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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Buying a cellphone for your child? Here are some tips

cellphones.jpgAbout 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have phones, according to a Pew Internet and American Life Project study. It's not just that kids want one, a lot of parents want them to have them so we can reach them more easily. They also are excellent discipline tools. Got a kid getting acting up? Threaten to take away his cell phone and watch him turn into an angel. Want to teach a kid money skills? Let her earn the money she needs to pay for her cell phone or those extra texting minutes she wants.

Whoa, Momma! blog shares four tips from Metro PCS for parents to consider when buying a cell phone.

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Don't get blind sided by Facebook data vampires


Did you know that many games and apps you use on Facebook actually could be stealing information about yourself? And sometimes your friends'? Of course, this depends on what your privacy settings are. (If you haven't already, set yours properly to protect your data.) Want to know what apps are the biggest offenders? Check out Privacyscore by PrivacyChoice where you can type in the name of the app to see its rating. Even better, if you dowload their Privacyscore app, it will show an app’s rating it asks for permission through Facebook.

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The Daily Drivers: 2012 Toyota Prius C hybrid paints the town green


By now, you've seen the whimsical commercials for the Prius C, the new small member of the expanded Toyota hybrid family that includes the standard Prius, larger V and an upcoming plug-in model. The automaker bills the C as the "city-friendly member of the Prius family" and we found that description to be about right.

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Google Drive announces long-anticipated storage service

driveicon.jpgThis week, Google has announced its new service -- Google Drive -- a much anticipated and rumored feature where account holder can have storage space in the "cloud." But already, there's hubbub over the language in the "terms of service" clause that many say would give Google rights to contents stored on the Drive. Google assures that the clause is standard legalese that gives the company the licensing rights it needs to deliver on services that users' request.

The service is impressive: Users can get up to 5 GB in Google Drive, 1 GB in Picasa, and 10 GB in Gmail for free. You can purchase additional storage space for a monthly fee -- prices range from $2.49 for 25 GB, $4.99 for 100 GB and up all the way to $799.99 for 16 TB. When you purchase more space, you automatically get upped to 25 GB for your Gmail account.  …

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Questionable charges on the bill? Short battery life? Your phone might be infected

Viruses on your PC are usually identifiable: Your computer slows down. You get sent to some random website. Or your email starts sending junk to your contacts. With a phone, the symptoms are not quite so obviou. Unauthorized charges may start showing up on your phone bill, or your battery life might drastically shorten. Your phone requires just as much protection. PC Magazine shares how. 

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Tech gadgets that can make travel easier

Whether you're traveling for business or leisure, here are tech-related products we recommend that can make your trip less stressful, but which can easily be stashed away when you're ready to unplug and unwind.

By Omar L. Gallaga, Cox Newspapers

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Listening while running? Here are some earbuds for you

running.jpgMany runners enjoy a nice tune on their mp3 players on their long-distance jogs. But keeping those earbuds stay put can be tricky with the constant movement and perspiration. Gizmodo tested out five earbuds and put them through their paces to find the best headphones for running. It tested for audio quality, durability, stability, comfort, volume and sound isolation.

But don't tune yourself completely out. Please watch out for traffic!




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Skype now available for PS Vita


Where there's a wireless device, there's Skype. The  app is now available for the PlayStation Vita. You can make voice calls, or talk face to face on PS Vita's front camera with video calls over 3G and WiFi to anyone in the world, both land and mobile lines.

Skype app runs in the background, and you'll get a notifiction when you get a call during your game playing or web browsing. If you in the middle of a game, it'll pause, and you can resume when you're done with your call.

The app is free to download from the PlayStation Store. Internet to internet calls are free. There will be a charge for call to mobile and land lines.


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Google honors the father of the zipper celebrates the 132nd birthday of Gideon Sundback on its home page. And who's Sundback? The Swedish-born inventor owns Patent No. 1,219,881, the separable faster -- more commonly known as the Zipper. Without him, the clothing industry would be much different today.

Click on the virtual zipper at the center of the page, and the fly opens up to show a search result with information about the inventor and his work. Nifty.

Sundback photo from

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Stroller goes high-tech: power folding, self-recharging, more


A stroller is a must-have for any parent with a baby or a toddler. But opening or folding one takes some muscle. In this age where convenience is among priorities, the Origami Stroller by 4Moms is worth a look. Call this the high-tech stroller that sounds more like a car:

  • power-folding chassis with a push of a button
  • a battery that recharges as it moves -- you also can plug it in.
  • connect your cellphone to the stoller to charge it up
  • four-wheel suspension
  • running and pathway lights
  • an LCD screen with trip and lifetime odometer, temperature, speed, and child indicator to prevent folding when occupied
  • four cupholders
  • lots of storage compartments
  • contemporary design

All these features don't come cheap, however: $849.99 on the 4moms website, or other retailers.

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These Android apps can drain your battery, wallet and your patience

lowbattery.jpgNot all Android apps are created equal. Some require too much data access, gorging on your smartphone's battery life. Others barrage the notification bar with ads, or require paid updates.  PCWorld named some of the worst offenders, including the popular new Instagram, Netflix and Angry Birds.

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The Daily Drivers: 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport 4x4


The world is divided into two types of people: those who love Jeeps and everyone else. This was reinforced to Peter while driving the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport when a proud Jeep owner — it even said so on his personalized plate — pulled up next to him at a light. So would we become converts?

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Adapt to terrain with auto-inflating tires for bicycles


If you're navigating rough or changing terrain, tire air pressure becomes a key factor. But on a bicycle, adjustment is manual and you have to stop and get off the bike. Gizmodo found this Adaptrac Adjustable Traction Control System that makes adjustment on the fly possible. It uses a special set of wheel hubs that's connected to a CO2 tank that's mounted on the bike frame. Controls sit on the handlebars with gauges to monitor the pressure.

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Your little dinosaur fans will gobble up these apps

dino.jpgMy son used to love dinosaurs. He had boxes of plastic figures, picture encyclopedias and books, T-shirts, posters and flashcards. He could name many of the species. Walking with Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Planet were repeatedly on our TV. We even went on a vacation to Utah to visit dinosaur museums and dig sites. Dinosaur fans have so much more nowadays with interactive apps for the smartphones or tablets. Jinny Gudmundsen, editor of Computing With Kids magazine, picked out some of the best ones.

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Harry Potter fans rejoice! Pottermore unveils wizarding world


Six months after its originally scheduled debut date, J.K. Rowling's multimedia online version opens its wizarding world to fans at on Saturday. The free site lets fans experience potion brewing, explore scenes from the story, be sorted by the Sorting Hat, and much more.

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