Photo courtesy of TechRadar

 A friend asked Joy to go with her to Office Depot to choose a new printer. That was an eye-opener.  You can get a laser printer from Hewlett Packard for less than a hundred dollars. The LaserJet Pro M15W takes up less than eight by 14 inches on your desk and weighs just eight pounds.

Bob’s first laser printer cost $5,500, was gigantic and weighed about 50 pounds. That was black and white only.  Our current color laser printer, a behemoth from Okidata, cost around $550 and also weighs nearly 50 pounds. The quality is superb. The kicker for us is tech support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When we had an HP printer and called tech support, they immediately suggested we buy a new printer.

HP says its $99 laser printer is the world’s smallest laser printer and works with Windows, Mac or smartphone.Our friend went right to the “pros and cons” section of  the PC Magazine review we sent her, which judged it “excellent.” Under cons, they listed “high running costs” and “no Ethernet port.” “High running costs” means that each printed sheet costs about five cents. That’s a penny and a half more than average. Does anyone care about this?  If you print 1,000 pages a month, it’s an extra $15, but we don’t know anyone who prints that much. No Ethernet port is no biggie. You can connect wirelessly or with a USB cable. A wireless connection is handy when you want to print from across the room, from your phone or from the cloud. 

App Happy

  •  Clean Up Duplicate Contacts” is a $2 iPhone app. One user said: “2 bucks and a button press got rid of about 2500 duplicate contacts in my phone in about 5 seconds.”
  • Android users can go to Underneath the word “Contacts” in the menu on the left is the word “Duplicates.” Click it to get rid of them.

Fire Alarm

House fires spread six times faster today than they did 40 years ago according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Today’s homes are filled with synthetic materials that burn hotter and faster. 

A fireman started a company called LifeDoor to sell an automatic door-closer, the $129 LD1, because his wife and daughter like to sleep with the door open. “I’ve seen first hand the dramatic difference a closed door makes during a fire,” he said. “It literally can be the difference between life and death.”

The LD1, from,  listens for smoke alarms and automatically closes doors, protecting those inside from super-heated smoke and toxic gases, and preventing oxygen from being sucked out of the room. It emits its own alarm. Around 80 percent of children sleep through a smoke alarm, according to a study in the United Kingdom, so it’s more likely they’ll hear a second one. 

Not Forgotten

A website called will make your personal video discoverable 300 years from now by linking it to  genealogical records and libraries. That’s if anybody is still around 300 years from now.

The company charges $149 to create a video for you, stored on the blockchain, a digital record. Magnetic recording such as your computer’s hard drive, has the shortest lifespan: just  a few decades at best. Optical recording, such as CDs and DVDs, can last many times that.

Paper, however, can last for centuries. On the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, there are still 7,200 pages of his journals and drawings, about a fourth of his total output. That’s a higher percentage than historians have retrieved from Steve Job’s emails and digital documents from the 1990s. 

Digital Proof  

Suppose you have a million dollar idea for a movie, an invention or app. Will the first person you share it with steal it? 

DECENT, a blockchain company, has a new service called “Digital Proof.” Without looking at your file, it gives you a timestamp and proof of existence. Later, when you want to prove authorship, it compares a special code on it with the one in the company’s database. One file or document costs  $10.

Winklevoss twins

Besides individuals, it could be used by lawyers who want to protect their clients’ ideas. The company says it would have been useful in the Winklevoss Twins vs. Facebook lawsuit. There’s a free trial on their website,

But this is early days. A British company called CaseLines, which supplies software for courts, including the UK Supreme Court,  is patenting a blockchain solution to make evidence tamper-proof. China’s Supreme Court ruled last year that blockchain evidence is binding. Dubai is also planning a blockchain court. 

Halloween Fun

  • “Hey, Google, talk to Sherlock Mysteries.”  Say those words to the free Google Assistant app or Google Home speaker and you’re off on a case.
  • ” “Hey, Google, talk to Haunted Diaries.”  You get a spooky story and a mystery to solve. At each step, a voice gives you suggestions on what to investigate next.
  • Say, “Alexa, open Halloween Ambience” to get some scary background music played on your Amazon Echo or in the free Alexa app on your phone. You might use it when you’re passing out candy.
  • 25 Halloween Games for Kids to Play at a Spooky Party.” Search on that phrase to find some fun suggestions from Good Housekeeping Magazine. For instance, make a list of Halloween items you’ve hidden all over the house and let kids find them. Or play Halloween Bingo on a board you can print from their website.




Comments are closed.