Tech Gifts for Women – not the usual pinkification

Tech Gifts for Women – not the usual pinkification

I’ve been looking over tech gifts for women lists and keep having the same visceral reaction to many of them. The pinkification is alive and well in the tech industry. Ideas  seem to end with “and cute” too often.  Many lists are simply insulting and out of touch. Women do not possess a hive mind and a shocking number of us loath pink & decorative tech. Here’s a list I culled from various sources this morning:

  • A piece of smart jewellery – “that looks cute’
  • A pair of wireless headphones that “look cute” 
  • An instant camera – “even has a selfie mirror so your leading lady always looks her best” 
  • Smart watch “If you know a girl who likes cutting-edge tech and sighs longingly while walking through the smartwatch section”
  • A “pretty charging cable”  
  • A “beautiful” or “cute” or “pretty” iPhone case
  • Commute Laptop Sleeve can be “carried along with her cash, cards, lipstick, and other necessities in this convenient clutch”
  • Blinq Ring “in pink”
  • Carry on luggage “in pink”  

So many lists seem to think women are only interested in tech if it’s made to “look cute” or has a function to help us “look our best”.  I’m not against people purchasing pink stuff or something that makes you feel pretty or cute. My objection is the forced diet of pinkified shit. It’s like a stroll down the toy section in any store. You have all the “boy toys” in neutral packaging and then the wall ‘o pink.  So, my response is to explore tech gift ideas for women that don’t pander to the notion we all want to look pretty and take selfies. It’s a list for everyone

Tech gifts for women – and everyone else in your life.

Things are a better, in regards to tech for women, than it used to be. A growing number of gift ideas are eschewing the stereotypical “pink & pretty” for practical, fun and functional.  So I’m going to start my recommendations with one of my favourites – a knapsack I bought over a year ago. 

Today’s gift is a great idea – a knapsack with slots and pockets.

Not strictly speaking a tech gift, but everyone could use help carting around tablets, cameras, rechargers etc without the hassle of digging through a mountain of stuff. The Tamrac Tradewind 18 camera bag is perfect. It has adjustable slots to keep everything organised, a separate slot for a notepad  and a tablet or 13” laptop and it’s water resistant.  This bag is lightweight and holds more than you think

Try the Tradewind Backpack 18 

Tradewind Backpack 18 - tech gifts for women

An off the shelf Tradewind 18

Unzipped Tradewind Backpack 18 showing compartments - tech gifts for women

Lots of adjustable storage compartments

The main thing I looked for when I was searching for a replacement bag, was adjustable slots. Depending on what I’ll be doing, I can change them up to fit my camera, battery chargers, snacks, cables, computer components and everything else.  Supper handy.  The top compartment is big enough to hold a windbreaker and a bagged lunch. 

The back of the knapsack serves as a zippered sleeve large enough to securely carry a note pad and 13″ laptop or pretty much any tablet. One thing I don’t worry about is slipping and falling in the winter, I know the tablet is well protected in the back. 

Make it unique

The bag is in a neutral grey/black so it’s the perfect canvas to express your personality. Here’s mine, all kitted out to suit me. My favourite button and badge store was a victim of gentrification so now I’m a little short on fun buttons. I’m still in mourning. My bag has had some hard knocks over the last two years and still looks like new. It’s very hard wearing. 

My Tradewind Backpack 18 complete with patches - tech gifts for women

Some buttons, a few patches and it’s personalized

Tradewind Backpack 18 showing filled compartments - tech gifts for women

Velcro compartments make it easy to adjust

The internal slots are fully adjustable. Strong Velcro keeps the slots in place so there are no worries about them slipping or detaching. After a lot of use, they are still a bugger to pull off and rearrange. The middle divider can be unzipped and all the slots removed if you need a full sized bag instead of compartmentalized one. 

The mesh side pockets are handy, but they aren’t good for holding a large water thermos. If you lean over, it’ll come crashing to the ground. I solved the problem with a few cheap clips I picked up at the local Dollar Store. Staples carries them as well.  Look for carbiners.  

A couple of dollar clips are great for securing water bottles

A couple of dollar clips are great for securing water bottles

 
Tradewind Backpack 18 showing mesh pockets holding water bottle

Two mesh pockets come in hand

The bag itself is lightweight and the padded straps make it comfortable to use for hours. 

Tech gifts for women, don’t forget the extras 

I’ve added  a few extras to my bag. The local Dollar Store carries bike lights that clip on to the loops and straps. At night light up like a Christmas tree.  I also grabbed a bunch of small string bags to keep items sorted. 

Small cloth bags to keep items sorted

Dollar store cloth bags to stay organised

One bag carries phone re-charger, headphones and a spare USB cable. The second one carries loose change and a third one … okay .. it carries hot sauces because you never know when you’ll have a hot sauce emergency. If I’m off to a client’s place, I can grab a fourth bag that holds extra flash drives and batteries. Any small string bags help keep everything in place. 

The bag retails for between $78 to $100. I bought mine on sale at a local camera store for around $60. Tamrac has a number of knapsacks and shoulder bags that might fill a need so wander yonder and check them out –  https://www.tamrac.com/ Don’t be put off by the notion they are camera bags.  Think of them as the ultimate organisational tools. 

I’m going to be reviewing and writing about more tech gift ideas, some I’ve actually tested, many I have on my wish list so keep checking back for ideas.  

Dear CEO scam is causing trouble

Dear CEO scam is causing trouble

If you own a website, chances are high you’ve received the Dear CEO scam email:

A scan of a Dear CEO scam letter trying to trick the user into replying

This scam has been hanging around for over years.

It reads:

Dear CEO,

(It’s very urgent, please transfer this email to your CEO. If this email affects you, we are very sorry, please ignore this email. Thanks)

We are a Network Service Company which is the domain name registration center in China.
We received an application from Hua Hai Ltd on May 14, 2019. They want to register ” _______________ ” as their Internet Keyword and ” _______________ .cn “” _______________.com.cn ” ” _______________ .net.cn “” _______________ .org.cn ” ” _______________ .asia “domain names, they are in China and Asia domain names. But after checking it, we find ” _______________ ” conflicts with your company. In order to deal with this matter better, so we send you email and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner in China or not?

Best Regards

**************************************

Mike Zhang | Service Manager

Cn YG Domain (Head Office)

This one came via a customer last week. It’s a bog standard scam designed to trick the reader into responding out of fear.  The  Dear CEO scam appears to be warning the web owner, they may have issues with their domain name. The sender buries the reader in a bunch of useless information making it difficult to parse what the message is actually saying. In fact, it’s just one more piece of junk hitting your inbox. I posted a podcast covering a few details about it here so, give it a listen.

But, the short answer to your question “should I be worried” is “NO. Delete it and move on with your day.  Email scams are a dime-a-dozen, but they are getting far more sophisticated, so use a lot of caution when dealing with any unsolicited email.  If in doubt, don’t respond and ask for a second opinion. You can always copy and paste the message into Google to see if it pops up as a reported scam.

Quickly mute annoying autoplay videos

Quickly mute annoying autoplay videos

The single most annoying “feature” on webpages is autoplay.  How many times have you landed on a page, reading and suddenly some ad or music blares away.  Sometimes it’s impossible to find the offending ad , no matter how many times you scroll up and down looking. It’s worse if you have multiple browser tabs open, then you have to figure out which page is screaming at you.

There is a quick and oh so satisfying way of dealing with this. Edge, Firefox and Chrome all offer a quick mute feature that doesn’t even require you to know where the ad is.  Whichever page is playing the sound will show a small speaker either in front of or behind the page name. Here’s an example:

Scan of the mute button embedded in the browser tab

Skim along the top of the browser and locate the speaker and tap to mute the sound.  A small line will show the speaker has been turned off.

Screen capture of the speaker being muted

This doesn’t affect any other page you have open or music you may be listening to, just that webpage.  It’s handy to remember, especially if you’re like me and you constantly have multiple pages open (often on all three browsers).

There are a couple of small differences between the browsers. Microsoft Edge is the easiest to see. The speakers is well placed at the front of the page name.  Firefox is placed at the end, but still easy to hit. Chrome’s icon is much smaller and a bit fussier to try and hit. I’m not fond of it, but that is just a minor irritant.

ChromeMute

Unfortunately, this isn’t very useful for people with severe visual impairments or issues with their hands, like tremors. I have a few customers with  macular degeneration, Parkinson’s and MS who can’t hit that tiny a target consistently. The only solution I can think of is using the mute keyboard shortcut but, that mutes everything, which defeats the beauty of this little feature. If anyone has an extension that could help, drop me a line.  I’d love to take a look at it.

 

Free NASA travel posters? I’m there!

Free NASA travel posters? I’m there!

Did you know NASA created travel posters? I didn’t until today.  Check out the artwork created by the Jet Propulsion Lab team. The hi-rez  “Visions of the Future” series is available to download in pdf and tiff format. And they are HUGE.

Travel posters for cosmos  – illustrator Liz Barrios De La Torre

Scan of NASA travel poster for Europa - illustrator Liz Barrios De La Torre

Travel to Europa

They print out @ 30″ x 20″, so you might need to trot down to the local print house to make a poster sized copy, but, the quality is worth it. Of course you can always shrink them down, but the posters deserve a full size printing and framing. The series also makes kickass wallpaper, by the way.  Under each poster is a small write up about the planet and NASA’s work regarding it.

 Astonishing geology and the potential to host the conditions for simple life make Jupiter’s moon Europa a fascinating destination for future exploration. Beneath its icy surface, Europa is believed to conceal a global ocean of salty liquid water twice the volume of Earth’s oceans. Tugging and flexing from Jupiter’s gravity generates enough heat to keep the ocean from freezing.
On Earth, wherever we find water, we find life. What will NASA’s Europa mission find when it heads for this intriguing moon in the 2020s?
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
www.jpl.nasa.gov

Get frosted on Saturn’s moon – illustrator Joby Harris

Visit Titan and be awed - another travel poster from NASA - illustrator Joby Harris

Visit Titan and be awed!

Frigid and alien, yet similar to our own planet billions of years ago, Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, has a thick atmosphere, organic-rich chemistry and a surface shaped by rivers and lakes of liquid ethane and methane. Cold winds sculpt vast regions of hydrocarbon-rich dunes. There may even be cryovolcanoes of cold liquid water. NASA’s Cassini orbiter was designed to peer through Titan’s perpetual haze and unravel the mysteries of this planet-like moon.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
www.jpl.nasa.gov

There are 15 in the series, and again, free to download and enjoy.  An absolute must is a visit to the “learn more” page to see the thinking involved in the creation process.  They have a great retro, 1950s  feel to them. The colours, design and content made me immediately flash onto my all time favourite sci fi movie  Forbidden Planet (1956) and travel posters of the era.  Turns out there’s a reason: “As for the style, we gravitated to the style of the old posters the WPA created for the national parks. There’s a nostalgia for that era that just feels good. David Delgado, creative strategy”.

Movie poster from Forbidden Planet 1956 - courtesy MGM

Forbidden Planet 1956 – courtesy MGM

Travel poster "Visit the Pacific Northwest" from 1950s

Train travel poster from the 50s

See what I mean – colours, style, fonts and concept certainly evoke the era.  It would have been amazing to sit in on the creative process.  Check out all the posters at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab’s Vision of the Future page – https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/visions-of-the-future/ You can download individual posters (each about 200megs in size) or download all of them at once.

Oh I like this! A new Edge extension for YouTube

Oh I like this! A new Edge extension for YouTube

Enhancerlogo

I was poking the Microsoft store with a stick again to see what would fall out and look what tumbled out: Enhancer makes a number of changes in the way YouTube behaves, including volume control with a quick flick of the mouse wheel. It does other stuff too, but the ability to scroll the volume is exciting. Yea, yea, I really need to get out more, but seriously, it’s great. Enhancer, by MRFDEV Web Development, offers a number of options, including blocking ads, disable auto play, set automatic screen size, and much more. It’s worth a trip to the store to check out, especially if you watch a lot of YouTube. I personally like the option to preset the video to start on a specific screen size and quality and disable auto play.

Small list of features for EnhancerOne screen of the possible changes Enhancer can make to Youtube

 


The only teeny thing I have to complain about is accessing the controls. They are placed at the very bottom of the page (very unobtrusive) and occasionally a bit tricky to click. I have a couple customers who have control issues and wouldn’t be able to tap that tiny control panel without a major hassle. It would be nice if the pop up was a little larger.

A screen grab showing Enhancer Controls at the bottom of the page To download it for Edge browser, fire up the Store app and search for Enhancer. It also comes in Chrome, Firefox and Opera flavours so you get to choose which browser you prefer.