HP awakens the force to power the Dark Side


While there are a plethora of definitions, going to the Dark Side for computer users often means switching sides with respect to operating systems. But in a bold move, Hewlett Packard (HP) has taken a page from Hollywood and has truly gone to the “Dark Side”, unveiling its Star Wars Special Editionnotebook in anticipation of Star Wars: “The Force Awakens,” the next instalment of the blockbuster franchise.

Read more…at CANOE TECH BLOG

Over 1 Billion Angry Birds downloaded


In a world that strives for peace and the pursuit of happiness, who would’ve thought that an app featuring angry birds would be so popular? Well it has. The Angry Birds games have now been downloaded over 1 billion times and there seems to be no end in sight. This incredible milestone comes on the heels of record-breaking financial results from Helsinki, Finland-based Rovio Entertainment Ltd., and the creator of the Angry Birds franchise.



Review: ZOMM wireless leash for your smartphone


You reach for your phone and you soon discover that you don’t have it. You ask yourself where did I have it last? Was it the bank, the bar or the bathroom? Of course, it’s also in silent mode so even if you dial your own number you won’t hear it. Sound familiar?  I’m sure it does, so the good folks at ZOMM have designed the ZOMM Wireless Leash to alert you when you get separated from your smartphone. It can also potentially save your life.

ZOMM Wireless Leash is a small round pocket-sized device with a 1.62” diameter, not much bigger than a couple of poker chips that you attach to your keychain. It’s designed to use Bluetooth technology to alert you when you have strayed a certain distance from your phone.  When paired with your phone it will flash, then vibrate and sound an alarm so that you don’t accidentally leave your phone behind. The concept is so simple I wish I would have thought of it first.

It runs off an internal rechargeable battery, which should last 2-3 days depending on use. There is no battery level indicator, but when power is running low, you’ll get a series of 3 short beeps every few minutes to remind you. To fully charge takes about 4 hours.


Speakerphone, Panic Alarm & Emergency Calling

It also has other features including a built-in speakerphone and a noise canceling microphone so theoretically you could talk hands-free even while driving. Plus, it can also be used as a panic attack alarm and a one-step emergency dialler. For it to perform the last item, of course, your phone must be operational.



Software & Apps

The myZOMM software, available free from ZOMM.com allows you to connect your device to your Mac or PC to customize it and update it with the latest features.

Customizing allows you to give your device a name.  It also allows you to turn features on and off as well as adjust the length of the leash to be longer or shorter.

There is also a myZOMM for Android app available which offers similar functionality to the PC/Mac software with the added ability of your phone to actually track the location of the leash. In essence, use it to actually help find your keys.



According to the manufacturer the ZOMM is designed to work with virtually all Bluetooth enabled smart phones with a noted exception of Nokia Series 40 models.

It does work with the iPhone, but if you want to get the best mileage, there is actually a different model, the ZOMM Wireless Leash Plus. While functionally the same, this one is designed to work with the myZOMM iPhone app which also features geo-tagging, so you can remember where you left anything you can take a picture of.

The original wireless leash will work with the iPad 2 and the fourth-generation iPod touch. The “Plus” version should work on any iOS device as well as Android.


Test Drive

Taking the ZOMM  for a test-drive I found it easy to use. Pairing is a fairly simple process. It’s just a matter of getting used to the steps that you’re going to use for your particular phone. There are standard instructions in the quick start guide and specific variations online if you happen to be using the Nokia, Samsung or other Android devices as well as the Blackberry or iPhone.

Because the ZOMM uses Bluetooth, if you are wearing a compatible headset or use a Bluetooth enabled car kit, you might be in for some possible challenges. It’s nothing to do with the ZOMM, but whether it works is primarily a function of how many active Bluetooth connections your phone can handle. Newer phones can likely handle multiple inputs but some of the older ones may not. In which case, what you need to do, especially if you’re in the car, is to deactivate when you get into your car and reactivate when you leave.

The process is pretty simple all you have to do is hold down the Z button to hear the 1st beat and repeat the process. However I do find this somewhat inconvenient and something you can easily forget and it can be a real pain, especially if you’re one of those people who walk around with a Bluetooth earpiece like an appendage.

The speakerphone function can certainly come in handy at times. When a call comes in, you simply tap the Z button once. If you already happen to be on a call pushing the Z also enables the speakerphone. You can also hit the button twice and will immediately send your call to voicemail.

While the speaker was certainly audible, because of its small size combined with sometimes-poor phone signal quality, sound fidelity may not necessarily be the greatest. Furthermore unless you’ve mounted or attached, your ZOMM, you might look a little ridiculous talking to your keychain.

The alarm did function as advertised. As I walked away it would at some point flash, then vibrate and then sound off the alarm. It would even eventually reset it self when back within range.

While the ZOMM performed virtually flawlessly during my tests, the system isn’t perfect. If somehow your Bluetooth connection is interrupted, your alarm may go off unexpectedly. This can also occur if you happen to turn off your phone while it’s still connected. You’ll sure learn this very quickly once it happens in the middle of a meeting or even a movie theatre.

To trigger the panic alarm you need to hold the Z button for about 9 seconds. If you continue to hold the button, at the 15 second point the speakerphone becomes enabled and ZOMM notifies you that it will be placing an emergency call to either 911 emergency services or designated phone number.


Save Your Life

I didn’t want to call 911, but ZOMM advises that once connected to emergency services the Wireless Leash plays a recorded message asking the emergency services operator to send help to your location immediately. So in the event you cannot speak, help can still get to you. Emergency services should be able to pinpoint your location using your mobile phone’s signal.


Bottom Line

Overall, the ZOMM is a neat little device. If you’re someone who regularly misplaces your phone and I know a few people that fall into the category,  then the ZOMM would certainly be an incredible lifesaver. This is especially true since our smart phones have become not only a necessity but also a place where we keep all of our personal and private information. And in the event of an emergency, features like the speakerphone, panic alarm and emergency dialing can offer a different type of lifeline.

On the downside, it’s too bad ZOMM doesn’t have a battery level indicator. It does alert you when its low, but once you’ve reached that point, your emergency features will likely not work. Also, if you have a phone that isn’t happy with multiple Bluetooth devices attached simultaneously, you have to activate and deactivate it, so it could potentially be more trouble than it’s worth, especially if you’re someone who would more often than not forget to turn it back on.

While I’m sure there is a technical limitation, I think that it would have made better sense if there was one model that worked with any device and app combination, should you switch for example from Android to an iPhone.

Nevertheless, at $89.99 US, it’s certainly cheap insurance and for the right person, worth considering.

Included in the box, in addition to the wireless leash, you’ll find a belt clip, a key ring, a micro USB cable and an AC wall adapter charger. It’s available in White Pink or Black. (Plus version, available in Black only). Visit ZOMM’s website for more details.

photos courtesy: ZOMM LLC.

Greg Gazin is the Real Canadian Gadget Guy.

Follow me on Twitter @gadgetgreg.



Optik TV lets you tweet what you’re watching



If you’re a subscriber to Telus Optik TV (IPTV) and Optik Internet, you no longer have to reach for your smart phone, iOS device, computer or tablet to let your friends and followers know with a simple click, what you’re watching. The company has added a free Twitter app available to subscribers, so they can tweak to their hearts content right from their TV while still watching their program. READ COMPLETE POST AT CANOE TECH BLOG




Crayola MyPhones safe for younger ears



The folks at Crayola, makers of the famous, you guessed it – Crayola Crayons have teamed up with Griffin Technology to come out with a co-branded line of earbuds and headphones specifically designed for the younger crowd.  Not only are the MyPhones slightly smaller than your standard adult-size, they also have special built-in circuitry that peaks volume levels at 85dB (decibels) or lower to help protect young ears.



Apple’s bottom line up 94%


Apple shareholders are certainly in a party mood after Apple announced results for its fiscal 2012 second-quarter that ended March 31, 2012. With their net profits almost doubling over the same time last year, quoting Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame, “it makes me wonder.”


Review: Orb Audio Booster System



There is certainly no shortage of speakers and sound systems on the market. However, sometimes you want just a little more sound-oomph for your computer or television, but not necessarily interested in a massive, full blown, annoy-the-neighbours surround sound system. Yet at the same time you want something with a little style and class with a decent sound. The Orb Audio Booster System fits this mold.


$100K for Mac 128K prototype on eBay


If you’re looking for a rare piece of Apple memorabilia, something that likely no one else owns or has even heard of, check out this early Mac prototype that’s up for auction on eBay with a starting bid of $99,995 US.

For those of you who remember the Mac 128K back in the day, you’ll know that it’s the small original modular Mac with that wonderful little 9-inch monochrome monitor, 128 kilobytes of memory, no hard drive and the single-sided single-density 400 K Sony 3 ½” floppy disk drive that hummed a little tune when you booted up. READ FULL POST AT CANOE TECH BLOG


Keep your Mac free from Flashback/Flashfake malware


In a movie or a book a flashback takes you from where you are, back to a moment in time. But if your Mac has one of a number of variants of Flashback or Flashfake, it likely means that your computer is infected with malware designed to allow cyber bad guys to install malicious code on your computer. It can do things ranging from generating fake search engine results, generating profits for cyber criminals via “click fraud”, to data theft and spam distribution and even use your computer as a bot for other purposes. READ FULL POST AT CANOE TECH BLOG

Facebook acquires Instagram for $1 Billion


“One Billion Dollars,” is the kind of thing you’d hear from the lips of Dr. Evil from an Austin Powers movie.  But today for the folks over at Instagram, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg sounds more like the Easter Bunny than an evil-doer on this holiday Monday, as he announced that Facebook will be buying Instagram for the tune of approximately that same amount – $1 billion. And that’s a lot of eggs.