Add up to 128GB of Storage to your iOS Device

Now you can expand the capacity of your iOS gadgets and easily transport data between your devices with the iKlips Flash Drive. This compact solid state flash drive adds between 32GB and 128GB of extra memory to your gadgets when you plug it into your Lightning port.

The pocket-sized iKlips iOS Flash Drive is now on offer from $65 via TNW Deals.

The iKlips iOS drive has a USB 3.0 connector at one end, and a Lightning connector at the other. To make files available on your iOS device, simply plug the drive into your PC or Mac, and start transferring. The iKlips offers exFAT formatting, meaning it can handle individual files over 4GB.

Need to Rent a Car? Try Silvercar

Headed somewhere on vacation this summer? If you’re going to Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Ft. Lauderdale, L.A., Miami, Phoenix, or San Francisco, you should definitely check out Silvercar. Unlike other car rental companies, Silvercar has just one make and model of vehicle – a silver, Audi A4. Pricing is based on demand so if you adjust pickup and drop-off times slightly, you can get a different daily rate.

Why Choose Silvercar?

  • You get a silver Audi A4 instead of a Chevy Malibu
  • Free GPS
  • Free in-car Wi-Fi
  • Free satellite radio
  • Free car seats – baby, toddler, or booster

How Does It Work?

This is where Silvercar is life years ahead of other car rental companies. That’s because once you’ve got your profile built and have booked a reservation, you don’t actually have to talk to anyone to get the keys to your car or get on the road. You can walk right up to the cars in its designated parking area, choose the car you like (they’re all identical, so there’s not that much choice involved), and unlock it by scanning a QR code in the driver’s side windshield.

There’s a similar process for closing out your Silvercar rental. Just drive the car through the gate and it automatically knows that you have returned. Once you’ve pulled in, the car wirelessly signals back to the home base how much gas is left in the tank and determines the cost of refilling it based on market rates. That way there’s no exorbitant price gouging on gas upon return, although there is a $5 service fee attached when refilled.

Just as there was no need to talk to an attendant when checking out a car, there’s no need to do so when returning it. Silvercar automatically recognizes when the car has been returned, and simply creates an invoice on the fly that will be sent to the associated email address.

Rent with Silvercar and Get $25 Back

Use the referral code “GSEIDEN” when you sign up with Silvercar. When you complete your first rental, you’ll get $25 back.

Audio Engine D2 Wireless DAC: Better Than SONOS

Most of you don’t know that I owned a loudspeaker design business in a previous life. Shawn Levin and I started Poseidon’s Voice after we graduated from college and we built high-end audiophile loudspeakers together for several years. Recently I uncovered a pair of our original Poseidon’s Voice bookshelf speakers and began to set up a system that would continue to be high-end that would allow me to use my old equipment with some newer gear so I could stream the music from my computer to the bookshelf speakers.

Poseidon’s Voice Bookshelf Speakers

Poseidon's Voice Bookshelf SpeakersPoseidon's Voice Bookshelf Speakers


The Old Equipment – Amplifier & Pre-amplifier

I have a pair of Llano Designs monoblock amplifiers and one of the earliest versions of Steve Deckert’s ZTPRE tube pre-amplifier.

Llano Designs Monoblock AmplifiersDecware_ZTPRE

The New Equipment – Audioengine D2 Wireless DAC

The audioengine D2 is a DAC (digital-to-analog converter) transmitter and receiver pair. It allows you to transmit and control a digital audio signal from one place, and receive it as either a digital or DAC-converted analog signal elsewhere.

While I have used an Apple AirPort Express and also several Sonos systems to play into a stereo system from laptops, ipads and ipods, not everything on my computer plays through iTunes and AirPlay. The reason for this wireless device is if you want to play everything from your computer through it, or play from a dedicated TOSLINK audio source.

With this pair, you can send digital (not analog) audio from your computer, CD player, iPhone, stereo receiver, or any type of digital device and have it received remotely at your power amplifier or active monitors. You control the volume at the transmitter, so all you need to do is plug the receiver into your powered monitors, power amplifier or pre amplifier, and you’ve got an instant remote-volume-controlled 24-bit playback system. Sit in your favorite chair next to your source, and control the volume and run great analog into your amps on the other side of the room for critical listening. You can play out of your computer via USB, and you can use the TOSLINK output at the other end.

One transmitter will talk to up to three receivers at the same time. The performance is absolutely fantastic.

The Audioengine D2 used to cost $599 but it’s currently available for $399.

How does it sound?

In a word, it sounds glorious. I forgot just how good music – particularly compressed digital music – can sound. The fact that the Audioengine D2 is both a DAC and a unique wireless music streaming device makes it even more worthwhile.

Why the Audioengine D2 is Better than Sonos

If you’re looking for a way to stream music from your computer to an existing stereo, you want to spend less than $500, and you want it to sound good, there is no better option. The fact that you can add additional receivers to the setup allows you to stream music from one single source to multiple locations in your house, much like Sonos without having to use Sonos speakers which just don’t sound particularly good.

Final Recommendations

I would also recommend ditching iTunes and using JRiver Media Center instead. JRiver sounds better, runs faster, and uses less memory. There’s a 30 day free trial and then after that it costs $49.98 for Windows only or $69.98 if you’d like to run it on both Windows and Mac devices.

And if you’re in the market for a subwoofer, check out Hsu Research. I bought their least expensive subwoofer – the STF2 – at $359 you would be hard-pressed to find a better subwoofer for less than $1,000.




Top Five Affordable NAS Servers

Home Backup Made Easy

The importance of backing up your data is relatively mainstream these days. People either do it or don’t do it, but it’s common knowledge that there are two distinct ways to back up your data. You can do it online, using a service like Carbonite, or you can buy an external hard drive and set up a program to run regular back-ups. Online backup services are great and very reliable, but what do you do when you have hundreds of GBs to back up? Online backup is still a viable option, but it’s expensive and depending on your broadband connection, the initial backup could take months. Also, if you have multiple computers, you will quickly reach the limits of online backup.

What Is a NAS Server?

A NAS server is similar to an external hard drive but instead of connecting to a computer using a peripheral connection (USB, FireWire, Thunderbolt, etc.), it connects to your router (or switch) using a network cable and makes the storage space available to every computer on the network. Apart from acting as a backup destination (what I’m focusing on in this blog post), a NAS server can also work as a streaming server, file sharing server, and even a personal cloud server, as well as many other functions you can’t find in external hard drives.

Top Five Affordable NAS Servers

1. Synology Disk Station DS214se

Synologysynology ds214se photo is the most well-known vendor of NAS servers. Thanks to the DiskStation Manger (DSM) operating system, Synology NAS servers are easily the best on the market in terms of performance, functionality, and reliability. The Synology DS214se is the latest in this crowd. It runs DSM 5.0, and is designed as a budget NAS server for a small home. The server can house two internal hard drives to offer up to 4TB of protected storage space (in RAID 1) and it supports Time Machine natively. It also comes with Data Replicator software for backing up your Windows computer. At the current price of just $160 (diskless) or $340 (4TB included), the Synology DS214se is a really good bargain.

2. WD My Cloud EX2

The My Cloud EX2 is a dual-bay NAS server from WD and is one of the most affordable among dual-bay servers on the market costing just $390 for 4TB (6TB and 8TB servers also exist). While it doesn’t offer as many features as the Synology above, the server is very easy to use and will make a great backup server for both Windows and Macs. It also has a very user-friendly personal cloud features for you to access and share data on the go.

3. WD My Cloud

The WD My Cloud is very similar to the WD My Cloud EX2 with one exception – it’s a single bay NAS server. This means that it only houses one data drive and there’s no way to protect this data if the lone drive fails. For this reason, I would only recommend this as a backup drive and not a drive that holds a single copy of your data. This is a significant drawback, made up slightly be a very competitive price. The WD My Cloud currently costs just $150 for 2TB of space.

4. Seagate Central

The Seagate Central is also a single bay NAS server. The server supports Time Machine backup natively and comes with backup software for Windows. It’s not as easy to use or as fast as any of the above servers but it’s definitely the most affordable with a current price of just less than $130 for 2TB.

5. Apple Airport Time Capsule

Obviously this is not an option for PC users, but the Time Capsule is a great backup server. As a storage device, it can’t do much else other than act as the backup destination for Time Machine and share files between multiple computers, so its utility is extremely limited. The one unique thing the Airport Time Capsule includes is a wifi router, so if you only have apple devices and you need a wifi router with 2TB backup capability, the Airport Time Capsule is a good deal at $280.

Smartphones of the Future – The Future May Be As Soon as 2015

2015 could be the beginning of a significant shift in the smartphone landscape. Imagine a modular smartphone that you could assemble and customize yourself. Need three cameras? Need an extra battery? Project Ara may bring us the smartphones of the future and the future is near.

Project Ara is part of the Advanced Technology and Projects Group. The group is what Google retained in its sale of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo. Project Ara is an innovative plan to build an open-source smartphone hardware platform. Users would start with a base piece of hardware known as the Endo. Features – like extra batteries, cameras, GPS, etc. – would be added to the Endo as modules.

The hot-swappable modules give users the ability to truly customize a smartphone that works exactly how they want it to work. Power users could easily add a second battery. If your cell phone is your main camera, users could add the highest quality camera module.

Smart Phones of the Future:

Availability: An introductory phone is expected some time in 2015.

Cost: Google is planning on releasing two versions – a low-cost and upscale model. Production cost will range from $50 to $500.

Size: The size is in line with an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phone.

Modules: The feature tiles known as modules will connect to the phone’s skeleton, known as the Endo via electropermanent magnets. When the magnets are hit with an “On” electrical pulse they will create a solid bond between the Endo and module. When they are hit with an “Off” pulse, the magnets will release the bond and you can replace the module.  The magnets don’t need a constant charge to keep a bond. These modules will be created by various developers using the open source MDK that was released today. Cameras, antennas, batteries, processors, and anything that can be fit into a module shell will be available. The shells of those modules will be 3D printed to a user’s specified design.

Buying Modules: Google will have an e-commerce site that will work alongside the Google Play store. You will be able to purchase modules online much the same way you now purchase apps online.

Updating Android: Currently, Android doesn’t support a modular system, but the operating system is being updated to support it, with an expected release date of early 2015.

Prototype: A pre-production prototype will be shown off in September of this year. The current prototype shown off at the Project ARA event doesn’t have the electropermanent magnet system. It uses clips to keep the modules in place. The power bus is also still being worked on.

Modules Can Have Different Functions: A module can support as many features as a developer can cram into it. A rear-facing display module could also be a tiny battery to offset the power drain of the display. If it fits within the module’s physical constraints, it’s good to go.

Why You Should Care: Project Ara phones are expected to have a life of five to six years – far longer than your current smartphone. Instead of updating your phone every two years, you save up for the latest modules. The goal is that when a new processor or high-megapixel camera is introduced, it’ll be available as a module for Ara owners to purchase.

Why Developers Should Care: The modular system is a way for developers to create a device that plugs directly into a phone with having to design and build a third-party piece of hardware. It removes the much of the industrial design elements and having to deal with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi radios for connectivity.


Narrative Clip: A New Kind of Camera

Just when you might have thought you’d seen it all, along comes a product like the Narrative Clip – a very tiny automatic camera and app that clips to your clothing, records life as you see it, and uploads those photos automatically to a private cloud site that is searchable and shareable.

The Narrative Clip Is Meant To Be Small

The Narrative Clip only weighs 20 grams (0.7 oz) and measures 36x36x9 mm (1.42×1.42×0.35 inches). With a storage capacity of 4000 pictures and battery life for 2 days of use, you can be sure to never miss a special moment. All you need to do is plug it into your computer to transfer all your images and recharge the batteries.

Narrative Clip Features

This is kind of like a Kindle for photography. It’s very basic. There’s a 5 megapixel camera that’s designed to do one thing – attach to your clothing, take pictures every 2 minutes, and upload them to a personal, private library. Double tap the device to take a picture. Put it face down to make it sleep.

Who Needs This and What Does It Cost?

At $279, the Narrative Clip is not a cheap device. It comes with one year of cloud storage ($108 value). If you can afford it, the Narrative Clip seems like the perfect device for parents with small active children. I have a nice Nikon DSLR, but with twin boys it would be handy to have a camera like this.

Want to Buy One?

Visit to select your color (white/gray/bright orange). Check out for more information.

What is Nest and What Can it Do and Why Did Google Just Buy it for $3.2 Billion

Google completed its acquisition of Nest on February 7th. The $3.2 billion deal was one of Google’s most high profile and unexpected purchases in recent memory, obtaining the hardware company’s portfolio of home automation devices and staff.

What is Nest?

Led by Tony Fadell, former Senior VP of the iPod division at Apple, Nest is a company built around home automation and reinventing forsaken hardware devices in your home – thermostats and carbon monoxide/smoke detectors.

What Can Nest Do

Nest’s reinvented thermostat is smart – kind of like the Roomba of thermostats, it will learn your home heating and cooling preferences over the course of a few weeks and then automatically adjust the temperature. You can control the thermostat with your smartphone and make adjustments remotely. It costs $249 but Nest thinks you’ll make up that expense within a year. Read More about the Nest Thermostat

Nest digital thermostat and smoke alarmThere’s also a smoke/carbon monoxide detector. If you burned the toast, Nest Protect won’t start yelling at you. Instead it turns yellow and speaks with a human voice and gives you an early warning. To silence an alarm, all you have to do is wave your hand 2 to 8 feet beneath it. If the batteries are running low, you’ll get an alert on your phone. All the smoke detectors in the house are connected even if wifi is down. If one alarm goes off, a human voice will tell you where the problem is in the house. If the carbon monoxide alarm goes off, Nest Protect will automatically turn off your gas furnace – a possible source of carbon monoxide leaks. Next time you stumble out of bed at night, Nest Protect can light your way down the hallway automatically. Each Nest Protect unit costs $129. Read More about Nest Protect

Why Did Google Buy Nest for $3.2 Billion?

Google has big plans for the team behind the connected device company. Google will keep the Nest group intact inside the company. The new division will still work on hardware devices, but not necessarily thermostats or smoke detectors. In fact, Google would like Fadell to work on gadgets that make more sense for the company. Will it be a phone or a tablet? It’s unclear for now.

While Nest first became popular with its thermostats, Google didn’t buy the company for these devices. First and foremost, the company wanted to snatch the great product team.

My Favorite To-Do List App – Workflowy

It’s the last day of the year – December 31st – and the right time to be thinking about the coming year, goals and resolutions. Generally-speaking, I’m not a New Years’ Resolution kind of guy. I think it’s contrived to only think about resolutions a few days of the year. If you want to do something new or set yourself on a new course, you should just go out and do it. That said, each year I look at the new crop of smartphone apps and web apps that aim to help with resolutions and goals – Wunderlist, Evernote, Writebox, AwesomeNote – and I come back to the same web app I’ve been using for several years – Workflowy.

WorkFlowy is simple. That’s why I love it. It’s kind of like the Kindle vs the iPad argument. What it does superbly is let you create nested lists in a quick and responsive Web app. It reminds me in some ways of distraction-free text editors, such as Writebox and Writebox Mac app, which provide an austere workspace so you can focus and write. The possibilities for how to use Workflowy are infinite, although while testing the app, I wondered at times how people actually do use it, because depending on their stated purpose, the app may be lacking some key features.

There is no calendar and very little in the way of distracting project management features. I use the free version, but there are two different pro versions that let you create longer lists, change fonts, add custom backgrounds, sync with dropbox, or share your lists with team members. (free to $49 per year for Pro)

Basic Features

To use Workflowy, you simply type right on the screen. Enter new text, and it turns into a bullet point. You can add more bullets, sub-bullets (nested items), as well as a note, which appears directly below the attached item in a slightly different font.

You can mark complete, export, share (via a link), duplicate, and delete any item by accessing a little menu by clicking on its bullet, or through keyboard shortcuts. Click on any item, and it opens to become the top level of the page, similar to opening folders and subfolders in most operating systems. A path at the top lets you back out. See the video below to get a better sense of Workflowy in action.

iPhone App as Well

You can take your WorkFlowy lists with you everywhere you go now that there’s also a free iPhone app.


iPhone 5 Battery Woes

Are you suffering from iPhone 5 battery problems?

Do not despair – there are several things you can do – and it’s likely that the battery is not actually the problem.

  • Turn off notifications you don’t care about – go to Settings, Notifications
  • Go into airplane mode when your signal is weak – do this when you’re not using LTE
  • Lower the screen brightness – the brighter the screen, the more battery it will use
  • Lock your phone – when you set your phone down the screen probably doesn’t need to be on – go to Settings, General
  • Turn off Location Services for Apps that don’t need your location – go to Settings, Privacy, Location Services
  • Temporarily disable all Location Services if you are down to a tiny red sliver of battery life – go to Settings, Privacy, Location Services
  • Turn off Siri’s Raise to Speak function – go to Settings, General, Siri
  • Fetch, don’t push, your email – go to Settings, Mail, Fetch New Data
  • Stop checking for WiFi all the time – go to Settings, WiFi bar
  • Update your operating system whenever the phone tells you there’s a new update


How to Secure Your iPhone: Essential Steps

As smartphone theft grows, people need to do all they can to secure their devices. Read the essential steps you can take to secure your iphone and find just what else the industry is, and is not, doing.

According to the San Francisco police department, more than half of the robberies that occurred in the city in 2012 involved a smart phone. This could really happen to you at any time. And while you can go and buy a new phone, all of your personal information now sits in the hands of a criminal.

Preventing Data Theft and Casual Hacking on your iPhone

Lock Code

You can use either a 4-digit number or a longer “complex passcode” of case-sensitive letters, numbers, spaces, and characters. And if you prefer, you can activate a feature where entering a passcode incorrectly 10 times will wipe the phone. The iPhone 5S has the same passcode features, with an added Touch ID fingerprint scanner.

Lock Screen Features

This is critically important. iOS can give you access to some features without entering your lock code. Though sensitive personal information is not accessible, you can use some functions of Siri, such as placing a voice call or sending a text message, as well as reply to a missed call with a canned text message. Though you might find those shortcuts convenient, your handset will be more secure if you turn them off. Go to Settings > General > Passcode Lock.

Similarly, you’ll also need to turn off access to the Control Center and the Notification Center from your lock screen. To get there, go to Settings > Control Center, and Settings > Notification Center.

Tracking and Erasing the Data on Your Phone

Find my iPhone

This feature enables you to track, manage, and secure your phone once it’s missing. To use it, you’ll first need an iCloud account, though you do not need to sync any of your data, like e-mail and contacts, to the cloud. After you’re set up, then go to the iCloud page of your iPhone’s Settings and slide the Find My iPhone toggle to on.

After you sign into your iCloud account, click on the Find My iPhone option.

Once your phone has been stolen, the first step is to sign on to or use the free Find My iPhone app on another iOS device. Once in, you’ll be able to find your device on an Apple map, but only if it is connected to a cellular or public Wi-Fi network (both secure and not). If the phone is connected just to a hidden Wi-Fi network (that is, one that does not appear in your handset’s list of available networks), you may not be able to track it. Other restrictions also apply, but I’ll get to those later.

After locating your phone and clicking on the icon, you can do a number of things. The first is to make the phone make play a sound at full volume for two minutes (even if it’s in silent mode). As this step is more useful if you just happen to lose your phone in your sofa cushions, I’d advise not using it if you’re certain that your handset is stolen. It just won’t do a lot of good except annoy a thief. You also can erase your handset completely, but this step is rather premature. Instead, first try activating Lost Mode as soon as you as you can. Not only does it give you more options for controlling your phone, it also adds a stricter level of security.

Lost Mode

Lost Mode does a couple of things, the first of which is give you more features for controlling your device. To begin, if you haven’t yet secured your device with a passcode (and, really, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t), you’ll be able to select a four-digit simple passcode and lock the screen remotely. At the very least, that will prevent all but the most sophisticated thieves from accessing your personal information. Remember, though, that to make your phone as secure as possible, you should have already deactivated lock screen access to the features I mentioned previously.

The next step is to send a custom message to your handset’s lock screen that can’t be erased. You can write whatever you want, from your name or phone number, to a plea to contact you, to a more colorful message telling thieves what you really think of them. The latter, however, probably isn’t the wisest course of action.

Lost Mode also lets you see a history of your phone’s location over the last 24 hours with points displayed as pins on the aforementioned map. Finally, if all hope is gone, you can erase your device completely. Once you erase it, you’ll lose the ability to track it further, but your lock code and onscreen message will remain.

Activation Lock

Lost Mode also plays a role in Activation Lock, which is a few feature added in iOS 7. Built after Apple users rightfully complained that Find My iPhone wasn’t comprehensive enough, Activation Lock tries to close the loop by preventing a thief from reusing your device after you’ve accepted that it’s gone for good.

Running in the background from the moment you turn on Find My iPhone, Activation Lock pairs your Apple ID and password with the serial number of your handset in Apple’s servers. Your ID and password are then required before anyone can turn off Find My iPhone on your handset, attempt to erase any data (that’s assuming they aren’t stopped by your password), reactivate your phone under a different account, or claim a new phone under your warranty. Activation Lock also remains in place if a thief tries to swap out your SIM card. If you happen to get your phone back and can’t remember your password, you can retrieve it by calling Apple support and properly identifying yourself.

The Bottom Line

Don’t forget that Find My iPhone only works as long as your device is online through your carrier’s cellular network or WiFi. If a thief turns off your phone or manages to activate Airplane Mode you won’t be able to track it. You can send commands to lock the phone, erase the contents, etc., but those commands won’t be carried out until the phone reconnects. The bottom line, however, is that the iPhone has many built-in ways of protecting yourself in the increasingly likely (depending on which city you live in) chance your iPhone might be stolen.