[Sponsored] A Geek’s How-to Guide to Pimp up your Car

Automobile technology is progressing at a phenomenal rate, and in the not too distant future, many of the vehicles on our roads may be driverless, revolutionising our journeys and experiences along the way.

Of course, till that happens, there are a lot of ways and gadgetry which you can use to revamp your car to improve the connected and digital experience on a trip.

car

In-vehicle WiFi

If you like to be connected to the Web at all times, it’s worth checking out the in-vehicle WiFi solutions now available. These systems can be easy to use and many even fit into cigarette lighter sockets.

Having fast and reliable access to the internet is especially useful for passengers, who can make better use of their journey times. Whether they want to catch up with work emails, browse information and recommendations about the destination, or anything else, they can do so with ease.

Airangel offers 3G and 4G wireless technology that is perfect for use in vehicles and all its solutions work from standard 12v or 24v systems, are self-contained and are simple to install.

Dash Cams

Even if you’re a defensive driver on the roads, it’s impossible to rule out the possibility that you’ll be involved in an accident, or be accused by your fellow motorists of misdemeanours on the highways. Having a dash cam in place can therefore boost your peace of mind and help you avoid a host of legal and financial problems.

However, for a lot of road-trip enthusiasts like me, a dash cam is a great way to record trips for sharing travel stories and adventure trails. Most dash cams feature a wide angle lens that provides an impressive field of vision and built-in microphone can be set up to record in-cabin conversations.

Enhanced in-car Entertainment

Without a quality entertainment system, long journeys can be dull. If you’re not happy with your vehicle’s current setup, it might be worth investing in a new version.

Several latest entertainment systems feature include a USB port and Bluetooth connectivity (allowing you to stream music from your smartphone) apart from the usual CD player and AM/FM radio. Also, some of the modern cars offers great integration with your smartphones allowing you to make/accept/reject calls and perform certain tasks using your voice with the entertainment system.

Sat Navs/GPS Devices

A premium sat nav is a must if you do lots of driving, especially if you often find yourself in busy and potentially confusing city centres. Of course, there are plenty of these products and most modern smartphones offer some form of navigation, but a top-of-the-line sat nav system offers comprehensive navigation features, identifies point-of-interests, and also doubles up as a multimedia device. These devices also include live traffic information allowing you to avoid heavy traffic and holdups.

Engine Data Readers

If you’re keen on engine tuning and modifying, you might want to invest in a special data reader. For example, the iODB2 Engine Data Reader plugs into your engine’s data port and, once you’ve downloaded the free app and connected via Bluetooth, you can access all sorts of information concerning your car’s performance.

Its dashboard menu also allows you to change the live data feed to your preferred readers to show values such as fuel consumption, acceleration and air intake temperature.

Breathalysers

Of course, no one would advocate getting behind the wheel while drunk, but sometimes you may not know whether or not you’re over the limit. For example, climbing into the driver’s seat early in the morning after having some drinks the night before can be risky. If you want to make sure you’re fit to drive, you can get hold of electronic breathalysers to keep in your car.

How to Avoid Accidental TV Show Spoilers on Social Media [iOS, Android, Google Chrome]

Game of Thrones is back on TV, and has wasted no time in delivering the shocking game changers that it’s famous for. Over the past three seasons, the show has managed to amass a massive and vocal fan base. The HBO original based on the fantasy books “A Song of Ice and Fire” invariably manages to trend every week soon after it airs. However, for those of us who haven’t read the books and don’t watch the show during its initial broadcast, this poses a big challenge. Short of completely avoiding Twitter and Facebook, it’s almost impossible to remain spoiler free among all the #redwedding and #purplewedding chatter. Thankfully, as always, there’s a better and an easier solution!

Spoiler-Shield-Main

The first option is an Android and iOS app called Spoiler Shield. It is actually a Twitter and Facebook client, which automatically hides everything on your stream about the TV series that you don’t want to get spoiled about. Spoiler Shield also supports NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL, and other sports and live events. It ships with a list of shields, and all you need to do is enable the ones that you want.

Shields-in-Spoiler-Shield

Spoiler Shield is well designed, intuitive, and easy to use. However, quite obviously, it can’t replace dedicated Facebook and Twitter clients. It probably isn’t even meant to do so. You should probably only use it when you’re weary of getting spoiled. For example, the day of the Academy Awards, the day Netflix releases House of Cards, and of course the day Game of Throne airs. All the essential options including tweeting and retweeting for Twitter, and liking and replying for Facebook are included. Blocked posts are replaced with a shield, and in case you can’t hold your curiosity, you can double tap to reveal the hidden content.

Spoiler-Shield-Twitter-Stream

Spoiler Shield promises that a Google Chrome extension is also in the works. However, there’s another similar solution called Silencer that desktop users can use in the meanwhile. Silencer is a Google Chrome extension, which promises to filter spoilers from your social media feed. Like Spoiler Shield, it also comes with pre-configured block lists. Here, they are called Mute Packs. Once again, both TV shows and live events (AFC and NFC matches) are supported. The number of filter packs in Silencer is fewer than Spoiler Shield, but you can manually add terms that you wish to block.

Silencer-Mute-Packs

No automated filtering technology is going to be perfect. However, these two free utilities should make it easier to avoid accidentally spoiling yourself. Take them for a spin, and don’t forget to let us know how well they worked for you.

Tutorial: Use Google Maps to Measure Distances

If you have used the internet at all, you have probably at some point used Google maps. It is probably the most fascinating and under utilized tool on the web. It is great for getting directions from here to there. You can also use the satellite view to get a real life picture of an area on they map. Street view is pretty handy to if you want to know what the landmarks of an area you are visiting look like. Today, I would like to show you a neat tool for measuring distances using Google maps.

I work in the construction industry and we are constantly looking at large buildings and parking structures. So often when you’re bidding work for someone, they don’t have a good blueprint with accurate measurements. Fortunately, Google maps makes this pretty easy. First thing we need to do is have a Google account. If you don’t have one, go to http://gmail.com and sign up for an account. The reason for this is you need to actually login to Google maps to use this tool. Once you have a Google account, go to http://maps.google.com. You should see something similar to the picture below. Beside the “Google” logo there is a search box where you can type an address or significant landmark and do a search. In my first example I typed “Golden Gate Bridge” because I thought it would be neat to see how long that bridge is. Once you type in your search, you will notice a button that says “My Places”. You will need to click this to get to the measuring tools.

Once you click on “My Places”, you will see what is pictured below. To use these tools, you actually create a custom map. Don’t worry, you can delete it later if you don’t want to keep it. Click the red “Create Map” button to start using the measuring tools.

Create Map

Below, you can see my screen. The Golden Gate Bridge is pictured in the middle. In the upper left corner of the map, you will see three buttons. The little hand tool lets you move the map around. The middle tool that looks kind of like a push pin allows you mark places on a map. This is handy for travel planning. The last tool looks like a squiggly line. This tool lets you draw a line on the map and is what we will use to measure distance.

Golden Gate

Below, you can see up close where I selected the “Draw a line” option on the Google map.

 

Line Tool

Below, you can see where I have drawn my line across the bridge. Here’s what I did. I clicked on the first point where I thought the bridge started. Now you can drag if you want to. What I did was just find the ending point of the bridge and clicked there. You will notice when you click, you get a little white square indicating a point where you clicked. Straight lines are easy. If you have something that is curvy or oddly shaped you will need to do several small clicks at a time. Once you have finished drawing your line, you will need to click the last point of your line to indicate you are finished.

Line Drawn

Once you have completed your line, a little box will pop up like the one pictured below. This is where you can give your line a description. Notice at the bottom of the box that it tells you how long the line is. In this case it was 1.05 miles.

description

Now you may be wondering how accurate this measurement is. Well, I was a little skeptical. One problem for me on the Golden Gate Bridge was I didn’t know how far down to click to get an “official” measurement. So I decided to my own little test. I decided to do a search for the place where I work. In the back of our building we have this huge dumpster. I went out and measured and got 21.5 feet on my tape measure. Notice in the picture below, I have a red arrow pointing to the measurement of my dumpster. That is pretty darn close if you ask me!

Dumpster Measurement

There are so many applications I could see this tool being used for. For instance, in the electrical industry it is always important to have an accurate measurement of cable runs so you order the appropriate amount of cable. Copper is expensive and having good measurements can save you a lot of money. Maybe you need to reseed your lawn but you’re not sure how many square feet you have. Google maps would be an excellent way to measure that distance. I hope you have enjoyed this little tutorial. As always feel free to comment or as any questions.

How to Share Files in Windows 8

Windows 8 has the ability to share files between computers just like its predecessors. Unfortunately, the look of Windows 8 may make setting up files sharing a little difficult. Today, I would like to show you how you can easily share files using Windows 8.

First, position your mouse in the top right corner of the screen to bring out the charm bar. At the bottom of the charm bar there is an icon that looks like a little cog. This is the “Settings” icon. Click it and you will see the menu pictured below. Click the “Network” icon that you can see highlighted in red below.

Network Settings

Under the “Networks” menu, find your network and right-click it. You will see a menu that says “Turn sharing on or off”. Click this option.

Turn on Sharing

Click the option that says “Yes turn on sharing and connect to devices”.

Sharing

Now, find the tile on the main screen labeled “Desktop”. This will take you to the traditional desktop screen.

Desktop

Once you are in the desktop mode, go ahead and bring out the charm bar by positioning your mouse in the upper right corner of the screen. Choose the “Settings” icon and then choose “Control Panel” at the top of the screen. In the control panel window, you should see something similar to what I have pictured below. You will noticed I have highlighted a group and underlined an option that says “Choose homegroup and sharing options”. Let me give you a real quick overview of homegroup. Windows 7 and Windows 8 will allow you to share files using the homegroup feature. It is a very easy way to share files between computers without having to worry about user level permissions.

Homegroup

Pictured below, you can see the “Homegroup” screen. You have several options here. First, you can set what you want to share between computers. This is a real easy way to make an entertainment PC in your home because you can share movies and music with other devices in your house and stream them from your PC.

Homegroup

If you haven’t created the initial homegroup then instead of the picture above, you will see what is pictured below. At this point, you will want to click the “Create Homegroup” button and select what files you want to share. Then you will be able to see the options pictured above.

Create Homegroup

Once your group is created, you will also notice towards the bottom of the screen that there are other settings. One in particular I want to highlight is the option to “View or print the homegroup password.” Go ahead and click this option. Notice the long password at the top of the screen. This password is automatically generated for you by Windows 8. Even more cool, is they are nice enough to give you instructions at the bottom of the window so you know how to connect to shares on this computer. At this point you will want to write down the password generated by Windows 8.

Password

Now that we have the initial homegroup created, we need to join other computers to it. Please note, only Windows 7 and Windows 8 can do homegroups. In the example below, I went to my Windows 7 PC and clicked the homegroup options as previously shown above. Notice that my Windows 7 PC sensed a homegroup had been started on the network. At this point I clicked “Join Now” at the bottom of the screen.

Join Group

Remember that long password I showed you earlier? This is why you need it because when you click the “Join Now” button, you will be prompted for the password to join the homegroup.  At this point, you decide what files you want accessible on the other PC and voila!, you have a homegroup.

Here’s how you can share a file using homegroups. On the Windows 8 PC, create a folder on the desktop. I called mine “Home Budget”, but you can call it whatever you wish. Now, right-click that folder and choose the “Share With” option. Notice in the picture below, you have the option to share with the ‘Homegroup” and give them “view” rights or “View and edit” rights. If you don’t want people on the other computer to be able to change files on the Windows 8 computer, choose the “view” only option.

Share With

So now the big question becomes, “how do I get this file from the other computer?” What you are looking for is a path. The easiest way to get that path is to right-click the folder, just like we did above, and choose “Properties”. You will see the window pictured below. Click the “Sharing tab” and notice the network path that is listed.

Path

Now, go to your other computer, and click the “Start” menu. Where it says “search programs and files”, type the path that was shown to you on the properties menu exactly and hit “Enter”. This will take you directly to that folder.

Start Menu

Another way you can access files is to go to your “Computer” window from the start menu, and look on the left side of the screen for “Homegroup”. Under it, you will see all the computers that are members of your homegroup listed, as pictured below.

homegroup list

All the files that were shared by default on the Windows 8 computer will be listed in the window to the right of the homegroup list.

I hope this tutorial helps you in getting files shared across your computers. As always, feel free to comment or email me any questions you may have.

Adding Mail Accounts to Windows 8 Mail

Windows 8 has a nice mail client built into the operating system. Setting it up to work with multiple accounts is pretty easy too. One thing you might remember is that you can use your Hotmail account as your Windows 8 security account. This is pretty nice. If you do this, then your Hotmail/Outlook.com account will already be setup automatically for you after you get Windows 8 installed. Today, I would like to show you how you can add a mail account to Windows 8. In particular, I will show you how to set up your Gmail account on Windows 8 Mail.

First, you need to find the tile on the main start screen labeled “Mail”. See the picture below.

Mail Tile

Next, you need to put your mouse in the top right corner of the screen to reveal the “Charm Bar”. On the “Charm Bar”, find the “Settings” icon.

Settings

At the top of the “Settings” window, you will see an option that says “Accounts”,pictured below. Click “Accounts”.

Accounts

Now, you’ll be given a list of account types that you can configure for Windows 8 Mail. If you look at the picture below, you will see it has the major account types like Hotmail, Gmail, Exchange, and then “Other Account”.

Account Types

For this tutorial, I am picking the “Google Connect” option, which will allow me to import my Gmail account on here. Believe it or not, it is incredibly simple to integrate this Windows 8 with Gmail. Pictured below, you can see all of the information it asks for when building an account. If you use Gmail contacts or calendars, you can include them as well.

Gmail

Once you hit “Connect”, you’re in business. Pictured below, you can see that the mail client grabbed all of my folders from my Gmail account. Notice in the bottom left corner of the picture, that I have highlighted the area that shows both accounts I have on the Windows 8 machine. All I have to do to switch between them is click the name of the account and it will show me mail from that account.

Mail Inbox

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. As you can see it is pretty easy to setup mail accounts in Windows 8. As always, if you have any questions please feel free to comment or email me and I will try to help you the best I can.

How To Enable Hibernate in Windows 8?

One of the best features in Windows has been the ability to hibernate your PC and then log back in to the same state later on. However, the hibernate option is not traditionally available in Windows 8 and requires users to enable it.

If you are looking to enable the Hibernate option in Windows 8, you can follow the steps given below and you’ll see the Hibernate option in the power options for Windows 8.

Windows 8 Power Options Search

Step 1: Bring up the power options in Control panel by searching Windows 8 for “Power Options” and selecting it under the settings. Alternatively, you can also use the shortcut combination “Windows + I” and then select Control Panel from the list and search for “Power Options”.

Windows 8 Power Button Settings

Step 2: In the Power Options window, click on the link which says “Choose what the power buttons do” and then click on the link which says “Change settings that are currently unavailable”.

Add Hibernate in Windows 8

 Step 3: Now scroll down till you see the “Shutdown settings” and then select the checkbox next to “Hibernate” and save your changes. Once you have made that change you will start seeing the Hibernate option when you try to shutdown, restart or sleep Windows 8.

That’s it, you can now put your Windows 8 PC into Hibernate mode instead of shutting it down.

Read some of our other Windows 8 Tips and Tricks Below

How to Shut Down, Restart, Sleep, Lock or Switch User in Windows 8?

While many of you might think that it would be trivial to perform such a task, it is definitely a little confusing for new users to shutdown, restart, sleep, lock or log off from Windows 8. Windows 8 does not have the traditional start button which has made it harder for users to actually find the shutdown button (Read: How to add Start Button to Windows 8).

If you are a confused user who has been searching for options to shutdown, restart, sleep, lock or log off from Windows 8, you will find all the information below.

Windows 8 Shutdown, Restart, Sleep, Switch User, Log Off and Lock options

Windows 8 provides a shortcut key combination in order to bring up the menu for performing settings change and viewing information about your computer. In order to find the menu for performing the above actions you will have to press the key combination “Windows + I” and then click on the “Power” button in the sidebar to bring up the options to Sleep, Shutdown or Restart the PC.

Shutdown, Restart or Sleep Windows 8

In order switch user you can use the famous key combination “Ctrl + Alt + Del” which will bring up options to switch user, lock the computer or log off from the current user. Alternatively, you could also use the “Windows + L” shortcut key combination to lock your computer quickly.

If you don’t want to go through all these hassles you can install the Windows 8 start button and get all these options right on the desktop itself.

Microsoft might have imagined Windows 8 in a different way, but traditional Windows users are going to find it hard to perform the simplest of tasks. Hopefully, they will learn their way around.

Read some of our other Windows 8 Tips and Tricks Below

How To Install/Uninstall Apps from Windows 8 Store

Microsoft recently released Windows 8 to its Technet and MSDN subscribers and will make it available to general public in October. One of the new features in Windows 8 is the addition of the Windows 8 store from where users can download apps onto their PC or tablets.

Also Read: Tutorial – Navigating Windows 8 | Get Windows 8 Upgrade Discount

Windows 8 will allow users to install apps which are not part of the Windows 8 store as well. However, if you are new to Windows 8, here are some instructions on how you can easily install and uninstall apps using the Windows 8 Store.

Installing Apps in Windows 8

Windows 8 Store

To install an app on the Windows 8 store, you will need to move to the start screen by clicking on the Windows icon and then clicking on the Store tile. This will launch the Windows 8 store where you will be able to browse all the available apps and install them.

Install Apps on Windows 8

To install an app in Windows 8, click on the Install button and Windows 8 will download the app from the store and install it on your PC or tablet.

Uninstalling Windows Store Apps on Windows 8

When you install apps through the Windows Store, you will not be able to uninstall them through the regular “Add/Remove Program” option. The Windows 8 Add/Remove Program option only lists the applications you installed directly on your PC.

Uninstall Windows 8 Apps

In order to uninstall an app that you installed from the Windows 8 store, head over to the “Start screen” by pressing the Windows Key. Now “Right Click” on the app you want to uninstall. After you do this, a menu bar will appear at the bottom of the screen using which you can uninstall the app from Windows 8.

Bonus Hint: If you have unpinned the app from the start menu, you can hit the Windows key and then start searching the name of the app (See: How to Search in Windows 8). Once you see the app in the search results, just right click on it and uninstall it using the menu bar displayed on the bottom.

How To Search Apps/Files in Windows 8?

One of the biggest changes in Windows 8 is that they have gotten rid of the famous start button in Windows 8. However, there are ways in which you can get back the start button in Windows 8.

Search Files/Apps/Settings Windows 8 Start Menu

One of the key features that Windows Start button provided in previous versions like Windows 7 and Windows Vista was the ability to search for files and applications using the search box in the start menu. However, even though Windows 8 does not include the start button, searching for apps and files is not hard at all.

In order to search for applications, files or even settings, just hit the Windows key and start typing whatever you want to search for. Once you do that, Windows 8 will show you the search menu where you will be able to search for apps, settings and files.

Also Read: Tutorial – Navigating Windows 8 | Get Windows 8 Upgrade Discount

Typing text will display the search results on the left hand side pane. You can easily navigate between app results, settings results and file results by using your mouse or arrow keys in the right hand pane.

Bonus Tip: If you want to browse all the installed apps on Windows 8, hit the Windows key and then start typing something. Once you are on the search screen, just hit the escape key and Windows 8 will list out all the installed apps to you.

Add Windows Start Button/Menu in Windows 8

One of the important thing that is missing in Windows 8 from Windows 7 and Windows Vista is the start button. Old Windows users have become so accustomed to the Windows start button and menu that they found it very surprising to be missing from Windows 8.

Windows 8 Start Button Menu

However, getting back the Windows start button and menu in Windows 8 has now become a breeze thanks to a new application from Startdock called Start8.

Also Read: Tutorial – Navigating Windows 8 | Get Windows 8 Upgrade Discount

Unlike an earlier Windows 8 Start button, Start8 is a free Windows 8 application which will add a fully functional Windows 8 start button which resembles the one in Windows 7.

Once you install the Start8 application the Windows key will bring up the start menu just like earlier versions of Windows instead of taking you to the Start screen. You can also search your files, apps and settings like you did in earlier versions of Windows (Read: Search files, apps and settings in Windows 8).

Start8 is definitely a good application for people who are used to the Windows start button and menu and want to continue using it till they get accustomed with Windows 8 features.

Start8 Features

  • Windows 7 style Start menu with Windows 8 enhancements
    • Users can search for Windows 8-style (Metro) apps with it
    • Users can pin desktop and Metro apps
    • Full support for Jump Lists
    • Unified Search
    • Users can boot directly to the Windows 8 desktop
    • Fast access to shut down, devices, music, documents, videos
  • Automatically matches color to the color of the taskbar
  • Start button is now skinnable
  • Optionally disable the desktop “hot spots”
  • Supports WindowFX 5.1 startmenu animations “currently in beta”
  • The Windows 8 Start screen becomes accessible from the Start menu
  • Start menu size fully configurable
  • Adds option for WinKey to show fullscreen Metro desktop

Download Start8 for Windows 8

Important Note: After installing Start8 clicking the Windows key will not take you to the “Start screen” and instead open the Windows start button menu. You can configure the software to change that behavior.