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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Water, water, everywhere. So protect your phones and other devices

If you're planning on a trip to the beach, or a day out on the paddleboard or kayak, remember to take extra care of the gadgets you take with you. A little dunk in the water can be a death sentence for your device. Here are some accessories to keep your gizmos waterproof, or at least water resistent.



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Gadgets roundup: iPhone thief caught, Facebook phone, in-car apps, game app store

iPhone thief tracked down: A woman tracks down the person who stole her iPhone by keeping track of photos he took. The phone's camera was set up to send images to her iCloud account. The victim set up an album "Stolen iPhone Adventures" to help find the thief. USA Today

Facebook phone rumors re-surface: According to New York Times' Nick Bilton, his inside sources insist that Facebook is still working on developing its won smartphone. Does this mean a war brewing between FB and Google? PCWorld

More distractions in the car: Despite concerns from regulators, automakers are increasingly making their cars more "smartphone friendly" by adding in-dash apps and connectivity into their 2012 cars. New York Times

App store for gamers: Gamefly will be following Amazon's lead in rolling out its own Android app store but this one for games. 


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Headed to the beach? Then protect your gadgets


Are you planning on taking your smartphone or tablet to the beach for Memorial Day? Remember that sand, saltwater and spilled margaritas can do some serious damage to your devices. And with Tropical Storm Beryl churning up the atmosphere, you might get caught in a downpour. That could be a death sentence for your phone (as we found out in my family). So here are a few tips on keeping your trusted gadgets safe.

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The Daily Drivers: Safari meets suburbia with Land Rover's LR4


Are you the type of person who pays scant attention to what's fashionable at the moment? Are you comfortable standing out in a crowd? Yes? Then Land Rover's LR4 and its long-standing safari-meets-suburbia style is your SUV.

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Insta-clone?: Facebook launches Camera app


Facebook launched a new photo app for the Apple iOS devices -- Facebook Camera -- that's meant to make it easier and faster to take photos then share them with friends. You can also see photos by all of your friends in one place.

The Camera app, was meant to "enhance the Facebook photo sharing experience," says FB officials. After launching the app, you'll be connected to your Facebook account. The app has 15 filters and some basic photo editing tools, including cropping, resizing and straightening. You can even batch-load photos onto your Facebook Timeline.

But CNet reports the app can get buggy without the iOS Location Services enabled on your iPhone.

The app is free and available on the iTunes App Store.

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Best toys for your four-legged pal

kong.jpgWant to keep your dogs busy during the holiday weekend? Check out these 6 toys, picked by Gizmodo, that will surely give your pup a good workout. 

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Help soldiers by trading in your mobile devices

oldphones.jpgDo you have a collection of mobile devices sitting in their junk drawer at home? These devices still have life in them. One, they can be recycled into reusable materials, keeping these out of the landfill. Two, some can be traded in for monetary value. (AT&T says the average value for a used device at a recent trade-in event was more than $80.) Three, your unused phones can benefit the Cell Phones for Soldiers, a non-profit organization dedicated to giving deployed and returning troops to communicate with their family for free. 

AT&T Wireless is willing to help with the recycling effort. They're launching a program that either pays you for qualified trade-ins, or donates the value to Cell Phones for Soldiers. Here's how it works:

1. First, wipe the personal data from your device, following the steps at and restore your device to factory settings.

2. Take your old devices in to any company-owned AT&T store.  They'll calculate the trade-in value based on make, model and condition.

3. You can use your credit for new AT&T wireless products, pay your bill, or donate the amount to Cell Phones for Soldiers organization.

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A gadget for every cookout and grilling quandary


By Patti Ewald, Times staff writer

If you can't dazzle 'em with your barbecuing brilliance, you can always baffle 'em with the hottest new grilling gizmo. Like the Stake — tongs, spatula and fork all in one. The Swiss army knife of grilling tools. Grip it. Flip it. Serve it. You'll be the Houdini of the hibachi.

“I started by taking the tools that I used most when barbecuing," Peter Wachtel, toy inventor by day, Stake inventor by night, said. "Then I chopped, cut and broke them apart, and started to make a rough prototype," he said.

After a lot of trial and error — and the help of his 6-year-old son — he came up with tool that worked, looked and felt great. A smooth leaf spring mechanism makes the tongs easy to use; the fork slides out for use and tucks safely into the spatula for storage.

Available at some Target stores and at for $29.99.

Check out some other nifty tools.

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What are the best phones out right now?

razrmaxx.jpgIf you're in the market for a new cellphone and you're not tied down to a carrier, this is worth a look. PCWorld named the best phones from every carrier (for now). Among them, HTC One S, Apple iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and Motorola Droid Razr Maxx.


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View-Master to iPhone: 14 gadget masterpieces

iphone.jpgWeve seen some incredible gadgets and gizmos the past few decades. From the View-Master in 1939 to the more recent iPhone, Time magazine takes a look at 14 masterpieces of gadget designs.

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Roundup: Annoying telemarketers, safeguarding Android, more parental control

donotcall.jpgRobocalls, telemarketers and politicians, oh my! Don't let telemarketing calls annoy you. Make sure you register your number (including your cell number) with the Do Not Call registry. But this doesn't guarantee you'll be call free. The New York Times explains the exceptions.

Protect your Android: Android devices are popular targets for malware. Some can defeat antivirus detection. PCWorld recommends three free apps to keep your device safe.

Defining geekdom: Gadgets geek, Apple geek, internet geek... What kind of geek are you? Find out using Gizmodo's infographic.

Calling from the skies: Aviation experts say inflight phone calls will soon be a norm in air travel, CNN reports. Virgin Atlantic recently announced that passengers can use their cellphones to make calls in their London-New York flights. More airlines are sure to follow.

Major carriers help parents control kids' phones: Having a cell phone is on almost every kid's wish list. But with all the dangers out there, parents should have ways to monitor and control these phones. USA Today takes a look at expanding options available to parents.

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The Daily Drivers: Porsche 911 Carrera S is perfection in the making


Porsche's 911 body style has endured for decades, needing only incremental changes. Now comes the sixth generation of the rear-engine sports car, which gets a hard tweak rather than a redesign. The more fundamental changes are under the sheet metal, where Porsche says 90 percent of the components are either new or redesigned.

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A new twist to opening bottles and cans


Opening cans and bottles can be a challenge for some seniors with limited hand strength and others with special needs. Youngsters may find popping open a soda can difficult. Women with freshly manicured nails might not want to dig under tabs for fear of ruining the finish. 

Along comes the Extreme Magic Opener to make it easier to open any kind of cans with tabs or bottles with pop-off or twist-top caps. The 4-in-1 device has a slot to grab a tab or pull ring to easily open food cans all the way with its leverage. There's are built-in grabbers so twisting off small caps is easier with a larger handle. A traditional opener can pop off bottle caps.

The Extreme Magic Opener is available at, starting at $19.99.

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Take a vacation from your desktop: Yosemite Falls webcam goes live in HD


Associated Press

FRESNO, Calif. — Just in time for spring snowmelt: a webcam pointed at one of Yosemite National Park's main attractions, the soaring 2,425-foot Yosemite Falls.

The HD camera went live on North America's tallest fall Monday, allowing anyone with computer access to watch in stunning detail as shadows race across the towering granite monolith over which Yosemite Creek crashes in a series of plunges and cascades. It's updated every 30 seconds through a high-speed DSL connection.

"In a lot of ways I equate it to all of the beautiful picture books that we've had on our coffee tables, or the art from the 1870s that made Yosemite exciting to people around the world when they saw it for the first time," said Michael Tollefson, president of the nonprofit Yosemite Conservancy, which placed the camera there. "This is a great way to communicate in today's media what the park is and to get people excited immediately, for better or worse."  …

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Wake up to a brighter side

la-he-alarmgadgets13-30.jpg-20120510.jpegDo you wake up in the morning crawling to the coffeemaker or bright-eyed and ready to conquer the world? A variety of devices claim to help you start your day right by waking you up at the right time of your sleep cycle: between light sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. The Los Angeles Times takes a look if these monitors really work.


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