Level Up Your Tech Skills - Backing Up Your Social Networks

Our social networks do not last forever. Some close up shop (RIP Google Reader), some fall out of use (Remember how much you loved MySpace), and some we just grow out of (I still have a LiveJournal). However, for many of us, these websites and apps have become personal scrapbooks to us, allowing us to chronicle our lives via photos, journal entries, and interactions with our friends. While in the past you may not have missed some of your content, take a moment to consider what you could lose now if one of these sites was taken down or if you lost your data from them. For some of us, our Instagram feed is updated far more often than our phone’s photos are backed up and our Twitter feed is our daily journal of what happened; to lose that information could be personally upsetting or even professionally damaging.

If you want to ensure that doesn’t happen to you, check out some of these options for backing up your personal social networks:

Facebook offers the ability to backup your saved material directly from their site. You can find instructions on what steps to take here.

While everyone should ensure that they are backing up their photos on a regular basis, sometimes your photos that do get posted publicly are deleted before that can happen to free up room for more photos. However, backing your Instagram photos is as easy as visiting Instaport and clicking a few buttons to receive an exported file of your pictures.

Tumblr currently doesn’t have a supported backup tool which has driven some people to creating their own tools to ensure they always have a record of their favorite GIFs and reposts. Two of these tools help
you access the information:
Tumblr Backup - This tool provides you a simple and clean archive of all of your posts that you can save in text form, pasted into Word doc, or saved in HTML.
Tumble-log Backup - This tool gives you a TAR file that you can access with all of your archived information.

Twitter has the ability while logged in to download an archive of all of your tweets. This can be done via the Settings menu in your account and makes a zip file easily accessible with your information.


E3 2013 Highlights

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3 as it is known) has been the staging ground for video game companies to announce the industry’s course for the year since its inception in 1995 when the Playstation was announced. Since then, the media and fans have looked to the event each year for the biggest and most exciting announcements.

This year was one of the biggest in years as the major console makers were given their first stage to showcase their upcoming generation of consoles and the peripherals you will need to buy:

Microsoft’s press conference had some major highlights like the first glimpses of Metal Gear Solid V and Forza Motorsport V, but also some controversial announcements as more details about the XBox One continued to be released. With a price that will be at least $100 more than the PS4 in most regions and limited used game support, the XBox One still has ground to catch up with the positive publicity Sony was able to generate. But with the beauty of the games they were able to show and the promise of more exclusive IPs, the next-gen console war is far from over.

With the Wii U already on the market, Nintendo let their competitors fight their own console battle and took their press conference as a chance to talk about their upcoming releases. With a very strong upcoming game
calendar including new Mario Kart, Donkey Kong Country, Bayonetta, and Smash Brothers releases, this approach allowed them to generate more buzz about their system rather than getting caught up in the XBox One vs. PS4 debate.


For  many, Sony came out as a clear winner from this year’s E3. With positive press from their PS4 announcements including support for used/sharing games, independent publishers, and a price $100 less than
the XBox One, their game announcements like new Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts were icing on the cake. But E3 doesn’t just showcase the hardware, it also is a stage for game premieres and providing deeper looks at upcoming releases. This year’s lineup had the added pressure of the next-generation of systems, but
delivered more than expected. Some of the games that we’re excited about:

From Bungie, the creator of Halo, Destiny can described as a mix between an MMO with a shared universe the players interact in, and a first-person shooter where you are moving through your character's storyline. E3 provided a look at the first footage from the game and gave greater details on the gameplay such as character creation. While it is a huge task to follow up on a game as beloved as Halo, if this early look at
the game is any sign, Bungie has another hit on their hands with Destiny.

Dragon Age Inquisition
Dragon Age Inquisition might be one of my personal highlights, but Bioware’s trailer reveal has many people talking, from the return of fan favorite characters to the beauty of the Frostbite game engine. Take your chance now before its release in 2014 to play through the original games, because you won’t want to miss the follow up coming to both existing systems and next-gen consoles.

Watch Dogs
First revealed at E3 2012, Watch Dogs came with a full reveal in 2013 and built even more on the buzz for what is one of the most anticipated games of the year. An open-world game with themes around privacy and
information freedom, Watch Dogs gives the player the chance to hack the world around them, not just to interact with the environment but to control it.

For additional E3 coverage, check out The Verge or CNET. Do you have any other highlights of E3 or games you’ve already pre-ordered? Leave your opinions in the comments!


iOS7- What You Need to Know

If you caught WWDC yesterday, then you know the overwhelming amount of information Apple shared for the new mobile system, iOS7. After testing it out for a bit, even I'm overwhelmed on what to share and how to easily tell you what will make your life easier. In one word- everything. iOS7 will make your life easier from Air Drop to the new seamless design.

+ Everything has been made over, even the battery life. I imagine most of iPhone users stare at our phone a good amount of the day looking for an app, and the new design feels I'm looking less at my phone and doing more with it. The new multitasking features makes the phone work smarter, not harder. Everything works with iCloud now. Apps, photos, docs, there's no need to email or share from one device to another- it's all on iCloud.

+ With the new "layers", it's meant to make life easier and get to apps quicker. There's a control center instead of digging into settings. Everything we use the most is quicker to get to. There's also a new flashlight installed in the control center. There's no need for many third party apps. Less apps, more space, and more battery life.

+ The camera also got better. There are built in filters, and the moments organized on your camera roll remind me of flickr. They are organized by date, and location.
+ Air Drop will make it easier to share from your phone to another iPhone user. As a snarky remark Craig Federighi meant for Android and Samsung, “no need to wander around the room bumping your phones". 

+ As for the design itself, The Verge had an interesting take on it. While it's beautiful and seamless (this word will be overused for this design, I can tell already), there's something about it that looks familiar, almost like the transparent design Android and Windows have been using. The transparent design may be a cue from competitors, but it works. It's meant to adjust to your wallpaper and environment.

+ Overall, there's so many more features Gadchick will be sharing when the new systems goes live. It's still in beta and while I don't trust it on my phone, I'm playing with it on my iPod and I love it so far. iPhone users have a lot to look forward to this year. Click below to check out the gallery from Apple


What We Know - Xbox One vs. PS4

It is a decision that potentially helped shape your childhood and definitely has shaped your home’s current entertainment system setup.

Did you ask for a Dreamcast over the Gamecube or Playstation 2? Did you decide as an adult to have a multi-console household and learn to love a different controller?

Each new generation of video game console brings the same questions for gamers about which choice to make and, now in its eighth generation, we’re being asked again to make a choice that will impact our favorite shared hobby for years to come. Several eighth generation consoles have already launched from the Wii U to the OUYA, but two major players will be entering the game this fall and winter: the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4.

As E3 begins this week, both consoles will be jockeying for media attention and future sales, let’s take a chance to look at both and help you make your future decision.

Xbox One
Release Date
: Winter 2013
Features We’re Excited About:
  • TV Integration! - While some are concerned about how much of the launch was spent showing TV features, I’m very excited over Xbox’s steps to becoming an all-in-one media center. The ability to access your media, surf tv listings via voice cues, and the potential of how this technology can be used is very intriguing.
  • Controller Changes! - It might seem minor to some, but the hardware changes coming to the Xbox One’s controller are one of the most exciting features. For example, in an attempt to add to gamer immersion, the rumble feature has been upgraded to react more to the actions being taken and give the player added resistance depending on what is happening in the game.
Unanswered Questions:
  • Always Online? - Games will require a daily online check-in to use, forcing players to utilize an internet connection with their console. While many games require an internet connection already, gamers have stated concern over how this will impact users with poor connections or who
    choose to not connect online.
  • Used Games? Indie Games? - As more information comes out about the Xbox One’s policies for used games, game trading, and indie game publisher support, it becomes very clear that many things
    will be different with the new console. Time will tell if gamers will be comfortable with these changes or if they will look to other options with fewer restrictions.

PlayStation 4

Release Date: Q4 2013
Features We’re Excited About:
  • Social Features! Improvements to Online Features! - With additional functionality being added for online live streaming and improvements to the Playstation Network, the Playstation 4 might be able to truly challenge Xbox Live (and at no extra cost).
  • Indie Game Support! - While there have been some questions about the Xbox One’s future support of Indie Game publishers, the PlayStation 4 has been marketed from the beginning as very friendly to publishers. As a huge fan of some of the PlayStation 3’s indie selections, this was a huge relief to see.
Unanswered Questions:
  • Console Design? - At the PS4 launch, very little information was released over the console design and some features are still being finalized. While some technical specifications have been confirmed, many are waiting to see what the final product will look like.
What console will be next for you? Are you more excited about the rumored Steambox
or are you a PC gamer who is excited to stand outside the fray? Let us know in the comments!


June Wish List

Gadgets are constantly updating, and so is our wish list. Here is the best of what we searched for June.

Aline- I spend A LOT of time gaming, working, and messing around on my desktop PC. I am starting to look into upgrading to a larger monitor and ViewSonic's 27 inch beauty would look great on my desk.
Beth-  Coming out June 14th, the Last of Us by PS3 developer Naughty Dog is a game I've been waiting for since it was announced. I'm very excited to see a Father/Daughter relationship explored in a video game and the preview of this game looks amazing.
Diana- I'm slowly collecting LEGO sets that I can be proud of. I love Ewoks and this Ewok hideout with Ewok and Logray figurines is making me wonder what space I have to clear out to display it in my place.
Mandy- I frequently forget to wear the watches I own on the regular, but I love the look and style of the La Mer Collection watches. This one combines two of my favorite colors—neon yellow and grey—and would look awesome with some bangles. It's old school tech, being analog, but it's tech that has lasted the test of time.
Marisa- As a nervous first time mom-to-be, this FDA approved Prenatal Heartbeat Listener has kept me from getting unnecessarily worried. It's inexpensive, and though it takes a while to get the hang of turning the volume down while moving it around your belly, it's well worth it to be reassured baby is doing a-okay
Kam- I have the FroliCat BOLT Interactive Laser Pet Toy currently and my cat loves it, he tries to turn it on himself, in fact! I would love to be able to expand the number of toys he has and I think the rotating laser pet is the next step. While I love to play with my cat, Rintu, he gets a bit rough so I try to find toys that keeps me out of the "danger zone." I would love to be able to simply plop this laser in the middle of the room and watch your cat go crazy from the safety of the fort you built out of couch cushions.
If you have an awesome gadget you would love to share with Gadchick, email us! We would love to feature you.
FTC Blogger Disclosure- For our wish lists, we use affiliates. It's a small amount to pay for our issues and keep giving you awesome content. Thanks for the support!


Level Up Your Tech Skills - Set Up a Personalized E-Mail Domain

An email address can say many things about you as a person.Your first e-mail address may have been hansonfan85@aol.com or buffyandangel5eva@hotmail.com, an opportunity to teach your classmates something new about you. Over time, you may have moved to greener pastures like firstname.lastname@gmail.com from a well-known email provider to look professional or adopting your work e-mail address for everything.

My first e-mail address was BeHappy52@aol.com. I really loved the song "Don't Worry, Be Happy".

But an option that many people don’t consider is setting up a personalized e-mail domain (@customaddress.com) due to a lack of confidence in the skills needed or doubting the usefulness of having one.

A personalized e-mail domain can do many things for you:
  1. A secure e-mail address with a customized login page can be great for setting up password managers or online banking, adding extra layers of security between you and people trying to get your information.
  2. A chance to stand-out when applying for jobs, demonstrating to an employer your ability to manage this information.
  3. Multiple email addresses via a common login can allow you additional triaging of your email, like an address that only receives online store emails.
  4. It can also be a fun way again to let people know something about you when you provide it to them.
In my household, we have domains and e-mail addresses that serve all of the above purposes. Each is configured to be available via online or our smartphones for a low cost each year for domain registration and
hosting. Part of the fun of having a custom e-mail address is deciding your domain or the new way you’d like to represent yourself whether you finally buy your firstnamelastname.com or choose to demonstrate your
love of bunnies with bunniesareadorable.net (.com is taken).

With a personal domain, you can choose several ways to manage your information:

E-Mail Access
- Many providers will provide an option for webmail with your domain which can take away any need for configuration on your end.

- In this scenario, you create your domain with email access, but route all emails to an existing email. This is helpful if you don’t want to abandon your old account yet, or if you want to manage all of
your workstreams in one inbox.

Gmail/Outlook.com to Manage
- Using an established e-mail provider, you can use their technology to manage your inbox.You can find more on using Outlook.com here and more on using Google here.
Via An E-Mail Program
- Using a desktop program like Outlook or Thunderbird is also very easy when working with a domain.The provider that you choose will have extensive documentation available allowing you to make the decision on what management method will work well for you. I use Hover primarily for registering domains and e-mail support and they have been absolutely wonderful. I also use Google to manage certain addresses which was extremely easy to configure.

Do you have a provider that you would recommend? Is there only one site you trust domain registration to? Leave your thoughts in the comments.