Best Travel Apps: Signal, Sitata, Haven, SaferVPN, Mobile Passport, FoneTrac

Floods. Thieves. Hackers. Tackle any situation abroad with these mobile assistants.

Signal

Place calls and send texts with end-to-end encryption over Wi-Fi or your data connection using this favorite of security professionals. You can also make your chat history disappear before customs agents (or other snoops) get their hands on your phone.
Free

Sitata

You just fell down the stairs of your Barcelona Airbnb, and it feels like you broke something. No need to panic if you have this app. Sitata provides emergency numbers and the location of hospitals and other key facilities based on your location.
Free

Haven

Install this app on a cheap Android burner, then leave the phone in your hotel room to act as a digital spy. Haven uses the camera, mic, and other sensors to detect motion and sound. It then sends photos and audio of any activity to your primary device.
Free

SaferVPN

Connecting to the internet over public hot spots leaves you vulnerable to hackers and scammers. Tunnel into a virtual private network with SaferVPN, which offers encrypted web browsing worldwide through one of 700 private servers in 34 countries.
$3.49 and up/month

Mobile Passport

Use this app to scan your US passport before you fly. Upon your return home, it gives you a QR code you can present to customs agents for hassle-­free ­reentry. It’s also a government-­approved backup—a handy proof of citizen­ship.
Free

FoneTrac

If there’s a natural disaster or major emergency where you’re traveling, let your loved ones know you’re OK before they hear about the calamity on the news. FoneTrac lets you check in as safe—or send a panic alert—with the press of a button.
$15/month


This article appears in the March issue. Subscribe now.


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Gadget Lab Podcast: Google’s AI-Powered Camera Exposes Photography’s Future

Work From Home Tips: Videoconferencing, Standing Desk

Whether you’re Zooming it in or not sitting down on the job, here’s how to do it right.

Videoconference Like a Boss

Acing a group video call is harder than it sounds. “It doesn’t take that much tech savviness to click a link, but you’d be surprised by how many people do it and it’s just a mess,” says media coach Ruth Sherman, who trains celebrities and executives on how to conduct themselves professionally in a digital environment. Follow her tips to appear composed, prepared, and confident. You’ll deliver a perfect onscreen performance, even while wearing your pajama bottoms.

1. Set the Scene
Position your face by dividing the frame into horizontal thirds, then aligning your eyes with the upper third without cutting off your forehead. Clear your backdrop of clutter, which Sherman calls “noise.”

2. Light It Right
Don’t sit with your back to a light or a window—it will turn you into a silhouette. Natural daylight from the front is the most flattering. If that’s not possible, put a lamp behind your screen. “It wouldn’t kill you to go out and buy some lights,” Sherman says.

3. Look the Part
Dress for the camera: Solid colors present better than patterns. Don’t move as much as you might during an in-person meeting, and stay within the camera frame. And you know this, but look into the lens, not at the screen. That’s where the people are, and that is how you make eye contact. This requires a surprising amount of practice.

4. Manage the Audio
Make sure your sound equipment is connected and working before the meeting starts. In groups of less than five, it’s safe to assume you can keep your microphone on. In larger conferences, mute your mic as soon as you join the meeting.

5. Be Present
Don’t try to get away with multitasking. “We can see you not paying attention,” Sherman says. Also, don’t cut the video feed without explanation—it’s like walking out of the room without excusing yourself. Rude! Need a break? Explain that you’ll be right back.

Do the Upright Thing

A standing desk is not an automatic ticket to better health. As Joan Vernikos, author of Sitting Kills and a former NASA Life Sciences director, discovered in her research on the stresses imposed by microgravity environments, uninterrupted standing can be as bad as sitting. Ideally, you’d switch between the two, but at least if you’re standing you’re more apt to lean forward or backward, or switch legs. To ensure a healthy day at the (standing) desk, incorporate these posture changes.

Maria Lokke

Work Your Legs
The simplest thing you can do is place a footrest under your desk where you can prop one leg while you stand. Vernikos recommends switching legs often, because “the body needs stimulation through a change signal.”

Practice Movement
Vernikos suggests walking in place or squatting every half-hour or hour. It takes 20 to 30 minutes for your body to feel the benefits of these movements, so dose them out. “If you do a whole bunch in 20 minutes, that doesn’t count.”

Take a Knee
Kneeling exercises are great for getting the blood flowing, Vernikos says. Try swiftly alternating between kneeling and standing five times. Keep it brisk to get the burst of energy you need to bang out those last three Keynote slides.


This article appears in the February issue. Subscribe now.

Tech Deals: Amazon Kindle, Dell Notebooks, Rocket League

February is the cruelest month, as the poem goes. Oh, no, wait. That’s April. February is a great month to be born in if you want to become famous, but the rest of us might find the cold, gray days to be a bit of a bummer. In sum, this is a great time of year to curl up with a hot cocoa in front of a new smart TV. We’ve rounded up the best weekend deals with the help of our friends at TechBargains.

Grab One of the Best 15-Inch Laptops Around

Dell’s 10 percent off deals are still going strong. The Dell XPS 15 is the slightly larger sibling of one of our favorite laptops of 2017, the Dell XPS 13. Simply put, it’s one of the best 15-inch laptops money can buy–only with this deal, you’ll be spending a lot less of it.

Buy the Dell XPS 15 Intel Core i7-7700HQ Quad-Core 15.6″ Laptop w/ 256GB SSD, GTX 1050 for $1125 (use code: TENOFF).

Or you could spend a little (okay, a lot) less cash on a simple, stylish convertible with a great display.

Buy the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Intel Core i5-8250U Quad-Core 13″ 2-in-1 Laptop w/ 256GB SSD for $700.

Give Me Coffee and TV

We are blown away by this deal. This is an amazing price for a Sony television that already manage to pack in a lot of high-end features in an affordable package. It displays with HDR and SDR content spectacularly and has tons of connection options. It even has cord management built right into the stand.

Buy the 65″ Sony XBR65X850E 4K HDR 120Hz-Native LED Smart HDTV w/ Android TV for $1000.

If you were looking for a beautiful new LED TV, Samsung’s offerings are a good place to start looking. Unfortunately, they’re usually pretty pricey. With a $150 Dell gift card, though, you have a chance to buy one of the MU7000 series for under a grand.

Buy the 55″ Samsung UN55MU7000 UHD Smart LED HDTV + $150 Dell Gift Card for $749.99.

This Vizio delivers decent 4K performance and an even more decent price.

Buy the 55″ Vizio D55-E0 4K Smart HDTV + $150 Dell Gift Card for $499.99.

All Day I Dream About Soccer (With Cars)

This is the very first sale on one of our favorite games to play on the Nintendo Switch.

Buy Rocket League: Collector’s Edition (Switch) for $30.

After you buy it, grab one a new smartphone to tell all your friends about it.

Buy the Google Pixel XL 128GB Unlocked Smartphone (Refurb) for $410 .

Buy the Honor 7X 32GB Dual Camera GSM Unlocked Smartphone (Pre-Order) for $200

Alternatively, you could spend your afternoon building your own console altogether. Switch, schmitch.

Buy the Raspberry Pi 3 Complete Starter Kit w/ Retro Gaming Case for $65.99 (use code: 45YOCHIQ).

Alexa Is Coming For You

Are you terrified of the upcoming takeover of the smart home assistants? Stave off the inevitable with the Amazon Fire 10 and practice shouting at devices with the hands-free Alexa feature.

Buy the All-New Amazon Fire HD 10 for $120.

The Kindle Paperwhite is, by far, the best Kindle for your money. And now you get to spend less of it!

Buy the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 6″ WiFi eReader for $100.

Do you need a quiet, simple, good-looking robovac for easy household maintenance? The Eufy Robovac 11+ is a good option.

Buy the Eufy RoboVac 11+ Self-Charging Robotic Vacuum w/ HEPA Style Filter for $220 (Clip $30 Coupon).

Finding out your genetic background is the gift that keeps on giving. You can’t put a price on learning that you’re part Norwegian.

Buy the AncestryDNA: Genetic Testing DNA Ancestry Test Kit for $69.

It’s not as showy as a bouquet of flowers, but showing that you don’t want your loved one stranded on the side of the highway is very romantic indeed.

Buy the Aukey 400A 12000mAh Portable Jump Starter & Power Bank for $35 (use code: AUKEYBC1).

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we earn a small affiliate commission. Read more about how this works.

Moog musical Drummer From Another mom (DFAM): Price, Specs, Release Date

individuals at Moog Music aren’t content simply making ridiculously fun synthesizers, iPad apps, and effects boxes for creative artists. The organization now’s dipping into percussion—it’s latest item, announced today, is a drum device called the Drummer From Another mom.

Well, wait. It’s not exactly a drum machine. It’s really a monophonic, semi-modular, analog percussion synthesizer. That is clearly a lot to unpack, but what you ought to understand is whenever you turn on the DFAM and commence twisting the knobs, it makes great synthetic drum and percussion sounds—deep throbs, hypersonic plinks, and every thing in between.

The DFAM is monophonic, so automatically, it could only output one sound at any given time. Meaning, it is possible to arrange it to try out a kick drum pattern, or a snare drum pattern, or a tom-tom pattern, not all three at once (unless you utilize the area cables, but I’ll enter into that in somewhat). Most drum devices are polyphonic; they may be able reproduce the noises a peoples drummer would make sitting behind a drum kit. The DFAM, being monophonic, is more restricted. But as any musician will inform you, with restrictions come greater possibilities for experimentation.

I’ve spent some time using the DFAM before couple of weeks (Moog Music offered it being a DIY kit at its Moogfest meeting, and I also had been invited to solder one together in a workshop) and another of the great joys of the machine is the fact that you don’t really should know any single thing about drum development to begin getting some interesting tones from it. That’s mostly as it doesn’t look or work such a thing such as a regular drum device. It’s knobs and spot bays in which most drum machines might have tap-pads and LCD screens. Anybody also somewhat knowledgeable about steps to make a synth go “bleep” will feel at home.

Moog Music

After you get a quick lay of land, it is possible to quickly start building patterns. Dial in good starting sound, then run it through DFAM’s sequencer—it’s eight actions, and every action features its own velocity and pitch controls. As your selected sound bounces through the steps, you could make it go up and down in pitch, or grow louder or get softer. For the synth with the capacity of creating only 1 sound at a time, it’s an expressive and dynamic palette.

“I don’t call it a drum machine,” says Moog musical senior equipment engineer Steve Dunnington, the DFAM’s lead designer. “it generally does not actually say ‘drum’ anywhere about it.” Dunnington began sketching out ideas the DFAM at the conclusion of 2016, then had several prototypes before bringing the DIY version to Moogfest in-may 2017. Afterwards hobby-style kit went over well with seminar attendees, Dunnington and his team start creating a version of the DFAM for the customer market. Now, you can buy one for $599.

Towards funny title. If you are a Moog fan, you then find out about the Mother 32. It is a semi-modular synth similar in function toward Drummer From Another Mother, and the two machines are the same form and size—hence the motherly love within the naming. They could be connected together via their matching cable area bays so that they sync up and run at the exact same tempo. A typical usage instance is to write a bass line regarding mom, then sync up a DFAM (or three) to perform your robotic rhythm part. The DFAM also has inputs, in order to plug an additional tool, synth, or sampler and use that to trigger your drum sounds. There are always a ton of options, no right or incorrect solution to utilize them.

“I don’t always think about these exact things as being dogmatic,” Dunnington claims. “you need to explore.”