoid them with these tips from Trend Micro can go a long way toward protecting your family from potential cyber problems.
1. Understand what you’re saying yes to. Be involved, knowledgeable and interested in the devices, apps and sites your children use for school and for fun. For sites they use for school, ask their teachers for more information. For apps they’re using at home, spend 15 minutes trying it yourself.
2. Use privacy settings and features. Make sure you understand what privacy protections your browser or devices offer for your family when your kids are accessing their favorite sites, apps and online services. Many browsers allow you to prevent sites from tracking what you do and where you go online, so spend some time looking at web browser settings to see what privacy options are available to you.
3. Use features and services available within an app or website. Also take a look at the privacy settings available in the specific apps, websites or games your family uses. Most will let you have a private account, which means the whole world won’t be able to see what you post or who you’re connected to.
4. Remember that being online is a public life. Nothing is truly private online. If you and your family keep this in mind, it can help you all think through what you are about to post, like and click on, as well as who you connect with online.
Explore more ideas to keep your kids and family safe online at internetsafety.trendmicro.com.
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(BPT) - Modern technology has revolutionized many aspects of our day-to-day lives. While it is hard for some to imagine a day without social media, smartphones and Wi-Fi, these were not available a mere 20 years ago. Technology has revolutionized the way we order food, purchase clothes and read books.
“Technology used to be considered a separate entity from arts and crafts,” said Stephanie Leichtweis, CEO of Fibre-Craft, a leader in creative activities. “We believe it is vital to incorporate these together, and are working to meld tech innovations with artistic expression to provide a nuanced version of online and offline activities.”
To see the full influence of technology on arts and crafts, Fibre-Craft has outlined some ways that classic crafts have been redefined by technology:
Art projects used to be inspired by books, classes and our own imagination. The world we found ourselves in dictated our crafts of necessity and the ones for fun. With the advent of social media, inspiration and creation are driven from many different platforms.
The way that we participate in arts and crafts has changed as we garner ideas from others and share ours with those not only in our neighborhood but around the world. "DIY and crafts" is one of the top three most-pinned and most-browsed categories on Pinterest, one of the leading platforms for inspiration, along with YouTube.
A recent survey found that nearly 40 percent of adults who worked on an arts and crafts project found inspiration on YouTube, and one in three turned to Pinterest. And when complete, individuals can also share their own finished pieces to inspire others as well!
Coloring + painting redefined
Coloring has been a pastime for decades; the first coloring book was published in the 1880s. It is a great activity for children, as it can provide hours of entertainment and is easy to take on-the-go. Just as painting “by numbers” updated a classic art form in the 1950s, newer technologies are giving coloring and painting a 21st-century twist.
The newest way to color has arrived with the launch of an art/tech hybrid — DabitZ. The latest series from Fibre-Craft, DabitZ merges the artistic spirit with innovative technology to take classic coloring to new heights with “dabbing.” Starter sets come with everything you need to try this photomosaic art form and to make your own masterpiece. DabitZ is inspired by the painting technique called Pointillism, so users don’t need to be talented artists to “dab it up.” Starter sets include templates called DabDesignZ, and the free DabitZ app can transform any picture into a template design as well. Simply take a photo, create a template, print it and dab it up, connecting technology to offline play and the world around us.
Capturing photographs is a treasured tradition that helps keep memories alive long after the moment has passed. As camera phones have become ubiquitous, they have reinvented how photographs are taken, shared and viewed. No longer do you have to wait to return from an adventure to share your activities — you can post on social media in the moment! And with high-quality lenses on phones and filters on apps, you can create images worth 1,000 words — and likes.
“Smartphones have made photographers out of all of us, and opened a range of possibilities,” Leichtweis said. “With the new DabitZ app, everyone can take photography to the next level and create their own personal masterpiece.”
Homemade gifts are one of the most treasured items to receive from a loved one, especially from a child. As they grow, many children provide handcrafted items to relatives, who can treasure these items for years to come.
Handmade items are increasingly trendy in home décor, fashion and foodstuffs. Those with special talents are able to capitalize on their craft, thanks to new online stores and marketplaces. This growing trend is a wonderful way to support artisans and causes whether at home or a world away.
With new updates to technology, how we create arts and crafts will continue to change as well. To try the latest arts update, visit www.DabitZart.com or www.FibreCraft.com.
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