New iPhone Coming This September

New iPhone 5s 6 5c coming September 2013iPhone fans will be please to hear that Apple will unveil their newest iPhone mode on September 10th, according to USA Today the timing is most likely to prepare them for the holiday season, and secure the ever-important holiday sales.

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Find Your Misplaced Phone or Tablet with Android Device Manager

Find your lost phone or tabletToday Google officially released the "Android Device Manager" - a locating device directly built into android devices.

Equivalent to the "find my iPhone" feature for Apple, Android users can now locate and ring phones and tablets remotely.  Simply go onto the web and ring the phone - it will override any silence/vibrate features that you have set on on your phone.  Additionally, it will display your phones location on a map using its GPS coordinates.

You can also enable it to do a "wipe" of information in the case of a theft, but you have to make sure you add this functionality to your phone with it in hand before you can activate this remotely.

The Webinar Tool that Beats WebEx and GoToMeeting

We at Geek are no stranger to the glorious "Webinar" - a web seminar, an online meeting, an online training... almost always involving screen and audio sharing from one computer to many (or just a few.)  But which web-based meeting tool works best?

I've [Jason] used GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar for years to host online meetings and training sessions.  I've been a participant on WebEx meetings (by Cisco) as well.  Both are suitable.  Neither is fun.  Neither is exciting.  Both are inferior to the tool I'm singing about today.

Both of these tools require attendees to download a piece of software to their computer - a task that is simple for some, but a technical challenge for others.  If a few weeks pass between online sessions, the download process must be repeated, as the client software has undoubtedly undergone some updates.  WebEx has a really limited free plan, and then you start paying.  GoTo... has a free trial, but after that plans start at $49/month - and GoToMeetings and GoToWebinars are two different products, and two different monthly bills.

So, what's our answer? 

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Top 3 Steps to Ensure Smartphone Safety

If you own a smartphone, chances are there is quite a bit of information on there you wouldn't want to get into the wrong hands.  Have an e-mail account on there?  How about contacts and passwords/logins in there somewhere?  Add on top of that calendar info, to-do lists, browsing history, Facebook, Twitter, photos, banking apps, Groupons... needless to say, your phone is likely full of info you want to keep secure.

But is your smartphone actually safe?

We at Geek have noticed that many smartphone users haven't taken the 3 most basic steps to provide the most fundamental security precautions which every user should have in place.  Do you have the 3 basics accounted for?

1. Put a lock on it

I know, I know.  Having to enter in a PIN number/pattern lock every time you want to access your phone can be a little annoying.  However, think about your phone as a diary... but with slightly more important stuff (not that we judge your hypothetical diary writings).  Leaving that kind of private information out and about without a lock on it is an easy invitation for not only an invasion of privacy, but all sorts of fraudulent activities.  Without a lock, its just one simple swipe away from having a very big headache.

Text passwords and 5-7 character PINs are your best bet.  Face unlocking and 4 digit PINs are far better than nothing, but know that these are easily prone to "Smudge Attacks".

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Clean Up Your Inbox Fast with

Most of us get obscene amounts of e-mails a day.  Ones we want - from salutations from friends and family, to the resume you forwarded to yourself from your old computer; Ones we need- bills and overdue library notices; Ones that are nice... on occasion - Groupon and your Mom's 3x a day "you should read this article" links; Ones you never want to open - spam, Facebook notifications and the accusatory "Why did you cancel our product?!" e-mails... and I'm sure the list goes on.  And on.  And on...

Archiving and deleting e-mails is one thing.  Sure, you can create labels and sift through thousands of e-mails from a time long ago, but there is an easier way. 

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A New Translating Device for American Sign Language

Xbox users are no stranger to "Kinect" - a motion sensing input device developed by Microsoft.  Maybe you've experienced the Kinect version of the popular smartphone/tablet game, Fruit Ninja, using your arms to slice through the fruit on the screen, or the dancing mini-game on Star Wars which registers the movement of your entire body and can then rate how well you are completing the moves on screen.

Now, however, Kinect has moved to a whole new level with its latest development - being able to register and translate sign language.


This has always been a forseeable possibility with Kinnect technology.  In the past, it was able to recognize larger gestures, but any sort of detailed translating device has been out of reach... until now. 

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Updates Allow Users to Annotate with Evernote

Skitch and EvernoteTwo of our favorite tools, Evernote and Skitch, have just undergone updates could make some of you Geeks very happy, and some of you non-Geeks more productive!

Evernote now has the capability to edit attached Office documents (rather than just being able to view them) with the "OfficeSuite" app.  You can now also configure your homescreen widget to display a list view (it was thumbnail only.)  Something else we love, that widget can be viewed on your lockscreen (supported in Android Jellybean or newer), which means you can consult your note previews in a hurry.  

Evernote's visual counterpart, Skitch, all Premium users are now able to annotate PDFs right in the app.  If you're curious on all of the details, check out this article from Engadget.

Bluetooth and Smartphones Are Making Hearing Aids Affordable

Bluetooth Hearing Aid Saves Money300 million people need them; 7 million get them. 

However, technology of the 21st century may have found an affordable alternative solution to a highly desired product - the hearing aid.

While technology is no stranger to us at Geek | Chicago, even we were fascinated by its latest use in the medical field.  According to a fascinating article from NPR, affordable technology-based alternatives to hearing aids are starting to hit the market, thanks to Sound World Solutions.  Using a combination of a phone app and a high-quality bluetooth headset (which costs less than one-tenth of the price of a hearing aid), an affordable hearing aid alternative for anyone with mild to moderate hearing loss has been achieved.

The app gives users a test to register their level of hearing loss, and then sets the levels for them based on their responses.  They can then, at their leisure, adjust the levels of treble and bass as they go about their day to day lives.  The device records people talking through their smartphone, and then manipulates it with the software - making  those with hearing loss able to hear once more.

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Back Up Your Devices in 5 Minutes

Back up my cell phoneYou've heard it before.  You know you should do it. You get annoying pop-up notifications from the devices you use about it.  I'm sure you'd rather play Words With Friends, but really, its time to back up that device of yours.  One theft or accidental run through the washing machine can leave you without contacts, photos, and app data.  We don't mean to nag, but its really a simple process which can save you from a lot of potential frustration down the road. 

You can also set up your devices to tell you where they are if they get lost or stolen.

Here's a little secret - it takes 2 minutes and basic protection is absolutely free!

Here's some step-by-step instructions, courtesy of the Too Many Adapters blog, to back up your devices, stat.

Back Up AndroidBackup and restore your mobile phone

1.  Click on Settings
2.  Click on Backup & Reset My Data, and make sure you've checked "Back Up My Data" and "Automatic Restore"

Note that different cell phone providers and manufacturers put their own flavors of Android on some of the phones they sell.  You may have to hunt a bit within settings for "Backup & Reset", but it should be there!

Congrats, you've backed up your app data and wifi passwords!  Yeah, that took all of 2 seconds, right?  Now continue on to back up your photos.

3. Click on Settings inside your app of choice (Google+ is a great one, but you can also back up to other services like Dropbox)
4. Click on "Camera & Photos"
5.  Click on "Auto-backup"

You've got the basics covered now.  If you want to verify that everything is really backed-up and/or want to have your back-ups available when you're offline, here's a final step you can take.  If you have a rooted android, Titanium Backup has a basic or premium version.  You can also check out Helium.

Back Up iOs

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Forget Your Autocorrect Woes With This Android App

Autocorrect is something to which smartphone users are no stranger.  It has lead to many an embarrassing (yet entertaining) conversation (like such) and certainly can be a pain to personalize. 

We'll wait while you spend the next half hour guffawing at the autocorrect mistakes....

Thankfully, there is a cool Android app entitled User Dictionary which may just be the solution to our autocorrect woes.

User Dictionary, first and foremost, is a workable app that learns from your online behaviors to create a dictionary that is uniquely suited to your typing style.  This includes not only your texting activity, but also e-mails, tweets, and facebook updates.  It notes what words you intentionally spell incorrectly on a frequent basis (like chat speak), names, places, and your own personal slang.

You can choose which online sources it draws its data from.  After analyzing and importing the words it thinks you would like to add to your dictionary, it then will display a list of its selections and you can choose which words you feel would be good to add to your dictionary.

If you wipe your phone or delete the app by accident, you don't need to worry about losing all your words.  User Dictionary has a way to export the dictionary to your SD card as a "backup" option.

There is a free version of the app, but do know that it doesn't analyze as many e-mails and tweets as its paid counterpart.  Still, we Geeks think the free version does its job quite nicely!

Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).