Devolo Extends Home Control To Humidity and Flood



Devolo LogoDevolo has rounded out the range of sensors in its smart home system, Home Control, with the addition of two new sensors for humidity and water (flood). Although previously announced over the summer, these devices are now available for purchase through several on-line and high street stores. The folks at Devolo were kind enough to send two units for review. Let’s take a quick look.

Devolo Humidity and Water Sensors in Box

Both sensors use the same basic “mini PIR” design that’s shared with the existing movement and door sensors, though the water sensor has a long tail with the water detector on the end. Obviously this is so that the main part of the sensor can be mounted conveniently and the detector positioned down the back of the washing machine, touching the floor.

The sensors are a sturdy white plastic, much as you’d find any domestic security system. The rear clips off to change the battery which has a claimed life of up to 5 years. I’d be a little skeptical of that based on my experience of similar sensors in the range, but YMMV,

Devolo Humidity and Water Sensors

The sensors aren’t much use on their own and have to be paired into the Home Control central unit. All the sensors use Z-Wave to communicate with the central unit and getting them setup is easy to do out-of-the box. Simply pull the battery tab out of the back to put the sensor in pairing mode, and then use the app on a smartphone to detect and add the sensor into Home Control. The app goes through it step by step, with helpful videos presented for information. There’s a new Home Control app which is much improved over the previous version but does have a few cosmetic issues.

   

Once the sensors are in the Home Control environment, they can be incorporated into rules to do useful things. For example, if the water sensor detects water (under the washing machine), then send a text message or email to alert the owner. If the humidity sensor says that it’s too damp, automatically turn on the power to a fan (and then turn it off when the humidity falls). You’re limited only by available sensors and acting devices. The new smartphone app doesn’t provide rule editing features yet, so the full web app at mydevolo has to be used for the rules.

The water sensor isn’t terribly interesting as it’s all or nothing: either the floor is dry, or it’s time to call a plumber. On the other hand, the humidity sensor is much more fun as it records both humidity and temperature. The Devolo Home Control app shows the current state of the sensor and also historical data, so you can review the graphs to look for trends.

Devolo Home Control Humidity Devolo Home Control Graphs

Overall, these are handy additions to the Home Control ecosystem. Each fulfills a slightly different role, in that the water sensor is for emergencies, whereas the humidity sensor has a day-to-day function. The sensors aren’t cheap, with an RRP of GB£49.99 (and they are a little more expensive than their main competitor) but if you are bought into Home Control, they’re worth considering. For me personally, the water sensor is ideal for my garage as it has a tap without a drain. If the tap is left on, even just slightly, the floor floods over a couple of days. With the Devolo water sensor installed I’d get a quick warning of the problem.

If you want to see more, there’s an unboxing video below.

Thanks to Devolo for providing the sensors for review.

 


Ford’s Pre-Collision Assist Helps You Avoid “Petextrians”



Ford points out that we live in the “Age of Petextrians”.  You might not recognize the word Petextrian, but you have seen them around. Petextrians are distracted walkers. They are the people walking around, staring at their phones (and possibly texting). Petextrians are not watching where they are going, so they risk ending up in dangerous situations.

Ford wants to help you avoid collisions with Petextrians. Ford has created a driver-assist feature called Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection. Making its North American debut in the 2017 Ford Fusion, the available Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection can reduce the severity of frontal collisions and, in some cases, avoid them altogether.

Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection uses radar and camera technology to scan the roadway ahead and sounds a warning if there is a risk of collision with a vehicle or pedestrian. If the driver does not respond in time, the system can apply up to a full braking force to help reduce the severity of or even illuminate some frontal collisions. Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection is not a replacement for an alert and aware human behind the wheel.

 


Starbucks is Now an Official Partner of Pokémon GO



Shortly after Niantic announced that Sprint had become the first U.S. Partner of Pokémon GO, Niantic announced that Starbucks is now an official partner of Pokémon GO. The partnership between Starbucks and Pokémon GO includes Starbucks stores that are located within the United States. Starbucks stores that are located outside of the United States do not appear to be part of this partnership. From the Niantic announcement:

Starbucks has a long-standing commitment to providing spaces for social interaction and real-world community building in its extensive network of locations. We appreciate their role in creating safe, welcoming locations for people from all walks of life to come together for refreshment and social engagement. Starting 11 A.M. PST on December 8, this new partnership will transform 7,800 company-owned Starbucks stores in the United States into PokéStops and Gyms, giving Trainers even more places to play and to engage with their local Pokémon GO communities.

Starbucks says that players who locate a Starbucks store within Pokémon GO will discover the Pokémon GO Frappuccino blended beverage.

It starts with a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino blended beverage and raspberry syrup blended with freeze-dried whole blackberries and topped with whipped cream. The Pokémon GO Frappuccino blended beverage will be available at participating Starbucks stores for a limited time while supplies last.


GNC #1164 Modern Car Stealing



Modern Car Stealing is as simple as walking up to a car pushing a button and driving away. Do you have your Garage door programmed in your car? Leave the garage to house door unlocked.. Listen in today to understand how you can get cleaned out with a click of a button. Plus a stack of tech news. I also want to thank the mystery listener who sent me two bottles of Scotch you have great taste and I salute you.

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Pantone Color of the Year 2017



Greenery 15-0343Returning to a single colour from last year‘s paring of Rose Quartz and Serenity, Pantone’s Color of the Year is Greenery, also known as Pantone 15-0343, a refreshing and revitalising shade, symbolic of new beginnings.

Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew. Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the fortifying attributes of Greenery signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate.

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, says, “While Serenity and Rose Quartz expressed the need for harmony in a chaotic world, Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate and revitalise, Greenery symbolises the re-connection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose.

The full press release is here and discusses Greenery in the context of everything from tech innovation to food and drink.

If you are a designer, all the colour standards are on Pantone’s site, including some downloads for Adobe products. The codes for Greenery 15-0343 TCX are

  • RGB:136 176 75
  • CMYK: 51 88 0
  • HTML: 88B04B

Look for more green in twenty seventeen!


Sprint Becomes First U.S. Partner of Pokémon GO



pokemon-go-and-sprintThe Pokémon GO Team at Niantic has announced that they are working with Sprint.  This collaboration makes Sprint the first U.S. Partner of Pokémon GO.

Niantic and Sprint are working together to create a special Pokémon GO experience at over 10,500 Sprint locations around the United States. It is scheduled to begin on December 12, 2016.

As part of this collaboration, Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Sprint Radioshack stores will become PokéStops and Gyms, giving you even more places to stock up on Poké Balls and Razz Berries and to battle your friends. Sprint locations will also feature in-store charging stations to keep your Pokémon GO sessions going even longer.

Sprint will be offering an unlimited data plan that includes talk and text “so that customers can complete their Pokédex without worrying about running out of data or surprise overage charges”.  According to Sprint, when customers switch at least one line to Sprint and sign up for Unlimited Freedom with AutoPay, they get unlimited data, talk, and text at just $20 per month/line for a family of five until January 31, 2018.


Have You Been Gooliganed?



Check Point LogoA quick public service announcement….at the end of November security firm Check Point and Google announced that a variant of Ghost Push malware called Gooligan had infected over million Google accounts, with numbers increasing every day. The malware is present in apps typically downloaded outside of Google Play and infects devices on Android 4 (Jelly Bean and KitKat) and 5 (Lollipop).

Gooligan
Courtesy of Check Point

If infected, the malware exposes “messages, documents, photos and other sensitive data. This new malware variant roots devices and steals email addresses and authentication tokens stored on the device.” so it’s not very nice.

Fortunately, the team at Check Point have developed a tool which checks if your Google account has been compromised. All you have to do is enter the email address associated with your Android device.

While we are on the subject, if you want to check if your email address has been garnered in any of the recent security breaches, check out haveibeenpwned.com which tells you who’s been sloppy with your details (thanks, Adobe and LinkedIn).


Pro-Vision Trademark of Bodycam Demand Letter



On Friday of last week, I received a certified letter in the mail from the law firm of Price Heneveld LLP representing Pro Vision Inc. on the use of the word Bodycam which Pro-Vision holds a registered trademark in reference to a single article on Geek News Central from 2015 which covered the introduction of the PMD-901V by Marantz which they had a issue with me refering to the product as a Body Cam.

This is the first time I have received a demand letter over using someones trademark in an review article and asked that it be changed. It is obvious that Pro-Vision Inc. is doing their best to suppress and minimize companies like Marantz who have a competing camera product from being found in Google by going after sites like mine and demanding we change the editorial content.

Personally I am of the opinion that Pro-Vision should have never been given that mark, and am actually surprised that the Trademark office actually approved their Trademark back in 2014 as the use of the word Bodycam has been used by the media for a very long time.  Sending demand letters to sites like mine must keep their law firm busy, and able to submit a lot of billable hours. Good on Price Heneveld LLP for securing this legal representation.

I fully understand a companies right to protect their Trademark, it just surprised me that they would be so aggressive. I checked on the Marantz Site, and they must have also received the same letter some time ago as they now refer to their product as a wearable camera. For those interested I have scanned and linked the legal firms demand letter of my Marantz PMD-901V story.

Demand Letter from Pro-Vision Inc Legal Firm over Trademark of BodyCam

 


Google’s Trusted Contacts App is for Personal Safety



trusted-contacts-appGoogle has launched a new app called Trusted Contacts.  It is designed to help you feel safe and to give your friends and family peace of mind.

Right now, the Trusted Contacts app is only available on the Play Store, and can only be used on Android. If you are an iOS user, you can sign up to be notified when the iOS version of the Trusted Contacts app is available.

Once you install the Trusted Contacts app, you can assign the “trusted” status to your closest friends and family members. You can revoke the “trusted” status whenever you want to.

Your trusted contacts will be able to see your activity status – whether you’ve moved around recently and are online – to quickly know if you’re OK. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel unsafe, you can share your actual location with your trusted contacts. And if your trusted contacts are really worried about you, they can request to see your location.

If all is well, you can chose to deny that request. If you ignore the request, or are unable to respond to it within a reasonable timeframe, your location will automatically be shared with your trusted contacts. Your loved ones can determine the best way to help you out. The Trusted Contacts app can share your location with your trusted contacts even if your phone is offline.

You can use the Trusted Contacts app to have a friend virtually walk you home if you feel unsafe. Share your location with one or more of your trusted contacts. Those loved ones can virtually watch you walk home. After you arrive home safely, you can stop sharing your location.

Venture Beat reports that you need to sign into Trusted Contacts with your Google account credentials and activate your location history. The app will create a map of everywhere you go.