Tag Archive for: tech news

As the year has unraveled, a new virus came about that is highly contagious and changed our world in terms of how we work. Many employees around the globe started working from home to avoid being around other employees in an office environment. Many businesses had to adopt new technology to make it possible for their employees to work from home.
Technology provides a solution for companies to carry on with their business, while employees work from home and businesses are adapting to the changing circumstances, it looks like working remotely could be the new norm.

Your business has different departments that have to collaborate on a daily basis in order for all operations to run smoothly and efficiently. All these departments use different software to record and track their tasks, for instance, the sales department uses the CRM system to capture leads and follow up on opportunities or closed deals, on the other hand, the accounting department uses the ERP system to capture and record inventory or any financial revenue. 

If a sales representative is on Zoom meeting with a prospect and requires some financial data or check on product availability, on a normal day in the office the rep could say please hold while I get the data for you, but with the new normal everyone working from you could lose the lead while trying to gather some data. Thanks to Commercient SYNC your team can have one source of data where your departments can get the CRM and ERP instantly from their fingertips. Commercient’s SYNC data integration technology makes working from less stressful and more productive with no delays.

Let’s Take a Look at Other Technology Solutions Making Working from Home Easy

You might be wondering how one can work from home? Well, technology makes it a smooth process and possible.  There are different types of technology to assist employees working from home. 

  1. Video apps – These types of apps like Zoom, Google Meet, or Skype can help employees working from home connect with their employers or other colleagues as well as, other people for example in sales to meet up online with clients.
  2. Messaging Apps – Messaging apps can be instant and are commonly known as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, or even Zoom. By having these apps, it can assist employees to ask questions and get feedback straight away, without trying to arrange meetings. The only problem with this is that the corresponding party might not respond and complex topics will not be as successful. 
  3. Productivity Suites – This can also be known as Office Suites and it is many applications combined into one, which includes Office 365 and Google Suites. Office 365 includes email services, and office apps that have subscription fees like your Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. On the other hand, Google Suites have email services (Gmail), Hangouts, Google Drive that allows you to create documents through Google Docs, Google Slide and Google Sheets which can be stored and shared amongst other employees. The Productivity Suites are cloud-based which provides simple cooperation amongst employees in the company in real-time without having to meet over a video call and all information is stored in one place.
  4. Intranet – This is a network for employees to share information with each other as it helps fill in the gaps of communication and it is used to connect them digitally for integrations to increase productivity.
  5. Owning a desktop –  Having a computer can sometimes be cheaper than a laptop as you are able to upgrade it when new parts are needed, the only disadvantage is that it cannot be moved in case you want to work at a coffee shop.
  6. Owning a laptop – The great thing about laptops is that you can move them with you when you work in a different environment other than home. Some can be expensive but before purchasing one, you will need to make sure you do the research to get the correct specs and to make sure it can handle related work tasks.
  7. Headphones Working from home can get noisy if there are dogs barking, any construction work, or even kids screaming. Purchasing noise-canceling headphones can be a good idea to block the noise out and most headphones come with a built-in mic for video calls.
  8. Internet – In order to work from home, having internet access and at a fast speed, will be beneficial to be able to complete work objectives. 
  9. Work Management – There are cloud-based apps that can assist in supervising any work-related objectives by organizing, reporting, cooperation, and messaging employers and employees on what jobs need to be done. These types of apps can include, for example,  Basecamp, Trello, or Asana.
  10. Time tracking – There are also programs for employees and employers to keep track of their hours as the data can be sent to payroll to save time as well as to monitor employee activity. Such programs include Screenshot Monitor.
  11. Online security – It’s important to have security measurements in place to avert any hacking of crucial information. Ensure you have firstly, a VPN (a virtual private network) as it provides security for that are public connections, secondly, network security, and lastly, malware protection. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of working from home?

Some of the pros of working from home can be quite predictable but are still necessary to look at. 

  1. No traveling – Employees will spend less time traveling to offices which means spending a shorter amount of time in traffic and gives them more time in the week to catch up on things they need to do as well as, save money on petrol. 
  2. More flexibility – Employees have more freedom in the week to balance personal obligations and work obligations as well as,  their hours and location to work since they can decide where they want to work in the week. Also, In the week an employee can do their chores or exercise in their lunch break.
  3. Avoid office disruptions – If an employee prefers to work in silence, working from home is the way to go since they can keep away from any noises in the office. In addition, by working from home, there are fewer interruptions from colleagues which can increase your productivity.

Even though there are advantages to working from home, there are also some disadvantages that can differ between people.

  1. Less interaction with people – Some employees may find this difficult as you won’t be around other co-workers in an office environment which means less socializing as you will be home most of the time. 
  2. Difficult to separate your personal life from work – Since you do not have to travel to work and begin at set times, hours are more flexible and this could result in working longer hours than needed or some may find it tough to unwind by the end of the day and stop working.
  3. More distractions – In terms of this, for some employees working from home they might find more interruptions because of maybe having children or pets, or even wanting to do laundry. Therefore, employees working from home will need the discipline to focus on what they need to do for work.

Does your company need help integrating data between your ERP and CRM to help your employees be more productive while working from home? Look no further than Commercient SYNC. Contact us today! SYNC is a cloud-based app and it is not like any other data integration apps. SYNC provides an easy installation process and hassle-free since it requires no mapping, coding, or ETL. This provides a seamless integration experience and we handle everything for you.

Technology Trends Driving CRM Software

In a world of fast pace moving technology, we might often wonder if there are faster and more secure ways of keeping your customers information in one place. There is a variety of software designed to keep up with customer relationships and their data, and this is when Customer Relationship Management (CRM) comes in handy.

You might be wondering what a CRM is – it is software designed to assist in improving business relationships by overseeing the interactions between potential customers and customers. CRM is there to accommodate processes within an organization, that can lead to increased sales and profitability, building strong relationships with customers and improving customer services. By having a CRM, all customer data is stored in one place in which you can see all their personal information, history, orders, or any obstacles they are experiencing.

CRM’s include many benefits such as:

  • Reliable reporting
  • Improved contact management
  • Teams across departments can collaborate more efficiently 
  • Improves customer loyalty
  • Optimizes marketing 

Since CRM and technology have been growing, there are certain trends that are driving the software to expedite daily business operations and make customer’s journeys flawless. What are the technology trends driving CRM software?

1. Using data strategically

When a company gains potential customers, numerous data is produced in the sales or marketing department, by having CRM the data is unified and stored in one place making it easier for employees to access the data to satisfy the customer’s needs.

2. Artificial intelligence 

Artificial intelligence with CRM is a necessity as manual tasks can become automated which will free up a sales department time. Chatbots are also implemented through artificial intelligence and are equipped to handle service requests by capturing the customer’s important information needed to handle those requests. Not even that, usage patterns of marketers can be identified and data can be collected, then analyzed for leads and to predict customer trends.

3. Making CRM Mobile

Salespeople are always on the go and by having a CRM, they can access the information anywhere and at any time they need to. They can access any leads or opportunities that can result in customer interactions being dealt with faster. This can assist in boosting productivity since all the data is organized and in one place, which means a salesperson can respond to requests straight away. It will also increase sales since a salesperson won’t have to spend time searching for information.

4. CRM Becoming Social

CRM allows interaction in real-time and having CRM that is social, customers can be engaged with on any social media platform. Since social CRM operates on social media platforms, there are techniques and technologies that allow businesses to supply real-time feedback and programs to support customers. In addition, brands can use social CRM to identify customers buying patterns and behavior.

5. Workflow automation

CRM’s are useful in helping businesses automate their workflow as it helps determine whether certain tasks should be done by a machine or a person to provide the best customer service. In a CRM there is task automation that provides guidelines on what actions to take for an employee to assist the customer. The task automation functions are based on information received from the profile of the customer, and the circumstances surrounding the business. Not only that but, by having task automation it assists in distributing work amongst employees or machines. It, therefore, assists salespeople in reducing their time on tasks,  duplications of work is avoided and each stage of the sales process is looked at to make sure the correct steps are taken.

6. Data integration – Third-party systems and IoT

CRM’s are designed to deal with large amounts of data from different platforms, the data is able to integrate more easily through third-party systems and the Internet of Things (IoT). Third-party systems operate through web services as it delivers, for example, cellular services, subscription services, or GPS’s. Since CRM operates in the cloud, there are protocols in which data can be retrieved through the web services. This type of cooperation provides seamless communication with other sources of information in order to provide efficient customer services. IoT also plays a role in the trend for CRM as there are devices that will be able to detect and send issues about products, maintenance issues, or inappropriate usage. 

7. Technology – ease of use

Since data can be stored in one place with CRM, it will be easier to find and analyze, as well as, it can connect with other technologies making the process of interacting with customers easier and more efficient with no data duplication.

Commercient provides an app called SYNC that can integrate your data between your ERP to your CRM or your CRM to ERP in real-time with no mapping, coding, or ETL. Since there are technology trends driving CRM software, Commericent can provide a 360-degree view of all your data within sales and marketing to satisfy your customer’s needs in an efficient manner. Using SYNC to integrate your data, it will all be stored in one place which prevents salespeople or employees from searching for data in numerous places in order to perform tasks according to the customer’s request, and duplication of work is prevented.

Contact us to start reaping the benefits of digital technology!

For North Americans, football season is right around the corner. Technology is changing sports just as it is changing every aspect of our lives.  Here are some of the best ways that football and tech are merging.  Of course, much of this applies to any sport–soccer, rugby, baseball–all of them are using technology for everything from marketing to training. Below, we discuss how technology and sports can work together to create the best experience for fans and players alike.

Connected stadiums  

With ticket prices to major events on the rise, as well as the costs for parking, concessions, and game day souvenirs, sporting venues need to keep bringing in fans. Think about it–if a fan can sit in comfort at home and enjoy a game with their friends in HD, why would they pay exorbitant rates to go to a game? That is where connected stadiums come in.

Connected stadiums seek to enhance and improve the fan experience in every aspect. The issues that some fans have with going to live events–parking issues, long lines at concessions and restrooms, and no wifi connectivity–are all eliminated with the new connected stadiums.  Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta’s newest offering, will take the crown of the most connected stadium in the world. Chelsea FC is embracing the digital fan experience at their new venue.

With full connectivity and digitization, fans will be able to order food and drinks to their seats.  They can find the closest restroom with the shortest lines, and an app will help them with parking. The app also lets fans watch instant replays, acquire stats about players, and update their fantasy leagues. Eventually, stadium owners hope to incorporate VR into the fan experience.  Regardless, today’s stadiums are making every effort to make an immersive fan experience well worth the price of admission.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality and sports seem like a natural fit.  For fans, the VR experience will allow them to view the games from the players’ perspectives.  In addition, some of the major U.S. sports leagues like the NBA (National Basketball Association) are offering VR coverages of games.  In addition, other sports leagues are following suit. NextVR, a VR broadcasting startup, has already covered NFL games and the Super Bowl, the live-stream broadcast of the International Champions Cup (ICC) soccer games, a NASCAR race and some NHL games.

For the players and coaches, VR can be used to influence athlete training.  For example, Florida State University and Texas A&M have their players wired while at practice and games so they know how much effort the player expends. In addition, the STRIVR training module captures 3-D footage of football action and uses that to help players learn playbooks without impact. Sports teams can also use it to replay and analyze the game from different perspectives. Soccer clubs like Dutch team Ajax are already using VR technology to great effect, both to enhance the fan experience and in training.

Watching games and tailgating

Tech for every part of the game has gotten better. We no longer have to smuggle alcohol in pants pockets and risk getting caught. The Drinking Jacket has a solution for that. According to their site, the jacket has a built-in bottle opener, neoprene koozie pocket, hidden flask pocket, drinking mitts and sunglass holder. Now dipsomaniac fans can smuggle alcohol into stadiums with style. For soccer, Formula 1, and rugby fans, Sport Right Now has an award-winning verified sports news app that culls the latest news from every source and puts it into one place. Although the company is still a startup, NeuLion seamlessly syncs live video, live audio and live data (stats) to create dynamic live and interactive TV-like experience over the Internet to any device. interactive digital video experience that gives fans an action-packed experience anytime, anywhere. Features include live event player, DVR functionality, slow-motion viewing, 4K delivery, real-time highlights, and instant replay. This is ideal for fans both attending games and those at home.

Sporting events are no longer passive.  Sports fans expect an active connection with the teams and players, and new technology is making sports an immersive and interactive spectator journey. For the players, new tech to monitor biometrics and performance should help to keep players safer.  In short, sports have fully embraced the digital age, and it can only make the experience better.

This week’s tech blog is dedicated to our readers.  We know that you all are swamped all day long, so if you are taking 5 minutes from your day to read this, we appreciate it.  As a thank you, here is a list of great tech to make your life a bit easier.

We all have days where it seems that you don’t have time to get anything done.  Your to-do list is so lengthy that you cannot remember if you ate, much less whether you have left your lights on or charged your phone.  I have compiled a list of the best tech gadgets to help busy professionals keep on task and manage their time.

To manage your diet and eat healthy food even when time is nonexistent, the good people at Tovala have you covered.  You may not have time to cook for yourself and healthy options are few and far between.  Or maybe you just hate to cook. The company’s motto is that you should never have to compromise between convenience, health, and taste. They offer a clean-eating meal delivery service with everything included.  There is no prep work involved other than acquiring a fork. You then place the trays into the Tovala, scan the barcode, and the oven automatically cooks your food perfectly by switching between convection, baking, and steaming. The oven even sends you a notification once the food is done so you aren’t stuck in the kitchen waiting. It includes an app so that if you feel inclined to cook your own meals Tovala will walk you through the process, and even lets you know about the nutritional value of the food.

To manage your home, a smart home hub is a necessity. If you are unfamiliar with the technology, smart hubs connect a variety of compatible smart devices. This allows you to control an array of devices and functions and also gives you access to a wealth of information. You can do simple things like stream music or order food, but you can also control electronic devices such as lights and thermostats. There is a myriad of connectable smart devices now, so functionality keeps growing. You can unlock doors, turn on sprinklers, and control plugs and thermostats. The Roomba even has smart technology now, so if your carpet needs a quick clean before you get home, they have an app for that. Home hubs run the gamut in pricing and performance, so choose what features are most important for you.  Amazon Echo has a great one, but if the price tag is too high for you,  the Wink Hub 2 has a nice option for less than $100.

To manage your technology, there is so much great tech out there to help you keep up with your business no matter where you are. The Anker Power Port 6 is a multi-port USB Hub can connect up to 6 USB devices at once from a single outlet. Charge your phone, a tablet, and any other device you need from one place. To avoid carrying a bulky wallet and multiple cards try the Wocket Smart Wallet. With biometric security, your multiple cards become a single card to conduct any transactions.  To keep up with all of your passwords, try LastPass.  This clever little app remembers all of your passwords so that you don’t have to. Unlike traditional password extensions and apps, no one can get access to your passwords even if your devices are stolen. This comes in handy when you treat yourself to a new phone or computer.


Commercient has the newest technology to help you manage all aspects of your business.  Our newest brainchild, IoT Pulse, lets you connect to over 750 apps. Access to this app is currently by invitation only, so click here to learn more and get on the waiting list.

Whether your summer is almost over or you are just starting to enjoy the long days and steamy nights, we have a wrapup of the best technology to make the last few months of summer that much better for you. Whatever your interest, we’ve got some great products.  Check out our list below.

For the beach or lake vacation:  Grills have gotten smaller and perfectly portable. The nifty little Una Grill is small enough to fit in a backpack but can make a meal for up to 4 people. It comes in a variety of colors and is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. If you love the beach but hate tracking sand everywhere, the CGear Sand-Free Beach Mat is a great solution.  For the fisherman, the Deeper Smart Sonar takes the guesswork out of finding the perfect catch. If you are a budding photographer, drones have gone down in price dramatically and can help you get that great aerial view of that sunset to make your friends at home jealous.

For backyard movie nights and barbecues:  You can have a great movie night without spending a fortune. For a great starter projector, look at the Epson HC 600 cinema projector and fixed-frame screen.  Whether it’s a barbecue or a movie night, you still want to have clear sound. The UE Roll 2 is one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers on the market. Add a great, multitasking cooler that can play music and blend up some daiquiris and your backyard fetes will be the talk of the neighborhood.

To make airline travel suck less:  Odoyo earphones are a must, particularly if you are stuck on a long flight.  These waterproof earbuds promise to cancel out all noise and include a built-in remote and microphone. With the exception of certain flights from the Middle East, a Kindle can be your best friend on long-term flights. The new Kindle Voyage, with its adaptive display, intuitive page press technology, and long battery life, can keep you amused all flight long. If TSA lines drive you crazy, try smart luggage. BlueSmart luggage has auto lock, GPS locator, and a supercharger. It can even weigh itself to make sure you’re always compliant.

For camping and music festivals: There is a plethora of awesome technology for campers, hikers, and festival goers. From mini USB lights to portable generators, camping has gone high-tech. The best two innovations are the CamelBak All-Clear Bottle, which can create clean drinking water in 60 seconds, and the Heimplanet Inflatable Tent. This little tent fits into a small bag, pumps up in seconds, and can sleep up to three. Lastly, one of the apps to find your friends in a crowd may be a lifesaver. Check out FindMyFriends for Apple or Android.

Whether you are traveling all summer or staying at home and enjoying the balmy weather, there are some great options out there to make this summer memorable.


Have a safe and happy summer from your friends at Commercient.

London Tech Week was last week, and the City’s weeklong series of events showcased some of the newest, hippest technology available. The show kicked off with a dramatic, Ironman-style entrance in a flight suit by inventor Richard Browning and only got more exciting from there. The festival even offered a concert for attendees from German composer Hans Zimmer.

With a main focus on Tech XLR8,AR and VR, AI and Machine learning, 5G, autonomous and connected cars, and the IoT, the weeklong event featured the best of new technology and gave startups the chance to feature their wares.

Below we have compiled some of the highlights of this groundbreaking event.

  • Sophia the Robot. First unveiled in 2016, Hanson Robotics’ lifelike robot Sophia has become a media darling since then, appearing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, gracing the pages of magazines, and garnering over 1 million views on YouTube. She gave a brief speech at London Tech week and was immediately deluged with admirers and requests for pictures.
  • The official opening of PlexalCity.  Located in Here East at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Plexal City promises to be  a multidisciplinary hub of innovation for the arts, tech, and any pioneering business. Initially the focus will be on technology innovation applied to a variety of fields, including sports, health, and fashion. Plexal City will have room for 800 trailblazing corporations and startups.
  • Opening of Google’s London Digital Academy.  The Academy has been hailed as a symbol of the continued growth of London’s burgeoning technology sector. The 40,000 square foot space, peopled with industry experts from both Google and around the technology industry, is aimed to help marketers, children, and business people become more digitally savvy.
  • The TechOff. In a chance to let the event’s hardworking tech gurus to let their hair down, Tech Off is an amalgamation of music and technology. The site calls the event “The love child of TED Talks and WWE”. Eight musicians, entrepreneurs and other tech innovators go head-to head in a “battle of ideas”. The speakers get 5 minutes to give their pitch, after which time the audience votes to choose a champion.

It sounds like an amazing week!  Hopefully, Commercient will get the chance to attend this phenomenal event in 2018.

E3 is actually open to the public this year. For those of you unfamiliar with the E3 moniker, the name stands for Electronic Entertainment Expo, and it is arguably the best–or at least the biggest–gaming event to occur every year.  The show, based out of Los Angeles, attracts about 65,000 people, but this year, they are allowing another 15,000 people to attend.  Normally the show is only open to industry insiders, so this is a big deal in the gaming world.  E3 features everything that is new in the world of video games.  The event will showcase over 85,000 square feet of exhibits.  In an effort to keep the gamers attending content, the show has added vendor booths and is concentrating more on gamer culture.  This year’s show will give attendees a first look at XBox’s Project Scorpio console.  You can also expect a slew of new VR games from Sony, the return of the venerable Assassin’s Creed, and a revamped Super Mario Odyssey game from Nintendo. For those of you that can’t make it or for whom the $250 price tag is a bit steep, you can watch the majority of it online on Twitch or YouTube.  You can watch a teaser video of the new Assassin’s Creed below.

Summer is coming.  Even if you didn’t get that reference, it still applies. The official start of summer for most of the Northern Hemisphere is on June 21, 2017. If you hate the heat and humidity and hate fighting with your coworkers about the office temperature, the folks at EvaPolar have the answer for you.  They have created the EvaPolar 2, a desktop personal air conditioner. It creates your own microclimate and also helps with air purification. It cools an area about 3 meters (about 9 feet) square and promises to cool the outgoing air about 30 degrees F. The mini system works using the process of evaporative cooling and works for about 6 hours on one container of water.  There is one catch though–the makers do state that the system does not work well if humidity is over 70%, so people in Florida and Louisiana may not want to invest in the system just yet. Stil, at $180 for an EvaPolar system, it’s a reasonable–and safe–alternative to the old-school “swamp cooler”.

How to score tech at a bargain. New smartphones and tablets are great but for those of us on a budget, the prices on new devices can get silly. Enter eBay. Their refurbished tech site offers great, inexpensive devices at nominal prices. If you are an early adopter, or if you are label-conscious, this site is not for you.  Before you balk at the idea of buying refurbished technology, there are some great benefits besides the prices. The company offers a year warranty on all of its devices, and many of them are either like new or are new.  The site guarantees a high standard of quality control–indeed, they guarantee that the devices will meet manufacturer standards. It is also an environmentally-friendly option as the upcycled devices will not end up in a landfill. This is a great idea for college students, big families, or anyone that wants good-quality technology without the hefty price tag.


If you need a reasonably-priced option to integrate your ERP and CRM systems, you can’t afford NOT to look at Commercient’s SYNC.


Drones might save the planet.  A Seattle-based company called Droneseed might have a solution to make reforestation scalable.  Right now, a skilled worker can plant about 800 seeds per day, but the automated drones can plant about 800 seeds per hour. In addition, finding laborers for tree-planting jobs is difficult because it is backbreaking work. The pay for these employees is very high because of the physical toll. The company has created specialty drones to complete reforestation tasks in a matter of days. According to the company website, the drones can survey and map a site in a few days. They also state one drone can seed half an acre of land in a single run. The project is still in the R&D stage; but if it proves viable, the company can reduce the costs of reforesting by ten times. In addition, it could make replacing valuable trees in delicate ecosystems like the Brazilian rainforest much easier.  I will report back as more news about this remarkable technology comes out.

Your cheat sheet to the best of Google I/O. Google being Google, the tech giant had a plenitude of new tech to unveil at their annual developer conference.  The best by far, though, is the AI that the company is developing.  Google lens smartphone camera has a passel of possibilities.  According to the folks at Google, the smartphone camera will not only take pictures of an image, it will comprehend the image and assist you with further action. In the demo, they showed a picture of a flower and then identified said flower for the user. The camera can also do plenty of other useful things. It can connect you automatically to wifi simply by taking a picture of the stickers on the router. There is also the possibility of connecting the app into Google assistant, which means that it can do things like add events to your calendar; translate text; get reviews of a local restaurant, and in turn score reservations at that restaurant.  All of this can be done just by clicking a quick picture of these things.  If it is as intuitive as the demo made it out to be, the Google lens may be the best thing the company has created in a while.  

Chevy finally put on some big-boy pants. I grew up with an unabashed gearhead for a father, so I have always had an appreciation for great cars, even if I don’t share my dad’s formidable knowledge. Normally, I would associate the Camaro with boys in my hometown who wore camo on dates and had an omnipresent ring in their back pockets from cans of dip. All that has changed. Chevy has come out with the throaty, tire-searing Camaro GT4.R, and the thing is everything a great American muscle car should be. With a gigantic 6.2-liter LT1 small block V8 engine, adjustable traction control and a six-speed sequential Xtrac transmission, this car screams. Stevenson Motorsports debuted it at the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series. Here is a video of the beauty in action.

Did you know that Commercient has created its own IoT integration app? Take a look at the possibilities!


Are you heading out on vacation? Keep your electronics, and your secure data, safe with these 5 tips. Here is our weekly tech blog, with a summer-inspired twist.

For folks in the United States, this past weekend was Memorial Day, which is the unofficial beginning of summer. Almost 700 million North Americans go on vacation between late May and September. If you reside in the Northern hemisphere, summer is starting in just a few weeks.  This means balmy days and lazy nights,  barbecues, and of course, vacations.

Many of you will be taking trips to celebrate the long days and beautiful weather. Wherever you and your family decide to go, make sure that your electronics, and the information that is on your devices, stays secure. Here are some tips to keep your technology safe while you are away from home; or if disaster strikes, how to keep erstwhile thieves from getting access to sensitive information.

  1. Password protect everything. This should be common practice for all devices anyway, but it’s worth saying again. In addition, don’t be lazy and come up with a password that could be cracked by a toddler. If you have trouble remembering your passwords–and who doesn’t–a password management app like LastPass can help without compromising your data. I cannot stress this point enough, but a great password can keep most hackers from access to your data at least long enough for you to locate your device and do some damage control.
  2. If the worst happens, and you need to do damage control, there are several solutions available to you. If thieves do get your phone or laptop, there are remote-wipe apps available, like this solution from ESET. If using a third-party app makes you nervous, Android’s Device Manager (ADM) or Apple’s iCloud remote services can help.  I recommend setting these features up before you leave so that you can get the device’s sensitive information erased instantly. Let’s face it, if your device disappears, you are not going to be thinking clearly. You need something that is going to keep your information out of the wrong hands.  You will also not be responsible for any charges that might accrue.
  3. Consider going electronically “naked”. Yes, I know that the very idea of putting away your devices is anathema for some of you. But hear me out. If you are heading to paradise, you should relax and enjoy the scenery, not spend hours on your phone. In addition, cell service might be sparse or nonexistent in really remote places anyway. Places like Russia or China are both notorious for hackers, so why set yourself up for a security issue? If you absolutely need a cell phone for safety reasons, why not get one of those temporary plans with the cheap phones that come with it? That way, if it goes missing you are out less than $100 and nobody can get access to your bank accounts.
  4. Avoid public access wifi. You have several options here. Set up a VPN, if possible. You can also use your phone as a wifi hotspot. If none of these ideas works for you, at the very least, avoid doing any shopping or banking on hotel or airport wifi. Again, this should be common sense, but if your iPad is the only thing that calms a snarky toddler, any parent can lose sight of cybersafety.
  5. Don’t make yourself a target. Be aware of your surroundings; if someplace looks sketchy, it probably is. Keep your devices locked up in the hotel, and don’t show off your possessions by having them out constantly. You should be looking at the view around you anyway, not at your phone. Be aware that pickpockets are rampant in places like Prague, Hanoi, and Barcelona, so having expensive electronics in easily accessible spots is like having a big neon sign saying, “iPhone here” hovering over you.

Travel can be stressful, but using common sense and protecting yourself from the outset can make it less so. Enjoy your trip and stay safe!


“Green” power options just got much, much cheaper. Many people love the idea of solar power as an alternate form of creating clean energy. Until now, the formidable cost of the units and the installation has made solar technology out-of-reach for the average homeowner. Now, a team at the University of Newcastle in Australia invented what may be a viable and inexpensive alternative to traditional solar panels. Paul Pastoor and his team are finalizing printed plastic solar panels.  The panels are quick to produce because they are mass-printed on plastic film. Printed electronic inks create the electricity. Thus far, they have operated well even at low light, outperforming all other solar photovoltaics. The price would be about $7.50 per tile, which is about 95% less than Elon Musk’s PV roof tile solution.  (Those retail at about $350 per tile.) The research is still in progress, but if the tiles are durable under real-life weather conditions, they may be a great, inexpensive., and environmentally-friendly way to produce cheap, green electricity.

Smart dog houses are now a thing. As an avowed dog lover, I hesitate to take my dog anywhere from April until October.  It is just too hot to leave him in the car, even with the windows down. The folks at Dog Parker understand.  They want to make it easier for dog lovers to bring their dogs anywhere without having to worry. As they put it, “This means you’ll have more freedom to go on outings without having to worry about doggie logistics.” The Dog Parker is a “smart” dog house that will be placed in front of popular storefronts.  The company has partnered with local businesses like grocery stores and coffee shops. The dog houses are interconnected and monitored remotely, and offer climate control and auto-sanitizing. The dog owner has an app that allows them to authenticate access, check availability, and even reserve a house. You can also check on your best friend as you wander through the store.  Right now, the houses are only available in New York City, but I bet that we will start seeing them nationwide soon enough.

Honorable mention this week goes to Adobe. Their new offices are amazing.  Here is a video of offices so stunning that you may want to quit your job and apply at Adobe. Thanks to the folks at TechCrunch for the update.