January 21st, 2015

Microsoft HoloLens


I’ve seen my fair share of science fiction movies which attempt to predict the future of virtual or augmented reality. Many showcase technology, imagined by writers and directors, that immerses the user within a virtual world – aptly described as Virtual Reality or VR for short. The problem for me personally is that this technology essentially replicates what you currently see on screen but in 360 degree perspective; there isn’t a real sense of self within that experience. Well today Microsoft announced a game-changer which they call Microsoft HoloLens.

What is HoloLens? Put simply it’s a computer built within a headset that projects holograms into your first person field of vision, essentially adding artificial objects into your reality. Picture looking at a car and trying to figure out instructions to change a tire. Now imagine each step projected on to your car showing you exactly how to do that? Now imagine sitting on your couch and tapping the air to enlarge a huge holographic TV to watch a game or movie? The applications of this are also huge for 3D modeling for 3D printing, which was demonstrated today by creating a quad copter using the software included with HoloLens.

The applications of this technology are mind boggling to say the least and will change what we view as being a computer, how we navigate through our day to day activities, and even what we perceive as being real or imagined. This is just the beginning.

Want to see more? Much has already been written following today’s announcement and rather than attempt to re-write that I’ve included the links to many of those articles below. I’d recommend first checking out the official HoloLens site at www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-us


The Verge



March 18th, 2014

Wargames technology

In Vancouver it rains, it rains a lot.  Most of the time it doesn’t stop me from doing the activities I love to do, mostly outdoor activities, but this weekend was an exception – I watched a lot of movies.  Some for the first time but a lot of them classics that I hadn’t watched in a long time such as the hit (to me) Wargames


February 25th, 2014

Emailing directly into Evernote

EvernoteEvernote is a great way to capture information and access via “the cloud” which simply put means accessible anytime from virtually anywhere on any device that has a browser (and a working internet connection).  I use it a lot for things like travel itineraries and even recipes people post on Facebook… I didn’t say I actually used those recipes but they’re nice to have when I eventually (hope) will… but I digress.

The typical way people use Evernote is to copy from their browser, Facebook etc.. and paste into the Evernote app or evernote.com in a browser.  This can be somewhat difficult to do when using a smartphone with a small screen, switching between the browser and evernote app, so here’s a great tip on how to use email with Evernote instead!

Evernote has a great guide on how to do this already.

I’ll just add the following tip: from your email client create a new contact, I named my “evernote mail”, and paste in the email address from Evernote everyone has (how to find this address is in the link above).

Then following one of the tips in the link above by using @email (or whatever label works for you) it then sends to a specific notebook called “email” within Evernote.  For me when I want to forward large attachments in an email instead of having to copy and paste the attachment I simply forward the email to “evernote mail” and it’s just there.



April 30th, 2013

Did you know this about the new Office?

There are two different types of Office software products available from Microsoft:

Office 365 – A one year subscription single product that allows you to install on up to 5 PC, Mac or Windows based tablets per license key.

Office for Mac or PC 2013 – A timeless version that can be installed on only one PC, Mac or tablet per version.   Sold separately as PC and Mac versions.


December 7th, 2012

12 Scams of Christmas

Don’t get hit by “Cyber Scrooges” this Christmas.  Digital threats don’t care that we all should be enjoying the holiday season.  McAfee, makers of security software for your digital devices, wants to help by identifying the 12 Scams of Christmas

1) Social Media Scams — Many consumers use social media sites to connect with family,friends and coworkers over the holidays, and cybercriminals use these channels to catchusers off guard. Here are some ways that criminals will use these avenues to obtain shopper’s gift money, identity or other personal information:

• Scammers use channels like Facebook and Twitter in the same way they use email and websites to scam consumers during the holidays. Be careful when clicking on or liking posts while taking advantage of contests, ads and special deals that you get from your “friends” that advertise the hottest holiday gifts, exclusive discounts at local stores and holiday-related job postings. Be on the lookout for your friends’ accounts being hacked and sending out fake alerts to all their connections.

• Twitter ads and special discounts for popular gifts are especially huge around Boxing Day, and they utilize blind, shortened links that may be malicious.

Criminals are getting savvier with authentic-looking social ads and deals that take consumers to legitimate-looking websites. In order to take advantage of the deals or contests, they ask users for personal information including their credit card number, email address, phone number and home address.

2) Malicious Mobile Apps — Earlier this year, both Apple® and GoogleTM announced that they had each garnered more than 25 billion downloads from their app stores. But as the popularity of mobile applications has grown, so has the chance that users could download a malicious application designed to steal their information or even send out premium-rate text messages from their phones without their knowledge.

3) Travel Scams — Before shoppers make holiday travel plans to visit family and friends, they need to keep in mind that scammers want to hook them with too-good-to-be-true deals. Phony travel webpages with beautiful pictures and rock-bottom prices are used to entice users to hand over their financial details.

4) Holiday Spam/Phishing — Many of the spam emails that shoppers are used to seeing will take on holiday themes. Cheap designer watches and pharmaceuticals may be advertised as the “perfect gift” for that special someone.

5) iPhone 5, iPad and Other Hot Holiday Gift Scams — The excitement and buzz surrounding Apple’s new iPhone® 5 and iPad® Mini create the perfect environment for cybercrooks to plot and carry out their scams. They mention must-have holiday gifts in dangerous links, phony contests and phishing emails to grab readers’ attention and entice them to reveal personal information or click on a dangerous link that could download malware onto their machines.

6) Skype Message Scare — People around the world will use Skype to connect with loved ones this holiday season, but they need to be aware of a new Skype message scam that attempts to infect their machines and even hold their files for ransom.

7) Bogus Gift Cards — Another tactic used by cybercriminals is to offer bogus gift cards online. Shoppers need to be wary of purchasing from third parties to avoid the risk being scammed.

8) Holiday SMiShing “SMiShing” is phishing via text message. Just like with email phishing, scammers pretend to represent legitimate organizations in order to lure shoppers into revealing information or performing an action they normally wouldn’t do.

9) Phony E-tailers — Phony e-commerce sites that appear real try to lure users into typing in their credit card number and other personal details, often by promoting great deals. But after giving this information, shoppers never receive the merchandise and their personal information is put at risk.

10) Fake Charities — This is one of the biggest scams of every holiday season. As holiday revelers open up their hearts and wallets, the criminals hope to take advantage of their generosity by sending spam emails advertising fake charities.

11) Dangerous e-Cards — E-cards are a popular way to send a quick “thank you” or holiday greeting, but some are malicious and may contain spyware or viruses that download onto users’ computers once they click on the link to view the greeting.

12)Phony Classifieds — Online classified sites may be a great place to look for holiday gifts and part-time jobs, but beware of phony offers that ask for too much personal information or ask for funds to be wired via Western Union, since these are most likely scams.


October 3rd, 2012

NFC – The next level of devices talking to each other

I see new technology all the time.  In fact that’s part of my job description, to search out and review new technology and products to bring to our London Drugs’ Computer Departments.  So when I see something that will revolutionize the way we use products I get excited.  Very excited!

The technology I’m referring to is something called Near Field Communication or NFC for short.  You’ve probably already seen or heard about this because it’s being used today at most gas stations and some retailers, something called Tap & Go.  Simply put customers hold up a credit/payment card to something and instantly the card is charged.  How this works is there’s an radio frequency identity (RFID) chip in the card that can be read by a special reader, which then corresponds to your payment information.  Of course it requires you agreeing to be automatically billed.

So you may ask does that mean I’ll be buying things with my cell phone or computer?  No not exactly what I’m talking about, though of course that’s possible.  No the first exciting application for this technology relative to the phones and computers you use now is instantly pairing devices to talk to each other.
Consider a real world example:  You’re playing some music on your MP3 player or phone and think “wouldn’t it be cool to listen to that on that speaker?”.  You wave your MP3 player close to the speaker and the music begins playing on that speaker instantly.  Or you want to transfer a contact from your phone to your PC and so you simply hold up your phone next to your laptop and instantly the contact just shows up!
This is technology that is in use right now and will become a standard feature on pretty much everything you use that can connect wirelessly to another device today.

Look for NFC coming to a computer/cell phone/tablet/speaker/TV/Console/headphones/stereo at a London Drugs near you :)

Twitter @thereal_theo

May 10th, 2012

5 “gadgets” I won’t give up

  1. My UPS aka. Uninterruptable Power Supply. Remember the last time the power went out and you were working on that oh so important document/taxes/spreadsheet/game level etc.. etc..? Remember the profanity uttered that would make your mother blush? Fortunately I can’t relate to that at all J I use a UPS which is a device about 3-4 times the size of a power bar that acts both as a surge suppressor and backup power for your electronic devices in the event of a power failure or interruption. It also protects against something called brown-outs, which in some areas is the power voltage fluctuations that can be as damaging as a surge or spike.
    The costs vary but if you’re plugging a laptop and a router into it you won’t have to spend any more than $100 or less. It’s a must have and #1 on my list! Here’s one that’s only $69.99 
  2. USB power charger It seems that from tablets to phones to music players and even cameras are all being charged via a 5 volt USB power cord. Gone are the days where I had to carry 4 or 5 chargers on a trip now I just need to bring a USB charger and a couple of cables. In fact I’m using a charger with a universal cable that charges every one of my USB devices and is only 3 pieces. I’m talking about the Innergie pocket cell battery + 3:1 cable plus USB charger 
  3. Bluetooth car speaker My car is “old” meaning it’s pre-bluetooth enabled. Our driving laws, rightly so, prohibit use of a cell phone except if hands free. I’ve tried the earpieces and headsets etc.. but I find the speakers are the best. They simply clip on to your sun visor in the car, pair with your phone often automatically, and some even can utilize hands free dialing with specific phones. There are many averaging around $80-$100 but here’s one that we carry for $99.99 http://bit.ly/K6f8St
  4. Ipad I can honestly say I use my iPad daily. For me it keeps me in contact personally and professionally, is a source of amusement for my kids, and even on trips is my home theatre. Love it or hate it the iPad has changed the landscape of portable computing
  5. Iphone Again love it or hate it the Iphone has become an invaluable tool for most, me primarily in my professional capacity. I can tweet, facebook, message, email and make phone calls all from a single device. It’s amazing that though the first iPhone was only launched several years ago it has become a phone that set the bar against what is now “normal” for all smartphones. In fact in Canada it was just released that over 50% of all cell phones are now Smartphones. 5 years ago that number was essentially zero.

This list is only a fraction of the technology I use. However take any of these away and my daily routine would be compromised, and though I’m sure I could function just fine I wouldn’t be very happy about it. ttfn.

Theo @thereal_theo
Follow the London Drugs’ Computer Department here @ldcomputers

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