SpeedyFox 2 for Windows or Mac is a free program from CrystalIdea.com and it’s a barn burner. It speeds up your Web surfing, whether you use Firefox, Chrome or Safari. (It does not work with Internet Explorer yet.)
This freebie works especially well with Firefox, which is the third most popular web browser. (As of January, this year: Internet Explorer has a 39 percent share, Google Chrome 27 percent, and Firefox 25 percent.) Before running the program, Firefox took a full 30 seconds to boot up after Bob clicked the Firefox icon on his desktop. After installing SpeedyFox, Firefox came up in four seconds. Joy’s Chrome boot-up is much faster, too, now. And websites now come in real quick.
The CrystalIdea folks say that Firefox is the most feature-rich of the browsers, but after a while, it slows down, because of the “fragmentation of databases.” There’s no need to figure out what that means and it wouldn’t help anyway. The good news is the thing works.
The new Aftershokz headphones sit in front of your ears, not on them. They transmit sound through the bones of the skull rather than through the ears directly.
The technology was developed for the military, which naturally enough wanted their soldiers to be able to hear what’s happening around them as well as whatever messages are coming through the headphones. The difference can save a soldier’s life.
In civilian life they can possibly save someone’s life by being able to hear cars and emergency vehicles coming while still listening to the chatter of friends or the noise of rock and rap. (So many people walk around with buds or headphones stuck in their ears, we’ve noticed the police and fire department vehicles have upped the volume on their sirens to get through to them.)
Joy, who is tech hardened and battle ready, tried out the new skull transmission headphones while Bob listened for sound leakage from close by. You know how when you’re in an elevator or otherwise close to someone listening to their iPod or whatever with their ear buds, and you can still hear what they are playing? Well, with these headphones, Bob could not hear what Joy was listening to, but she said she was hearing the music quite clearly. Aftershokz headphones have the advantage that unlike ear buds, they won’t fall out. Unlike big headphones, they don’t feel tight or uncomfortable.
We couldn’t find any complaints about dangers associated with this “ear-free” technology. In fact, they’re touted for their safety. And they’re more comfortable than any other headphones we’ve tried so far. Aftershokz fits iPhones, iPods, iPads, MP3 players and most smartphones. They come with a little USB stick for charging through your computer. We saw them at discounters for $57 and for $60 at Aftershokz.com
THIRTY-SIX MILLION FACES
A Japanese firm claims its new facial recognition technology can scan 36 million faces a second. (At that rate it could scan every adult in Japan in three seconds.) It then presents a couple of dozen likely matching thumbnails to a surveillance camera operator, who clicks on one to see the video footage.
It works by starting the facial recognition process while surveillance footage is still being recorded. Faces must be seen by the camera within an angle of 30 degrees horizontally or vertically and be at least 40 pixels in height and width. Those are not serious restrictions. The system will be launched next year from Hitachi Kokusai Electric.
•WarbyParker.com sells glasses for $95 — about $300 less than we pay elsewhere. They’ll send you five pairs to try out if they have your favorite designs in stock. The site is basic — no bifocals and only a few dozen styles.
•Legaladvice.com offers free legal advice. Ask a question, get an answer from a lawyer. You can see a profile of the lawyer who’s giving the advice.
•Symcat.com diagnoses your medical symptoms.
•Carsabi is an excellent site for used car shopping. It appears to have more listings than AutoTrader.com.
•Pair is a free iPad/iPhone app for long-distance relationships. It creates a private channel where the two of you can chat, sketch together, post videos and other items that only the two of you will see. Your private timeline stays up for as long as you wish. It’s like a Facebook for two people.
•Batch is a free app for the iPhone that uploads photos to Facebook as a quick batch.
•TimeRazor helps you find something fun to do. It’s a free app for the iPhone, iPad or Android phone or tablet and has 300,000 live event listings in the U.S.
The Google Activity Dashboard shows you how many searches you’ve done, how many Gmails you’ve sent, where you sent them from, and what platforms you’ve been using (Windows, Mac, Android, iPad, etc).
This can be helpful if you’re worried someone’s hacked into your account. If it shows you’ve been sending emails from Russia, for example, you may have lost control of your account. (Duh.)
Everything looked hunky-dory in our accounts. Joy discovered she’d received thousands more emails than she’d sent, and that didn’t count junk mail. It also told her who her most frequent correspondents were, and detailed the gadgets she used: Android, Apple and Windows. It reported that the most popular video she’d uploaded to YouTube was one Bob took of her “improv” comedy class. (Class is good, video very amateurish.) Go to google.com/settings/activity to see your own report of what came in and went out.
THE NUMBERS REPORT
According to recent surveys by Consumer Intelligence, Best Buy sells almost as many iPhones as Apple stores. That’s 13 percent for Best Buy and 15 percent for Apple. Among phone carriers, ATT accounted for 32 percent of sales this winter, compared with 30 percent for Verizon and 7 percent for Sprint Nextel.