One of my post-CES rituals is whittling down all the products and services I saw to figure out who “won” the trade show. I remember falling in love with thin HDTVs in the early 2000’s, fawning over Blu-Ray and HD-DVD players and yearning for every smartphone I saw on the convention center floor. This year I was impressed with camera-filled refrigerators that can recommend recipes and TVs that can be rolled up as flat as yoga mats.
But the darling of this year’s CES was not a gadget but the growing amount of artificial intelligence software helping these products run. The proliferation of companies showing off their products was mind boggling. Robots ran – and climbed stairs – amok, car simulators showed how they can be driven without a driver, even coffee makers that let you know when a fresh pot was ready. Google and Amazon were everywhere. Literally everywhere including hotel and tram signage along with booth workers wearing ubiquitous “Hey Google” outfits. Almost every product seemingly sported the message that it could be controlled with some faction of AI.
To make some sense of why 2018 may be the year that our voice and touch will be the key factors to hit the market, I spoke with Jeremie Capron, Managing Director of Research at ROBO Global. His company created the first benchmark index to track the global robotics and automation market bringing solutions to investors.
We know Cyber Monday is a made-for-the-internet event but it keeps me busy every year. I spent most of the morning speaking with radio stations across the country as I gave listeners tips on what to watch out for and avoid. The afternoon found me in a few TV stations showing up some neat gear that was either on sale or to give viewers interesting ideas on what to buy. Here are some clips from my HOUSTON LIFE (NBC) appearance.
I have no clue if Cyber Monday is the biggest day for online shopping in the U.S. Some stat says it is while another disputes it. It’s a made-up date anyway thanks to the National Retail Federation. But it is my duty to write blogs like this and make media rounds each year to either hype up this “special” day or warn you about all those nasty, evil cyber criminals lurking to steal your credit card and personal information. Since it is almost impossible to keep an updated list of every online store offering 50% off a kitchen blender or free shipping if you spend $100, I will go with the super hero angle of protecting the world from the bad guys. But feel free to email me if you find a good deal on a pair of black, size 11 Chelsea boots.
Yes this is the most wonderful time of the year but here are a few things to keep in mind before you click the BUY button:
Use a credit card vs. a debit card – Your debit card is linked to your bank account, thus exposing your available funds. By using your credit card there is an added sense of security knowing that you are using borrowed money. If you see or sense something odd with a recent purchase contact your credit card provider and they can dispute the charges.
Don’t save your information – If you frequently shop on a specific website, you probably have an option to save your credit card information. Definitely a convenient and time-saving trick but not the safest thing to do especially if you use a public computer or a device that others can access easily. Suck it up and take the extra minute to enter your information each and every time.
Use a secure connection – We love WiFi but try to avoid making purchases through a public wireless network. It’s not that difficult for cyber criminals (Boo! Hiss!) to hack into that WiFi signal and access your details.
Change your passwords frequently – Blah, blah. How many times have you heard this? JUST DO IT! NOW! Especially when doing frequent online purchases. Changing your passwords often is important, but so is making sure you have strong passwords too. Throw in some characters like $ or % or !.
Update your antivirus – This should happen automatically but check your computer’s software regularly to keep it up-to-date. Don’t forget there is also antivirus software for your mobile phones. Download a copy from either Avast, Trend Micro, or Sophos.
Happy shopping and get out there to find me those boots.
I remember not too long away perusing the Thanksgiving Day newspaper ads so I could plan out my route and shopping list for the next day…Black Friday. The day after turkey, stuffing and the Cowboys’ game meant finding parking spaces along with finding good deals on products that I really didn’t need.
Nowadays there is no need to look at a newspaper just as there is no longer a wait until that Friday after Thanksgiving. Black Friday has turned into Thrifty Thursday and now seemingly into Nifty Thrifty November. Sales are either leaked or officially released online weeks before Black Friday and many stores begin selling these items immediately.
Before heading to stores (if you still dare) or click that link to buy a product, make sure to do some research. Shipping costs can add up. Some stores match competitor prices. And batteries may not be included. Plus if you happen to sleep in after all that tryptophan consumption, don’t worry. Studies have shown that Black Friday deals are not the cheapest prices of the season. Many retailers mark prices down further in December as the days before Christmas dwindle.
Here is a list from Mashable.com that tracks Black Friday deals from major stores like Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Nordstrom. Happy hunting.
P.S. If you do find some good deals my favorite color is purple and I’m a size Medium shirt.
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This is just a brief list of things in your home that can be updated, upgraded and integrated into a “smart home.” One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “what is the simplest way to make a smart home.” My answer isn’t that simple as there are many ways to do it including DIY kits, hiring contractors, using cloud servers vs. on-site storage, etc…
So it is time to do some show-and-tell on bringing your home or apartment into the 21st century. Over the next few months we will be adding and installing products and services in a new home while documenting the research, installation and usage. We will be adding videos, stories, links and suggestions on how to plan for a new home or just retrofitting an existing home.
Send your suggestions or favorite products to us and we will incorporate your ideas into this series. Tune in to “The High-Tech Texan Show” on iHeartRadio and on stations across the country to hear our thoughts and listen to product and industry experts. And maybe we will give away a few items to get you started.
Today Verizon launched an unlimited LTE data plan, called Verizon Unlimited. The plan starts at $80 a month for one line or $45 a line for a group of four on smartphones or tablets. Both new and existing subscribers can sign up. Those prices are described as “introductory” and require both paperless billing and AutoPay to be enabled. Customers will get full LTE speeds until they reach 22GB of usage, after which they’ll be subject to slower data speeds.
The move marks the first time in more than five years that Verizon, the nation’s largest carrier in terms of total subscribers, will have an unlimited offering. Verizon says the plan also provides unlimited calling and texting to Canada and Mexico, along with 500 MB a day of LTE data in those countries.
I spoke with Verizon’s South Central Market President, Krista Bourne, today to get more information. You can hear the audio below.
Super Bowl LIVE is the hub of all the downtown action surrounding the NFL’s showcase event in Houston this week. Here is my look at how Verizon is monitoring everything around the area while feeding data and info to the Houston Police Department. Also, check out the Charging Hub from Ventev to keep everyone’s devices charged up during the big game. – courtesy HOUSTON LIFE (KPRC-TV, NBC)
It’s not everyday you can actually unbox a ticket. But when the ticket is a seat at the Super Bowl and purchased through the NFL’s official hospitality division – On Location Experiences, the packaging better rock your world after a minimum price tag of $7,249.
Here is a look at the Elite package ticket box. Tip: sit down first, turn up the volume and close your mouth so you don’t drool on your phone. Yes that is a video player that automatically plays when opened. This package sold by NFL On Location includes a game ticket, entry to the on-site tailgate party featuring Lady Antebellum and all the food and drink you can handle, and access (which I presume means forking over even more cash) to hotels and Bruno Mars’ appearance at Club Nomadic on Friday night.
Oh and look what arrived a few days later. A boxed set of glasses with the Super Bowl LI logo. The NFL says to “expect more surprises” up through game time. Can we assume a set of steak knives?