4 Smart Technology Gadgets to Protect Your Home

Technology advances have provided us with more ways to protect our homes and families from danger, but how do you choose from hundreds of smart home gadgets? We’ve poured through the reviews to identify four ways that you can prevent harm from electrical surges, overheating of electronic devices, and environmental contaminants.

Power surge protection

Your first consideration in evaluating surge protective devices (SPDs) should be the safety of your television, Internet connection, computers, and appliances, but a severe power surge could result in a fire. Lightning strikes can pass through surge protectors and come through your phone or cable line. Power surges can even originate inside the home as large appliances power on and off.

For whole home protection, Leviton offers several models of Type 2 SPDs that protect the home’s entry point of electrical service from residual lightning energy and internally generated surges. Following a surge event, a surge module can be easily replaced. Features include high levels of protection against transient surge capacity and instantaneous response time.

For economical surge protection at the electrical outlet, the TrippLite TLP1208 model series features options for telephone, cable, and satellite input and output with a surge suppression rating of 2880 joules. Additional features include EMI/RFI noise filtering, resettable circuit breaker, diagnostic indicators, automatic shutoff, and $150,000 insurance for connected equipment.

Electrical device overheating protection

Protect your home from fires caused by overheating of electrical devices by installing a smart plug on electrical outlets.

The D-Link DSP-W215 Wi-Fi Smart Plug allows you to control power to your devices from an Internet-connected iOS or Android app. Thermal sensors detect when a device is overheating and automatically shuts it off. Energy usage can be monitored to help you save on electricity costs by creating on/off schedules for connected devices. Connection to an existing Wi-Fi network takes only a few minutes. Integration with the Amazon Echo allows for hands-free voice control. Pair with IFTTT (If This Then That) devices and apps as part of a smart home solution.

Environmental contaminant protection

Birdi, the latest smart technology in environmental sensors, combines sensing of smoke, carbon monoxide, and air quality into a single device that provides in-home and smartphone alerts.

Birdi’s fire protection sensor detects fast-burning and smoldering fires with the ability to minimize false alarms. The smoke alarm can be silenced from your smart phone or by saying “quiet” when within range of the sensor.

In-home air quality sensors provide insights on small particulates, dust and other allergens, stale air carbon dioxide, low-level carbon monoxide, VOCs, temperature, and humidity. Outside the home, Birdi detects pollution, pollen, and other particulates. When there is an emergency, authorities and other pre-configured contacts can be automatically notified.

Affordable investments in smart technology can save you money by preventing the need for claims against your homeowners or renters insurance and the potential for increased rates. More importantly, you can protect the health and safety of people in and around your home with a few inexpensive gadgets.

4 Apps to Get to Any Business Meeting On Time (or Early)

It happens to the best of us. It’s not that you don’t care about the appointments, or the people you’re meeting with. It’s not that you forgot about the meeting, either. But despite the best intentions, you just can’t get to where you need to be on time. You’ve tried building time into your calendar. You’ve tried moving your clocks a few minutes fast to create a buffer time. But none of it works.

When you’ve tried everything else, modern technology can help you. Check out these four apps to help you stick to your schedule better.

1. Leave Now

If you’ve ever gone “into the zone” working on something, only to realize you’re now running late for a meeting across town, you need this app.

Leave Now for iOS does just what it sounds like: tells you when it’s time to leave.

It syncs with your calendars and looks at real-time traffic info to send automated alerts when it’s time to head to your appointment. It works for any type of traveling professional, whether you’re a driver or pedestrian.

Plus, as a cool bonus feature, it helps you schedule your day by building travel buffers into your schedule.

2. Waze

If you’re always on the road, you may not even need a separate app to help you get to places on time. Chances are, you already use Waze for navigation, since it’s a great app all-around.

But did you know it also tells you when to get on the road? With the new Planned Trips feature that was released earlier this year, you can set a reminder for yourself. You can set it manually for important trips only, or sync it with your calendar for everything.

3. Moovit

Moovit is like Waze but for public transportation. It crowdsources data to get insights into things only locals know about in hundreds of cities around the world. Things like the easiest transit route, station cleanliness, and arrival times and delay incidents.In a city where people largely rely on public transit—like New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.—it’s a lifesaver, especially if you feel like you’ll never get used to the unpredictability of public transit.

And in addition to all these features to plan your route, you can also plan your trip with real-time arrival and departure times.

4. Uber

Sometimes your plans just won’t work out, and despite your best efforts, you’re running late. You left on time, but the subway is running late or you’re wearing bad shoes and can’t walk as fast as usual.

You need to know when to just give up and hail an Uber to get there on time.

I’ve tried most of the “ehail” apps available, and always go back to Uber for its convenience. It definitely has some of the best coverage in terms of locations and areas served. And while they take a lot of criticism for surge pricing, it does mean Uber is probably your best chance of getting a ride during rush hour or inclement weather.

How do you do it?

Have you figured out how to battle chronic lateness as well? Share your favorite apps and tools in the comments below.

Common Ways Consumers Lose Files

One of the most common ways a user can lose a file such as a Microsoft Word document is a system or application crash. This can happen while you’re going about your business typing up a word document and the screen suddenly freezes or becomes unresponsive. Then, the inevitable happens: the word processing program shuts down.

Now, what? Unless you’ve enabled the autosave feature such as that available in Word, you may be at a loss. All your writing gone; all the time you spent creating the document is now time lost. In some circumstances, when you reopen the Word application it may be possible to retrieve part of but not all of the material you’ve written.

Another way that you may end up losing valuable spreadsheet information or a PowerPoint presentation is by accidental deletion of portions while making changes. You may have thought that you’d backed up or saved a copy of your file and then started editing your work before checking to make sure a backup did in fact exist. User error is to blame. As much as we don’t like admitting it to ourselves, sometimes the biggest factor when losing files is of our own doing.

One of the most destructive ways we could lose valuable data occurs when our computer is attacked by a virus or invaded by malware such as ransomware. Hackers use ransomware to get your important files and data and hold them hostage until you pay a hefty ransom for their safe return. It’s becoming a more mainstream occurrence. And paying the ransom isn’t a guarantee that you will get your files back. Because ransomware is an unpredictable and unfortunate event that can occur without warning, in addition to saving your files to your computer’s internal hard drive, it makes sense to also store your data externally.

Additionally, be sure to update your computer’s operating system files when new updates roll out. Software updates are important because they usually include security updates that can help keep your data better protected.

One thing that’s out of our control is the possible malfunction or failure of our computer’s internal hard drive. If you’ve stored everything from the beginning of time on your hard disk only, this could make for a dreadful situation down the line. If your hard drive were to crash and burn, well, you’d be out of luck, losing some very significant data that might not be possible to replace.

Not only will saving files externally give you piece of mind, it also ensures that you’ve got a second copy of your work and precious data that can be accessed from a secure location. Mozy cloud backup is a great way to protect your data and ensure anytime, anywhere access to it. Backing up all of your digital data and files automatically and on a regular basis in the Mozy cloud is peace of mind. To learn more about safeguarding your data against user error, hardware failure, and ransomware, visit Mozy.com.

How can technology encourage you to eat better?

It happens. You’ve gained extra weight, your cholesterol is too high, and your doctor is telling you to make healthy changes to your lifestyle.

What’s the “what for”?

In making big changes from what you’ve automatically done and from the habits you’ve formed over years, the first thing you want to decide is the “what for.” Taking advice from friends, colleagues, and even your doctor is good, but without you deciding the “what for” for yourself, even the best technology won’t make a difference in long-term sustainable change.

Ask yourself why, and when you come up with an answer, ask why again. You’ll know you have it when it brings up emotion.

Once you’ve decided your “what for,” technology is a great asset to achieve your goals. With an overwhelming amount of information online about what to eat, what not to eat, and how to be healthy, these resources will help you define what you want to do, keep track of your progress, and give you resources to succeed.


The first step in making a change is to define where you want to get to. Coach.me let’s you define goals in healthy eating and many other healthy aspects of life such as fitness, personal growth, happiness and relationships, productivity, meditation, and quitting bad habits. You can link up friends for accountability and increased success.

Fooducate App

Once you’ve found the recipes you want to try, get help at the grocery store with Fooducate. Scan the bar code of common items to learn their health content when you’re grocery shopping to help with your decision making. Using this app not only tracks what you eat, it also tracks your activities so you can see your progress and achieve your goals.

Online Ordering

Many grocery stores have online ordering. Save time and avoid unnecessary purchases you get tempted to make in store by ordering exactly what you need for the recipes that you’re making, and have it delivered. Look up your local grocery stores to see what services are available.

Good Habits App

To support you in creating sustainable change, the Good Habits app is great for implementing new habits. Enter the habits, reminders, and for what days you want to do it, and it will help keep you accountable. For example, you can enter “drink 8 cups of water per day” and remind yourself periodically throughout the day to drink them.

Whenever your motivation slips or you fall off the wagon, come back to your reason for getting on in the first place and keep going. You’re human; don’t expect yourself to be perfect—just keep going!


In the path of Hurricane Matthew?

With the approach of Hurricane Matthew, we here at Mozy hope that you and your loved ones are safe. As you do whatever you can to protect your home, business and belongings, don’t neglect to protect other important assets, ones that are often neglected in the ensuing panic of an impending natural disaster—your data.

Whether it’s important tax documents or irreplaceable digital photographs on your home computer, or business-critical files on desktops and laptops that you rely on to conduct your business, be sure your data is backed up so that in the event that your files are lost or damaged they can be quickly recovered.

For important tips about protecting your data, visit the Mozy Community blog.

From all of us at Mozy, be safe!

How can technology encourage you to exercise?

It’s that dreaded time—your yearly checkup with your doctor. Your pants have grown a little snug, so you know your doctor will probably comment on your weight. But, between sitting at your work desk day in and day out, and then going straight to bed out of sheer exhaustion, it’s no wonder you’ve been skipping your workouts. There are only so many hours in the day.

Well, don’t give up on getting fit just yet! If your doctor scolds you for the holiday weight gain (or if your best friend makes a passing comment about your “form fitting outfit”), technology can help you get back in shape and feeling good without sacrificing too much of your time.

Sound too good to be true? Here are some ways fitness technologies can help encourage you to get started, and stick with a plan for real results.

Gamification makes exercise fun
Do you remember the days of the arcade game, Dance Dance Revolution, or the Wii console? Since the evolution of these fitness-oriented technologies, there’s been a growing trend in fitness called “gamification.” Fitness games (sometimes called “excergames”) typically set micro goals for you to meet, like earning points for a certain number of mile run, getting bonuses for iproving your time, or unlocking new levels for increasing the intensity of your workout. Meeting these micro goals encourages users to keep going, even if they feel discouraged by a lack of desired results like weight loss or muscle mass,which may cause them to give up in normal circumstances. In addition to the advantages of micro goals, the gamification of fitness means it’s no longer a chore to work out—it’s just plain fun.

Even better, instead of the bulky, clunky systems of yesteryear, technology now seamlessly allows users to feel like they’re actually part of the game world. For instance, Pokémon Go encourages users to get up and moving in their very own environment in order to catch coveted Pokémon characters.

Similarly, Xbox Kinect motion sensing games allow users to make physical movements in place of controller commands in order to direct their in-game characters’ movements. Imagine how much more empowering it would feel to defeat a horde of zombies with your fitness moves as opposed to boxing a stationary punching bag at the gym.

If you’re a sucker for a good cliffhanger, smartphone apps like Move and The Walk are the perfect ways to meet your daily number of steps or miles. Each chapter unfolds as you meet your goals, so if you don’t get moving, you’ll never see how the story ends. But a cautionary note: Don’t binge the whole story like you would a season of Netflix, or you’ll be sore and discouraged in the morning. Pace yourself, and let the story unfold over a few workout sessions.

See real-time results with data tracking
If that sounds great, but the thought of manually tracking your activity makes you cringe, don’t worry. These technologies can help. Instead of manually adding up calorie counts, guessing how many steps you’ve taken in a day, religiously tracking heart rate and weight, and periodically going back into old logs to see how far you’ve come, wearable fitness trackers do this automatically.

The Fitbit, Apple Watch (and the upcoming Apple Watch Nike+), and countless others have sensors that constantly track these statistics. If you can’t afford these devices, but would like a way to make tracking progress easier, a more cost effective option is to download an app like MyFitnessPal or Couch to 5K, which make it easy to import and track the data yourself.

Most of these devices and apps even output handy charts to help users easily visualize their progress. Some go so far as to provide workout suggestions based on your individual level of fitness and the progress you’ve made, taking virtually all guesswork out of exercise. And, it does all this while allowing users to listen to their favorite music or podcasts while they work out.

Fitness has never been easier
It’s incredible how a tiny device like your smartphone or digital watch can make a thing like fitness so easy. Now, you can see how many calories you burn by taking the steps up to your office, or by walking to the coffee shop on your break. These built-in mini exercises mean you may not have to sacrifice too much of your free time to get fit.

It’s no longer a chore to stay fit because wearable technology makes it fun and effortless. There’s no need to wait for your doctor or friend to say something about your weight – just grab your smartphone, download an app, and get moving, proactively. With the help of technology, you can get in shape, even if you have a busy schedule or haven’t ever stepped foot in a gym.

Have you used any of these technologies to get in shape? Share you story with others in the comments.

It’s time for Mozy’s Frightful Computer Haiku Contest!

What might be the real fright of this announcement is that it’s already October! Nevertheless, it’s time once again for our Frightful Computer Haiku Contest, version 6.0. Last year’s contest was such a success that we had to do this again. All you have to do to enter is to write a scary computer haiku (according to the rules), submit it, and you could win a $200 gift card (1st place), a $50 gift card (2nd place), or a $25 gift card (3rd place). This is one of our most popular contests.

The rules are simple:

   •     Your haiku must be original. In other words, plagiarizing a          haiku will get you disqualified faster than you can werewolf          down a piece of your favorite pumpkin pie.

   •     Your haiku must be awesome. You know, like “Green Bay just          won the Super Bowl!”

   •     One haiku per person. That means one (“1”), not two (“2”). Two          or more will get you disqualified (and it might even affect what          you get for Christmas).

   •     Submit your haiku by October 31, 11:59 p.m. MDT in the Comments section below.

The winners will be announced in our November newsletter and in a November blog.

If you don’t remember how to create a haiku, the following should help. Haikus are composed of three lines. Line one is five syllables, line two is seven syllables, and line three is five syllables. M. Neal’s winning submission from last year is a good example of what we’re looking for:

Data left for dead,
Noose around its neck? …Mozy
Won’t leave you hangin’!

Add your haiku to the Comments section before it’s too late! In the meantime, continue to back up your files with Mozy. Anything less would keep us up at night! Be safe!

Like our contest? Click here to tweet it!

The small print: Dell employees (including Mozy, etc.) are not eligible to win—even if your haiku is really good. Void where prohibited.

Robotic Revolution: Technology’s Role in Redundancy

When we think of robots, we often think of famous ones from the movies, including C-3PO and R2-D2 from “Star Wars,” Johnny 5 from “Short Circuit,” and Wall-E from “Wall-E.” Those were fun robots with personalities that entertained us. But the robotic revolution is introducing us to the real deal, modern robots that require us to adjust to “the future.” These robots will play a role in everyday life and accepting some of them may be uncomfortable at first (especially if they take our job away!), but the robotic revolution is sure to simplify and make our lives easier, safer, and more efficient. But no need to worry about robots taking over the world! New technology means that more and more new jobs will continue to be created, jobs that only humans can perform! Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, domo…domo.

Robotic Revolution: Technology’s Role in Redundancy
The ATM was just the start; automation is eating up more and more of the jobs we take for granted. Five million jobs in the world’s leading economies could disappear over the next five years because of advances in technology—the fourth industrial revolution. So which careers will technology feast on in the future? And what does the future look like?
Accounting, finance, data analysis
These jobs are threatened by new technology that converts receipts into machine-readable formats, encrypts them, and then allocates them to accounts. The platform gradually also self-learns, tracks invoices, counts sales and costs, and records liquidity.
Truck drivers
The industry has an incentive to automate: There are currently 5.7 million truck drivers in the USA. The Trucking industry is 30,000 truckers short—(figure to grow to) 250,000 by 2022. Caterpillar plans to debut a fleet of Self-driving, 240-ton mining trucks in coming years. The “driver” of the future might be a technician sitting at a desk somewhere, guiding several trucks at once (as with fighter pilots being replaced by remote-control drones).
Sales and service
Kiosks and self-service tech are the arch enemy of cashiers, sales representatives in manufacturing, retail salespeople, and real estate brokers.
The U.S. Postal Service
One of the hardest-hit industries, USPS will experience a loss of more than 54,500 jobs between 2008 and 2018. 30% of current positions (179,000) are expected to vanish by 2018.
Print media
Increased computer-processing capacity and the widespread availability of more elaborate desktop publishing software make it easier and more affordable for non-printing professionals to use. The future of desktop publishing looks bleak. There will be a decline of 23% jobs by 2008. Current employment: 26,400.
Robotic road ahead
According to The Economic Report of the President (2016), there’s an 83% chance that workers who earn $20 an hour or less could be replaced by robots. Those in the $40 an hour pay range face a 31% chance of having their jobs taken over by machines.
Momentum Machines’ multi-tasker bot makes (and flips) a gourmet hamburger in 10 seconds and could feasibly replace an entire McDonald’s crew. Universal Robots’ manufacturing robot solders, paints, screws, glues, grasps, and builds new parts for itself on the fly when they break. Google won a patent to build worker robots with personalities. And Oxford University researchers estimate that 47% of U.S. jobs could be automated within the next two decades.
The safe zone
There is only so much automation and machines can currently do. Which jobs seem safe from rampant technology? Here are a few doctors and nurses, home health aides, massage therapists, athletes, and creative occupations involving art, design and entertainment.
What does the future look like?
Look on the bright side! Types of jobs have been coming and going for centuries. For example, textile workers in England were replaced by mechanized looms in the 19th century. New jobs are created all the time. Ten years ago, we had not heard of app developers, market research data miners, educational or admissions consultants, millennial generational experts, social media managers, chief listening officers, cloud computing services, elder care service providers, sustainability experts, and user experience designers. Around 65% of children starting primary school today will end up working in jobs that don’t yet exist. New technology means the world’s their oyster. It’s an exciting digital age to be alive.
For more information, visit http://mozy.com/

Getting Started with Your Data Disaster Recovery Plan

A business that doesn’t have a data disaster recovery plan in place is like the Titanic on its way to hit an iceberg without nearly enough lifeboats on board. Data is the lifeblood of any business, and how quickly and smoothly you can recover from a data disaster might eventually determine the survival of your business. Just knowing that you’re doing regular backups isn’t enough. You need to have a plan that covers every possible contingency, then you need to test your plan to find its weaknesses and adjust accordingly. A good data disaster recovery plan should also be updated frequently, to adjust to changes in your business.

No one can tell you what needs to be included in your plan without intimate knowledge of how your business operates. These plans aren’t boiler plates or one-size-fits-all propositions. However, the first steps for putting together disaster recovery plans are pretty much the same for all businesses, as are some of the things you need to consider as you begin developing a plan that’s tailored for your unique business.

Start with RTO and RPO

You start by assessing two metrics that have to do with your plan’s objectives. The first is the recovery time objective (RTO)—the time you have to restore usable access to your data after a disaster before the business begins to suffer. The other is the recovery point objective (RPO), which is the acceptable age of the files that will need to be recovered, which really means the amount of recent data loss that’s acceptable.

Both of these figures vary widely from business to business. A small convenience store using a point-of-sale system, for example, might be able to whip out a calculator and get by for days until a data connection is restored and might even be able to continue operations with a week or more of lost data. A stock brokerage, on the other hand, holding buy and sell orders tied to the market’s movements, might urgently need to have service restored in less than an hour with very little loss of data.

These two measurements will lay the foundation for the remainder of your data disaster recovery plan. For example, the mom-and-pop convenience store knows it should be able to make do by backing up to a thumb drive when preparing the daily bank deposit, while the brokerage firm will probably need to invest in the services of a secure and dependable cloud backup service like Mozy for frequent backups.

This is only the beginning, of course. From here you will need to determine, among other things, all of the different types of disasters that can threaten your data, whether man-made or natural, and develop contingency plans for each and every one—and more importantly, perhaps, figure out ways each scenario might be avoided. You’ll also need to test each scenario with data disaster “fire drills,” to discover any kinks in the procedures you’re establishing.

A good plan that covers all foreseeable disasters will be very complex, and a larger business will eventually need to seek outside consultants to fill in the gaps. It might be best to get started on your own first, however, so you can be a better help to the people you hire to help you.

The Biggest Mistakes You Can Make While Growing Your Business

As a small business owner, one of the most exciting (and terrifying) parts of owning your own business is when it starts to grow. You realize you’ve got a winning formula, but now you’re not sure where your business is going to go. The possibilities keep you up at night; unfortunately, so does the fear. You want your business to grow into something long term, so you don’t want to make any major mistakes. Well, we’re here to help you avoid some of the more common mistakes business owners make when their company starts to grow.

Mistake #1: Taking on all that growth yourself

If you own a small business, there’s a high chance your company started out as a one-person operation. You’re used to doing everything yourself, and honestly, it can be hard to let go of any of it. The problem is if you don’t pass anything off, things are going to start falling through the cracks. As you start getting more customers, things are going to get busier and busier.

To avoid this mistake, write down all the tasks you do for your small business. Next to those tasks, write down how much time each takes. Then, write down if you’re an expert at it, you do it satisfactorily, or you don’t know what you’re doing. Using that list, think about the kind of person you could hire to fill some of those roles that take a lot of time and you have little expertise in.

Mistake #2: Hiring the wrong employees

When you’re looking to hire employees, don’t make the common mistake of going with the easiest hire. Whether they’re a family friend, or they’re the least-expensive option, you can easily hire somebody that won’t perform, or worse, cause more stress. You have to make sure they are the right fit for your business needs.

Whatever role you’re hiring for, make sure you do your due diligence. Research the role online, look for advice that other business owners have hiring for that role, and look for specific interview questions. Look for the self-starters, the ones who don’t need a lot of hand-holding to get the job done. These people are the future leaders of your growing company.

Mistake #3: Not investing in your infrastructure

As your business grows, you need to take a hard look at what your location, your equipment, and your processes can handle. Take a few minutes and think about how your location, equipment, and processes would hold up if you had twice the amount of business. What about 10 times the business? One hundred times? You want your business to be scalable, so look for software solutions, equipment, and processes that can grow with your increasing business.

Mistake #4: Not preparing for cash flow needs

A huge mistake a lot of small business owners make is not preparing for future cash flow issues. Too many small businesses wait to apply for a loan until their business is in trouble, and at that point, capital can be hard to find. If your business is doing well, now is the time to go to a lender for a line of credit or a business loan. Also, consider applying for a Small Business Administration loan, which have much lower rates than typical small business loans.

If you can avoid these common mistakes, your business will likely continue to grow and be successful. What other mistakes have you seen small business owners make as their business grows?